Nov 16 2008

New Barack Obama Video

Published by under Election

Excellent video from the Obama campaign. It sums the situation quite well.

John McCain and Sarah Palin would simply be a continuation of the past 8 years of Bush/Cheney policies — and America can’t afford that anymore.

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Sep 11 2008

Was she for it or against it?

Published by under Election

Of all the things I have to say annoys me about politicians is how they will stretch the truth in order to make themselves look good. In the case of Sarah Palin…it’s pretty much an outright lie. At the GOP convention last week Sarah noted that she opposed the “Bridge to Nowhere”

““I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress “thanks, but no thanks,” for that Bridge to Nowhere. If our state wanted a bridge, we’d build it ourselves”

(KCTV, “Full Text: Palin Accepts Nomination“,, Kansas, City, KA, September 3, 2008 )

Unfortunately Sarah’s not telling the truth. The facts are that she supported the “Bridge to Nowhere” (a project to link Ketchikan, AK with its airport on Gravina Island) while campaigning for the post of Governor of Alaska. So much so that in a debate as a gubenatorial candidate she said that she would fight for the earmark to build the bridge (Bernton, Hal and David, Heath, “Palin’s earmark requests: more per person than any other state“, The Seattle Times, September 2, 2008 ). Not only that but she supported many other earmarks for Alaska both as Governor as well as Mayor of Wasilla, AK. As governor she requested $499,900 to assess halibut harvesting as well as money to light airports in the Alaskan bush. All these earmark requests were coming at a time when the Federal deficit was soaring under the Bush administration and Alaska’s coffers were overflowing with money because of soaring oil prices and a major tax increase which Governor Palin signed into law in late 2007! (Bernton, Hal and David, Heath, “Palin’s earmark requests: more per person than any other state“, The Seattle Times, September 2, 2008 )

As Mayor of Wasilla she hired Washington Lobbyist Steven Silver, a former aide to Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, to represent the town. After Silver was hired the town received earmarks from the Federal government for several projects including:

  • $600,000 for a city bus facility
  • $1.5 million for a local water and sewer project

(source: Hamburger, Tom, “Palin relied on earmark system she now opposes“, LA Times, September 1, 2008 ). The total amount of earmarks which then Mayor Palin received amounted to a total of $27 million dollars!

Now claiming on the campaign trail that as Governor of Alaska she has slashed earmarks from $550 million dollars down to just under $200 million dollars (a reduction of two-thirds!). Unfortunately that also is a lie. In 2007 Alaska requested a total of $254 million dollars in earmarks for an actual reduction of around 22% — not the 66% that Governor Palin claims. (Bernton, Hal and David, Heath, “Palin’s earmark requests: more per person than any other state“, The Seattle Times, September 2, 2008 ) And for 2009 it continues (and here she is out on the campaign trail decrying the earmark system) some of the earmarks that Alaska has requested from the Federal government include $25 million dollars for “Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery” and $3.2 million dollars for seal and sea lion research. (Hamburger, Tom, “Palin relied on earmark system she now opposes“, LA Times, September 1, 2008 ).

In the end it appears that not only is Governor Palin lying about her record she is also what the Republicans call a “flip-flop” — one day she’s for it, the next day she’s against it. Will the real Governor Palin please stand up?

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Aug 29 2008

The Difference Between Republicans and Democrats

Published by under Election,Thoughts

Last night’s acceptance speech by Barack Obama as the Democratic Party nominee for president of the United States was excellent. Senator Obama did what he needed to do — define himself and counter Senator McCain’s claims that he’s elitist and out of touch with Americans. The Democrats have done quite well for themselves this week and it was good to see Bill Clinton come out unabashedly in favor and in support of Senator Obama. If anyone is out of touch with the state of America and Americans it’s Senator McCain and the Republicans.

Consider that Senator McCain and the Republicans have been chanting the tired old mantra of “Drill Here! Drill Now!” for several weeks — knowing full well that drilling “here” and drilling “now” will do absolutely nothing to lower energy costs here in the United States in the near or mid-term future. It’s all a matter of producing a platitude that resonates with the fears of Americans rather than their aspirations. The Republicans are way off the mark and out of touch with Americans these days and it represents a dramatic difference in perspective. Paul Krugman in his latest op-ed piece in the New York Times notes

Democrats say and, as far as I can tell, really believe that working Americans are getting a raw deal; Republicans, despite occasional attempts to sound sympathetic, basically believe that people have nothing to complain about.

