August 4, 2008

John Kerry does a terrible job of representing Barack Obama on "Meet the Press."

As Joe Lieberman dominated every exchange, John Kerry seemed to think it would work to sit back and make Stan Laurel faces:



Kerry's performance hit rock bottom when he struggled to keep up with Obama's latest position on offshore oil drilling:
MR. BROKAW: Let's, let's talk about energy for a moment, if we can, because there have been several developments this past week that are important. A bipartisan coalition of 10 senators...

SEN. KERRY: Yes.

MR. BROKAW: ...five Democrats, five Republicans--want to expand offshore drilling and they want to end a tax credit on oil companies. Senator Obama, in the past, has often said that he's opposed to offshore drilling.... Now, having said that, here's what Senator Obama had to say over the weekend: "My interest is in making sure that we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices. ... If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage--I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done." I can already hear the bloggers saying, "Flip-flop." Here's a guy who just...

SEN. KERRY: Sure.

MR. BROKAW: ...a couple of months ago said, "No way we're going to do this," now he's opened the possibility of it again. Two weeks ago on this program Vice President Al Gore, who's the godfather in the Democratic Party of energy policies, said, "No way should we drill offshore."

SEN. KERRY: I agree with Al Gore, and I don't want to. But, but Barack Obama...

MR. BROKAW: You, you--so you don't agree with Senator Obama?

SEN. KERRY: Well, I don't agree--here's, here's what I think his position is demonstrating. He still believes we should not drill offshore.
What?!
MR. BROKAW: But he's prepared to do it if necessary.

SEN. KERRY: He has not changed--what he's prepared to do, Tom, is break America's gridlock by honoring a bipartisan effort if that is the only way to move us towards alternative and renewable fuels and, and, and an energy policy that's comprehensive. I think what you see in the response on this drilling is really the difference in how they might govern. Barack Obama doesn't want to drill offshore, doesn't believe it's the thing to do.
What?! So you're saying that Obama's newest statements on the subject are just some meaningless politicking that you won't even pretend to believe temporarily while he gets himself elected?
There's a very--there's a four-state carefully circumscribed proposal in that, that, in that initiative that, that could conceivably allow some drilling.
that, that... that, that...

Can anyone listen to this part? Kerry gives off the signal that he's going to blather and smokescreen and do that thing his erstwhile fans called "nuance" in 2004.

could conceivably allow some drilling....

But what? But we shouldn't believe it will lead to any drilling?
He doesn't want to do that.
He doesn't? So Obama muddied his position, opened himself up to the accusation that he's flip-flopped, and the take away point really is just that he doesn't want drilling? Thanks a lot, Kerry.

Obama, do not send Kerry out to represent you again. He's terrible.
But if that's what gets us to the energy independence and to the other efforts, I think Joe Lieberman actually supports--now, he didn't support drilling. He's changed and moves in that direction.
"He" — who? I can't even tell if he's talking about Obama or Lieberman. So the point is, I think, that Obama wants to get some legislation through and he's willing to accept some provision that happens to be in it because it only opens a possibility of drilling, and he doesn't support drilling? I thought Obama wanted people to think he was open to offshore drilling, but Kerry is squelching that belief. How is Kerry trying to help Obama?
But here's the bottom line.
Go to the transcript for the news that oil companies make too much money and need to be taxed more. Let's skip a step ahead, and pick up in the middle what Lieberman's saying when he gets the floor again:
... John McCain says we need to drill offshore. That's American oil, we need to bring it into the market to help lower gas prices and make us energy independent. Barack Obama says, this weekend, maybe, and, and, if, but. He did not endorse--he did not come out with a strong decision, Obama, and say, "I'm for offshore drilling." And I predict to you he'll find reasons not to be for it if this comes to a vote in the Senate.

SEN. KERRY: Are you for it now? Have you changed?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: I am for it...

SEN. KERRY: You've changed.
Oh, so Kerry was talking about Lieberman before. That's a distraction. We're talking about Obama and McCain, aren't we? Or is Kerry more concerned about the Senate-level debate about what legislation gets passed?
SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...because of the crisis. That's...

SEN. KERRY: You're now for it.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...absolutely right, because of the facts.

I want to take a minute from a personal perspective...

MR. BROKAW: Are you--you're--and you're not for it, Senator Kerry, under any circumstances.

SEN. KERRY: It is an absolutely fraudulent offering to America.
Is this helpful to Obama, who's been reframing his position?
SEN. LIEBERMAN: It, it is not.

SEN. KERRY: Drilling--let me tell you why. We only...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: My buddy here is filibustering this morning.
Yes, exactly! Kerry is being a Senator. Has he forgotten his role of helping Obama? But he wasn't invited onto "Meet the Press" to do his Senate work.
SEN. KERRY: We only have, we only have 3 percent of the world's oil reserves. Sixty-five percent of the oil comes from the Mideast. The problem with global climate change is oil. The problem for our security is our dependency on oil.

MR. BROKAW: So what you're saying...

