July 28, 2005


Bush Wins Approval of Trade Pact: Contentious House vote to ratify CAFTA is seen as more of a political than economic victory. (Warren Vieth, July 28, 2005, LA Times)

The House voted late Wednesday to ratify the Central American Free Trade Agreement, handing President Bush a hard-fought victory on a measure with limited economic effects but large political consequences. [...]

Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Bakersfield), the Ways and Means Committee chairman who steered the bill through the House, said the near-unanimous opposition of Democrats would help the Republican Party solidify its political gains of recent years.

"I wondered when this moment would come. Apparently it comes tonight," Thomas said before declaring an end to debate. "Tonight … we mature into a permanent majority. We will lead. We will be progressive. We will help our neighbors."

No one has ever done smug and insufferable better than Chairman Thomas.

Five-year negotiations lead to modest energy bill: It covers oilfields, the power grid, and daylight savings time. (Brad Knickerbocker, 7/28/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

[T]he first major energy bill since 1992 does do enough to qualify as political progress, not least of all because it manages to avoid the twin threats of congressional filibuster or presidential veto. And coming as it does when war is being fought in an oil-rich part of the world, and when it nearly takes a second mortgage to fill up the family car, the package shows that Washington is doing something on energy.

The $11.5 billion, 10-year measure provides tax breaks for both energy production and conservation. It would nearly double ethanol production, which advocates say would improve air quality. It provides new subsidies and tax breaks for solar, wind, geothermal, and nuclear power, and it orders an inventory of offshore oil and gas resources. It requires new commercial appliances to be more energy efficient. It would strengthen the nation's energy grid in order to avoid the kind of blackouts seen in recent years, and it would extend daylight saving time by a month. [...]

Success in finally fashioning the bill after five years of trying came because two potential show-stoppers were avoided. One, lawmakers refused to shield the makers of the gasoline additive MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether), from lawsuits in the more than 30 states where the substance has polluted groundwater. And two, they ignored the administration's - and the oil industry's - push for new oil exploration in that part of Alaska known as "America's Serengeti" for all the wildlife it supports. In both cases, Democrats and some Republicans were prepared to hold up the bill had it gone the other way on those two issues.

Still, oil drilling in ANWR will continue to be a contentious issue: It's been attached to the 2006 budget resolution as a potential source of revenues. Overcoming a filibuster requires 60 votes, but the budget resolution requires only a 51-vote majority - which pro-drilling lawmakers are quite confident they have.

If there's one clear winner here it's corn farmers and the ethanol industry. The measure requires refiners to raise the amount of ethanol used in gasoline from 4 billion gallons to 7.5 billion gallons a year.

"Beyond the energy benefits, this renewable fuels standard will create thousands of jobs, revitalize numerous rural communities, and improve air quality," says Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, which represents the ethanol industry.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 28, 2005 9:45 AM

OJ is happy to look the other way on this particular bit of criminality because the sums are paltry (in a relative sense), which only serves to highlight the relativism of his own morality, but this stinker of an energy bill took on additional stench after the conference closed, to the tune of 1.5 billion for, guess who?

The Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA) consortium, housed in the Texas Energy Center in Sugar Land, Texas. Halliburton is a member of RPSEA and sits on the board, as does Marathon Oil Company. The subtitle provides that the consortium can keep up to 10% of the funds - in this case, over $100 million - in administrative expenses.

This is the handiwork of Mr. Delay.

It really is amazing how the people of this country are mesmerized by things like the John G. Roberts dog and pony show, while the same old thieving c*cksuckers rob the treasury blind at every turn.

Read all about it.

Posted by: lonbud at July 28, 2005 11:27 AM

--We will help our neighbors."---

It's the Christian thing to do, and if I can get lower sugar prices, even better.

Posted by: Sandy P at July 28, 2005 11:46 AM

I hate to agree in anyway with lonbud, but even a stopped clock is right ocassionally.

The energy bill is a pork fest, not an energy bill. Et c'est tout.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at July 28, 2005 12:09 PM

Ever notice that it's always a conspiracy with Liberals? It didn't used to be that way did it? I remember when I was growing up it seemed that all of the conpsiracy nutjobs like Longbud were all on the right. Think of Dale Gribble and his UN black helicoptors or the John Birch Society. These days, it seems that the right-wing conspiracy theorists have faded and we have a whole new crop of left-wing conspiracy theorists. Maybe the ideology that's out of power is so incapable of grasping that they lost power legitimately that they have to come up with these daft conspiracy theories.
Longbug: Maybe you're wrong. Has that thought ever occurred to you? Perhaps all of your labyrinthine theories about the Secret Rulers of the World and how Chimpy vonBushitler personally directed the 911 attacks are just you covering up for the fact that your ideology is losing power and you are incapable of grasping that fact. Reality-based community indeed!

