Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How Big Is The Story Regarding The President Assuring Americans They Could Keep Their Policies? Only One Story This Year Has Been Bigger: The Boston Marathon Bombing

Only one story this year has brought in more prime time viewers on Fox News Channel: the Boston Marathon bombing.

And how is Fox News doing compared to MSNBC and CNN?
Last week, FNC almost doubled the combined viewers of CNN and MSNBC from 8PM to 11PM.
During this time period, FNC averaged 2.1 million total viewers and 376K in the important demographic of folks aged 25 to 54.
MSNBC had 716K and 202K respectively while CNN brought in 433K and 146K.
For the week, only ESPN brought in more cable viewers than FNC in prime time.
And how are his polls doing? The president is now polling his lowest numbers in his presidency, 39% approval.

Poll Results

I've been so busy I completely forgot about this poll. Some months ago, there was a lot of discussion whether North Dakota would produce as much as 850,000 bbls of oil by August, 2013.

Here are the results of the poll in which we asked whether North Dakota oil production would hit 850,000 bopd by the end of 2013?
  • No: 5%
  • Yes, by the end of August: 16%
  • Yes, by the end of October: 47%
  • Yes, but just barely, by end of December: 32%
In fact, the state announced that it North Dakota was producing 911,242 barrels/day in August, 2013.

CNOOC Ltd To Examine LNG Development In British Columbia, Canada Through Nexen

CNOOC Ltd to examine LNG development in British Columbia, Canada through Nexen:
Co announced today that its wholly-owned subsidiary Nexen Energy ULC (Nexen), has entered into an exclusive agreement with the Government of British Columbia, Canada to examine the viability of constructing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant and export terminal at Grassy Point near Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada. The agreement with the Government of British Columbia, represented by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, grants Nexen and its joint venture partners INPEX Corporation and JGC Corporation, the exclusive right to pursue long-term access to Crown land at Grassy Point.
Related posts:

Six (6) New Permits -- The Williston Basin, North Dakota, USA; Legacy With A Nice Spearfish Well

Active rigs: 181

Six (6) new permits --
Operators: Petro-Hunt (2), Oasis (2), Gadeco, CLR
Fields: Little Knife (Dunn), Willow Creek (Williams), Stoneview (Burke), Epping (Williams), North Tioga (Burkey)
Wells coming off the confidential list were posted earlier; see sidebar at the right.

Otherwise, today's daily activity report was pretty uneventful. 

Wells coming off the confidential list Wednesday:
  • 23339, drl, QEP, MHA 2-03-02H-149-92, Heart Butte, no production data, 
  • 23604, 244, CLR, Jensen 4-8H1, Chimney Butte, t9/13; cum --
  • 24627, 2,982, BR, Badlands 21-15TFH, Hawkeye, 2 sections; t9/13; cum 4K 9/13;
  • 25063, drl, Hess, AN-Prosser-152-95-0211H-2, Antelope, no production data,
  • 25523, 77, Legacy, Legacy Et Al Berge 16-36H, North Souris, looks like a good Spearfish well; t6/13; cum 15K 9/13;

25523, see above, Legacy, Legacy Et Al Berge 16-36H, North Souris, looks like a good Spearfish well:

DateOil RunsMCF Sold

I Completely Missed This Story -- The Story Behind The Story


November 13, 2013: Carpe Diem  also posted a link to the story, to the Huffington Post:
As I’ve mentioned before, anytime you have Paul Krugman agreeing on “demon ethanol” (his term) with such a diverse group as the Huffington Post (above), the Manhattan Institute, the Wall Street Journal, Reason Magazine, the Cato Institute, Investor’s Business Daily, Rolling Stone Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times, John Stossel, The Ecological Society of America, the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, the Heritage Foundation, George Will, and Time Magazine, you know that demon ethanol has to be one of the most misguided public policies in U.S. history.
Original Post

Two readers sent me this story from two different sources. The other source was MSN Money. I was not going to post it. I'm trying to stay a bit more focused on the Bakken and national energy stories; this story seemed to be a local story, a problem for the Iowans and not a national story per se.

