Can't take much more

OK, damn it. I've stuck with Barack, even though he's been circumnavigating the mid-left since June. I have ignored equivocations, ignored center-slides, ignored lots of bull, and still gone out and registered voters for four Sundays in the heat, but I'm getting really close to being pissed. I mean, of all the things he could move to the center on, this is one that I had hoped wouldn't happen. But today I read this:

"If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done."

I mean, come on, dammit. There are lines. You can't just stroll across ém and not pay a price. We have to keep our frickin' feet down somewhere. This is damned close to McElraft or Jean Preston language. This is too f'n close to McSame language. This is not change I can believe in. This appears to be no change. This is cave-in. This is not good.

If the gas tax holiday was worthless, was counterproductive, was pandering, what the f is this?" Stand up, damn it!

Somebody convince me I've misread this. I mean, I ain't gonna vote for McSame, but this is really tempting me not to work anymore for Barack.

Is he so convinced that he can't lose any Dem votes - hey, I could maybe even stay home over this one - that he'll say anything to get the middle?

What think you all?


I hadn't heard about this.

It makes me very uneasy because it's just not necessary to compromise when you know more drilling is just wrong.

Take a stand and stay with it for goodness sake! If you give in on these ridiculously wrong headed issues, it doesn't leave you much wiggle room when the opponent has a good argument does it?

Progressive Democrats of North Carolina

Here's Some Context

Here's some context:

Later, Obama issued a written statement warmly welcoming a proposal sent to Senate leaders Friday by 10 senators - five from each party. Their proposal seeks to break the impasse over offshore oil development and is expected to be examined more closely in September after Congress returns from its summer recess.

The so-called Gang of 10 plan would lift drilling bans in the eastern Gulf of Mexico within 50 miles of Florida's beaches and in the South Atlantic off Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia, but only if a state agrees to the oil and gas development along its coast. The states would share in revenues from oil and gas development.

Drilling bans along the Pacific coast and the Northeast would remain in place under this compromise.

The plan also includes energy initiatives Obama has endorsed. "It would repeal tax breaks for oil companies so that we can invest billions in fuel-efficient cars, help our automakers re-tool, and make a genuine commitment to renewable sources of energy like wind power, solar power, and the next generation of clean, affordable biofuels," Obama noted.

"Like all compromises, it also includes steps that I haven't always supported," Obama conceded. "I remain skeptical that new offshore drilling will bring down gas prices in the short-term or significantly reduce our oil dependence in the long-term, though I do welcome the establishment of a process that will allow us to make future drilling decisions based on science and fact."

Nevertheless, Obama said the plan, put forward by mostly moderates and conservatives led by Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., "represents a good faith effort at a new bipartisan beginning."

The reality is, unless Democrats win a strong majority in the Senate, some sort of compromise is going to have to be brokered in order to get comprehensive energy policy passed--particularly the repeal of tax breaks for the oil/gas companies.

I'm not sure this is the best choice, but I do agree that it's a good faith effort at a new bipartisan compromise.

There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy

There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy


I guess it all depends on the meaning of "carefully circumscribed" ...


Jesus Swept, this December

I'm not sure he has much of a choice,

if he wants to win in November. Various polls have shown that nearly 2/3 of Americans want to increase domestic exploration, which includes offshore drilling. This very well could be the issue in this election, and the Republicans are beating the (oil)drum loudly:

Last month, I asked Congress to lift this legislative ban and allow the exploration and development of offshore oil resources. I committed to lift an executive prohibition on this exploration if Congress did so, tailoring my executive action to match what Congress passed. It's been almost a month since I urged Congress to act -- and they've done nothing. They've not moved any legislation. And as the Democratically-controlled Congress has sat idle, gas prices have continued to increase.

Failure to act is unacceptable. It's unacceptable to me and it's unacceptable to the American people. So today, I've issued a memorandum to lift the executive prohibition on oil exploration in the OCS. With this action, the executive branch's restrictions on this exploration have been cleared away. This means that the only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil resources is action from the U.S. Congress.

Obama is walking a tightrope, people. A whole lot of Americans are searching for reasons to justify not trusting him as President. Those of us on the Left have got to come to grips with his need to embrace the Center to win this election. It's not a betrayal, it's an imperative. An outright refusal by Obama to address the desires of a majority of Americans might be admirable, but that would be small consolation as we endure a McCain Presidency.

The fact is, once again, we environmentalists have failed to educate the populace properly on an important issue. We can whine about corporate money influencing the media all day long, but we just haven't done enough to counteract them. Period.

It's time to go to work.

Posturing, and education.