Posted by: Governor Breck at July 28, 2005 12:10 PM

Mr. Schwartz:
Longbud isn't annoyed about the porkfest. Remember as a proper Liberal pork is one of the bulwarks of the ideology. He's just annoyed that the "correct" people aren't getting the pork.

Posted by: Governor Breck at July 28, 2005 12:14 PM

Next up: The Highway Bill Porkfest. I hear some R Congressmen who voted agin CAFTA last night are going to have their pet projects stripped out of the bill. Brrrr!!

Posted by: Twn at July 28, 2005 12:31 PM

guv'nuh: is it possible for you to stay on topic for a sentence or two? not a peep about conspiracy in my post here. crime is crime. if it squeals like a pig and it's covered in shite like a pig, then it must be pork. i am non-ideologically anti-pork and it has nothing to do with my being a bar mitzvah brucha.

you sir, like oj, are a moral relativist.

Posted by: lonbud at July 28, 2005 12:31 PM


criminality? What sort of utopian do you live in in your head where votes aren't bought?

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2005 12:43 PM


Pork is pork. If the black caucus were vital to the passage of legislation, there would be pork everywhere in the inner cities. If the tobacco lobby still held sway, the pork would flow there. If rural Wisconsin had the power, the pork would flow to the cheeseheads. If eastern North Carolina had its way, the pork would flow to the porkers.

I think Gov.'s point is that the left has no room to criticize after sleeping in the tallow for so many years. After all, if your objection is only that Tom DeLay holds the purse-strings, and that Halliburton is in line for some government money, then that is no different than the GOP trying to shut down the LSC back in the early 1980s (or numerous other examples of right-wing "heartlessness").

I can think of several Republicans who always vote against 'pork' (of all flavors), but I cannot remember a prominent Democrat other than William Proxmire who ever did more than just demagogue it.

Do you support the position that tax revenues should rise ONLY in proportion to the population increase?

Posted by: jim hamlen at July 28, 2005 12:47 PM

Lonbud, this is the sort of thing you get when the overall budget is two and a third trillion dollars. (Say that again, slower. ta-rilllllion. Lovely sound. But I digress.) If it's really important to you to have less pork, the only thing that's going to work is less money washing through government. You're welcome to join us (some of us, anyway) to try and achieve that; and no, you can't start by slashing the military budget. Social spending only, please. Are you up for that, or are you just talking?

Posted by: joe shropshire at July 28, 2005 1:49 PM

Gov, what you're groping after is Jane's Law:

"The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane."

Posted by: joe shropshire at July 28, 2005 1:56 PM

Pork is an old American tradition.
The first six frigates for the US Navy were Constitution, President, United States, Congress, Chesapeake, and Constellation.
Each was built in a different shipyard, in different states.

Funny how that worked out.

Posted by: Mikey at July 28, 2005 2:03 PM

And if Mississippi had been a state back then, we would have had the USS Pascagoula, for sure.

Posted by: jim hamlen at July 28, 2005 2:10 PM

By the way, read down that thread to Arnold Kling's comment.

Posted by: joe shropshire at July 28, 2005 2:11 PM

well, i'll have to stew on your tax question a bit, jim. i'm at work and i don't want to go off half-cocked.

as for the rest, accepting the status quo seems pretty facile. i would think it's important to make the best use of the nation's resources possible and to aspire to a system of disbursements that doesn't reward graft and corruption, regardless of the ideological/socio-political/philosophical bent of whoever might be in "power" at any given time.

but that's just me.

Posted by: lonbud at July 28, 2005 2:13 PM

why is the military budget off-limits?

Posted by: lonbud at July 28, 2005 2:26 PM

Because if it's not you'll never look anyplace else.

Posted by: joe shropshire at July 28, 2005 2:30 PM

why have government at all if not for the pork?

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2005 2:36 PM

[Homer]Mmmmmmmmm. Pork.[/Homer]

Posted by: John Resnick at July 28, 2005 3:21 PM

The energy bill encourages construction of new nuclear power plants, by offering loan guarantees and ''risk insurance'' against regulatory delays, for the units to be built.

It has subsidies and tax breaks for wind, geothermal, and solar industries, and for the development of carbon-capturing and other technologies to help clean up the use of coal in producing electricity.

We have $1.3 billion for conservation and efficiency programmes, including credits for buying hybrid gas-electric cars and energy efficiency improvements in homes.

So far, all good.

However, a provision to require the president to find ways to reduce U.S. oil demand by 1 million barrels a year, by 2025, was abandoned.

It could have been a good PR move to leave the provision in, and meeting that goal is child's play.
It'll happen on its own, no Presidential magic needed, but with the provision in, some future President could have taken credit for meeting the goal, and the current President could point to its inclusion as an environment-saving move by the admin.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at July 29, 2005 3:08 AM