Archive for August 25th, 2006

I’m growing tired of rushing to correct Denny Rehberg’s every public statement. It’s tiresome. It’s bothersome. Why can’t Montana’s Representative just say what issues and policies he really supports instead of masking his voting history under a load of liberal rhetoric? Like his campaign flier, paid for by my tax dollars. Or his July guest editorial in the Gazette.

Here we go again.

This time it’s Rehberg’s “defense” of the horrendous 2005 Energy Act.

Before we delve into Rehberg’s guest editorial, let’s see what the Washington Post has to say about the bill:

The bill exempts oil and gas industries from some clean-water laws, streamlines permits for oil wells and power lines on public lands, and helps the hydropower industry appeal environmental restrictions. One obscure provision would repeal a Depression-era law that has prevented consolidation of public utilities, potentially transforming the nation’s electricity markets.


…it exempts oil and gas companies from Safe Drinking Water Act requirements when they inject fluids — including some carcinogens — into the earth at high pressure, a process known as hydraulic fracturing. Betty Anthony, director for exploration and production at the American Petroleum Institute, said states already regulate the process, but residents of Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia and other states have complained that it has polluted groundwater in their communities.

Meanwhile, the measure will streamline Bureau of Land Management drilling permits — even though the Bush administration already has granted a record number of permits on BLM land. Lawmakers also authorized seismic blasting in sensitive marine areas to gauge offshore oil reserves — despite a moratorium on drilling in many of those areas. And the bill will exempt petroleum well pads from storm-water regulations under the Clean Water Act. Anthony said the provision makes sense because the wells are already exempt, but critics question why the oil and gas industry, which has seen record profits in recent months, should be exempt from any aspect of environmental law.

The bill also granted $500 million in subsidies for deep-water drilling for oil and gas and millions of dollars in other subsidies largely to the oil, coal, and gas industries.

Indeed, calling this an “energy” bill was no misnomer, for we’ll be paying a federal bill to the energy industry for years to come. As if they need more profits.

So what did Denny Rehberg write about this bill?

Honestly, it’s difficult to follow. I mean…there are words and everything…and they seem to follow one another in some semblance of grammatical order…but…well…none of it makes any sense. Take this:

For more than a decade, Washington bureaucrats and politicians ignored the imminent threat on the horizon by refusing to invest in American sources of energy. Because of their inaction, we’re now held hostage by countries unfriendly to the United States, and we’re feeling the result at the pump. That’s why I helped to craft our country’s first ever (and long overdue) national energy policy, and it’s why I am continuing my work to bring some Montana common sense into legislation like the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

“Invest in American sources of energy”? Of course, the amount of untapped in the country would hardly make a dent in our consumption. And it’s expensive to extract. So we’d still be buying oil from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. And the deep-sea drilling the bill subsidizes seems to have been a Tom DeLay earmark for his home district, which relies economically on deep-sea oil drilling. I just don’t understand the logic here, how millions in subsidies to the most profitable industry has anything to do with “American sources of energy.”

Rehberg goes on to tout alternative energy development. Only it turns out to be coal and freeing the energy industry from regulation:

It’s time for America to buy Montana energy. We must increase our domestic energy production to ensure that we are no longer reliant on unstable, foreign sources. That means implementing the technologies we have in our toolbox to both explore for fossil fuels and ensure that our environment is preserved for future generations. That also means streamlining bureaucratic red tape that has left the United States without a new refinery in 30 years and with an aging infrastructure that leaves us vulnerable to price fluctuations. With the passage of this piece of comprehensive energy legislation, the development of traditional energy sources will ensure that we can increase our supply of American made energy for the long term.

Maybe someone should mention to Rehberg that “alternative” energy should be non-fossil-fuel based. Wind. Solar. Hydro-electric. Well, to be fair to the Rep., he does mention this stuff, but apparently thinks the way to achieve more development is to give money to oil companies. And freeing companies of regulation ain’t such a great idea, not if you like to hunt, fish, or breathe. And forget about drinking water.

Here he is defending a bill in which he and his GOP brethren gave away taxpayer money to their big oil buddies in exchange for a little back-scratching ($200K in campaign donations to Denny), and he basically tells it will free us of oil dependency. It…just…doesn’t…make…any…sense. My brain writhes in agony trying to figure out the logic.


And why does my opponent vote to give unprecedented tax breaks and royalty relief to big oil corporations? Maybe it’s because of the almost $200,000 in campaign contributions he has received from big oil and gas interests over his career.

