Pump pain keeps hurting

Not long ago I posted a blog item that recalled the good old days when Dad would ask the gas station attendant to pump “a buck’s worth of regular” gasoline into his car.

At 25 cents per gallon, that bought Dad about four gallons of fuel. He could run on that for, say, a weekend.

Well, today I pulled into a Shell station in Farmersville, Texas and pumped 4.546 gallons of diesel fuel into Big Jake the Pickup.

The cost of a little more than four gallons of fuel today … roughly the same amount of fuel for which Dad paid a buck?

Twenty-five dollars!

This makes me so mad … I could just spit!


POTUS pounded unfairly

My bias is clear and well-documented on this blog. I stand in support of President Biden.

That said, I need someone to explain to me just why he is getting pounded — in my view unfairly — for the rising energy prices that are taking an increasing bite out of our disposal income.

Supply of fossil fuel is down, demand is up. Russia has gone to war with Ukraine, forcing the United States and our worldwide allies to cut off Russian oil exports. The “supply chain” crisis isn’t letting up. Not only that, Americans are paying less for fuel than citizens of many other industrialized nations, meaning that this is a worldwide crisis.

And yet …

We hear from the right wingers that Biden is “doing nothing” to ease the pain at the pump. We hear he is feckless and clueless.

How in the world does the president of the United States control the worldwide supply and demand? What can he do to correct it?

Hey, I admit to being slow on the uptake on a whole array of issues. This is one of them. I don’t profess to know all the answers. Hell, I cannot even figure out how to correct some of the glitches in my TV streaming service at home.

I have said all along — and this argument has applied to presidents of both parties — that the POTUS never should take undue credit for success, nor should he received undue blame for problems that occur on his watch.

However, Joe Biden is the president of the United States. He has served in government long enough to know that the blame he gets just goes with the territory.

It’s just not fair.


Looking for evil intent?

The right-wing goon squad that is on the hunt for evil intent involving President Biden and his son, Hunter, are going to stop at nothing to concoct some nefarious plot that — as I look at it — defies logic.

Hunter Biden went to work years ago for a Ukrainian energy company, serving on the board and raking in a lot of dough for doing, allegedly, nothing to earn it. I get that it doesn’t look good for someone to trade on his famous parent’s name for considerable profit. Hey, it happens; e.g.: Donald Jr. and Eric Trump.

What about dear ol’ Dad, though? Are we supposed to believe that a man who has spent virtually his entire adult professional life in public service is going to throw it all away with an obviously careless and corrupt practice? The right-wingers want us to believe that President Biden himself profited from Hunter’s association with the energy firm.

Yes, that the president of the United States of America hauled in cash and fattened his own bank account. How does someone with half a brain even think he can get away with such a thing when the public is watching his every move?

Joe Biden served for eight years as vice president in the Barack Obama administration. Prior to being elected VP, he served for 36 years as a U.S. senator from Delaware. Prior to that, Biden served on a county council as a Democratic representative.

I did the math: That’s 52 years of public service. 

And yet the right-wingers want us to believe that a man who’s been under the public’s prying eyes would be stupid enough to take money while his son is working as a board member for a foreign-based energy firm.

One more point. During the first impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s quest for a political favor from Ukraine, a prosecutor in that country declared categorically that neither Joe nor Hunter Biden committed any crimes.

Still, the hunt goes on. To what end? To seek to destroy the career of the man who defeated Donald Trump.


A comeback for the Herring?

This morning brought a bit of a surprise that I thought initially might mean a huge announcement involving a downtown Amarillo, Texas landmark-turned-community eyesore.

It appears my hopes are a good bit premature.

I refer to the Herring Hotel, the long-abandoned structure on the northern end of the downtown district.

My preliminary snooping this morning revealed a website;

Herring Hotel – Amarillo Investment (herringhotelproject.com)

It appears to be the creation of an investment firm that is looking for people to sink money into rehabilitating the Herring Hotel site. The site has lots of pictures of the structure as well as photos of other downtown hotel projects that have succeeded in other communities.

Does any of this signal the pending rebirth of the once-grand hotel? Not necessarily. Then again, lightning could strike.

I also reached out this morning to Bob Goodrich, who has owned the site for many decades. He pays the tax bill every year on it and has been doing what he can to entice someone — anyone! — to buy it from him. On at least two occasions over the years I have known Goodrich, he has told me of a pending sale only to see it fall apart.

I cannot speak passionately enough about how I want to see the building revived and brought back to life. It stands vacant and, truth be told, time has not been entirely kind to it.

Here’s the good news, though, for those of us who want a brighter future for the Herring: The Barfield Building at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Polk Street — which was actually uglier than the Herring — has returned to the world of functionality. It is now a boutique hotel. I haven’t seen it yet in its newfound glory; maybe one day soon.

Meantime, I will continue to send good vibes and karma to the Herring in the hope we hear of an announcement soon.


POTUS doesn’t deserve the pounding

The U.S. Labor Department each month gives us a snapshot of where the nation’s economy stands. It comes in the form of its jobs report.

What did the Labor stats show us this month? Oh, that private non-farm employers added 428,000 more Americans to their payrolls and that joblessness remains at 3.6%, or at the same level it stood prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Still, and this just baffles me to the point of confusion: President Biden keeps getting pilloried because the economy — according to the critics — is “in the tank.”

Is it? Not really. Actually, the economy is humming along fairly well.

Now, I will acknowledge the obvious “elephant in the room,” which would be inflation. I don’t like paying more for eggs, bread, milk, veggies and meat any more than the next red-blooded American. Nor do I like shelling out huge piles of dough for motor fuel. Is that totally within the president’s control? No. It isn’t even close.

