Andy Stone: A Stone’s Throw |

Andy Stone: A Stone’s Throw

Andy Stone
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

They say history, like a greasy pastrami sandwich, repeats itself. And so, wandering the corridors of the Hotel Jerome last weekend, I was amused to see a headline from The Aspen Times-Democrat of Nov. 7, 1810, proclaiming, “Republican Party Reduced to Falsification.”

Imagine that. (Or, as the pastrami sandwich would say, “Uuuurp!”)

Now I know that some of you think I spend my life picking on those poor Republicans, who really want nothing more than a brighter, tax-free future.

But one of the problems our democracy is facing at the moment is that the news media seem to think that “balance” means ignoring the fact that one major political party is, well, “reduced to falsification.”

Yes, I know, all politicians lie to some extent. They stretch the truth, color the truth, shade the truth. Pick a euphemism.

But recently the Republicans have been resorting to simple, flat-out lying. On a grand scale. No euphemism necessary – or even possible.

The examples are too numerous to allow a full discussion in this column (or even in this entire edition of the newspaper), so let’s look at just one: the recent attempts to claim that rising gas prices are President Barack Obama’s fault.

Those claims, by the way, are often accompanied by absurdities such as Newt Gingrich’s promise that if he is elected president, he will make danged sure that the price of a gallon of gas drops to $2.50. (And, while he’s at it, he will remove any regulations that require improved gas mileage for cars and trucks – because we’ll be so awash in gas that there’ll be no need to conserve.)

The GOP candidates often try to buttress those claims by noting that gas prices have gone up steadily since Obama’s inauguration – while ignoring the fact that the price of gas rose steadily to an all-time high in the summer of 2008 under President George W. Bush and then, later that year, slid (all the way back to where it was under, for example, Bill Clinton) as the economy collapsed.

Wait! The price increase under Obama has been the result of the improving economy? Hmmm. Never mind. Move along. Nothing to see here.

In any case, as the Republicans know full well, there is very little a president can do to directly affect gas prices.

Sure, OK, President George W. did manage to oversee that dramatic drop during his last months in office – but that was the result of a near-depression.

Not even Newt Gingrich (I hope) would want to try that as official policy.

So, instead, they are bellowing versions of “Drill, baby, drill!” or “Drill here! Drill now!”

As if our problem is tooth decay, and a little quick drilling can fix the ache.

But unleashing the drilling rigs all over the country and out into the ocean, as far as the eye can see, will not have any immediate impact on gas prices.

You might argue that additional petroleum supplies would be good for our national security.

That’s not a bad argument. We could discuss that.

But that’s a very long-term project.

Once you start drilling, many years pass before there’s any real impact on oil supplies.

The American Petroleum Institute released a study in September that bragged about all the vast additional supplies of oil and gas that could be ours if we just got out of the way and let the industry have at it.

That new hydrocarbon wealth would be ours, they said, by 2030.

In other words, the gas guys themselves admit it’ll take 20 years to make any real difference.

So drilling – here and now – will not make any difference in gas prices any time soon.

Or the Republicans argue that the Evil One (that would be Obama, since that title became available with the killing of Osama bin Laden – another inconvenient item they would prefer to forget) has driven up the price of gasoline by crushing the industry: stopping drilling, shutting down refineries and all that sort of socialist stuff.

Except that this year the United States became an exporter of gasoline.

That’s right, we produce more gasoline here than we can use, so we ship it to other countries.

Now really, for anyone believing in the fabled free market and that always-delightful law of supply and demand, the fact that we export gasoline would seem to indicate that a supply shortage is not the problem.

Just for fun, here’s a fact: The price of oil and gas are set by the worldwide market for those commodities.

The planetary appetite is fierce – billions of gallons a day – and any additional supply is snapped right up. Nothing we do – no matter how much of our coastal waters or Alaskan wilderness we sacrifice – can make much of a dent in prices.

After all, as noted, we have a glut of gasoline here, so, instead of seeing prices fall, they simply ship the excess off to countries that gladly pay the going price.

That’s how that supply and demand stuff works.

But here’s the real twist, the kicker that makes it worthwhile to wade through all the rest of it.

The one single factor that is most responsible right now for the rising cost of gasoline is the rising tension in the Middle East, the threat of war involving a major oil-producing nation.

That, of course, is the imminent possibility of an attack on Iran by Israel, which would have a catastrophic effect on oil supplies and gas prices.

And who, in this great nation of ours, is doing the most bellicose shouting in favor of war – and demanding that Obama show he’s a real man and join them in that cavalcade of threats?

Who, in other words, is doing the most to keep gas prices shooting up?

Why, gee … that would be Republicans.

And so, in honor of history (and that pastrami sandwich – uuuurp!), I repeat the 1810 Aspen Democrat-Times headline: “Republican Party Reduced to Falsification.”

Or worse.

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