- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Refining politics

“After Hurricane Katrina temporarily knocked out 30 percent of America’s oil refinery capacity and caused gasoline prices to spike, it became dramatically obvious that the nation needed to build more refineries away from the vulnerable Gulf Coast.” John Fund writes at www.opinion journal.com.

“But when a bill to streamline the permitting process and provide incentives to build refineries on closed military bases was headed for the Senate floor, Sen. Lincoln Chafee [Rhode Island Republican] joined with every Democrat on the Senate Environment Committee and blocked the bill,” Mr Fund said.

“Mr. Chafee says he opposed the bill only because it lacked provisions to develop alternative fuels and raise fuel-economy standards, although he offered no amendments to that effect. But even if conservation takes center stage in the future, existing energy sources must be expanded now before the economy’s health is jeopardized. A just published report by the New England Energy Alliance warns that ‘energy shortages could be acute soon — by 2010 at the latest’ if policy-makers in the region don’t act aggressively.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Chafee and other senators appear more concerned about fending off the aggressive criticism of the green lobby. Mr. Chafee’s spokesman noted there is strong local opposition in Rhode Island to using two shuttered military bases to add refinery capacity.

Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, chairman of the Environment Committee, says he personally urged Mr. Chafee to back his bill, noting that the nation hasn’t built a new refinery since 1976. ‘He sweats a lot,’ Mr. Inhofe told Human Events, referring to his fellow Republican’s re-election battle next year. ‘He said, “I just can’t do that. I have to win that election. Right now, I have a perfect record with the environmentalists.”’

“Mr. Inhofe then approached some committee Democrats who he knew were under pressure from home-state businesses to vote for the bill. They rebuffed him too. Noting that a House-passed bill to streamline refinery permitting also failed to get even one Democratic vote, Mr. Inhofe concludes the nation’s refinery policy is now being held hostage to partisan politics. ‘In the next election, high gas prices will be one of the Democrats’ big campaign issues.’”

Disaster envy

Congress hasn’t given the same attention and aid to states slammed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as it did to New York after September 11 because the storms didn’t spark as much patriotism as the 2001 terror attacks did, Louisiana’s economic development chief said yesterday.

In an interview with the Associated Press, state Economic Development Secretary Michael J. Olivier called Congress’ response to terrorism very different “from an act of God” like a hurricane. “I guess it’s different because it was such a patriotic deal,” said Mr. Olivier, who was in Washington to attend a meeting of rebuilding and economic-recovery officials from the Gulf Coast.

Mr. Olivier would not say precisely how much federal aid Louisiana will need to rebuild New Orleans and other devastated parts of the state, but said it could range between $100 billion and $200 billion and take a decade to complete.

That’s up to 10 times more than the $20 billion pledged by President Bush and approved by Congress to help New York rebuild after the September 11 attacks.

“But it’s 10 times the area also,” Mr. Olivier said. “So, the magnitude has to be measured.”

So far, Congress has approved $62 billion in disaster-relief aid for victims of Katrina, which hit Aug. 29, and Rita, which struck on Sept. 24.

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee announced yesterday it will meet in New Orleans in April as a way to express confidence in the city’s future.

Challenge on the left

A former Green Party member who advocates an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq says he will challenge New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2006 Democratic primary.

“She’s in favor of the war and in favor of continuing the occupation,” Steven Greenfield, a professional saxophone player, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview from his New Paltz, N.Y., home.

A senior adviser to Mrs. Clinton, Howard Wolfson, declined to comment on Mr. Greenfield’s declaration.

Mrs. Clinton voted to give President Bush the power to go to war, and while she has been critical of his conduct of the effort, she has stopped short of calling for a troop withdrawal.

Mr. Greenfield, 44, who has a degree in economics, switched to the Democratic Party just last month so he could challenge Mrs. Clinton. He says he likely will need 15,000 petition signatures statewide to get on the September ballot.

In 2002, as a Green Party candidate, Mr. Greenfield challenged Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey, New York Democrat. Mr. Greenfield received fewer than 3,000 votes, compared with Mr. Hinchey’s more than 113,000.

Crossing the line

“Anti-American left-wing lunatic Ted Rall was not content with depicting the U.S. military as rapists, pedophiles and idiots. In his latest piece of artwork, Rall portrays Iraq war veterans as torturers and domestic abusers,” Robin Boyd writes at www.newsbusters.org.

Mr. Rall’s cartoon, “Sex Lives of Iraq War Vets,” published Saturday, “shows the veterans torturing their girlfriends and the girlfriend’s parents Abu-Ghraib style. The final frame shows a vet dropping bombs on his girlfriend’s home in response to a break-up,” Mr. Boyd said.

“This latest attempt to undermine our military comes on the heels of Rall’s cartoon depicting U.S. soldiers in Iraq as rapists and pedophiles. Ted Rall’s drawings and his hate Bush rants are distributed by Universal Press Syndicate. Rall’s work is distributed to over 140 media outlets including the New York Times, the L.A. Times and the San Jose Mercury News. Yahoo.com also publishes Rall’s editorials as part of its opinion section. There is no mention of [Al Jazeera] being a subscriber to Rall’s far left editorials.

“The time for tolerating such overt hatred of America and our military has reached midnight. There comes a time when dissent and freedom of speech cross the boundaries of decency and respect. Rall crossed that line a long time ago, but the media still pays to distribute his ‘I hate the military’ editorials.”

Operator X’d out

A CNN switchboard operator was fired over the holiday after the operator claimed the “X” placed over Vice President Dick Cheney’s face was “free speech,” Matt Drudge reports at www.drudgereport.com.

“We did it just to make a point. Tell them to stop lying, Bush and Cheney,” the CNN operator said to a caller. “Bring our soldiers home.”

The caller initially phoned the network to complain about the all-news channel flashing an “X” over Mr. Cheney as he gave an address live from Washington, Mr. Drudge said.

“Was it not freedom of speech? Yes or No?” the CNN operator asked, adding: “If you don’t like it, don’t watch.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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