Monday, April 25, 2011

How We Are Supposed to Hate Obama for High Gas Prices

MeanMesa has watched -- like most other Americans -- as gasoline prices have gone up, up. up.  Immediately behind the "up,up,up" story come the "reasons" why this is happening.  For MeanMesa visitors who have been out enjoying the spring weather (except those having the latest mortal dose of climate change...), we can review some of these "great" "reasons" which both make perfect sense and which absolutely explain not only the rising gasoline prices, but also the "wonderful" "failure to lead" problem the President has because he is from Kenya.

Some of the Really "Good" Reasons
for High Gasoline Prices


Although Libya produces less than 2% of the world's supply of petroleum, and, although Libyan production has not stopped but cut by half -- making that 1% of the world's supply, US market prices for gasoline have grown around 15% in the last two months.

A World Shortage of Petroleum

When the Libyan affair first began, the Saudis, employing their heavily US subsidized 5% world supply "buffer" increased production to meet the "shortage."  Then, they quit.  Why? Because there was a petroleum glut around the world which had full oil tankers languishing in harbors everywhere, waiting to unload.  Existing petroleum storage is full to the gunwales.

Unrest in the Middle East

Aside from Libya, Middle East unrest seems to be centralized in places which have no oil -- Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan and Syria, mostly.  The countries which actually do have oil are having unrest, too, but they are shooting the protesters in the streets -- thus, no production problems.

Increased World Demand for Gasoline

Most of the "gasoline buyers" in the US and Europe are either broke or terrified of becoming broke.  Prices are high (see title of this posting...)  and gasoline consumption has been curtailed even further.  This is one reason that there are oil tankers parked in harbors waiting for room to open up in refineries so they can unload.

The Other Reason Which Has Absolutely
Nothing to Do with the Price Increases

Oil Industry Corporate Greed

Now, who exactly can expect giant oil companies to simply "absorb" higher and higher per barrel oil prices and leave gasoline at some reasonable rate?  These behemoths are literally "orphaned waifs" of the capitalist system, trapped by higher crude prices on one side and torn by the "social terror" of higher gasoline prices on the other.

As if they cared.  The oil industry has to release profit reports next week.  They will be sky high.  For example, Exxon-Mobile's profits increased by around 50% in the last quarter.  You know.  "Orphaned waifs."

Okay.  "Orphaned waifs" may be a little hyperbolic, but "increased crude prices?"

The actual cost of petroleum to these giants is basically stable.  They own everything.  Producing a barrel of crude this week isn't particularly more expensive than it was last week.

However, even though the "cost" of a barrel of crude hasn't really increased, the "price" has.  The oil price on the "global market" (Ever notice that the phrase "global market" must be incorporated in every news broadcast at least eight times in every 30 minutes?) has gone up without any particular cause, although the "reasons" for the increase are "increased demand," Libya, the Middle East and the "global shortage."

Exxon-Mobile and her sisters get to raise prices when the "global market" prices increase even though their actual production costs don't.  This is how their "profits" can go up 50% pretty much any time they like.

Sewing "Gasoline Prices" to Obama's Thigh 
with Really "Good" Mathematics

Well, Petroleum's little sister, the Pharmaceutical Industry, has been spending a million dollars a week trying to sew "health care costs" (Remember, petroleum "cost" versus petroleum "price?") to Obama's thigh with mixed results.  In the wake of that faltering attempt to promote the latest "up is down" corporate fable, every right wing nut job who can hold a slide rule is now very, very busy trying to, you know, sew the oil prices to, oh whatever...

NBC News, Sunday April 24, had a great chart -- not the only one -- which "mathematically proved" that Obama was going to lose the 2012 because "gasoline prices were going up."  MeanMesa wasn't able to extract the NBC chart due to, uh, geriatric technical difficulties, but we did find a real doozey elsewhere on the Google.  There are plenty.

The "Real Doozey:" The "Mathematical" Chart "Linking" Obama's Approval Rating to Gasoline Prices

The Rove Chart Proves Obama Goes Down on High Gas Prices - source

Well, this about "closes the deal" on the wavering re-election prospects for the "failure of leadership" President from Kenya, doesn't it?

Oooops.  Wait a minute.  What exactly does this chart -- and all the thousands of others exactly like it -- prove about anything?

