Pelosi: Victory at any Cost [UPDATED]

Even if it means going 180-degrees from the petulant defense you made just last week.  My God, even Stephanopoulos sees through it!

TODAY (8/5/2008): House Republicans continue to stay at their posts despite Speaker Pelosi’s recess order early last Friday (8/1/2008).  Pelosi continued her petulance:

Pelosi, D-Calif., issued a statement on Monday saying, “This Republican hoax is unworthy of the serious debate we must have to reduce the price at the pump and promote energy independence.”

You mean the debate you don’t want to have, correct, Madam Speaker?  The debate that would be politically inconvenient for you?  Just calling your opponent’s position a hoax won’t make it, or them, disappear.  If your ideas have merit, debate them!  We want to hear these “serious” debates you speak of having!  Is now not time to get “serious”?  Could you inconvenience yourself just a teensy bit to debate issues that are affecting not only YOUR constituents, but citizens nationwide?

chirp, chirp, chirp

Didn’t think so.

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6 thoughts on “Pelosi: Victory at any Cost [UPDATED]

  1. I think what Pelosi is saying, is that the topic of off-shore drilling to lower oil prices and/or secure energy independence is a “hoax” of a strategy. After all, both federal and private experts have all pointed out that drilling won’t achieve either of those goals.

    Until the Republican Congress members can settle down and have an honest discussion, what’s the point of a debate at all?

  2. Oil is an incredible resource that touches every part of our lives. It’s not just in our cars, but also in our hygiene products, our electronics & and untold numbers of devices (mostly in the form of plastics), our clothing, and in so many parts of our infrastructure that we use/need every day.

    Last I checked, there is no single adequate replacement, or series of adequate replacements, that can stand in the breech for oil, yet. We have lots of fun and cool ideas, but nothing that will actually do the job. Oil is just *that* good, and the replacements simply are NOT (yet).

    First: certainly we should demand of each other better stewardship of such a resource. We should even demand it of industry – at the very least the industries we actually work in (technology, agriculture). You know me though, I’d prefer to limit what *government* can mandate.

    Second, perhaps I’m mistaken (wouldn’t be the first time), but I don’t think anyone has ever said domestic drilling will secure complete energy independence. However, for example, if only a 1/3rd of the estimates of oil shale deposits alone are actually available where experts say they are, we could cut ourselves off of foreign imports.

    What I’m asking is: isn’t even a modest amount of domestic drilling worth it in reducing the amount we import?

    And because we have a long way to go to develop a reliable/ready replacement for oil (at the very least for our numerous forms of transportation) we’re going to need a reliable domestic supply of oil until we get there.

    So, unless Pelosi knows of a magic way that will get us to that ready/reliable clean or different alternative(s) faster than we can pull oil out of the continental shelf or out of Colorado/Wyoming/Utah and process it, I think we CAN have an honest discussion if she is willing (and she clearly is not).

    Obviously the Republicans are pulling this to attract attention to the issue (which could clearly embarrass Pelosi if she submits). However, they also recognize that going 30+ years without either party increasing fuel standards for various vehicles (much) nor increasing crude refinery capacity has led us to the situation we’re in now.

    What’s funny is that she recognizes this, as well, and that she’s on the losing end of this quite simple debate. This is why she is now telling other house members who are up for re-election this year to go ahead and publicly support domestic drilling if it will get them re-elected!

    I think our failure to communicate here lies in the understanding of one thing: what exactly comprises energy independence? In the short term (20 years?) this will still likely include oil — oil that is recovered domestically, insulating us from the instability of fanatical, foreign regimes.

    However, this picture may also include the phase-in of various nuclear, solar and wind power resources (nuclear being most practical of the 3). This picture will also require a resource that we can easily convert *existing* transportation over to use. It’s a bit naive to think/assume everyone will just ditch their existing cars and buy some new/proper model. The person who can figure out how to convert the existing engines to run on “Alternative X” will be the REAL winner in this slog.

    My long-winded point here is that *nothing* will reduce oil prices and give us energy independence in the next 6 months, let alone the next 6-10 years. However, domestic drilling can and will reduce the amount of oil we import, and given enough time and extra refining capacity (4 years perhaps), it will reduce prices. Not to 99-cents, mind you (ah, memories), but it will lower prices over time… just not in time for the 2008 elections 😉 Sorry Nancy!

    More importantly, it will give us more time to develop the REAL alternatives we need to power our economy, and, as a result, the world economy.

    That way, Pelosi & Gore can keep their ginormous homes and fleets of SUV’s and not have to pay papal indulgences carbon credits to appear green offset their footprint.

  3. The Department of Energy estimates that if we begin the offshore drilling process, that oil will reach the market in about 7 years (this is from their most recent report on their website).

    So then the question becomes: is there another alternative that can equally meet our energy demands within the next 7 years?

    I believe the answer is yes. There are massive wind farms currently being built, like the Pickens Energy Plan. Solar power continues to grow. In fact, there’s a 2 year waiting list in Washington State just to have your house converted to solar. Several private companies are working to make algae as an alternative to crude oil – most are 18 months or less from being commercially available. Similarly, trucking companies (Kenmore, UPS, and even Honda) are testing new trucks that run on CNG. UPS began this in the 90’s, and was successful. All in all, I believe we could see our energy needs largely being met with alternative sources within 2-3 years.

    My point is that while alternatives aren’t here right now, they can be here much sooner than oil from offshore drilling.

    Will we ever be completely independent from foreign oil? Of course not – but that isn’t the goal. Just like a diversified portfolio, the goal is hedge risk by getting energy from many sources. This way if oil prices spike, the effect will be minimal.

