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David Gaul
Shelby County Democratic Party Co-Chair

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David Gaul
Donna Clothier
Kathleen Cue


As Seen in the Harlan News-Advertiser October 19th, 2012

Jim Bieker’s tirade against President Obama in his letter last week in the News-Advertiser was nothing more than a regurgitation of the same tired, anti-Obama rhetoric we’ve been hearing now for four years, rhetoric backed up with no proof or hard data.

Let’s start with the one that he started with and which has been a favorite for Obama dissenters for a long time.  Using Mr. Bieker’s own words, “Gas was under $2.00 a gallon when Obama took office, and now it’s almost $4.00.”  Mr. Bieker has forgotten that the average price of gasoline reached $4.12 in July of 2008 when George W. Bush was President, but the more important fact he left out was the collapsing U.S. economy that greeted the President the day he took office. 

Yes, gasoline prices were low that day, but so was the stock market.  The Dow that day closed at 7949.  Gasoline prices that day were a reflection of the abysmal economy Obama had inherited on day one.  When economies shut down, energy prices—particularly those intimately connected with commerce—tend to fall.  Ignoring context, when trying to score cheap political points, is disingenuous.

Mr. Bieker did this again when he wrote, “During his time in office, Obama stopped all off shore oil drilling for a season and allowed no new drilling permits.”  Does he really think all of us have forgotten the BP oil drilling disaster of 2010, the worst such disaster in history? 

Eleven rig workers died.  4.9 million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico.  The National Commission on the disaster concluded, “The “blowout was the product of several individual missteps and oversights by BP, Halliburton, and Transocean, which government regulators lacked the authority, the necessary resources, and the technical expertise to prevent.”  Obama did what any responsible leader would have done.  He temporarily shut down similar operations.  He got the facts.  Corrective action was taken.

Mr. Bieker decries the government’s rescue of General Motors and the introduction of the Chevy Volt.  He writes, “Electricity is made from coal!  Obama closed down five coal plants in Pennsylvania.  So what are these cars supposed to run on???” 

Actually, for the year to date, 36% of our electricity has come from coal, and 31% has come from natural gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  The coal industry is being pressured by historic low prices for natural gas.  Market forces.  Hydraulic fracturing techniques are creating an abundant supply of natural gas that burns cleaner than coal and more efficiently. 

Those coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania are being closed by their parent company, GenOn Energy Inc—not Obama.  They’re older, less efficient plants. The one in Portland, Pennsylvania, was the subject of a New Jersey lawsuit in 2007 that claimed the power plant was sending excessive pollution into New Jersey.  The EPA came down hard on this plant, and Chris Christie, New Jersey’s conservative governor, and his administration have applauded this action by the EPA saying in a press release, “It is a priority of the Christie Administration to improve air quality.  We support the EPA in this challenge for the benefit of air quality in New Jersey and for the health of our residents.”

Mr. Bieker ripped the President over the Keystone Pipeline, a pipeline for carrying bitumen Canadian tar sands crude oil—not North Dakota shale oil—to the Gulf coast for refining and world export.  He didn’t mention that Nebraska ranchers and their governor opposed the pipeline initially; concerned about danger it posed to the Ogallala Aquifer.   His assertion that there “has never” been a leak in a Keystone pipeline is wrong.  21.000 gallons of heavy, bitumen crude leaked out of a Keystone pipeline in North Dakota, on May 7th, 2011—one of twelve leaks in all.  Bitumen crude sinks in water.  A leak in a Canadian pipeline in Kalamazoo, Michigan, leaked 800,000 gallons of bitumen crude into the Kalamazoo River in July of 2010. 
Four years ago this country teetered on the brink of economic collapse.  The auto industry was about to wind up on the scrap heap.  We were fighting two wars.  Osama bin Laden—murderer of thousands of Americans--was still lurking out there.  We were shedding upwards to 700,000 jobs a month.  The stock market had lost nearly half its value, taking with it the value of many of the retirement accounts of Americans.  Nothing was certain as President Obama took office. 

Now, with the exception of the war in Afghanistan, those dire conditions no longer exist.  Obama’s policies saved the economy and turned things around.  We’ve had thirty-one months of job growth with low inflation.  The farm economy is booming.   Obama is a champion of wind energy and bio-fuels—important issues for Iowans.  We are moving in the right direction, despite historic, unprecedented opposition by Republicans in Congress.  These same Republicans complain that the recovery is too slow.  They should know because their intransigence helped to slow it down, but I would remind them and everyone else that slow and steady wins the race.

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User Name: Robert Mortenson   Date: 10/23/12

I think that the harness shops are still busy without the horse cavalry. They are churning out "reality" blinders for the GOP.

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