Paul Jenkins: Obama's speech is chilling

commentBy PAUL JENKINSJanuary 26, 2013 

Despite the fervent wishes and hushed prayers of nearly half the voters in this country, Barack Obama is president for four more years.

His latest inaugural speech, an aggressive call to arms for liberalism, is best distilled by the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza into a single sentence: "I'm the president, deal with it." On guns. Energy. Immigration. Climate change. Gay rights. Just deal with it.

Perhaps the opening shot in establishing a permanent Democratic majority across the nation, Obama's speech had a decidedly confrontational tone, with ample swipes at Republicans.

It contained ominously unsettling passages, such as: "For we have always understood that when times change, so must we, that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges, that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action."

Or: "Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle century's long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time."

What does that mean? For those who believe the Constitution is clear, those two passages alone are enough to instill serious jitters.

Then, there is the part that could affect Alaska: "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."

Respond how? Taxes on energy companies? Curtailed drilling? More regulations? More laws? It would be a cheap bone to the environmental community if Obama made life more miserable for the oil and coal industries in the name of climate change.

Then, almost unbelievably, there was this gem: "For now, decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate."

Excellent advice for Obama and his administration.

•••

Closer to home, Gov. Sean Parnell is feeling his oats. In last year's State of the State speech, he called on TransCanada, BP, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips to conjure up a gas line project to ship North Slope gas overseas to market. They did, agreeing to a $65 billion project. No specifics. No commitment to build.

This year's speech had Parnell demanding more progress on a major gas pipeline before the state will even discuss gas tax rates.

He wants a project concept by Feb. 15, and an agreement by spring, including preliminary engineering and a financing plan. He also wants a full summer of field work this year.

The Associated Press reports he spoke with the companies about the benchmarks, and there was no "unhappiness." That means, I suppose, Parnell knows more than he is saying.

Eventually, before big money is committed, it all will come down to the durable fiscal terms the state has balked at for years -- and the very thing the companies require.

Gas is taxed under the flawed Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share oil tax. It is reduced to a barrel-of-oil equivalency, with something like 6,000 cubic feet of gas equaling a barrel of oil. A company then is taxed on a total of gas and oil.

The companies will need to renegotiate all that to make a gas line worthwhile, no matter what the governor demands.

•••

I goofed. I did it once before. A few weeks back, I wrote about possible contenders against Sen. Mark Begich next year. I devoted two whole paragraphs to failed Senate candidate Joe Miller, who has a Bronze Star.

I said of Miller: "A few days back, he trashed the National Rifle Association as a threat to gun liberty and called its top executive a charlatan." It turns out, he did not. While his beaming picture as publisher was at the top of the "Restoring Liberty" Web site, my tired, old eyes missed the tiny type that carried the author's name -- Adam Bates.

I read about my contretemps at the Web site under a headline "Anchorage Daily News Fears Miller Run in 2014? Columnist Starts the Lies All Over Again."

Joe says I'm a "mouthpiece of Alaska's corrupt political establishment," an "establishment goon," and, besides, everybody knows Joe loves the NRA and is a Life Member, so I'm "ignorant, or ... just plain lying."

That hurts. I need new glasses.

Paul Jenkins is editor of the AnchorageDailyPlanet.com.

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