(Krugman, Paul, “Feeling No Pain“, The New York Times, August 29, 2008 )

As Krugman outlines in his opinion piece the census of 2007 shows that Americans are worried about the direction this country is taking. And that was in 2007 — before the financial crisis really tightened its grip on the economy and made it’s impact known. Median incomes for American families fell between 2000 and 2007, poverty was up, health insurance down. And even with all these indicators pointing to significant problems the Bush administration puts its head in the sand and proclaims that the economy is “basically sound” and there are no problems. At least no problems that tax cuts for businesses and the rich won’t cure.

On the health care side we are facing a looming crisis. Health care costs are increasing faster than the rate of inflation in the United States on a year-over-year basis. Employers, facing an economic downturn, are looking to cut costs whereever they can to stay profitable. That means cutting the health care benefits of workers or pushing more of the costs of health insurance onto workers who are seeing the power of their paycheck decline already due to the skyrocketing costs of gas, food, and electricity. As these individuals face declining health care the Republicans can only repeat their tired old mantra of “tax cuts for businesses will cure the economic ills.” Many Americans don’t even have health care insurance.

visiting the emergency room in a medical crisis is no substitute for regular care. Furthermore, while a hospital will treat you whether or not you can pay, it will also bill you — and the bill won’t be waived unless you’re destitute. As a result, uninsured working Americans avoid visiting emergency rooms if at all possible, because they’re terrified by the potential cost: medical expenses are one of the prime causes of personal bankruptcy.

(Krugman, Paul, “Feeling No Pain“, The New York Times, August 29, 2008 )

As for health care coverage, President Bush and Senator McCain seem to think that the emergency room at the hospital is “affordable” health care. In fact President Bush stated so last year: “I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.” (Bush, George W.,,July 10, 2007).

It’s hard to sympathize with the plight of people when you don’t even connect with their problems. And therein lies the Republican’s dilemma. How can they relate to voters when they don’t even recognize their problems. The disconnect is so bad that former McCain economic advisor, the former senator Phil Gramm, described America as a “nation of whiners.” (“Dr. Phil Gramm knows what ails America“, LA Times, July 11, 2008) How out of touch can you be?

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Aug 28 2008

We Can Solve It!

Published by under Energy Policy,Thoughts

It’s astounding to realize that the oil companies have spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $427 million dollars on lobbying in the first half of 2008. Let’s see what that got them…a call from the Republicans to “Drill Here! Drill Now!” with no regard for the environment. We need to solve our addiction to oil and the quickly developing climate crisis in other ways. But don’t expect John McCain or the Republicans to jump on board. The following video comes from the Alliance for Climate Protection and drives the point home — We CAN solve it!

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Aug 28 2008

More Nation Building at Home

Published by under Election,Thoughts

Tom Friedman’s column yesterday, “A Biblical Seven Years,” highlights his experience and thoughts during the closing ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing. The focus is not so much on how the China has outclassed America but rather focuses on the reality that we need to do nation building here at home. Over the past seven years since the Chinese were awarded the Olympics they have invested dramatically in their infrastructure while we have spent our resources fighting terrorism. Their threats are small and primarily domestic; ours are significant and international in scope. Still, this year we need to make a choice — a choice between someone who offers a continuation of the failed, mishandled policies of one of the worst (if not the worst — he’s truly giving Jimmy Carter a run for his money) presidents in all of American history and someone who is untested and “unknown.”

There’s an old saying “better the evil you do know than the one you don’t.” In this situation I think we are better off with the evil “we don’t know.” Barack Obama represents, hopefully, a sea-change in the direction this country is taking. John McCain offers us more of the George Bush doctrine (if only he were capable of articulating a doctrine). We need to refocus our energies and our resources back here at home to tackle the hard issues facing us: our crumbling infrastructure, our dependence and addiction to foreign oil, the pollution of our environment, education, and global warming. We need to stop sending our money and our resources overseas and rebuild a great nation. Otherwise, as Tom Friedman said in his column, “Start teaching your kids Mandarin.” (Friedman, Tom, “A Biblical Seven Years“, The New York Times, August 27, 2008 ).

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Aug 18 2008

What John McCain Doesn't Want You to Know

Published by under Energy Policy

In Sturgis, SD last week John McCain addressed attendees of the annual motorcycle rally there by proclaiming

“We’re not going to pay $4 dollars a gallon for gas (when I am president) because we are going to drill offshore and we are going to drill now. We are doing to drill here and we are going to drill now,”

(Oinounou, Mosheh, “McCain rallies bikers at Sturgis“, Fox News, August 4th 2008 )

How amazing. “Drill here. Drill now!” The mantra of the Republican party that they claim will solve our energy crisis. How deceitful of Senator McCain. But wait…it gets better. He then tells the rally attendees

“My opponent doesn’t want to drill, he doesn’t want nuclear power. He wants to inflate your tires.”

