July 28th, 2008

Please remind me again…

…why it is that people seem to think an even more Democratic Congress will do better than this one?

If it had been up to the Democrats the surge never would have happened. If it is up to the Democrats we will not be able to drill for offshore oil. As Republican Representative for Ohio John Boehner writes:

Throughout the summer, Republicans have asked for a vote on an “all of the above” energy strategy built on increased exploration, conservation, and innovation – the reforms Americans solidly support in poll after poll. And throughout the summer, the Democratic leaders of Congress have made every excuse to block a vote – all at the behest of a tiny band of radical special-interest groups that support high gas prices and aim to keep America’s vast energy resources under lock-and-key.

As the article points out, this is a position that goes against the wishes of the majority of Americans, according to polls. And yet when asked recently by the WSJ which party would do better at dealing with energy, 42% of respondents gave the answer “Democrats” while only 22% who said “Republicans.”

Although this isn’t exactly a resounding endorsement for Democrats, it may just reflect an even more overwhelming disgust and distrust for most things Republican. And although it’s highly illogical to support the policies Republicans are supporting and yet retain the belief that the Democrats who oppose those same policies will somehow do better with the issues involved, who ever said that anything about politics (or Congress) was logical?

Included in that illogic are arguments that we shouldn’t drill because we won’t get the benefits until a number of years hence. Since when did long-term planning and long-term solutions for complex problems become verboten? (I know, I know: since people became so impatient that they demand instant gratification and answers for all dillemas.) Conservation of resources may indeed work more quickly, but the two approaches are hardly mutually exclusive.

However, there are some signs that people are beginning to turn on the Democrats for their opposition to drilling:

The [WSJ] poll indicated that Democrats’ edge on the issue may be slipping; the July poll gave Democrats a 20-point advantage on the issue, versus a 28-point lead in a January poll by The Wall Street Journal and NBC News.

Polls of likely voters in four battleground states, conducted this month by Quinnipiac University in partnership with The Wall Street Journal and Washingtonpost.com, show voters in each state say energy policy is more important to them than the war in Iraq.

This is something to watch.

24 Responses to “Please remind me again…”

  1. njcommuter Says:

    It does make you wonder about the rationality of The American Voter. On the other hand, maybe TAV has concluded that the government is inherently irrational and that reason need not be applied.

  2. expat Says:

    I think the big business and oil company loving Republican party is firmly imprinted in the brains of voters.

  3. Helen Says:

    There is a kind of a rationality here in that the voters simply want to get whoever is in, out. Campaigning some years ago in Britain I came across the same attitude to do with one of the EU treaties that handed more power over to the EU. People all agreed with us that they were against it and then said they would vote for the Liberal-Democrats (to make sure the Conservatives would get in). When we said that the Lib-Dems supported the treaty more than any other party the reply was either, well it doesn’t matter in the end, I just want those b*****ds punished; or, even better, well, of course you have to say that. There seemed no correlation between what people wanted and for whom they were prepared to vote. Rum thing, democracy. Still, look at the alternative.

  4. Sergey Says:

    “we shouldn’t drill because we won’t get the benefits until a number of years hence”
    Even this is not true. Price of oil is a speculative price, it does not obey supply-and-demand curve or the law of marginal cost. There is a constant deficit of oil on the world market, and this fuels speculation. But speculative prices are very volatile, they run on rumors and expectation. I am 100% sure that a bold government declaration of intention to drill and use more coal and nuclear power can immediately collapse oil price almost by half.

  5. SteveH Says:

    Most people are knowlegable only about things that interest them.
    You’d probably get the same kind of illogical answer if you polled your regular commenters with a multiple choice questionaire, of who should be chairman of this years Pro Bowlers Association.

  6. Terrye Says:

    When the Democrats took over Congress, oil prices were lower. Gas prices were lower. The deficit was lower. The economy was in better shape. In two years they have jacked things up pretty good.

    Today for instance Obama was up there with his favorite billionare Buffet, yammering about how we need another stimulus package. And this was right after the report came out that the deficit was up in large part because of the last stimulus package.

    I think that when people hear Republican, they think oil company. But it might be dawning on them that right now they need those oil companies to pump oil.

  7. Artfldgr Says:

    …why it is that people seem to think an even more Democratic Congress will do better than this one?

    The Left: transfiguring the disaster
    http://brookesnews.com/082107left.html

    after a hundred years of lying, you get good at it to the point its systemized. with the press no longer making money on news but entertainment and serviing other purposes (or else bloggers wouldnt be such a problem), you dont get them pointing the hat trick that is used over and over again.

    same old same old…

    or to quote the closing of the article:

    They know perfectly well where this all will take us — but they also know that no one would support them if they announced aloud what they truly desire.

