In case you're being serious, my point is that if demonstrably profitable businesses like the oil companies are clamoring for leases, that's because they expect to make big profits from those leases. They understand that buying leases from us and selling oil to us is great business because of how little we charge for leases and how much we pay for gasoline.
The bigger point is that not every large enterprise has to be a business. The US military does not try to turn a profit. A large-scale effort to extract oil from under the OCS, or ANWR, or any other territory belonging to we the people could be organized as a government agency, like the Pentagon. If we the people decide that our oil is important to drill out of our lands, we can set up our own 'company' to do it for us. We the people get the oil and the profits.
If that seems like too much fuss and bother, we have an alternative: charge enough for the leases, and enough of a royalty, so that oil companies can turn a decent profit and nothing more. Their lust for drilling is evidence that, under current leasing rules, they expect obscene profits. If merely decent profit were on the table, they might have decided it's not worth buying John McCain, for instance.
The fact is, Republicans are not interested in providing cheap oil to Americans, except by providing huge profits for their oil-industry backers. Otherwise, they might give at least passing mention to the notion of 'non-profit' drilling.
Seriously: the US is a nation with sovereignty over a certain territory, so the US 'owns' oil and minerals buried under that territory. But a nation is a people, not just (and sometimes not even) a territory. So doesn't the oil belong to 'we the people'?
Of course, in an important sense, oil doesn't actually belong to anybody while it's sitting underground, any more than it benefits anybody (seller or buyer) while it sits underground. Above ground, it's a valuable commodity. Getting it above ground is a valuable service.
So let's say you have geologic soundings that indicate a large box of diamonds is buried deep under your front lawn, doing nobody any good. You have at least two options:
1. Hire an excavating firm. You pay them for their work. You own the box after they dig it out. The diamonds are yours to sell or to use.
2. Sell digging rights to a diamond dealer. You get some money up front. The dealer owns the box if he can find it. He gets to sell you the diamonds.
As I understand it, 'we the people' pretty much follow the second approach with respect to oil under public territory. We don't hire Halliburton to extract the oil for us; we sell Exxon the right to extract the oil for themselves.
Not that the Obama campaign listens to me, but now that Saint John McCain has chosen to exploit, for political purposes, America's sweethearts Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, perhaps Obama can exploit a couple of things himself:
This 2003 interview in which a gum-chewing pre-headshave Britney tells a still-bowtied Tucker Carlson that
Honestly, I think we should just trust our President and support any decision he makes and be faithful to what happens.
The relevant bit is between 2:55 and 3:40 in the clip, if you wish to minimize nausea and other side-effects. McCain attempted to portray Barack as an airhead like Britney. It would be, like, totally fair to point out that Britney is indeed an airhead, but she's a REPUBLICAN.
And the Obama campaign ought to print up a million bumper stickers that say
John McCain thinks
Needs another tax cut
The GOP is forever protecting American values from Hollywood sleaze by ... giving tax cuts to Hollywood celebrities! Making sure that Paris Hilton inherits daddy's money tax free is the Republican version of down-home values.
I would not normally recommend picking on poor, defenseless blonde bimbettes in a political campaign, but since McCain opened the door ...
If we learned nothing else in 2004, we should have learned that no attack is so beneath contempt as to be unworthy of response. For one thing, pretending you're not aware of your opponent's scurrilous attacks is a good way to appear 'out of touch'. But reacting with indignation, even when indignation is fully justified, lends credibility to the attacks -- at least in the minds of 'low-information' voters.
So I say that Obama's best response is to LAUGH at McCain's desperation. Stay cool, don't overdo it, but laugh. Ask the voters, with a bemused chuckle, "Can you believe John McCain really expects you to fall for this crap?" Doubtless Obama can say that more eloquently than I have, but that's the right message to convey.
Naturally, there are people who WILL fall for that crap, because they're predisposed to. Those people will feel that Obama is laughing at THEM. But Obama is never going to win the Stupid Vote, so he should not try. He will do much better by inviting not-Stupid voters to improve their self-esteem by laugh down their nose at McCain and McCain's target audience.
Would someone please educate me? I thought the idea behind public financing is that you get taxpayer money to run for President in return for CAMPAIGN SPENDING LIMITS.
McCain belched so much hot air denouncing Obama's opt-out that it seems unlikely he will opt out himself. So his campaign, like his salary all his life, will be funded by tax money. What is he raising money for? His "primary" campaign?? And what good does it do him to raise private money if opting in to public financing means he can't spend it?
I remember than SNL episode. McCain was the "host". Usually, non-showbiz celebrities hosting SNL get by with one or two roles in the skits, often playing more-or-less themselves. Not John McCain. He was in about five skits, playing a variety of characters (drunken Irish poet was my personal favorite), and doing them extremely well. Although I disliked McCain the politician even back then, I was impressed with McCain the actor.
