Free Markets, Free People
I’m sure we’ll be told that this was just “badly phrased”:
"That somehow or other these are unconstitutional because they’re not enumerated within the powers of the constitution, that somehow or other we should just be eliminating these, I think that is out of the mainstream," Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said on MSNBC.
Got that folks? It is out of the mainstream to think that something not enumerated within the powers granted by the Constitution is … unconstitutional.
Lord save us all from our “leaders”.
The Alaska GOP Senate race has been fascinating to watch. Primary voters sent a pretty strong message to Washington – “we’re tired of business as usual and, as such, we’re turning out one of the “ruling elite””
Except being one of the “ruling elite” is akin to being a crackhead, apparently. Unsatisfied that the people don’t want her as their Senatorial representative anymore, Lisa Murkowski first approached the Libertarian party asking for their nomination (already filled by the way by an actual libertarian). As presumptuous (and outrageous) as that was, she seemed miffed with the LP didn’t jump at the chance.
So, instead of gracefully acknowledging that she’s yesterday’s news and no longer wanted by the party of which she was supposedly a member and the people she represented, she’s decided not to endorse their candidate of choice, Joe Miller, and instead run as a write in.
And what’s the first thing she and her campaign staff did prior to announcing a write-in bid? A little “business as usual” – hit the lobbyists in DC up for money:
Karen Knutson, Murkowski’s chief of staff, emailed scores of top lobbyists in town and employees at some of the largest oil companies – including Chevron, Conoco Phillips and Marathon Oil – to ask them to join the senator on a conference call Saturday, according to a copy of the e-mail and a recipient list obtained by POLITICO.
“To my friends in D.C. – if you are so inclined, please join us for a conference call with Lisa Murkowski tomorrow at 2:30 D.C. time and 10:30 Alaska time,” wrote Knutson. “She would love to have the chance to talk with you and answer any questions you may have. Please let me know if you intend to call in.”
Of course Knutson also wants them to have their checkbooks handy at the time of the call as well.
And that wasn’t the only appeal the erstwhile “libertarian’s” campaign made:
Knutson also sent the invitation to Democratic superlobbyist Heather Podesta – a clue that Murkowski could seek bipartisan financial support in order to fund her write-in campaign. Federal Election Commission records show Podesta has been a consistent and generous Democratic political donor and has never given to Murkowski before.
Anyone want to bet she gets it this time? After all, funding Murkowski’s effort only enhances the chances of the Democratic contender by helping split the Republican vote. If Dems could snag that seat by helping Murkowski, it would be a coup. And if Murkowski managed to pull of a write-in victory, she’d be beholden to those who financed her win.
A win-win for Podesta and the Democrats, but certainly not the people of Alaska. But more importantly it is an indication of addictive nature of the power certain personality types just can’t seem to give up gracefully. And so they do things like Murkowski has committed too – unable to break their addiction to the power and perks of office. They end up being willing to sacrifice their integrity, principles and dignity for another six year hit of their chosen drug – power.
They are definitely not the type person or personality any voter should be eager to return to office. And every time one of them is identified, as is Murkowski, they should be summarily turned out and ignored.
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.
During the last days of the Bush administration, there was a small flurry of hope among proponents of drilling for oil and gas which is off our coast. The president lifted the ban on offshore oil drilling and Congress, understanding the politics of the moment, let their ban expire. As the Washington Examiner explains, that leaves only one obstacle to the US finally going after what is thought to be about 3 billion barrels of oil and 11 trillion cubic feet of natural gas:
So the only thing keeping U.S. firms from drilling off our own continental shelf is President Barack Obama and his secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, who is slow-walking the approval process that must be cleared before the work can begin.
However, President Obama has managed to break 2 billion of your dollars loose to loan to Brazil to help bankroll their offshore drilling in the Atlantic. One assumes that will give Brazil a savings which will allow them pursue drilling in the Gulf of Mexico as well, since they are one of a number of nations pursuing oil and gas there:
Brazil, China, India, Norway, Spain and Russia have all signed agreements with Cuba and the Bahamas to initiate exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico within the next two years. So the prospect of seeing Russian oil rigs 45 miles off the Florida Keys — where American oil companies are now forbidden to drill — is a very real possibility.
That “very real possibility” would see us buying oil from the Gulf from foreign oil producers when it was just as readily available to us and our own companies.
And who would you rather produced it – US companies who have proven over the years that they have the ability to recover both oil and gas safely and in an environmentally sensitive way or foreign companies 45 miles off your coast who could give a good rip one way or the other how environmentally safe their methods were?
