Sunday, August 10, 2008

Quick Notes -- Gang of 10, Energy, and Georgia

The late William F. Buckley once said, "I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University." I wish to change that just a little. After watching the campaigns of both Senator Obama and Senator McCain, I would rather be governed by a random lottery of 1000 people in the United States than our current elected Congress and Senate. I have lamented many times that neither Obama nor McCain represent the best from their parties. This week has further depressed me on the ability of our currently elected representatives. This means you get to enjoy a somewhat expanded version of Quick Notes.

Energy. Without looking at the polling data, I think it is safe to say that Energy has become the number one issue of the election. This can always change. On a daily basis, I see more in the paper, on radio, and on TV about energy and gas prices than any other issue. There are a number of positions out there. Obama wants to stop using oil in our country in the next ten years. He also wants to give "middle class families" a $1000 check to help with prices at the pump. How would he pay for this? With windfall profit taxes on big oil companies. If we put profit taxes on oil companies, what do we really think will happen to the price of gas?

McCain has been better on this issue. He has changed his position on off shore drilling. He wants to increase nuclear power in the U.S. He even wants to increase our alternative energy production. I agree with these issues, but don't believe they go far enough. I am an "all of the above" kind of guy. I believe we need to drill for oil in our country wherever we believe it is economically feasible. If that means off shore, in ANWR, or in the Grand Canyon, then do it. We need to build more nuclear power plants in the U.S. If France can get 80% of their energy from nuclear power, why can't we. The Pickens Plan calls for more wind energy. I am skeptical, but the plan calls for it to be financed 100% from private sector funds. Any alternative energy that private financiers want to go for, I support. They use their money, they drive the market, and if they are successful, they should reap the profits. This is Capitalism at it's best.

This is a long winded way of saying that there is an issue out there that both McCain, and the Republicans can win on this year. Conventional wisdom is that this year, Obama should win, and the Democrats should pick up seats in both the House and the Senate. Imagine turning that on it's head. However, into this discussion steps...

The Gang of 10. Democrats aren't the only one trying to drive a stake in the discussion of off shore drilling. 5 Republicans in the Senate have joined the fray. There is a great article on this at Get Drunk and Vote 4 McCain. If you follow politics, and are a conservative Republican, all you need to hear is Lindsey Graham and bipartisan compromise. These two phrases generally mean Democrats get what they want, and Republicans get screwed. The Gang of 10 plan allows off shore drilling, but only in a few states, and with the permission of those states. It bars drilling in ANWR, it provides $84 billion of tax incentives for alternative fuels that are paid for with new taxes on oil companies. These senators have decided they can tax certain companies to provide incentives to their competitors. Imagine Congress taxing Microsoft and giving the money to Apple. Or taxing Starbucks and giving the money to McDonald's. It is arrogant, unwise, and against the very nature of our market economy. The five Republicans, Graham (R-SC), Chambliss (R-GA), Isakson (R-GA), Thune (R- SD), and Corker (R-TN), have shown a colossal lack of judgment.

Georgia. Turning to world events, Russia has started a full scale war with the nation of Georgia. This is a very complicated matter that I may more fully explain in a future post. However, something to keep an eye on is the possibility of a nuke being used in this engagement. When the Soviet Union collapsed, 5000 small nuclear weapons went unaccounted for. The government of Russia said they were destroyed, and that all evidence of their destruction, and all correspondence ordering their destruction was also destroyed. In addition, Georgia was sitting on some nuclear weapons, which they turned over to Russia in exchange for U.S aid. In both of these cases, there is a chance that some nuclear weapons (some as small as 44 lbs) may be in the hands of the Georgian government, or some of the smaller groups fighting in this engagement. If they feel that Russia is about to take over their entire country, Georgia may feel it has no option but to set one of these off. Keep an eye on that part of the world to see what happens.

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