Young Republicans discuss oil drilling

The Madison County Young Republicans had about 60 people attend their  meeting Tuesday night – the topic of discussion was the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the effect on future energy policy.  Several people spoke in support of  ”drill, baby, drill” and there were just a couple who had second thoughts about the technology.  Increasing U.S. nuclear energy capacity was also mentioned a lot.  The consensus seemed to support doing both (drilling and nukes) and then more (biofuels from soybeans, peanuts, and switchgrass).

Points:  land drilling is safest, coastal drilling next safe, deepwater drilling risky.  As we improve our techniques for responsibly exploiting deepwater oil we can help make the industry safer.  No non-Western country cares as much about pollution as US.  Keep in mind that there are areas of Nigeria (and Colombia and Yemen)  that are awash in spilled oil, as much from terrorist (er, militant, er, activist) man-caused disasters as from accidents.  Do you think that India or China or Indonesia have the capability or the will to clean up a spill like Deepwater Horizon?

Another (and greater) source of oil spillage is from tankers.  US coastal shipping is regulated by the Jones Act, which has been used to require double hull tankers (note that the Exxon Valdez had a ‘partial’ double hull).  There is an international plan (MARPOL – International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships) to require all oil tankers to be double-hulled by 2026.  Good luck with that…

The point is that Western countries are better stewards of the Earth and that we can only control our piece of it – we can influence the others but we can’t do it for them.  Still we try.  Did you know that the US is paying for Brazil to develop Brazilian deepwater oil fields?  The rationale is that Brazil would be a more stable and safer trading partner than Middle Eastern countries.    

On Topic Update – here’s the photo release of the Macondo scene:


GULF OF MEXICO – The mobile offshore drilling unit Development Driller III (near) is prepared to drill a relief well at the Deepwater Horizon site May 18, 2010, as the MODU Q4000 holds position directly over the damaged blowout preventer. While the drillship Discover Enterprise (far) continues to capture oil from the ruptured riser, preparations for the possible utilization of  the “top kill” method are being made aboard the Q4000. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley.

Look at the ship in the top center (Enterprise), burning off excess gas in a process known as flaring.  The containment riser feeds into that ship.  The nearest (yellow) rig is the Developmental Driller III, ready to spud the second relief well.  The middle (orange) rig Q4000 is preparing for the top kill method of high speed pumping  concrete mud into the well.


Florida Keys tar balls not linked to Deepwater Horizon – from the Joint Information Center:

The Coast Guard Marine Safety Laboratory in New London, Conn. analyzed a sampling of tar balls discovered on Florida Keys shoreline Tuesday and determined that none of the collected samples are from the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.

A sampling of tar balls discovered on beaches at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Fla., Smathers Beach in Key West, Big Pine Key, Fla., and Loggerhead Key in the Dry Tortugas National Park, Fla. were flown by a Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon jet based in Miami, Fla., to New London, Conn. Tuesday for testing and analysis.

The results of those tests conclusively show that the tar balls collected from Florida Keys beaches do not match the type of oil from the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The source of the tar balls remains unknown at this time.


If that wasn’t enough for a Young Republican meeting, Congressional candidate Les Phillip and Ag Commission candidates John McMillan and Dorman Grace gave brief campaign speeches.

I enjoy hearing Les speak – as I’ve said before – it’s like he’s in my head and I hear my thoughts coming out of his mouth (or thoughts I wish I had).  Phillip said that the US needs nuclear power - noting that the Navy safely runs the largest number of reactors in the world – also noting that France gets 80% (IIRC) of it’s power from nukes.  Phillip said that the most important task before the next Congress was to kill Obamacare, because it is the camel’s nose under the tent to socialism.  Phillip cited the Federal takeover of the student loan industry as an example – originally the feds said that they were just providing competition to the banks – now the Feds control the entire business.   This illustrates what I like about Les, he knows not only that a policy is good or bad, he knows why because he knows the history (NOTE: Mo Brooks is much the same in that respect – I enjoy learning from both of them). 

Google Clement Attlee to see how a socialist didn’t let a crisis (WW2) go to waste and how Britain became a socialist country (hint: national health care).

Ag Commission candidate Dale Peterson might as well have been there – his video, now known nationally as “The greatest political as ever”, certainly had a presence there.  From the comments:

Dale Peterson doesn’t get out of bed in the mornings; he pushes the earth away from him a little.

