Do Nothing Republicans Fail on Energy

Reading through an article on the soaring energy prices in CQ Today's Midday Update (a free email service) yesterday, a key fact jumped out at me.

The escalating pump prices, less than a year after the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (PL 109-58) was enacted to establish a national energy policy, puts the Bush administration and Republican congressional leadership in a political bind. An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted April 6-9 found that 74 percent of Americans disapprove of the way President Bush is handling gasoline prices. While Republican-backed proposals to boost long-term domestic petroleum supplies remain stalled in Congress, the options for doing anything that would impact short-term gasoline prices are limited. [emphasis added]

As President Bush, stumping in California this weekend, tries to distract Americans' attention away from gasoline prices in excess of $3 a gallon by pushing a nostrum called hydrogen, let's not forget for one second that the White House and the Do Nothing Republican Congress had ample opportunity to address America's very real energy crisis in last year's energy bill. While the times called for the insertion of language that might either lead to a short-term decrease in the price of oil or help wean the country off of Middle East petroleum in the long term, the Republicans instead wrote legislation to help pad the wallets of their energy industry allies. Talk about dereliction of duty.

This abysmal record on energy gets to the heart of one of the major problems with Republican rule over Washington. Earlier this week over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall asked his readers to think of a single instance in which President Bush took action that in the short run was perceived to be politically-unwise but would be vindicated in the long term. Thusfar neither Josh nor his readers have come up with an example to fit the constraints of the question, and the Republican "Energy Reform" certainly doesn't.

By passing an energy bill last year, the Republicans gave the public the impression that they were actually concerned about the very imminent gas crunch. But less than one year later, we can already see that the bloated and expensive bill did little to nothing to alleviate either the immediate or systemic problems facing the America's energy supply.

To be fair, the Republicans cannot solely be blamed for the rising gas prices as increased worldwide demand undoubtedly has put an unbearable strain on the international market. That said, they cannot be absolved by the market either. And as voters become increasingly less happy with their tab at the local gas station, they must come to understand that respite can come with a vote for a Democrat on November 7.

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Saudi Ambassador talks about Iraq and Iran in Chicago

I am John Laesch, the Democratic Candidate running against Dennis Hastert in Illinois' 14th District.  Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend a speech by the Saudi Ambassador to America, Prince Turki al-Faisal, in Chicago.  The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the Economic Club hosted the luncheon on April 20, 2006; the visit follows an April 19th visit by Condi Rice.

The presentation seems to be part of a PR move by the Saudi's to improve their image and send a subtle message to President Bush.  

I was surprised at how candid Turki was with the mixed audience.  His message on Iraq and Iran was a positive one.  When answering a question about Iraq, Turki responded:

"Since America came uninvited, they should leave uninvited."

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Bush and His Billionaires Caused It. Let Them Pay ©

All the talk of Catastrophe Funds seems silly to me; the reasoning is apt.  I think there are better sources for these subsidies than the government. In my mind, our efforts are misplaced.  

It is true; we as a nation and as a world have seen an increase in the number and intensity of cataclysmic storms. Tornados, droughts, hurricanes and other recent disasters have caused great calamity.  We are mired in misfortune. However, we are working to pay for what we caused.  We are closing the barn door behind us; our prides and joys are all long gone.  We now, belatedly, prepare for what was our own ignorance.  We elected George W. Bush, twice.

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The Myth of Iran

The United States cannot take any military action against Iran.  This is a result of Bush's incompetent leadership, which has left our military demoralized and over-extended, our people war-weary, and our country diplomatically compromised.  I will explain why this is an obvious fact shortly, but before I do, I want to say that discussion that action against Iran is a possibility plays directly into the neo-con's hands.  This is the theory of pre-emptive war: it only has to happen one time.  After a nation proves that it will causally declare war, weaker nations will quake in fear at the threat of war.  It may have worked if the invasion of Iraq had gone well, but it didn't, and the rest of the world knows it.  

Is anybody suprised by the sabre-rattling?  I am not, but I am suprised that few people can see through it.  War is against Iran is impossible.  Suggestions that it is possible advance a neocon narrative.  

Why is it impossible to take military action against Iran?

First:  Too many political risks.  Many people blogging these days talk about how unstable Bush is, and how he will declare war at the drop of a hat.  Were any of you people living in the US in 2003?  Bush was not some maverick war-mad renegade, but rather, because the Democrats refused to engage in any kind of critical debate prior to the invasion, Bush took no short-term political risks in starting the Iraq war.    I have been opposed to any action against Iraq since September 11, 2001.  When the issue was first raised after the attacks, it just made me laugh, thinking how confused people can get.  Now, seeing how things have unfolded since then has made me ashamed of this fickle people, but in March 2003, 2/3 of the US population supported the invasion of Iraq.

Today, consequences of declaring war against Iran are huge, in the short-term, and the neo-con cabal that run this government have proven themselves to be pandering political cowards.  They don't have the courage to take real, short-term political risks.

Second:  To paraphrase the '92 Clinton campaign, "It's Iraq, stupid." The only coherent military and diplomatic goal of this administration is to stabilize Iraq, and to limit US casualties.  The Bush government cannot afford a major destabilization of Iraq, especially at this time.  Bombing Iran may slow the Iranian development of nuclear weapons.  Doubtful, but possible.  But what would this do to the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan?  Iran, bordering both countries, is in a position to seriously fuck with US occupation forces, and that is one thing that Bush cannot risk politically.  More dangerous, it would lead to popular revolts against US occupation in both countries.  This is obvious and inevitable.  

Third:  "It's gas prices, stupid." Any military action against Iran would lead to huge increases in the price of oil.  This would be speculative.  The US would control the waters of the gulf, including the Strait, and its airspace, within hours of an attack on Iran, and oil would still easily flow from SA and the emirates.  But the markets would react violently, and this could threaten the global economy.  

A more immediate risk to US energy interests is Venezuela.  Oil from Venezuela accounts for almost 20% of US imports, and Chavez, the president of Venezuela has stated emphatically that if the US bombs Iran, all oil to the US would be cut off.  It takes 3 days to get a tanker from Venezuela to the US.  It takes weeks from Saudi Arabia.  The neocons know that we cannot risk losing Venezuelan oil.  

There are a lot of other reasons why no military action against Iran can be taken.  The cartoon riots throughout the Muslim world come to mind.  All this Iran war sabre-rattling is neo-con ego, and empty posturing, sound and fury signifying nothing.  

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Follow Up: Condi Hearts a Dictator

This is a follow up to yesterday's entry Condoleezza Rice condemns Iran - standing next to a Dictator!. I urge you to read if you haven't, yet.

Today, the story of Condoleezza Rice meeting with one of the world's most brutal dictators and calling him a friend all the while condemning Iran with him standing right next to her was not picked up by the mainstream media. Even though it happened right in front of their lenses. Here's a Reuters photo (I didn't post it here because I didn't know how and because it's copyrighted).

However, the story is slowly finding its way through the blogosphere. Liberal Oasis has a good story with further info on it which was picked up by Crooks and Liars. More below the fold.

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