Hurricane Gustav: One to Watch

August 26, 2008

Hurricane Gustav has spun up in the last week or so, and current forecasts are showing that it will make it into the Gulf of Mexico as a major (Category 3-5) hurricane. Here’s the current 5-day forecast from the National Hurricane Center.

It’s still way too early to say for sure that this storm is a threat to the oil patch in the GOM, but for now it doesn’t look good. We’re just getting to that point in the season where ocean surface temps are hot enough to support major ‘canes, and this one appears to be a on good track to hit the US somewhere between the Florida Panhandle and Houston.

I would expect gas prices to jump soon both due to to this and due to the Labor Day holiday coming up. Not sure about the rest of the country, but around here gas prices rise in the week prior to Labor Day since it’s the last hurrah for a summer driving vacation before school starts. If Gustav does look to be aiming for somewhere between New Orleans and Houston, oil & gasoline prices should rise fast. A return to $4/gallon around here would be in order.

The best forecasts are from the NHC. If you’re interested in more commentary, satellite pix, and discussion (both good & bad), Storm 2K is a great place to go.

The signifigance of the Russian-Georgian Crisis

August 21, 2008

Sorry for the long delay in posting.  Been sick, on vacation, working, etc…

Interesting article on Stratfor today outlining the new balance of power that is starting to take shape in our post 9/11 world.   Long story short,  Russia invades Georgia, US protests, Russia couldn’t care less, US is more or less powerless to do anything.   The short-lived era of US imperial dominance has already reached its high-water mark from the looks of it, and other powers and regional blocs are starting to emerge.  The Russians for one are obviously no about to let NATO and the US arrange things in Central Asia & Eastern Europe, and it’s a fair guess that both Russia & China will drop the hammer on us if we either attack Iran or give Israel the go-ahead do to so on our behalf.

Things aren’t as crystal clear as the talk radio & blog pundits (especially on the right) describe.   The US is still a powerful nation, and we have global influence.  We also are deep in debt to foreign nations and there are limits to our military power both in terms of human & financial capital.    It’ll be interesting to see if Russia’s incursion into Georgia is a precursor of other actions in their area, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Chinese take any lessons from this into their dealings with Taiwan.

Realistic Expectations For The New President

August 1, 2008

The general election season is just getting started and already the hot air is issuing forth from both major presidential campaigns.   McCain is experienced; Obama a rookie.  McCain has a track record that helps him; Obama’s lack of a track record makes him a breath of fresh air.  Obama is the second coming of JFK; McCain the second coming of Bush 2.   Lots of rhetoric, lots of mud, little of substance.   Since Minnesota is considered a battleground state this year, we’re already seeing a good number of McCain ads, along with the incessant spewage of senatorial ads as both dirtbags attempt to out-smear the other.  In other words, business as usual in an election year.

My gut tells me that Obama is going to win.  Maybe not be a wide margin, but I think that as the economy continues to slow down it’ll be hard for McCain to distance himself from the largely Republican-driven debt monster that’s been created in the last 8 years.  “It’s the economy, stupid!” redux.  The Democrats are hardly blameless in this as well, but since it’s been a Republican in the White House since 2000, the shit will mostly stick to that party in my opinion.   I’d be much more interested in trying to highlight why the Congress as meekly given up much of it’s power of oversight over the last few decades, but no one really wants to touch that idea at all.

One thing that sticks in my craw with Obama, though, is this whole “Change We Can Believe In” nonsense.   The idea that one rhetorically-gifted man is going to sweep in to Washington and clean house is nonsensical.   Will he deviate from the current administration’s policies?  I’m sure he will.  We should just be realistic about what he can accomplish and not expect the ushering in of a second golden age.  There is an embedded lobbyist culture that has a hammerlock on Washington D.C. and it will not go away quietly into the night.   Money is power, and the money coming into political campaigns has many strings attached.

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