But then a reader pointed out that the "unsaid" story is about "the secret, dirty cost of Obama's green power push" has little to do with "green energy" and everything to do with "the Cronkite tipping point."

Senior citizens will know what I'm talking about.

Lyndon Johnson knew he had lost any support for the Vietnam War he might have had when Walter Cronkite, CBS Evening News, "turned on" the president and the Vietnam War. When Cronkite came out against the Vietnam War, Lyndon Johnson knew it was all over. Johnson withdrew from a re-election bid.

Now, it's Obama's turn.

The AP, a long supporter of the President through numerous scandals, is finally reporting what many already knew:
The consequences [of the ethanol program] are so severe that environmentalists and many scientists have now rejected corn-based ethanol as bad environmental policy. But the Obama administration stands by it, highlighting its benefits to the farming industry rather than any negative impact.
There it is. The AP can no longer support the president's ethanol program. Oh, the AP can't come out like Walter Cronkite did, but this is about as close as we will get. 

The only question now is whether Congress will rein in the EPA.

Oh, one more thing. This story is being widely reported by the AP.  This link is to The Dickinson Press. It's the kind of story I would expect in the Wall Street Journal but not in TDP.

In case the link breaks down the road, here's the lede:
The ethanol era has proven far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than the government admits today.
As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they wiped out millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitat and polluted water supplies, an Associated Press investigation found.
Five million acres of land set aside for conservation — more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined — have vanished on Obama's watch. [Talk about hypocrisy: there's a story in the LA Times today that the new Interior Secretary wants the president to use executive orders to carve out more national parks, but she says nothing about the devastation caused by her ethanol program.]
Landowners filled in wetlands. They plowed into pristine prairies, releasing carbon dioxide that had been locked in the soil.
Sprayers pumped out billions of pounds of fertilizer, some of which seeped into drinking water, contaminated rivers and worsened the huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where marine life can't survive.
In North Dakota, for instance, farmers planted 1.9 million more acres of corn last year than they did the year before the ethanol mandate was passed. Nearly 985,000 acres of conservation land were lost.

Security Issues And ObamaCare

A gazillion "things" will be written about ObamaCare but these are the two overriding issues:
  • unlimited liability the insurers have signed on to (elimination of lifetime caps)
  • security of the on-line website exchange
This is the security issue:
HealthCare.gov [is a] patchwork of hastily constructed systems that contractors ... hastily stitched together. To meet their deadlines, these contractors ... cut corners on key security features, such as encryption of sensitive personal data. 

HHS has been ... evasive with Congress on its security certifications, and CBS has reported that the security certification work is still incomplete—despite previous assurances by the White House and HHS to the contrary. [Consumer Reports advises folks to stay away from the on-line ObamaCare exchanges.]

The White House aggravated this security problem with its insistence on maximal use of “the cloud" .... ["The cloud" means that unencrypted data of every purchaser of insurance through HealthCare.gov crosses the Internet and travels unprotected into “the cloud” many times—every hacker’s dream.
[By the way, if you have a slow wi-fi connection, the next time you log onto HealthCare.gov, note all the sites that are being accessed while the website is being downloaded.]
Several major media organizations have confirmed first-hand how easy it is to hack into HealthCare.gov.
As just one example of some of the issues, an expert hired by CNN found that the system: (1) confirmed a guessed user name; (2) exposed unencrypted source code in the browser that allowed access to the password resetting mechanism; and (3) with the user name and the reset code, displayed a person’s three security answers. 
The resulting damage will not be limited to other sensitive data in the exchanges. Since many systems use the same security questions, theft of these answers will allow hackers, directly and indirectly, to access Americans’ bank accounts, brokerage accounts and other sensitive data bases. CNN concluded that this kind of theft from HealthCare.gov “wouldn’t have even taken a skilled hacker.”
I go to HealthCare.gov daily to check its status, but I would never, never enter any personal data. 

