As I was doing research for and representing Ralph Nader, I kept on asking myself one question: “WHY IS HE RUNNING?”

Ralph Nader was born in 1934, which makes him 74 this year. If one of people’s isssues about McCain has to do with his age (72), Nader definitely is disadvantaged–he is two years older than McCain. Not only is his age disadvantageous, there are other factors that are against him. He is an independent candidate this year, without any support from a party. He also has been very vague and ambiguous about a lot of his proposals, which left people wondering and even doubting the feasibility of many of his claims. Also, it is clear that the public interest is no way near Nader. Most people do not even know he is running for president; he does not appear in any newspaper articles, magazines, tv programs, etc.

Then why is he running? People say that he is running to “make a statement.” Well, after his controversial role in presidential election eight years ago, I felt as if he made the biggest statement a third party candidate can ever make in history; I see it as one of the golden moments of Nader’s political life. But… why this come back that people know will not compare to his impact eight years ago?

Personally, I learned to appreciate Nader in a different light through this mock-press conference. I do see that he has no burning personal ambition or prize he wants to gain through the election. However, in this intricate web of politics, what is he after? What does he want to see?

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All the candidates’ representatives talked about their policies on the issue of energy including American independence from foreign oil, improving transportation technology, cleaner alternative fuels, and energy efficiencies.  Funding of these policies were only brushed upon during our mock press conference.  No in-depth information was given by any of the representatives on how the federal government will be able to fund their respective ideas and policies.  Even after the financial debacle, it seems that the federal government still knows how to spend money, and a clear example of their spendthrift personality is the federal governments ‘double-edged sword’ bailout plan of $700 billon to buy up troubled mortgage investments previously held by fallen insurance giants and banks such as American International Group (AIG).

After all this where will the government leech from to fund its energy policies?  Should I remind you about our national debt?  According to the national debt counter, United States’ deficit is a fourteen digit figure, over $10 trillion. According to Associated Press, The $700 billion government bailout could send the national debt to more than $11 trillion.

Now I ask all the representatives, after hearing this how will their candidates fund their energy policies without drastically increasing the national debt.  Got Funds?

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Even though I represented Palin in the class debate, I have to admit that Palin’s policies on energy are too vague and general to actually produce substantial benefits in our time of energy crisis. Drilling in ANWR will absolutely not solve energy problems in the U.S. The drill, drill, drill attitude seems as if it will truly only benefit Alaska. The expert knowledge on energy that McCain claimed Palin to have is mostly limited to the state she governs. Palin has put great emphasis on energy independence, which is an ideal for this country. However, the way in which Palin plans to go about energy independence comes short of ideal, very short. Palin has presented the option of drilling in our lands to use the natural resources we have in an attempt to be independent of foreign suppliers. She defended drilling saying that drilling helps something, even if it cannot solve everything. It seemed that Palin runs her policies on defense. 

Barbara had mentioned my answering of reporter’s questions, some that Palin has failed to answer herself. I found great difficulty in representing Palin. Probably the only aspect of this energy crisis that I can full agree with Palin on is that the country should try to raise their energy independence. Besides that, I felt that Palin’s policies could only be defended and not explained. The notion of drilling mainly in Alaska does not offer the grand solution she makes it out to be. In addition, Palin’s extreme lack of emphasis on alternative energy sources causes even greater speculation of a woman who, if elected with McCain, is expected to be the nation’s overseer on energy policy.

Now this does not mean that Palin remains the only candidate without a solution. I agree with Evan and Lisa that none of the candidates seem to have a solid solution. Even with the numerous policies on energy that they present in their debates and campaigns, we must realize that most of it is talk. I don’t wish to be completely pessimistic, but the promises that these candidates make about fixing our energy crisis in ten years or so do not hold any true substance. We cannot easily believe that these policies will just go into effect or effect much in general. 

On a lighter note, I was trying to add a video to this entry, but I can’t seem to get it to work. So I will just try to post the link to it instead. Hope you enjoy.–palin-open

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Sarah Palin Debate Flow Chart

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It seems that our class is at the forefront of what is going on in politics. Of course we knew this when we had Robin introduce us to the class, but after seeing both the VP debate a few weeks ago and the second Presidential Debate today on Youtube, for the first time in my life I feel that a class I am taking has relevance in my life. I am not saying I will not use my trusty math or science skills, but after researching for the energy policy debate I feel like I know things that are going on now, and how these plans will affect the future.