SEN. KERRY: If we go out and drill more oil, even temporarily, when it doesn't come to the pump for about seven years, you're not dealing with the real crisis, which is moving America's innovation...
The same old Democratic talking points... I thought Obama trying to get away from that.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well...

SEN. KERRY: ...and creativity, the creation of new fuel.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...here, here's the difference. Here, here's the difference. Senator Obama, Senator Kerry say no to offshore drilling, no to nuclear power and...

SEN. KERRY: No, I don't say no to nuclear power.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: OK, hold on. Senator Obama certainly does. John McCain says we got to have all of the above. In the short term, we need to drill for American oil where we can find it and get it safely. That's offshore. Secondly, John McCain has presented--and we need nuclear power. Secondly, John McCain has presented the most bold alternative energy--wind, solar, electric car, hydrogen car--proposals that are around today.

I want to say just a word about the, the racial question here. And I, I speak personally. In the first place, the McCain campaign is, to use Barack Obama's words, raising the question is he a risky guy? But it has nothing to do with his name or his skin color. It has to do with his lack of experience and bad judgment, his unreadiness to be president. When you use the expressions that Senator Obama did three times this week, you're making a personal insult to John McCain.

I, I know John McCain. I've been with him for 20 years, private and public. This man does not have a bigoted bone in his body. His wife and he adopted a baby from Bangladesh, who, who they love. It's just wrong for Senator Obama to have done that. It was right for the campaign to call him on it. Let me just add a final word, Tom. In 2000, Al Gore gave me the extraordinary honor of being the first Jewish-American to run for national office, and Al Gore said he had confidence in the American people that they would judge me based on my record, not on my religion. And I urge Barack Obama to have the same faith in the American people that they will judge him on his record, or lack of record, certainly not on his name or his race.

MR. BROKAW: All right. We want to move on if we can.
Yes, let's move on, now that Joe Lieberman has just done a triumphant 2-part dance on the supine carcass of John Kerry. And that's it for the discussion of oil drilling. Is Brokaw playing it straight, biased against Obama, or just painfully aware that John Kerry is pathetically incapable or perversely unwilling to help Barack Obama?

90 comments:

peter hoh said...

Kerry provides continuing evidence that it doesn't take much skill for a Democrat to win an election in Massachusetts.

Pogo said...

John Kerry usually does what's best for John Kerry. I question Obama's judgement for having agreed to this; what did he think would happen?

"He has not changed--what he's prepared to do, Tom, is break America's gridlock by honoring a bipartisan effort if that is the only way to move us towards alternative and renewable fuels and, and, and an energy policy that's comprehensive."

Typical bait and switch bullshittery.
We'll do it if we have to. But of course we'll never "have" to.
It's like telling Canada that the anti-NAFTA stuff is just rhetoric to be ignored. The 'pro-drilling' stance is the same thing; merely rhetoric to appease the centrists, not something that will become actual policy.

rhhardin said...

alternative and renewable fuels

Kerry uses pairs of adjectives for large spiritual issues.

Spritual means he feels that he'll be quoted by history.

Vapid is no obstacle.

rhhardin said...

I question what a good job of representing Obama would be like.

Kerry's representing the base.

Althouse is representing women.

it is the young women who are more likely than the young men to come up with a tactful rather than frightened response, and when they become foolish about this later - silliness is a feminine failing - they will say that they knew the horse had good intentions all along. Vicki Hearne.

The guys decided Obama is worthless long ago.

Second chances come from the men's rules of second chances, not from extended soap opera discussions.

KimH said...

BTW -- NBC posts video podcasts of MTP mid-day Sunday, which is a very convenient thing. Easy to find on iTunes. I usually watch MTP on my iPhone while on the Stairmaster...

...Which is where I saw it last night. I noticed that when Joe Lieberman started criticizing Obama, Kerry turned to stare at him. Sitting side-by-side, close together as they were, it seemed a transparent attempt to intimidate Lieberman.

What a craven, unctuous gasbag Kerry is. As bad as things may become, I can always be profoundly grateful that we escaped a Kerry presidency.

John Stodder said...

So, it sounds like this is what will happen. Obama will vote for a bill that authorizes the president to allow drilling, but once the president allows drilling -- and if it's controversial or unpopular -- Obama will claim that he only wanted to give the president the authority to drill in order to help him develop alternative energy, and that if he had thought his vote to allow the president to drill for oil meant the president would drill for oil, why, he never would have voted that way. As he has said many times...

knox said...

I thought the Obama campaign was supposed to be so savvy... why in the world would they allow Kerry to open his mouth on behalf of Obama, ever.

AllenS said...

John F. Kerry is allowed to speak because he was the Democratic nominee in 2004. Good luck to Democrats who try to tell him to shut up.

Meade said...

All Kerry is really saying is that Obama was against drilling before Obama was for it.

That's a winner, isn't it?

Roger J. said...

Thank God or Goddess for the great state of ohio (and. of course Rove--that magnificent bastard)! You can't make this stuff about Kerry--its there for all the world to see. As President, Kerry would have introduced "muscular confusion" for American foreign policy.

Cedarford said...

