Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend 2008 has just passed and once again we are reminded of the fact we owe our freedom to many brave men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice in wars past and present. Memorial ceremonies were not without distractions. Here in my town we had demonstrators from that supposed "church" group in Kansas that has gone around the country shouting at military burials that God killed our lost ones. Thankfully, a number of biker veterans drove their motorcycles to the ceremony and parked them in a line seperating the demonstrators from the crowd gathered to pay tribute to our veterans across the street in Memorial Park. When the demonstrators started yelling the bikers started up their bikes, revving them up to drown out the demonstrators.

I think I could live a thousand years and never be able to understand people like those demonstrators.

Barack v. Hillary

Hillary Clinton is in process of halting her campaign as her opponent seems to have the required number of delegates to claim their party's nomination. There is a feeling among some that she will seek (demand?) the VP slot on the Democrat ticket thereby assuring a Democrat victory in November. It's difficult to see that happening for several reasons: first, she's still interested in the top spot, not a subordinate role; secondly, like John Nance Gardner once said, "The VP job isn't worth a bucket of spit (he actually used a different 4-letter word)!"; third, she could wield a lot more power as a Senator in a Democrat controlled body and still work toward the top spot in 2012.

Those who are managing Obama's campaign have done a terrific job but now it becomes increaingly more difficult for them. He did not do well in the primaries in the big states he's going to need in November. He still has the matter of the church in Chicago and Rev. Wright hanging over his head and that's not going away very soon. Many will continue to see him as the "Manchurian Candidate"and still too close to Islam. Some Hillary backers will switch their support to Obama, but the number may not be all that great. What Nixon campaigners called the "Silent Majority" have yet to be heard in this campaign. A lot is going to come down to believability when it comes to Obama's success or failure.

Obama v. McCain

There's no question but that Obama has it all over McCain when it comes to smooth rhetoric and delivery of speech. Not so, however, when it comes to experience and programs that make sense. First of all, McCain will not abandon the U.S. Military as Clinton did during his tenure in the White House. Obama wants to pull our troops out of Iraq and he says he would position them elsewhere in the Middle East and/or Europe to standby if needed. If needed for what? No one wants to see our troops have to stay in Iraq indefinetely. McCain will support our effort there until the Iraqis are able to handle the situation largely on their own. He will bring troops out gradually until there is no further need for them with the exception of a few training units to continue training Iraqis at the pleasure of the Iraqi government.

Obama sees himself as a reformer and a "change" agent when it comes to the way things are done in Washingto, D.C. He is yet to detail what he would reform or what he would change. He seems to be close to Hillary on medical care which concerns me very much. If you own or manage a business and like the way government agencies deal with you, you will simply love socialized medicine. We need an energy policy that will reduce or eliminate our dependence on foreign oil and at the same time pave the way for renewable alternatives. To do that we must permit the oil companies to drill for oil closer in to Florida's west coast, off the Atlantic and Pacific continental shelves, in ANWR and support research and development on alternative energy sources. So far I get the feeling Obama doesn't see it that way, and that bothers me as well.

McCain has not detailed what he would do on the medical care issue, but rest assured it won't be socialized medicine. I want to hear more from him on energy because he may need some education on the subject. I am specifically concerned about what he plans to do to bring down the spot price of crude oil, to encourage oil drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific continental shelves, allow more drilling closer to the coast of Florida, and opening up ANWR. I'm also interested in what he plans to do to speed up development of energy alternatives.

Obama is tied to the Democrat party line on taxes which means he would let the Bush tax cuts die, continue the death tax, raise other taxes to pay for his health plan and various nanny state programs. He would likely give serious thought to "windfall profits" taxes to further discourage big oil companies from doing the things they are already doing to bring on more oil and energy alternatives such as fuel cell technology, coal gasification and other technologies.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Hillary Clinton won the Indiana primary in a surprisingly close vote while Obama took North Carolina by 14% points. Many Democrat leaders are pressing Clinton to give it up thereby allowing Obama to get the nomination of their party before its scheduled convention. She remains adamant, however, which likely means a convention battle unless the super-delegates announce their support before hand. Even then it could be a split with neither candidate gaining enough to claim the nomination. In any case, by waiting for the super-delegates to declare their support, she hopes to learn what she must do if Obama is the winner which is to prepare for a run in 2012. I don't think she will accept the #2 spot on an Obama ticket were it offered to her.

Obama remains an enigma in that he has really said very little about the policies he would follow if elected. That in itself ought to cause voter concern. That lack of specificity supports the contention of some that he's a "Manchurian" candidate. I disagree with most of Clinton's positions, but at least you know quite clearly where she stands. Obama also is having trouble shedding perceived ties to the positions of Jeremiah Wright, Farrakhan and other anti-American blacks.

The liberal/progressive media is doing everything it can to denigrate McCain but the only thing they have come up with is his age. That's a very weak argument at best because he's in excellent general health. There has been no sign of recurrence of the cancer that was removed from his cheek a few years ago. Moreover, you can be rest assured that his running mate will be a younger person. Afghanistan and Iraq are sore points with many people which the media uses to tie McCain to the Bush administration.

