Saturday, April 30, 2005

Energy - What's the Problem?

Below is text from President Bush’s speech the other evening. I’ve divided the speech into two sections. The first text dealing with the energy problem and the second, dealing with the Social Security issue. I haven’t changed the text, but I have changed the format to emphasis what I think are key or important items. The President’s words are in Italics, mine will be in plain text.

Millions of American families and small businesses are hurting because of higher gasoline prices. My administration is doing everything we can to make gasoline more affordable. In the near-term, we will continue to encourage oil producing nations to maximize their production. Here at home, we'll protect consumers. There will be no price gouging at gas pumps in America. We must address the root causes that are driving up gas prices.

Over the past decade, America's energy consumption has been growing about 40 times faster than our energy production. That means we're relying more on energy produced abroad. To reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy, we must take four key steps.

· First, we must better use technology to become better conservers of energy.
· Secondly, we must find innovative and environmentally sensitive ways to make the most of our existing energy resources, including oil, natural gas, coal and safe, clean nuclear power.
· Third, we must develop promising new sources of energy, such as hydrogen, ethanol or biodiesel.
· Fourth, we must help growing energy consumers overseas, like China and India, apply new technologies to use energy more efficiently, and reduce global demand of fossil fuels.

I applaud the House for passing a good energy bill. Now the Senate needs to act on this urgent priority. American consumers have waited long enough. To help reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy, Congress needs to get an energy bill to my desk by this summer so I can sign it into law.

I notice that President Bush did not mention, at least directly, domestic drilling. Yes, I’m going to bring up ANWR. Did you know that ANWR was originally set aside in 1980 with provisiion for oil exploration? Did you know that there are 19 million acres in ANWR? And did you know that the area set aside for oil exploration is only 2000 acres? We’re talking about 2000 acres in an area the size of South Carolina (see map below). Do you also know that exploration is scheduled to be done during the winter months when the ground is frozen over and trucking will not effect the environment? Native animals move south during the winter months to areas where there is food and, even considering we’re talking about Alaska, warmer climes. During the spring, summer, and fall months, when the ground is soft, and native animal populations would abound, no drilling would be done.

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Did you know that what is being said now about caribou and other native animals being pushed away from their breeding areas in ANWR because of drilling was said about the Alaskan pipeline? Did you know that because of the warmth generated by the pipeline animal populations actually increased? They like being near warmth so they congregate near the pipeline and propregate. We have the ability to explore for oil, get it out of the ground and not destroy the environement at the same time.

Here’s something else you might not know: there have been no new oil refineries built since something like 1980. If we built more refineries the supply of gas would increase. Prices usually go down when the supply increases, and prices go up with the supply goes down. Suppliers can get higher prices when the supply is down. It's a simple matter of supply and demand. When the supply does not meet the demand, the price goes up. The Saudis recently released more oil, and the prices came down. Not much, but a litte.

Doesn’t it make sense to build more refineries? In fact, I’ve heard talk of building refineries on closed military bases. Makes sense to me. Instead of leaving the bases to fall apart, make use of what has already been built. Sure, improvements would have to be made, but wouldn’t it be better to use land that is already being used, or at least was being used instead of building refineries on undeveloped land?

We have to understand that life has changed. We simply cannot rely on other countries to supply our energy resources. It makes us depended on them. And being dependent means that we have to accept the amount of oil they decide we can have and at what price. I’m much too independent for that. I don’t mind getting some oil from other countries, but we are entirely too dependent on foreign oil supplies for my tastes.

Note: Thanks to Neal Boortz for the map
She's Alive!

It's great to be able to say that. Jennifer Wilbanks, the Duluth GA bride-to-be, went for a jog on Tuesday evening and never returned. Of course, the first thing everyone thought was that she had been abducted. I know that's what I thought.

Jennifer apparently had bought a bus ticket to Las Vegas and then to Albuequerque New Mexico where she called 911 to report that she had been abducted. Later she admitted to authorities in Albuequerque that she had not been abducted at all, but just got cold feet. She talked to her family and fiance. Her step-father and, I believe, an aunt, are on the way to Albuequerque to take her back to Georgia.

Some are saying she should be prosecuted for filing a false report in Albuequerque. Some are saying that she should be civilly sued for the cost of manpower that local Georgia authorities expended in the search for her. Normally, I would be right there with them, saying that she has to "pay" for what she's done. I'm not so sure. Let's wait and see what is going on here. I have a feeling that there may be issues beyond just "cold feet." Ok, I'm saying that there might be some mental issues here; maybe she wasn't in her "right mind" and Jennifer may not be entirely responsible for her actions. Maybe she is. I'm just saying, let's give Jennifer, her fiance, and her family and friends some time. Let's give the authorities involved time to decide their actions.