    My last point is this: the idea that we can promote oil and alternative energy defies economics. It’s like having our cake and eating it too. The two industries compete, and oil is in the strongest position. It’s infrastructure is already built, it has money in the bank, and a strong lobby group. Alternative energy has some hurdles to jump if its going to become a strong industry too.

    Allowing oil companies to drill offshore adds more hurdles for the budding alternative energy industries. Economist Paul Krugman has noted in the NYT that once oil hit $4/gallon, we started to see some good things. People started to get off their oil addiction. Krugman has suggested the government should set a price floor at $4. If oil prices drop, he thinks we should up taxes just to keep prices high. That way, society will continue to be motivated to explore other energy sources. Frankly, I don’t think it’s such a bad idea.

    I’d apologize for the long comment, but I appreciate the good conversation. Enjoyed your comment too!

  4. That’s the thing: I think we can be independent from foreign oil. While expensive to get to, the shale deposits alone in this country have the potential of yielding 3x the deposits in Saudi Arabia. Drilling in The Gulf and Alaska, while good in my opinion, would pale by comparison.

    Since we’re having a good conversation, I’ll refrain from personal comments on Krugman and his economic policies. On the merit of the idea alone, well, you know where I stand on government involvement to motivate certain economic behavior. That’s socialism, bordering on something worse.

    Clearly, if you make the alternatives more compelling, readily available, and, most importantly, profitable, the free market will reward you.

    I would like everybody to make good choices for the sake of simply making good choices. But the best motivation you can give the public at large is a financial one. While that helps me understand Krugman’s point of view, I still don’t agree with it (he wants government to dictate, I want the market to dictate).

    This is the same school of thought that taxes the daylights out of alcohol and cigarettes, and yet, people still buy it, regardless of increased costs. And, funny, governments, unions, and other organizations throughout the nation still have their portfolios and retirement accounts chock full of stocks in companies that produce those products.

    They demonize those products, yet do not seek out ways to not depend on them. Probably because there are few other profitable alternatives to invest in. (If wind and solar were truly good solutions, then why is the only billionaire investing in them a self-admitted self-aggrandizing one like Pickens? He’s the only one, and he knows that we don’t have the energy storage technology yet to make it practical for the whole nation.)

    You can argue that the big-oil establishment is squeezing out these alternatives; I will argue it’s because they’re simply not as viable as oil yet. Like oil, it all seems to have become a sort of moral issue.

    So now I think we’ve drilled down to the underlying issue: getting off of oil for transportation and environmental reasons (the heart of this new morality). And that debate, despite Al Gore’s protestations, is not over. And that’s for another post.

    No need to apologize – long comments are good comments when they’re actually arguing points. At least I think mine are. 😉

  5. Socialism? I don’t know if I’d go that far. I consider it more of a Keynesian economic strategy.

    Here’s a free-market reason explaining why we can never be free of foreign oil’s influence: The oil that comes from the ground is sold on the global market. That means oil found in the US doesn’t go to the US – its sold just like oil anywhere. We have enough domestic oil to create a market monopoly, so we’ll always have to deal with foreign oil. That is unless we go socialist and nationalize our oil projects. 🙂

    I agree that financial motivators are important. I also believe that alternative energies could compete in a free market today with the price of oil being what it is.

    But while we’re talking about the benefits of free markets, let’s not forget that our market is far from free right now. Alternative energies don’t stand a chance when oil companies are receiving unfair subsidies and government favoritism!

    Anyway, I think we’re coming close to beating this debate dead. Looking forward to your next post!

  6. Ugh – Keynesian economics… I’d rather not go there at this point. 😉

    I agree in removing government subsidies to private industry; they can keep the tax breaks, but subsidies are right out. That can go for a multitude of other industries (and countries), as well.

    Favoritism? If you mean they have a strong lobby that gives truckloads of money to both political parties, then, yes. Politicians in general get giddy when startling quantities of cash are dumped on their doorstep no matter who it is from.

    I think Scott Adams made the best response of all. This is just the text from a Dilbert comic he did 2 years ago:

    Dilbert: I’m thinking about buying a more fuel-efficient car.

    Dogbert: Why?

    Dilbert: It’s my patriotic duty to reduce this country’s dependence on foreign sources of oil.

    Dogbert: Why?

    Dilbert: Because then the countries that hate us will have less money to fund terrorists.

    Dogbert: Actually, developing countries would buy the oil you saved. Thus adequately funding those same terrorists.

    Dilbert: At least I wouldn’t be funding them myself.

    Dogbert: Oil is a fungible commodity. The capitalist system virtually guarantees that you’ll end up buying the lowest cost oil from sources unknown to you.

    Dilbert: Well, maybe, but I want my car to make a statement.

    Dogbert: And the statement would be “Hey, everyone, I don’t understand what fungible means.”

    We know oil works and can work in the long-term; it’s a reliable resource. At the very least we should increase our refining capacity (thus increasing supply). New refinery can take anywhere from 3-7 years (depending on how big a fit the EPA throws).
    We can drill more domestically and order said crude to be delivered only to American markets, but if refineries are at capacity, then the pool of refined product will remain static.

    From a national security perspective: if our Arab “friends” decide to turn off the spigot, we need some way to survive. That is another argument (valid I hope) on we need large, reliable deposits we can drill domestically.

    But the other half of the equation is, of course, continued conservation and the hard-core pursuit of alternative energy resources.

    Those resources are there, they will eventually be harnessed (it’s always just “a few years away” – like IPO vaporware sometimes). In the meantime, the realistic need for oil will not be going away.

    Believe me, I look forward to relegating it to lower, product-level needs in the future! I just want to do what’s going to bring the most relief to medium to lower wage earners. Keeping prices artificially high on this resource (for the environment’s sake?) affects all industries & prices and in the end hurts those folks the most.

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