It may be a matter of opinion, but I was a bit disappointed with Wednesday’s Iowa Energy Forum‘s “A Conversation On Energy Luncheon”Â event at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines.Â A similar event was held by the group, which isÂ sponsored by theÂ American Petroleum Institute, last yearÂ (May 25, 2011).Â One might think that an event hosting two sitting US Congressmen (Leonard Boswell-D and Tom Latham-R)Â who happen to be running against each other in this year’s election would be an opportunity to have some real discussion about the issues impacting Iowa and American energy concerns, but compared to last year’s event this was a bit of a yawner.
Last year we got a panel of experts from theÂ Iowa energy industries discussing what’s actually being done to expand the development of various energy technologies, including a strong speech by Governor Terry Branstad, and gobs of data regarding energy production and consumption in Iowa.
This year we got mostly platitudes and commitments to vote for good energy policy.
Both congressmen had an opportunity to speak without hearing the other speak first and then answered a few written audience questions.
Congressman Boswell was rather distracted at firstÂ withÂ pointing outÂ his military record, which was totally irrelevant to the topic, and although he proclaimed support for the Keystone Pipeline he hedged regarding the routing of the pipeline as the only obstacle for approval of Keystone.Â His message is essentially that we need “all of the above” solutions for energy independence, and that we need to upgrade the energy infrastructure including improvements to the electrical grid andÂ expansion of natural gas fuling stations along the major interstates.
BoswellÂ also made a point of discussing the impact of climate change onÂ generalÂ infrastructure… he provided an anecdotal story about someone in Alaska that was showing him a location where the ground was dry and supposedly had 10 feet of ice many years ago.Â His punchline for this was that permanentlyÂ frozen ground did not require digging foundations for supports, but now that areas of the country are losing their permanent frozen ground, those things built on them have to be rebuilt.Â Although I think the topic is worthy of discussion (and I give Boswell credit for not discussing the idea of human causality), I never got the connection to energy independence.Â Maybe I’m slow.
Tom Latham expressed the same support for Keystone sans concerns about the route.Â He made an excellent case for the fact that in the early ’70s, our leaders in Washington said we would never have another oil crisis because we would ensure that we had a fully independent domestic oil resource… but as soon as OPEC opened up the spigot we apparently forgot all that.Â 40 wasted years.
Not only did Latham attack Cap and Trade as ill conceived, he pointed out that the EPA was preparing to release a number of regulations the day after the election, each expected to cost Americans over $100 Billion, modeled after the failed legislation.
Latham also explained that with over $70 Trillion in long-term unfunded liabilities, expanding domestic energy production would bring the government tens of Trillions of dollars to fund those liabilities.
All in all, I appreciate both congressmen taking the time to share their thoughts about energy.Â I would rather (or additionally) had some Iowa specific information provided at the event like last year.Â Although the conversations with the congressmen were somewhat interesting and perhaps relevant to the upcoming election, the fact that the format was specifically non-partisan, non-debate, non-confrontational kept the whole impact very low.Â I’m not really saying it should have been an election showdown… I’m just saying I could have gone to the two candidates web sites to get the total information I got at the forum and used a much smaller part of my day to do it.Â I think this organization would do well to focus on promoting Iowa Energy production and the impact it is having on Iowa and the US.
The food was really good though.Â (grin)
Probably the most interesting conversation happened outside the event while Boswell held his media availability.Â Short version is this: my friend Kevin Hall of The Iowa Republican had the “nerve” to ask the congressman whether he still supports Cap and Trade.Â This set off a firestorm of reaction from Boswell’s staff who could not believe the audacity of a mere “blogger” to represent themselves as “media” and ask the important man from Washington a question that doesn’t need to be asked.
Yes, that really happened.
I don’t want to spend the 10 ‘graphs that I have pent up inside explaining why this topic frustrates me (you’ll get them soon enough).Â It’s not worth the time right now, and keeping this to the “short” version, I just want you to know this was the most childish response I’ve ever heard to a hard question.Â It is to Congressman Boswell’s credit that he did not join in the behavior of his staffers and answered the question.Â You can read the whole story from Kevin here.
Oh, and the congressman said “Yes”.Â Of course he still supports Cap and Trade.
Other commentary and analysis of the forum: Caffeinated Thoughts, The Des Moines Register, and more Des Moines Register.
Photo 1 Â© vencav – Fotolia.com
Photo 2 Â© The Conservative Reader.
Here in Polk County we have a special election coming up to replace State Senator Larry Noble (R-35), who has been appointed to be the new commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safety.Â The special election will be held on January 18th, and Republicans will be holding a nominating convention tonight to select a candidate.Â Democrats will meet to select their candidate on January 3rd.
A few members of the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee (SCC) decided to come out in support of one candidate.Â That story, and some opinion, is well covered by Craig Robinson of The Iowa Republican.Â Also, highlights of all five of the announced candidates for tonight’s convention are found here.
Some of the comments left at The Iowa Republican were from people that don’t see why the public support of a candidate by members of the SCC is a concern.
The answer is hardly black and white on its face.Â I have myself worked to remain neutral during the 2010 primary while serving on Polk County’s GOP leadership team (and I am confident that those county leaders are remaining neutral as they did earlier this year) because it seemed most consistent with my own approach to fairness.