One way to look at this is that John McCain missed his calling by going to Washington instead of to Hollywood after recovering from Vietnam. He is a better actor than Ronald Regan was.
The other way to look at it is that a talent for acting is a doubtful quality in a man running for president as a "straight talker". If you know that a man can fake sincerity, how much can you really trust him?
Weekly town hall debates would be the ultimate "reality TV". As a summer series, it would be a ratings blockbuster. The broadcast networks would bid against each other for the right to cover it. It would be the C-Span version of American Idol.
As a Democrat and Obama supporter, I don't worry about how Barack would fare. He has certainly demonstrated, recently, his joyfull willingness to rhetorically whip McCain's lightly freckled ass. And I don't worry about giving McCain too much air time. Sometimes, the best way to make your opponent look foolish is to let him talk.
I would insist, nevertheless, that there be no "moderator" -- only a chess clock. Each contestant gets an hour total to talk. Audience members to be selected by lot. Audience questions to be pre-recorded. Each contestant gets to play any audience question he wants -- on his own time. Runner-up gets a lovely dinette set.
Voting "present" on abortion legislation as a parliamentary maneuver is one thing. Voting "aye" to authorize Dick and Dubya's Excellent Adventure in Iraq is another thing. We can argue which was a worse thing, if you like.
But it might be more productive to argue about health insurance. Specifically, which is more important to you: the insurance or the mandate? That is, will you be happy if everybody who wants health insurance is guaranteed an affordable policy? If Obama can make that happen, will you still insist on a mandate?
Hillary should certainly continue to speak for her supporters, but WHAT DO THEY WANT? Aside from a President Hillary rather than a President Barack, I mean. Anybody is entitled to want anything, of course, but I would feel better if I knew what Hillary's supporters want that they don't believe Barack will deliver.
The main thing that comes to my mind is a personal mandate on health care. I happen to think that Hillary is right on that one: "universal health care" is the flip side of the "universal health insurance" coin. But is that what it really boils down to?
As we count up possible Dems in the Senate after the election, are we overlooking the fact that at least one Democratic Senator will probably be President next year, and a second one possibly Vice President? Just asking :-)
I am an Obama supporter, but anyone who cares to can verify that I am not a Hillary hater. Always and forever, I've said I will vote for the Democrat in November, period.
Furthermore, I agree with Paul Krugman's critique of Obama's plan: you can't get universal health care unless you mandate universal participation in health insurance.
Still, I want Barack to get the nomination. I want to see 4 years of Obama in the White House, with Hillary leading the charge for health insurance reform in the Senate. If she, and Ted Kennedy, and a few other heavyweight Dems put their backs into it, we will get a meaningful health program -- and a President Obama will happily sign it into law. I do not for a minute believe that Obama would resist a "universal mandate" if Teddy and Hillary can push it through the Senate. I do not for a minute believe that Obama is less committed than Hillary to eliminating the horrors we're discussing here.
I do Hillary the honor of taking her to be sincere on three points:
She really does care about the plight of people like the woman in her story.
She really did believe it was a good idea to give Dick and Dubya a blank check on Iraq.
She really does believe that Barack Obama has not crossed the "Commander in Chief" threshold.
It's because I think she is sincere on 2) and 3) that I do not want her to be our nominee. The ability to tell a touching story on 1) is all well and good, but it is no more significant than "lofty rhetoric" about "hope" and "change". I am not a cynic, but neither am I a sentimentalist. Neither Barack nor Hillary deserves our nomination. Either one will be miles better than McCain in the White House. But I do hope we elect the Democrat who never once hinted that McCain would be better, on anything, than the other Democrat.
Ohio going Democratic in November is a good thing, though your crystal ball explicitly does not tell us how many campaign resources an Ohio victory will soak up. On that basis alone, I would vote for Obama, since he seems able to raise more money.
There are good reasons to wish for a President Hillary: it would make Rush Limbaugh's head explode, despite his current protestations to the contrary; it would not preclude an Obama presidency in the future; and she might, possibly, be better at smacking down Republican obstructionism in the Congress.
Against these, however, we have the indisputable fact that she voted for the Iraq War. She says she did not actually vote forwar, but that makes her misjudgement all the worse. Voting for a straight declaration of war would have been less offensive (to the Constitution as well as to common sense) than voting to give Dick and Dubya a blank check. The war has cost rich Republicans nothing, so every bit of the economic damage it has done falls on everybody else. I am sure Hillary is sincere about wanting to end the occupation of Iraq, if only to free up money for social programs. But it's just not plausible that she is more willing to end the occupation than Barack is. And it's a steady will that's needed, not some snap decision at 3:00 AM.