#453: Trump Cites Ruling at Westminster as Proof He Won in 2020

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

BEGIN ENTRY #453: The week of June 20, 2022 was full of significant news events from inside the Beltway – decisions from SCOTUS, the US Senate finally agreeing on minimal controls for firearm purchases, and testimony at the 01/06 Select Committee hearings from Republicans about events leading up to the assault on the Capitol. One event not covered was a press conference held by Trump.

On Thursday in Mara-a-Lago, Trump, proclaimed that the results from Westminster Kennel Club proved that he won the 2020 election.  Trump argued the final ruling of the judge at Westminster should be considered much like a ruling from SCOTUS – the final word on the matter. 

In a typical rambling speech, Trump claimed the winner of the Westminster Best-in-Show, a bloodhound named Trumpet, was named after him.  The former president noted how Trumpet’s characteristics that won him Best-in-Show paralleled Trump’s characteristics – regal appearance, athletic build, face a bit jowly, dedicated to working, and most of all superior to everyone else.

Trumpet

Because his alleged namesake Trumpet was #1 at Westminster, Trump stated he must have won the 2020 election. Trump’s claim of winning the 2020 election was enthusiastically supported by Trump’s lapdogs who were at Mara-a-Lago – Rudy Giuliani, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan and a few others.

Trump stated that since he now had been vindicated by the judge at Westminster, he was going to file a lawsuit to disband the 01/06 Select Committee and have members of that group charged with conspiracy.

When asked why the courts might allow such a case to go forward, Trump replied, “If the Supreme Court can issue such decisions as overturning Roe v. Wade, and making it legal to pack heat in Times Square, surely, they’ll support me in my efforts to rightfully claim I won the 2020 election. The hard-right members of SCOTUS owe me a favor.”

Aren’t you sorry you missed hearing Trump’s remarks?  OK, this was definitely tongue-in-cheek but not far from the truth.  The decisions by SCOTUS this week and one next week that is likely to gut the power of the Environmental Protection Agency look to be an inflection point for the next phase of the 5th US Revolution. 

Unfortunately, the next phase, as noted in periodic entries over the years, will be one where armed camps face off.  The battlelines will not be as clear as the Civil War and the intensity of the fighting likely will be more gradual.  But it is going to be ugly. END ENTRY #453

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#452. “They’re Coming to Take Me Away”

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

BEGIN ENTRY #452: Since the election of president Biden, former president Trump has continued to make wild and unsubstantiated claims about the election being stolen and that he should be reinstated. As the House Select Committee has presented more testimony by Trump’s own staff and family refuting Trump’s assertions, I was reminded of a song from the mid-1960’s.

The title seemed to capture Trump’s sustained bizarre behavior. The mid-1960’s song was titled, “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-haa.” I took the liberty of tweaking the words to reflect Trump’s likely mental state. If you’ve never heard the song before, take a listen. The lyrics were a bit jarring even for the mid-1960’s.

As far as the tweaked lyrics, don’t try and read too much into them. The original lyrics were unusual at best and I tried to maintain a substantial portion of them. So, just enjoy.

They’re Coming to Take Me (the Donald) Away

Remember when you took a dive, lied
And voted to oust me as #45
I begged you I can’t leave just yet
Because I’d go berserk, I fret

Well, some like you voted me out anyway
And then my days got worse and worse
And now you see I’ve gone berserk,
Completely out of my mind

And they’re coming to take me away ha-haaa
They’re coming to take me away ho ho, hee hee, ha haaa
To the funny farm
Where life is beautiful all the time
And I’ll be happy to see those nice young folks
In their pretty, clean white coats
And they’re coming to take me away ha haaa

You always thought I was a joke
And so you laughed with other folks
You laughed out loud when I said
That by losing the vote, I’d flip my lid

Right? You know you laughed
I heard you laugh. You laughed
You laughed and said, “Oh, well, too bad”
But now you know I’m utterly mad

And they’re coming to take me away ha haaa
They’re coming to take me away ho ho, hee hee, ha haaa
To the happy home with trees and flowers and chirping birds
And basket weavers who sit and smile and twiddle their thumbs and toes
And they’re coming to take me away ha haaa

