Sunday, October 25, 2020
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“Drill, baby, drill” Day For Mark Warner

...Sen. Mark Warner "had a root canal today," said spokesman Kevin Hall. "The irony is that it's 'drill, baby, drill' day." (No TV sound bites, alas, to support Obama's offshore-oil decision.) Warner will recover at home, then head to events in southern Virginia next week.
Good one by Kevin Hall, and get well soon to Mark Warner!

P.S. For Mark Warner's real reaction to the offshore oil drilling announcement yesterday, see here.  In short, Warner believes "This is good news and a positive step forward as we work to expand our nation's domestic energy production."  Hmmm...root canal or offshore oil drilling, tough choice.

Why Does Cooch Hate Sunshine?

Why does Ken Cuccinelli hate opening the shades and letting the sun shine into his office?
Records that would document the time, resources and meetings involved in the lawsuit that the Virginia attorney general's office filed against federal health-care legislation either don't exist or are classified as confidential "working papers" of the agency, a ranking deputy said yesterday.

Stephen R. McCullough, senior appellate counsel for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, was responding to a request under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act filed by Democratic Party officials and several media outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Yesterday, Cuccinelli issued a release saying that the work of the suit was being done in-house and said costs would be minimal beyond the $350 fee to file the suit in U.S. District Court.

That's right, Cooch is seriously claiming that a lawsuit, taking hundreds if not thousands of hours of lawyers' time to prepare and argue, costs just $350. Of course, as we all know, lawsuits cost a lot of money. For instance, OJ Simpson spent $3-$6 million on his criminal case alone. Another case, this one by the state of Ohio to pursue a civil case against investment adviser Mark D. Lay, cost taxpayers $1.8 million. Yet Cooch claims his lawsuit against the federal government will cost Virginia taxpayers just $350. That's not just absurdly false, it's wildly insulting to the intelligence of Virginia residents. No wonder why Cooch hates sunshine.

Cooch: Ricky Martin Not Gay

Wow, Cooch has really gone too far this time!
Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed a lawsuit earlier this morning in the United States District Court in Richmond asserting that Ricky Martin is not gay on the basis that his hit song "She Bangs" clearly states otherwise.  He further posited that to state you are gay after swaying your hips suggestively at the MTV Movie awards is unconstitutional...
Should we start a petition drive to condemn Ken Cuccinelli? How about a recall vote?  Protests and marches outside his office?  Obviously, this latest lawsuit is outrageous and must be stopped!  The only problem is, nobody would take us seriously because it's April Fools Day and you know how that goes. ;)

h/t: Adam Ebbin

“Watch Wolf Go Moderate”

An intriguing blog post at "In Through The Out Door".
With the announcement yesterday by James Trautz that he is withdrawing as a Republican challenger in the 10th District against Rep. Frank R. Wolf, I'm going to make a prediction.

Wolf took a sharp right turn in his legislating over the past few months in an attempt to woo the tea party element to his campaign. But with the far-right challenger out of the picture, expect Wolf to move away from the fringe of the party and move towards the center, courting the moderate independents that make up a majority of the 10th District in Loudoun and Fairfax counties.

Also expect to see more "franked" mail arriving in your mailboxes; Wolf recently sent out 3 pieces of "constituent literature", paid for at taxpayer expense, that looked very much like campaign mailers. Of course, it's illegal to send campaign flyers at taxpayer expense, which is why those mailers are marked as "newsletters".

For more on Frank Wolf's lurch to the right in recent months, see "Frank Wolf: For it, before he was against it" by Rich Anthony.  As Rich points out, "Wolf has taken to repeated attacks on President Obama and his administration over the last year, causing many to speculate that [Wolf] may be concerned about his primary against self-described 'tea party candidate' Jim Trautz." Now that Trautz is out of the picture, will we see Wolf breaking with Eric Cantor, John Boehner, and the "Party of No" in general? I'm not holding my breath, especially given that Wolf really is a right-wing Republican at his core, but it's something to keep an eye on.

Of course, Wolf never was the "moderate" he sometimes masqueraded as before Barack Obama became president. But since then, Wolf has voted in hard-right-wing Republican lockstep against clean energy, health care reform, "Jobs for Main Street", economic recovery, and many other top priorities for America and for his district.  

