Wednesday, July 27, 2005

O for a magic wand!

Discord is rampant between the House and Senate today, the source of fracture being an overdue energy bill that is on the verge of passing. Says Henry Waxman, the California Representative, "The bill is simply a failure. It's a huge waste of money."

The Texan that heads the House energy committee says different, promoting the bill as the right kind of subsidising that our energy service providers deserve. House members, however, have failed to convince him to incorporate a Senate provision to use more renewable energy sources and to direct the President to ween the national oil habit.

"We are having an energy bill that is doing so much on the supply side that we need to address the demand side, " says Waxman, describing the bill's whittled-down goals as the "bare minimum of what we ought to be doing."

Apparently other representatives have concerns that diverge from energy demands. "Just telling the President to wave a magic wand and tell each and every one of us that we need to conserve energy may sound good," says the Texan chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Joe Barton, "but those of us elected by the people every two years have a different view of that."

Oh, so it's an election issue, how Americans should conserve energy?

It's ignorant of Mr Barton to suggest that the President has a magic wand handy, when the President himself along with the Vice-President and the former White House Press Correspondent repeatedly deny possessing a magic wand. It was only April of this year that the President bemoaned his lack: "I wish I could simply wave a magic wand and lower gas prices tomorrow; I'd do that." Three years ago this month, the VP griped along similar lines, when he admitted that "There's no magic wand that Washington can wave." In May of 2001, Ari Fleischer provocatively suggested that "If any politician has a magic wand that they can wave over gas prices to lower them, the President would like to listen."

There's a connection here, in these repeated invocations, that is drawn (four years and counting!) between gas prices and this magic wand that is tragically missing from our Administration's otherwise well-stocked supply of mystical problem-solvers. But in the year 2000 on the campaign trail, our future leader set the precedent of the magic wand in reference not to gas prices but to healthcare reform when aloud he said "I wish I could wave a wand." It was not yet a magical stick then, as it has so clearly become now. Nevertheless, we Americans have all the more reason to feel the loss, and to feel sympathy for the Administration; our President has been aware of not having a magic wand for five years!

At any rate, the energy bill looks like business as usual in the current climate of loosened controls and consolidating decision power to the federal level. The bill aims to repeal Depression-era Public Utility Holding Company Act, which limits utility mergers. Seeing how utilities are realising record-breaking profits (those high gas prices have to profit somebody), such a repeal doesn't bode well for healthy economic competition.

The bill's authors have also rejected state-level objections and granted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval authority over new terminals handling gas imports. That's not very Republican of them, is it?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Bush's Brain: Emphasis on "Brain"

I don't always agree with what he writes, but Geov Parrish is onto something this week, when he says that going after Rove for the now-notorious leak of a CIA agent's name is expedient and totally missing the point:

Friday, July 01, 2005

created equal... by who???

My idea of a Christian entity, such as a church or foundation, is that
it incorporates Christian philosophy and has a prerequisite for
membership that a person is born again.

As this applies to our nation, I see a problem. The philosophy of the
US Consititution is that this is a nation where all citizens are
welcome to worship freely. A citizen is not required to be a Christian
worshipper; our Constitution encourages believers of every stripe to
worship without fear of prosecution.

Now, in a Christian entity, if freedom of worship for every religion
were the policy, I think that entity would not be Christian at all but
rather it would be something altogether different. When I go to a
Christian church, I do not expect to find a Buddhist meditating next
to me or a Muslim praying toward Mecca; I expect to be in a fellowship
of Christ's followers. Does this seem unreasonable?

Since the philosophy of the US is to welcome all believers of any
stripe, I do not see how this country of ours can call itself

the opposite of peach?

In case you hadn't noticed, there's a lot of noise on the wire lately about why the US, with a little help from our friends, invaded Iraq. Between the findings of no WMDs and the more recent Downing Street controversy, it looks like the answer is not easy to pin down.

I don't want to get into that. Like a Buddha, the question has infinite incarnations.

What bothers me is if the President lied to drive the decision process for war. Or, if the president presented the situation from a skewed perspective, if the decision for war was made not because of what we knew going in but instead because of a desired outcome, namely an outcome that would be to our advantage, whatever that advantage might be.

There's a new noise on the wire today, one that resembles the noises that began as a murmur early in the last President's second term -Bill Clinton, remember him?- and grew into a vindictive firestorm of impeachment. The allegations that our current President lied about the reasons for the US to go to war has got people talking about impeachment again.

With the President's party as a majority in both the House and Senate, actual impeachment proceedings are a remote possibility. Yet that does not absolve the question. Lying about your sex life is inappropriate for the President -lying about anything is inappropriate for the leader of our country.

If a lie brought the US in to the present bloody quagmire, that seems a far more impeachable offense than any indiscretion at the White House, one whose cost in lives and suffering is a crime of the highest order.