One interesting note I want to make is that while watching the second Presidential debate, I noticed that Presidential candidates were actually serious about energy (as opposed to the Bush administration that did practically nothing for the environment - thanks old pal). When asked on how we could help solve the financial crisis (which is for a whole other blog) Obama stated one of his first solutions will be to stop spending so much money on oil and giving it to countries while we can use it here. He constantly stressed renewable energy and even mentioned spending and investing money on energy (which could of been risky since this might be interpreted as deficit spending). McCain did mention renewable energy, but like Stephen and Jacky told the class, he was very vocal in his pro-drilling approach. I felt while the candidates were talking about their policy that they were both clear and very similar to what we talked about in class. Everyone in class did awesome researching!

On another note, sorry to rant, I have to mention Sara Palin. Thank you Mary for trying to answer questions about energy that Palin herself was not able to answer. In the VP debate she did claim to be the expert on energy, but all she really had to offer, like Mary and the reporters pointed out, was drilling. What do you think her motive for destroying wildlife in her own state to get oil that could be only of a fraction of what Americans consume? I would guess that her motive is money and all the jobs it would create in her hometown of Alaska… It seems that Obama and Badin have a more focused energy plan on getting renewable energy out there, while McCain just wants to harvest our resources.

I feel that energy will be a very important part of the election, and I was glad I could actually follow along with these debates after doing my research.

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The 2008 candidates in this election have serious gaps in their energy policies. The lack of knowledge in science is evident. For example, Sarah Palin’s policy is vague in many areas, even though she is presumably the expert on energy policy compared to the other candidates. The blasted media really gets you going with Palin. Coupled with John McCain’s views for energy independence, Sarah Palin has spoken passionately about domestic oil drilling to lessen America’s dependence on oil. Although Palin says that she supports research and development of new alternative resources, her plan to drill oil seem to overshadow any plans that she or Senator McCain have to convert America to more renewable energy resources. In four or eight years, I doubt that we will have enough renewable energy resources to power our homes and cars.

More Oil, less R&D?
Palin does not have a grasp on promoting renewable energy. Does she support protection of the environment? It’s all in the short term—how long is that short term oil drilling plan of her’s is my question? And, what exactly is going to happen if more land is given to major oil companies? Will there be any regulation on how the companies influence the price of oil?

Also, I wanted to ask the following about McCain. Even though I did not get a chance to bring this up, why doesn’t Senator McCain support funding for research and development of plug-in hybrid technology? What is a challenge going to do to spur the development of technology?

More R&D, less oil?
Fast forward to Senator Biden and Senator Obama, we notice that their energy policy focuses more on long-term R&D. They do not support oil drilling, sharing fears that our addiction to oil will devastate our non-renewable resources. The plan includes a charge, a “use it or lose it” penalty, that oil companies will incur if they do not drill on lands leased to them already. A great point was raised in saying that the idea actually forces companies to drill in order to make profits. They will lose their lands, which in turn results in a profit loss, if they do not drill on domestic land.

The lack of practicality in Nader’s plan almost seems as though he has given up. His plans are not well thought out. There is no short-term solution to the energy crisis. Yes, he has been a staunch advocate for renewable energy, but, realistically speaking, there is no way that we can turn America into an alternative fuel source nation without using current sources, such as oil, to supply our energy first. Compared to Nader, Obama and Biden’s plan looks a little more realistic because–correct me if I am wrong–even though, the two Democrats advocate research for alternative fuel sources, the country will still rely on oil until a concrete solution is found, right? So, as Lisa mentioned in an earlier post, our country’s non-renewable supply will be depleted by the time an alternative solution is found.

Bob Barr perhaps cares the least about energy crisis. Let the economy and industries have its way? If we were to support that, then our economy and our climate issue would be worse off than it already is. Given the hard times that the economy is facing, the mentality of the people is probably not to support a failed economy. The mentality might not be rational, but it certainly is reactionary. Also, just because the supply and demand says oil and gas prices will eventually go down, does not mean that major corporations will actually do the research for renewable energy resources. Profits are gained, but socioeconomic endeavors are sacrificed. With no regulation by the government, there is no way to tell or even measure how close to energy independence, this nation is becoming.

I don’t know how the candidates get their projections for energy independence in 10 years.

None of these candidates have a real solution.

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While all of the presidential and vice presidential candidates this election season recognize the pressing need for new energy, every individual has different ideas on how it should be done. Some, like John McCain, support research for biofuels, renewable energy, nuclear energy, while others are more selective of possible energy sources, such as Cynthia McKinney’s reluctance to use nuclear energy. While I was attemtping to be partial as a reporter, I personally agree with Barack Obama’s energy plan, which includes an auctioning of the cap and trade pollution credits that would be used by large corporations. However, I wonder how long is the long-term when it comes to research on alternate energy sources. How many more decades will our country be dependent on oil, foreign or off-shore?

