In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 9, 2011 5 Iyar, 5771

A gusher of oil rhetoric

By Glenn Kessler

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | “Now, next week I will have legislation out on the floor that ensures that we do have a strategy to deploy the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. When President Bush 1 used it during the first Persian Gulf War, the price of oil went down 33 percent. When Bill Clinton used it in September and October of 2000, the price went down 18 percent. When George Bush 2 used it after Katrina, it went down 9 percent. It is a message to speculators.”

— Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.)

High gasoline prices spur politicians to demand action, often against oil companies, oil traders or oil profits. On Capitol Hill Thursday, as House Republicans pushed forward with a bill to require offshore oil and gas lease sales, Markey joined with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to demand an end to tax breaks for oil companies. As part of that news conference, he made his remarks about the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

By the end of the day, oil prices had plunged nearly nine percent, with crude oil falling below $100 a barrel. Had Big Oil been spooked by the tough talk by a largely powerless minority in Congress? Perhaps, though news reports did not mention the news conference, citing instead a strengthening dollar and a weak U.S. employment report. Oil prices had already begun to fall this week, before Pelosi and Markey stood before the cameras.

Thursday’s fall in oil prices demonstrates how difficult it is to pinpoint the cause of commodity price movements. Yet Markey was very definitive about the impact of the petroleum reserve. How valid is his case?

The Facts

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was created in 1975 after the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo and huge prices hikes that resulted. It currently holds 726.6 million barrels, in five salt domes in Texas and Louisiana. If ordered by the president, the Energy Department could draw down 4.4 million barrels a day, starting nearly two weeks after the decision is made.

There have been a number of sales or exchanges of oil from the petroleum reserve over the years, partly to raise revenues, but only two emergency sales, by the two Presidents Bush. President George H.W. Bush sold 17 million barrels during the Persian Gulf War; President George W. Bush sold 11 million barrels after Hurricane Katrina. Markey also referred to a 30-million barrel exchange of oil controversially ordered by President Bill Clinton in the midst of the 2000 election.

The numbers cited by Markey are largely correct, though the time periods are not the same. The 1991 drop of 33 percent took place in a day, for instance, while the 2000 figure refers to an eight-day period. But there is little evidence that releasing the petroleum reserve was entirely the cause of those price drops, as Markey suggested.

Bush announced the 1991 sale at the same moment U.S.-led forces began airstrikes against Iraqi defenses in the invasion of Kuwait. The next day, crude oil prices fell $10, to $20 a barrel — the price when Iraq had invaded Kuwait five months earlier.

The Congressional Research Service, in a report on the petroleum reserve, said: “The price drop was attributed to optimistic reports about the allied forces’ crippling of Iraqi air power and the diminished likelihood, despite the outbreak of war, of further jeopardy to world oil supply.” The report added: “The SPR drawdown did not appear to be needed to help settle markets, and there was some criticism of it.”

We reviewed news reports from the period, and some cited the release of the oil as possibly helping to bring down prices, while other reports did not.

Bruce Beaubouef, author of “The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: U.S. Energy Security and Oil Politics, 1975-2005,” which was published in 2007, extensively examines that period and says “even current and former DOE officials had different opinions” about whether the success of the air campaign or the drawdown announcement had a bigger impact. The deputy assistant secretary in charge of the petroleum reserve said the drawdown “had some effect,” but it was “the success of the air war [that] drove the price down.”

Despite the uncertainty, Beaubouef himself credits the drawdown announcement as having a “significant role in bringing prices down” by affecting the “collective psychology” of the markets. But he adds: “It seems inescapable that news of the air war also played a significant role.”

The impact is similarly mixed with the other examples touted by Markey. For instance, regarding Clinton’s 2000 oil exchange to combat heating oil shortages, Markey’s staff cited 2008 congressional testimony by C. Kyle Simpson, who had once been in charge of the petroleum reserve. Simpson credited Clinton’s move as having “an immediately positive psychological effect on the market.”

Melanie A. Kenderdine, another former DOE official, also testified: “The results were immediate, in spite of the fact that oil had not yet moved into the market (demonstrating the psychological impacts on the market when the U.S. signals its intention to act).” She credits the move with cutting oil prices by 34 percent over a four-month period.

But Beaubouef reports: “As before, a number of analysts argued that a deflationary trend had been in place prior to the drawdown announcement, and that the drawdown announcement thus played a small role, at best, in the ensuing price deflation.”

Philip K. Verlanger, an industry analyst instrumental in setting up the petroleum reserve, said that as it has been used in the past, it helped “knock the price down for a few days” because such small amounts of oil were sold. He said it would be effective if a significant amount of oil was sold over a sustained period of time.

Eben Burnham-Snyder, a spokesman for Markey, says the record speaks for itself. “Starting in 1991, following three releases of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve by three different presidents in three different situations, the price of oil went down,” he said. “In a volatile and complicated oil market, that’s not a coincidence, it is a proven record of success.”

The Pinocchio Test

In making the case for acting on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Markey stretched the historical facts. While it is correct that oil prices dropped after oil stocks were released — and it is possible the petroleum reserve played a role — analysts still disagree about the effectiveness of those actions. At the very least, other factors were important for the shift in oil prices. We realize that politicians don’t speak with footnotes, but Markey’s claims were too sweeping and lacked context.

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An award-winning journalism career spanning nearly three decades, Glenn Kessler has covered foreign policy, economic policy, the White House, Congress, politics, airline safety and Wall Street. He was The Washington Post's chief State Department reporter for nine years, traveling around the world with three different Secretaries of State. Before that, he covered tax and budget policy for The Washington Post and also served as the newspaper's national business editor. Kessler has long specialized in digging beyond the conventional wisdom, such as when he earned a "laurel" from the Columbia Journalism Review


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04/28/11: How effective are sanctions in ‘changing behavior’?

04/14/11: ‘Biggest cuts in U.S. history’? Well, no.

04/08/11: Nancy Pelosi's absurd math on senior citizens losing their meals

04/06/11: Hillary Clinton's uncredible statement on Syria

03/25/11: Libya, Obama and the tragedy in Darfur

03/22/11: Gifts of bogus statistics for the health-care law's birthday

03/21/11: Mitch McConnell's not-so-happy birthday greetings for the health care law

03/10/11: A job-loss statistic produced out of thin air

03/10/17: A budget analogy that earns a Geppetto checkmark

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03/09/11: Obama and the White House's ‘halfway’ fixation with the budget

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03/07/11: Democrats keep misleading on claimed budget ‘cuts’

03/01/11: Mike Huckabee is on to something here, but jumped the gun

02/25/11: Harry Reid's illusory $41 billion in budget cuts

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