Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 7, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Gas Prices

  |   Video
  • Linda Gorman of Arizona AAA talks about the reason for high gas prices in the state and the near-future forecast.
Guests:
  • Michelle Donati - AAA, Arizona
Category: Business/Economy

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. One of the reasons being cited for higher gas prices is that gas refiners are cutting back on production. When demand is so high, why would it be cut? Reportedly due to high prices. Prices are expected to keep rising as summer nears. Here to explain the situation in Arizona is Michelle Donati from triple-A Arizona. Good to have you on the program.

Michelle Donati:
Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons:
Lets talk about numbers where are they at?

Michelle Donati:
Right now the nation averages $3.45 a gallon, and Arizona is about nine cents less than that, about $3.25. We're paying about 38 cents more than this time last year.

Ted Simons:
how come? What's going on here?

Michelle Donati:
A couple of things, crude oil is the leading story and has been for quite some time. It is currently trading above $100 per barrel. It closed today at $109. In 2002, it was at $20 per barrel, and in 2006 at $60 a barrel. Now you can see why it influences price, especially now.

Ted Simons:
What about refinery problems? I know last year that was a major topic of conversation.

Michelle Donati:
We haven't seen a lot of refinery problems, although we are in refinery maintenance season. Now, this usually makes prices go up a little bit for a couple of reasons. Number one, tighter supplies. And number two, refineries are more prone to mechanical problems and failures when they're making a switch and performing maintenance and such.

Ted Simons:
The price right now, as high as it is, really can't be blamed for anything other than, what, competition on the market?

Michelle Donati:
The market is driving prices right now. Crude is a safe haven for investors, especially with the economy so weak, a weak dollar, and the housing market going down. More investors are purchasing crude oil, driving up the price of crude and the cost of gasoline.

Ted Simons:
Not too encouraging for a forecast, is it?

Michelle Donati:
No, it's not. We are looking at record prices, especially with summer driving season right around the corner. Demand has remained pretty dismal, especially in states like california, that are experiencing much higher prices that we are right now. In order to make prices go down, we would have to see that continue, and that's really unknown at this point.

Ted Simons:
Demand is going down because of the prices?

Michelle Donati:
Because of the high price, exactly.

Ted Simons:
Should then -- you're saying we can't really formulate that into lower prices as yet?

Michelle Donati:
Not yet. Refineries are operating in the lower percent range, and it could be because of profits, as you said, but that can't be proven just yet, especially because we are in the maintenance season.

Ted Simons:
Do you get a lot of people calling and saying, how come -- the oil companies executives were just talking about tremendous profits in that sector. Why is it that they're making hundreds of billions of dollars profit, and the price still keeps going up and I feel like I'm getting gouged?

Michelle Donati:
It's really difficult to hear about oil companies making record profits. We know that motorists are paying record prices, and a simple trip to the gas station is straining household budgets. Triple-a is encouraging leaders to take an aggressive look at our energy policy and come up with solutions on how dependent we are on oil and gasoline right now.

Ted Simons:
You mentioned "summer blends," what does this mean, summer blends? Explain it to us.

Michelle Donati:
We switch over to a summer blend of fuel, and that usually starts in may. It's cleaner burning and therefore more expensive to produce. It's basically to improve our air quality, which it has been proven to do. And that gasoline is in the metro phoenix area. Outlying areas of the state still use the conventional gasoline. But they end up paying for it in a sense, because less conventional fuel is made to make this boutique blend that improves our air quality.

Ted Simons:
I know diesel prices have been a major focus of concern, especially for truckers. Now there are a lot of consumers, Janes and Joes with their new diesel cars and going, what the heck is happening there?

Michelle Donati:
Diesel statedwide is $3.96, more than a dollar over what it was at this time last year. Those who use diesel are definitely feeling the pinch at the pump.

Ted Simons:
Because it's competing with the gasoline, as far as oil is concerned?

Michelle Donati:
That's one reason.
Back in 2006, diesel was attached to an ultimate low filter blend. That adds about ten cents a gallon. It was the cleanest burning brand of fuel, so there's an increasing global demand for it. There are more people that drive regular and use conventional fuels, so those people need fuel and you have that produced. Then there's additional tax on diesel that we don't see on regular fuel, about seven cents a gallon.

Ted Simons:
As far as Arizona is concerned, where do we stand as far as how much we tax gasoline compared to other states around the country?

Michelle Donati:
There are federal, local and state taxes. Arizona sits below the national average, about 37 cents, in that range, and the average is somewhere in the 40-cent range.

