Wednesday, September 03, 2008

How About A Real Senate Debate?

Update: See below.
Three out of four of the contenders for higher national office this year, including both candidates for the Presidency, are current members of the world's most famous debating club, the United States Senate. It was created by the founders of our Constitution for the expressed purpose of engaging in sober public debate on the great issues facing our nation. What more fitting exercise of self-government could their be, what greater tribute to the wisdom of the founders of our Republic, than to have a great televised debate this fall, within those hallowed halls, on the most important single national security issue facing our nation today -- how to reduce our dependence on foreign energy resources, including oil?

Across the board, and having lost that public debate so far, Democrats are insisting that the way to the future is to block any additional drilling, and to threaten to tax domestic oil companies, with the promise that from the revenues thereby garnered, a whole new "alternative fuels" future can be created. They don't like to talk so much about what will likely happen in the meantime, however long that may prove to be. Consider, for example, this winter. Or, think about the potential for Americans minds being further alerted to the problem over the next few weeks, especially when the first home heating bills arrive from the first "fill-up" of the season? That is a particularly uncomfortable topic for the Democrats because, unlike the semi-coercive "voluntarism" that people can engage in by driving less, it is not so easy to "voluntarily" turn off the furnace in your home, especially if we have a cold winter.

But let's be fair. Why not give the Democrats a second bite at the apple? A rematch, if you will. Some are even suggesting the alternative to a vote on drilling, might be a federal shutdown. Well, who wants the Congress playing "chicken" with our future?

Our first Congress, way back in 1789, created the basis for a free press within the framework of the First Amendment, but they did not create it with the idea that certain unbeknownst media outlets would thereafter be given an institutional monopoly -- a controlling filter of the first-hand information coming from those soon-to-be elected public officials. After all, why should Brian Williams, Katie Couric, Charlie Gibson, or Jim Leaher be automatically accorded the whip hand and a stop watch on what topics we are to hear about this fall? At the very least, why should they be accorded such control on the most important single national security issue facing us today? Now, Senator Barack Obama at first seemed to agree to, but then backed out of townhall style debates, as were proposed by John McCain. It is not hard to understand why. With the early fundfaising advantage, Obama hopes to essentially buy the election with more advertising, without taking the risk of losing a debate. He already lost the first one at Saddleback Church, with Rick Warren moderating. Hence, if anything he is more disinclined to cooperate now.

So, what about the Republicans putting up their bill on energy independence, with John McCain as the prime sponsor, and floor manager, and the Democrats putting up theirs, with Barack Obama as the prime sponsor, and floor manager, and the United States Senate holding a lengthy debate, with a prior commitment from leadership on both sides to allowing votes on each bill, including a commitment to votes on amendments being proposed by both sides? Why not require them to actually do their job -- the one for which we hired them?

So far -- perhaps because of their losses in the sharp public debate over additional drilling -- Democrats have been reduced to having their acolytes in the press write the most ridiculous and irresponsible polemics you can imagine, as exemplified by this one by Fatimah Ali, just published two days ago in the Philadelphia Daily News, (ht, Drudge).

It began thusly:

"AMERICA is on the brink of a long, harsh and bitterly cold winter, with a looming recession that the GOP won't even admit to."
Really? Setting aside the obvious question of what happened to global warming in the mind of Ms. Ali, an obvious question arises, assuming (without conceding) that she is correct:

How then does she explain the failure of Barack Obama and his party to prepare for that bitter winter by opening up new drilling resources for both oil and natural gas during the entire time they have been in complete control of the Congress for the past two years?

After then parroting virtually every false canard she would think of, Ms. Ali capped her shrill and irresponsible claims with the threat that the election of John McCain would plunge the country into a race war and economic chaos!

"If McCain wins, look for a full-fledged race and class war, fueled by a deflated and depressed country, soaring crime, homelessness - and hopelessness!"

So now one of Obama's cheerleaders in the press is promising a race war if we don't elect him? Remind us again who brought up the subject of race.

But back to reality, if I may.