I see two principles of leadership at play here:
- Leaders should lead, which often means providing guidance to those who are being lead when necessary. Â For example, when working through or executing a plan, a leader should be able to articulate what needs to be accomplished, and perhaps how.
- In party politics (as in public elections), leaders should allow those who hold the power to elect (in this case, the convention delegates) and those who are competing with each other for a position to do so in a fair and unfettered manner.
Overt support of a candidate by any members of the SCC is not, on its face, in contradiction with the second principle. However, there are some people who will be swayed by the endorsement and will vote without conducting their own due diligence.Â This may be a fact of life, but I like to encourage people to do some research on their own when possible.
The endorsement may also give the appearance ofÂ favoritismÂ and a sense that perhaps those leaders do not trust the delegates to make a sound decision (or the “right” decision) on their own. Â If nothing else, it can “feel” fettered.
Of greatest concern to me is the impact that leadership endorsements have on other candidates, both those running against the endorsee, and those who may want to run in the future. Â It is unnecessarily demoralizing to a candidate who, if they win the nomination, may not believe the party fully supports their candidacy. Â And those who may consider running in the future could easily believe that they are doomed if they are not hand-picked by party leadership. Â It should be clear how these results can impact the success of the party, which needs qualified candidates who are willing to step up and work hard to win.Â Putting up internal barriers, whether perceived or real, will limit the party’s opportunities and long-term success in recruiting qualified candidates.
I began by identifying two principles, and have not addressed the first one. Â Does the endorsement provide the kind of guidance that, as members of the SCC, is needed by the delegates? Â I submit that it does not (I do not have contra-argument, simply no supporting argument comes to mind), and as such it seems the better side of integrity to avoid the appearance of impropriety and act in a way that will help the party in the long run (candidate development) by remaining neutral while the delegates work their way through this decision.
These SCC members have already hurt themselves and the party, perhaps not grossly, by endorsing a single candidate.Â They should take some time and think about this before acting in a similar fashion in the future.Â They should keep in mind that it’s not about them or their preferred candidate, it’s about the party as a whole.
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I’d like to acknowledge an example of someone who took the opposite approach.Â My friend David Chung, who runs HawkeyeGOP.com, was on the SCC when he decided to support Christian Fong for Governor.Â He resigned from the SCC in order to ensure he did not create a conflict of interest, and because he felt it was important to provide public support for Christian.Â David’s enthusiasm and the opportunities he had to create visibility for Christian, made this a good decision.Â His integrity and care for the party make him a valuable asset to Republicans, and I’m glad that after Christian’s campaign ended he was able to be re-elected to the SCC this year.
I attended the event this evening and while George did not make any comments that sounded like â€œHey, I want to be your next Presidentâ€, this was definitely seemed like a pre-exploratory event. He had some great comments about the current state of affairs, and took questions which I also think he answered well.Â Some in New York (see comments on this post) have speculated about him running for other posts in that state, others have suggested he could be a possible contender for President in 2012. Even if he does not run for anything, he certainly provides a strong sense of some of the things the GOP needs to do to take back the Peopleâ€™s Government.
There were about 90 people at the event tonight, including a number of Republican/Conservative activists that I’ve gotten to know, former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Joseph Heuertz (and other leaders) of the Drake College Republicans, John Bloom, Polk County Republican Chair (along with probably a dozen members of the Polk County Republican Central Committee, one of the sponsors of the event), Steve Rathje, David Van Ahn, Kim Schmett, Ed Failor Jr. (Iowans for Tax Relief), Craig Robinson (The Iowa Republican) and probably a dozen other folks I’m either forgetting or should know.
We would have had a larger group, but the Iowa General Assembly was in session this evening (I hope they actually got something done).
The organization that put on the event was America Future Fund.Â They tout themselves as the conservative answer to moveon.org, and they did an excellent job of arranging this event (future lectures in the series are planned for other locations in Iowa… more info here as it becomes available).Â The group is headquartered here in Iowa, and I believe they were active in 18 states during the 2008 election.Â The Communications Director, Tim Albrecht, runs The Bean Walker, an Iowa version of the Drudge Report.Â Iâ€™ve gotten to know him over the past few months, and he seems like a pretty sharp guy.Â I think this group is worth a close look.
I’m definitely looking forward to future lecture events.Â Regardless of where Pataki is headed, this was a good start to getting conservatives motivated and energized for the 2010 elections.
Two new Iowa web sites have popped up in the past few weeks.
One is The Iowa Republican.Â Craig Robinson founded this site as an alternative to the media content currently available that, especially in Central Iowa, maintains a particularly strong slant to the left.Â Craig managed to also snag Krusty Konservative, Battleground Iowa and Constitution Daily as resident commentary (replacing their former site locations).Â The site has a very professional look, contains valuable content and appears to be a great start to providing valuable and timely news and commentary relevant to those of us who espouse a Republican, and apparently conservative, perspective.
The other is The Bean Walker.Â Tim Albrecht publishes this site that looks a lot like the Drudge Report, only it’s focused on Iowa news.Â The site includes links to web sites for what I think are every known media outlet in the state, including Iowa-based blogs (including The Conservative Reader).Â Also a great approach, good content, and an independent reporting vessel iteself.
Both of these web sites are great additionals to the resources available to Iowans for news and commentary.Â Good luck to both as we all continue to grow the value of the Internet and bring valuable content to Iowans!