Of course, you'd never know any of that from the corporate media, which wouldn't write something critical about their pal Frank Wolf if it was the last story on earth. Actually, come to think of it, when was the last time you saw anything at all in the Washington Post about the 10th CD race? Well, don't be surprised if you never do. That is, until the obligatory Post endorsement of "moderate" (yes, the Post is largely responsible for pushing this false meme) Wolf this fall, that is. With the media completely failing to do its job, no wonder why Wolf is able to sculpt his image to his liking through his "franked" mailings. At your expense, of course.

P.S. Unlike Wolf's votes for powerful, moneyed interests over middle class Americans, Rich Anthony supports "Main Street" over "Wall Street".  What a concept, huh?

If Bob McDonnell Applauds Something, You Know It’s Bad


Ironically, as McDonnell makes his statement about offshore oil drilling, the wind is howling. The reason I say "ironically" is that it would be far, far better to focus our energies - pun intended - on developing offshore wind than on wasting time and money with the wild goose chase of "drilling our way to energy independence."  Perhaps not ironic, but appropriate, about the blowing wind is how much hot air is being spewed around today about offshore oil drilling by people who don't know the first thing about U.S. oil reserves, world oil markets, offshore potential, or the relative cost of other alternatives like energy efficiency and clean renewables.  If they did, perhaps they'd feel differently about today's news, but god forbid they should make the effort to actually research this and think it through carefully. But no...

Anyway, let me just leave you with a few statements from environmental groups that express many of my thoughts as well.

*JR Tolbert of Environment Virginia says, "There is no need to threaten our beaches, wildlife and tourism with oil spills and pollution when we have much better solutions -- putting cleaner cars on the road today that will dramatically cut oil consumption; shifting to plug-in cars powered by the wind and the sun that use little to no oil and investing more in public transportation."  Tolbert adds, "At a time when we need to tackle both our dependence on oil and the threat of global warming pollution, this proposal takes us backward. More offshore drilling means more oil consumption and more global warming pollution."

*Glen Besa of the Virginia Sierra Club says, "There are not only the risks of spills both chronic and catastrophic but also the industrialization of our coastal communities that would either debilitate or destroy Virginia's coastal economy." Besa adds, "For just the Mid-Atlantic area alone, the annual value of these sustainable activities is almost 4 times that of oil and gas extraction.  That's $13.55 billion from industries completely dependent on clean beaches and healthy ocean waters compared to $3.7 billion from dwindling nonrenewable risky source that in Virginia's case represents a mere 6.5 days of supply before it's exhausted."

*Eileen Levandoski of the Virginia Sierra Club says, "Encroachment in the Virginia CAPES operating area, where the Navy has maintained its opposition to Virginia drilling, would provide compelling reason for Navy to move its forces to states like Florida that protect offshore training ranges from drilling. The loss of Oceana jets means a net loss of 11,000 jobs, $773 million in annual payroll, and $452 million in annual local contracting.  This loss of jobs dwarfs even the most speculative of job creation estimates from Virginia drilling."

Conference Call: Salazar and Browner Discuss Obama Energy Plan

I just got off a conference call with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, the subject of which was "our nation's energy security and the Administration's efforts to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs, and lead the way towards a clean energy economy."  Here are a few highlights, with particular focus on Virginia. {Also, click here for a press release on the "Comprehensive Strategy for Offshore Oil and Gas Development and Exploration"}

*Browner emphasized that this is a comprehensive energy strategy to reduce dependence on foreign oil and create a clean energy economy. It includes fuel efficient cars, advanced biofuels, nuclear power, energy efficiency, "greening" the federal vehicle fleet, efforts by the Defense Department "to enhance energy security and independence and reduce harmful emissions, including encouraging the development and use of domestically produced advanced biofuels," and offshore oil drilling.

*Browner emphasized that we "can't drill our way to energy independence."

*Salazar stressed that the Obama administration's energy plan is "balanced" between development and conservation.  He emphasized that development needs to be in the right places with the right information. He said we need a "cautious approach" to Arctic development.

*Salazar also pointed out that "we'll never drill our way to energy independence." He noted that there's a "relatively minor amount" of oil in the Outer Continental Shelf, definitely not a "panacea."  He added that there are perhaps 100 million barrels in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

*Browner said that the automobile fuel economy rules to be announced tomorrow will save "1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of the program."

*Browner emphasized that Congress needs to pass "comprehensive energy legislation."

*Salazar said that the Arctic is a "special place," that we need to move forward with the science and find out what's there.