John Kerry long ago degenerated into a self-parody.
Enjoy him at his oblivious best.
Lieberman did not put his head on a platter. Kerry showed up cluelessly proffering it.

Funniest show since Bill Richardson showed on Meet the Press that he was the living affirmative action embodiment of the Peter Principle. As he tried to explain positions that were beyond his ken or ability to explain that were handed to him by his handlers prior to meeting with Russert - and was reduced to a flummoxed pile of sweaty, confused, greasy politician...

Roger J. said...

Kerry's performance also suggests why a Senator is not a good choice for president--

reader_iam said...

The guys decided Obama is worthless long ago.

Oh, bullshit.

Henry said...

It's hard to pin down Obama, but the Democratic party position on fossil fuels seems to be that we need cheap gas (but not from domestic sources) to lead us to energy independence.

This is economic incoherence.

Cheap gas means no market for more expensive alternatives. It means no incentive for consumers to move toward energy conservation. It means no pressure to reform an idiotic regulatory structure that turns every effort to change the aging infrastructure into a NIMBY competition.

Back in 2000, the Clinton Administration, with Al Gore himself running for president, released strategic oil reserves to correct a minor elevation in summer gas prices.

That's the last time I paid any attention to Al Gore's environmentalism.

michael farris said...

He wasn't my first, or second or even third choice (thanks a lot, Iowa, grrrrrrr) but I have a hard time believing that a Kerry presidency would (could) have been worse than what we've had for the last 8 years. I'm pretty sure it would have been at least a tiny bit better.

AJ Lynch said...

John Stodder:

I agree with you. It seems Obama will agree to change his stance simply to get elected but then Obama will block drilling in the offshore areas that show promise.

Perhaps Kerry got Obama's talking points before the MTP taping and he forgot to keep them under wraps.

reader_iam said...

Cheap gas means no market for more expensive alternatives. It means no incentive for consumers to move toward energy conservation. It means no pressure to reform an idiotic regulatory structure that turns every effort to change the aging infrastructure into a NIMBY competition.

!!!!!!!

Which reminds me, I mean to also comment on this:

The same old Democratic talking points..

Not necessarily, Althouse. However annoying Kerry may be, and regardless of whether Democrats often make part of the point that Kerry's making, it doesn't mean there isn't real merit to the particular comment to which your responding.

We DO keep ducking oil(from any current source)-dependency issues, and we HAVE been putting off facing that problem, as well as infrastructure issues, for many years now, and stopgaps DO seem primarily to have enabled us to keep procastinating. Historically, we have NOT used the breathing space wisely; it's been quite the opposite. I find it breathtaking that anyone can think otherwise.

Everything has consequences; pay now, or pay later, but pay you will. That's a universal truth, not a partisan sentiment, and by rights it ought to be one embraced by conservatives.

Think about it.

Randy said...

Everything has consequences; pay now, or pay later, but pay you will. That's a universal truth, not a partisan sentiment, and by rights it ought to be one embraced by conservatives.

Good luck with that!

AJ Lynch said...

Infrastructure "problems" have become a belief system much like global warming.

For years, the states and feds have had plenty of money dedicated to infrastructure but decided to divert significant portions to other stuff. In the meantime, state and fed budgets grew as they spent more taxpayer money on new programs and increased spending dramatically on things like Medicaid etc.

Ron said...

The difference between Stan Laurel and John Kerry is that Stan Laurel is funny, and John Kerry is just a joke.

reader_iam said...

but decided to divert significant portions to other stuff.

AJ, that's an important piece of the infrastructure problem to which I refer. DUH, dude!

As for your first sentence: with regard to me, clearly you don't know what you're talking about, so f*** off.

Randy said...

Reader: I thought you might enjoy this.

AJ Lynch said...

Take your meds Reader. I wasn't talking to you.

Outis said...

Ann, can you really fault Kerry here? Obama said on Saturday that his position hasn't changed, that his position is the same as it has always been. How can you expect Kerry (or even someone with intelligence) to be able to deal with this kind of cognitive dissonance?

reader_iam said...

Drastically cutting back on the civility thing when warranted precludes the needs for meds, and is ever so much cheaper, I have no doubt.

Perhaps, sirrah, you should have been more clear at whom you were aiming your boring, lazy cliche of a response.

reader_iam said...

By the way, "take your meds" is an even more boring, lazy cliche of a response--though, it is true, not even 1/100th as annoying as the other, on account of it being 1) laughable and 2) harmless, speaking policy-wise.

Jim Hu said...

Missed Kerry on MTP, but I did blog yesterday that Tom Daschle was a horrible representative for Obama on Fox News Sunday. (full disclosure: I'm a "hold your nose for McCain voter"; Obama strikes me as a decent guy with ideas worse than McCain's bad ideas... but I really can't stand Kerry or Daschle so my reviews of them are likely to be flavored by that.)

rhardin:The guys decided Obama is worthless long ago.

reader_iam:
Oh, bullshit.

Men in some key swing states would be more accurate. Over at Mystery pollster, they're writing that the gender gap is looking similar to recent elections.

