President Bush made quite a show of lifting the presidential “ban” on offshore drilling and challenging Congress to do the same. In a Rose Garden statement, he said:
· “The only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil resources is action from the U.S. Congress…Failure to act is unacceptable…And now Americans are paying at the pump.”--7/14/08
To hear Bush tell it: If Congress would just lift their “ban” on offshore oil drilling (and drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge); gas prices would come down, our dependence on foreign oil would vanish, and the energy crisis would be over.
Unfortunately, it is not quite that simple. First of all, there is no ban on offshore drilling. There is only a moratorium on selling new drilling permits because the oil companies are not even developing the areas where they already have drilling rights. Oil companies currently hold almost 10,000 unused drilling permits covering 68 million acres of public lands (on and offshore), but they want to gain control of the rest of our public lands and offshore areas before the oil men leave the White House. If the oil companies would develop the areas where they already have permits, it is estimated that domestic natural gas production would increase by 75 percent and oil production would nearly double; but it would have little affect on the price of oil.
The bottom line is that the US consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil production, but owns less than 5 percent of the world’s oil reserves (including ANWR and offshore reserves). We could ravage every one of our wilderness areas and foul every beach, but it would not significantly reduce the price of oil or our dependence on foreign sources.
In his 2006 State of the Union Address, President Bush rightly said that “America is addicted to oil”, but rather that take any steps toward breaking that addiction, his answer is to get more oil. Junkies don’t break their addiction by getting more dope. The only cure is to quit using the stuff. The only real solution is to develop non-polluting sources of renewable energy. If we don’t, we condemn ourselves to more and more wars over the earth’s dwindling supplies of oil.
An ABC/Washington Post poll taken in mid July found that George W. Bush’s job approval rating has reached a new low for the third month in a row--with only 28 percent of Americans continuing to believe that he is doing a good job (These have got to be the same Americans who believe Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks on 9/11, cannot name the Vice President or find the state of Florida on a map of the United States).
Even though Bush has not yet reached the record low approval rating (22 percent) set by Harry Truman during the Korean War, have faith--he still has six months to go, and his disapproval rating (69 percent) marks the highest disapproval of a President since polling began in 1938.
A majority of Americans has disapproved of Bush’s job performance in every poll for the past three and a half years; and yet the Democratically “controlled” Congress continues to fund his wars and legitimize his high crimes and misdemeanors.
…and now a moment of silence for Jesse Helms, former North Carolina Senator--a true son of the old South and a legend in his own mind. Helms died on the Fourth of July--just like Thomas Jefferson. That was the only thing they had in common.
These excerpts from Wonkette editor Ken Layne’s touching obituary offers an excellent summary of Helms’ legacy:
· “Jesse Helms died today, 25 years too late, but the stench of his rotten career will always linger in the Senate, and over the South. He was a hero to bigots and the cigarette corporations, a menace to the poor and downtrodden, and a mean little troll... Once in Washington, Dixiecrat Helms became the new, stupid face of the Republican Party, the party that left behind intellectualism and civil rights and took up the Southern Strategy of pandering to bitter white losers while actively working against that same white working class... He was the ugliest kind of bigot and a stain on America.”--AOL News, 7/4/08
Layne’s entire tribute to Helms can be found at Jesse Helms: American Garbage.