Dorman Grace and John McMillan both addressed a point made in Peterson’s ad (Grace tried to play it off, saying he’s focused on issues; McMillan reiterated the Ethics claim).  Here’s some background from commenter “Nick”:

Dorman Grace, GOP candidate for the office of Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, has had at least two ethics complaints filed against him…

When contacted, Grace did not deny having received the contributions in question, but said he had just received the letter on Friday from the Ethics Commission informing him of the allegations against him. “We received the letter late Friday,” Grace said. “We’re going through it looking at the situation. I’ve never been in politics before, so we need to go through this. We
will be transparent,” Grace said. When asked if he would return the contributions if they are found to be illegal,
Grace said: “That’s possible. They (the commission) haven’t told us what to do. “Right now, it’s just an allegation. At this point I don’t have enough information. We have a week to respond, which we will do. “We’ve raised money all over the state. We’ll go back now and look at everybody,” Grace said.

More candidates:

Representative (and Marine) Howard Sanderford (incumbent candidate House 20),  Senate 8 candidate Shad McGill, Senate 2 candidate (and Marine) Bill Holtzclaw, House 20 candidate David Pinkleton, HSV City Council candidate Jon Hitt, and HSV City Council candidate James Lomax.

UAH Congressional Forum

From the “Consortium of Students for Justice and Liberty”:

A Republican Congressional Forum will take place on Monday, April 12, 2010 at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The hosting organization, The Consortium of Students for Justice and Liberty, is inviting the public to attend this free of charge event. North Alabama’s 5th Congressional District candidates, Mo Brooks, Parker Griffith, and Les Phillip have confirmed their participation in this event. The Consortium of Students for Justice and Liberty, an association of middle and high school students, will solicit questions for the forum from organizations around town and from several area schools. This is not an opportunity to protest, but instead a time to listen and hear what the candidates have to say.

The forum will be held in the University Center/Admissions Building on the UA Huntsville Campus. The doors will be opened to the public at 6:30pm with the program beginning at 6:45pm. The forum will begin at 7:00pm and end at 9:00pm. A straw poll will be taken and the results will be announced at the end of the forum. Members of the media are invited to attend and are welcome to collect questions from throughout the community and then submit them to the pool of questions for the candidates.

I’m not familiar with The Consortium of Students for Justice and Liberty, can someone tell us about the group?

Huntsville Tea Party AL05 surveys

The Huntsville Tea Party posted questionnaire responses from Mo Brooks, Parker Griffith, and Les Phillip.  The questions include:

1. Why are you running for office?
2. Is it better to have individual or collective rights?  Why?
3. What is the role of our federal government?
4. Does Congress have few and defined powers, or numerous and indefinite?  What powers will you have as a lawmaker in Washington DC, if you are elected? 
5. Will you vote for or support any bills that are not derived from a specific power granted in the US Constitution?
6.  Will you champion an effort to repeal passed legislation that is unconstitutional (i.e., federal bailouts, legislation that gives the federal government more control over our health care)?  Do you have a specific plan of action for repealing this type of legislation, and, if so, what is it?
7. Do you agree with the following quote?  “With respect to the two words ‘general welfare’, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them.  To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators”.  How do you interpret the general welfare clause (Article 1, section 8.1)?
8.  How do you interpret the commerce clause (Article 1, section 8.3)?
9.  What are your solutions for job growth in Alabama?
10.  What do you see as the proper balance between what the Federal government should do and what should be left to the states?
11. What will you do to balance the United States’ budget?
12.  What will you do to protect our borders and eliminate illegal immigration into our country?
13. What will you do to help America become energy-independent?
14. Will you commit to meeting with the Huntsville Tea Party for a town hall with your constituents during your first year, if elected?
15.  Candidate-specific questions…

Great questions with informative responses!  The Tea Party interjects comments after some of the responses – the whole set makes for interesting reading.

What would Jesus do – Tea Party

I attended the Health Care Tea Party downtown on Wednesday, Nov 4.  Patricia McCarter of The Huntsville Times wrote “People protest against – and for – government-run health care”:

On the north side of Clinton Avenue stood 75 people protesting an expansion of government in health care.

On the south side of the street stood a dozen people protesting what those protesters were protesting about because they support an entirely government-run health insurance system.

On one side there were Conservatives and Patriots resisting un-Constitutional Government takeover of the health care industry, on the other side there were self-described Socialists (Linda Haynes) supporting Obamacare and Obamunism.

Some leftie Christian Socialists like to carry signs saying “What Would Jesus Do?”  or using Bible quotes implying that Christians should support Government-run health care (remember that the ends justify the means for Marxists).

What Would Jesus Do?  Christians know that God in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament healed multitudes of people.  Jesus even gave healing power to his disciples.  But He didn’t cure everybody, even though He could have (as an omnipotent supreme being).

What Would Jesus Do?  In an extreme health-care-related example, Jesus raised the dead.  But not all of them – even though He could have.