On CNN yesterday, Bill Schneider said something that I'm not sure I believe: that Obama's national lead in the popular vote is almost all from his lead in California. Maybe I misheard that.

David said...

In Gore and Kerry, the Democrats--the party of the common man--nominated two hopeless, preppy, elitist twits.

These guys would have been immediate consensus national jokes if they were Republicans. It took them a little longer to become punch lines because they are Democrats.

Obama is struggling in the polls despite the good press because he shows tendencies similar to Gore and Kerry.

Can you be a black elitist preppy twit?

Yes, you can!

Salamandyr said...

As Outis pointed out, if Obama is claiming consistency, you can't really fault Kerry for doing the same.

It seems to me that a quote from Obama saying, in effect, he's re-evaluated his position and is willing to compromise on the issue, would show some strength and idealogical flexibility. Obama claims to have those qualities, but he has not displayed them in any fashion.

Henry said...

AJ Lynch -- You're misreading the word "infrastructure". We're not talking about roads and bridge. We're talking about refineries, power plants, even corn-based ethanol farms. Utilities and industrial plants are heavily regulated (as are farms). Many utilities are public-private partnerships that work through state governments to set rates. The infrastructure problem is as much legal and financial as anything else.

One example. The U.S. has about 150 oil refineries total. Most are in Gulf Coast states and subject to hurricane risk. We refine something like 330 gallons of gasoline a day. We consume something like 390 gallons of gasoline a day.

The last new oil refinery built in this country was in 1976.

See the problem?

Randy said...

It seems to me that a quote from Obama saying, in effect, he's re-evaluated his position and is willing to compromise on the issue, would show some strength

It sure would. Obama's refusal to acknowledge he's re-evaluated his position even when it is transparently obvious that is exactly what he's done does not bode well.

reader_iam said...

Henry is a nicer person than I am. More patient, too.

(His list is just for starters, btw.)

Jarz said...

Jeez, doesn't anyone realize that Obama is still a Senator? Compromise is necessary to being a legislator, and it is not the same as flip-flopping. Obama's argument is consistent within the limits of his role; he thinks off-shore drilling is a bad idea, but is willing to sign off on it on a bill if it contains other things he does support and believes that on balance the bill would be positive. Taking a perceived step back to take two forward is the "dance of legislation."

This does leave Obama open to simplistic partisan attacks, but this is a contrarian centrist blog, not Hugh Hewitt.

(Of course, this also demonstrates why it's nearly impossible for a Senator to be elected President.)

I think Obama should get some credit for not forgetting his day job, and for also providing a real-world example of how one can simultaneously be ideologically liberal and temprementally moderate.

Roger J. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger J. said...

Jarz--your points re senators vs presidents is well taken--and it applies to both McCain and Obama. I continue to look for a third candidate, because the current two come down to a lesser of two evils choice.

As to their day jobs: were a citizen of either Illinois or Arizona, I would wonder what these folks are doing to earn their pay--why don't both of them take the Bob Dole approach and give up their "day jobs" which is apparently to run for president, and become full time candidates? Not that they already arent.

Outis said...

Jarz, your points would be fine except that Obama himself is stating that he hasn't compromised and hasn't changed his position. This despite the fact that he has done exactly that. If he were to acknowledge that he has changed his mind because of circumstances that would be fine. But instead he's giving us "We were always at war with Eurasia" line, past history be damned.

garage mahal said...

The last new oil refinery built in this country was in 1976.

See the problem?


CEOs for BP, Shell and Conoco all testified to Congress last year that environmental requirements have not blocked a single planned refinery. The reason they are not being built is the same reason they're not drilling on the leases already set aside for them. It's costs money and they
ve made the decision it isn't worth it.

Methadras said...

After the interview I would have asked John Kerry, "Hey John, why the long face?"

Henry said...

t's costs money and they've made the decision it isn't worth it.

Exactly. It costs money. And huge capital outlays are risky, especially when Congress thinks the path to energy independence is cheap gas.

AlphaLiberal said...

Lieberman says Obama doesn't support nuclear power. Oh, if only it were so.

From Obama's speech in Lansing today:
"In addition, we’ll find safer ways to use nuclear power and store nuclear waste."

So, Lieberman lies, for which Althouse praises him. (Not that Althouse dwells on things like facts...)

The Drill SGT said...

Kerry just told the truth about the flim flam that Obama intends. e.g. hold out the theoritical possibility of drilling on the OCS, but in reality never let it happen. Ultimately, the Dems have a single energy agenda. Limit oil consumption through contraints on production, refining, taxes... to raise the price of hydrocarbon fuels to the point where alternatives are cheaper.

McCain sees the energy future in three horizons:

1. short term, drill now, drill deep, drill often. incentivize fuel cells and battery tech, build nukes

2. mid term, lower oil consumption, high use of nuke plants combined with electric or hybrids. you need to have solved the problem of cheap, light, enviro batteries to be at this stage

3. long term, alternative energy sources only make sense if you can solve the fuel cell tech problem. Fuel cells or other cheap storage medium are what is needed to make any use out of solar, wind, or tidal energy sources. otherwise you cant deliver energy during off periods (e.g. at night)

AJ Lynch said...