(Oinounou, Mosheh, “McCain rallies bikers at Sturgis“, Fox News, August 4th 2008 )

In both of the above points McCain is a liar…or at the least completely misleading. Barack Obama’s energy plan includes nuclear energy as a part of his overall plan and notes that “Nuclear power represents more than 70 percent of our noncarbon generated electricity. It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power as an option.” (“Barack Obama : New Energy for America“, 2008, found at Senator Obama acknowledges that nuclear power generation is something we will need for a long time in order to meet our climate goals. John McCain’s proclamation that “he [Obama] doesn’t want nuclear power” is a ball-faced lie and Mr. McCain better own up to it. As for the “My opponent doesn’t want to drill” argument — that’s patently false. On August 1st 2008 Barack Obama told the Palm Beach Post during a trip to Florida

“My interest is in making sure we’ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices,…If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done,”

(Whitesides, John, “Obama says would consider limited offshore drilling“, Reuters, August 1, 2008 )

Just because Senator Obama is not in favor of the rape and pillage style offshore oil drilling that Senator McCain and his Republican cohorts want doesn’t mean that he’s opposed to offshore drilling. But it has to be done with consideration and forethought…something that appears to be outside of John McCains capabilities. In addition, “Drill here! Drill now!” will absolutely, positively not affect gas prices in the immediate or near-term future — unless you consider “near term” as being around a decade. That’s completely misleading and shows what a low impression Republicans and John McCain have for the voter’s intelligence. In fact it’s downright insulting.

But let’s move on. John McCain then told the attendees of the motorcycle rally

“Is there anyone that is tired of paying…four dollars a gallon for gasoline. Is there anyone that is sick and tired of it? Is there anyone that wants to become energy independent?” McCain said. “Well I am telling you right now we are sending 700 billion dollars (abroad) and your Congress just went on vacation for five weeks. Tell them to come back and get to work.”

(Oinounou, Mosheh, “McCain rallies bikers at Sturgis“, Fox News, August 4th 2008 )

Those are big words for Mr. Mcain — “come back and get to work.” As Tom Friedman noted in his latest op-ed piece in the New York Times:

It was only five days earlier, on July 30, that the Senate was voting for the eighth time in the past year on a broad, vitally important bill — S. 3335 — that would have extended the investment tax credits for installing solar energy and the production tax credits for building wind turbines and other energy-efficiency systems.

Both the wind and solar industries depend on these credits — which expire in December — to scale their businesses and become competitive with coal, oil and natural gas. Unlike offshore drilling, these credits could have an immediate impact on America’s energy profile.

Senator McCain did not show up for the crucial vote on July 30, and the renewable energy bill was defeated for the eighth time. In fact, John McCain has a perfect record on this renewable energy legislation. He has missed all eight votes over the last year — which effectively counts as a no vote each time. Once, he was even in the Senate and wouldn’t leave his office to vote.

(Friedman, Tom, “Eight Strikes and You’re Out“, The New York Times, August 13th 2008 )

In fact, John McCain has missed a lot of votes over the years. Now, to be fair, Senator Obama also the July 30th vote which is inexcusable…however, he did vote on three previous ocassions in favor of tax breaks for solar and wind energy.

Finally, as it turns out Senator McCain doesn’t work weekends. (Thanks to Bob Cesca and his Goddamn Awesome Blog! Go! for the links). So before Senator McCain gets up and tells a crowd patently misleading and false rhetoric he should check his facts. And, perhaps he should show up in the Senate and vote more often…Congress might get some legislation passed if he did.

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Aug 18 2008

Breaking the Oil Addiction

Published by under Energy Policy

Why can’t we? Tom Friedman’s latest op-ed piece in the Sunday New York Times focused on what the Danish have accomplished as far as energy independence. It turns out that the Danish have managed to make themselves 100% energy independent. That’s right…the 1973 Arab oil embargo following the Yom Kippur War initiated by Syria and Egypt against Israel impacted Denmark’s economy hard. The impact was so hard that the Danish had to ban Sunday driving altogether!

What’s most interesting is the response of the Danes to that crisis. Rather than deciding that drilling for more oil domestically was the solution they turned to alternative, renwable energy as their solution. How did they do it. Well, according to Tom Friedman the

Danes imposed on themselves a set of gasoline taxes, CO2 taxes and building-and-appliance efficiency standards that allowed them to grow their economy — while barely growing their energy consumption — and gave birth to a Danish clean-power industry that is one of the most competitive in the world today. Denmark today gets nearly 20 percent of its electricity from wind. America? About 1 percent.

