Las Vegas Sun

January 20, 2018

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Reid speech calls for unity, attacks McCain

Reid: Offshore drilling is 'pure baloney'

Sun Expanded Coverage

(The Sun has gone on the road to listen to voters and talk to political leaders around the West. Reporters have been examining the economic, cultural and demographic forces re-shaping the region as they drove to Denver for the first of the two major party conventions the Sun will cover. This week they are at the Democratic National Convention.)

DENVER -- Here's Sen. Harry Reid's speech. Interesting piece of writing. No one is listening though.

The history of the last hundred years has been a toxic mix of oil and war.

Wars were funded by, impossible without, and usually fought over oil. Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, the Nazi invasion of Russia, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and countless other conflicts have been based in whole or in part on the world’s addiction to oil. Even today, dictators and authoritarians from Venezuela to Russia, from Sudan to North Korea, base their actions—and their power to oppress their citizens and threaten their neighbors—solely on access to or sale of oil on the world market.

Since the turn of the new century, those hard facts have come home to America in the most vicious way. Attacked at home by oil-funded terrorists, at war abroad with oil-funded insurgents, threatened in global markets and faced with acquisition of our industrial base by oil-funded multinationals, we must defend America or face her utter destruction.

If we continue to follow this slippery, oil-slicked, downward-winding path, our citizens will shiver in darkness as our resources hemorrhage to Third World thugs whose only virtue is their control of petroleum-based energy.

These threats are real, they are immediate, and they are potentially overwhelming. And the saddest part, the most terrible irony, is that we finance them every time we pump gas or pay utility bills.

The threats are not new, nor is their solution. President Carter warned us about it in the 1970s when he proposed real solutions—conservation, fuel efficiency, and alternative fuels—to what he correctly named the “moral equivalent of war.” His proposals were ridiculed by Republicans who forgot that both Presidents Nixon and Ford had joined him in calling for America’s energy independence.

That bipartisanship, however, became partisan as this nation entered an era of oil industry dominance when, for the 28 years since 1980 except for the Clinton presidency, former oil industry executives have been president or vice president of the United States and indeed, for the past eight years, have filled both offices at once.

For the past eight years, the man in the Oval Office has tipped his hat over his eyes, kicked back his chair, and snoozed at his desk. Charged with protecting our national interests, he slept on duty while his vice president conspired with oil industry cronies. Tasked with cutting off funding to terrorists, he slept on duty while oil shortages worsened, oil prices soared, and dollars by the ton were delivered to terrorists’ banks in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Faced with a new kind of war, this president and his vice president helped their friends the old-fashioned way: through war profiteering, tax cuts for billionaires, and in many cases out-and-out corruption.

There are honest answers to the problems we face, but they call for hard solutions and common sacrifices, the kind of sacrifices that this administration has only asked the American people to bear when it lined the pockets of the obscenely rich.

There’s an answer, but only if someone will speak truth to power.

There’s an answer, but only if someone will unite Americans to share common burdens to reach common goals.

There’s an answer, but only if someone has the values, the virtues, and the vision to lead us through these troubled waters to that beckoning shore.

There’s an answer. There’s a man. Barack Obama.

Barack Obama is unique. So are we all. Each of us brings to the world our own strengths and weaknesses.

What qualities then, have earned him our support for the highest executive office? Even his opponents agree Senator Obama is smart and thoughtful. His biography proves he’s committed to basic American values like hard work and fair play, and that he is honest and forthright. He articulates a vision of energy independence that is comprehensive and based on sound science and sound policies, science we know will work.

These policies include the answers we discussed at our energy summit in Las Vegas last week: wind, geothermal, and solar power generation and the development of efficient power transmission. Even more importantly, they include conservation measures ignored and indeed ridiculed by the current administration: smarter vehicles, more efficient and accessible mass transit, energy-effective building codes, and retrofitting all have their place in Senator Obama’s vision of an energy-smart America.

But John McCain has a vision too, which in fairness I must address.

When doctors screen out the quack nostrums and phony remedies we call snake oil, they use two fundamental principles: the maxim “first, do no harm” and the question “is it safe and effective?”

In Congress, as in medicine, when we are offered snake oil as a remedy for the nation’s energy ills, our question should be: “Is it safe and effective? Does it do more harm than good?”

Senator McCain and the Republicans have centered their answer to our vital energy needs on one solution: off-shore drilling. Senator McCain calls for it in every speech; his party has demagogued the issue in both houses of Congress.

So, is off-shore drilling energy policy or snake oil? Let’s review the facts. White House analysts, congressional analysts, and the oil industry all agree that off-shore drilling won’t add one drop to our energy pool for at least ten years. The way things are going now, in another ten years we won’t need more oil; nobody will be able to afford it.

T. Boone Pickens said it right: “We can’t drill our way out of this crisis.”

But even if Doc McCain’s magic off-shore oil elixir won’t work, will it do any harm?

The answer is, we just don’t know, and neither does he. It might not ruin tourism in the Gulf or on the California coast. It might not destroy vital fisheries. It might not pollute our waterways.

Nobody really knows. But kindly old Doc McCain would like to sell it to you anyway.

The simple fact is that the promise of more oil isn’t part of the solution; it’s part of the problem. At best this is an 18th century answer to a 21st century crisis; at worst it’s pure baloney.

There are no quick and easy answers here, folks. For over a quarter of a century, the Republicans have sold their magic beans with a promise of a giant beanstalk and gold over the horizon. Look what they’ve done to our country. Look what they’ve done to our planet.

It is time to bring our nation back to reality. It is time for an energy policy that recognizes national security means ending dependence on oil and that the future is about new ideas and change for the better, not snake oil and quackery.

It is time for recognition that threats to our planet are threats to our great country.

It is time to understand that in the long run, indeed in the short run, we must wean ourselves of addiction to oil.

It is time, my friends, to elect Barack Obama as President of the United States.

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