We have this war erupting in Ukraine, which produces a lot of the world’s grain. Russian oil has been all but cut off from the rest of the world. Demand for all of that is high; supply is low. Hmm. High demand and low supply? What does that mean? We pay more for goods and commodities.

Biden is trying to help stem the rise in fuel prices by ordering the tapping of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. He wants the SPR to ship 1 million barrels of crude oil each day for six months to help boost the supply of oil.

I am not going to criticize the president’s handling of the economy. He was dealt a bad hand when he took office in January 2021. The pandemic crippled the so-called “supply chain.” We are working our way through that crisis.

Meanwhile, we keep adding hundreds of thousands of jobs each month and the unemployment rate remains just about at rock bottom.

What in the name of realism is wrong with that?


Stunt comes to end

Let’s see. How does a politician who belongs to the political party that calls itself a “pro-business” organization justify a policy that stops shipments of goods and commodities and threatens so many businesses in the state he governs?

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has pulled back his enhanced-inspection order on the state’s border with Mexico. He said he was looking for human traffickers and their “cargo” of individuals who were being smuggled into the United States.

Then he worked out agreements with two Mexican state governors and lifted the inspection protocol at crossings involving the states of Nuevo Leon and Chihuahua. The delay in delivery of food and other goods has crippled businesses across the state.

Now he’s called off the inspection crackdown. The damage has been done to many businesses in Texas … and to what end?

Greg Abbott has pulled off yet another political stunt. It’s not a business-friendly stunt at that!


Pump, baby, pump!

All this chatter about the impact of President Biden’s decision to ban Russian oil imports in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine misses an important point.

The price of crude has zoomed skyward. It is well north of $100 per barrel. The last time we saw this kind of price hike, the result was that American oil drillers uncapped their wells and got their pumpjacks fired up to start pulling the oil out of the ground.

Do you think it could happen again now that the Russians have launched a ground war in Europe and caused the world to react as it has done by essentially boycotting Russian petroleum products?

I can see it happening.

I spent many years in West Texas, and I can speak from experience about what I have witnessed during previous oil-price spikes. We would drive through the Permian Basin, or the South Plains east of Lubbock and we would witness those pumpjacks working relentlessly to pull oil out of the flat land. We saw much the same thing as we motored through the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Oil producers need little if any government incentive to realize when it’s profitable for them to get to work.

At these prices, they are able to make a healthy profit on delivering the goods.


Get ready to pay … a lot!

I am swallowing hard as I ponder what I want to say about this, but … here goes. I am ready to pay a lot more for motor fuel if a U.S. ban on Russian oil can bring an end to the war in Ukraine.

President Biden is set to announce a total cutoff of crude oil from Russia. The announcement will come later today, just as the president comes to Fort Worth to talk about veterans’ issues.

Gosh, do you think he’ll field any questions about the Russian oil ban? More to the point, do you think he’ll answer them?

The POTUS has been getting plenty of pressure to “do more” to make the Russians come to what’s left of their senses. The dictator Vladimir Putin has launched a full-scale, unprovoked, bloody and senseless attack on a sovereign nation at Russia’s doorstep. Oil revenue is funding this invasion. The United States happens to be a prime consumer of Russian oil.

President Biden is about to tell the world that the nation he governs is no longer going to purchase that fossil fuel. The consequence undoubtedly will be a continued spike in the price of petroleum products.

I am prepared to pay it if it helps bring an end to the bloodshed.


Lefty tells the truth, then walks it back

Phil Mickelson has me officially puzzled. The Hall of Fame golfer known as Lefty to his fans and fellow golf pros, wants to do business with a nation he described in an interview as “crazy motherfu**ers” who kill people who disagree with their politics and scorn those who are gay.

Now he says his context were “taken out of context” and published without his consent. He apologized to Saudi Arabia, which has launched a pro golf tour that is going to compete with the PGA; Mickelson wants to join the Saudis, even though he said those astonishing things about them.

Which is it, Lefty? Are you in with those folks?

I guess I am left to wonder two things. Why would Mickelson, a six-time major golf tournament winner and one of the best ever to play the game, do business with those he scorns in the manner that he did? Moreover, in this social media age, doesn’t Mickelson realize that virtually nothing is “off the record” and that anything he says now is considered fair game?

This is not Mickelson’s finest hour. He has drawn harsh criticism from fellow golf pros, the PGA … not to mention the Saudi government.

Here’s the thing, though. Mickelson told the truth about the Saudis. As the saying goes, however, many times the “truth hurts.” In this case, it has hurt the guy who spoke it.


Will Trump take the Fifth? Hmm?

You might recall the several times Donald Trump has declared that “innocent” people have no reason or justification to fall back on the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the one that protects citizens self-incrimination.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, we might get the chance to see if Trump really and truly believes it. You see, a judge has ordered the former POTUS, his oldest son Don Jr. and daughter Ivanka to testify — under oath — about their financial dealings that are under investigation by the Manhattan district attorney.

So, Trump will take an oath to tell the truth. If he has nothing to hide from investigators, he’ll talk. Isn’t that right? I don’t that’s going to happen.

His company already is under indictment for assorted felony accusations, such as tax fraud.

The walls appear to be closing in around Trump and his family. His son, Eric, already has hidden behind the Fifth Amendment, invoking it hundreds of times during questioning by prosecutors. Do you wonder what Daddy Trump told Eric after he left the conference room? Might he have called Eric a “loser”?

The smart money, based on what I have heard on the news, suggests that Trump’s lawyers will tell him to “not say a word.” His only option, therefore, is to invoke the Fifth Amendment.

But … hey. C’mon, Donald. An “innocent” man should be able to speak freely. Right?