I paid for your food, and all the clothes
I paid for the house, NY and Mar-a-Lago
And this is how you pay me back
For all my kind unselfish, loving deeds

Ha! Well, you just wait
MAGAts will find you yet and when they do
They’ll put you in with all the bums
You know who – that Barr, Jared, Ivanka, too

And they’re coming to take me away ha haaa
They’re coming to take me away ha haaa, ho ho, hee hee
To the funny farm where life is beautiful all the time
And I’ll be happy to see those nice young folks
In their pretty and clean lovely white coats

Relevance of #452. If you are asking yourself why is Entry #452 relevant to a discussion about a possible 5th US Revolution, then think about the implications for the country as more and more evidence is released by the House Select Committee. Whether or not you supported Trump, if the evidence indicates likely criminal behavior, the former president needs to be brought to trial. Otherwise there will be no guardrails on the behavior of any future president, Democrat or Republican. And, there will be no democracy.

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#451. “Solving Climate Change Is Too Complicated. Can’t Be Done!” (Wrong)

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

BEGIN #451: As noted occasionally in this blog, the “real me” is a member of a group of fellow MIT Alumni working on developing, assessing, and/or recommending practical solutions to climate change. The vision is to provide guidance to government, industry and the public about actions that should result in slowing the increase in the earth’s temperature to ~2.0oC by 2100. The baseline temperature is pre-Industrial Revolution.

One of the workgroups held a Zoom call on June 6. Part of the call was devoted to reviewing a deck of PowerPoint slides that could be used to help educate the general public about causes of climate change and possible solutions.

One slide, describing the difficulty of the task, was titled “Very Difficult to Solve but Possible.” Almost immediately one member of the group strenuously objected to the word “Possible” in the title. He claimed there was really no solution to climate change, and we should not imply that there was. Several people objected, and I believe rightfully so.

Because a problem is extremely difficult to solve does not mean it cannot be solved. Apparently, he forgot we all went to MIT.

In addition, I found the objection ironic, given that the meeting was on the 78th anniversary of D-Day. What if the commanders of the Allied forces had decided that trying to retake much of Western Europe from the Axis was too difficult? That the landing at Normandy was too difficult and too dangerous? Had those efforts been deemed too difficult, what kind of world would we have today?

My father-in-law was one of those who participated in D-Day, landing at Omaha Beach, 2nd wave. He also fought in the Battle of the Bulge. While training in England before D-Day, he volunteered as a waist gunner on bombing runs over Germany. Thank goodness he and thousands of others who fought in WWII did not think retaking Western Europe was too difficult.

After spending the last few years trying to help address climate change, I believe that we, societal we, can solve the problem and avoid a catastrophe for mankind worldwide. The necessary effort will be as complex and difficult as the Americans and Allies found in World War II. Another layer of difficulty will be the time required. Rather than a war effort of 4-5 years, the “war on climate change” is going to last for probably 50 years, or more.

Yes, during those 50 years, there will be rationing and restrictions. There will be other inconveniences as well. To address the causes of climate change, life is not going to return to what was once considered “normal.”

Life after WWII was different than before WWII. As with post-WWII, if the climate change effort is managed properly, there will be widespread implementation of new technology and creation of many job opportunities.

Getting there is not going to be easy. As a nation we need to put on our big-boy pants, quit whining that the solution is too difficult, and start acting like adults. Everyone is society is going to be affected by climate change and everyone needs to commit to a solution.

We need to begin thinking about addressing climate change in much the same way the US and the Allies viewed D-Day. There’s really not much choice. It’s a “do” or “die” situation. END #451

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#450. Letter to School Children from CPAC.

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

BEGIN ENTRY #450 Dear school-age children:

We at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) want you to know how much we admire you and how much we are looking out for your future. To make sure your lives will be cut short, we are opposing any legislation to address global warming that would reduce the use of fossil fuel.

We want you to know that continuing to use fossil fuel will help increase the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and help make the earth even warmer. And a rapidly warming earth will be such benefit to you.