*With regard to Virginia, Salazar said that the plan is to move forward with the process for lease sales, with a decision possible by late 2011/early 2012. A decision will be made after evaluation of environmental issues and also potential conflicts with military training needs.

*In response to a question by the Virginian-Pilot, Salazar said that we know very little about oil resources in the Atlantic, that the information is 30 years old, and that we "owe it to the American people" to make decisions based on good information.

*On the issue of revenue sharing with states, Salazar said this new proposal didn't specifically address that issue and that revenue sharing is covered under existing law.  According to Salazar, there are "no revenue sharing provisions except for limited exceptions." Browner added that revenue sharing is part of the discussions going on in the Senate, including with respect to the Kerry/Lieberman/Graham efforts.

*Salazar stressed the importance of offshore wind, stating that the quality of the wind resources off the east coast is very high, and that transmission issues aren't significant compared to many other locations. Salazar added that we need to develop energy from many sources, and that he doesn't see offshore wind and oil development as being "in conflict" with one another.

Could Cooch’s Crusade for Health Care Reform Repeal Backfire?

Could Ken Cuccinelli and his right-wingnut allies' crusade against health care reform provide a boost to Democrats this fall? It's starting to appear this could be the case.
Top Republicans are increasingly worried that GOP candidates this fall might be burned by a fire that's roaring through the conservative base: demand for the repeal of President Barack Obama's new health care law.

It's fine to criticize the health law and the way Democrats pushed it through Congress without a single GOP vote, these party leaders say. But focusing on its outright repeal carries two big risks.

Repeal is politically and legally unlikely, and grass-roots activists may feel disillusioned by a failed crusade. More important, say strategists from both parties, a fiercely repeal-the-bill stance might prove far less popular in a general election than in a conservative-dominated GOP primary, especially in states such as Illinois and California.

Democrats are counting on that scenario...

Yes, we are counting on that scenario. Which is why I say: Go Cooch Go!

Annabel Park Talks “Coffee” and “Tea” On Kojo Nnamdi Show


Great stuff from Coffee Party founder Annabel Park on the Kojo Nnamdi Show. The key message? As one commenter explains, it's that "everyone needs to be an active participant in our democracy at all times - and not just during political campaigns or critical policy decisions"; also, that everyone needs to "participate in democracy through civil discourse geared toward the discovery of common ground."  As another commenter writes, "We do have a Government that we can fix." This is in stark contrast to the Tea Party, which - as Annabel explains - "has declared war on the federal government and objects to pretty much what it stands for conceptually."  In stark contrast, Annabel believes that "the federal government really has to be part of the solution." I couldn't agree more - with Annabel and the Coffee Party, that is.  

Obama Opens Virginia Coast to “Drill Baby Drill?”

Is Barack Obama about to open up Virginia's coast to offshore oil drilling?  According to this and this, it sure looks like the "drill baby drill" crowd is going to get its wish.
In a reversal of a long-standing ban on most offshore drilling, President Barack Obama is allowing oil drilling 50 miles off Virginia's shorelines. At the same time, he is rejecting some new drilling sites that had been planned in Alaska.


White House officials hope Wednesday's announcement will attract support from Republicans, who adopted a chant of "Drill, baby, drill" during 2008's presidential campaign.

The president's Wednesday remarks would be paired with other energy proposals that were more likely to find praise from environmental groups. The White House planned to announce it had ordered 5,000 hybrid vehicles for the government fleet. And on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department are to sign a final rule that requires increased fuel efficiency standards for new cars.

I have three immediate reactions.

First, as Tom Perriello has said, offshore oil drilling is a "2 cent solution to a 4 dollar problem."  The problem, of course, is America's heavy dependence on oil imports, and the negative national security implications that flow from this dependence. As former CIA Director Jim Woolsey says (quoted on the Operation FREE website), "We pay Saudi Arabia $160 billion for its oil, and $3 or $4 billion of that goes to the Wahhabis, who teach children to hate. We are paying for these terrorists with our SUVs."   How do we break this dangerous "oil addiction?" By far, the biggest "bang for the buck" is increased efficiency of our vehicle fleet. It's not even close.  In contrast, offshore oil drilling in the United States - a "mature oil province" where the production cost of a marginal barrel, certainly a marginal barrel offshore, is relatively high by world standards - represents the low end of the "bang for the buck" scale. Why would we focus our efforts on the low end of the "bang for the buck" scale instead of the high end? Got me.