Ted Simons:
Prices up all over, just across the board. It just affects everything. You have to be concerned regarding inflation because, as you mentioned, if a trucker has to pay a higher price to get it to market, that translates over, here comes inflation. This is all tied together.

Michelle Donati:
What people don't realize is that, even if you're driving a vehicle that uses regular gasoline, you're still paying the price for diesel. And that's because diesel takes longer to get someplace if there's traffic, or just costs more to get the product somewhere. That going to cost you a little bit more. Even people that don't drive, you're still paying the price for diesel and these soaring crude prices right now.

Ted Simons:
Well, there you go. Michelle, thanks for joining us. Next time we'll talk about the low prices, how's that?

Michelle Donati:
Absolutely.

Ted Simons:
Thank you.

John Burns

  |   Video
  • We talk to the New York Times foreign correspondent who has been covering the war in Iraq from day one.
Guests:
  • John Burns - Foreign correspondent, New York Times


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
The center for the study of religion and conflict here at A.S.U. recently invited John Burns as part of the public lecture series. Burns is the longest-serving foreign correspondent in the history of the "New York Times." He was in Baghdad when American troops captured that city in 2003. Burns was just recently reassigned. Larry Lemmons spoke with Burns about reporting in the war zone.

Larry Lemmons:
When you think about the anniversary, five years, and the milestone, 4,000 dead in Iraq, you were there from the very beginning when the bombs fell in Baghdad. Can you give me an overview, if you will, of the sort of experiences you've had from the beginning of the invasion to the time that you have recently left?

John Burns:
None of us could have imagined when American troops rolled into Baghdad in the first week of April of 2003, none of us could have imagined the disaster that would ensue. To that extent we've been pretty good at chronicling the failures of the pentagon and the Bush administration in Iraq. But there was a failure of imagination on our part, as well, to foresee just how bad things would get. I think we need to think a little bit like that as journalists as to why it was, those who were there when Saddam was still in power, and stayed through the transition, in my case, on the run from the secret police during the period of the bombing until American troops, thank god, finally, from my point of view, finally arrived in Baghdad. We had chronicled very fully the extent of Saddam's terrorism, and I make no apology for that. Some of the left say we paved the way to war because we made it possible for bush administration officials to be quoting what we were writing. We were writing about the society in which we were then living. What we didn't do I think was sufficiently explore the official history of Iraq, the depths of the trauma of the people of Iraq after 25 years with Saddam, and how unpromising that made the entire American project in Iraq from the beginning, that looked at now against that hinterland, I think you can say that the American project in Iraq was perhaps a mission impossible from the start.

Larry Lemmons:
Far be it from me to apologize for the "New York Times," but I think most Americans were aware of Saddam Hussein's atrocities, at least from the time of the first invasion by George Bush's father. They knew that times were very difficult for the people of Iraq.

John Burns:
I think there's no need to apologize for that, but I think it's something that now on the fifth anniversary, when we're making a reckoning of the costs of this endeavor, it needs to be remembered also what was achieved. This wasn't just liked others, even a casual reading of the human rights reports of the last 10 or 15 years of Saddam's time, a knowledge of the terrible carnage of the Iran-Iraq war he started, installs this man in my mind as one of the great criminals of modern times, of all time. Of course he was not a killer on the scale that for example Hitler was, or Stalin, but then he didn't have the means that they had. He didn't have 50 panzer divisions. But within the means at his disposal, he was a killer on a very grand scale in fact the Iraq I knew right up until April 9th, 2003, was murder, incorporated. The ending of that was very definitely of benefit to the Iraqi people, and to the entire Middle East, because he held in thrall much of the Middle East. But of course the question now is at what cost?

Larry Lemmons:
Could you characterize the way that American troops have been received in Iraq, in terms of has there been animosity from many of the Muslims because they have been occupied by what has historically been a Christian nation?

John Burns:
It was certainly something you might hear from Muqtada Al-Sadr, from Al-Qaida, and from the Islamic militant wing of the Saddammist insurgency. Most Iraqis were happy to be liberated. It was the most secular of all the major countries in the Middle East. It wasn't a deeply religious place. They weren't all festering with anger about the crusades. They were subject to this terrible tyranny. They had attempted sporadically to liberate them, coup after coup, and they couldn't liberate themselves and America liberated them. I don't think they were much concerned at that time about American soldiers with a bible in their pocket.

Larry Lemmons:
Could you pinpoint a couple of moments in your experience in Iraq that you realized things were not going as was hoped?