A warming earth will be such a benefit that those of us who are a bit older are jealous. With a warmer earth, you’ll be able to vacation in the Arctic. With a warmer earth, the ice caps will melt, and the oceans will rise so much that a new shoreline will be created. No more will rich people be able to keep you from accessing beachfront property.

And for those of you who live in the upper Midwest, there’s another benefit. You’ll be able to get rid of those oak and maple trees and grow palm trees instead.

Plus, everybody will experience more exciting weather. You’ll have a chance to experience more hurricanes, more tornadoes.

You’ll get a ringside seat for all those weather disasters. No more having to watch the Weather Channel to see all the disasters happen. Experiencing those disasters firsthand will be more fun than going to Disney World.

The weather disasters will also add excitement to the food supply. Climate-change caused disasters will ruin lots of farmer’s crops and result in food shortages. Not knowing if you’ll be able to get food and eat should add another layer of excitement to your life.

Some people might get upset when these disasters happen. And they might not act very nice. So, to help you protect yourself from “those people,” we’re going to make sure every school-age child has an assault rifle. As a bonus, we’re going to give you extra high-capacity magazines.

We know that when everyone in school has a weapon, no one will shoot anyone else. Just think about all your classmates having guns. Wouldn’t that be exciting?

Who would want to go play with some cap gun, BB gun or even a 22-calibre rifle or pistol when you could have an AR-15 to play with? And that AR-15 will help to protect you from those evil pointy-headed liberals.

We think you and your friends deserve as warm a planet as possible – like the dinosaurs had – and you deserve to have as many guns as you can carry around. We hope you appreciate all of what we’re doing for you. Enjoy your shorter, weather-disrupted, dangerous life.

Signed your Republican friends at CPAC. END ENTRY #450

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449. How Republicans with a Brain Left Can Help Save the Democracy

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

ENTRY #449 BEGINS: I realize that no amount of logic is going to change minds of hard-right Republicans. If you’re gullible enough to buy Trump’s lies on any topic, then you’ll ignore any degree of logic, and probably this note.

For those Republicans who have played along with Trump, but still have some gray matter that functions, maybe it’s time to take a stand for democracy and what’s right for the country. While taking a stand for democracy might alienate some fellow Republicans and may even force you to vote for a, yikes Democrat in the 2022 midterm elections, not taking a stand might result your rights disappearing. Zealots view only those equally committed as safe harbors. All others are enemies of their cause and need to be treated as enemies.

You might consider the term “brainwashed” as too harsh to apply to Trump supporters. However, consider this example. I have a former business colleague who is an ardent Trump supporter. “So, what,” you ask. “What’s the big deal?” The big deal is the colleague’s heritage is 100% Mexican. In Trumpworld, being Mexican, born in the US or not, means you’re from the wrong ethnic group.

When the Trump-led ethnic cleansing starts, guess which group will be on the list of non-western European groups that need to be cleansed? Yep, my friend with Mexican heritage, you’re one of “those people.”

What’s the risk of someone like my former colleague finally speaking out against Trump? BTW, his ranch is an area much like Uvalde, TX, where 19 4th-grade students and two teachers were gunned down. His risk at the worst is maybe some “loss of face” among family and friends, but, not much else. In fact, he will likely gain respect for having the courage to admit a mistake.

For those not on the white nationalists’ “preferred list,” continuing to support Trump means risking harm to yourself and family. If you don’t think harm can come, you need to study Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.

If logic mattered to Trump’s core, they would support abortion rights and Roe v Wade. Statistically the birthrate among blacks and Hispanics is higher than for whites. Banning abortion means more black and Hispanic children will be born who can “replace” whites.

In addition, according to Trump supporters, blacks and Hispanics do not contribute their fair share to the economy. Banning abortion would create even more of a drain on the economy plus the added cost for schooling and support as adults. Zealots have a hard time connecting two dots. In Trumpworld, illogic becomes logic.

How can Republicans with some brains left get their party back? Two options and the first might not work.

1) In political races where a hard-right Republican is the nominee, vote Democratic. Even if you are a life-long Republican, and you view Democrats as a bunch of socialists, voting Democratic is the preferable option to voting for a hard-rate Republican. Not voting is abdicating your responsibility to the democracy.

