03 August 2008

Skidmarks where rhetoric meets the road

You may have heard about the 47 US Congressmen that refused to leave the House on 01 AUG 2008.  It was the teapotted tempest with rhetoric that sounds most impressive.  The topic was drilling for oil so that the US can find a path towards an energy future, instead of being mired in its present controlled by overseas oil groups and speculators beyond the realm of Congressional reach.  From the WSJ blog post by Patrick Yoest on this, the Democrats looked to crack down on speculators, but how they will go after foreign speculators is something they don't realize they cannot do:

“Republicans are too scared to go home to face their constituents after voting against bills to force Big Oil companies to use it or lose it, demand that the President free our oil from the government stockpile and crack down on speculators,” said Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

Yes that 'government stockpile' is the strategic petroleum reserve that serves as an emergency stockpile of oil kept safe in underground storage areas that can allow the US Armed Forces to operate if we suddenly lose all access to foreign oil.  It is a defensive measure, not the government sitting on a vast reserve of oil for no reason at all.  And speculators are the people who try to figure out what the actual price of oil and other commodities will be, and then put their future bids on those prices.  They win if they are right in the direction and minimal amount of change, and wrong if they get the amount or direction wrong.  We have speculators in wheat, corn, pork bellies, oranges, cotton, soy beans, nickel, cadmium, zinc, lead, platinum, gold... yes the world is rife with them.  Imagine what a sudden run up in copper prices would do to the semi-conductor industry or, even worse, gallium used in the actual semi-conductors themselves.  Silica is damned cheap for the processing, and your beach and glass recycling center can gets you tons of it.  Something like uranium is a bit harder to come by, which is why sitting on the vast reserve that is untapped in VA is a bit strange.  Seventh largest deposit on the planet that is safer to mine than coal, and less toxic.  We once had uranium mining in the Grand Canyon and witness the desolate vastness of that region because of worries over it?

These other commodities have speculators, and if you forgot the gold run-up in the 1970's, you missed the dizzying bonanza of what people would pay based on speculation that soon crashed back almost to where it started.  That did start up a whole lot of gold miners, many organizations continuing operations to this day: industry was spurred on.  Cracking down on speculators who are not under your legal control, say those in London, Paris, Bahrain, India, China, Japan... these cretins Upon the Hill do realize that they can't do that without staging a major conflict to actually take these places over, right?


And where, exactly, were these INCUMBENTS when economic war was being waged against our domestic producers in the late 1990's run by speculators paid off by a tyrant to hurt US future oil production and bring more of the market under his control?  You remember those guys?  Hailing from the UK, France, Canada, Russia, Switzerland... Oil For Food?

Where in the hell was the worry about speculation on the LOW SIDE damaging this Nation?

Those that complain today about the US not even having the capacity to get deep sea drilling rigs in place forget that they are the cause of those same capabilities disappearing from our National capability via our private concerns.  You do remember the 1990's, right?  Blue dress with stain on it?  Rip-roaring economy due to the rise in tech stocks and the Internet Bubble, along with the Telecom Bubble?  Primed by low taxes in the 1980's, remember that?

A bunch of speculators?

Now for the words of those that were in the House on 01 AUG 2008, once the recess was called, this from the WSJ blog article above:

“How many of you remember the Boston Tea Party?” Republican Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona asked the raucous crowd. “This is the Boston Tea Party!”

Texas Republican Rep. John Culberson and Michigan Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra sent play-by-play dispatches about the pep rally via Twitter, an online messaging service. Indiana Republican Rep. Mike Pence, a former radio talk show host, called in to one of his brethren, Rush Limbaugh, to apprise nationwide listeners of the details. Another Texas Republican Rep. Kevin Brady came to the House floor with suitcase in hand, saying that he’d walked out of his scheduled flight home to join the rally.

A veritable Boston Tea Party?  'No Taxation Without Representation'?  I could get behind that sort of thing, actually, but I have seen far too much go on Upon the Hill to put my money down at the start of anything there.  From the CQ Politics site, an article by Edward Epstein who covered this:

“Madame Speaker, Where art thou?’’ Ted Poe , R-Texas, shouted from the well of the House. “This room is vacant of most members of Congress. Where, oh where, has Congress gone?” he yelled to about a dozen other Republicans, tourists in the gallery, some House pages, and Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, the lone Democrat who witnessed the unusual proceeding.

