The New York Times’ own wacky Tom Friedman *UPDATED*

This is the cozy mansion New York Times‘ columnist Tom Friedman calls home:

thomas_friedman_house

Judging by its size, it probably has a carbon footprint roughly equal to a small nation’s:

As the July edition of the Washingtonian Magazine notes, Friedman lives in “a palatial 11,400-square-foot house, now valued at $9.3 million, on a 7½-acre parcel just blocks from I-495 and Bethesda Country Club.” He “married into one of the 100 richest families in the country” – the Bucksbaums, whose real-estate Empire is valued at $2.7 billion.

Heating and cleaning the pool alone probably consume enough energy to power a factory.  The picture above is somewhat out of date, so things may have changed, but I’ll note that Friedman’s solar panels are, well, conspicuously absent.

All of which makes it screamingly funny when Friedman, after a first paragraph so profoundly ignorant its laughable (I’ll get back to it later), offers the following idea as a means for the Tea Partiers to gain the New York Times‘ seal of approval:

But should the Tea Partiers actually aspire to break out of that range, attract lots of young people and become something more than just entertainment for Fox News, I have a suggestion:

Become the Green Tea Party.

I’d be happy to design the T-shirt logo and write the manifesto. The logo is easy. It would show young Americans throwing barrels of oil imported from Venezuela and Saudi Arabia into Boston Harbor.

The manifesto is easy, too: “We, the Green Tea Party, believe that the most effective way to advance America’s national security and economic vitality would be to impose a $10 “Patriot Fee” on every barrel of imported oil, with all proceeds going to pay down our national debt.”

Friedman is right that America shouldn’t be dependent on foreign oil, but he seems to have forgotten that it’s his own party (and his own paper) that has made it virtually impossible for America (a) to drill, (b) to process oil shale or (c) to produce meaningful nuclear power.  Instead, he’s hooked his wagon to solar and wind energy, both of which are incapable of servicing America’s energy needs.  This means that Friedman wants to make us economically suffer by taxing us even more, without enabling us to have any viable energy alternatives.  (He also thinks a carbon tax is a hunky dory idea.)

A $10 a barrel tax  and a carbon tax may be irrelevant to a man living off of “one of the 100 richest families in the country,” but it will destroy America’s industry and, frankly, every thing else but for her wealthiest class.  In other words, Friedman has neatly spelled out the recipe for an economic meltdown similar to Zimbabwe’s and one that will leave the same outcome:  a poverty stricken nation, centered around a small, fabulously wealthy (and, inevitably, corrupt) ruling class.  We already know which niche Friedman has carved out for himself.

But really, what can one expect from a man who shows his profound ignorance and sneering disdain for America — not to mention his shallow intellectual dilettantism — in his very first paragraph.  (See, I promised I’d get back to it.) I usually wait until deep within my posts to sound this stupid:

I’ve been trying to understand the Tea Party Movement. Sounds like a lot of angry people who want to get the government out of their lives and cut both taxes and the deficit. Nothing wrong with that — although one does wonder where they were in the Bush years. Never mind. I’m sure like all such protest movements the Tea Partiers will get their 10 to 20 percent of the vote.

That paragraph has just got everything one would expect from someone living and work in the one of the ritziest, and most liberal, parts of the world.  In mere sentences, we get oozing condescension for the foolish, impenetrable masses; contempt for the anger that sees people taking to the street, Constitutions in hand, protesting a rapacious federal government; and, of course, the inevitable attack on George Bush.

As to that last point (“where the heck were they during the Bush presidency?”) I think this simple chart is a good starting point for explaining where these same frustrated (as opposed to angry) people were before Obama; or, more accurately, why they weren’t taking to the street to protest government overreach:

usgs_line.php

Need I say more?  No, I don’t think so.

UPDATE:  Turns out — no big shock here — that Friedman’s not the only green colored hypocrite.

America’s carbon footprint and the world’s oil reserves

I’ve got two quick environmental links for you today.  The first has to do with pollution.  You know that I’ve said at this blog all along that cap-and-trade is stupid, not only because it will destroy America’s economy, but because the really big up-and-coming polluters are China and India.  Turns out I was wrong:  they’re not up-and-coming; they’re here and now, as are Africa and the Gulf countries.  America is a pollution piker.