In Entry #448, I talked about jumping in bed with Liz Cheney. I disagree with Ms. Cheney on virtually every policy issue, but I view her as a patriot for upholding her oath to the Constitution. In my view, Liz Cheney’s commitment should be a model for all Republicans.

Yes, if you vote for a Democrat and defeat a hard-right Republican, the Democrats might be in power for a decade or so. Fear not, the pendulum will swing back toward the center with more Republicans in Congress.

2) If voting Democratic doesn’t stop Trump’s allies, the only other option seems to be an armed conflict. In my view the US has already started experiencing its 5th revolution, aka the Revenge Revolution. The severity of the revolution is going to get worse. Based on tactics of the hard right, a fighting Civil War may be the only way to stop the hard right from completely taking over many states in the south in the middle of the country.

An added layer of risk is a president who attempts to use the military to overthrow those states which do not fall in line with his thinking. As president, Trump repeatedly ignored the Constitution and tried do use the military to quell even mild protests. Fortunately, the military brass blocked his efforts.

However, the January 6 Committee apparently has evidence that some high-ranking officers in the military ignored their oath to the US Constitution and supported Trump’s efforts to overthrow the government. How the military brass will respond in the future crises is not clear.

Well, Republicans there you have it. If you’re a hard-right Trumper, you probably quit reading this entry some time ago. If you’re a Republican with gray matter left, you have a serious question to ask yourself, “Am I willing to risk the democracy now and for the future by voting for a hard-right Republican?” Voting for a Democrat versus a hard right Republican won’t kill you. It just might save you. END ENTRY #449

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#448 Jumping in Bed with Liz Cheney

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

BEGIN ENTRY #448. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine jumping in bed with Liz Cheney. Over the years, she and I have disagreed on most every issue.
She’d want to do something one way. I’d want to it a different way. Rarely did we agree.

As the saying goes, never give up. Finally, after all those disagreements, I am in bed with Liz. Well, not that kind of bad, I mean the political bed.

Ms. Cheney has become one of few patriots in the Republican party. She’s upholding her duty to the US Constitution, not kowtowing to a political party and certainly not kowtowing to some wanna be dictator. Representative Cheney should be an example to both parties and voters everywhere of how an elected representative should behave.

Whichever way she votes on recommendations from the January 6 committee, she has demonstrated how members of Congress should approach issues affecting threats to our democracy. Rather than running to Mar-a-Lago and begging to be liked, Ms. Cheney acted like Lizzie Borden and gave old Donald 40 whacks.

Her behavior is an example of duty, honor, country. Republicans who support Ms. Cheney should be proud of her behavior. Republicans who don’t should take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask, “why am I bowing to a guy that tried to overthrow the US government?“ Then ask yourself, “If Trump were a Democrat with exactly the same policies and behavior, would I still support him?”

Liz, thanks for your service and willingness to stand up for what’s right. END #448

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#447 SCOTUS Encourages States to Reinstate Dred Scott

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

BEGIN ENTRY #447: Following the leak of the draft of the SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe vs Wade, far-right members of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Samuel Alito, publicly encouraged US states to pass laws that could challenge rights for blacks as affirmed by the Dred Scott decision.

During a meeting of Republican governors, Alito stated, “Just look at the US Constitution for guidance. When the Constitution was adopted, blacks were not equal to whites and blacks had no rights. Based on the original Constitution, there is no reason why blacks, and for that matter other non-white groups, should have the same rights as whites. “

Alito continued this opinion was shared by all conservative members of SCOTUS, except, of course, Chief Justice Roberts, whom Alito considers more liberal than conservative. When pressed about support from Justice Thomas for reinstating Dred Scott, Alito stated that Thomas agreed once he was guaranteed an exemption from any new laws that might affect his rights.