John Burns:
On the very first day when the marines entered Baghdad from the southeast, and there was large-scale looting. It was a sort of festival in its early manifestations. These hundreds of thousands of people poured out of what was then Saddam city, now Sadr city in the northeast corner of Baghdad. There were scenes of great merriment, teenagers loading office chairs up to 15 or 20 feet with filing cabinets and pushing them home to mama. God knows what she was going to make of the booty. Then they started looting the hospitals and museums. Later on the first day I turned up with my friend Lee Anderson, and there was no burning at the oil ministry. The marines were there protecting it. This was the only building they had orders to protect. And I must say, as one who believed the liberation of Iraq by American forces was for the benefit of the Iraqi people, that was a bit jarring. That was the first time. And then pretty soon by the end of that summer, the insurgency was manifest. They attacked the United Nations, the Red Cross with major truck bombs, and we and the American commanders realized that the war had not ended. And the rest of those watersheds, I'm sure your viewers were very familiar with. Abu Ghraib, the story that broke as I recall in spring of 2004, was then and now scarcely believable to any of us. The flattening of Falluja in November of 2004, the city was very substantially destroyed in the liberation of it. I don't want to be talking about these things, I want to make one point rather strongly. And that is that I, and I think most of the reporters who have been embedded with U.S. forces in Iraq, have emerged with a great respect and admiration of American troops, and these things were aberrations. The greatest truths are the myriad daily kindnesses that American troops are responsible for in their dealings with Iraqi people. They are not widely regarded as murderers and rapists. There have been instances of that kind, and there are in every war. This is not to excuse it, but I had a brother-in-law who was I think you could say an authentic d-day hero who told me many, many years later, before he died, about the things that happened when British troops crossed the Rhine in 1945, and it was very unpretty what happened. These things happen in war-time. They've done enormous damage to the American endeavor in Iraq. I think they are the lesser story, if we want to judge -- if America wants a judgment with the people it has sent to war, I think it can take some satisfaction, in my view, the American soldiers, marines and troops have behaved overwhelmingly in a way that Americans have reason to be proud.

Larry Lemmons:
John Burns, thank you so much for talking with us.

Ted Simons:
Members of the state house of representatives have removed 12 sayings from the memorial, and the pros and cons will be discussed Tuesday on "Horizon". Thanks for joining us, I'm Ted Simons, you have a great evening.

One on One

  |   Video
  • Bob Grossfeld of Media Guys and Stan Barnes of Copper State Consulting Group debate issues of interest at the state Legislature.
Guests:
  • Bob Grossfeld - The Media Guys
  • Stan Barnes - Copper State Consulting Group


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Now for our regularly scheduled Monday feature, on issues of concern regarding the legislature in upcoming elections, two political types are going one on one tonight. Bob Grossfeld goes head to head with Stan Barnes, the founder of copper state consulting group.

Stan Barnes:
I want to talk about my friend senator John McCain.

Bob Grossfeld:
If you must.

Stan Barnes:
I must. This man is an Arizonan, and I think he's going to be president of the United States. This week he did his geographical tour, he was in Annapolis and Pensacola, and in the Prescott courthouse like Barry Goldwater of 1964. There were thousands of people out there. I was very proud to see him and to see him evoke the bipartisan spirit of Morris Udall and Barry Goldwater and getting things done. I think he's going to do well in November and make Arizona proud,

Bob Grossfeld:
So basically you're saying you like the fact that he rides on a bus and goes to all these places that are war remembrances.

Stan Barnes:
yeah.

Bob Grossfeld:
This is like a war in remembrance tour for John McCain.

Stan Barnes:
You think this is going to turn on the war, his election is going to turn on the war, right?

Bob Grossfeld:
I think clearly he was focusing, whether he meant to or not, every stop was something connected to what used to be. And his positions on the war and his involvement in war.

Stan Barnes:
I sense a campaign theme by the democrats, right? What they used to be versus the future, the old versus the new, the has-been versus --

Bob Grossfeld:
That's a great thought, never occurred to me.

Stan Barnes:
So predictable. But nonetheless, I think there's a certain amount of attraction. John McCain has to overcome the fact that many people are upset about the war. But I think he can argue why you should let him be president because we have to deal with it, the war is not going to go away.

Bob Grossfeld:
Well, it's certainly not going to go away if Mr. McCain has his way. From the get-go, all he's really wanted to do is do the escalation, which was being called the surge earlier. But I'm serious, and I don't think most people are seeing any more of what's his plan to actually get us out of there. And setting aside the faux pas when he said, we'll be there a hundred years, setting that aside, it's as if he sees some grand mission in Iraq that I think 80\% of the population just doesn't see. That's a big problem, wouldn't you agree?