This from John Gizzi at Human Events on what was going on there [bolding is mine here]:

The same lawmakers said they agreed with Pence that the President should call Congress back from its five-week respite to deal with the energy crisis. Rep. Wally Herger (R.-CA) told me outside the House floor that “We’re doing everything we can” to get President Bush to bring Congress back. As to the White House’s attitude on making this rare-but-constitutional step, Herger said, “I’d say that right now, it’s rising on his [Bush’s] agenda.”

Rep. Don Manzullo (R.Ill.) told me he would be willing to come back even though his August schedule is “packed.. . .I even have a trip to Alaska to see ANWR.”

Rep. John Carter (R.Tex.) said that the message of the angry lawmakers who kept speaking and refusing to adjourn was “the spontaneity—we all showed up on the floor [and said] ‘Give us our country back.’”

Perhaps the happiest lawmaker I spoke to today was Rep. Thad McCotter (R.-Mich.), who has long urged Republican to capture traditional conservative theory and unite with strong tactics based on issues. Using the language of the rock ‘n’roll guitarist that he sometimes is, McCotter described the day’s remarkable events as “Republican riff on Yippie Street Theater on Pelosi.”

What?  The Republicans stand for traditional conservative theory?

Since when?

I haven't seen much of that since the military was gutted in the 1990's, the government grew quite large, requiring tax cuts so that people had some money to invest, thus increasing the size of government in the 2000's, realizing that this standing up to tyrants business is not a low cost affair, wishing they hadn't gutted the military in the 1990's, bemoaning the base corruption of earmarks which they have been happily signing off upon for decades, and generally acting like a 'Democratic Lite' party, with much talk on taxes and not much action on doing any other damned thing except restricting the rights of Americans on the internet, in areas of political speech, acting like they have some say in areas wholly given to the States and the people, and generally taking high moral stances that their own members can't live up to.

Conservative Republicans?  Those who actually KEEP TO THEIR WORD?

You know, a basic conservative value of doing what you say you will do?

From Politico's Patrick O'Connor on the happenings:

Republicans shouted their remarks from the well of the House until Arizona Rep. John B. Shadegg fumbled with the public address system and finally found the correct access code allowing him to turn on the microphone.

When he did, members cheered.

In fact, members did a lot of cheering Friday.

They cheered when the lights came on. They cheered when the lights went off again. They even cheered when the crowd in the galleries applauded their remarks.

In between, they shouted, “Work! Work! Work!”

Hey! Cheering to get things working!  I mean, 'work' is a conservative value, right?  But maybe they are a bit at sea on this 'working' business.  Perhaps they don't have time to ponder their work on 4 day weekends and 5 week recesses.  Under the Republicans it was only 3 day weekends and 4 week recesses.  Such 'conservative values' this working business.  Why don't they just be 'progressive' and pare that down to a 1 day work week and a 51 week recess?

Mr. O'Connor then sums up the proceedings of what happened at the press conference:

During the press conference, at least three members announced their intent to stay in Washington — if not on the floor — until Pelosi brought lawmakers back from break to vote on an energy package. Pence even asked President Bush to command Congress to return to session.

But minutes later, this band of partisan pranksters went back to the floor, where Price told the crowd that the Republicans were wrapping up their protest to end an afternoon of rarities in the Capitol.

He and his band high-fived and exchanged hugs as they left the floor to chants of “USA! USA! USA!”

So three members staying in DC... I wish them luck, even with a powerless, silenced House.

If any of these people had those 'conservative values' and stuck to them for the last 20 years or so, they wouldn't have to stage a prank like this, now.  The members of the Boston Tea Party knew their lives were on the line and couldn't count on any outcome, save that they would make their actions known and why they were taken.  Even if they wound up six feet under or in Davy Jones' Locker.  Those men put their lives on the line to start a principled attack on a Nation that no longer respected them as citizens and deprived them of their rightful say in government.

'No Taxation Without Representation'

If they don't like Pelosi's Politboro, perhaps it is time they told their party they will do what is right with or without their party.  Because this Politboro has gotten a lot of help from their fellow members in their party who like 3 day work weeks and 5 week paid vacations.  To do *that* requires guts, dedication and much, much more work than has been done by lackluster members of the Emirate of Incumbistan, lo these many years stretching into decades.

The job is voluntary, no one pushed them to their seats.

It requires much from those that want these positions.

Long hours.

Long days.

Little if any vacation time.

Families missed.

The Nation put first.

Speaking your values.

Commitment to your values.

And working to bring those values to fruition.

Hard work.




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