Second, this is political pandering to the nth degree. Let's face it, "drill baby drill" is popular with the American public, especially with Republicans, and this is clearly an attempt to mollify those folks. We'll see if it works, but I'm skeptical, especially given the vicious opposition to health care reform, despite the fact that it provides tremendous benefits to most of the people protesting it. Perhaps opposition to Barack Obama isn't coming mainly from reasoned differences with his policy choices?

Third, this announcement, if it ever was made at all, should have been made only as part of a "grand bargain" on energy and climate change. In that context, I could see environmentalists conceding offshore oil drilling, in certain areas  and under tight environmental rules, in exchange for putting a price on carbon; establishing an aggressive, national, renewable portfolio standard; investing heavily in energy efficiency and other, non-carbon-emitting energy sources (wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, possibly even nuclear); cranking up fuel economy standards for automobiles and research into battery technology; building a national, "smart grid;;' etc.  Unfortunately, what I see here is very little (5,000 hybrid vehicles? is that a joke?) in exchange for opening up our coasts to oil drilling.  This is more like the "ExxonMobil Corporate Welfare Act of 2010" than the "Energy Independence and Climate Protection Act of 2010."  That's a major, missed opportunity. It's also not the "change" many of us who voted for Obama can believe in.

UPDATE: The more I think about this, the more I'm wondering if Obama isn't being very clever here by "calling the bluff" of the "drill baby drill" crowd.  As a commenter at Daily Kos writes:

This pretty much gives the "drill here, drill now, pay less" crowd the opportunity to put up or shut up.

After this makes no difference to oil prices, because the US no longer has any economically recoverable oil reserves (if we did, we'd have drilled there decades ago), maybe they'll have to admit we have a problem.

UPDATE #2: Wow, this is a shocker!
President Barack Obama's plan to allow expanded offshore oil and gas exploration won rebuke from the top House Republican on Wednesday.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) dismissed the president's plan as not going far enough in opening up U.S. waters for exploration.

Obama's decision "continues to defy the will of the American people," Boehner said in a statement, pointing to the president's decision to open Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico waters, while leaving Pacific and many Alaskan waters largely closed to exploration.

Amazing, who would have ever predicted that Republicans wouldn't rush to praise Obama for his "drill baby drill" (wide) stance? I'm shocked, shocked I say! Heh.

UPDATE 5 pm: Bob McDonnell has issued a statement.

I thank the President and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar for ensuring Virginia will be the first state on the East Coast to explore for and produce energy offshore. The President's decision to allow energy exploration off Virginia's coast will mean thousands of new jobs, hundreds of millions in new state revenue and tens of billions of dollars in economic impact for the Commonwealth. It will also help our nation take a further step towards energy independence. Environmentally-safe offshore energy exploration and production is good for Virginia workers, the Virginia economy and national security. Just this session the General Assembly passed, with bipartisan support, legislation I requested to authorize offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling and to allocate 80% of revenues to transportation and 20% to green energy research and development.

The effort to ensure that Virginia stayed on track to hold an offshore lease sale as expeditiously as possible has been a bipartisan one at the federal level as well. I want to specifically thank Senator Mark Warner, Senator Jim Webb and Congressman Eric Cantor for their leadership and advocacy on the issue. I also want to thank all the Republicans and Democrats in our Congressional delegation who have strongly advocated for offshore energy production.

With today's announcement, oil and gas can be produced in an environmentally-safe manner 50 miles off Virginia's coast. Virginians will benefit from the thousands of jobs that will be created and the economic activity and development that will accompany this vital industry's arrival in the state. However, to fully participate in the positive impact of offshore energy development, the Commonwealth must be included in all royalty and revenue sharing arrangements, in a manner equivalent to what the Gulf Coast states currently receive. Congressman Bob Goodlatte has already introduced legislation, with bipartisan support, to ensure revenue sharing.  I urge our federal representatives to immediately move forward in ensuring Virginia receives our fair share of the revenues derived from our natural resources. I am confident that the United States Congress will act appropriately and expeditiously to ensure this occurs.

Offshore energy production is one part of an "all of the above" approach to ensuring energy security. It is an important component of the comprehensive energy policy that we must enact to move towards greater domestic energy security. We will also do more in Virginia to promote and produce other sources of energy in our borders, including wind, solar, biomass, coal and nuclear. Today's announcement means future new jobs for Virginians and much-needed revenue for our Commonwealth. Again, I applaud the President for his decision, and thank all the Virginia leaders from both parties who have worked together to make this announcement possible.

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