Obama is posturing on this issue for political damage control. I don't like it, but the continuation of Republican control of the White House would be so catastrophic to everything we stand for that it is inconceivable to me not to continue to push all-out for Obama's election. Let's stop pretending that the "nuclear option" card of neutrality in the November voting is a responsible option.

At the same time, there is absolutely every reason to let Obama, Reid, and our in-state Democratic representatives know that the policy of lifting the Atlantic offshore drilling ban is just flat-out unacceptable. And what it WILL effect is where our money and time has to go. If our candidates aren't doing the job of public education on why this is just bad, stupid, harmful policy, then we will have to divert some of our time, energy and cash to independent expenditure educational campaigns to do it for them.

Democratic leaders--get the picture?

Dan Besse

Dan Besse

I know you are all right,

I know you are all right, that he probably has to do this, and that I have to continue to work for him because to do otherwise is foolish; there's too much at stake to let one position on one issue keep me from knocking on doors, etc. I don't think I really meant it when I wrote it, 'cause I've been highly critical of others who've threatened the same thing. But damn it, I was furious when I saw it. I saw the context, I understood the reasoning, and I was still furious. Actually, I'm still furious...that it has to be this way, apparently. Pragmatism wins, idealism doesn't. But it is sad. We do have to stay on them, though, so that WHEN WE WIN they'll know that we won't let them lift the ban.


I understand and share your frustration.

My first reaction to the "compromise" headline on drilling was, I cannot BELIEVE this junk!

Dan Besse

Dan Besse

Exactly, Dan

I have been focusing (what energy & money I could spare) on advocating for candidates and the Democratic Party itself, instead of doing what I really want to, which is learning about and passing on to readers information dealing with the environment.

I'm not sure if either one of these efforts makes any difference, but I know which one is more fulfilling and (apparently) needs more attention from all of us.

Candidates can't do it--you (we) can.

Candidates can rarely use elections as educational opportunity, and then normally only when they have an overwhelming lead. That's not Obama here.

I think you're right, that more of your direct effort can most usefully be focused on issue education at this stage. The offshore drilling debate plays well into the environmental education scenario on energy policy, but it takes explanation of the type that a candidate campaign can't handle effectively.

We can work on that, and should do so NOW, during the Congressional recess. Change the poll numbers before they get back in five weeks and start making stupid decisions.

At the Democratic state convention in New Bern in June, Jim Hunt told me that we needed to raise money and run full-page newspaper ads on this topic. I think he may have suggested the wrong medium, but it's clear to me now that his instincts on what is needed for political effectiveness are still as dead-on as ever.

Dan Besse

Dan Besse

Is there any evidence

that lifting the ban on OCS drilling would result in an immediate orgy of exploration and drilling by oil producers?

The Republican party line is "drill here, drill now, pay less". That's a lie. The Democratic party line is "Use what you got, already!". That's also deceptive.

Why? The fact is that oil rigs aren't just sitting around idle waiting for new places to drill. They're already close to fully utilized in the places of greatest economic benefit:

... And new rigs aren't rolling off the assembly line on a daily basis. They're extremely expensive and take a long time to build. So one reason existing leases aren't being exploited is that there are easier pickings elsewhere. Opening up additional OCS and ANWAR territory doesn't mean that new rigs would appear overnight.

I'm coming to the conclusion that this whole argument is designed to divide the electorate and get us ignore deeper issues.

Could it be that oil companies are aggressively buying back stock and not plowing money into locating new reserves because the largest and most accessible reserves have already been found?

Here's an introduction to Peak Oil at The Oil Drum

If you judge the oil companies by their actions as opposed to their propaganda, one possible conclusion is that the era of cheap nonrenewable energy is ending. "Hey, let's just buy back our stock and look for a new business model."

Unfortunately, the Demopublican party lines are not honest. We cannot separate energy, agriculture, the economy, and the environment. They are interrelated, and using them as partisan issues to divide the electorate and advance various corporate agendas is taking us in the wrong direction.

Sustainability, anyone?


William (B.J.) Lawson
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

Your question is good

and your analysis is actually very thoughtful up to its unfounded partisan concluding paragraph.

No, there is not likely to be an immediate orgy of additional exploration and drilling in response to the lifting of the ban. That is, in fact, one of the chief response points which responsible Democratic leaders and candidates have been making all along. This is a political posturing issue by the Republicans, which will make no near-term difference in the supply of oil or the price of gas.

