Friday, September 08, 2006

Ohio Farm Bureau

One thing that really gets me is when Republicans use the words of popular liberal ideas to mislead people into supporting unpopular corporate agendas. Walk with me:

I recently switched my major insurance policies over to Nationwide. As I said to my wife, it may seem bizarre to think of a huge corporation as a local business, but I feel like more of my premium will end up being spent in central Ohio than was the case with our last provider. Anyway, Nationwide gives you a discount if you join the Farm Bureau. Given that the discount is more than the membership fee, we signed on. Yesterday, we got our first issue of the Farm Bureau magazine called 'Our Ohio.' I haven't read most of it. I read the first page and got so mad I fumed about it the entire time I was mowing our lawn (with the electric mower).

The editorial is entitled America's true power shortage, referring to author John C. ("Jack") Fisher's contention that what America truly lacks is "political will." And he's right about that. But so so wrong about other things.

The editorial starts off on the left foot:

Every time I fill up the car, I fight the urge to bang my head against the pump. Over three bucks a gallon! Frustrated, I think to myself, “I wish it was five.”

Three dollar gas, occasional brownouts and rising inflation haven’t motivated us to fix America’s never-ending energy affliction. Maybe five dollar gasoline, nationwide blackouts and a floundering economy will. What this nation needs is an energy Armageddon!

OK. Maybe wishing for a full-blown energy catastrophe is a bit over the top. Frankly, the severity of our situation doesn’t need to be hyped. The facts are scary enough on their own.

Americans use nearly $1 million of energy every minute. With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, we consume about 25 percent of the world’s energy. Our energy consumption is up 12 percent in the last 10 years.

All of this is true. Americans are not behaving as if there is an impending energy crisis. There is an impending energy crisis. Perhaps if people had more immediate eveidence of the coming problems, they'd act differently. Something needs to persuade them. Except...

Jack Fisher doesn't really believe that Americans need to change their behavior. The problem is not our tendency to consume increasingly greater amounts of energy resources.

The problem is we’re feeding our energy appetite with take-out instead of homecooking. In the past 10 years, we’ve increased domestic energy production by one-half of 1 percent. We import nearly two-thirds of our petroleum. America hasn’t built a refinery or a nuclear plant since the 1970s. We’re not developing many of our oil and natural gas reserves, and we’ve done little to make better use of our 250-year supply of coal.

It’s not that we can’t fix these problems. We won’t. We have the knowledge. We have the technology. We have the resources. What we’re lacking is the will to put them to work.

See, the problem is not our energy demand, it's our energy supply. Apparently we need to come up with more and more and more energy too feed our very reasonable, albeit increasing needs. Of course, a reasonable person might recognize that the problem needs to be attacked from both sides, given that a reduction in demand will only offset (at best) the decrease in supply of non-renewable resources. Why don't reasonable people try to solve the problem? Apparently because of unreasonable people:

Reasoned, effective cures to our energy ills are being obstructed by a vocal minority imposing its will on the silent majority. The anti-development, anti-business, anti-energy community is small, but effective, writing its congressmen and cultivating the media. Ultimately, this group is forcing you and me to pay the price for beliefs like these: “Capitalism is destroying the earth,” (Helen Caldicott, Union of Concerned Scientists) and “We must make (the world) an insecure and inhospitable place for capitalists and their projects,” (David Foreman, Earth First). That’s not how most Americans think. But until the rest of us speak up, those kinds of views will continue to have a disproportionate influence on public policy.

This is the biggie. The paragraph with so many levels of misinformation and disinformation that I have a hard time figuring out the proper structure for a reply. But here goes...

1) Earth First is an eco-terrorist organization. They are people that the leadership of groups like GreenPeace and the Sierra Club consider to be out of the mainstream. One of the main reasons they are considered to be out of the mainstream is that they don't believe in the legislative process. They believe in bombs and tree spikes. They absolutely want to make the world inhospitable for capitalist projects, but they have zero influence on energy policy. They don't talk to their representatives in Congress.

2) Who does have an influence on energy policy? Big oil companies. The ones that import all that petroleum.

A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.

