Schweitzer helps launch national progressive organization
Earlier today in Seattle, a new organization for progressives launched. The Progressive Legislative Action Network, or PLAN, will serve as a policy resource for legislators - developing model legislation, organizing grassroots support, providing expert testimony.
The kickoff speaker was our pal Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana. He blasted the Bush Administration and the right-wing Congress:
"We cannot govern this country depending on Washington D.C. Washington is a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America."
Schweitzer went beyond progressive applause lines, though, and described a vision for an energy policy that makes America independent of the "sheikhs, dictators, rats, and crooks" that hold us hostage to Middle East oil. (And do be sure to note that Brian lived in Saudi Arabia for seven years...)
According to Schweitzer, the technology exists today (and has for 50 years) to convert coal into diesel fuel, cleanly and for about one dollar per gallon.
"If you want energy in this country, look inside this country. We need a hydrogen economy - not fifty years from now, fifteen years from now."
And according to the Governor of Montana, all that change is going to start at the state legislatures across America. And PLAN is going to help show the way.
Your Personal Note:
I don't think this image
plays well in the West or in most of America, but it is a key part of the Bush energy policy.
Posted by: Leo Brown | Aug 16, 2005 2:30:33 PM
Schweitzer's been talking about this policy for a while now. It seems to be totally sound -- even the experts are agreeing with the Governor.
Oh, and that quote was just brilliant.
Posted by: Jeremy Young | Aug 17, 2005 1:38:14 AM
Energy policy is actually my specialization in political science. Generally, I can put the worst insomniac to sleep when I start talking about it.
The worst part about the Bush Energy policy is that it just denies reality. Yes, we do import a lot of oil. But unless someone moved Canada and Mexico when we weren't looking, you can't say we are dependent on the Middle East. Only three of the top fifteen countries that import oil into the US are in the Middle East. Canada and Mexico both send just as much oil (and refined product) as Saudi Arabia.
In fact, Canada now ranks second behind Saudi Arabia in total proven oil reserves. Actually, Alberta ranks second and the rest of Canada has a bit here and there (though Saskatchewan could have just as much when the exploration is finished). There is no need to go to ANWR to drill when we can simply develop closer partnerships with Alberta. It's like living next to Lake Michigan and refusing to use the water in favor of your neighbor's salty bog.
As you point out as well, the technology for turning coal into gasoline has long existed. Ever hear of a coal oil lamp? It's pretty much the same process.
Beyond that, soybeans hold enough energy to truly make us independent of imported oil. Bio-diesel actually burns cleaner, holds as much energy, and costs only about $1 per half-barrel more to produce than traditional diesel.
We can do a lot with energy - but you have to start with a realistic picture of what is available. Unfortunately, the country's current leadership still thinks it is 1950.
Posted by: Xpatriated Texan | Aug 21, 2005 9:00:52 PM
The "Xpatriate Texan" had a good post. I like Schweiter's ideas about energy independence, but I wonder if using coal to replace oil is realistic. On paper, it sounds good. However, the use of biofuels such as ethanol and methanol also sound good. In fact, the use of biofuels is a better alternative than coal. Because, these two technologies are renewable resouces with very little pollution.
In addition, Schweitzer's leadership role in PLAN is encouraging while at the same time problematic. PLAN is suppose to generate new ideas and create solutions to political - economic problems that face our Democratic party and America.
However, it appears that PLAN is becoming another "Bush Bashing" group of malcontents that use name calling instead of presenting solutions to our problems. Presenting progressive ideas and solutions to our problems should be their goal.
PLAN should get real and go to Washington and lobby for solutions to our involvement in the Iraqi War, lack of funds allocated to VA hospitals to care for returning disabled veterans, jobs being shipped out of America, lack of effective immigration policy, lack of health care for working families, and high gas prices.
The Republican Party is not helping average working Americans. Our Democratic Party needs to move quickly to make America a better place to live.
If Gov. Schweitzer wants to be taken seriously, he must step out and start presenting solutions to the aforementioned problems. So far, I like what I hear from Gov. Schweitzer.
Posted by: Tim | Aug 22, 2005 3:13:57 AM
Tim -- What makes you think that PLAN is beomcing part of the "'Bush Bashing' group of malcontents"?
As for going to Washington to lobby, well, there's plenty of groups who do that - are you paying attention? PLAN is a *state-level* policy think tank - to provide resources to state legislators (thus the L in the name).
Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Aug 22, 2005 10:03:52 AM
Bush Bashing Malcontents (BBM's). The following are BBM's: David Sirota, co-chair of PLAN and East Coast transplant. He has a history of working and writing for elected East Coast Democrats. And, he is an excellent writer and I have enjoyed his writings in the Nation Magazine and New York Times.
The following are also strong sponsors PLAN and BBM's: past vice presidential hopeful John Edwards, past California Assemblyman Willie Brown, past White House Chief of Staff in the Clinton administration John Podesta, and the highly successful internet site MOVEON.ORG. An internet search of the 2000 and 2004 election will reveal that the aforementioned are BBM's.
Now to PLAN's agenda. I admire and respect PLAN's goal of generating legislation at the state level to address America's problems. But, the problems of illegal immigration, the war in Iraq, good health care for working poor, and high gas prices can only be addressed effectly at the federal level.
Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Take care and I wish you the best.
Posted by: Tim | Aug 23, 2005 12:30:54 AM
Aha... the old guilt by association thing. If Sirota spends his time bashing Bush and Sirota helped start PLAN, then by definition PLAN must be about bashing Bush.
In any case, I would hope that you're not surprised to find one of Bush's presidential opponents in the "Bush-bashing" category... Shocking, I know.
The important point here is that while there's plenty of things to "bash Bush" on - PLAN is explicitly about hard-nosed think-tank work.
Also, there's plenty of national think tanks working on the issues you mention, while there aren't any at the state level. You'd rather go back to the previous status?
Oh, never mind, your argument is pointless.
Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Aug 23, 2005 1:51:47 AM
Thanks for your comments on my previous posts. Since we are both Democrats and want to create a "Big Tent", I am sure we can agree on some things and disagree on other things. A diversity of ideas is the bedrock of a progressive movement.
You stated in your post that "PLAN is explicitly about hard-nosed think tank work". Good, I will keep checking in to see how this develops.
I commend you on your website design business. You did an outstanding job on this website. I enjoy your other websites at Blueorgon, Politics & Technology, Mandate Media, and this website Western Democrat.
However, a statement in your advertisement at Mandate Media is somewhat out of place. "Our president, Kari Chisholm, is our experienced political hack . . ." I don't consider you a political hack. I find your writing quite creative, thoughtful, and full of insight.
I almost forgot, your blog site "Lefty Blogs" is well designed also. Keep up the good work. Take care and I wish you the best.
Posted by: Tim | Aug 23, 2005 6:50:29 AM
Thanks, Tim, for the kind words. Glad you're enjoying the sites.
Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Aug 23, 2005 7:58:47 AM
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(and yes, we know that sometimes they're very, very wrong. Other times, they're right on.)