Henry:

Infrastructure is usually used to refers to transportation not energy.

I am aware that we have not built a refinery in America in years. Ditto for nuke plants.

The Drill SGT said...

Lieberman says Obama doesn't support nuclear power. Oh, if only it were so.

From Obama's speech in Lansing today:
"In addition, we’ll find safer ways to use nuclear power and store nuclear waste


Lieberman just didn't get an advance copy of Obama's latest flip flop. On The official obama web site they have his energy plan. lots of words about solar, wind, bio-mass and even clean coal. Nuclear IS NOT MENTIONED.

http://www.barackobama.com/issues/energy/

AJ Lynch said...

Sgt:

10-9-8-7 ..3-2-1

I bet the website scrubbing has begun now that you have pointed it out for them. Heh.

garage mahal said...

1. short term, drill now, drill deep, drill often....

Except there is no guarantee they will even sell it to us, or sell it any cheaper when their done extracting it in 5-8 years. And liberals are the idealists?

Randy said...

McCain sees the energy future in three horizons:

1. short term, drill now, drill deep, drill often. incentivize fuel cells and battery tech, build nukes

2. mid term, lower oil consumption, high use of nuke plants combined with electric or hybrids. you need to have solved the problem of cheap, light, enviro batteries to be at this stage

3. long term, alternative energy sources only make sense if you can solve the fuel cell tech problem. Fuel cells or other cheap storage medium are what is needed to make any use out of solar, wind, or tidal energy sources. otherwise you cant deliver energy during off periods (e.g. at night)


The plan has merits. At the same time, what chance does McCain have of getting any of this done given the political opposition will have large majorities in Congress?

Lieberman just didn't get an advance copy of Obama's latest flip flop. On The official obama web site they have his energy plan. lots of words about solar, wind, bio-mass and even clean coal. Nuclear IS NOT MENTIONED.

LOL!

Chip Ahoy said...

Yay! I finally found the video that made you think that. Finally! Now I know what you're talking about/

blake said...

Except there is no guarantee they will even sell it to us,

The word of the day is "fungible". It doesn't matter if they sell it to us.

or sell it any cheaper

Not only does greater supply result in lower cost, threat of a greater supply results in lower cost.

Hence the Pres sez, "OK, you can drill", and the price comes down.

when their done extracting it in 5-8 years.

Well, at least that's down from the hard ten we've been hearing about.

I thought we had some wells in the Pacific we shut off when the ban was enacted, that only need to be uncapped, and could be producing in six months.

And liberals are the idealists?

Liberals are idealists of sorts. But there aren't many "life, liberty, property" liberals around any more.

Sort of weird how it all comes down to the state deciding what can be done with things the state really shouldn't be owning in the first place.

garage mahal said...

Hence the Pres sez, "OK, you can drill", and the price comes down.

Great! So we don't have to drill, just talk about drilling. What took Bush so long to say "ok drill".

blake said...

I admit to being confused as to the Dem stance on the issue. (Though, truth be told, if I understand it, the Rep stance isn't much different, except they have a foil to blame things on.)

What it seems to me the Dems are saying is, "We don't want to drill, but if those dirty Reps make us, then we'll do so. Meanwhile, we'll make sure any bill allowing drilling will include lots of pork for people on the alt fuel gravy train (though it has produced nothing of value for 30 years, and in some cases has been disastrous)."

The Reps had six years to undo the drilling ban, including three years from the price spike around the time of the Iraq War, and they didn't. Their position seems to be, "You don't want to drill? Fine, we won't drill. What? Now you want to drill and you're all pissed off because we weren't drilling before? Fine, now we'll drill."

Both are concerned primarily with being politically blameless.

That's not leadership.

The interesting twist, to me, on the Dem side, is that they're saying they'll only compromise as long as drilling doesn't harm the environment, and then will only do so reluctantly. Really? If it doesn't harm the environment, why would you object?

Rhetorically, there's no way around the dumb ol' "carbon footprint" issue. If you believe in AGW and that carbon is the culprit, even a minimally damaging drilling is going to result in more carbon. That's the goal.

blake said...

Great! So we don't have to drill, just talk about drilling.

Heh. It does have to be convincing. If we don't actually drill, the prices will go right back up.

What took Bush so long to say "ok drill".

See my previous post. Summary: Poor leadership.

Pogo said...

"we’ll find safer ways to use nuclear power and store nuclear waste"

Obama thus describes how he will avoid using nuclear power in the same way he intends to avoid drilling.

Nuclear? Not safe enough yet.
Drilling? Not moving us toward alternative and renewable fuels yet.

Do you have bananas?
Yes, we have no bananas.
We have no bananas today.

Henry said...

AJ wrote: Infrastructure is usually used to refers to transportation not energy.

I thought it was clear from the context that I was talking about infrastructure in terms of energy production, but that's nothing to argue about.

Henry said...

