Rode my bike over to a Capitol Hill watering hole called "The Hawk and Dove" and watched the proceedings with the Hill staffers etc gathered there. Interesting to listen to their reactions. The woman next to me ("Temple" from Atlanta) said the Dems don't have the balls to cut off the war. Had to agree. And she didn't think Bush was serious about his domestic agenda but that the Dems might force his hand a bit here and there.
1) Energy and Climate Chaos:
Bush intends to make sure the federal government will not do much that makes any real difference about climate change or our profligate energy-wasting habits. Bush is touting ethanol. On an energy vs energy accounting basis ("Energy return on Investment" or EROI)), ethanol is a large scale loser -- it provides about 20% less that is used to make it. (They use gas or coal to process corn or other grain into ethanol and ADM makes millions on it because of huge government subsidies (your money) protected by corn-belt Senators.) Bush and the Dems' talk about "energy independence" is so far from reality in the US as to be ludicrous. Bush told the truth last year-- we are addicted to oil. He should know, he's the pusher.
The Dems have some obstructions to clear too. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Rep. Dingell (D--Mich), who now chairs the House Energy and Commerce committee won't allow Pelosi to bypass him (by setting up another committee to deal with climate issues) without getting very bloody. (Dingell is to the auto industry roughly what Bush and Cheney are to the oil industry.) But Nancy's trying. There are a few proposals to address carbon emissions but they're stuck in old thinking about "cap and trade." Carbon taxes (which don't have to mean higher overall taxes) would do a lot more to steer us away from a climate crash. Check out the Carbon Tax Center at www.carbontax.org.
2) The War:
Bush is not only rushing to shove more troops into Iraq, he wants to expand the military to include non-uniformed civilians (who are not employees of the federal government). Thus, he will try to expand the military by "outsourcing" even the fighting to mercenaries.
Jim Webb gave as clear a response as anyone could have hoped for, but left the Dems a way out of their responsibilty to stop the war. He said we are now "held hostage to the predictable and predicted disarray..." in Iraq. It's not true-- the Dems control the House and could cut off the funds, as Gingrich and the House did to EPA enforcement starting in 1995. With great effort, and strong pressure from the public, the Dems might stop Bush from attacking Iran but they can't stop Israel from doing it (with our guns and money) and Israel is getting ready right now. Lebanon was a practice round. No one is even talking about reducing the billions we supply in military and other aid to Israel, which as former President Carter has pointed out is engaged in apartheid which enrages all of its neighbors and creates the climate of terrorism.
Condi: You want peace in the Middle East and an end to terrorism? Call a Middle East peace conference -- invite everyone and 1) press Israel to withdraw to its 1967 borders -- the only ones that it has a "right" to defend under UN mandates and international law and 2) simultaneously press Iran to drop the nukes. The US continues to send billions to Israel despite its illegal occupation... We have lots of leverage, and the other Middle Eastern nations would surely help us keep Iran's nuclear ambitions in check if we had the slightest credibilty as an honest broker with Israel.
Happy New Year.
"In a culture of rampant deception, telling the truth is a radical act." (George Orwell)