I don’t know why Jesus decided to heal some people and not others, or why He raised some dead people but not others. But what is clear is that Jesus didn’t practice a system of health care for all.  To paraphase what he did say:

The poor you have with you always, now let Me enjoy my foot massage…


I spoke with a guy who is a long-time friend of Congressional candidate Les Phillip.  He described Phillip as ‘a rusty bayonet shoved into the guts of Socialism’.  Wow, I really enjoy meeting new people, if only to be able to pass along vivid expressions like that.

Les Phillip Decatur Health Care Town Hall

From the Les Phillip for Congress campaign:

Republican Les Phillip, candidate for Congress will hold a Town Hall meeting on healthcare this Tuesday at 6:30 PM at Wilson Morgan/Adventure Park Pavilion in Decatur.  The public will be invited to express their opinions and concerns about the pending healthcare bill before Congress.


Les Phillip remarked, “Our town hall meeting in Huntsville was such a success that our campaign was asked to hold others across the district.  This is a chance for voters in the Decatur area to be engaged in the national discussion on healthcare reform.”

Les Phillip health care town hall

More than 200 people attended a standing-room-only Health Care Town Hall with AL05 GOP Congressional candidate Les Phillip.  Phillip was joined on stage by Ed Henry (candidate for State House District 9 and cardiac CT specialist) and General Jim Link (Phillip’s Campaign Chairman).  Dale Jackson of WVNN 770AM / 92.5 FM emceed the event.

Challen Stephens of the Huntsville Times (ed. – Update) wrote “Phillip defends ‘best’ health care”:

After audience comments, from either side, Phillip would respond. He often shared his personal philosophy.

He stood by free market’s ability to shape health care. “Competition has worked every place we’ve tried it in our economy.”

He called for tort reform to keep down malpractice costs. Attorneys “will take any case to try to exploit a tragedy.”

He said it’s not fair to “transfer wealth” through tax-backed health care, suggesting that nonprofits receive tax breaks to care for the poor.

The provision of health care isn’t in the Constitution, he said often. “The government should only be in the business of removing impediments to business.”

Vinnie Blandin of WHNT also covered the event.

Unlike what we’ve been seeing on TV, the event wasn’t particularly rowdy.  I’d say about 90% of the crowd was GOPish.  The only semi-rowdy guy (who extolled the advantages of the Cuban health care system)  wasn’t a Democrat either (he dislikes Parker Griffith).  And there was another guy, who wasn’t really rowdy, just strident in his insistence that Phillip was mischaracterizing everything.

Phillip began by asking the crowd if anyone supported the Obama health insurance reform plan, and then immediately called on those who raised their hands for their rationale for supporting it.  I thought that was a smart move – ensuring that opposing views got heard.

Phillip then spoke about the health care reforms he supported:  allowing interstate competition of health insurers to reduce cost and raise quality, making insurance people-based instead of employer-based, tort reform to reduce malpractice costs, and health savings accounts.

Dale Jackson then took the microphone around the room for the Q&A session.  Phillip and Henry answered the questions to the crowd’s satisfaction and applause, and questioners with opposing viewpoints got to have a dialogue with Phillip and Henry.  Dale did a good job of balancing the time available and ensuring that as many questions as possible were answered.  A common theme was taking personal responsibility.  Phillip and Henry stayed after the event for about 30 minutes to speak with people.

I usually take extensive notes, but not this time, so I won’t list all the Qs and As.   Some of the people I recognized were Ralph Timberlake (opposing view – I’ve seen him at City Council meetings – and often agree with him there) and one of my favorites, Jackie Reed (supporting view).

However, I do want to comment on what happened after the event:  I got to meet Dave Driscoll – noted local businessman and Democrat.  We talked a bit about his Flashpoint comments from a few weeks back, then about politics and blogging, then mostly about Huntsville.  I asked him if anything we’d written was untrue (he said we had a difference of political opinion) and I asked him to be sure to correct us if he ever read anything that wasn’t right.  This is a personal habit of mine – I can’t stand to be wrong – not that I’m never wrong, but I prefer to have my wrongness corrected, so that I can learn.  Anyway, Driscoll is a nice guy and I enjoyed meeting him.

I want to mention again that Ed Henry is running for Alabama State Representative in District 9, over in Morgan County.  He handled himself extremely well during the Q&A and of course he knows a lot about health care.  The seat is currently held by Ronald Grantland (D).

MORE:  I didn’t have time last night to post what I think of as the best part of last night’s event.  I was able to join Les Phillip, some of his campaign staff, and Dale Jackson after the event.  Les was gracious enough to answer one of my more pressing questions:  “What is your favorite dish to cook?”   I ask that question because 1) I’m a foodie, 2) it reminds us that there is more to life than politics, and 3) it draws out a good personal story.

