Free Markets, Free People
You remember Ned Lamont, don’t you?
You don’t? Well Ned was the posterboy for the Kos Kids effort to change the dynamic within the Democratic party. They wanted “progressive” candidates and Joe Lieberman of CT just didn’t fit the bill. So the Kossaks and others like FireDogLake, backed their candidate, raised money and did their best to oust old Joe. And they had some limited success. I say limited in that they beat Joe in the Democratic primary, but then independent Joe whipped Ned’s rear in the general election.
Now, it’s not clear that will happen in Alaska. Rumor has it that Murkowski, sensing defeat to the Tea Party backed Joe Miller, reached out to the Libertarian Party of Alaska, wondering if they’d be willing to adopt her as a candidate. The libertarians said, “no way, no how, Lisa”. She might be a viable candidate, but she’s no libertarian. But that caused some to believe she’ll run now as an independent.
And, in Florida, you see the same sort of scenario being played out with Charlie Crist and the TP backed Marco Rubio. Crist, the establishment GOP choice has been reduced to running as an independent – and he is.
The whole point of course is getting establishment candidates ousted in a primary is only Step 1. As Ned Lamont and the Kossaks learned, the important step is Step 2.
If the Tea Party is to be taken seriously as a force for making the GOP more fiscally conservative and Constitutionally aware, it has to win the Step 2 contests as well.
Cap-and-trade is on life support. Or so says Politico, and, frankly, the clock. With the August recess rapidly approaching and no bill yet on the floor of the Senate, it appears that the Senate won’t be passing an “Energy and Climate” bill this session.
That’s mostly because of the cap-and-trade provisions and the greenhouse emissions portion of the bill. Because of those provisions, the necessary Republican votes simply aren’t there. The bill, sponsored by John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, is scaled back from the original intent to have cap-and-trade apply to a broader sector of industry to only the energy industry.
As you might imagine, that industry isn’t at all pleased with the focus solely on them. Lieberman and Kerry haven’t yet convinced them to sign on to the bill nor have they found the sweetners which would entice them.
Meanwhile, apparently some of the Republicans in the Senate have made it clear that this rush through of major legislation shouldn’t happen:
“He’s waiting until we have, like, two or three days to tackle a subject that usually takes seven or eight weeks,” GOP Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander said of Reid. “That makes it very difficult.”
“Can I be very candid with you?” Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) asked. “This whole thing is very cynical. Anybody who’s been in the Senate for any period of time knows there’s no way — no way — an energy bill can get done between now and the election or even now and the end of the year.”
The “he” referred too in the quote is, of course, Senate Majority leader Reid. And apparently – at least it seems so now – the “we’ve got to rush this through” ploy is not going to carry the day.
Some Senators think that Reid should take the cap-and-trade provisions out of the bill:
“If they’re serious about bringing it up next week, they’ve got to show it soon,” said Bill Wicker, spokesman for Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.). “You can’t release it late Friday and expect people to read it and be prepared to debate it on Monday.”
But of course, Reid and the Democrats have never really cared one whit about debate or, in fact, anyone having the chance to read anything. Witness the health care fiasco and even the financial regulation bill. Both over 2,500 pages and what passed for “debate” was a farce.
Lieberman still hopes that the Senate will deal with the bill – even in a lame duck session. Calling them “big and important issues regarding energy independence, pollution reduction, job creation”, he hopes the Senate won’t be constrained by some “artificial schedule.” But time doesn’t stand still for anyone and reality is reality. The possibility that this will pass this session isn’t at all good – and that’s good.
Says one source:
A former Senate Democratic aide said climate advocates need to start gearing up for 2011, which will require a big push from Obama, Democratic control of the House and support from Senate Republicans to have any chance of success. “The window is definitely almost shut, and if it closes without action in the next few weeks, a lot of advocates will need to take stock about when this could be realistically attempted again,” the former staffer said.
When can it realistically be attempted again? In it’s present form not until the Democrats again have an overwhelming majority in the Senate. And that, hopefully, won’t be for decades if at all.
In a version with cap-and-trade stripped out of it? My guess would be something heavily influenced by the GOP will pass in the next Congress (and that should be, relatively speaking, “a good thing”).
Of course the irony is thick – Gen. David Petraeus, the man the left labeled "General Betrayus" and then Senator Hillary Clinton essentially called a liar about Iraq, has now been called upon to pull the presidential bacon out of the fire in Afghanistan.
If winning in Iraq was a tall order, winning in Afghanistan is a giant order. We’re not much closer now than we were 9 years ago, we’re operating under a strategy that takes time and massive manpower, yet we’re dealing with a “firm” withdrawal date of next year, and the civilian team in country has been less than successful.