No one denies that the security issues are real. The only debate is how serious the security issues are.

Accurate? I Have No Idea -- TriCare And ObamaCare

FoxNews is reporting:
“We’ve been very fortunate because legislation was passed that exempted TRICARE from a lot of the ObamaCare standings, so that actually has benefited veterans to keep the rates that they’ve had,” Duff said.
And the information about ObamaCare and TriCare continues to dribble out. As Nancy said, we wouldn't really know what was in the bill until it was passed. LOL.

I'm beginning to think the insurance companies were "too clever by half" in writing the legislation. I do think that ObamaCare "saved" Tricare.

Dueling Bozos?

Jim Cramer, sell HK.

HK falls below its book value -- Forbes.


Twelve Little Preludes (Bach), Halida Dinova

A Note To The Granddaughters

The other day I mentioned I was back in my "physics phase" and enjoying Freeman Dyson's memoirs, as such.

His chapter on Robert Oppenheimer is incredible. His notes complement nicely biographies on Oppenheimer and histories of Los Alamos. We get another glimpse of why Oppenheimer was "great" and how he was so successful at Los Alamos.

In addition, for me, this paragraph was one of the highlights:
Nineteen thirty-five was a time of despair for writers all over the world. TS Eliot was not the only one who turned to poetic drama as the appropriate medium to express the tragic mood of that time In the same year, Murder in the Cathedral appeared in England and Maxwell Anderson's Winterset in America. a year later, Auden and Isherwood wrote The Ascent of F6.
F6 was played in London in 1937 with music by Benjamin Britten and marvelously caught the shadow of coming events. F6 is to Murder in the Cathedral as Hamlet is to King Lear. Eliot's Archbishop is a man of power and pride, redeemed like King Lear by serene submission to his fate in the hour of death. The hero of F6 is a more sophisticated, more modern character. He is a mountain climber, known to his friends as M.F., a Hamlet-like figure compounded of arrogance, ambiguity and human tenderness. Over the years, as I came to know Oppenheimer better, I found many aspects of his personality foreshadowed in M. F. I came to that F6 was in some sense a true allegory of his life.
[Note: "F6" is a mountain, such as Mount Everest, so the allegory had to do with a story on mountain climbing.]

And then the chapter continues for several pages "comparing" M.F. and Oppenheimer.

I started reading in 2007 while on temporary duty to a remote base in northern England. I had to read several biographies of Shakespeare and re-read three of his four great tragedies many times before I had even an inkling of what the plays were about. Had I not done that reading, I would have had to completely skip this part of Freeman Dyson's book describing one of the most enigmatic characters in our nation's history.

I write that because it is my understanding that Harvard no longer teaches Shakespeare per se and, in general, Shakespeare is now being removed from undergraduate programs. [I wonder if Shakespeare lost his cachet when the true identity of Shakespeare was exposed?]

Students will have to "learn" Shakespeare in high school (doubtful) or during select summer courses (which are incredibly wonderful opportunities for high school students). 

A second point that delighted me with regard to this chapter had to do with the fact that both Oppenheimer and Dyson, "despite" being physicists, were also poets. Wow, what a revelation. The joy of reading never ends.

[A nice book, by the way, on mountain climbing is Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer. The phrase, "into thin air" was coined by Shakespeare.]

The US Will Be Close To Energy Self-Sufficiency By 2015: Thank You, Mr Bakken

Another article our Geico Rock Award nominees might like to read. Bloomberg is reporting:
The U.S. will surpass Russia as the world’s top oil producer by 2015, and be close to energy self-sufficiency in the next two decades, amid booming output from shale formations, the International Energy Agency said.
Crude prices will advance to $128 a barrel by 2035 with a 16 percent increase in consumption, supporting the development of so-called tight oil in the U.S. and a tripling in output from Brazil, the IEA said today in its annual World Energy Outlook. The role of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will recover in the middle of the next decade as other nations struggle to repeat North America’s success with exploiting shale deposits, the agency predicted.
There seem to be more stories about the Bakken today than usual. Folks over at Bloomberg, SeekingAlpha, Reuters, and the AP, must be trying to get their minds off that other success story, ObamaCare.