(Friedman, Tom, “Flush with Energy“, The New York Times, August 10, 2008 )

The increased taxes pushed the Danes to be more energy efficient and to innovate in many ways. They recycle waste heat from coal-fired power plants and use it for home heating and hot water and they incinerate trash in central stations also to provide home heating (Friedman, Tom, “Flush with Energy“, The New York Times, August 10, 2008 ) The reshaping of their energy market with high taxes on fossil fuels and high energy efficiency standards has not stifled innovation in the private sector. Rather it has created jobs and industries. In the 1970s Denmark’s wind industry was non-existant. Today one-third of all manufactured terrestrial wind turbines in the world come from Denmark and over the past 10 years Denmark’s energy technology exports have tripled. (Friedman, Tom, “Flush with Energy“, The New York Times, August 10, 2008 ) Denmark’s minister for climate and energy, Connie Hedegaard notes that

“It is one of our fastest-growing export areas,” said Hedegaard. It is one reason that unemployment in Denmark today is 1.6 percent. In 1973, said Hedegaard, “we got 99 percent of our energy from the Middle East. Today it is zero.”

(Friedman, Tom, “Flush with Energy“, The New York Times, August 10, 2008 )

So here’s the bottom line. Denmark had fewer resources than we do now to make this transformation over the past 30 years. What’s stopping us from doing the same thing. Consider that in the short term we will be paying higher taxes for energy but in the long run we will be breaking the oil addiction that OPEC wants us to be on and we will stop channeling money into the coffers of people like Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez who would love nothing better than a world without a United States. Both John McCain and Barack Obama must be willing to spell out a visionary energy plan that will end this stranglehold that OPEC and the petrodictators hold over us. We are already seeing what Vladimir Putin and the Russians are now doing with their newly discovered wealth and power…they’re invading former Soviet republics with the intent of reconstructing a Greater Russia. Similarly with President Chavez and the Arab leaders of the middle east. Our only way to break this is by breaking the oil addication.

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Aug 08 2008

Paris Hilton Strikes Back

Published by under Uncategorized

Senator John McCain used an image of Paris Hilton (and Brittany Spears) in his latest campaign ad against Barack Obama. Well, looks like Paris Hilton has struck back.

It’s very funny. “Old White Hair Dude” — at least she has a sense of humor. Can’t say the same thing about Senator McCain whose campaign is starting to sound alot like the George W. Bush campaigns of 2000 and 2004. But that’s not a shock given that he’s hired Steve Schmidt (a protege of Karl Rove) and some others from the Bush 2004 campaign to bring back the low blow mud slinging that was their trademark. Whatever happened to the principled, high-minded, Senator McCain who was admired for his maverick stances on controversial issues? It would be nice to have him running for President rather than this new McBush.

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Aug 01 2008

McCain's New Tactics

Published by under Energy Policy,Thoughts

It didn’t take long for John McCain’s campaign to take on the look and feel of the Bush campaign of 2004. I admired the Senator for always claiming that he wanted to have civil discourse in campaigns and respect but now I just shake my head at the tone he has adopted since early July. It was earlier this month when McCain brought Steve Schmidt and others from the “Karl Rove School of Campaigning” and the Bush White House into his organization. Now, we have ads from McCain that are misleading at best and downright lies at worst.

Senator McCain’s campaign has adopted the tactics of Karl Rove and his ilk by trying to play on the fears of American voters and by distorting the truth. In fact McCain’s campaign has made many patently false claims like “[Senator] Obama opposes “innovation” on energy policy; that he [Senator Obama] voted 94 times for “higher taxes”; and that [Senator] Obama is personally responsible for rising gasoline prices.” (“Low-Road Express“, The New York Times, July 30, 2008 )

Now, Senator McCain has released (and approved) an ad that shows Senator Obama as a “celebrity.” But, how does he do it? He gives us clips at the beginning of the ad showing snippets of Barack Obama in Berlin with a crowd of 200,000 attendees at a rally. But then we see two quick snippets of Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton? Why? Does McCain’s campaign intimate that Barack Obama is associated with Ms. Spears and Ms. Hilton? Is he comparing Mr. Obama as being as no more intelligent than either of the two? What’s the real message? Perhaps it’s something more racist and undignified of Senator McCain.