Far-right members also encouraged the governors to eliminate any laws protecting rights to privacy. Alito stated, “Why don’t people understand? There’s nothing in the US Constitution protecting privacy.“

When asked by a reporter from Fox if he meant the reference was to the wording of the US Constitution as originally approved, Alito responded sharply, “Of course! Are you some kind of idiot?“

The reporter then asked that “Since amendments to the Constitution were not part of the original document, does your position mean the 2nd Amendment no longer is valid and citizens no longer have the right to bear arms?“

Alito, obviously flustered, huffed and walked out of the meeting. His lapel microphone was still active, and he was heard mumbling about “the damn media.“

Ok, so the entry is tongue-in-cheek. But, don’t consider the theme too far fetched. Many of what most citizens consider everyday rights were denied in the Dred Scott vs Sanford decision. END ENTRY #447

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#446. What New Name Fits the GOP’s Behavior?

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

BEGIN ENTRY #446: Over the past few years and especially the past 12-15 months, members at all levels of the Republican Party seem to have abandoned any guiding principles. To be a Republican candidate for the November 2022 election, one must be “all Trump all the time.”

No one with any credibility seems to claim that the current Republican Party is any longer the party of Lincoln. You remember that Lincoln guy, the president who saved the Union by putting down the rebellion by secessionist in the south. The guy who signed the Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves from bondage. The guy who tried to be fair to all.

For Republicans, those ideas are outdated. The new, more dynamic Republican Party has decided to morph into a blob of nothingness. The entire platform of the Republican Party is, well, nothing. No proposed solutions to any problem. No description of real problems. The entire Republican Platform is “just say no” to whatever idea is proposed, even if the idea benefits many people who tend to vote Republican. The only ideas the Republican Party seem to support are outlandish conspiracy theories, and the more outlandish the better.

If you want to continue to be a Republican, you must believe in Trump and Tucker (Carlson). Believe and do what the “T-Boys” say or you will be ousted from any role in the Republican Party. You don’t think so? Ask Liz Cheney (R,WY) and Lisa Murkowski (R,AK) about the consequences of being ethical and supporting democracy rather than following the proclamations of the T-Boy twins.

Given this shift in behavior, maybe it is time to rename Republican Party. What does the “new” GOP stand for? Certainly not the Grand Old Party. Maybe the Republican leadership should adopt one of the following names:
• Greed Overcoming Principles
• Generally Opposing People
• Gangster Operating Procedures
• Genuinely Outdated Proposals
• Giving Others Poop
• Groveling Over Putin
• Goofy Outlandish Politicians
• Grandiose Obfuscation Plans

What does the new, rudderless GOP mean for a possible 5th US Revolution, the Revenge Revolution? The new GOP is so far right and so far afield from a workable political party that the only way to realign it and reign in the crazies is with a full-scale revolution, something akin to a civil war.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly based on history, the 5th US Revolution has already started. Unlike the Civil War while Lincoln was president, the geographic boundaries for the 5th US Revolution are not as clear. The real test whether the US can minimize the damage of the revolution and regain some political stability will be following the November 2022 mid-term elections. Based on the behavior following the 2020 presidential elections and behavior leading into the primaries, Republicans will make every effort, illegal or not, to ensure only their candidates are certified as winners, regardless of the vote count.

With widespread shenanigans by Republicans, the sane part of the US populace might finally wake up and begin to squash the revolt. Unfortunately, as we experienced with the January 6 insurrection, there likely will be bloodshed, but following November the bloodshed will be greater and more widespread than January 6. END ENTRY #446

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#445 Why Let Oil Traders Control US Gas-Pump Prices? (con’t)

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

Entry #443 raised the question whether the US should link gas-pump prices to spot oil prices. This entry offers some additional information.

First, let me clarify that the presumed link between spot oil prices and pump prices was assumed to be at the macro level, i.e., average national price, and not intended to predict prices at an individual gas station. Obviously, there are numerous factors affecting prices at any individual gas station – rent, competition, geographic location, transportation cost, state taxes, and so forth.

The variables affecting pump prices at a specific station probably account for no more than 20% of the pump price, and likely far less.  If one had data over time of pump prices at a specific station, the correlation to spot prices might parallel the correlation for national prices.

In determining whether national gas-pump prices track spot-oil prices, I was reminded of some guidance conveyed while a graduate student at MIT. One of the professors at the Sloan School was fond of saying, “when in doubt, run a regression.”  The advice has proved valuable over the years, at least to get a handle on possible causes.