It is on that latter point that I wish to dwell. Before going there though, as I stated yesterday, changing “firm” to “conditions based” will go a long way toward heading off dissent and disillusionment by the Afghan people and government. The massive manpower, of course, has to come from the Afghan government (and army/police). There’s no reason for an Afghan to join those security forces if we’re leaving next June. The commitment from our government to their cause has got to be what is “firm” – not a withdrawal date.
If we’re not able to make that commitment, then we need to withdraw – completely.
But assuming our goal there is to leave a relatively intact, democratic and functioning country, that in-country civilian team needs to be challenged to do a much better job than it is or be replaced. And that begins with Amb. Eikenberry.
The basics of COIN say the military/host country forces clear/hold/protect. That protection is key and the obvious goal of the military is to turn that job of clear/hold/protect over to the ANA. However, the civilian side of things comes into play during and after that military goal has been accomplished.
First a functioning national government must be in place. The job of the civilian side of the house in the sort of nation building COIN calls for is to be intimately involved in helping the national government function properly.
The one way you don’t do that in an honor/shame society, is go on yelling rants against the president of the country as it has been reported both Eikenberry and Biden have done. Whether or not one thinks the man is corrupt or not doing enough is irrelevant – once shamed like that, his cooperation has been lost. That is the sort of toxic relationship now existing there.
Gen. Petraeus, other than his military success in Iraq, had a very close working relationship with Amb. Crocker. It was that relationship, plus the military side of things (plus the awakening and surge) that spelled success in that country.
McChrystal and Eikenberry had a very hostile and adversarial relationship (Eikenberry is not lamenting the fact that McChrystal is gone). It wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see the same sort of relationship begin to develop between Petraeus and Eikenberry, given the latter’s mode of operation. If that happens, it would be Eikenberry who would likely go down. Obama can’t afford to change generals again and Petraeus is seen by the vast majority of Americans as a winner.
Anyway, back to COIN – once clear/hold/protect is in place, government has to be extended into those areas and the people have to see the benefit of that connection. Enough so that they reject the insurgent once and for all.
That’s a very difficult and so far unobtainable goal for the civilian side of the house. Marjah is the perfect example. “President” Karzai is really the mayor of Kabul. Until he or the leader of a subsequent government is seen as and acknowledged as the president of the country in the outlying provinces of Afghanistan, the “country” will always be a collection of tribal areas, overlaid with a single religion and no real governing power.
That’s the civilian side of the house and apparently there’s a move afoot within the Senate to use the Petraeus hearings to address that problem. This is probably the most pressing need to address at the moment.
“The civilian side, in my view, is completely dysfunctional,” said Graham.
Lieberman said the magazine article “revealed what we have known, that there is not the kind of unity in Afghanistan between our civilian and military leadership” that is necessary.
Though none of the senators would name specific civilian leaders who should be replaced, McCain suggested “re-uniting the Crocker-Petraeus team,” a reference to former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, who served in Baghdad while Petraeus headed up military operations in the country.
The current ambassador to Afghanistan, retired Gen. Karl Eikenberry, had a notoriously rocky relationship with McChrystal.
If this situation isn’t addressed and addressed quickly and forcefully, it isn’t going to matter much what the military does in Afghanistan. If the civilian team isn’t functional and working in harmony with the military toward the commong goal, then that goal won’t be reached.
Obama made the right decision about McChrystal, but not for these reasons. Now he needs to listen to the Senate, review the progress, or lack thereof, on the civilian side of the effort, and sack and replace those who aren’t serving him well in the critical positions there. And that would include Amb. Eikenberry.
Senator’s Lindsey Graham, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman have bought the premise that “carbon = bad”. But being politicians, looking at the economy and understanding the discontent of the voters with both health care reform and cap-and-trade, they’ve decided on a more incremental approach to implementing the latter.
First, they announce that “cap-and-trade as we know it is dead“. Of course cap-and-trade is, at base, a tax on carbon which is now considered a “pollutant” by the anointed. Apparently they believe you’ll believe that since it isn’t a comprehensive, across the board imposition of carbon taxation via the method of cap-and-trade, you’ll buy into the basic lie that this is wholly different.
Then they proffer their plan, which, of course, they claim is nothing like cap-and-trade. Really. It’s not:
Rather than include all major industrial sources of greenhouse gases in one broad economywide cap-and-trade system, the Senate trio will propose different types of limits for different sectors of the economy, beginning with electric utilities and then turning later to manufacturers such as chemical plants and pulp and paper mills.
Said another way, they prefer to tax carbon incrementally and not all at once. And that is the only real difference between Graham/Kerry/Lieberman and cap-and-trade.
The result? Read this finely wrought paragraph carefully to glean the effect:
“The bottom line with utilities is they’ll assume a compliance obligation from day one of the program,” the Senate staffer said, adding that no decisions have been made on how to allocate valuable emission allowances to the power companies except to incorporate an industry recommendation to shuttle revenue toward consumers to help pay for higher energy bills.
