Jim Bennett’s comments on Gov. Palin

Jim has been quiet lately, and his insights have been missed.

His analysis is too good to be left buried in the comments:

The McCain-Palin campaign needs to address the experience question head-on, and they need to do so by working from Palin’s strengths, not by sweeping objections under the rug. This should be done by announcing several areas in which she would take the lead within the administration, areas where her existing strengths give her plausibility. Three areas suggest themselves immediately.
1. North American energy and trade policy. The most important substantive accomplishment of her administration has been the natural-gas pipeline deal with Canada, that she was a key figure in brokering and pushing. The Financial Times gave her credit for this accomplishment weeks ago, when nobody thought she had a chance for the VP slot. Have her make a speech as soon as possible before a major energy or trade meeting in Canada, where she will give a preview of the McCain-Palin policy for energy cooperation with Canada. Cite her pipeline experience frequently. Get in digs at Obama for playing the anti-NAFTA card in the primaries, and against Biden for having voted against the pipeline when it was first an issue decades ago. Play up her experience as an Arctic governor and show sympathy for Canada’s Arctic issues, including the undersea resource claims we and Canada will soon be disputing with Putin. Maybe follow that with a trip to Iqaluit, being sure to bring her husband. Up there, talk about America and Canada’s common Arctic and Inuit/Eskimo heritage.
Obama has done nothing as important or complex, or as international, as the pipeline deal. Not to mention Biden.
2. Middle-class/blue-collar issues. The Republicans need to hone their “Sam’s Club” agenda. She’s the person to do it. Adopt the Romney proposal for a realistic (at least 10K per kid) child credit, and be sure it’s deductible against parroll tax. And pledge to revisit and reform Joe Biden’s (D-MNBA) bankruptcy bill, making sure to repeat ten zillion times that it was Biden’s baby. She can take credit for convincing McCain to revisit his previous position and decide it needs reforming.
3. Native community issues. Not only are her husband (and kids) part-Eskimo, Palin had to deal costantly with the powerful “native corporations” as governor. The Bureau of Indian Affairs and its programs are an ongoing national disgrace. Let Palin head up a task force to entirely revamp [programs for native communities. This might sway enough votes in New Mexico to swing the state their way, and would count in several other Western states that are leaners.
So here are three “mules” for Sister Sarah to ride – – to office.

Jim also added this:

Here’s a story on Bloomberg from Aug. 1 about the pipeline deal, before the media got the talking points from the Obama campaign to pretend that Palin has accomplished nothing significant:

Fantasy Energy

Megan McArdle [h/t Instapundit] writes:

There’s a lot of optimism on both the center-left and the right that all we really need to do to tackle the problem of global warming/peak oil is throw a hell of a lot of money at the problem, and presto!…Yes, we found petroleum to replace whale oil.  This does not therefore mean, as night follows day, that we will find something to replace petroleum.  We will find something to replace petroleum if there is something that can replace petroleum.  There might not be.

Well, actually, there is always a new source of energy to replace any old energy source. It just might not be the energy source we fantasize about. 

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Suppressing Knowledge About American Oil Resources

An editorial in Investor’s Business Daily (8/11) contains the following passage:

In 2005, (Barack Obama) voted to kill legislation that would have measured our offshore (oil and gas) reserves.

That effort failed and a preliminary inventory report was produced in February 2006.

But those estimates of what lay beneath the 1.76 billion-acre continental shelf were based on old data obtained from surveys using old exploratory technology.

The Interior Department report stated: “Resource estimates are highly dependent on the current knowledge base, which has not been updated in 20 to 40 years for areas under congressional moratorium . . .”

The reason is that while requiring regular inventory assessments Congress provides no funding to conduct new surveys.

Now Obama is sponsoring S.115, which he calls the “Oil SENSE Act,” which would repeal the 2005 Energy Policy Act’s authorization of these inventories.

His bill would prohibit the expanded use of 3-D seismic techniques to search for and measure undersea oil deposits.

This seemed so unbelievable, even give what I knew about Obama’s ideas on energy, that I had to check for myself to see if it was true.

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A Scary Ratio

Barrons (7/14) contains the following sentence:

Even more impressive is the value of the oil reserves of petroleum-exporting countries, which now total an estimated $140 trillion, nearly three times the size of global equity markets, which have a combined market value of around $50 trillion. (emphasis added)

There are a couple of things wrong with this comparison. It is not correct, IMNSHO, to compare a cash flow stream which will be recognized over years/decades to a current market value–the cash flow stream should be discounted to present value. (Equity market values already represent, at least in theory, the discounted present value of their corresponding free cash flow streams.) Also, I’m pretty sure reserve value is a gross value, which doesn’t take production costs into account. For a place like Saudi Arabia, these may be minimal at present, but they will not remain minimal over the life of the asset.

But even after these adjustments are applied, you will probably come out with something like:

The value of the oil reserves of petroleum-exporting countries is equal to the size of global equity markets.

Think about what this means. Ownership of the land under which oil resides is roughly equal in value to ownership of the equity interest in all the world’s publicly-traded companies, with their factories, mines, brand values, and intellectual capital…the accumulated work and knowledge of centuries.

This represents in a sense a return to the pre-industrial age, in which the ownership of land was the predominant form of wealth. If this situation is sustained, it will represent a tremendous change in the world economic order, and not at all a positive one.

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A Big Breakthrough

[See update at end]

Instapundit links to an EEtimes story that claims that MIT researchers have created a catalyst that can electrolyze water at 100% efficiency, meaning that 100% of the electricity that goes across the electrodes goes into breaking the bonds between the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in the water. 

If this pans out, this is big, I am talking discovery of nuclear fission big. For one thing, it means the end to concerns about anthropogenic global warming. 

The MIT breakthrough is the equivalent of someone finding the means to improve a car’s miles-per-gallon rating from 30 to 150. 

It’s big!

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