Obviously, correlation does not equal causation. At the same time, when the variables appear inextricably linked, a high correlation increases the likelihood of causation.

For the spot-price/pump-price correlation I used two data bases from the Energy Information Administration: (i) spot oil prices for WTI (West Texas Intermediate); (ii) average US gas prices. The data gathered by EIA are reported by week.  Spot oil price was the independent variable. 

To get some idea of the correlation, five (5) different periods were selected, ranging from three (3) months to 15+ months, including prices published during the week of 04/11/2022.  The periods were selected somewhat randomly and might not be the most representative.   Nonetheless, the five periods included different levels of stability and a range of prices. The widest variation in prices occurred during CY2008, when maximum oil price was $142.52, 4.32x higher than the minimum price of $32.98.  The least variation during 1994, when maximum oil prices only varied $3.30/bbl.

Note: The degree of correlation is noted in the column titled “R2“. The higher the number, the higher the correlation. An R2 of 1.0 would indicate that gas-pump prices change at exactly the same rate as spot oil prices. Any R2 above 0.8 indicates a indicates a very strong relationship.

The pattern of the correlation was remarkably consistent. The higher the spot price and the greater the volatility in spot prices, the higher the correlation. Only in 1994 when spot prices stayed in a narrow band, and gas prices changed even less, did the correlation drop significantly. Since pump prices remained so stable in 1994, even a small movement in spot prices would reduce the R2

The correlation did include a two-period lag between spot prices and pump prices as published by EIA.  The data were lagged to allow for some delay gathering and reporting pump prices and for some delay between changes in spot price and changes at the gas pump. The lagging increased R2 a few points compared to using EIA data published during the same calendar week.

No adjustment was made to gas prices for changes in state taxes or changes in refining mix. For example, in the upper Midwest, the gasoline “blend” changes in the summer. For many years, and it still might be the case, the capacity to refine that summer blend was limited, so sharp jumps in pump prices were common, even if spot oil prices remained stable or declined slightly. I recall one business trip to northern Indiana in early summer when the pump prices at the same station increased nearly $0.40/gallon between morning and evening.

The correlation, in my view, reinforces the need to address the question, “If the US is so concerned about how fuel-pump prices affect CPI and other costs, then why does the US allow pump prices to be linked to spot-oil prices?” The link seems especially unnecessary since the US has reduced imports and in CY2021 became a net exporter of fossil-fuel products. 

The cost of domestically produced oil does not change whether the spot price for WTI is $100/bbl, $10/bbl or $1/bbl. The cost to refine the oil (WTI) does not change because refining is a processing cost, not a raw material cost.

As noted in the first memo, if the US wants to begin to make fuel prices more predictable for consumers and businesses, a good first step would be for the Biden administration to complete a comprehensive analysis of anticipated crude-oil supply based on different fixed prices.  And, yes, the analysis should review why such efforts have either failed or succeeded in other countries.

With such a large domestic supply and production base, such a study would help bring to light the enormous impact of spot prices on pump prices and how influential a few oil traders are in affecting the disposable incomes of many US citizens.  The decision might be to continue the current approach.  However, having a meaningful debate whether to implement a fixed national price or a hybrid version, having less volatile price for gasoline and diesel (before tax) would help manage inflation, would help sustain economic growth and might help focus members of Congress on attempting to address and solve real problems.

Note: The NY State Attorney General apparently believes the oil companies might be price gouging.  The AG opened an investigation.  A number of media reports 04/14/2022. END ENTRY #445

Other Topics. Interested in more info about climate change, what’s required to electrify a fleet of cars/trucks, what it was like to work day-to-day with Lee Iacocca and an array of other topics? Visit another page of this website, https://usrevolution5.com/jrd-thought-comments/  

#444. Trump Trifecta — Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

BEGIN ENTRY #444: Over the 8+ years writing this blog, I tried to focus political comments on behavior rather than focusing on a particular political party.  During the Trump administration it was very difficult to maintain balance, given the number of stunning acts by Trump and staff.

