…remember where you live. You live in a nation of gun owners and hunters. You live in a country where one out of three girls get pregnant before they are 20… Knock Palin for having kids, for having a kid who's having a baby, for anything that is part of her normalness -- a normalness that looks very familiar to so many millions of Americans -- well, you do this at your own peril.
Sarah Palin’s Alaska gave every Alaskan an extra $1,200 from oil revenues, and the GOP loves her. Alaska has no income tax and no sales tax. Alaska’s tax revenues come from taxing oil
Actually, I am warming to Sarah Palin on this. Maybe we ought to do more of this nationally. Maybe this ought to be a plank in the Democratic platform. Shouldn’t every citizen, not just Alaskans, get $1,200 from a tax on oil?
Per dollar of federal tax collected in 2005, Alaska citizens received approximately $1.84 in the way of federal spending. If only we could do that nationally. How is your state doing?
You can find out at this link.
In part one we noted that Colorado is a state that is swinging from red to blue or at least purple.
In part two we noted that the growing Hispanic population is a major reason for this.
In part three we discussed how the way to win Colorado is by an appeal to the pragmatic middle on both economic and social issues, since conservatives outnumber liberals in Colorado.
The final piece to the Colorado analysis ties parts three and four together. Hispanics are generally conservative on the wedge social issues. Their Catholic heritage strongly inclines them to be for traditional marriage and pro-life. They may not necessarily be absolutists, but they are very oriented to traditional families. The nativist base of the GOP has been driving Hispanics away from the GOP, but President Bush, who won Colorado twice, made inroads into the Hispanic votes because of his family values platform. The challenge to Democrats is to make Hispanic voters feel comfortable with the Democratic Party. That means connecting with Hispanic families on health care and the economy, while not driving them away on abortion and marriage issues. It is a tough challenge for Democrats, but if the party is pragmatic and moderate on the social issues, rather than left-wing and absolutist, it could swing a generation of Hispanic voters and several Southwestern states into the Democratic column.
On this 4th of July, let us ponder America’s former energy independence and our current addiction to imported oil. Before 1950 America was an oil exporting country. Imagine the strength of our economy and our leadership position in the world if we were so today.
A reliable source of energy is the life-blood of any modern economy. Oil markets are increasingly volatile and vulnerable to exporters who could turn the screws on importing countries. America's dependence on imported oil is a serious threat to our national security and our economy. Huge money flows to oil exporting countries have implications for America’s political and economic position in the world as they are plunging the U.S. into debt, weakening the dollar, and financing the economies of potential rivals. If the world was peaceful, beneficent, and free, this might matter little, but unfortunately, it is not so. Accordingly, every President since Nixon has set a goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
The current crisis offers an opportunity to do something about this half-century long and universally acknowledged problem, but the country is once again gridlocked. The Democratic Party is concentrating on reducing energy demand, while the Republican Party is concentrating on increasing supply. Compromise is not in the air. And speaking of the air, environmental concerns, including, but not limited to global warming, are well founded. In our energy planning, we need to recognize the total costs of energy including costs to the environment and costs resulting from foreign entanglements.
After 9-11 President Bush missed an opportunity to summon the nation to something better than a shopping spree and the invasion of Iraq. Voters now feel the pinch at the pump and know that we are on the wrong track. Voters sense that the economy, the war, and energy policy (or lack thereof) are all tied together.
The candidate who can articulate a solution can win the election. Let us not hesitate to propose bold initiatives. That means on the demand side mandating more fuel efficient cars, mandating more energy efficient buildings, and promoting mass transit. That means on the supply side investing in solar and wind power, opening up some areas to drilling that were previously off limits, requiring carbon dioxide sequestration to offset increased coal and bio-waste utilization, and reviving our nuclear power industry. The problem is so great that no one solution can be counted on as a magic bullet. The president who can implement an economically and environmentally sound solution will gain the lasting admiration of his countrymen and the gratitude of much of the world.
The alternative is to stay the course. As Lee Iacocca put it: “Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!” Our revolutionary forefathers would understand that.
On June 26th the Supreme Court upheld the personal right to keep and bear arms. In much of the West, this ruling will have little effect, because that right is already reflected in local laws.
…while many say the decision paves the way for further state decisions freeing up a person’s ability to own and carry firearms, Colorado laws and local statutes will be untouched, according to local law enforcement officials.
