I find the short memory of the average voter endlessly frustrating. The Bush Presidency was an unmitigated disaster, from a DOW that had plunged over 1,000 points by September 10th, 2001; the refusal of the Bush Administration to focus on al Qaeda until it was too late; to the Iraq War itself launched under false pretenses, plunging an already weak economy over the cliff. Yet, three short years after Bush’s departure, the idea that we might launch ANOTHER needless preemptive war against a country three times the size of Iraq over suspicions that Iran might be developing “weapons of mass destruction” seems absolutely insane. Republicans are suddenly in a tizzy over “rising gas prices” and making hay over the possibility that we “might see $5/gallon gasoline by this Summer”. Where were they four years ago when gasoline… which hadn’t EVER broken $2/gallon before Bush… was on the brink of breaking $4/gallon in 2008? And just why DID gas hit $4/gallon by July of that year? Because President Bush had spent the better part of a year saber-rattling about possible military action against Iran. First, in 2007, it was because “Iran was meddling in the Iraq War”:
Failing to rally war-weary Americans into supporting another mindless preemptive war, President Bush then turned to fear-mongering over “Iran developing a ‘nukeular’ program”:
Bush Administration hyping the threat of Iran pursuing nuclear weapons…
Bush remains hawkish over Iran’s nuclear program. – Dec 4, 2007
US: “No confidence” Iran’s nuclear program peaceful. – Feb 22, 2008
IAEA to probe alleged Iranian nuclear weapons. – Mar 3, 2008
EU Widens Iran Sanctions, Shuts Bank Melli’s European Offices. – June 23, 2008
U.S. strike may delay, not stop Iran nuclear program. – June 25, 2008
…Gas hits a record high of $4.11/gallon on July 14, 2008.
US changes tack on Iran, giving diplomacy a chance. – July 17, 2008
U.S. fails to sway Iran at 7-nation nuclear talks. – July 20, 2008
(While President Bush was threatening military action over “Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons”: U.S. report says Iran halted nuclear weapons program in 2003. – Dec 3, 2007.)
By June, President Bush had convinced Europe to take part in sanctions against Iran until they halted their nuclear enrichment program. The following month, oil hit the previously unfathomable height of $147/barrel on July 11, 2008. Consider that:
On September 12, 2001, crude oil closed at $29 a barrel… the day after the attacks of 9/11. While the U.S. Stock & Mercantile markets may have been closed in the U.S., the rest of the world went on without us. The price of oil rose only slightly, up just $1.55 from the day before. Oil has now risen an additional $100 a barrel since 9/11.
If you were a Republican, you might stop there and exonerate President Bush by blaming current oil prices on “9/11″. But exactly 18 months later on March 11, 2003, the price of oil had climbed a mere $9 to just $37 a barrel a little over a week before the invasion of Iraq. 9/11 had NOTHING to do with the meteoric rise in gas prices that we see today.
By 2008, I noticed a new trend among all the gas stations in my neighborhood. Digital signs. Gas prices had been climbing so fast and frequently, changing the plastic numbers on the marque was becoming a full-time job. Today, finding a station that still uses the old plastic numbers changed by hand is almost a novelty. So to hear Republicans today whine about gas prices that are still 50cents a gallon lower than they were six months before Bush left office is like fingernails on a chalkboard.
And that’s another thing: All these people (Republicans and Media alike) noting that “gas was just $1.79/gallon when Bush left office”… like that’s where it had been all eight years of Bush’s presidency. As I noted, gas prices hit a record $4.11/gallon just six months earlier, nearly doubling in price climbing $2/gallon in just 18 months. President Bush quickly stopped saber-rattling against Iran just long enough for oil prices to plummet 52%… and gas prices along with it… in time for the November election (having the Democratic Party presidential nominee and likely 2008 winner suggesting we TALK to Iran certainly didn’t hurt.)
Ronald Reagan’s former Budget Director David Stockman made the same observation on CNN last week:
As Stockman points out, the reason gas prices are as high as they are right now has nothing to do with the “supply” of oil and everything to do with “speculators” on Wall Street, driving up the price of oil regardless of output/availability. We used to require that people who purchased “Commodities” (like corn, cotton, wheat or oil) on the Mercantile Exchange prove they can actually take possession of the commodities they are buying. Not so today. Today, any ignorant Day-Trader living in a 1-bedroom apartment can buy 100 barrels of crude oil, “speculating” on the price, hoping to make a quick profit, driving up the price without regard for the impact on the economy.
I leave you with this:
“It is a particular sort of triumph that bankers have made the word “speculation” synonymous with “adventure”. – Charles Dickens’ “Nicholas Nickleby” – 1839
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