Then there’s the recession, jobs and the government’s hunt for revenue. This seems like a natural “shovel ready” industry that wouldn’t cost the taxpayer a nickle to crank up but would benefit the economy and the tax base:
According to the American Petroleum Institute, the development of America’s coastal oil and gas resources would generate more than $1.3 trillion in new government revenue and 160,000 high-paying jobs over the next two decades.
Instead of going full bore and trying to get this program off the ground – or in this case, in the water, we’re still piddling around trying to pass legislation:
Senators Lisa Murkowski, R-Ak., and Mary Landrieu, D-La., are bipartisan co-sponsors of a bill that provides coastal states such as Florida their fair share of revenues produced by off-shore drilling and production. The same thing should be done for states on the East and West coasts. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state’s lawmakers hope to tap deposits off Santa Barbara to generate billions in royalties, and Virginia’s front-running gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell has made drilling 50 miles off that state’s coast a key component of his energy plan.
Meanwhile foreign nations are moving to exploit resources we should have been exploiting for decades.
We have a huge looming energy gap. We’re behind the curve as it stands right now. While all the politics is focused on health care reform, this need isn’t going away and only becomes worse. Instead of “slow-walking” this, Barack Obama and Ken Salazar should be fast-tracking it and getting us out in those offshore areas to grab the most productive regions first. If we don’t, we’ll be moaning about how the percentage of oil and gas we import has gone up again.
And, as usual, that will be our own negligent fault.
Here at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, we were able to hear from a very distinguished panel concerning the energy “debate”. I put the word “debate” in scare quotes because it seemed that the consensus of the panel was there really isn’t a productive debate going on.
Roger Ballentine of the Progressive Policy Institute says that the two sides are talking past each other with little real effort to engage in anything which would actually address strategic energy policy.
Sen Lisa Murkowski, addressed the audience by video and spoke of a “comprehensive” plan which would include all types of energy, obviously including oil and gas. She spoke of a “scarcity of will” on the part of Congress to aggressively go after our own natural resources and cited the Gulf of Mexico as an example. There, she said, lays 45 billion barrels of oil and 320 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that we seemingly refuse to tap.
Yet as API’s President and CEO, Jack Gerard pointed out, when polled 67% of the American public want the exploitation of the oil and gas assets to be found on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), and that last week the Florida House passed a bill authorizing drilling off the coast of Florida by a 70-43 margin. That is a huge margin and speaks loudly about the public’s sea change in attitude concerning offshore drilling.
But it seems like no one in power in Washington is listening. And that brings us to the second point this panel made – it is necessary to engage the public/consumer and get them involved in this debate. It is they who will live with and pay for whatever Congress cobbles together regarding energy policy. So far, however, the only thing that has accomplished that level of public engagement is the price of gasoline at the pump. When it was at $4 a gallon, the public emphatically weighed in saying “this is unacceptable” and “do what it takes to fix it (to include drilling in the OCS). Since the price of gas has retreated, to be replaced by the economic recession, the public’s attention has been diverted elsewhere.
But we’re at a critical juncture right now. Legislation is being written and moved ahead within the Congress even while panelists in Houston on both sides of the political spectrum are saying the debate needs to begin in earnest, in a bi-partisan and productive way and the public needs to be engaged.
This was a wide ranging panel and I took 16 pages of notes. This particular post covers 2 of them at best. However this gives you a sense of the frustration to be found among those there representing government, industry and think tanks. Both sides of the broad political spectrum on the panel agreed that the bi-partisan “civil discourse” that would move this sort of policy forward in a positive way doesn’t at present exist even while the legislation outlining future policy is being written.
I’ll have much more to say about this as I wade through the pages of notes I took, but this suffices to give the general impression of where we are when it comes a well thought out and comprehensive strategic energy policy. In a word, nowhere. I’ll get into the “why” of that (“climate change” is the “cultural wedge” that is being used to muddy the energy debate), and the implications in another post.
That problem would be putting up with me for 4 days.
I’m in Houston at the invitation of the American Petroleum Institute (who is kindly picking up the tab) to cover the Offshore Technology Conference here. About 75,000 oil folks are converging on the place for 4 days of conferences and panels on various topics.
Today, the “Meeting The Energy Challenge” panel meets and it should be interesting. We’ll have the president of Shell Oil, a Senior Fellow of the Progressive Policy Institute, the president of the API, the presidents of the American Trucking Associations and Air Transport Association, the president of the Consumer Energy Alliance, the Executive Director of the National Council on Energy Policy and Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) here to talk about that – I’m looking forward to it.
And Pogue – if you read this and can respond, yes, I will be glad to buy you a beer – just let me know when (other than monday night) we can do it prior to Thursday before I fly out.