After the tragedies that befell young girls in Florida over the last couple of months, I, for one, am glad to be able to write the words, "She's Alive!"

Let's enjoy that fact for awhile before we start vilifying her.

Update: I heard a talking head on Fox asking a guest how she could go from Georgia to Nevada to New Mexico and not know that she was a national news story. Why didn't other riders know about her? The answer? The few times I've been on bus, I didn't read newspapers and there was no TV. People tend to be involved in their own lives on buses and don't pay alot of attention to other riders. She had changed her appearance somewhat (cut her hair for one). If someone paid attention to her, the odds are that they thought she looked familiar and left it at that. And finally, when you are travelling by your own vehicle or commercially by plane, bus, train, or however, do you expect to see someone in the national news who statistically should be dead?
It Makes No Sense to Me

MADISON, Wis. (AP) Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill Friday that would have required voters to show government-issued picture identification at the polls, saying it would disenfranchise elderly voters.

How in the world can Governor Doyle say this with a straight face? How can being required to have a picture ID disenfranchise (how I hate that word!) anyone, including the elderly? If an elderly person does not have a picture ID and cannot go to a government office to get picture ID, then how in the world do they go to vote? If they can't go get a photo ID, they probably can't get to the poll to vote.

My mother, who never drove, had a State of Florida identification card. She had to go the the DMV to get it. It looked just like a driver's license except that it clearly stated it was for identification purposes only and was not a DL. My dad had a driver's license up until the day he died at age 81. He hadn't driven for a couple of years, and intended to get an identification card when his DL expired. In the meantime, he was using his DL as ID.

Voters in Florida, at least in Manatee County, must show accepted photo ID (DL, passport, Florida Identification card) when we go to the polls. No ID, no vote. It ensures that voter is the one who is voting and no one else is casting a vote for them, or in their name.

If no ID is shown, it could be anyone voting under that name. The listed voter could be dead, moved, or simply not voting. It's a situation ripe for fraud. Think about the 2004 elections. How many states investigated voter fraud?

Any time a person is concerned about proving their identity, I have to wonder why. Honest people conducting honest business (and voting should be done honestly) should not be afraid to prove who they are. If I lived in Wisconsin, I'd be wondering why my governor would veto this bill. I'd be wondering whether he was honest and ethical. I'd be wondering if he deserved my vote the next time he was up for election as governor or for another office.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Press Conference

Here's a link to the text of the President's press conference earlier this evening. I'll have some thoughts on it tomorrow or over the weekend if you are interested.

My favorite line? Social Security is too important for "politics as usual."

In my humble opinion: Truer words were never spoken.
Secure Our Borders

Click here for a link to a petition urging President Bush to secure our borders immediately.

I've written about illegal immigrants, but the open borders policy also allow terrorists and drug dealers to cross into America at will. I don't want to stop people from coming to America, I just want them to enter legally. I want our government to know who is entering our country, when and why.

I don't think it's too much to ask, especially since September 11th, to ask our government to take steps to:
  • Prevent people from coming into the US illegally
  • Prevent people who are coming here for illegal purposes such as drug dealing and terror activities from entering the US illegally
  • Know who has overstayed their Visas
  • Know why people are coming into the US
It's bad enough that people come into the US legally and then "forget" to leave, at least we know they entered legally and why. It's the ones who just walk across the unsecured border that I am concerned about.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Georgia Tragedy

The bodies of the missing Georgia children, Nicole and Jacob Payne, were found today in a nearby sewage pond. I extend my deepest condolences to the family.

The investigation continues, and it appears that little Nicole, at only two years of age, was able to open the door. It's possible that the children left the house and tragically ended up in the pond.

I never thought this was an abduction. It just didn't have the right feel that the children were taken. I thought from the beginning that either the children wandered away or one of the parents was involved. Abhorent as it is, parents do murder their children. At this point, it seems that the children may have just wandered away from their home.

The only way to avoid something like this happening is to put latches or locks on your doors above where the children can reach. That, and never letting your child out of your sight. Even for an instant.

Please, don't infer from any of my words above that I am in any way accusing or blaming the parents of anything. We don't know enough yet about what happened, and, in any case, this is neither the time nor the place to point fingers at anyone.

All we can do now is pray for the souls of the children and hope that their parents are eventually able to move past the pain they are suffering.