    [and yes, i am back. three weeks touring indonesia... was in jakarta when obama in an interview described it as a paradise in his childhood. today its much better than it was, and its no paradise]

  8. Jimmy J. Says:

    I just sent this e-mail to all my Congress critters who, as representatives of the People’s Republic of Puget Sound, are all liberal demcrats. Peobably a waste of time, but I’m also sending to newspapers, McCain, putting it here, and so on. There are things we can do. Let’s not give up the ship.

    Dear Representative Larsen,

    About three weeks ago I sent you an e-mail outlining a plan for dealing with our energy problem in this country. I requested an answer, which I have not yet received. I know you are busy, but I am a constituent and I would appreciate an acknowledgement of my e-mail.

    This is a continuation of that last e-mail. It is plain to me that the leadership of the Democrat Party is doing its level best to block any efforts to increase the supply of oil and gas in this country. This is a continuation of the wrong-headed policies of the last 25 years that have gotten us into this position.

    I hear talk about conservation and alternative energy as solutions to our problems. I agree those are a necessary part of the solution, but they will not solve the problems in a manner which will allow our economy to continue to grow and provide jobs. We are already seeing job losses and decreased economic activity because of increased energy prices, particularly gasoline and natural gas. Those high prices are due to high demand and insufficient supply.

    We know that oil and natural gas deposits are finite in nature. Some very well informed geologists and oil men are convinced that the world is nearing a state known as PEAK OIL. That is the point at which the known reserves have all been exploited and worldwide production starts to decline. When that happens oil and natural gas will become more expensive each year. It will cripple the world’s economies and human standards of living will begin to decline…….slowly at first, but as energy becomes more expensive the speed of decline will increase. No one knows exactly when Peak Oil will occur, but it draws nearer with each passing year. If civilization is to continue to thrive as it has for the last 100 years, it becomes imperative that new, sustainable energy sources be found.

    Fuel for transportation is our most immediate and pressing problem. Gasoline and diesel prices have gone up to the point where they are dislocating the economy. Eventually we will have to have a transportation fuel that is not dependent on oil. Transitioning to that future will take time (25-50 years), and in the meantime we need to keep our autos, trucks, ships, airplanes, earth moving equipment, farming equipment, military vehicles, etc, etc moving and doing the work that sustains the economy and protects this country. We will still need plentiful fossil fuel supplies to make that transition. That is why we must quit blocking our oil and gas explorers from going out and finding the reserves that are now off limits.

    I ask that Congress open the outer continental shelf and eastern Gulf of Mexico to exploration immediately. Oil has already been found and the infrastructure is in place in the Santa Barbara Channel off the California coast. It’s estimated that oil could be flowing to refineries in 2-3 years from that location. There are well known prospects off the western coast of Florida that could be producing oil in five years.

    I also ask that Congress open up the ANWR as well as other prospects west of Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. The exploration has been done in ANWR. If drilling was begun this winter oil would be flowing into the existing pipeline in 4-5 years.

    All this exploration activity should, of course, be subject to stringent safety and environmental standards.

    In addition, I call for Congress to authorize a large pilot plant for producing oil out of the Green River Shale in Colorado. If this resource can be produced successfully it could become a national treasure in future years when we are no longer using oil to power our transportation, but other nations are still using oil.

    I ask that Congress authorize a large pilot plant near the coal deposits of Wyoming that will produce coal to oil liquids to be used in transportation, primarily aviation and marine fuels.

    I ask that Congress repeal the tariff on sugar cane based ethanol from Brazil. This would increase the supply of fuel in this country almost immediately

    In addition to increasing the supply of oil and natural gas, we need to keep working to find the transportation fuel of the future. High mileage diesel engines, hybrid vehicles, and even high (30-35) mpg gasoline engines can help cut demand and usage over the near term. (Now – 10 years.) Economic incentives should be authorized to encourage people to buy these efficient vehicles. All electric or hydrogen powered vehicles are on the horizon, but not yet practical. Hopefully in 10-15 years the technical problems will be solved and the path to the future will be clear.

    The next problem is producing electrical energy, which powers most everything but our transportation needs. It is estimated that our production must increase by 50% over the next 50 years to keep our economy growing. Some progress has been made in producing clean, sustainable electricity using wind and geothermal power. Solar energy and tidal generation are promising, but have not yet produced much. Right now we have nuclear generation, and hydro-electric as the only sustainable, non-fossil fuel producers of electricity. I urge you and your fellow Congressmen to consider taking away the restrictions on both nuclear and hydro power, while continuing to encourage technological progress in wind, solar, tidal, and geothermal. Nuclear power can be safe, but must always be treated with great respect. High standards of training and safety must be enforced.