Les did not disappoint, he told us about preparing Thanksgiving dinner and drew hearty laughter (and knowing comments) from the table when he said his wife and kids preferred cranberry sauce from the can.  His favorite dish to cook: a macaroni salad with lots of cheese recipe that he learned from his father – which Les makes for Thanksgiving along with the rest of a traditional dinner.

GOP 5th District Meeting – 11 AUG 2009

I attended the 5th Congressional District Republican Committee meeting tonight, held at the ‘new’ Greenbrier (Berzett’s).  I saw commenters StatsMan and Professor Tom, and just for StatsMan’s benefit I’ll mention that I had the small pork plate with slaw (excellent) and fried okra (I love fried okra).  Professor Tom says I seem younger on the Internet, so I think I’ll move here. 

I went mostly for an excuse to eat at Greenbrier, plus I wanted to see grassroots politics in action, and maybe even see the GOP candidates for Congress.

Sure enough, both Mo Brooks and Les Phillip were there, and I had the pleasure of sitting with fellow history geek Les (he likes Rome and WW2 in Europe).  For real, I have the opportunity to talk with a guy who might be our future Congressman, and we talk about Roman history.

I also had the pleasure of meeting some Facebook friends from Florence in real life – which was pretty cool – I was late getting onboard FB but it is a vital tool for politickin’.  The Lauderdale GOP recommended that each County organization get on Facebook and get some fans (I’m a fan!).

The meeting part was as boring as you’d expect from roll calls and approving old minutes and treasurer reports, but it was interesting to hear from people representing all the counties in the 5th District.

Brooks and Phillip got two minutes each for quick speeches: Mo’s speech focused on his experience, Les’ speech focused on his leadership. Both candidates made good speeches, with touches of greatness at times.  Mo resonates with his track record as an elected official and seasoned campaigner.  Les resonates with his military service and business experience (plus he mentioned bringing the well-respected General Jim Link on as his Campaign Chairman).  This is going to be a fun race for me, but it’s going to be tough on those guys.

Les Phillip Health Care Town Hall

From the Les Phillip for Congress campaign:

Republican Les Phillip, candidate for Congress will hold a Town Hall meeting on healthcare this Wednesday night from 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM at The Heart Center on Franklin Street.  The public will be invited to express their opinions and concerns about the pending healthcare bill before Congress.

Les Phillip remarked, “I want to hear from the citizens about one of the most important issues facing our country. I believe our elected officials should not forget who they work for.”

Les Phillip is a Republican candidate for Congress in the 5th district which is currently held by Democrat Parker Griffith.  The campaign recently announced that Retired General Jim Link, former Commander of Redstone Arsenal and President of Teledyne Brown would serve as Campaign Chairman.

Les Phillip set the tempo

Challen Stephens of the Huntsville Times wrote “Phillip: Huckabee worth the expense” (which was a story worth paying for, so I bought a copy of the paper).

Phillip, a Republican, plowed about $53,000 into his opening gambit, a fundraiser at the Von Braun Center. Most of that money came out of his own pocket, and most of it went straight to Mike Huckabee, the former Republican presidential contender and current TV commentator.

“My main focus was bringing someone in for an event to get my name out there,” Phillip said recently. “People know me now – people who wouldn’t have known me at all.

Les Phillip received an endorsement for Congress from Governor Mike Huckabee.  Huckabee won the 2008 Presidential Primary in Alabama with 41% of the primary vote (to McCain’s 37% and Romney’s 18%), so picking up an endorsement from Huckabee can’t hurt. Phillip earned lots of TV and newspaper press by bringing Huckabee to Huntsville - but raised questions about the cost of the event – Phillip replies:

“Let them keep thinking the conventional way, that’s fine,” Phillip said of questions raised by Brooks and conservative bloggers.

Phillip may have planned the event in part to draw out competitors like Mo Brooks (or scare them off – either way he ‘prepared the battlespace’):

Phillip said Huckabee’s appearance not only increased his contacts and name recognition, but also had the benefit of luring Brooks into the race months early.

“That’s an unusual thought process,” Brooks said. “Most people would prefer not to have opposition.”

But Brooks acknowledged that the Huckabee event “did force me to expedite my thinking process, no question.” Brooks, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2006, has yet to report any fundraising activity.

By holding the Huckabee event early, Phillip got inside Brooks’ decision loop and set the tempo of the primary.

I find it interesting that both Brooks and Phillip strategize things like this (they really do!).  This will be a great GOP primary – we’ve got two outstanding candidates – but there can be only one…