Also, as you may have seen before, there is increasing evidence that oil is not a finite resource, dependent on the transformation of prehistoric plant and animal matter.  Instead, it might be a recurring product produced in the very bowels of the earth.  Cool.  (H/t Pierre  of Pierre Legrand’s Pink Flamingo Bar)

The destructive forces of green energy

Our travels this weekend took us over the Altamont Pass, home of one of America’s largest windmill farms.  The children were amazed by the endless vista of spinning windmills, and my husband waxed rhapsodic about the clean energy.  Being contrary, I mentioned that the windmills kill lots of birds.  Indeed, I said, there was something of a conundrum, because people who care about birds also care about clean energy, and here they were, faced with a clean energy source that kills birds.

It seems I’m not the only one who’s noticed that conundrum.  With exquisite timing, today’s WSJ has an op-ed on precisely that topic:

On Aug. 13, ExxonMobil pleaded guilty in federal court to killing 85 birds that had come into contact with crude oil or other pollutants in uncovered tanks or waste-water facilities on its properties. The birds were protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which dates back to 1918. The company agreed to pay $600,000 in fines and fees.

ExxonMobil is hardly alone in running afoul of this law. Over the past two decades, federal officials have brought hundreds of similar cases against energy companies. In July, for example, the Oregon-based electric utility PacifiCorp paid $1.4 million in fines and restitution for killing 232 eagles in Wyoming over the past two years. The birds were electrocuted by poorly-designed power lines.

Yet there is one group of energy producers that are not being prosecuted for killing birds: wind-power companies. And wind-powered turbines are killing a vast number of birds every year.

A July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamont Pass, Calif., estimated that its turbines kill an average of 80 golden eagles per year. The study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency, also estimated that about 10,000 birds—nearly all protected by the migratory bird act—are being whacked every year at Altamont.

Altamont’s turbines, located about 30 miles east of Oakland, Calif., kill more than 100 times as many birds as Exxon’s tanks, and they do so every year. But the Altamont Pass wind farm does not face the same threat of prosecution, even though the bird kills at Altamont have been repeatedly documented by biologists since the mid-1990s.

[snip]

Why aren’t wind companies prosecuted for killing eagles and other birds? “The fix here is not easy or cheap,” Mr. Lee told me. He added that he doesn’t expect to see any prosecutions of the politically correct wind industry.

This is a double standard that more people—and not just bird lovers—should be paying attention to. In protecting America’s wildlife, federal law-enforcement officials are turning a blind eye to the harm done by “green” energy.

On the subject of wind farms, a little imp also urged me to say that there must be a few other problems with them, since Teddy Kennedy refused to have them built anywhere within sight of his home in Hyannisport.  Mr. Bookworm first denied that this was true.  When I convinced him of its truth, he then said that it was perfectly reasonable for Kennedy to preserve his view and shift those ugly windmills elsewhere.  He did not concede that “elsewhere” might be less efficient or impair someone else’s view.  In fact, it’s perfectly possible that shifting them would be both more efficient and aesthetic.  I just enjoyed my spouse’s assumption that, if Kennedy said “no,” that possibility must be the reality.

Speaking of Newspeak — how about Kerry and Boxer on energy?

Even working together, Babs Boxer and John Kerry are still unable to beat Palin’s clear message and, instead, come out with meaningless government speak.  I can’t resist a very light fisking of their opinion piece for the WaPo, which does precisely what my blog slogan says Democrats do:  they take conclusions and try to sell them as facts. I’ll be so light that I won’t dive into underlying facts. I’ll just expose the nonsense on the face of the document.  Also, out of deference for fair use principles, I’m not going to fisk the whole thing, just bits and pieces.  And with those caveats, here goes:

Palin argues that “the answer doesn’t lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive!” The truth is, clean energy legislation doesn’t make energy scarcer or more expensive; it works to find alternative solutions to our costly dependence on foreign oil and provides powerful incentives to pursue cutting-edge clean energy technologies.  [Objection your honor:  non-responsive!  Have Babs and the French-looking guy said anything here that belies the claim that new energy will be scarcer and more expensive?  They’ve said they’d like to cut spending on foreign oil, but that has nothing to do with scarcity or cost.  They’ve also said the government will provide financial incentives for new energy, but that sounds costly — and there’s no guarantee that there is affordable and clean new energy to be had, at least in the short term.  In other words, they’ve said nothing at all that counters Palin’s claim that new government clean energy proposals will make energy scarce and costly.]