Municipal ordinance in the city of Aspen bars shooting firearms within city limits (the same code also bans throwing stones, hucking snowballs and shooting missiles), according to Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor.
Thursday’s ruling simply supports laws already on the books in Colorado, Pryor said.
On balance this ruling is good news for Western Democrats, who have had to remind their Democratic colleagues that Cheyenne and Chicago have different views on gun control.
None of this should dismiss very real concerns that remain about guns and crime, but whatever laws are enacted must recognize the Second Amendment of the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. I am hopeful that with gun rights advocates reassured by the Supreme Court this country can move forward on laws that will reduce gun violence while upholding the Second Amendment. I believe it can be done. I lived in Switzerland for almost two years, and it was a very educational experience. The Swiss are well armed. It was not uncommon to see Swiss carrying military weapons on trains due to their system of universal military service. At the same time Switzerland is a country with a very low crime rate even in urban areas.
As anyone who has been in the Navy or the Marines knows, San Diego has a lot of military bases. But until recently nobody knew that a stealthy private army was building their own base here, right on the border.
Just two months after local opposition thwarted its effort to build a massive outdoor training facility near San Diego, the private military company Blackwater USA is being accused of secretly trying to build a new one just blocks from the US-Mexico border. Blackwater received approval for the 61,000 square-foot indoor facility in Otay Mesa, California, by filing for permits using the names of two subsidiaries.
Fortunately, Democratic Congressman Bob Filner is on the case.
… they [Blackwater] don’t like to operate under any laws, as we know in Iraq. And, you know, they shoot first and ask questions later. And people—parents of family members have had great trouble getting any truth about what went on there. And that’s what we’re concerned about. Anybody who is training private armies or mercenary soldiers is a real danger to democracy. We know that from history. So this is not a company that we trust… They have operated in this situation with great secrecy, with—under different subsidiaries and shell corporations, and we don’t know exactly what they’re really doing or where other permits may have been pulled under different names.
Just in case anyone has forgotten, America does have a few issues to face after almost eight years of the Bush presidency. Here are three that ought to command our attention in the upcoming election.
Paying for the three trillion dollar war
There is no such thing as a free lunch, and there is no such thing as a free war. The Iraq adventure has seriously weakened the U.S. economy, whose woes now go far beyond loose mortgage lending. You can't spend $3 trillion -- yes, $3 trillion -- on a failed war abroad and not feel the pain at home.
Whether we pay in debt, taxes, inflation, lost lives, or lost opportunities, we will all be paying indefinitely unless we wind down the War in Iraq. If America can’t afford decent healthcare and educational opportunities for all without crippling personal debt (see below), then we can’t afford the War in Iraq.
Bomb, bomb, bombing Iran
The danger of a McCain presidency is not only that he would prolong our presence in Iraq but that he would seek to fulfill neoconservative dreams of a war expanded from Iraq into Iran and Syria, leading to a regional conflagration. With his campaign already sowing the arguments for a wider conflict, we will not be able to say we weren't warned.
The debtor society
Americans are drowning in debt. One in every four families reports worries about how to pay credit-card bills this month. Nearly half of all credit-card holders missed payments in 2006 (the latest year for which data are available), and an additional 2.1 million families missed at least one mortgage payment. In 2006, a then-record 1.3 million families received foreclosure notices, followed by another 2.2 million families who were in foreclosure in 2007.
President Bush’s talk about an “ownership society” contrasts painfully with Warren Buffett’s warning of an impending “Sharecropper's Society.”
Did I hear anyone say, wrong track?
IdaBlue points to a recent experience with some less than liberal friends, and how Democrats have actually been doing a good job reaching them:
To them, a key issue is access to outdoors. They decried efforts to privatize land and make it off limits to sportsmen and women. Given the Governor's long-standing credentials as a Sage Brush Rebel (for those of who who aren't familiar with it, the point was to sell off federal land to private owners), this issue is an opportunity for Dems. There has been noise lately about abolishing the practice of the state trading land below the high water mark for greenbelt land.
Brian Schweitzer won the governor's mansion in Montana by going to the floor for fishing access rights. It seems like an intensely local issue, but in places like Idaho and Montana where property owners may not want fishermen walking through their back lots, and where Republicans might want to sell the public timberlands that also serve hunters, its a big issue.