Pogo -- excellent catch. Wasn't Obama just in Europe? Do you think he bothered asking anyone about France's nuclear power program?

So why is he speaking in the future tense?

It's a kind of Obama uncertainty principle. The closer he comes to an issue, the vaguer he gets.

reader_iam said...

nfrastructure is usually used to refers to transportation not energy.

By whom, and since when?

Nope, it's a broader term than that and includes transportation, public works (sewage, wastewater, etc.), energy grids, communications and even manufacturing, community structure and--for that matter--IT-related stuff. (I'm not saying all those things relate to oil, of course; I'm saying all of those things involve infrastructure, and infrastructure can and does refer to any and all of those things, depending on context.)

I'm finding it dumbfounding that you're resisting on such small points, AJ, and insisting on narrowing the scope to such a tight degree. No one's saying you have to agree. And you've always struck me as intelligent and reasonable. But the way you're resisting down to the last millimeter at looking at a potential picture is making me wonder what your agenda is, what specific vested interest you may be protecting at all costs.

blake said...

reader--

Perhaps you'll suffer this fool for a moment, because I'm taken by a sentiment you've expressed that I've heard for as long as I've known what gasoline is.

Everything has consequences; pay now, or pay later, but pay you will.

That seems to be a spiritual statement. Karmic, perhaps.

Why must we pay, and what are we paying for? It seems to me that we pay for taking oil out of the ground in the first place, drilling costs and what-not. Lives were lost in building the technology and continue to be lost, in the extraction thereof.

The handling procedures are complex and costly, from crude to refined, to the smog prevention devices in all our cars.

The money goes to people who use for evil purposes, against us, and we can't really stop that. (Except a la Hussein.)

Are we not paying every day? Are we not handling the consequences?

There's the other issue: the theoretical limit to the amount of oil available, and I would certainly agree that, if we believe that to be true, and that we're close to that limit, we have not used the breathing room of the past 30 years very well.

But the "shortage" in the '70s was not a reflection of the physical reality, but the political one. As is the current "shortage"!

I'm reminded of world hunger: It didn't go away because we suddenly were able to produce more food than the world could eat. (Malthus notwithstanding.) And behold the modern irony of having "too much food".

Maybe I misunderstand, though. Are we going to just suddenly run out? Because it seems to me far more likely that bumps like the current one are going to come and go, and gradually increasing prices will also allow gradually viable alternatives.

(Assuming there isn't a breakthrough in an alternative, which is always possible.)

Roger J. said...

Obama and lansing speech: proof positive that he is indeed the panderer in chief

keep lapping that pablum up you Obamabots

knox said...

We DO keep ducking oil (from any current source)-dependency issues

"from any current source?" ... do we need to be independent from any supplier but our enemies? What's the problem with getting oil from say, Canada or Mexico -- or our own reserves?

and stopgaps DO seem primarily to have enabled us to keep procastinating.

Well, stopgaps help keep prices down and make daily expenses more manageable. That's a big deal.

reader, do you want to get away from oil because you believe we will run out soon, or environmental reasons? I'm not asking this snarky, I really want to understand your position.

I fundamentally disagree that we should ignore the oil reserves here in the US, and instead wait for the government to take some sort of hypothetical higher ground where we pursue other, some of them untested, alternatives. Especially when the most practical solutions that will help get substantive results (and prices down) are nixed! For decades now, the democrats have ruled out nuclear. (And as for Obama, his position is fluid, at best.) Same with building more refineries to help with the oil we DO have.

So, I am asking in all seriousness: exactly what am I supposed to hope will come of all this? Should we all just live with high prices indefinitely, hoping that someone will come up with some solution that satisfies our needs-- and the impossibly high standards of the environmentists? No thanks.

pay now, or pay later, but pay you will. That's a universal truth, not a partisan sentiment, and by rights it ought to be one embraced by conservatives.

In short, for me, "Later" would be when there is a true incentive to develop these alternatives... in other words, when we can see that oil is truly starting to run out. Why ignore our oil reserves? Why not use them while we can? Why write them off as just a "stopgap"?

knox said...

Looks like Blake and I have at least some of the same questions.

John Stodder said...

In re: the discussion of "pay we will" vs. "haven't we already paid."

I'm with blake in saying the notion of some Great Judgement being issued against our society for its environmental crimes is much more religion than science. But lately, I've become a bit gloomier about the future, just in practical terms.

The fact is, environmentalists, engineers and others have been working to find viable alternatives to oil, coal and natural gas for decades. Our politicians always act as if we have been neglecting alternative energy, but that's just not true. There have been many billions in public and private investment in search of ways to leverage chemistry to unleash power presumed to be hidden inside sustainable substances like sunlight and water.

What if it can't be done? What if we're getting all we're going to get? What if the problem of intermittency is unsolvable?

Well, perhaps it has been done, via nuclear power; and over time, the regulatory scheme will change to allow rapid deployment of nuclear technology to carry the load of electricity.