You have to love the “nuance” – the intent is to agree with the industry (allow them to raise their rates commensurate with the increase in cost to them) and “shuttle revenue toward consumers to help pay for higher energy bills”. In other words, subsidize consumers to pay for industry’s upgrades to cut carbon dioxide output.
The bottom line is your utility bills are going up from day one of the passage of this bill and the taxpayer – you – will be on the hook to subsidize yourself to pay for the increased cost.
Another in a long line of schemes we simply can’t afford and a convoluted and costly method of implementation.
And eventually, of course, the cost of other products (chemical companies? paper mills?) to include transportation and certainly at some point, gasoline and home heating oil will all be taxed as well.
Transportation fuels can expect a carbon tax that rises based on the compliance costs faced by the other major emitters. Several major oil companies, including Shell Oil Co., ConocoPhillips and BP America, floated the original idea on Capitol Hill, and the Senate trio has evolved their plan by funneling revenue toward transportation projects, reducing fuel consumption and lowering domestic reliance on foreign oil. The Highway Trust Fund is also a potential recipient of the carbon tax revenue, Senate aides said.
A carbon tax, by any other name, is still a carbon tax, isn’t it? And the timing of such legislation is just perfect. If passed anytime soon, the increased costs to industry should hit just about the time they’re beginning to climb out of recession.
As they make their case for the legislation, the three senators plan to tout their effort to incorporate energy and climate proposals into one overall package. And they will highlight the shift on carbon pricing away from cap and trade.
“It will be different from anything that’s been put on the table in the House or Senate to date,” Kerry said last week. “It’ll be comprehensive. And I hope it’ll change the debate.”
But it’s not “different” in the most important aspect – it taxes carbon. The premise is that carbon dioxide is a pollutant. For those who don’t accept the premise as accurate or scientifically valid, this is no different than cap-and-trade. It aims at the same result (taxing carbon) only approaching it in a slightly different and incremental manner.
You know, sometimes I think Joe Lieberman does this sort of stuff just to remind his Democratic Senate colleagues about the fact that they deserted him during his last run for office in favor of Ned Lamont.
In a surprise setback for Democratic leaders, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, said on Sunday that he would vote against the health care legislation in its current form.
Of course it would be nice to know what that “current form” is, but Harry Reid and the Democrats are keeping that a secret. However, details have leaked out, and, additionally, Lieberman pretty well laid out his objections:
“You’ve got to take out the Medicare buy-in,” Mr. Lieberman said. “You’ve got to forget about the public option. You probably have to take out the Class Act, which was a whole new entitlement program that will, in future years, put us further into deficit.”
Class Act refers to a federal insurance program for long-term care, known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act.
Mr. Lieberman said he would have “a hard time” voting for a bill with the Medicare buy-in.
Of course, the removal of those three items guts the Reid compromise and it also would move the Senate version of reform further and further away from the House bill, making the ability to reconcile the two, assuming the Senate passes something, much harder.
Lieberman isn’t the only Democrat not happy with the plan. Sen Ben Nelson, an abortion foe, has reservations about the abortion provisions and is not at all a fan of the Medicare buy-in either:
Mr. Nelson said he wanted to know the cost of the Medicare buy-in. “I am concerned that it’s the forerunner of single payer, the ultimate single-payer plan, maybe even more directly than the public option,” he said.
Of course he’s absolutely correct – such a buy-in would indeed be the forerunner of a single payer system. And a single-payer system is the worst thing that could happen to this country when it comes to health care. It certainly won’t “improve it” or drive down cost (as Medicare’s unfunded trillions in future liabilities shows).
This leaves Reid with few choices, thankfully. Of course Lieberman offers his own bit of advice:
“We’ve got to stop adding to the bill. We’ve got to start subtracting some controversial things. I think the only way to get this done before Christmas is to bring in some Republicans who are open-minded on this, like Olympia Snowe.”
Senator Snowe, of Maine, has tried to find common ground with Democrats, but has rejected Mr. Reid’s proposal to let uninsured people 55 to 64 years old purchase coverage under Medicare.
Assuming Senate Democrats could put something together that would satisfy Snowe (whatever that would take would most likely also satisfy Lieberman), she would be the 60th vote (unless they were also able to satisfy Nelson, in which case she’d be 61) and make it “bi-partisan”.
Funny how Snowe is touted as “open-minded” by Lieberman when it comes to supporting and enabling a huge government takeover of a large chunk of the private sector economy. That’s a reminder to those on the right to look at Lieberman as some sort of hero that at heart he really is a liberal with a love for big government. He just wants to use this opportunity to get his version of “big government” in place, not someone else’s.
That said, I really hope he can stall this (or, hope of hopes, kill it completely) until well into the new year. The closer it gets to the 2010 election with some polls showing upwards of 60% of Americans against this legislation, the less likely we are to see it passed.