Since President Biden took office, the number of crazy acts by Trump and allies has slowed but the intensity of each act has increased. The past few weeks the behaviors of Trump et al have set a new standard. The individuals involved could be categorized as dumb, dumber and dumbest.  Welcome to the Trump trifecta.

Most of the bizarre comments by Trump-touting Republicans have centered on three events:

  1. Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing regarding nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to SCOTUS
  2. Discussions about Russian invasion of Ukraine
  3. Texts by the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas encouraging White House staff et al to overturn the election

During the Judicial Committee hearings four Republicans demonstrated why the approval rating of Congress rivals the approval rating of a used-car salesman, with the rating for Congress possibly lower.

Judge Jackson who currently sits on the DC Circuit, was berated by Senators Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Josh Hawley and Marsha Blackburn – an appropriate name for insulting Judge Jackson.

As is wont for Republicans of late, claims were made based on statements taken out of context and/or data that was distorted or cherrypicked from a more comprehensive data set, all in an effort to discredit Judge Jackson. The distortions were intended to “prove” Judge Jackson was soft on pedophiles, supported the theory that babies are born racist and a host of other spurious claims.

Virtually every question related to decisions prior to Judge Jackson’s arrival on the DC circuit. In previous hearings before this same committee regarding her nomination to a higher court, none of the same, or even similar questions were asked.

The Republican protagonists, all of whom likely want to run for president, apparently felt compelled to throw red meat to the hard right Republican primary voters.  While the questions were insulting and frustrating, more disturbing was the lack of any effort by the other members of Congress to distance themselves from the foolish foursome of Senators.

In addition, it seems the cat got the tongue of all Republican senators with respect to comments by Trump and the Fox talking head Tucker Carlson.  Both Trump and Carlson have continued to support the Russian invasion of Ukraine. At a recent political rally in Atlanta, Trump again repeated the assertion that Putin was a genius.

Given the sorry state of the Russian economy and how poorly Russian troops have performed in Ukraine, why would anyone call Putin a genius?  Unless, of course, Putin had Trump by the short hairs over some financial transaction or illicit activity.

There seems to be more than ample evidence much of the money Trump used to expand the business, including buying golf courses, was provided by Russian sources. When Trump purchased a private Country Club on the north side of Charlotte, NC, Donald Trump, Junior proudly stated that Russian money was the source of funding.

As far as the behavior of Tucker Carlson, I’m sure Republicans would remain silent if a nightly commentator on MSNBC or CNN made similar comments during the broadcast.  Tucker Carlson seems more like a modern day Tokyo Rose.

Completing the trifecta for Republican dumbness was the publication of information about texts by Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Mrs. Thomas’ texts encouraged Mark Meadows, then White House chief of staff, and others to help overturn the 2020 election. Thomas continued those texts until the January 6th insurrection and even participated in some events prior to the storming of the Capitol.

Clarence Thomas, who so far has refused to recuse himself from any cases before SCOTUS involving Trump, apparently has no intention of doing so in the future. And where have Republicans been during these revelations? Apparently, the cat still has their tongue because no comments at all.

You’d think the pillars of integrity of the Republicans, you know like Representative Jim Jordan (OH), would take a stand in favor of integrity.  On a more realistic note, where are Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowsky and even Richard Burr?  You’d think Burr might speak up since he’s not running for reelection.  What does he have to lose by taking a stand?  (On a side note, at least Senator Collins agreed to support the nomination of Judge Jackson.  So far the only Republican. Senators Murkowsky and Romney later joined Senator Collins in voting for Judge Jackson.)

What does the behavior Republicans have exhibited the past few weeks and especially the past five years have to do with the likelihood of a 5th US Revolution?  For certain the behavior of Republicans has increased the odds of a revolution beyond 50:50.  In fact, with each passing week part of the US population seems to be speeding toward instigating a revolution rather than working on solving the problems we face. END OF ENTRY #444

Other Topics. Interested in more info about climate change, what’s required to electrify a fleet of cars/trucks, what it was like to work day-to-day with Lee Iacocca and an array of other topics? Visit another page of this website, https://usrevolution5.com/jrd-thought-comments/