Fine, but how does that address transportation? Another goal established decades ago was find a lighter-weight battery with large storage capacity that also doesn't need to be constantly replaced (and thus create a serious environmental problem related to disposal.) It hasn't happened. What if it can't be done? And if it can't, does that spell the end of personal transportation, the end of airlines and shipping lines?

One of the applause lines politicians use to deal with energy, especially when trying to justify an anti-drilling position is, "We're so creative! We put a man on the moon! By golly, if government would just provide enough funding, good ol' American ingenuity will lick this oil addiction."

A good book for someone to write would be the documentation of what's been done already to achieve sustainable, plentiful energy, with a realistic assessment of what our failures have taught us, and what they suggest for the future.

It would be great if someday we could have a presidential campaign dialogue on energy that wasn't full of bullshit, where the wanna-be CEOs of the company would tell the truth, and then outline policies to deal with what is, not what their supporters see in their dreams.

knox said...

I am very skeptical that we will ever find a perfectly "clean" solution that won't have scary possibilities, like nuclear. Nothing comes for free.

Pogo said...

The left measures all proposals against the imaginary future perfect, which always outshines the grubby imperfect present solutions tolerated by conservatives.

It always seems easier to bitch and do nothing but wait for the unicorn to save you.

Revenant said...

and stopgaps DO seem primarily to have enabled us to keep procastinating.

We're not procrastinating. We, as a society, are in denial.

Solar power is not a possible solution. Even if we could wave a magic wand and invent a 100% efficient solar cell attached to a 100% efficient battery, we would literally need a solar cell array 500,000 square miles in size -- think "two Texases" -- just to meet our *current* power needs.

Hydroelectric is great, but our useful rivers are pretty much tapped out. Wind power is useful only in a few areas; the same is true for geothermal. Biofuels don't produce any net power generation.

Of the possible energy sources we have reason to believe COULD be possible there are exactly three which could replace fossil fuels:

(1): Fusion. We're working on it, but it isn't currently possible.
(2): Space-based solar: Dependent on a radically cheaper way of getting into space, e.g. a space elevator. So we're working on it, but it isn't currently possible.
(3): Fission. Which environmentalists have been fighting tooth and nail for decades.

Those are the choices. Pick one. A person can can oppose nuclear power OR oppose widespread and growing fossil fuel use. He cannot oppose both and still deserve to be treated like a thinking adult.

Henry said...

Rev, you forgot the all-important:

(4) Tap the Strategic Oil Reserves

HAHAHAHAHAHA

Read the article. Obama wants to reduce gasoline prices even as his "single overarching goal" is "breaking our oil addition."

Joe said...

Coal gasification.
Oil shale.
Algae fuel.

All work with our current gasoline infrastructure. The first is read to go. The second and third need more research, but are very promising. Congressional inaction is delaying development of the first two. It's only a matter of time before they figure out how to hold up the third item.

reader_iam said...

I'm not writing from the environmentalist point of view. My concern here has to do with energy, disruption and geopolitical concerns.

I don't think we will run out of oil, or at least feel the effects of marked scarcity **tomorrow**, if what one means by tomorrow is five or six years. I DO think oil is a finite resource and, in particular, CHEAP oil is a finite resource. I DO think that it's possible, if we don't get off our duffs and think beyond the price at the pumps, that it's possible **tomorrow** might come too uncomfortably close to, or even before, we've come up with alternatives, much less dealt with issues of implementation on a mass scale, including, yes, infrastructure, used in the broader sense, from cars to grids to factories and way, way more. And it's certainly possible that **tomorrow**, even using some of the more generous estimates, in the lifetimes of a significant number of us, let alone our children.

Thus my concern about our oil dependence and, particularly, cheap-oil dependence. (Do keep in mind that it's not just gasoline we're talking about: so much of our modern lives are dependent on petroleum derived products, quite apart from, as well is in addition to, its use as energy.) Focusing on here-and-now prices at the expense of the bigger picture therefore strikes me as shortsighted. Given my admittedly skeptical--OK, even cynical--view of human nature, individually but even more so in groups and societies, and especially when fused with partisan politics, I think it's even enabling. And therefore dangerous.

I wrote on some thread here a couple of weeks back that I'm no expert and I don't pretend to be. I'm not a geologist. I'm not an engineer, much less an engineer of any directly relevant type. Etc. But I've read enough to decide that it's probably best to err on the side of taking seriously the need to get serious about all this stuff, to think longer term, and to start doing that NOW, not later.

I suppose at this point I'm supposed to supply a million links and citations and all that jazz. I'm not going to do that, partly because I'm NOT any of those things I mentioned above, but mostly because there is SO much out there via the internet. If you want the competing views from serious sources, go look for yourselves (as I have and will continue to do) and consider for yourselves. Perhaps you'll make up your mind one way or another, or perhaps you'll find a tremendous amount of competing and conflicting information and inprecision as to timing and degree, such that you won't be able to make up your mind definitively and will have to proceed with uncertainty but with a sense of real, legimate concern (which is where I am).

I will link you to this brief (in context) article, which includes in table form various estimated forecasts of "peak oil production" timeframes

They vary, but under my inclusive use of the word **tomorrow**, too many of them are sooner than I'd prefer.