The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated. -Washington Post, 11/16/05

3) So what about the Union of Concerned Scientists? They aren't a fringe group like Earth First, but they say that "Capitalism is destroying the Earth..." Yep. I'll get back to that. Because Fisher goes on to say:

Common sense, not fanaticism, should drive our nation’s approach to energy. Farm Bureau is working toward diverse solutions to tackle America’s energy challenges. We see the need for encouragement of biofuels such as farm-based ethanol and soydiesel, which produce renewable, domestic, clean-burning alternatives to imported petroleum; an improved infrastructure to deliver natural gas; clean coal technologies; less encumbered oil and gas exploration; safe nuclear power, and expanded wind, solar and biomass generation. Our agenda also calls for favorable tax policies and rational regulation.

See, encouragement of biofuels, improved infrastructure, expanded generation, favorable tax policies...


I'm sorry for shouting, but Fisher's common sense is that Capitalism is destroying America. The Farm Bureau supports Ohio House Bill 245 as one of its legislative priority issues. This is a bill that generally seeks "to increase the availability and use of alternative fuel." This is not a free-market idea, as the government's hand is mighty visible, but it is a good one. Ohio's farmers and the Union of Concerned Scientists would both agree with the goal of increasing the availability and use of green fuels. So why does Fisher attempt to demonize his seeming allies?

Because nothing in House Bill 245 or in the legislative priorities of the Farm Bureau points to a need for "less encumbered oil and gas exploration" or the euphemistic "rational regulation." This means that we should allow drilling in the Arctic NWR and sensitive areas of coastal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. This is the sort of thing that environmental groups, even nice mainstream conservationists, oppose.

His readers, and the liberal groups he dislikes, are in agreement on the need for a change in energy policy. And he knows it. He just wants them to lobby and vote for policies they oppose.

Why have I given up my morning to write a response to an obscure editorial? Because Ohio has been voting Republican, and rural Ohio has voted very Republican in recent elections. Things like this lead me to believe that people like Mr. Fisher are abusing positions of trust and authority to sway voters to vote against their own interests. And it pisses me off.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Health Care Event

Once again, this is covered pretty thouroughly elsewhere, but there was a great big event focusing on the Dems plan for healthcare, with Bob Shamansky in the starring role. Video is available from the Shamansky website or BSB.

Pictures available at Ohio Elections 2006.

Text available at OH-12.

This is the 4 point plan:

  • Healthcare coverage should be affordable to all Americans

  • Healthcare coverage costs should be contained

  • Proposed healthcare plans must guarantee choice of doctors

  • Proposed healthcare plans must prioritize the role of preventive medicine.

Ahhh. This is another good example of the difference between campaigning and governing. I'd have an easier time getting excited about actual proposals than about guidelines for what proposals should/must look like.


I know you can't detail policy in an election. You just can't. You can only set priorities. You write the legislation in the House itself. If we want a debate on exactly how to improve health care for everyone, we need a Democratic Congress. You don't hear Pat Tiberi running on comprehensive health care reform. Americans overwhelmingly believe that Democrats are most likely to improve the healthcare system in the U.S. We're right. It's good to keep reminding us.

New Ohio Tourism Logo

Slightly off-topic, but... All over the country, people have become interested in Ohio Politics. I say, the more the merrier. And after coming back from a road trip this weekend and seeing the state's tourism logo on the big blue arch, I was struck by the idea of the smallest of tweaks that could promote this new national (and international) interest:

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Whoa. Major web upgrade at

The TV ad is now sitting in front of the website. Behind it, the website has been given quite a style makeover. Thumbs up from over here.

The boring meta-blogging post

I read blogs. This is how I know that Brian from OH-12, one entry on my very short list of blogs, is now also part of the replacement team at Plunderbund, also on that short list.

Other people also read blogs. This is why we can tend to converge on the same subjects.

Apparently, some people are reading this blog, which I discovered by the strangest of accidents. On Buckeye State Blog, while looking for links to more Ohio blogs to steal from keep abreast of, I came across a rather silly spat exchange between the propietors there and the writer of a blog called As Ohio Goes. I got curious about what could cause BSB such irritation. Imagine my surprise when I surfed over to As Ohio Goes and found myself blogrolled. This morning, when I went back, I even found nice things being said about Blue Bexley.

I'm sold. There's a new link on the right.