Why isn’t anyone talking about higher gas mileage standards for US cars? A simple 10 mpg boost would save us more oil in a few years than the total found in ANWR. Why isn’t anyone talking about encouraging supermarkets and box stores to concentrate on buying local produce? That helps American farmers and reduces oil consumption. Why aren’t we talking a gasoline tax – balanced by a reduction in the payroll tax, say, and exempting farm fuel? That would increase incentive to develop alternative energy without costing taxpayers any extra money.

Just like in the case of global warming, there are policies we can enact now, which would be neither deleterious to the economy nor difficult to enact, but which would cut down on gasoline consumption and reduce carbon emissions.

Certainly as long as Denny Rehberg and his like-minded Republican cronies – who have time and time again demonstrated they prefer personal enrichment and political power over ethics and practical policy – remain in office, we’ll continue to see this issue dodged. It’s not in the interest of oil companies to see less consumption of their product, it’s not in their interest to build infrastructure to make gas cheaper and easier to process. And as long as oil profits from shortages, the politicians that suck off the oil teat will toe the line and keep diverting valuable taxpayer money away from energy programs that will actually benefit working- and middle-class Americans.

So you probably heard the news over at Left in the West already, but Conrad Burns’ fundraising chief, Pat Davison, is accused of fraud. Basically he bilked a couple of families for more than a million dollars.

Now, to me, that means Burns’ incoming campaign money might be tainted. I mean, if the guy in charge of raising money for you is a conman and thief, shouldn’t that mean the funds he raised for the Senator undergo a little extra scrutiny?

Anyhow, what I wanted to mention here was a line from Jan Falstad’s Gazette piece on Davison’s fall:

Davison also was co-chairman of the re-election finance committee for Sen. Conrad Burns, D-Mont., but resigned recently according to the Associated Press.

I guess this means Klindt will start yelling that it’s a bipartisan scandal.

And who says traditional media has a liberal bias?

Update: Shane’s done the homework, found the Davison “companies,” and tracked how much each has anted up to Burns and Rehberg’s coffers. Will these folks hold on to their ill-gotten donations, or will they give the money back from whom it was stolen?

Update 2: Pogie has posted a summary of the charges. My, oh, my!


Liberal Wacko on Rehberg, Shane on Monica Lindeen.

WesternDemocrat on the importance of state-level races, and the Western Republican defections.

Kossak moonboots on the Moonies’ Korean anti-press smashup. Or check out John Gorenfeld’s blog, which tracks the Rev. Moon’s activities in the U.S.

Lizzie on the first anniversary of Katrina. Never forget.

Jon Stewart on Rockey, the Katrina survivor and GOP plant.

The New York Times on neocon war fantasies, “Wanted: Scarier Intelligence.”

Glenn Greenwald on who should decide what to do about Iran. Congress!

Iraq war widow to Bush: “end the war.” Dick won’t let him.

Democratic Representatives on Donald Rumsfeld.

Midterm Madness on Katherine Harris’ catchin’ the spirit.

Steve Benen on the far-right belief in “the death of science.”

BoingBoing on the sale of the SS Minnow, Barney’s penis, and the Colbert debate.

So, here it is, a breakthrough in stem-cell research that allows scientists to harvest human stem cells without destroying embryos:

Under the procedure, a human egg and sperm are combined in a laboratory dish and grown for two to three days, producing a cluster of about eight to 10 cells. One of the cells is removed and allowed to divide overnight. Then, while one of the divided cells is used for the genetic test, the other is grown into stem-cell lines for research.The remaining cluster of seven to nine cells is grown for a few more days and placed in the woman’s uterus to become a fetus.

So there you go. End of the controversey. No more ethical debate about preserving life. Done deal. Now we can move on, divert needed federal funds to stem cell research and get cracking on all the research on neurological diseases for which stem cells are desperately needed.


Not so fast, pardner.

The usual gang of moralists object:

In a statement, the Bush Administration, which has repeatedly objected to embryonic stem cell research because it involved what it views as the destruction of life in order to save life, noted, “Any use of human embryos for research purposes raises serious ethical concerns. This technique does not resolve all those concerns. The President is hopeful that with time scientists can find ways of deriving cells like those now derived from human embryos but without the need for using embryos.”

There you go. If it wasn’t obvious before, it should be now. Politicians aren’t going to let their pet issues go, especially if those issues pad your bankroll and get thousands of activists on the streets ringing doorbells in your name.

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