Is $3-A-Gallon Gas Good News?

Oct 30 2014 @ 7:39pm

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Mataconis argues that overall, the ongoing decline in oil prices is a boon to the US and other advanced industrial nations:

Falling prices for oil will eventually filter through to the prices of the products derived from oil itself, including not only gasoline but also home heating oil and jet fuel. In the short and medium term, this would provide some relief for consumers and for companies that depend on transportation such as Wal-Mart, Amazon, airlines, and shippers such as UPS and Fed-Ex. If prices continue to fall, those benefits will become more apparent and could help to boost economic growth at least slightly, which would be good news for the jobs market and even tax revenues and the Federal Budget Deficit. Other nations that are oil dependent would likely experience similar benefits, which would be good news for areas like Europe where the economy seems to be slowing down a bit and for the world as a whole, which in turn would be good news for nations that are dependent on international trade, which is pretty much every major industrialized nation at this point.

Derek Thompson, who believes prices might fall even further, points out that some industries and regions will be hurt even as consumers celebrate:

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What The Midterms Won’t Teach Us

Oct 30 2014 @ 7:13pm

Sabato’s Crystal Ball spells it out:

The 2014 midterm, no matter the outcome, does not hold real predictive value for 2016. We’ve often compared this year with 1986, where Democrats bounced back to capture the Senate on a highly favorable map in President Reagan’s “sixth-year itch” second midterm. Of course, two years later, the country elected a Republican president for the third straight time. Could the current GOP meet with a similar fate? The results next Tuesday certainly won’t tell us.

Alternately, 2014 might prove to be like 2006, a great Democratic year that foreshadowed another great Democratic year. For all the legitimate talk of the Democrats’ growing demographic edge in presidential elections, the advantage could be blunted by an unpopular President Obama, who like then-President George W. Bush could drag down his party in consecutive elections. Obama’s approval rating is very important in the outcome of the next presidential election: If his approval rating continues to stagnate or sinks even lower, his standing will once again imperil Democrats, just as it did in 2010 and 2014. Democrats in and out of Congress will need to find ways to help Obama leave office on a high note, because their fortunes — and that of the Democratic nominee picked to succeed him — will still be linked to his.

Faces Of The Day

Oct 30 2014 @ 6:45pm


Protesters pose with a police shield outside the parliament in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso as cars and documents burn outside on October 30, 2014. Hundreds of angry demonstrators stormed parliament before setting it on fire in protest at plans to change the constitution to allow President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year rule. Police had fired tear gas on protesters to try to prevent them from moving in on the National Assembly building ahead of a vote on the controversial legislation, but about 1,500 people managed to break through the security cordon and were ransacking parliament. By Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images.

Change Doesn’t Need A Trigger

Oct 30 2014 @ 6:14pm

A reader writes:

Thanks for the interesting post ["The Complexion Of The Gun Rights Movement"]. It seems to me that in the the success of the civil rights movement owesSupreme Court Hears Arguments On California's Prop 8 And Defense Of Marriage Act almost nothing to the possession of firearms and almost everything to passive resistance and non-violence. Gun rights advocates take it as a fundamental premise that the right to bear arms is somehow essential to protecting our other liberties, but it’s hard to think of a single instance since the Revolutionary War when that has been the case. Personal safety may be protected by firearms. But rights?

If you think of any fundamental right that any American enjoys (including the right to bear arms), that right exists and is protected not because someone shot someone (or threatened to shoot someone), but because someone sued someone, and it is a wonder to me that libertarians and conservatives are not more aware of this. If you go for your gun, you have already lost. If you call a lawyer, you just might change the world.

(Photo of Edie Windsor by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Paul Howard monitors the progress drug companies and government agencies are making:

If Uncle Sam doesn’t shell out the money to help develop and then buy an Ebola vaccine, no one else will. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the only other major investor in countermeasures for early-stage research, wrapped promising drugs such as ZMAPP in red tape, and seemed more interested in publishing academic papers than in actually helping companies develop products. Not surprisingly, the government is not an effective pharmaceutical company.

Still, nothing focuses the mind of government bureaucrats like a global health crisis unfolding in real time on cable-news networks. The government and private companies are now fast-tracking vaccine-development programs. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health is collaborating on developing Ebola vaccines with GlaxoSmithKline and NewLink Genetics. GSK hopes to get data from early-stage safety testing soon. If the vaccine passes, GSK intends to run a large trial with health-care workers in Ebola-affected countries by early 2015, if not sooner.

Dr. Jesse Goodman, the former chief scientist of the FDA, discusses the inherent challenges in developing a vaccine:

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According to a remarkable new survey:

The survey, by Ipsos Mori, found Labour is currently polling at just 23 per cent in Scotland which, if replicated in May, would see the party lose all but four of the 41 MPs it currently has north of the border. Such a result would make it next to impossible for Labour to win an overall majority in Westminster and form a Government after the next election.

Massie calls this “the most astonishing survey of Scottish political opinion in living memory”:

There will be two stories in Scotland next May.

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There was a little kerfuffle yesterday as Goldblog reported on an Obama bigwig calling Bibi a “chickenshit.” My favorite bit of the column was this nugget:

“The Israelis do not show sufficient appreciation for America’s role in backing Israel, economically, militarily and politically,” Abraham Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, told me. (UPDATE: Foxman just e-mailed me this statement: “The quote is accurate, but the context is wrong. I was referring to what troubles this administration about Israel, not what troubles leaders in the American Jewish community.”)

Heh. But the more troubling aspect of the column is this idea that any obvious clash of views or interests between the US and Israel is some kind of “crisis”. It certainly isn’t a crisis for Obama or the US. Paul Pillar makes a good point (seconded by Larison):

Sweep aside the politically-driven fiction about two countries that supposedly have everything in common and nothing in conflict and instead deal with reality, and the concept of crisis does not arise at all.

Nor does it really matter if Netanyahu “writes off” Obama in his last two years.

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Mental Health Break

Oct 30 2014 @ 4:20pm

An epic series of tubes:

If The Democrats Hold The Senate

Oct 30 2014 @ 3:57pm

Ramesh imagines the GOP reaction:

Many conservatives … would argue that the party establishment had led them to ruin. The establishment largely got its way in the 2012 presidential primaries, and then got its way again in running an agenda-less general-election campaign. This time, Exhibit A for these conservatives would be the North Carolina Senate race, where the establishment candidate — Thom Tillis, the speaker of the state House — has persistently run a little behind his Democratic opponent. (Actually, that might be Exhibit B if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell manages to lose in Kentucky.)

Conversely, a lot Republican officeholders might conclude that the Democratic attacks on them as uninterested in compromise and hostile to women had succeeded, and that they should accordingly move leftward.

Should the Democrats pull off an upset, Nate Cohn will look “to the challenges of modern polling as a big reason for the surprise”:

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Beard Of The Week

Oct 30 2014 @ 3:38pm

Midterm edition:


A reader nominates it:

This guy is running for Florida State Senate as an independent in central Florida. His name is Devin Norton, and you can find other pictures and information on his Facebook.