Continuing the theme for this month, a tribute to Lou Reed and Grace Slick and Hunter S Thompson and all the rest ... 

Electric Music for the Mind and Body, Country Joe and the Fish

A New Metric -- Bbls Per $ Spent On Drilling

Regular readers know my feelings about Motley Fool. But they come up with a great analysis every now and then. Here's one. I've blogged about it more than once, but Motley Fool articulates it much better than I could ever do.

Disclaimer: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment decisions based on anything you read here or think you may have read here.

Bakken Fanatics: Fasten Your Seatbelts -- We've Not Seen Anything Yet

"Oil And Gas Investments Bulletin" over at SeekingAlpha is reporting, with regard to the Bakken boom:
A massive, 76-page report from Goldman Sachs from late September suggests 2023 (that's another ten years of growth) with the biggest growth year being next year, in 2014. 
In fact, they say the worst case scenario for the Bakken is now 1.3 million in 2017. One million? That was yesterday's news.

A smaller examination from Credit Suisse in early October suggests the same thing. Analysts from these investment giants went to the Bakken to find out firsthand whether this prime play has peaked. The two groups independently returned with the same answer: "no."
My two cents worth: the roughnecks have the potential of getting 2 million bopd out of the Bakken, but the tea leaves suggest that "North Dakota" is ready to "slow it down."

I think North Dakota will plateau just under one million bopd. Steady production at one million bopd is a nice conservative Scandinavian number.  And I get such a kick out of it. We're not talking about "North Dakota" as far as the actual oil patch goes. We're talking about four for five counties in western North Dakota.

This is a list of counties in North Dakota not participating directly in the Bakken boom:
  • Adams (though there are hints)
  • Barnes
  • Benson
  • Bottineau (Spearfish oil, not the Bakken)
  • Burleigh
  • Cass
  • Cavalier
  • Dickey
  • Eddy
  • Emmons
  • Foster
  • Grand Forks
  • Grant
  • Griggs
  • Hettinger
  • Kidder
  • LaMoure
  • Logan
  • McHenry
  • McIntosh
  • McLean (okay, maybe)
  • Mercer (okay, slightly)
  • Morton
  • Nelson
  • Oliver
  • Pembina
  • Pierce
  • Ramsey
  • Ransom
  • Renville (Spearfish?)
  • Richland
  • Rolette
  • Sargent
  • Sheridan
  • Sioux
  • Steele
  • Stutsman
  • Towner
  • Trail
  • Walsh
  • Ward (maybe, eventually, there is rumor, talk)
  • Wells

Richard Zeits Over At SeekingAlpha

Another must-read over at SeekingAlpha. It begins:
I have said many times, there's only one Bakken. It is the most important oil discovery in the past 50 years. It's massive, one of the largest pure oil resource plays in the world, and we have de-risked 3,800 square miles for multiple benches. It's onshore American, it's 85% oil, and it has one of the most consistent, high quality crudes anywhere in the world. And it's just getting started. Bakken will soon surpass 1 million Boe per day of production, and I expect that to double again within ten years.
- Harold G. Hamm, Chairman and CEO of Continental Resources, the company's Q3 2013 Earnings Call
It is truly remarkable how quickly the concept of high-density development in the Bakken - on tight spacing, in multiple stacked horizons, and using new-generation super-intensive fracs - has gone from a futuristic theory to actual reality.
This "didn't just happen." One has to give a lot of credit to the regulators and the oil industry working closely with each other to make it happen.

For newbies, I've often said that the Bakken (for me) represents three things: a) the geographical oil patch; b) a laboratory for unconventional exploration and production; and, c) a philosophical reference to entrepreneurship, or something like that. I forget the exact words I've used in the past, but one gets the idea.