Palin asserts that job losses are “certain.” Wrong. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and American Clean Energy and Security legislation will create significant employment opportunities across the country in a broad array of sectors linked to the clean energy economy. Studies at the federal level and by states have demonstrated clean energy job creation. A report by the Center for American Progress calculated that $150 billion in clean energy investments would create more than 1.7 million domestic and community-based jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.  [Again, Babs and Kerry take the known problems expensive energy creates (inflation, job loss, a slowing economy and, against those history-proven facts, make the groundless promise that they’ll make some new jobs in a private sector devoted to trying to figure out ways to come up with a better solution than fossil fuel.  As to that dream, it would help if, at the very least, they’d work out how to make fossil fuel cleaner and more efficient.  But noooo.  This wagon is hooked to stars such as biofuels, which take food out of the mouths of poor people; electric cars, which use lots of fossil fuel to create the electricity and which work only in densely populated areas where people can tank up quickly; solar energy, which works only where the sun shines (tough luck for those in cold, foggy areas); wind energy, which has proven to be spectacularly unreliable, etc.  One day, alternative energies may be the answer, but to make traditional energy sources impossibly expensive, while sucking money out of the economy to fund pie-in-the-sky “alternatives” is certain to lose jobs.]

[snip]

Take the acid rain program established in the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990. The naysayers said it would cost consumers billions in higher electricity rates, but electricity rates declined an average of 19 percent from 1990 to 2006. Naysayers said the cost to business would be more than $50 billion a year, but health and other benefits outweighed the costs 40 to 1. Naysayers predicted it would cost the economy millions of jobs. In fact, the United States added 20 million jobs from 1993 to 2000, as the U.S. economy grew 64 percent.  [This may true.  However, since I don’t trust the source, how am I do know that, but for the Clean Air Act Amendments, the economy wouldn’t have grown by a vastly greater amount.  As it is, I happen to enjoy clean fresh air.  I’m interested in reasonable, market-driven responses to cleaner energy that doesn’t fund terrorists.  That doesn’t justify crap-and-tax, though, does it?]

The carefully crafted clean energy bill that we will present to the Senate [pardon me while I laugh hysterically as Babs uses the phrase “carefully crafted” to describe anything that’s coming out of the House right now], building on the Waxman-Markey legislation passed by the House, will jump-start our economy, protect consumers, stop the ravages of unchecked global climate change and ensure that the United States — not China or India — will be the leading economic power in this century. [And this will work because we’re sending to China and India, countries unconstrained by these bills, all the jobs that American employers can no longer afford to pay for?  Help me.  I’m confused.]

Anyway, you get the idea. Go to the WaPo, and read the article for yourself. See if you find it more convincing than I do.

Ask stupid questions, get stupid answers

I got an email poll from my representative Lynn Woolsey.  I was willing to take the poll, even though it would mean newsletters from her, until I actually read the poll.  It’s a dishonest one, and makes intelligent responses impossible.

Here’s the whole email, with my comments in red:

As you may know, Congress is developing new energy legislation which could create millions of new ‘green collar’ jobs, end our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and confront the threat of global warming.  [We’ll just skip quickly past the fact that I think those “green collar” jobs are chimerical, that there are other ways than green to end the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and the threat of global warming is a scam.]  I’m hoping to get your thoughts on this issue, so please complete this very brief survey and let me know what’s on your mind.  At the same time you can subscribe to my electronic newsletter and stay up to date on the latest news from Washington.

Thanks

3 questions on energy

How concerned are you about our nation’s current dependence on fossil fuels? [The problem with the following series of three choices is there predicate, which is that there are only two sources of energy:  foreign fossil fuels and wacky, expensive, often polluting “green” sources.  There are a lot of Americans who believe in domestic drilling and extraction from domestic shale.  With those false choices, all poll results will be skewed.]

Very – Our nation must take immediate steps to develop cleaner, domestic energy alternatives.

Somewhat – This is a long term problem, but currently there is no serious threat, and we don’t have to take any immediate steps.