However, lifting the ban on Atlantic and Pacific coasts offshore drilling is horrific policy for three fundamental reasons:
--There would eventually be very substantial environmental damage created by the development of the supportive infrastructure (including pipelines and refineries) for new drilling fields at presently unsullied locations (like off the North Carolina Outer Banks).
--Increasing our reliance on oil from any source (foreign or domestic) leads us toward more climate change.
--Featuring new drilling as the "solution" to our very real energy and economic problems diverts effort and distracts attention from the real solutions: investment in and development of efficiency, renewable energy resources, and transit alternatives.

Responsible Democrats have been making these points all along. Unfortunately, this more complex and honest message is having a hard time breaking through the media's echo of the Republicans' simple lie of "Drill now, & have cheaper gas this year!"

Dan Besse

Dan Besse

My concern is that we DO need to drill.

The more time I spend looking at the data, the more concerned I become that "most alternative fuels are fossil fuels in drag."

We're not making solar panels from solar energy. It takes 10 calories of petro-energy to bring a single food calorie to market. I have not found evidence to suggest "alternative fuels" are the "answer" to the exclusion of oil or natural gas -- indeed, I'd characterize that belief as unfounded.

Instead, we will likely need to use nearly every drop and BTU of available energy to make an orderly transition to renewables in the face of global population growth and our current level of fossil fuel dependence. Here's an extreme perspective:

Here's a (slightly) more mainstream perspective:

... even if both of the above sources are too pessimistic, I don't believe that we'll be "just fine" without opening up additional areas for exploration. And we must protect the environment in the process.

Finally, I enjoy working with "Responsible Democrats" as much as I do with "Responsible Republicans". Unfortunately, however, most politicians on both sides of the aisle are too engaged in cephalosodomy to honestly deal with these issues (sorry, that's doctor-speak for "head up ass").

For example, there's Nancy Pelosi's "Let's just tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserves!" argument:

But further action is needed to protect our economy. I call on you to use your authority as President to draw down a small portion of the oil held in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to expand available supplies and help reduce the record prices that are helping push the economy toward recession.

Yeah, that's sustainable. Some wanted to do that at $50 per barrel. Good thing we waited until now, right?

How about, as my opponent has suggested, going after price gougers and (more recently), speculators?

High gasoline prices are simply placing too high a burden on American consumers. I believe that gasoline price increases call for both a short-term and a long-term response. We must first determine whether price gouging is occurring and, if it is, take steps to punish those who artificially inflate the price of gasoline.

Excellent! A witch hunt! That'll help.

Don't think it's just Democrats looking to get re-elected with short-term solutions, though. Avoiding the issue is truly trans-partisan.

High energy prices are a good thing. They will help us focus on local, community-based sustainability. I do not see any downside to lifting the federal ban on offshore drilling, as I believe tapping the most accessible (yet dwindling) reserves will be a necessary option for a transition:

Again, merely lifting the ban doesn't mean drilling will begin. It's going to take years, during which we will continue to be 300 million Americans increasingly competing with 1.1 billion Indians and 1.3 billion Chinese who love their new cars. So prices are unlikely to collapse, and the imperative to become sustainable with what reserves remain will only grow.

We need leaders who will be honest and rational in addressing these challenges.


William (B.J.) Lawson
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

So what should we do?

You're right, it is callous to say that high energy prices are "good".

The human cost of this energy and food crisis is horrendous. It's a stretch to call our trade policies "free trade", though, because they're anything but free. Internationally, we created much of the suffering with counterproductive farm and tariff policies that have destroyed foreign agriculture and made the rest of the world increasingly dependent on global markets that assume cheap energy:

Domestically, we've been pushing the value of our currency down for the past five years to the point that those on the margin are being terribly punished with skyrocketing costs.

But what can we do? I do not believe there are any short term solutions besides moving aggressively in a more sustainable direction, and ending wasteful subsidies that protect the entrenched interests who have profited at our shared expense for decades. The link between food and fuel was always implicit, now it is increasingly explicit.

Using high energy prices as a "driver" of policy and behavior change is like using a concrete broom to dust your crystal glassware. While I am happy to see so many people embracing ideas like renewable energy and vehicle fuel efficiency, the human cost is too much. Way too much.

So what's "driving" energy prices?

If global growth slows enough to drastically decrease fossil fuel demand as a result of the current financial and energy crisis, we may have a temporary reprieve to retrench. But any reprieve isn't going to turn more dinosaurs into oil. And we're still vastly outnumbered by the rest of the world.

I was trying to relocate a great chart I found last week that illustrates the macro picture. Unfortunately can't find it so you'll have to remain skeptical :-). The graph shows Global GDP and Global Oil Production both plotted annually over time. Global GDP has been ramping up over the past decade, while Global Oil Production has plateaued over the past ~5 years.

