Sunday, May 28, 2006

Fairbanks blog favorites

A couple of my favorite local blogs:

The Ester Republic - a bastion of independence from west of Fairbanks.

Alaska Gasline

Alaskans are being given a front row seat at Gov. Murkowski's attempts to have the Legislature endorse an oil tax revision that sets us up to give away governmental taxing authority for 30 years to get Big Oil to "consider" building a gas line from Prudhoe Bay to market. Considering that we absolutely gave away much of our taxes years ago under Big Oil threats during low oil prices, this would just reinforce that we will just roll over for Big Oil.

Bombarded by full color page spreads of BP and Conoco-Phillips, saying what good corporate citizens they are and how they provide so many Alaskan jobs, I think the cost for this expensive ad and lobbying campaign could be used in better ways. Yet our system will reward the one with the loudest voice and biggest pocketbook and I think Big Oil certainly has both.

I honestly don't know wha the Legislature will do. While they have voiced legitimate concerns, I've seen similar concerns loudly voiced, but at the end, capitulate.

A 1970's bumpersticker: "Oh, God, please grant us another pipeline. We promise not to piss it away this time." Well, we are at the starting gate. Personally, while natural gas would be better than burning oil or (shudder - we have so much of it) coal, I'm in no rush to bend over for Big Oil. You know what heavier lube is used for, no?

Foxes in the Henhouse

I just finished the recent book "Foxes in the Henhouse" by Steve Jarding and Mudcat Saunders, who ran successful Bob Kerrey and Mark Warner campaigns in very conservative states. They have some good suggestions about Democrats being successful in the South - don't write off southern states (as the Dems did in 2004 - you can't win what you give up from the outset), differentiate between "Bubba" and "Redneck", don't let the opposition create the image of what You are about. All basic stuff, but good to have reinforced.

This subject resonated with me partly because Alaska has political and cultural aspects characteristic of a Southern state. I found the book a good common sense read, interspersed with tables of facts to validate their points. It probably follows through with the concept of comity more than some of my other postings. I really do try though.

It's all a big scary conspiracy

With Al Gore's movie about to come out, we all could predict how folks in the know would say it's just more scare tactics trying to destroy the economy. Rich Lowry of the National Review makes his distorted claims, at the same time admitting global warming is real, and C02 almost certainly contributes to it, but then he also has a book on how we need to be Paying the Price for the Clinton Years. I'm afraid current and future generations will be paying the price for Bush's intentional missteps in Iraq, ballooning the deficit, debilitating the environment, but doubt Lowry or the National Review would own up to that. Lowry's criticism of Clinton is mostly personal and asserted that Clinton spent so much of his time as President on issues that were small, fuzzy, or ridiculous. I suppose Lowry forgot about how Clinton got lambasted for trying to take on too much in solving the health care crisis (still not solved today).

I liked what Paul Krugman asked in a recent column about Gore "
Are we ready for political leaders who don't pander, who are willing to talk about complicated issues and call for responsible policies?" I think it is a stretch to say YES, but if demonstrated in real terms where regular folks can see the personal impacts (such as high gas prices), then MAYBE. If NO, then we have only ourselves to blame for 1) not paying attention and 2) trusting our elected representatives to be more than just shills for the special interests that continue to get them elected.

Why they don't get along, or do they?

A friend who knows recently commented on how different it is for Congressional members these days. They don't interact as much, as most of them now live outside the Beltway. This makes it harder to get things done when a personal relationship can bridge some of the partisanship. But then Bush seems to be helping, as both R's AND D's object with Bush's faux-pas' in respecting the other branches of government.

It is an interesting irony having Dennis Hastert get pissed at Bush for letting the FBI go into Democratic Rep. William Jefferson's office (with a warrant), citing separation of powers. I suspect he is worried about a precedent, with his own concern over corruption. They are trying to patch things up, it's good to know. But having Hastert defend a Democrat shows some bi-partisanship, no, especially when Jefferson surely had his hand in the cookie jar.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tell me it ain't so

Apparently, scientists now agree that the earth is warming, attributable to human activity, according to the Bangkok Post.

Of course, even the Bush administration, whose agency came to this conclusion, wants to do more studying.

And in a related piece, a pair of Alaska Legislative Democrats want to suspend collection of the state fuel tax to help folks during the summer. The Alaska tax is 8 cents, lowest in the nation. This would do little to help, considering the market price can jump that much in a week, and could actually hurt when reimposed in the fall (as they suggested). Giving them the benefit of the doubt, this may be well meant, but looks like the Bill Frist pandering, offering to give an income tax break of $100, which is now withdrawn.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gas Tax

Instead of reducing the gas tax, as some politicians had suggested, I suggested years ago, when gas was relatively cheap, we ought to increase the gas tax and use the proceeds to stimulate reduced consumption and get some feasible alternatives available. It got no traction back then and surely wouldn't now, but kudos to the few that now suggest it.