Not at all – There’s nothing to worry about. The U.S. can continue to rely on foreign fossil fuels.

Which of the following actions do you believe would do the most to end our dependence on foreign oil? [Is it just me or did the three choices given conspicuously (a) leave out ANWR and shale and (b) solely call up the specter of ruining lovely coast lines?]

Significantly increase government spending towards alternative energy production such as solar, wind, and biomass.

Improve efficiency standards for cars, trucks, household appliances, and factories.

Expanded domestic oil drilling in areas such as the California and Florida coasts.

None of the above.

Would you support efforts to require corporations to pay for the pollution they generate, and, in turn, reinvest this revenue in the development of alternative energy? [This is the only semi-honest question asked. You know which answer I would pick. Indeed, this question is good enough that it may be worth filling out that darn poll. What do you think?]

Yes – Energy independence must be one of our nation’s top priorities. These are long term investments that will increase our future economic and national security, and protect the planet.

No – The federal government should not get involved in individual industries. In addition, efforts to decrease pollution will harm businesses at a time when our nation’s economy is already in trouble.

Not sure, haven’t made up my mind.

Obama’s plan to jumpstart the economy

Obama finally came out from hiding to talk a bit about the economy.  One of my liberal friends found this the most exciting aspect of his speech:

“We’ll be working out the details in the weeks ahead, but it will be a two-year, nationwide effort to jumpstart job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy,” Mr. Obama said. “We’ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels, fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead.”

You could see my friend thrilling to the Rooseveltian aspect of it all:  the government will rebuild America.  It’s the CCC and WPA all over again — never mind that after several years of those programs, the US was mired in an even worse depression than that which Roosevelt inherited.

My friend outlined all of the wonderful alternative energy sources that could be created once Obama got his hands on the reins of energy creation.  He waxed lyrical about a way to use mirrors and water to create steam all over America’s vast plains and deserts, and then to run this steam into interconnected turbines that would power America.

“It can be done,” he said.  “They’re already building the prototypes in Nevada.”

“If it can be done,” I asked, “and it’s so wonderful, why hasn’t the private sector already stepped forward?”

“You don’t understand,” was his reply.  “All of these are isolated efforts, like the telephone system a hundred years ago.  They need to be tied together so that they work effectively.”

“I do understand,” I said.  “But why doesn’t the private sector build this infrastructure tying together all these great sources of clean energy creation?”

“Because of all the regulations blocking them,” was his answer.

“So you’re saying, aren’t you, that the problem isn’t too little government, it’s to much government?”

“No, that’s not what I’m saying.  The government needs to bring them all together.”  (Always the government.)

My last word was that if Obama can cut the Code of Federal Regulations by 80%, freeing up money and ingenuity without using government money, he will be the greatest President in history.  I got a blank stare in response.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Oil shale

I know nothing about oil shale.  Harry Reid, however, made it news by trying to sneak an amendment into a bill that would block developing oil shale.  With oil shale being news, I’ve now learned from someone who seems to be well-informed on the subject (one of Anchoress’ readers) that Reid is acting as if it’s 1970 when he tries to block its use as an energy source.  In fact, says that knowledgeable person, we have vast reserves, and they can be accessed through methods that have minimal environmental impact.

Before I go on this subject, it reminds me again of my point that those who now style themselves Progressive are actually regressive.  The valid debate about abortion is conducted as if out-of-wedlock pregnancies are a heinous social sin, birth control is unavailable, and back alley abortions are commonplace.  The debate about racism is conducted as if Jim Crow still controls, not just the South, but the whole nation.  And now we learn that Harry Reid’s non-debate, sneak tactic about oil shale is, in all probability based on information that is 30 years out of date.

If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is there, does it make a sound? *UPDATED*

You’ve all heard the question that is the title of my post, haven’t you?  Is an audience necessary for a sound to have meaning or even existence? And what if, in our world, the intermediary to the audience bugs out?  That’s today’s question, as Republicans vigorously debate the new drilling despite the fact that, Pelosi shut down the House, turned off the lights, and sent all her Democrats home.  And with the lights and mikes off, the media has mostly gone home, except those who try to display it, not as an act of substantive importance, but one of conservative silliness.