    The slogan, “We can’t drill our way out of this problem,” is true because solving this problem requires accepting the reality of PEAK OIL. Drilling for the oil reserves in this country will not make us free of imported oil, but what it can do is provide the extra reserves necessary to transition us smoothly to the non-fossil fuels of the future. Please consider these things as Congress grapples with the energy problem. Thanks for considering my input.
    Sincerely,

  9. Grizzly Recare Says:

    Jimmy J – The liberal mind can only deal with thoughts the length of a bumper sticker. That’s why your reps won’t acknowledge you. IMHO, this is especially true in the Pacific NW.

    Many years ago the Colorado School of Mines bookstore had a bumper sticker – “BAN MINING – Let the bastards freeze in the dark”

    Prophetic.

  10. stumbley Says:

    JimmyJ:

    Way too intelligent for congresscritters. But I applaud your efforts. I’ll send a copy of your e-mail to mine (don’t hope for much as they’re Boxer and Feinstein…).

  11. Deekaman Says:

    This is very simple. We’ve lost our collective minds. We can make any number of comments here, but the collective American mind has gone insane. I have some ideas why, but I’m not sure any of them are right. And tonight, it’s too depressing to even consider it.

  12. soupcon Says:

    Why do they want more Dems? They want to get back to Sept.10 and feel dreamily buzzed with their illusions.

  13. Fred in NYC Says:

    Watching Obama dance around Brokaw’s questions yesterday was interesting. I actually screamed at one point “Ask him the question Brokaw” as Obama did his usual sinuous jetting from one margin to the other, completely evading a response. What I did find interesting were two thing: First, Brokaw looks tired but he also looked a little tired of Obama, and second, Obama’s talking points appear to have reached a natural conclusion. By that, his inability to keep the focus on his positions without clawing at either generalities or the same old argument that McCain is another Bush, does not seem to have the same outcome (i.e. they keep coming back at him with the same questions versus moving into new territory). I am beginning to think that the GOP’s strategy really is to simply wait the change thing out. Once the fervor dies down, folks need another rush and I do believe Obama’s has blown his entire arsenal on the change thing – there just isn’t a second act, we are looking at the guy’s entire strategy, utter emptiness.

  14. FredHjr Says:

    It comes down to a woeful lack of knowledge of basic economics. Prices generally are set by an intersection of supply and demand. Markets are not perfectly efficient (I do not believe in the strong form of the Efficient Markets Hypothesis) but overall they generally are.

    The public thinks prices are set by conspiracy, not the laws of supply and demand. Therefore, for now appealing to fundamental economic logic does not work, because the public either does not know it or does not believe it. So, rather than looking at the supply situation of oil, it fixates on the swamps of conspiracy miasma, viz., “those eeeeevill oil companies and that eeeeeevillll Booooosh and Cheney!”

    So goes the cretinization of my country… It follows from how the NEA and the Gramscians have destroyed our education system.

  15. Artfldgr Says:

    If we were really near peak oil (which we are not), then NOT drilling is the superior strategy…

    but since we are not near peak oil, and nuclear is better… well, i say open them all up. bakken fields too… there is enough in just those to fuel us for a long time…

  16. newton Says:

    # Grizzly Recare Says:
    July 28th, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    “Many years ago the Colorado School of Mines bookstore had a bumper sticker – “BAN MINING – Let the bastards freeze in the dark””

    I WANT that bumper sticker! Change it to oil drilling!

  17. Peter Says:

    It’s totally wrong for people to immediately equate the Republican Party as being more corrupt and vested in special interest than the Democrats. I do so myself sometimes- it’s kind of hard not to up here in Alaska. What we really need to do is break this corrupt two-party system and bring some real accountability into our government. I don’t know how that’ll happen, but as for my part, I’m joining the Alaskan Independence Party!

  18. njcommuter Says:

    It comes down to a woeful lack of knowledge of basic economics.

    FredHJr, I think you can strike the last three words from the sentence.

    What we really need to do is break this corrupt two-party system and bring some real accountability into our government.

    Peter, our system of separation between the legislature and the executive practically forces the two-party system. Coalitions are built within the party to nominate candidates, but only large parties can be players. In a parliamentary system, coalitions are build after elections, so splinter parties can have a serious influence.

    Our system is much more resilient in the face of external threat. Look what happened in France as Hitler was preparing to invade: Pro-nazi legislators and agitators exploited the fault lines in the government and left it without a national command authority; this paralysis made it possible for Hitler the freedom of strategic maneuver against an essentially paralyzed military. France’s fall was precipitous and complete.

    That doesn’t mean it can’t be exploited. The USSR poured millions into the anti-war movement during the Viet Nam war, and got their money’s worth; a third of our populace is still loyal to the ideas that their front groups promulgated.

