Monday, July 21, 2008

Do You Feel Motivated Yet?

On more than one occasion, my friend DG has challenged me to "write something nice about Al Gore".
I've tried and tried. The outline of a nice, nice, nice Al Gore post is waiting in my head. It's centered around the 1993 Gore/Perot NAFTA debates, which you can see in this YouTube clip around the .40 mark. Brilliant.

But every time I get ready to give St. Albert his overdue dose of nice, something unpleasant intervenes.

Here's what did it to me this time:

Christopher Buckley, the son of the late William F., has started writing editorials for National Review. Here's an excerpt:
Remember those wonderful Soviet Five Year Plans? ....that wheat output in (the) Ukraine will quadruple over the next five years?

(Applause! Yay. Lenin! Yay. Stalin! Whoopee! You guys totally rock!....)
Buckley continues, saying that in the Soviet Union there was....

"no Congressional Budget Office pointing out, five years later, the "inconvenient truth" that the Ukraine had produced exactly enough wheat to make one six-pack of blinis. "
He then states that George H.W. Bush (Buckley's former boss) once pledged to balance the budget by the middle of the next decade. We all know how that worked out. Buckley then wonders if people down at the general store even comment on John McCain's goal of building 45 nuclear reactors by 2030 (when McCain will be 94 years old).

He finishes the editorial by stating that....
"sometimes goals are reached. Reeling from the Bay of Pigs disaster, President Kennedy changed the subject by announcing that the U.S. was going to put a man on the moon 'Before this decade is out.' " And what do you know, American astronauts were playing golf in the Sea of Tranquility by the end of the decade. So I'm with McCain. I personally plan to lose 40 pounds by 2030."
I read that editorial about a week and a half ago, keeping an eye out afterwards for politicians throwing out silly goals with arbitrary deadlines.

Nothing happened for a few days. And then, rising from the pack, St. Albert The Goracle of Music City Tennessee had to have a Kennedy moment and get into the National Courageous Goal Business.

Al Gore has challenged us to abandon all fossil fuels within ten years. Yep. 10 years. This is from Canada's National Post:

On Thursday, former U. S. vice-president Al Gore delivered a major address calling on his country to abandon all fossil fuels within 10 years. By 2018, U. S. electricity and fuel should come entirely from "renewable energy and truly clean, carbon-free sources," he said. Tickets to the event encouraged attendees to "please use public transit, bicycling or other climate-friendly means" to reach the lecture hall.
So how did Mr. Gore and his retinue arrive? In two Lincoln Town Cars and a full-sized SUV that sat idling with the air conditioners blasting while the Gore party was inside.
It was 34 C in Washington. Al Gore can't be expected to get into an overheated vehicle after he's worked up a sweat telling others how to save the planet.
If you're trying to make it through a long, long study hall at school, or if you're serving a long, long prison sentence, you can click here to read 9 months worth of me venting about similar stunts commited by The Goracle. I've really tried to get past this. I have failed.

What angers me about this stunt is that it's such a blatant money grab. Kleiner Perkins is going to pay Gore several Tennessee mansions' worth of plunder if he can get enough climate change/energy saving mandates in place. These government mandates, of course, will benefit Kleiner Perkins' alternative energy startup funds.

When Kennedy challenged us to get to the moon within ten years, Kennedy didn't already own large chunks of unreachable lunar real estate and he wasn't hoping to make a killing by selling crater-side condos to astronaut colonists. As best I can tell, Kennedy's family didn't have any investments in the aerospace industry.

Heck, what other Big Hairy Audacious Goals could we shoot for?

McDonald's challenges America to double its Big Mac consumption by the end of this decade ! ! !
Barack Obama courageously challenges the U.S. to elect an African American president by 2008 ! ! !
Betamax double dares you to bring back videocassettes, but in a different format ! ! !

I'm sure there are other ones out there.


Anonymous said...

I saw the same insanity from the Gorefice. He has so totally lost the plot it is risible.

Yeah, let's re-jig the entire economy in ten years. Let's just do it because Barack has said "change".

Utter hogwash. But there is something interesting in it. No, really. Gore is not so much banging the global warming drum as talking about things like energy independence and creating non-outsourceable jobs... Has he figured that he's been banging a bust-flush yet? I think he has.

Dr Ralph said...

Not to shock the gentle readers of this post but I have a confession to make: I don't get Gore-bashers. To further sully my image I'll go on to state I have a lot of respect and admiration for the man (there, I've said it).

If I'm reading this correctly, the issue is that he challenges us to get off fossil fuels in 10 years.