Nevertheless, after those quick shots we get to listen how Senator Obama is opposed to offshore drilling and in favor of raising taxes on electricity and the announcer then ends with “higher taxes, more foreign oil…that’s the real Barack Obama.” (“Celebrity“, found at John McCain’s Campaign Website) This is utterly misleading. Notice how the announcer didn’t say “higher taxes on electricity” but rather “higher taxes” making the listener walk away with the idea that Barack Obama intends to raise all taxes. It’s hard to argue with this since Mr. Obama did indicate in an interview with the San Antonio Express-News “What we ought to tax is dirty energy, like coal and, to a lesser extent, natural gas.” (“Q&A With Sen. Barack Obama,” San Antonio Express-News, 2/19/2008 ) What John McCain doesn’t tell you is the full story. The full question and answer was started around funding of education and was

Q. Have you considered other funding sources, say taxing emerging energy forms, for example, say a penny per kilowatt hour on wind energy?

A. Well, that’s clean energy, and we want to drive down the cost of that, not raise it. We need to give them subsidies so they can start developing that. What we ought to tax is dirty energy, like coal and, to a lesser extent, natural gas.

(“Q&A With Sen. Barack Obama,” San Antonio Express-News, 2/19/2008 )

So here we have the truth. McCain’s ad leaves the viewer with the impression that Obama simply wants to raise taxes for the sake of raising taxes (a typical Republican accusation against Democrats). He wants to portray Obama as a tax-and-spend liberal. But in reality the original discussion centered on education and how to fund it but then went off on a bit of a tangent by the questioner by asking if he would support taxing emerging forms of energy like wind energy. Mr. Obama clearly says that we should be supporting clean energy and we want to drive the cost of that down so that it is cost-competitive with current dirty energy. The way to do that is to possibly even the playing field by taxing dirty energy like coal and natural gas. If we are ever going to make renewable energy cost effective and competitive we need to encourage its development and deployment.

But the real mud is the statement “more foreign oil.” Obama opposes offshore oil drilling which will do nothing to help our situation in the near or even long term. Mr. Obama understands that our solution to this energy crisis is not more drilling but rather developing alternative, renewable energy technologies and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels like oil and gas.

If you really want to see what Barack Obama’s platform is with respect to energy I would encourage you to read his Energy Fact Sheet here.

However, the lowest jab that McCain’s “Rovian” campaign has fired involves the fact that Senator Obama canceled a visit with wounded U.S. troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. McCain immediately falsely claimed that this was due to the fact that the hospital would not allow him to bring news cameras along on the trip — a blatant lie. The truth was that Senator Obama canceled it out of respect for the servicemen and women and as Obama’s spokesman Roger Gibbs pointed out, he felt it would be “inappropriate to make a stop to visit troops at a U.S. military facility as part of a trip funded by the campaign.” (“McCain criticizes Obama decision to cancel visit to wounded troops“,, July 24, 2008 ).

It’s clear that this will be a dirty campaign now that the “Attack of the Karl Rove Clones” has started — at least from the McCain perspective. Hopefully Senator McCain will return to his previously respectable stance of demanding a higher standard of discourse in American politics and we will truly be able to make an choice between two candidates in a clean fashion. However, if Senator McCain continues to utilize the tactics of the Bush 2004 campaign team then we can also expect that should he be elected, he will simply be McBush. And we definitely don’t need that right now.

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Jul 24 2008

Give Credit Where Credit is Not Due

Published by under Energy Policy

So Senator John McCain has now credited the recent $10 drop in the price of oil to President Bush and his amazing policies. As Senator McCain claims:

Ten days ago, Bush lifted a 1990 presidential ban on offshore drilling and urged Congress to do likewise. “The price of oil dropped $10 a barrel,” said McCain, who argued that the psychology of lifting the ban has affected world markets.

“McCain Credits Bush for Drop in Oil Price”,MSN, July 23 2008,

Well, all I can say to that is — bzzzzztttt — wrong answer. Sorry Senator McCain I don’t think the fact that President Bush has lifted the executive order banning drilling offshore on the continental shelf has had anywhere near that much effect on the price of oil — not so long as the Congressional ban on offshore drilling remains in place. On this one you’re way off target. If anything, this administration has done nothing substantive to help drive the price of oil down. If anything it’s the slowdown in the American economy, a little bit of strength in the U.S. dollar, and conservation by Americans as a whole which has slowed consumption of oil stocks and have driven the price down.

It’s sad…at one time I really admired Senator McCain as an maverick and an independent thinker — one who wouldn’t just follow the party line blindly. Unfortunately, it looks like that John McCain has left the building.

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