    This fact ought to inform our discussions about our basic rights and the need for surveillance against enemy agents; people who criticize the FBI’s actions during the sixties should be reminded–loudly and often–of the USSR’s funding of anti-war groups. People on the Right should be outraged, too, at how J. Edgar Hoover’s ineptness went uncorrected so long.

  19. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Years ago, when the Prudhoe work was just starting, a well-educated friend of mine grumped that “they [the oil companies] just want to get the oil.”
    He thought that was a rational statement and a reasonable objection to drilling in Alaska.
    He has since achieved a PhD in biochem.
    Amazing.

  20. Artfldgr Says:

    Richard speaks of the joys of a very vertical education, which doesnt stop the person from havnig a wealth of empty opinion on subjects that they know little about… kind of like einstein writing for socialism. (most top scientists live under such a system and the system likes and needs them so they think its great, though they never think of how i will treat broom sweeps, and average joes).

    sigh… (from a med school…)

  21. John Spragge Says:

    We have known about the possibility of peak oil since the 1970s, and experts have written enough about the subject that even a casual reader such as myself could not miss it. In addition, in 2001, we got a sharp reminder that many of the royalties from the oil resources of Western Asia go to people (cough) bin (cough) Laden, who do not, to put it mildly, have an unmixed devotion to the best interests of the United States.

    And in the four years between 2002 and 2006, when the Republicans had pretty unchallenged control of the United States government, how many oil shale developments did they get ready to go? How many did they actually bring on line?

    The latest conservative meme goes like this: American energy problems have simple solutions, and only the crazy lefties Democrats in Congress stand in the way of cheap gas for all. But this meme doesn’t let the Republicans off the hook. They had twelve years in control of congress, four years with both a Republican Congress and a Republican President, and even with warnings coming out the woodwork, they did nothing. I had friends making plans to cope with peak oil in 2000 and before. What excuse can your guys offer?

    Either the Congress and President Bush did nothing because they didn’t care enough to plan, in which case, why should the voters trust them again, or else they did nothing because the iol companies and engineers told them that making offshore drilling safe, or oil shale practical, takes a heck of a lot more work than posting blog entries about it.

    Either way, I don’t see a very good case here for voting Republican, unless you like a party that can’t plan two years into the future.

  22. Jimmy J. Says:

    John Spagge,
    You seem to have a short, selective memory. Almost immediately after Bush was elected, Cheney put together a comprehensive energy plan that included opening up ANWR, OCS and the eastern Gulf. Cheney met with oil companies and others in putting the plan together. He was demonized for meeting with energy companies and a demand for transcripts of the meetings was made. In the end, a big enough stink was made about Bush and Cheney being captives of the oil industry that the plan did not make it through Congress. Also, oil prices and gasoline were very cheap at the time. No problem, right?

    I will agree that the Republicans have been asleep at the switch on this for the last three years as demand continued to outpace supply and prices escalated.

    I used to work as an exploration geologist and know how the business works. The big oil finders are the small, hungry companies. The majors like Chevron, Exxon, Conoco-Philips, etc, are followers.
    However, Chevron has recently made a big find, the Jack Field, in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Deep offshore drilling is too expensive for the small wildcatters, so the majors will have to step up to the plate if the OCS is opened.

    On a side note: I received a reply to my e-mail from Senator Patty Murray. It was the usual boiler plate about the evil oil companies and oil market speculators. She is convinced we can conserve and develop alternative energies to solve this problem. Like so many on the liberal left, she does not seem to understand the scale of the problem. Or they may not care if the economy shrinks markedly while we search for the energies of the future.

    My rebuttal to her is on the way! No fun disagreeing with your elected representatives. But someone’s gotta do it.

  23. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Jimmy J.
    Spragge knows exactly what went on. He’s hoping you don’t. That worked out well.
    Loser.
    I suppose we could reopen the cleanest coal in North America which Clinton closed after a campaign donation from his Riady buddies–who own the only other supply. Right, Spragge?

    IMO, the lib elites want the the proles to live considerably restricted lifestyles suited for worker ants. But Joe Lunchbucket isn’t going to give up half his lifestyle for Nancy Pelosi’s esthetic proclivities. We need a crisis and we need laws stemming from the crisis. Solving the crisis isn’t helping.

    Feinstein and others said they don’t want to bring down the price of oil because they want to wean Americans off oil.

  24. John Spragge Says:

    Jimmy, if the Republicans could somehow not find a way to deal with a critical domestic and international issue (US dependency on imported fossil fuels) in a transparent manner, I still see no reason for the average American to want to vote for them over the democrats.

    Richard, if we cut the ad hominem drivel out of your comments, we get an argument that somehow a Republican President and Congress could not reverse a decision by President Clinton, plus an entirely unsupported argument that “elites” simply object to the prosperity of the “masses”

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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