Some more from the article:
It has been just one year since Continental Resources made public its discovery of the lower benches in the Three Forks interval and suggested that the Bakken System may be producible from as many as five independent reservoirs stacked on top of each other.
It has been just one year since Continental Resources launched its daring downspacing pilot with horizontal wellbores spaced at previously unthinkable density for the Bakken: eight per 1,280-acre unit, in each of several horizons.
It has been just one year since a new generation of stimulation techniques found its way from the Eagle Ford into the Bakken and inspired a renaissance (using EOG's term) in radical experimentation in the area of stimulation design.
With close to two hundred rigs continuously running in the play, a lot of progress can be accomplished in a short period of time.
Last week, Continental announced that, based on positive initial results from its pilots, the company is accelerating its transition towards full development and is launching what is going to be the first in the Bakken full-development project.
Much, more at the linked article. As I said, a "must-read."

I think the jury is still out on 14-well pads and 32-well pads. I would like to see some corroborating evidence from Oasis or, even better, EOG.

Samson Oil & Gas Provides Operations Update For Its North Stockyard Project

From a press release, Samson Oil & Gas provides operations update for its North Stockyard Project in North Dakota:
Little Creature 1-15-14H (SSN WI 27.7%)
The Little Creature middle Bakken infill has been drilled to a total depth of 19,430 feet, and a 4-1/2" liner was run and cemented to that depth. The Frontier Rig 24 was released on 9 November 2013. Preparations are underway to move the rig to Blackdog 3-13-14H.

Blackdog 3-13-14H (SSN WI 25.03%)
The Tofte 1 pad has been prepared to receive the Frontier Rig 24 for drilling operations on Blackdog 3-13-14H. The rig move and rig up on location is expected to be completed this week. This well will be a middle Bakken lateral and is expected to follow the previously planned Swan trajectory, that is, the infill location between the Rodney 1-14H well (SSN WI 27.18%) and the Sail and Anchor 1-13-14HBK well (SSN WI 25.03%).

Frac operations Tofte 2 pad
Following mobilization of the rig to Blackdog 3-13-14H, the Tofte 2 pad will be turned over to fracture stimulation operations associated with the three drilled and completed wells on that pad. This will include Coopers (SSN WI 27.7%), Tooheys (SSN WI 27.7%), and Little Creature (SSN WI 27.7%). Fracking operations are currently expected to commence on or about November 18th and should be completed by early December.

Bluff #1-11 (SSN WI 66%)
Construction of the access road to the Bluff #1-11 well site has commenced. A concrete slab has been constructed across an existing pipeline to allow for access to the drill site. After the concrete pad has cured, the balance of the road and drill pad will be built. Drilling operations are currently expected to commence towards the end of November.
Note To The Granddaughters

I have to admit, whenever I read the Samson Oil & Gas updates, I wish I could be back in the Bakken watching all the activity. But I just hate leaving the granddaughters.

For several days I had been waiting for the opportunity to see if our older granddaughter (fifth grader) could figure out the definition of "renascence" based on context and other clues. I had stumbled across the word while reading Freeman Dyson's Disturbing The Universe. I don't recall ever seeing that word before, and I do a lot of reading.

So, last night, there was a break in the action and I had five minutes. I took out the book, provided a bit of background, and then read out loud the paragraph that included the word "renascence." I asked her what the word meant, expecting there would be a pause and some hemming and hawing, and then some attempt at defining the word.

But I had barely finished reading the paragraph, asking her what the word meant, when she immediately replied "rebirth."

I asked her how she knew so quickly. She said last year, in fourth grade, her class in Boston studied the Harlem renaissance. She said her teacher, Ms Beauchamp, had taught her the word, which was obviously practically the same as the "renascence" and used in the same context.

By the way, she knew the women of the Harlem Renaissance. I mentioned when looking at a picture of one of the women that it was hard to tell that she was African-American, at least in that photograph. My granddaughter, said, yes, that was one of the reasons she was allowed to sing at the Cotton Club. Whether or not that is accurate, the fact she knew about the Cotton Club and the Harlem Renaissance was quite striking.