The fact is that the most important national security issue facing Americans today is how to reduce our dependence on foreign energy resources. Many of us just plain folks think that one obvious way, is by allowing additional drilling of our own ample resources here at home.

The Democrats in Congress have boxed us all into a corner on the issue by refusing to allow any such additional drilling, for either resource. Those Democrats, incuding Barack Obama -- who has himself actually indicated that he is not displeased with the high gasoline prices -- have absolutely no workable or sensible plan, the public knows it, and the Democrats have taken a drubbing in the polls as a result. They should be winning this election, but it has recently been neck-and-neck, and that was before John McCain's acceptance speech.

For her part, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is so woefully (and repeatedly) ignorant on the subject, that she does not even seem to realize that natural gas is a fossil fuel! All she and the Democrats want to talk about is development of "alternative resources," which are not available today, paid for with additional taxes on domestic oil companies, and by currently irresponsibly tapping the strategic oil reserve. That could mean more than a few very cold winters for some, spiraling gasoline prices for everyone who intends to drive a car in the meantime, and a devastatingly whip-sawed economy to boot. We saw that in the late '70s with Jimmy Carter, as many of us recall with horror. No thanks!

Anyone with any sense who accepts that such "alternative sources" need to be developed, also recognizes the need for a bridge to the development of those resources. Otherwise, the economy and the public will suffer mightily from high prices, leveraged even higher by the Democrats' promised higher taxes on domestic energy companies.

Those liberal taxes would not even touch the thirteen largest oil companies in the world! Those oil companies, the non-domestic ones no one ever talks about, would continue to laugh at us all the way to the bank. So the Democrats in Congress refused to act in the spring and, and instead they went on vacation for the entire summer, while we all paid the higher gasoline prices. Think of that as a sort of "intentional inaction tax" the Democrats willingly imposed on us all in the meantime.

Consider this as well. By way of her hands-on executive experience as Governor of Alaska, there is simply no public figure in the country who is more knowledgable on the subject, or who has greater ability to point to the resources that we can exploit in order to start building that resource bridge now, than Sarah Palin. In Alaska, she rejected the bridge to nowhere, opting instead to press for a bridge to energy independence by pressing for additional drilling. So, if there is a better reason for making someone the Vice Presidental candidate, I'd like to hear it! Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy (CSP) makes a very persuasive case for the importance of her national security credentials in that regard. Too bad she's not in the Senate right now, but she could be the interview guest for any number of cable or network shows, while the Senate debate is ongoing.

Who better to make the case to the American people that we need to drill now in order to ensure sufficient affordable resources for home heating resources for winter and for controlling the price gasoline? When the sticker shock of the first bill for home heating fuel hits any day now, in millions of homes, look for people to become even more annoyed at Democrats who have controlled Congress, and who have refused to allow any additional domestic drilling for the two years they have been in control of Congress, despite repeated calls for new drilling from the Administration.

It seems that all they want to do is talk about nonsense, like the fact that Sarah's 17 year old daughter is pregnant and is not going to have an abortion. Well, Barack Obama's mother was pregnant at 17 as well. What ridiculous crud these lefites have tried to dredge up! For once, at least on that topic Senator Obama is telling his crazed followers to shut up on the subject of Palin's daughter. Perhaps he should have a word with a few of his acolytes in the press as well.

Who knows, maybe he would also do what is really in the long term interest of the country, and respond affirmatively to a Republican call to have a Senate debate this fall on energy independence bills. In any event, he would be hard pressed to claim that such a call is "contrived" as his campaign did earlier in the summer McCain challenged him to a full series of townhall debates. After all, how could he possibly say that a public request to actually do his job is "contrived?"

And, in the House, perhaps Nancy Pelosi would finally learn that natural gas is a fossil fuel that we need to drill for the natural gas she and her husband are so heavily invested in. Who knows, perhaps we could get the House to debate and vote as well, and they wouldn't inevitably become known to history as the biggest do-nothing Congress of all time.

But don't necessarily count on it. The one thing the Democrats have in the form of a trump card, is that if they don't have a floor debate on energy policy this fall, they won't have to vote on it, either. That would allow Democrats favoring additional drilling to say so, but at the same time allow Democrat leadership to "run out the clock."