Is the point that this is a Bad Idea? Energy independence, cleaner air, non-outsourceable jobs? I'm not seeing the problem here.

I can see where Dick Cheney and his Halliburton cronies might take exception to this notion, but not me. We should have been doing this 20 years ago after one of our previous energy panics. But we forgot and decided to all buy SUVs instead.

Is the issue that someone is going to make money on this deal? Well, duh.

This is America: if someone can't make money off of it, chances are, it won't happen. The fact that T. Boone Pickens is now nosing around is a tip-off to that reality. If Halliburton weren't making a shit-ton of money, do you think they'd be selling oilfield equipment?

The real test is: if no one made any money, would this be a good idea? I think so, but intelligent people may disagree.

Is the issue that he left his ride idling with the AC on? Fine: I've been guilty of that, too. They seem to be fond of that behavior in North Dallas as well. Ask how much fuel has been burned on behalf of the Decider in Chief, both here and in Iraq.

In my opinion, the worst thing Al Gore ever did in his long and honorable career was to throw in the towel too soon when Bush stole (yes stole) the 2000 election.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

The issue is this: There are multiple ways that Al could make money. One would be to work on getting private funding for alternative energy ideas, and become a spokesperson/Celebrity Talking Head for those companies or concepts. But that would involve having to convince a LOT of people to invest money in a risky venture. And they would want results.
Why should Al do that when he could earn so much more by convincing 51 senators to invest my money for me? Are they going to ask for any return on their, excuse me, MY investment? I don't think so.

I'm all for protecting the environment and using less oil. I wish we could find it here instead of underneath Iraq. I also wish we could eat steaks without killing cows.

r.e. the air conditioning.... things like that, the Gore mansion, and the ridiculous Earth Day concerts are no more than symbols gone horribly wrong. If you're gonna put "ride your bike to the event" on the invitation, it's best to avoid showing up in large black neo-fascist military limos.

p.s. - I really do have a GREAT pro-Gore post in the making. I just wish he could avoid pissing me off for a couple of weeks.

Dr Ralph said...

Whited Sepulchre:

I know I shouldn't rant (but this is the internet, after all), but you probably weren't even all that shocked, given my reputation. The graciousness of your response is a model we all should follow.

Maybe Al Gore isn't swinging a hammer like Jimmy Carter, but I have to say he's generally come down on the same side of causes and positions that I do.

Perfect? No.

Better than the alternative? Yes.

Call me naive or a dupe, but I don't have the problem with this you do. I know you to be a thoughtful person so I guess there is room for disagreement.

That being said, I'll wager you a frosty mug of Ugly Pug or one of my ice cold Martinis that after the next election we'll see some feeding trough behavior out of members of the current administration that will make both of our heads swim.

In the meantime, go with that Pro-Gore post wanting out. You'll feel so much better when you've written it.

Pete Wann said...

My biggest problem with all the Gore-bashing (and I DON'T idolize the man at all) is that too often Gore-bashing turns into climate-change-bashing, with the end result of "Gore's a hypocritical fucktard, so let's all go burn a baby seal with sweet light crude from ANWAR!"

Don't confuse the messenger with the message. As Dr. Ralph says: if no one stands to profit, then it'll never get done. There's nothing more free market than that.

As for spending your tax dollars -- they're going to get spent either way. Would you rather they keep going into the pockets of oil terrorists who hate us (in the form of subsidies to the oil companies, bribes (tariffs) to foreign governments, military expenditures, etc.), or would you like to achieve true energy independence by investing in RENEWABLE energy sources, which also happen to be domestic and not subject to the whims of oil cartels or money-crazed speculators? (Like wind, geothermal, nuclear, solar, etc.)

To frame the move to a non-carbon based economy as something so simple as "because Barack has said 'change'" is disingenuous. We need to change the basis of our economy for so many more reasons than just because some current or former politician says so. Look beyond your nose for a solution, don't just keep hitting the "cheap oil" feed trough.

It seems to me that the current oil and gas crisis has shown just what a lie our "free market" economy really is. Without cheap oil and gas (which is a global commodity and can't easily be manipulated by the gov't without massive subsidies), it's glaringly obvious what a fragile system we have here. Food prices go up not only because the fuel for farm equipment and overland transportation has increased in price, but also because many of the fertilizers used are petroleum-based. The suburbs crumble because people can't afford to drive 60 miles each way to their job in the city any more, and on and on.