It seems to me though, in the wonderful world of the internet, we have the perfect opportunity to defang the MSM once and for all.  Go to the same Politico post to which I linked above, which describes what’s going on, and email it to your friends, and post it on your blogs, and talk about it to people.  In this Brave New Internet World, the MSM doesn’t have to be there; we the American people can be there instead.

To get you started, here is some of the Politico coverage:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democrats adjourned the House and turned off the lights and killed the microphones, but Republicans are still on the floor talking gas prices.

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders opposed the motion to adjourn the House, arguing that Pelosi’s refusal to schedule a vote allowing offshore drilling is hurting the American economy. They have refused to leave the floor after the adjournment motion passed at 11:23 a.m. and are busy bashing Pelosi and her fellow Democrats for leaving town for the August recess.

At one point, the lights went off in the House and the microphones were turned off in the chamber, meaning Republicans were talking in the dark. But as Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz..) was speaking, the lights went back on, and the microphones were turned on shortly afterward.

But C-SPAN, which has no control over the cameras in the chamber, has stopped broadcasting the House floor, meaning no one is witnessing this except the assembled Republicans, their aides, and one Democrat, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who has now left.

Only about a half-dozen Republicans were on the floor when this began, but the crowd has grown to about 20 now, according to Patrick O’Connor.

“This is the people’s House,” Rep, Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) said. “This is not Pelosi’s politiburo.”

Democratic aides were furious at the GOP stunt, and reporters were kicked out of the Speaker’s Lobby, the space next to the House floor where they normally interview lawmakers.

“You’re not covering this, are you?” complaing one senior Democratic aide. Another called the Republicans “morons” for staying on the floor.

The Politico story is exciting, too, because in a series of updates it’s clear that the Republicans are becoming more energized and the Dems more angry.  Keep in mind that the Dems and the Republicans know that the vast majority of Americans, tired of seeing their energy bills climb needlessly, are in favor of drilling.

UPDATE:  Finally, some live (ish) video.  Hat tip to the Anchoress, who is blogging about this here.

At long last, the Republicans are showing some mojo.  Let’s give them our help by keeping this a talking-point.

Flopping Aces is blogging too (and has a great cartoon).

Queen Nancy

IBD does an enjoyably neat job of cutting Nancy Pelosi down to size:

When challenged in an interview with Politico.com about her bullheaded refusal to let Republicans submit energy policies for approval, Pelosi resorted to risible hyperbole to justify her iron-fisted rule of the House parliamentary process.

“I’m trying to save the planet; I’m trying to save the planet,” she responded. “I will not have this debate trivialized by their excuse for their failed policy.”

If the San Francisco Democrat’s magisterial narcissism isn’t off-putting enough, her intent should be. She’s saying that her importance to the survival of Earth transcends our system of open government, elections and power-sharing. Because she’s trying to save the world, she can’t be challenged and dissent will not be tolerated.

Read the rest here.

Oh, speaking of stupidity regarding oil policy, get a load of this video of Barack Obama advising us to dig out our tire air gauges to save the planet, along with John Hindraker’s little reality check.

Are oil prices coinciding with lifted bans or demand worries?

Okay, I admit, that’s an incredibly awkwardly phrased post title (I’m making a habit of those), but I wanted to ask you all a question.  What I noticed some weeks ago was that, the moment Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling, oil prices dropped.  My view was that the mere expectation of increased domestic oil supplies was enough to put in a spike in the never-ending escalation of oil prices.

Today, however, I’m assured by Reuters that oil prices dropped because the market is “worried”:

Oil falls to 12-week low on demand worries

Oil fell to its lowest level in nearly three months on Tuesday, extending a steep slide since mid-July on mounting evidence high prices and a souring economy were cutting into world energy demand.

The drop coincided with a firmer U.S. dollar, which may have reduced the appeal of commodities to some investors playing the strong negative correlation between the markets in recent months, analysts said.

There is no mention at all in the article about Bush’s actions.

I’ll always be the first to admit that I’m woefully ignorant about the ways of the market.  However, my understanding has always been that, whenever there are oil worries, oil prices go up.  This is the first time I’ve heard of worries driving prices down.  And another thing — considering that rising oil prices have been terribly damaging to world economies, why does this article make it sound as if dropping prices is a bad thing?

Can anyone explain this to me?

I’m Bookworm, and I approved of this ad