The, uh, "curves" certainly seem to match up in a "convicting way," don't they?  Not exactly.  In fact, not even "generously."  Mathematically, this baby is no more than a "screaming stink hole" one would expect from a numerical analysis student with a hang over facing a pop quiz.

The "curves" might look suspiciously similar, but the real problem is with the indices along the left and right sides of the graph.  The vertical "index" on the left for Obama's approval rating extends from 70% to 30%.  The "curve" of Obama's approval is contained between a high of roughly 70% at his Inauguration and a current reading of roughly 47%.

The gasoline price "curve" has its own, separate vertical "index" on the right which runs, upside down, from a high of $4 at the bottom to a low of $1 at the top.  

Between Friday, April 22, and Sunday, April 24, this "graph," accompanied in every instance by the "explanation" that Obama's popularity was "descending" in "lockstep" with the increase in gasoline prices, appeared on every news cast on every network channel - FOX, ABC, NBC and PBS.

So, what exactly is the problem MeanMesa is seeing in this "graph?" 

Even Though the Chart Means Nothing,
It's the Thought That Counts

Let's take a look "by the numbers," hopefully in a way which won't send MeanMesa visitors screaming off to find their old high school algebra text somewhere in the attic.

1.  The "scale" of the index columns on the left and the right of the chart have nothing to do with each other.

The data in the chart would have been just as "accurate" if the index columns on the left and the right had been prepared within rational limits instead of the artificial ones necessary to make the curves coincide. Further, by changing the height of each increment, shown as a difference of 5% in the approval rating and a difference of $.50 in the gasoline prices, the corresponding curves would  no longer have appeared to have some sort of functional correlation.

Obama's approval rating is spread across the entire gambit between 70% and 30% although the lowest it went in the period was above 45%.  The index scale had to be expanded to "include" an additional, unused 15% "buffer" at the bottom so the approval curve would "sit" on the gasoline price curve.

Likewise, the gasoline price curve also had to be indexed artificially with a range from $1/gallon to $4/gallon in $.50 increments, even though the actual curve would have required only the range between $1.75/gallon and $3.25/gallon.

By using the synthetic "scale" adjustments of the indices of the two curves, the chart was able to show -- or at least, imply -- a non-existent functional correlation between the two which doesn't actually exist.

2.  Obama's approval rating has both decreased and increased during the time of the greatest increases in the gasoline prices.  It is currently higher than it was when the gasoline price changes began.

Contrary to the accompanying narrative given on the news broadcasts, during the most precipitous increase in gasoline prices from $2.60 in September of 2010 to $3.45 in February of 2012, Obama's approval rating has increased from 43% around September of 2010 to 47% by February of 2012, with a high point of 49% in January 0f 2012.

After both the rebuttal of the Ryan economic plan and the announcement of an investigation into possible raw speculation on the gasoline prices, by now, Obama's approval rating has increased even higher.

However, the "narrative" offered as an interpretation of this chart always included the corporate media "instructions" to viewers that they were "supposed to believe" that Obama's political fortune was "collapsing" with the rising prices.

Now, MeanMesa visitors know better than to "take the bait."

As to the "Thought That Counts," enjoy a few excepts from the Rove article where we got the graph.  The entire article can be read here.

From KarlRove&Co, Polling News and Notes:

Presidential Approval and Gasoline Prices: The Energy Information Administration reports that the fighting in Libya has caused the retail price of a gallon of gasoline to rise to $3.52 this week.

Hmmm.  "The Energy Information Administration?"

Hmmm.  "...fighting in Libya?"

The graph below shows President Obama's weekly approval rating, as calculated by Gallup, compared against weekly average retail gasoline prices, as published by The Energy Information Administration.

Of course, these comments refer to the graph above in this post.  Further, the sentence is, perhaps when considered over generously, basically accurate.  However, the "compared" idea is deceptive.  No actual comparison is made in the graph, that is, no conclusion of a functional connection between the two curves can be taken from the information as it is presented.

Don't let them trick you. 

Get ready to do whatever is necessary to win the 2012 election, starting with "not losing heart" after being bathed with cheap shot GOPCon "media math."

MeanMesa's compliments to the President.

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