I'll second the good Doctor's statement -- Is or isn't it a good idea to move off of fossil fuels as the bedrock of our economy? Forget the boneheaded things Gore does that make him a hypocrite -- is his message worthwhile? Or is a message only worthwhile when the person delivering it isn't a hypocrite? If the latter is true, then the Christian church has a whole lot to answer for since Christ died.

Alan, you don't see any return on investment in freeing us from the tyranny of fossil fuels? I certainly do. Maybe not monetary return, but certainly a lot of opportunities for new industries and businesses, as well as a stronger footing internationally when we're not dependent on countries that hate us for the fuel we use to invade them.

Please explain this comment: "I'm all for protecting the environment and using less oil. I wish we could find it here instead of underneath Iraq." Which is it? You're all for protecting the environment and using less oil, or you want to find it here (and therefore continue to use the same amount)?

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Glad you're back.

But I'm disappointed that you used the phrase "climate change" instead of the previously fashionable "global warming". C'mon, do you think it's going to get warmer or not?

I'll admit that the hypocrisy is fun, and the "message vs lifestyle" parallels between Saint Albert and, say, Jimmy Swaggart are an easy target. But I don't think anyone advocates drilling in ANWR because the Goracle doesn't practice what he preaches. It merely increases the cynicism level that surrounds the topic.

If we start drilling in Alaska or on the Atlantic or Pacific coasts, it will be because of Washington cronyism, lobbying, campaign contributions and other synonyms for bribery. If we don't begin drilling in Alaska or on the Atlantic or Pacific coasts, it will be because of Washington cronyism, lobbying, campaign contributions and other synonyms for bribery. This condition isn't an exercise in the free market, but a prevention of the free market doing it's job. Subsidies, whether they're applied to oil companies, millionaire farmers, or St. Al's buddies at Kleiner Perkins, are an abomination. A subsidy to a solar panel manufacturer is no more virtuous than a subsidy to Exxon Mobil. Once you guys wrap your heads around there being more than the Democrat/Republican continuum on political issues, the less typing I'll have to do. There's another one called Libertarian/Statist.

I agree that my tax dollars are going to get spent either way. I merely wish that I had to part with fewer of them. COST Of Government Day was July 16th this year.
I can't help thinking that some more offshore wells, not funded by anyone except greedy little s.o.b.'s trying to make megabucks, would do us more good than all the oil in Iraq.

I would love a chance to invest in nuclear energy. Wish we coulda started back in the 1970's. Some politics got in the way. (Damn those members of the _____ party !)Also, when investing, I prefer to go through a qualified broker, not the firm of Reid, Pelosi, Lott & Gingrich. Do you really think RPL&G invest with your best interests at heart? Senators have to raise 50K/week to stay in office. They would invest in Renewable Pixie Dust if that's what their contributors were peddling, and if they believed you would let them get away with it.

In your farm costs paragraph, you neglected to mention the newest and most blatant manipulation of free market pricing - the accursed ethanol scam. This is exhibit A in the first of what will probably be a long shameful list of Alternative Energy/Subsidy disasters. Iowa is about to be a net IMPORTER OF CORN. IOWA. FREAKIN' IOWA. You're government is requiring companies to grind up food and turn it into "alternative" fuel. Even Kay Bailey Hutchison has announced that this one was a huge mistake.

Regarding the value of Saint Albert's message.... is his message "We need to get away from our petroleum-based economy because we don't own enough of it, and there's a limited supply", or is his message "There isn't enough oil, so the government is going to require you to spend money with my buddies"? Time will tell.

I'm in total agreement that I need to use less oil. I wish I could snap my fingers and make it so. I wish we were looking at a subway between Mira Vista and downtown, instead of a toll road. I wish I had bought a Ford Ranger instead of an F-150.

Do some reading on the Kleiner-Perkins alternative energy startups. Is there a single proposal in there that couldn't be better handled by the private sector? And if our beloved government had stopped subsidizing oil a half century ago, do you think the private sector woulda already gotten us there?

About your last question environment vs. oil.... All I'm saying there is that I wish we didn't have to make trade-offs. i.e. - I wish we had more wind farms, AND I wish idiot birds didn't fly into the blades. You can wish for both, even if they're sometimes contradictory.

Glad you're back, Pete. You and Dr. Ralph keep me on my toes. I keep checking your site for the next "Drinking Liberally", and will try to make it.

P.S. - Even without the hypocrisy, the Christian church would still have a lot to answer for. Let's save that for another post.

Dr Ralph said...

WS -- and you keep me on my toes.

I often find my comments here to be much better written (at least in my mind) than the drivel I put on my own blog.