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At the risk of sounding like a pessimist, there is little significance in the policy platforms adopted by the presidential candidates. Aside from making suggestions for the policy agenda, the president has very little control over the regulations passed. Hence although we are given a packaged solution to the energy crisis, even from the most honest politicians, there is absolutely no way the entire solution will be passed by congress. Consider us lucky if we get a portion of it passed. The power lies with congress. The president is simply the spokesperson of the nation, not the man who sets the laws. After all, Clinton approved the Kyoto Protocol only to have congress reject it. Candidate positions only reaffirm their definition of morality and cement voter identification with each candidate.

Policies that are quantified look good because they portray a clear goal and imply a knowledgeable candidate who knows what he’s doing, but how realistic are these numbers and what are the effects, especially long-term?

The ANWR (Artic National Wildlife Refuge) is home to 8,000 people, an entire ecosystem, and a historically and culturally significant area with Native American carvings on the trees. Alaska is America’s Last Frontier, a truly unique place that attracts a large number of tourists. Governor Palin welcomes Big Oil to destroy the natural beauty that is an asset to her state’s economy. Exceptions are easy to rationalize and if we continue to allow this to happen now, it will continue until we have nothing left. And when we realize that mistake, it will be too late.

As for the promotion of hybrid cars and ethanol fuels, many consumers complain that ethanol damages their engines and gives them must less mileage, requiring more frequent fill-ups, simply an added inconvenience. And consumers are very vocal about this so develop all the hybrid cars you want but good luck getting consumers to buy them.

So here’s my take on the candidates:

Barr- needs to adjust to the now era- social responsibility matters

McCain/Palin- drill in pristine land? Is nothing sacred?

McKinney- Environmentalist winner, Consumer loser

Nader- no comment (was too tired to listen)

Obama/Biden- an ultimatum to use the land or lose it? Is it ok to turn socialist when we are in crises? What happened to the fundamental right to property?

One cannot help but wonder who has ties with oil companies and who has been getting the most funding from Big Oil. (Think the Cheney scandals.)

McCain has received over $1 million in contributions from oil companies, over 80% of which was received after he announced support for off-shore drilling in June. It really has you wondering about the game played in presidential elections because the candidates want money and are promising things they cannot guarantee. These lobbyists are better off sticking with congress. (
Obama claims to not accept money from oil companies but he has received a lot of money from oil company executives. (

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Sept. 27, 2008- An afternoon press conference held Friday revealed little novelty in each presidential candidate’s proposal on energy. Representatives from five campaigns- Bob Barr (Libertarian), John McCain (Republican), Cynthia McKinney (Green), Ralph Nader (Independent), and Barack Obama (Democrat)- discussed policies that overlap and offer no solution to the immediate energy crisis.

Research and drilling terminology were tossed around to no end as the campaigns vied for voter support. But these are medium- and long-term solutions.

Drilling off-shore, or even in a new location, requires large sums of cash and time to set up the equipment and the system.

Researching for alternatives will not yield realizable solutions until at least a few years into the future. Yet these candidates, minus Nader and McKinney, raise the notion of drilling as a solution that will instantaneously lower gas prices as they take their seat in the Oval Office.

These candidates either fail to understand the lag time or are catering to ignorance, omitting what the average American does not know.

Either way, it seems no one knows how to provide relief for rising prices.

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Probably the most intimidating aspect of acting as a representative for Obama was answering the questions. Some of them intrigued me. For instance, Samema asked the position of the Obama-Biden campaign on coal utilization. Why does Biden say no to coal, while it is very apparent that Obama fully supports use of America’s most abundant natural resource (for energy)? After some research, I found that although Biden has disagreed with Obama on the use of coal in the U.S. there is more to his statements. Biden does not agree with the tactics used in China to develop coal plants. The technology over there is outdated, and so Biden does want coal technologies in the U.S. as long as they are CLEAN coal technologies. Biden has even connected coal with the use of hybrid plug-in cars, one repeated facet of the New Energy for America Plan-.“Where’s that [electricity] come from? That comes from a utility. What do utilities burn? They burn coal mostly.”

Also, Emily asked why oil companies weren’t leasing on land they already have, in response to the Use it or Lose it (if a company does not drill on their land, they have to turn it over to the government so it can be allocated to another company, etc.) tactic that constitutes New Energy For America. It’s actually a bit more complicated than I thought it would be because there are plenty of reasons I didn’t even consider. After some research, I found the following. First of all, the land may not even have oil under it. The federal government doesn’t even know if the land they lease has oil under it- they lease it out for oil companies to speculate this, and determine it themselves. And why does it come out to so many acres of unused land? Oil companies have to not only purchase the plot where the oil is to be drilled, but also all the surrounding land around it. Other reasons also prevent use of land. Shortage of drill rigs prevents oil companies from going in and drilling- apparently drill rigs are leased for years at a time too.

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