While I'm digressing, last night we saw two planets, well away from the half moon. Certainly one was Venus, but the other one didn't seem to have the red tinge that would identify it as Mars. A google search suggests that Jupiter is the brightest "morning star" this month. I mentioned to our granddaughter if the "star" was not Mars it had to be Jupiter. She immediately said, "oh, because it's so big, even though it's farther away." And then as an aside, she said, the redness of Mars is due to all the iron in the rocks. Okay.

She knows more about sharks than the evening sky, and her current favorite book (series) is The Hunger Games. No television.

Last night at the dinner table, the four of us, their grandmother, the fifth grader, the second grader, and I were talking about creative writing. The older granddaughter says she has trouble coming up with an idea but if given a "prompt," she can write forever and ever. At one point, I thought I might have misunderstood what we were talking about, "writing" or the "act of writing." The second grader said we were talking about "expressing ideas."

And that's why I hate leaving them.

Tuesday: Schlumberger Joins Baker Hughes -- Suspends Operations In Iraq; And Some Call The Bakken The Wild, Wild West; Spain Spends More On Subsidizing Green Energy Than It Spends On Education; At The End Of The Century, Spain Will Have Delayed The Impact Of Global Warming By 61 Hours; ObamaCare Enrollment "Alarmingly" Low; November 12, 2013


November 15, 2013: update -- Schlumberger announces it has resumed operations in Iraq.

Original Post 

That's the Yahoo!Finance headline: ObamaCare Enrollment Alarmingly Low

Active rigs: 182

RBN Energy: how refiners could improve margins. One word: diesel.
Recent third quarter earnings reports from US refiners have reflected lower refining margins squeezed by higher feedstock prices for inland crudes like West Texas Intermediate (WTI) rising to the same level as coastal crudes like Light Louisiana Sweet (LLS) while product prices stood still. In the past two weeks domestic crude prices have fallen below $100/Bbl in the face of a Gulf Coast supply glut. But despite lower crude costs, refinery margins have continued to weaken. The primary culprit has been sharply falling gasoline prices. Today we review what Gulf Coast refiners could do to improve margins.
Yesterday it was reported that Baker Hughes suspended operations in Iraq. Reuters via Rigzone provides the background story and says Schlumberger has also suspended operations in Iraq.
Dozens of angry Shi'ite Muslim workers and tribesmen stormed a Schlumberger Ltd camp at one of Iraq's main oilfields and wrecked offices early on Monday after accusing a foreign security adviser of insulting their religion, police and employees at the field said.
Oil officials and workers at the Schlumberger drilling site in Rumaila North said the problem started when a security adviser they identified as British asked Iraqi workers to take down a flag and banners depicting a figure revered by Shi'ites.
Officials of the state-run Southern Oil Company said production from the field was not affected by the incident, but oil officials said Schlumberger had suspended its operations in response, not only in Rumaila but at the other oilfields in Basra province.
And some call the Bakken the wild, wild west.


The Wall Street Journal

One reason I enjoy the WSJ: the editorials. Again, the WSJ has it exactly right. I was really, really confused/flabbergasted/amazed about how the Iranian nuke story was playing out. All of a sudden the US was going to provide top cover for Iran to continue enriching uranium. It made no sense, and it seemed to have come out of nowhere overnight. The French saw through it, and despite being no friends to Israel, apparently stopped the deal. I remain completely amazed how this story is playing out. Here's the first paragraph or two in an op-ed:
When the history of the Obama administration's foreign policy is written 20 or so years from now, the career of Wendy Sherman, our chief nuclear negotiator with Iran, will be instructive.
In 1988, the former social worker ran the Washington office of the Dukakis campaign and worked at the Democratic National Committee.
That was the year the Massachusetts governor carried 111 electoral votes to George H.W. Bush's 426.
In the mid-1990s, Ms. Sherman was briefly the CEO of something called the Fannie Mae Foundation, supposedly a charity that was shut down a decade later for what the Washington Post called "using tax-exempt contributions to advance corporate interests."
From there it was on to the State Department, where she served as a point person in nuclear negotiations with North Korea and met with Kim Jong Il himself. The late dictator, she testified, was "witty and humorous," "a conceptual thinker," "a quick problem-solver," "smart, engaged, knowledgeable, self-confident." Also a movie buff who loved Michael Jordan highlight videos. A regular guy!
Fascinating reading.

