Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Do Conservatives Know about Conservation?

Peter Roskam is angry about the high price of gas in Illinois – so angry that he is now blaming the Illinois government for the problem. On his website this week, he laments:

“Our refinery capacity is woefully inadequate—roughly 150 refineries are on-line today compared with more than 300 in 1980. With demand ever-increasing, we desperately need to focus more attention on enabling the growth of the refining industry. This is one step we can take toward increasing domestic energy production, and one step that will bring us closer to a more secure homeland.”

Here’s what’s missing from the equation: the shutting down of refineries was a strategic decision by the oil industry to keep supply down so that prices did not go too low. Much of this happened under the watchful eyes of the Reagan/Bush I regimes. Of course, the Clinton/Gore years really did very little to address the impending energy crisis despite Gore’s re-emergence as an energy/environment guru. And, even if refinery capacity increases, this will do nothing to move us “closer to a more secure homeland”. In fact, it might even do the opposite. Think about it: if we can refine more oil, don’t we need to bring it in? Or will it magically appear? Sometimes I really wonder if Peter is that dense or he truly believes his constituents are.

But perhaps what’s most glaringly missing is the dreaded “C” word – conserve. Why is there so little talk about energy conservation? All we hear about is increasing supply. Long-gone are the days and the lessons of the early 1970’s when we all turned our thermostats down, slowed down to 55 on the highways (something that shockingly increases MPG ratings) and other conservation practices. Our society today simply cannot be asked to sacrifice anything – just ask the soldiers in Iraq when they return home about all the sacrifices they are seeing in their hometowns.

The reality we face as a society is that no amount of energy – no matter where it comes from – can keep up with current demands. We are going to need to face some serious changes in consumption if we are going to successfully land from this energy crash we are in.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Peter, the environment and national security.

Here’s what Rep. Roskam has to say this week:

“In a scary throwback to the Clinton Administration, the 2008 Intelligence Authorization bill passed last week in the House diverts US intelligence resources away from critical national security missions to study global climate change. While climate change is worthy of study, US intelligence services are supposed to be focused on threats to our national security, not threats to the environment…While global climate change is a serious concern we should be watching closely, this environmental phenomenon is being researched by more than a dozen other federal agencies. The subject of global warming is by no means getting the cold shoulder from the federal government.” (Italics mine)

First of all, it pretty much looks beyond hope that Peter will be able to see anything good from the Democrats, and that is frightening. Forget about the fact that finally there is a call to accountability that the Republican-controlled House and Senate basically just ignored to the peril of our nation. But to call global warming an “environmental” phenomenon with all that we now know is a joke; at least, Peter, admit that the evidence seems to indicate global warming is a consequence of human industrial waste. And if Peter can’t make the connection between global warming, carbon-emissions, energy resources, poverty and war, he really is dim.

The timing of his statement, however, is particularly interesting, given that the Director of National Intelligence himself declared that climate change is a national security issue. As written in the Boston Globe just this past Sunday:
“In a letter written last week to the House Intelligence Committee, Michael McConnell, director of national intelligence, said it was ‘entirely appropriate’ that the intelligence community prepare an assessment of the ‘geopolitical and security implications of global climate change’…But intelligence officials have already recognized the importance of studying how crises caused by climate change, such as famine and rising sea levels, could affect the security of the United States. Even as Congress was debating whether to order a national intelligence estimate, intelligence agencies had planned to include a discussion of global warming in a report next year on US security challenges through 2025…Last month, a report written by several retired generals and admirals concluded that climate changes posed a ‘serious threat to US national security,’ and could further weaken unstable governments in developing countries.” (see http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2007/05/13/intelligence_chief_oks_global_warming_study/ for full article).

Perhaps most disappointing for me is Peter’s shameless partisanship. Routinely he has been trying to invoke the names Pelosi and Clinton to scare people, when it is more than clear that “Bush and Cheney are in charge” are the words that are scaring most of the world and hurting almost all the good that America can stand for. Peter himself has quickly become a “scary throwback to the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Gonzalez policies run amok of 2002-2006”. He must be one of the only one’s left who doesn’t see that this is a dead regime, and even most Republicans are just waiting for them all to go away.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Roskam and the supplemental spending veto

Poor Peter Roskam. With President Bush now vetoing the supplemental spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Roskam is now having to justify and defend the veto as a protective measure to keep politics out of government. “I am deeply disturbed when politics trumps national security”, he said in his weekly column that is heard no WLS-890 AM Radio. As is so often the case, I agree with Peter about politics trumping national security, and I detest when I see elected officials put partisan politics above the responsible of governing, but really, how many of our elected officials are truly interested in governing these days. The big joke (if it weren’t so serious), of course, is that the practice of politics trumping not just national security but pretty much every governmental agency these days has been the policy of this White House Administration. As Sen. Leahy and Rep. Waxman are finding, the FDA, Education, Justice, and EPA have had their integrity not just questioned, but thoroughly ruined by the politics of Rove et.al. Rove was the mastermind of Mission Accomplished; people need to be reminded that this Administration has gotten so many things wrong, and now Roskam wants to accuse “the Democrats” (nice move on the language here, as well) of playing politics?

If Peter were serious, himself, he would be stepping up to the plate and putting full funding and national security higher than tax cuts as a priority (poverty and greed are the seeds of terrorism). He would take time to remind people that we are at war, not just our military, and that we should all be making sacrifices. He would reject the on-going farce that this war finding is "supplemental", but instead should be included and accounted for in the regular budgeting process. Instead, he would like to blame Nancy Pelosi while encouraging the frivolous consumerism with messages of keeping your money to yourself.

Here’s the full weekly message:

The Troops Lose When Politicians Play Games Congressman Roskam's Weekly Column, WLS 890 AM Washington, May 2 - Nancy Pelosi and her Democrat Majority passed their micromanaging Iraq supplemental bill Thursday of last week, but it was sent to the president for his consideration Tuesday of this week. That bill contains funding that our troops need to fulfill their missions in the field. What was the holdup?The bill was held so the Democrats could create a political spectacle and to give their supporters from Moveon.org fodder for protests. Speaker Pelosi waited to send the bill to the president’s desk until this week to mock the president’s declaration of “mission accomplished,” which occurred four years ago this week. Even if she knew the president was going to veto the bill, she should have sent it to the White House the day after it passed so Congress could get back to business drafting a clean funding bill that will support our troops.The Speaker’s excuse for the delay was that she needed more time to review it. She said, “It’s a major piece of legislation and you have to go through it word for word and line by line.” Shouldn’t that have been done before it was offered on the floors of the House and Senate? Was the Speaker unaware of the contents of the bill before she brought it up for final passage in the House?