The nut for me is to make the broader connection of environmental stewardship, that if we don't protect these fish and wildlife populations, that we won't have the animals to hunt or fish for. Its a bit deeper than simple access, and its where we sometimes loose the more conservative folks.
In Oregon (and much of the West), there's been no bigger federal issue than "county payments". Those are payments that the federal government makes to rural resource-dependent communities in lieu of resource extraction. (Some great background, including the promises by Teddy Roosevelt and Bill Clinton over at BlueOregon.)
Anyway, the county-payments program should have been reauthorized in the 2005 congressional session - but it wasn't. In 2007, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) got it done - in partnership with Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM).
Senator Wyden spent the Easter recess traveling the rural parts of Oregon, praising the work of Western Democrats in the Senate:
"We got a huge, huge, huge victory on the floor of the Senate. Seventy-five votes in the Senate is an army," said Wyden. "I was hoping to get 55 bipartisan votes. Instead I got 75. Every Western state senator voted for the bill."
Wyden said he just completed a series of town hall meetings in small resource dependent communities in Eastern Oregon. Folks, he said, just kept coming back to the county payments issue.
If Wyden had his druthers, he said he would have had the county payments reauthorized last Congressional session, but Congressional leaders didn't understand the issues.
"In the last Congress, our leadership was from the south. They just didn't understand the county payments issues," said Wyden. "This year the leadership is from the West, and Westerners were more aware of county payments. We went in there this session to get it done. We will get it done as soon as possible."
Here's the rest from the Curry County Reporter.
Bill Ritter makes good on his promise to bring greater renewable energy development to Colorado:
Raising the state’s standards for electricity produced by renewable energy will create thousands of new jobs and increase Colorado’s gross domestic product by nearly $2 billion, Gov. Bill Ritter said today.
Ritter cited a study by the Environment Colorado predicting that the state would see 4,100 new jobs, $570 million more in wages and $1.9 billion more in gross domestic product if it doubled the minimum amount of electricity its utilities generate from renewable energy — the goal of a bill now before the Legislature.
The bill, which would require utilities to generate 20 percent of their electric power from renewables by 2020, would also save 18 billion gallons of water that would otherwise be used to cool coal- and gas-fueled turbines, the environmental coalition study said.
“We have only just begun to tap the potential of a new energy economy,” Ritter said.
This type of rhetoric is essential. By framing a renewable energy increase as positive both for the state and for jobs, Ritter neutralizes one of the principal arguments against renewable energy mandates from the outset.
Those revenue estimates are astounding. If Western states start getting serious about using the vast renewable resources around us, imagine the immense solid revenue generating capacity we could see some of these states develop. This could be back into the economy by private companies, to raise general quality of life. This could be put into infrastructure development for schools, roads, other energy projects, etc. The possibilities are staggering.
One simple truth remains - renewable energy is the future out West.
This could be a huge development for America's energy future and a large step in the right direction for renewable energy projects across the West:
House Democrats in the first weeks of the new Congress plan to establish a dedicated fund to promote renewable energy and conservation, using money from oil companies.
That's only one legislative hit the oil industry is expected to take next year as a Congress run by Democrats is likely to show little sympathy to the cash-rich, high-profile business.
Whether the issue is rolling back tax breaks - some approved by Congress only 18 months ago - pushing for more use of ethanol and other biofuels instead of gasoline, or investigations into shortfalls in royalty payments to the government, oil industry lobbyists will spend most of their time playing defense.
Details of a renewable fuels fund have yet to be worked out.
Nonetheless, it's one of the initiatives the House will take up during its first 100 hours in session in January, according to aides to Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi. At least some of the money - revenue gained by rolling back some tax breaks - will go to a program to support research into making ethanol from sources other than corn.
This article goes into some other length about improperly written lease agreements with oil and gas companies that will end up (if properly modified) to return almost 10 billion dollars to the Federal Government. That's money that can be spend on the future of our country, not the past.
When I read articles like these I think about all the perceptual changes that will start to come about now that the Democrats control both Houses of Congress. When average hard working Americans see the minimum wage increase, see ethics reforms and see their government investing money in the future than we can start to build on the progressive gains made this year out here in the West or anywhere where hard working Americans want a government that works for them.