Friday, May 28, 2010

Mr. Cool Reveals Himself

Barack Obama once stated to an interviewer that one of his jobs was to make the Presidency "cool" again. Until his latest press conference, he was having quite a go at that. But then, it all fell apart.

I'm about to state an opinion; you may or may not agree. I'm picking on Obama and the Democrats mostly because they often somewhat haughtily claim to be on the "High Road", and along with the Globalist Media, look down upon the Republicans as nothing more than naysayers. [It's too bad that more Congress people don't say "Nay" to the asinine levels of borrowing and spending by the Fed Government.] Don't misunderstand, though, I don't think much of the Republican Party either.

If you watch Obama's last press conference carefully, quite often you'll see right through the man's polished slickness directly into his true nature. At times his normally composed, clipped speech pattern becomes hesitant, a little confused, and disingenuous. That usually happens while he's trying to relate to the people being impacted by the catastrophic oil discharge in the Gulf. He can't quite get there; he comes off as being too academic, too distant, almost uncaring. At one point the normally eloquent Obama summed up the catastrophe to Gulf residents and the environment as "messed up". That seems to be his grasp of the depth of the disaster. Members of the Press Corps sometimes looked at each other in disbelief according to a few pundits. His performance was dismal and basically demonstrated that he really isn't much of an inspiring leader.

Toward the end of the conference, Obama finally admitted that the Fed Government has been in charge of the oil discharge response since day one. I knew that should be the case because I'm familiar with the 1990 Oil Pollution Act and the National Contingency Plan (dealing with responses to massive oil and hazardous substances spills). I'm convinced that the only reason he finally claimed ownership of the response is because so many critics were asking, "When will the government take over?". That ownership was not apparent prior to the press conference because, in my opinion, the Executive Branch didn't want people to know that the Feds were totally in charge...because the response was perceived as not going well. After finishing speaking, Obama almost ran out of the smile, a somewhat blanched look on his face. He knew he had given a poor performance, that he had not related well to the situation.

That press conference demonstrated to me that Obama is not the person his devoted followers perceive him to be. He's just another slick, millionaire, well dressed, normally well spoken politician who really can't relate to people out of his sphere, or to their suffering in cases like this disaster. I saw the same exact thing in Bush (except for the well spoken part) relative to Katrina.

So much for "cool". Who cares about that in the Presidency anyway? Just once I'd like to see a President who dresses like Ralph Nader, cares like Jimmy Carter, communicates like Ronald Reagan (in his prime), and thinks as well as William F. Buckley, Jr. once did. Oh, and please, no more millionaires.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Is it Obvious Yet? [re: Offshore Drilling]

Is it obvious yet that offshore oil drilling is a tremendously bad idea? In arguing against that opinion, one could cite the relatively good overall safety record of the offshore drilling industry (as Obama did prior to this accident), but to my mind the current catastrophe eliminates that as a cogent argument. One could cite our need for domestic oil as a necessary evil (so to speak), but that doesn't change my mind either. We could be on a different energy path, or numerous different paths. As the late genius Buckminster Fuller once said (perhaps not an exact quote), "The Sun [solar energy] should be our 'checking account'; oil should be our 'savings account'." in terms of "energy banking".

The current problem well is about 5,000 feet below the water's surface, and look at the difficulties that causes. Now consider this: some of these offshore wells are deeper than that---up to 9,000 feet below the surface. Imagine the trials and tribulations if one of those began discharging oil at the wellhead.

All of this reminds me of a larger issue. In the early '70s (almost forty years ago), this country started to plan seriously for the day when oil would no longer be such an important source of energy. It was the first modern-day Green Movement. Ten years after that, it was all but forgotten. Blame Reagan if you must, but the fact is that most everyone abandoned Green. The corporatists claimed that it was too expensive to switch to solar power, wind power, biomass power, geothermal power, hydropower, hydrogen power, fuel cells, etc. The Media joined in the chorus. Many fragments of Green Energy survive to this day, but there is no longer any comprehensive, dedicated, focused energy policy moving in a completely Green direction.

It takes about twenty-five years for a society to switch from one primary energy source to another. The Executive Branch Department of Energy was created under President Carter for the express purpose of getting this country off foreign oil. [It's fair to say: that was a failure.] Imagine if the Fed Government had continued to offer huge tax credits to corporations who developed affordable Green energy, and if they additionally would have given lucrative government transportation contracts to companies who developed (just as an example) a safe, affordable hydrogen-powered vehicle. Imagine, too, that the Feds offered other incentives as well. The chances are good that we would now be divested of our oil addiction.

None of that happened. I think it's fair to say that the probability is high that Big Oil lobbying played a significant role in our continuing addiction to petroleum. The Republicans and Democrats in office in DC love Oil money... and Banking money, and Defense Industry money, and Big Pharma money, and Airline money, and Big Coal money, and on & on. After all, election campaigns are expensive. :)

We need an energy policy with the stated goal of getting us off oil, and we need to stick to that policy.

[I, having taught Biology, Ecology, and Environmental Science for many years, fully admit to a bias regarding this subject.]