Good morning, everyone.
You ever listen to the commercials on talk radio? Why are they all about erectile dysfuction, vitamin supplementation, and high quality dog food? Not sure this writer is comfortable admitting that he's a part of that target demographic.
Nonetheless, there's something distinctly American about the talk show radio host. You can drive from Miami to Seattle and hear the same voice coming in and out across state lines and across overlapping radio frequencies. Walt Whitman celebrated the variety of lifestyles afforded by the differing regions of America — from sea to shining sea through the amber waves of grain to the peaks of the Rocky's down to the beach — and as archaic as the talk show may be in the age of the podcast, it's the talk show radio host that ties it all together when you're traversing the latticework highways of the American frontier.
I just wish they'd find some new sponsors.
Today, we look at a bill floating through the chamber involving seed laws, peer into the world of oil in the midst of Russia funding a war off its sale, and look at what fish look like a couple miles below the surface of the sea.
Thanks for reading.
☄ THE SEEDS OF LIBERTY
What is in a seed? When planted in fertile soil, watered by the heavens, and bathed in sunlight - what comes forth is life. The American story follows a similar trajectory. It arose from a desire to own property, cultivate the land, and reap the fruits of freedom sewn as independent sustainability. The roots of a nation run deep.
In the era of corporate farming, America finds herself at odds with this ideal and a war on seeds has commenced:
“Today, less than 5% of US farms account for over 50% of total agricultural value production. In fact, over half of all farmers earn less than $10,000 and supplement their farm income with other work. In their place, mega-farms and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) have sprung up, touting seeds as intellectual property and plowing those in their way.”
Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be reviewing SJR0861 (Sen. Niceley - R, District 8): a “Constitutional Amendment- Proposes adding a provision establishing right to food to provide all individuals with a right to food, including the right to save and exchange seeds and the right to grow, raise, harvest, produce, and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health, and well-being.”
Is this a necessary measure? We think Benjamin Franklin says it best, “There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry.”
- Bill To Stop Social Media Censorship In Committee And Subcommittee This Week (TNC) The bill seeks to designate social media platforms as common carriers and prescribe fines for deplatforming and shadow-banning users.
- Hamilton County Republican Robin Smith indicted, resigns (Post) She was indicted on federal fraud charges and on Monday resigned from the state House.
- River North Surpasses 1,000 Units With New Mixed-Use Development (Now Next)
- Madison property eyed for mixed-use project sells for $7M (Post)
- Details emerge for planned Pie Town project (Post)
- Local developer buys property off Charlotte Avenue (Post)
- Sutler Saloon to close after seven years (NBJ)
☁︎ STUCK BETWEEN AN OIL BARREL AND A BANK RUN
A glaring hole in the US's efforts to cripple Russia has been its refusal to halt purchases of Russian oil and gas. But just this morning, we're hearing that the Biden administration plans to announce the complete ban of Russian oil imports as early as Thursday morning. We'll remain skeptical until we see and hear otherwise. Until then, we can reflect on the pickle we've put ourselves in and pick apart Jen Psaki's salacious statement that domestic oil producers aren't drilling because they're trying to price gouge American consumers.
The US continues to be the world's largest oil producer generating about 18 million barrels of oil per day, just under its consumption of 20 million barrels per day. That leaves the US with a ~2 million barrel short fall that must be imported from abroad. The majority of this oil comes from Canada (~60%), but a small sliver comes from Russia.
For petroleum, the stuff that goes in your car, Russian imports makeup 7% of the 7.86 million barrels of petroleum the US imports each day which comes out to about 550,200 barrels of petroleum per day. Russian imports account for about 3% of US petroleum consumption per day and purchases only amount to 5% of total Russian exports.
The US imports no natural gas from Russia despite Russia being the world's largest exporter. The US produces more natural gas than Russia by a fairly significant margin, but exports less of it because it consumes more than any other nation in the world.
In short, the US banning the purchase of Russian oil and gas will have a less dramatic effect on US oil and gas prices than, say, in Germany where over 50% of all nautral gas purchases come from Russia. A point of contention at the beginning of the conflict — just over a week ago, mind you — was Germany's delicate position as a net importer of Russian gas. Even prior to the conflict, the nation experienced a massive spike in energy prices in the midst of a global natural gas shortage. Since then, we've seen Germany declare its intent to roll back its reliance on Russian gas and begin cultivating exports from elsewhere, but such an effort will take years, potentially. In the meantime, they continue to fund the Russian war machine.
In the short term, the US can afford to nix Russian imports and absorb the costs more readily than their European counterparts where price increases would be so dramatic they'd push the EU towards catastrophe and ruin. As a virtue signal, we'll likely see the US pause their Russian imports, price increases be damned — supposedly, 71% of Americans support banning Russian oil imports even if it leads to a price increase. We will not see EU nations take similar measures which renders the sanctions no more potent than they were before.
What of Jen Psaki's claim about dormant permits? How does that tie into the present situation? Well, as many a commentator has pointed out, the US could, in theory, shore up its European allies by maximizing exports of its world leading oil and gas reserves to wean them off Russian oil and gas, thereby cutting a siginficant line of capital to the Russian Empire, and potentially, ending a violent conflict without further incursion.