Our negotiations are being run by a smooth-talking social worker? The more I see of the Obama administration the more I agree with Mr Obama's self-characterization. He let others (Congress and the insurance companies) write the ObamaCare legislation, and now he's letting a social worker determine the US-Iran nuclear policy.


Green energy is the real subsidy hog. Renewables receive three times as much money per energy unit as fossil fuels.
For 20 years the world has tried subsidizing green technology instead of focusing on making it more efficient. Today Spain spends about 1% of GDP throwing money at green energy such as solar and wind power. The $11 billion a year is more than Spain spends on higher education.
At the end of the century, with current commitments, these Spanish efforts will have delayed the impact of global warming by roughly 61 hours, according to the estimates of Yale University's well-regarded Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy model. Hundreds of billions of dollars for 61 additional hours? That's a bad deal.
But there's no sense in discussing global warming any more. It's a cult religion with Algore as high priest and it is what it is.


ObamaCare Express: top story -- first thing we see at the top of the on-line edition -- enrollments far short of target. Walking into Starbucks today I see an ObamaCare story at the top of the fold (the Pacific storm last week was the headline story). The article's first paragraph says insurers are so unnerved by the debacle that they want to be able to ensure folks directly and not require them to go through the exchanges. There are so many reasons why the Administration cannot afford to do this, but all for political/ideological reasons. It will be interesting to see what parts of the law the president selects to follow over the next month.

Under the radar: the state exchanges. It was generally perceived by many that the state exchanges were doing better than the ObamaCare Express. Turns out that "as officials struggle to fix technical problems with the new federally run health-insurance exchange, some states that are operating their own programs are facing similar problems." I didn't read the story, but I know Oregon has been the poster child for state exchanges gone bad. North Dakota seems to have enrolled the most per capita among the 50 states and DC, having enrolled 35 folks in early reports. 35.


This was blogged about months ago: the widening of the job gap.
Despite three years of steady job gains, and four years of economic growth, many Americans have yet to experience much that could be described as a recovery. That sort of pattern isn't unusual in the aftermath of a recession, but it usually eases as growth picks up steam.
Youth unemployment, for example, nearly always improves after recessions more slowly than that of prime-age workers, those between 25 and 54. Following the 2001 recession, it took six months for the gap between the youth and prime-age unemployment rates to return to its long-run average. After the early 1990s recession, it took 30 months. This time, it has been 52 months, and the gap has hardly narrowed.
Much more at the link.


And, of course, this is was what renewable energy is all about: supporting various interest groups. I've been blogging about this lately and now it's a WSJ front section article: "A fight is under way over the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires that ever-increasing volumes of biofuels be blended into fuel supplies. Refiners and others want to curb the mandate; farmers defend it." The amount of renewable fuel we are talking about is a drop in the bucket compared to all the gasoline consumed in the US every year, but it represents a windfall for Iowa farmers where presidential politics start.

My solution: change the mandate to help the farmers by simply requiring maximum production of biofuels but dump the renewable fuel into the the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Let the farmers set the price of the biofuels they produce.


It seems strange that a virus causing a respiratory illness in the Middle is a huge story: it's in the front section of the WSJ and I've seen it widely reported elsewhere. The breaking news: it appears a camel passed the virus on to a Saudi Arabian male. The other interesting thing: unless I missed it, the WSJ did not say what the MERS acronym stands for: Middle East respiratory syndrome. The MERS virus is a coronavirus, an RNA virus and first described in the 1960's as being associated with the "common cold." So, this winter, I'm sure, Ms Sebelius will remind folks to get their flu shots and warn folks to stay away from camels. I know when I was growing  up, I avoided camels.