If oil prices had been stable during this period, one could argue that global GDP growth occurred with an increase in energy efficiency, so overall oil demand didn't rise. That's clearly NOT the case. Global GDP growth is highly leveraged to oil, as evidenced by oil prices rising dramatically with increasing Global GDP with flat production.

Why hasn't production kept up with increased demand over the past five years? That's the question. The Peak Oil crowd believes that, well, we're peaking. This should be interesting.

You're spot-on about the global market comment. Three days ago I was at the local Harris Teeter and found two bins of peaches: One bin of soft, ripe, fragrant peaches from South Carolina for $0.99 per pound, and one bin of rock-hard gassed peaches from California for $3.99 per pound. There were just a few of the SC peaches left, I grabbed 'em. There were plenty of the CA ones for anyone who wanted to play baseball with the kids.

That's anecdotal evidence that people are figuring out about Life in a (relatively) Local Economy.


William (B.J.) Lawson
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

Oh, and...

What's partisan about "Demopublican"?

and your analysis is actually very thoughtful up to its unfounded partisan concluding paragraph.

My concluding paragraph, referencing my dissatisfaction with both the Democratic and Republican ("Demopublican") "party lines", is best characterized as "trans-partisan".


William (B.J.) Lawson
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District


You know, you've kind of got me on that query--I don't think that I noticed the odd conflation on first reading.

To expand, then, I think it's fair to suggest that the GOP party line broadly misses the point.

Is the Democrats' equally off-base? That's harder to answer, since my Dems (as usual) have been notably less successful in configuring and sticking to a common "party line". However, many Democrats (arguably the majority strain within the party) have been calling for the very emphasis on long-term development of alternatives that is the strongest prescription within your analysis.

Dan Besse

Dan Besse

From Today's Press Avail

Obama said:

"What I don't want to do is for the best to be the enemy of the good. And if we can come up with a genuine bipartisan compromise, in which I have to accept some things that I don't like or the Democrats have to accept some things that they don't like in exchange for actually moving us in the direction of actual energy independence, then that's something I'm open to.

There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy

There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy

Conservation is the answer.

Without a comprehensive and agressive policy that cuts the use of energy severely, we're sunk. All the drilling and schilling won't answer the fact that the population is growing worldwide and even a stepped up effort to produce more energy in whatever way will not save us from that fact.

As an equally powerful way to address the energy crisis we face, every opportunity to move forward should use our big brains as a resource first. If we are smart we can find the win-win solution almost every time but we also have to have the political will there when we do.

Progressive Democrats of North Carolina


Ok. I gotta friend, a pioneer of sorts, who's trying to build a modest wind farm down east in carteret. He's run into all kinds of obstacles, mostly on the local (county commission) level from people who, understandably, are skeptical, to say the least, about turbines near them. Yet...wind has to be part of the solution where it is available. How do we educate, how do we convince people that they need to make room in our lives for change? How do we get people to sacrifice for the common good? It's an age old question, one that seems much harder to answer now than it was 25 years ago, when every issue wasn't politicized, when there was an idea that there was a COMMON GOOD other than going to war and beating the shit out of so-called enemies. But my friend has altruistic (and, of course capitalistic) goals, too. He can envision wind-powered schools in downeast Carteret. I guess what I'm saying here is everybody stand up taller than ever, NOW, for alernative energy solutions, especially when they can be locally-based and used. I think it's going to be up to all of us, individually, perhaps, to work our country and world out of the mess we're in, so let's get busy. I'll provide more details on my friend's plans, and on how ya'll can maybe help sway public opinion, soon.


Your friend may have already

seen the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA)website, but there's some really cool promotional resources there if he hasn't:

Ron and Suzanne Joyner operate a small orchard and nursery that specializes in preserving antique and heirloom apples in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. With the help of a small wind turbine, they’re also looking to preserve old-fashioned self-reliance. The Joyners’ 75-acre apple farm near Lansing features all the modern appliances of American life, yet they are not connected to the power grid.

“We are developing a self-sufficient farm. Relying upon renewable energy sources has been part of our plan all along,” explains Ron. The Joyners put up a 900-watt Whisper H 90, manufactured by Southwest Windpower, next
to their apple orchards in 1998. The turbine, which sits on a 42-foot tower, supplies the
bulk of the apple farm’s electricity between November and May, when they need power most. In the summer, their 300-watt solar system becomes the major contributor.

Some other must-see websites are NC Greenpower, the Coastal Wind Initiative, and NC Solar (formerly NCSEA).