Psaki implied yesterday that oil companies were sitting on dormant leases, but an oil executive pointed out that the US oil and gas industry is using a higher percentage of federal onshore and offshore leases than at any time in the past. What's more, a permit doesn't gaurantee that there is oil there. Many of the 9,000 dormant permits that Psaki mentions may not even have oil muchless be profitable enough to sink a bunch of money into. This is due, in large part, to permit restrictions coated in environmental greenspeak, which prohibit drilling in more fruitful, but "environmentally threatening" areas.
The Biden administration has done everything except work with domestic producers to up exports to crucial allies in Western Europe. They've asked OPEC+, again, to up production, started cavorting with Venezuela, and even considered importing oil from Iran. All of this instead of ginning up support and drilling capacity at home. You don't have to be a genius to see how backwards this is.
Why don't oil producers just open up the taps anyway? That requires a long attempt at an answer, but remember that one of Biden's first initiatives upon taking office was to launch a jihad against hydrocarbons best expressed by his halting construction on the Keystone XL pipeline, banning new oil leases, and encouraging divestment from the oil and gas industry in general via his promotion of ESG evaluations. The administrtion's lazy, unconcerned response to the Colonoial Pipeline hacking last May clearly expressed its attitude towards the industry and its non-Tesla driving consumers: lethargy and contempt.
Even prior to these aggressive moves that virtually gaurantee an increase in gas prices over any sufficient period of time, oil and gas producers in the US have been pushed far afield as regards where they can drill. The danger of only granting permits to marginal sites where oil is less plentiful, drilling operations more risky, and costs higher can be seen in the Deepwater Horizon spill of 2010. Were BP permitted to drill in shallower water, or even on land, the spill that gushed forth for months could've been plugged in a matter of hours. Instead, BP was forced to build a drill that went over 3 miles below the sea level to find oil due to restrictive environmental regulations.
So, the US can stop buying some oil from Russia, but it won't do anything except hollowly gesture their alleigance as vaguely "anti-Russia" while it continues to sit idly by as Russia funds a war by selling directly to American allies. Do our brave US leaders want a protracted violent conflict that destabilizes global markets, obscures all manner of domestic incompetence, and potentially save the Democrats from the oncoming Red wave? It certainly looks as if they do. Remember, the US produces more oil and gas than any other nation on planet Earth and that's even after massively throttling its production capabilities with regulation.
Open back up permitting. Empower our European allies. Avoid long and unnecessary foreign wars. Project real vision and leadership abroad, not just the concerns of a rentier class determined to extract value at the expense of the Western world's future. It's the American way.
⚔ MISSIVES ⚔
- 🛢 The Biden administration is expected to announce a ban of Russian oil imports as early as Tuesday, according to several reports. The U.S. ban, which will cover liquefied natural gas and coal, would come without European participation.
- 📈 President Joe Biden is set to sign an executive order this week that will outline the U.S. government’s strategy for cryptocurrencies, according to people familiar with the administration’s plans.
- 🇵🇱 Poland, a NATO member, has been given the “green light” from the United States to send fighter jets as part of military aid to support Ukraine in its defense against the Russian invasion, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday.
- 🚛 A convoy of truckers and other supporters circled the capital on the Beltway for a second day on Monday, protesting Covid-19 mandates and hoping to attract attention from lawmakers.
THINGS TO DO
View the full calendar here.
🍀 St. Patrick's day celebration guide
🖌 At the Cheekwood, Spanning the Atlantic, The Arts and Crafts Movement, an international trend in the decorative arts that originated in the British Isles during the 19th century.
🎸 Honky Tonk Tuesday @ American Legion Post 82, 5p, Free, Info
+ Two step lessons @ 7p, The Cowpokes @ 8p
🎺 Todd Day Wait @ The Underdog, 11:30p, Free, Info
+ Honky Tonk Tuesday afterparty, down the street
GET ‘EM WHILE YOU CAN
🌕 Full Moon Cemetery Lantern Tour (03/18) @ Montgomery Bell State Park, 7:30, $10, Info
🎸 Buddy Guy (03/26) @ The Ryman, 7:30p, $80, Info
🐷 Primus a Farewell to Kings tour (05/09) @ The Ryman, 7:30p, $55+, Info
🎸 My Morning Jacket (9/23) @ Ascend Amphitheater, 7p, $40+, Info
FROM THE ARCHIVE
Around the Web
⬆ Understanding the Nordic Work Ethic Over a hundred years ago, Max Weber observed that countries in northern Europe tended to have a higher standard of living and generally more well-functioning societies than countries in other parts of Europe.
⬇ Why You Should Pay Attention to Local, Not Just National, History The historical debates that generate the most intense interest tend to revolve around national narratives and contemporary political battles...
➫ Why soil is a surprisingly noisy place The worms, grubs and roots rummaging unseen beneath our feet produce a cacophony of sounds that we are only just starting to listen to in an attempt to understand more about life underground.
Political Theater Highlight Reel
- Pete Buttigieg says you don’t have to worry about gas prices if you buy an electric vehicle
- Joe Biden in 1997 saying that the only thing that could provoke a "vigorous and hostile" Russian response would be if NATO expanded as far as the Baltic states
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Words of Wisdom
“You mustn’t fool yourself with the idea that you could hire experts to attend to things; for how could you know that a man was an expert, unless you knew as much as he did? Some day your foreman might drop dead, or some other fellow would buy him away from you, and then where would you be? Be your own expert, said Dad!”
Upton Sinclair, Oil!