The Vault

The Vault

Releasing SPR Oil is a Foolish and Political Move

June 27, 2011

Ordering a release of oil from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a classic Obama administration move: temporary, mindless of market forces and politically motivated. It also creates uncertainty – the scythe that best mows down green shoots.

President Obama’s reelection prospects may well rise (and fall) on our country’s economic progress, which has drastically slowed of late. The recovery needs a boost, and since the White...

Here Comes the Chinese Spring

June 14, 2011

Social unrest is erupting in China—again. Simmering protests that began in two industrial cities several weeks ago have spread and intensified over the past few days, prompting yet more vigorous displays of force on the part of local governments and the security bureaucrats in Beijing. These are tremors, not an earthquake. But we all know what tremors here frequently foretell.

To put things in their proper context, we have long been counting demonstrations in China—“mass incidents” is the clean, official phrase—in the tens of thousands per year. But...

Recovery Derailed by Dysfunctional Government

June 3, 2011

The latest employment numbers confirm the sinking sensation of the past several weeks after reports of softness in retail, a dip in manufacturing, weakening leading indicators, worsening home prices, a slumping stock market. Why has the recovery come off the rails once again? Is it because gasoline prices ticked up, or China is slowing, or the EU debt problems have flared up again? None of the above. 

Here’s a different...

Saudi Oil: the Elephant in the Policy Room

May 20, 2011

It’s not fun playing spoilsport, but someone needs to point out that President Obama is, as ever, over a barrel—in this case a barrel of crude. The United States has long backed stability in the Middle East – even embracing odious strongman regimes – simply because we need oil.  No amount of soaring rhetoric will loosen that noose.

Nothing could bring that reality home more clearly than news that the Iranian president Mahmoud...

Following the Fallout from Fukushima

April 24, 2011

“What the hell was anybody doing building six nuclear power plants in an earthquake-prone zone?” Senator John Kerry asked during a speech the other day at the Commonwealth Club of California. “I don’t get it. It’s hubris, if not stupidity.”

With Fukushima still generating fallout—and it is the real thing now—it is important that the Democrat from Massachusetts (and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) get fully in the...

How a Secret Service Agent Saved Reagan

March 30, 2011

Seconds after Secret Service agent Jerry Parr wrestled Ronald Reagan into the presidential limousine outside the Washington Hilton on March 30, 1981, he had to make a critical decision: Should the car rush them back to the White House, or to George Washington University Hospital, just a few blocks away?

The 50-year-old agent did not know how badly Reagan was hurt, or exactly what crisis was on his hands. What he did know was that a deranged gunman had begun firing at very close range outside the hotel on that grim, gray day, 70 days into Ronald Reagan’s...