Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pink Barbie rod lands record catfish

David Hayes' granddaughter just ask him to hold her Barbie rod and reel while she went to the bathroom. He did. And seconds later he landed the state record channel catfish at 21 pounds, 1 ounce. Alyssa's father had bought the pink Barbie fishing rod for Christmas and she had caught a few bluegill before her grandfather hauled in the catfish.

The Winston-Salem Journal reported the catch Aug. 5 in eastern Wilkes County has been certified as a record by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Hayes and his granddaughter have been fishing in the pond behind his house since she was big enough to hold a pole. Hayes said his granddaughter worried he would break her rod. He landed the 21-pound fish on a 6-pound test line. It was 32 inches long, 2 inches longer than the rod.

The Dumbest Olympic Sport

The dumbest Olympic Sport has to be speed walking. I was flipping by the Olympic channels last night to see what was on and there in front of me were these 90 pound women waddling along the road in the rain. Goofiest looking thing in the world. Well after watching awhile I surmised there were no Americans in the race, which made me feel pretty good. I figure we Americans are too smart for such a silly sport. If we want to get somewhere fast we just run!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More Fighting over Energy Plans by Obama and McCain

Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama Tuesday charged that oil giants were betting their record profits on John McCain and accused his Republican foes of "lying" about his own energy plan. Senator Obama and fellow Democrats painted McCain as a puppet of "Big Oil," seeking to leverage public anger over high gasoline prices and bind him to the economic legacy of President George W. Bush.

"Under Senator McCain's plan, the oil companies get billions more, we don't pay any less at the pump, and we stay in the same cycle of dependence on oil that got us into this crisis," Obama said in Ohio. "The oil companies have placed their bet on Senator McCain, and if he wins, they will continue to cash in while our families and our economy suffer and our future is put in jeopardy."

Obama chose to press home his attack in the heart of Ohio, a midwestern state hammered by the loss of heavy industry jobs which is a perennial bellwether in US presidential elections. The Illinois senator argued that though McCain was right to argue America had grown addicted to foreign oil over the past 30 years, he was a part of the problem, as he served in Congress for most of that time. And Obama fought back after being ridiculed by McCain for urging drivers to properly inflate their tires, which even the US government says could reduce national oil consumption by at least three percent a year.

"They know they're lying about what my energy plan is," he said after Republican aides mockingly handed out tire gauges to reporters to sum up Obama's policies. "Instead of running ads about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, they should go talk to some energy experts and actually make a difference," the Democrat added, battling back against a McCain offensive on his celebrity status.

The Democratic National Committee backed up Obama's attack with a new web video, showing McCain as a puppet being manipulated by oil industry lobbyists. The McCain campaign, however, pointed out that Obama voted for a Senate energy bill in 2005, which included huge handouts for oil firms. McCain voted against the legislation, slamming its oil industry giveaways and arguing it would not solve the energy crisis.

On Tuesday, the Republican presumptive nominee used a visit to a nuclear power plant in the battleground state of Michigan to argue for an expansion of the industry.

"Senator Obama has said that expanding our nuclear power plants 'doesn't make sense for America'," McCain said in remarks released by his campaign. "If we want to enable the technologies of tomorrow like plug-in electric cars , we need electricity to plug into."

Obama's aides accused McCain of misrepresenting his position, saying the Democrat was open to more nuclear plants, but only when such issues as security of nuclear fuel and disposal of waste were resolved. Republicans are also hammering Obama for his opposition to expanding offshore drilling, which Democrats oppose arguing that new supplies would not swell US oil stocks for around a decade and even then would barely cut prices. Tim Pawlenty, the Minnesota governor tipped as a possible running mate for McCain, rejected Obama's energy plan on a Republican National Committee conference call.

"I believe Senator Obama has just misunderstood and under-appreciated this crisis. It is going to need to be dealt with boldly and aggressively," he said.

Pawlenty said he welcomed Obama's recent policy reversals on the issue of energy, but said they did not go far enough.

"He is obviously thrashing about, trying to grab on to the idea and catch up to the idea for the week. It is obviously belated, it is obviously haphazard."