Stan Barnes:
I don't agree. He does see that it's in our long-term interests.

Bob Grossfeld:
Let's talk about our interests as a state.

Stan Barnes:
Okay.

Bob Grossfeld: I know you and others have -- well, not pontificated, but talked about the McCain effect on Arizona . And basically they're, well, yeah, democrats should probably just hang it up and not really try too hard in November, because a favorite son will be out there at the top of the ticket.

Stan Barnes:
The very top, yes. I think what he's going to do is quash my democratic friends' hopes of having the statehouse the first time since 1966. When one man, one vote took place in 1966, that was the last time the democrats were in the majority in the statehouse. There's a lot of talk about them getting the majority back because they believe their time has come after 42 years. John mccain on the ballot brings out republicans and independents that will vote for him. That down the line will put a damper on democratic hopes.

Bob Grossfeld:
Explain to me how that would have that effect, if for instance it's on the wrong side of 80\% of the population about Iraq. He has virtually nothing to say about the economy, other than good luck, we'll see you when the recession is over if you're still around. And one thing after the other. Health care, all of the issues that have surfaced and are now part of the dialogue of the campaign, because they're affecting individuals here in Arizona and frankly throughout the country, how is that going to have the effect of, well, let's all get out and vote for John McCain?

Stan Barnes:
Most people in Arizona don't share your view, and John McCain is going to win Arizona , which is going to bring people to the ballot and do things to effect the elections. Enough of that, let's shift gears. I got a sense that one day we're going to wake up and there's going to be a new sheriff in town. What I mean by that is, Joe Arpaio, who I support, has been doing his thing for 15 years. It almost feels like there's a new sheriff Joe Arpaio, in the sense that that man has more energy and is covering the valley in more of a blanket than i've seen him do in all the time there. He's been probably the most high-profile sheriff in all of Arizona history. But with his crime suppression stuff he's doing in Guadalupe and parts of phoenix and maybe the east valley, he's making some big news.

Bob Grossfeld:
Again, we're at a matter of perception. I think one man's crime suppression is another person's, oh, my god, they're going to come and wipe out the entire neighborhood, hide the children because they can't distinguish between who's here legally and not legally. That's really a profoundly scary thing to a lot of people whose skin color isn't yours or mine.

Stan Barnes:
It's hard for the local politicians to fight with him on it because it makes them look like they're on the side of people that are breaking the law. Their idea is basically, don't enforce the law, and even though there are nuances that I understand, it doesn't translate in the public arena. It looks like the guy what wants to enforce the law versus those who don't.

Bob Grossfeld:
He's choosing that law rather than going around and collecting up the 60,000 criminals with arrest warrants out there that he's just not being able to find in his moving around the valley and invading neighborhoods.

Stan Barnes:
Do you fear one day you'll open your front door and the tank will be pointing at you from the street?

Bob Grossfeld:
Not at all. Joe, if you're listening, I really like you. Let's move on. There is something both you and I do agree on.

Stan Barnes:
And that is?

Bob Grossfeld:
Term limits, and how stupid they've turned out to be.

Stan Barnes:
I have to mea culpa for all our viewers. In 1992, I thought this was a great idea. It stemmed out of the federal government projection which I being a republican, was in the wilderness for 40 years back in the day. I wanted term limits as a way to shake up the place. I thought they were a great idea in 1992. I work at the legislature, I've seen it play out and it hasn't done what voters hoped it'll do, it's done worse.

Bob Grossfeld:
That's absolutely right. What we now have is such a churn and rotation, I think the best you can say about maintaining any kind of institutional knowledge is they're moving from the senate to the house and the house to the senate, and back and forth. And constantly looking for a new gig to run for. And it's leaving my friends who are lobbyists over there going, well, I kind of remember a few things, and I can help you out.

Stan Barnes:
I've been there 20 years and I'm like the old man who can remember things. But it has so gained the system, you're already looking to jump where you need to jump, the minute you're elected.

Bob Grossfeld:
I could even live with term limits if we could get the district system fixed so we have competitive races. It was an effort to eject that competition.

Stan Barnes:
We'll leave that topic for another day.

Bob Grossfeld:
And we will. And it was a great experience and I look forward to it again.

Stan Barnes:
Good being with you.

Bob Grossfeld:
We're done.

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