What is more concerning to me than the race for the White House is the U.S. Congress. Three recent elections to fill vacancies in what were considered "safe" Republican districts went to Democrats. This is a strong indication that it could be a landslide for the Dems in November. If that happens, it's a virtual certainty that taxes will go up, a premature pullout from Iraq will occur, and a giant step toward socialized medicine will take place. Also likely will be a reduction in our military budget to further encourage our enemies.

(2 PM 05/2o/o8: Word was released from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston that the cause of seizures experienced by Ted Kennedy over the past weekend were caused by a malignant brain tumor.) The type of cancer and its location does not bode well for Senator Kennedy. I don't agree with most of his political positions and I lost a great deal of respect for him as a man in the Chappaquidick mess. Still, my prayers and sympathy go out to his family and I hope he will recover fully. The Kennedy family has suffered more than most American families, what with the loss of Joseph P. Jr. in WWII; JFK's assination in 1963; Bobby's assination in 1968; Patrick's cancer-caused loss of a leg; and so much more.

In 1940 I delivered dairy products to the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port while working as a helper on a White Brothers home delivery truck. At one time or another during that summer and afterward I met several members of the Kennedy clan. I dated the daughter of the family's chauffeur for awhile in 1943-44 whose last name was Gagnon. Among those I met were Joe Jr. when he was a young Navy pilot at an airshow in Hyannis; Bobby at a party at the Hyannis Port Golf Club; Joe Sr. in Osterville one early Sunday morning when he stopped our milk truck on a road near his horse barn and asked for a quart of milk to kill his hangover; Ted on a PanAm flight from Montego Bay to Miami; and Rose while playing in with her and my cousin Ray on the back nine at the Hyannis Port Golf Club. The most impressive were Joe Jr. and Rose. Joe Jr. was a lot more serious than any of his brothers with the possible exception of Bobby. I worked with a fellow who was Bobby's roommate at the U of Virginia.

Should Ted Kennedy not make it in the battle that lies ahead, he will have gone out with the second most years in the current U.S Senate (46). What impact if any that will have on the fall elections is anyone's guess. His replacement will be the winner of a special election, not a replacement named by the governor. His passing will mark the end of what many call the Kennedy Era in American politics. It's an era marked by a mix of tragedy, triumph, and the steady move of this nation away from the principles laid down by the founding fathers. We've allowed ourselves to be drawn in by the media and its steady drumbeat against conservative principles and promotion of the nanny state. As a nation we've lost our moral compass and must get it back else continue to watch the country dissinergrate into a third world power.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The political wars continue in this general election year as the primary season winds down with North Carolina and Indiana coming up. McCain is in as the GOP nominee for President but the battle continues with the Democrats Clinton and Obama. Obama leads Clinton in convention delegates but is still short of the minimum number needed to claim the nomination. There seems to be little doubt that their battle will now go all the way to the convention floor. Both candidates have taken positions I oppose relative to taxes, health care and energy.


Both Clinton and Obama would raise taxes by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. That would result in a top marginal tax increase of 6.5% and a return to higher capital gains rates. They would also push to stop any effort to eliminate the "death tax". They say they would do these things to reduce national debt but you can be sure the increased tax revenue would go to more welfare-state causes. Meanwhile, it would reduce funds available for investment in the economy.

Health Care

This is a pet issue of Hillary Clinton that goes back to her failed efforts in the early years of her husband's administration. She is hellbent on taking us into socialized medicine ala Canada and most of Europe. Most Canadians and Europeans I have talked with about the issue complain about the extremely high taxes they have to pay because of socialized medicine in their countries. Otherwise, they say the services are good except when it comes to elective major surgery. Many come to the USA for elective and high risk surgical procedures.


Both Clinton and Obama would keep us from developing new sources of crude oil such as in ANWR, in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Continental Shelf all of which show signs of large volumes of oil, natural gas and gas liquids. The economics still don't favor extracting oil from shale even though the volume of such oil in Wyoming and neighboring areas in the West is estimated to be quite substantial. Fifty years ago, studies showed oil shale development would be economically viable if crude oil were selling at or above $20/ bbl. Crude oil was selling at about $4/ bbl. at the time. Oil companies started to develop shale oil back in the '80s, but gave it up because of the poor economics. I don't know what the economics are today, but I don't hear any rumors indicating new interest in shale oil development. I can only assume the economics still don't look promising.

ANWR, the Gulf and Continental shelf should be opened now for development which would send a strong signal to OPEC that we are serious in our intention to become independent of their oil. At the same time, we must continue to develop and adopt alternative energy sources that make sense including nuclear, solar, wind, geothermal, fuel cell and tidal. Our government should re-institute tax credits for consumers who switch to hybrid powered automobiles. Thanks to the work of ExxonMobil scientists who have developed a special film to separate the positive and negative elements in lithium-ion batteries, such batteries will soon go into hybrid vehicles. This will result in significant weight savings over current batteries and lead to longer battery life as well. The end result will be even greater fuel mileage than is presently possible.