Demands for more drilling seem to be striking a chord with the public, and Obama has shifted his position slightly, saying he would agree to some drilling as a way to unpick a political deadlock over comprehensive energy reform. A CNN/Opinion Research survey last week found 69% of respondents backed offshore drilling, the latest of a string of public polls on the issue which are giving Democrats pause. A Rasmussen tracking poll Tuesday had Obama and McCain tied at 44% while the Democrat led 47 to 43% in Gallup's newest survey

Friday, August 1, 2008

Obama against new oil drilling

Barack Obama is once again betting that his eloquence can persuade priceweary consumers, read that as voters, to take the long view and not jump at a shortterm fix when it comes to soaring energy prices. It worked in his presidential primary contest against New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton when she proposed a "gas tax holiday" for the summer, a pitch he opposed despite its popularity with many voters. But that was in April before gasoline shot past $4 a gallon.

Virtually all polls now show dealing with energy prices high atop the agenda of voters. At issue for Obama's Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, is opening up offshore drilling to boost production, a move McCain and others GOP lawmakers say would increase supply and help control soaring gasoline prices. Opponents, including Obama and many other Democrats, say new offshore oil would be years away from reaching consumers and even then would make little difference in prices and the ongoing U.S. need for foreign oil.

Republicans clearly have targeted energy prices, looking to boost their standing with consumers. President Bush has pushed Congress to permit the offshore drilling and warned that "the American people are rightly frustrated" because Democrats won't allow a vote on opening up offshore drilling. For his part, McCain has his sights squarely on Obama's opposition to offshore drilling, labeling him "Dr. No when it comes to energy production." The tactic is not surprising, because polls have shown that consumers, even in environmentally sensitive states like Florida, are desperate for politicians to do something about energy and favor offshore drilling by big margins.

Obama is pressed on the issue repeatedly on the campaign trail, but he refuses to budge, preferring to take pains to spell out his reasons. "Please be in favor of offshore production," Steve Hilton, a retired federal government worker in Lebanon, Mo., implored Obama during a tour of a diner there Wednesday. "I'm in favor of solving problems," Obama responded. "What I don't want to do is say something because it sounds good politically."

Obama seeks to turn the issue on its head, arguing that McCain and Bush are practicing the old politics of simply promising people something that's symbolic without addressing the real problem. Discounting drilling, he proposes energy rebates, a crackdown on oil speculators who manipulate the market and a renewed focus on energy alternatives.

"Instead of offering any real plan to lower gas prices, Sen. McCain touts his support for George Bush's plan for offshore oil drilling," Obama said Thursday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "But even the Bush administration acknowledges that offshore oil drilling will have little impact on prices. It won't lower prices today. It won't lower prices during the next administration. In fact, we won't see a drop of oil from this drilling for almost 10 years."

Adding their own take on the debate are the Sierra Club and, which announced Thursday that they will air ads criticizing McCain's call for expanded oil drilling and tax proposals that would benefit oil companies. The ad depicts a man speaking to the camera complaining that McCain's proposal to lift a moratorium on energy exploration on coastal waters won't produce oil for years. "That's not a solution Mr. McCain, that's a gimmick," he says.

In fact, McCain opposes drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and during his 2000 presidential run opposed lifting the offshore drilling moratorium as well. Although Obama makes the argument against offshore drilling much as he did against Clinton's gas tax holiday, he faces a tougher challenge now. The disagreement with Clinton was played out in front of Democratic primary voters, many of them closely following the race and its issues.

The argument with McCain comes before a general election electorate as frustrations over gasoline prices grow at the height of the summer driving season and as the nation prepares for winter and heating costs. Polls suggest a lot of voters are pressing for politicians to do anything, even if it's symbolic. Voters in New Hampshire and other states hit hard by winter feel especially pinched by high fuel prices. Many homeowners enter into winter heating oil contracts during the summer.

"It's on people's minds," said Fergus Cullen, state GOP chairman in New Hampshire, where the cost of heating a typical suburban home has doubled since last winter, to about $5,000. "The issues that people care about have changed dramatically since 2006 here and, not incidentally, in a way that is beneficial to Republican candidates."

Adding to that pressure, Obama will face the full force of the GOP and the McCain campaign. To counter it, Obama cited Exxon Mobil's record profits — the company on Thursday reported second-quarter earnings of $11.68 billion, the biggest ever by a U.S. corporation — while contending that the GOP candidate's plan for offshore drilling won't help consumers and "reads like an oil-company wish list."

Obama concedes that crossing the public mood on energy prices could be risky — and he's right. Though the public has largely turned against a war in Iraq that McCain fervently backs and Bush's popularity is at record lows, polls show the election remains tight, with Obama clinging to a small lead.