The downside for them is that they must have some debate on the subject, or the drilling moratorium will run out at the end of September. That's why they want to include a pass on the moratorium in the motion to recess on September 30th. Republicans should, therefore, be calling for a full-fledged floor debate on energy policy this fall -- bill for bill.

Update: The sentence and link in the text above to Frank Gaffney's analysis of the significance of Sarah Palin's national security credentials. He correctly notes that her credentials even go well beyond her experience as Governor:
Gov. Palin has spent much of her adult life dealing with matters long central to the Alaskan experience and now of surpassing importance to the nation as a whole – namely, energy security and how we can provide for it. Having managed her state's department responsible for oil and gas exploration and exploitation, having negotiated a long-delayed natural gas pipeline through Canada to the Lower 48 and having been married for nearly two decades to a blue-collar worker in Alaska's North Slope oil fields, she knows more about the subject than all three of the others on the two parties' tickets put together.

If Gov. Palin can bring to bear her insights into the need for expanded, yet environmentally sensitive drilling, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) – together with an appreciation of the need to introduce fuel-choice in our transportation sector, the object of the bipartisan Open Fuel Standard Act introduced in both the House and Senate shortly before the August recess – she will demonstrate unsurpassed leadership in what is, arguably, the single most important national security challenge of our time.

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At 3:26 PM, September 07, 2008, Blogger Thomas O. Meehan said...

Liberal anti-Palin hysteria reached the acute stage this morning with Mark Shields quip, "Remember Jesus was a community organizer while Pontius Pilate was a Governor."

Sounds like near blasphemy in the service of calumny to me. for more on this see Odysseus on the Rocks on Blogspot

At 9:37 AM, September 08, 2008, Blogger Trochilus said...

Boasting about Barack Obama's years as a community organizer ought to be at least linked to some measure of success, one would think. That is, there should be some measurable improvement here or there, if his tenure is to be seen as a basis for claiming a mantle of leadership emerging from the work.

But I have yet to hear one person point to any measurable success he achieved in that work. If you look at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and the ton of money that he and Bill Ayres went through developing novelties like "social justice" training for teachers, you have to shake your head and conclude that it was a big waste of time and money. The Annenberg Foundation itself so concluded when they looked back after the fact.

In fact, the emerging picture seems to be that his only achievement as a "community organizer" was a good political Rollidex.

By way of comparison, arguably the best community organizer around these days -- at least one with an undeniable measurable level of success -- is General David Petraeus.

No matter how one feels about the advisability of the war to begin with, he took a nearly impossible situation, one that threatened to set back American strategic interests for decades, and implemented a counterinsurgency operation that identified common interests, coordinated closely with local leaders, and put al Qaeda in Iraq on the run.

As for Mark Shields, he is a dinosaur who outlived his ability to play the pundit back in the days when Harold Stassen was still a viable candidate, didn't he? Maybe a little longer, but seriously . . .

What channel is trotting him out?

At 12:56 AM, September 09, 2008, Blogger Thomas O. Meehan said...

Well, Petraeus has at his disposal techniques that we don't. For instance, we can't very well bribe the Puerto Ricans of New York to suppress and disarm the Dominicans. This is after all how the surge worked. Still it's worth some thought.

I made the comment to show just how out of touch most liberal commentator are about ordinary American sentiments. It also shows how fraudulent all the talk of spirituality on the left is. If these people can confuse Jesus of Nazareth with Saul Alinsky, they lack the grounding in our culture to address the mentality of ordinary Americans.

Mark Shields used to be on the Mc Neal Lehrer News Hour. He's a regular on the panel on Washington Report. He shares the set with a pleasant black fellow how's name I forget, an equally forgettable moderator, Nina Totenberg, living proof that ancient Semites mingled their DNA with that of Camels and Charles Krauthammer, a Neoconservative ex-psychiatrist exiled from Canada for failure to be nice.

None of them have anything to say but I do enjoy observing them as I'm not allowed to keep reptiles in my apartment.


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