Wish we could get the past 30 years back. Wishin', however, ain't gettin'.

blake said...

Stodder--

I think you're right that it's not a simple problem, and it doesn't go away just because gas gets cheap.

Rev--

Don't we have a fraction--maybe just one percent--of that surface area in terms of rooftops? I guess it doesn't matter too much, since we don't have, say, 25%.

But I wonder if part of the solution might not be decentralizing the sources of power. Local resources (solar, wind, geo, bio, maybe kinetic) staying local.

The more I think about it, though, the more I think oil is highly underrated, and that it's attacked precisely because it's sooooo good.

reader_iam said...

We're not procrastinating. We, as a society, are in denial.

Revenant, I agree with you 100%. I was being a bit more diplomatic. (When I don't go with offensively blunt, I tend to go perhaps squishily understated. I know, I know.)

The "30 years" reference in my last comment (sorry, didn't see a number of those previous, including yours, before posting) should be taken to imply, among other things, that we wasted valuable decades when we could have been making the transition to a much greater reliance on nuclear energy.

knox said...

reader, thanks for your thoughtful response. No intention to "gang up" on you, by the way.

blake said...

Well, I didn't think you were coming from an environmentalist point of view, but I was curious as to what particularly did inform your POV.

And certainly I'm aware of the other viewpoints out there. I assumed your viewpoint was the correct one (as I said) for as long as I can remember.

I look at the "peak oil" guys--I know a therapist who treats "peak oil blues", besides being affected by them, heh--and I think back to the "we're running out of everything" philosohpy of the '70s.

And I think to myself, these guys are always wrong. Maybe they won't always be wrong, of course, but till now, it sure seems like they always have been.

Funny, I suppose, but the collapse of Western civilization seems far more real to me--that ol' infrastructure falling apart from neglect, politics and corruption.

I look at theory that oil comes from organic life and wonder if it's not that geocentric universe popping up again--as with ice ages, nuclear winters, global warming. We can't stand to be irrelevant, so we imagine ourselves to have an impact far greater than it is.

And as little as people can grasp the surface area of the earth, they grasp the volume of the earth even less. (Not that I think the earth is a giant ball filled with oil, heh.)

I guess I'm just resisting the notion that oil is finite, and also that somehow we've gotten a free ride, and also again, that it's not a problem that we take seriously.

As a society, no, we don't take it seriously because, as a society, we have no chance of doing anything meaningful about it. Smart individuals have and will continue to work on it, though.

Top men, as they say. Only not ironically.

Our job, as a society, is to be realistic about the pros and cons of solutions as they rise. Starting about 30 years ago, we failed that, and stopped assessing solutions realistically.

That's more the source of this current situation than anything, I think.

blake said...

But I see you agree, and more succinctly, so...Never mind.

reader_iam said...

the "we're running out of everything" philosohpy of the '70s

Well, it seems to me that IF we do "run out," they will turn out to have been right, just not about the time frame. Right?

I mean, if a doctor tells you you're going to drop dead of a heart attack in two years if you don't exercise but instead you drop dead in four, that doesn't make him "wrong" on the more essential point. Yeah, a simplistic analogy, probably not a good one. But you know what I mean.

Also, I should say I'm not clear whether oil shale, for example, specifically figures into the forecasts listed in that table.

Seven Machos said...

Yeah, Reader, except that peddlers of doom and gloom have been saying that we are going to run out of resources for centuries. I need only mention Thomas Malthus to demonstrate the point, and I imagine the phenomenon goes back long before him.

So, let's see. Your doctor tells you are going to die of a heart attack in two years. It's 300 years later, and you are still doing fine. Tell us again about the essential point.

blake said...

reader--

How accurate must my doctor be? He must be accurate enough to provide some useful information.

Two years versus four doesn't mean he was all that wrong. (A little wrong.) But if my heart attack in four years is caused by me being on a boat in the North Atlantic that sinks into the icy cold waters, I'm not inclined to think much of his advice.

Without any medical training, I can say with confidence, that I--and you, and all of us (Sorry, Glenn!)--will die.

I have a life insurance policy in case I die tomorrow, but I'm not saying my tearful goodbyes, because I think I'm going to make it one more day. My affairs are not all in order. (If I do die tomorrow, I apologize in advance to those who are inconvenienced.)

But I digress. If someone wants me to take their predictions seriously, they must be predict well. For horse races, they need only be able to predict a few minutes into the future.

For over-population, global warming, resource availability, 10 years is probably enough. (And flunk, flunk and flunk on the abovementioned doomsday predictions.)

They're like someone telling you every morning when you wake up, this will be the day that you die. One day, that guy will be right. But he'll never be useful.

I suspect the more useful and accurate people work in the industries where something can be done. They have incentives to provide solutions. The doomsayer really doesn't.

Randy said...

What a neat conversation this turned out to be!

Revenant said...

Coal gasification.
Oil shale.
Algae fuel.

If that was a reply to me -- the first two are fossil fuels, and the third won't work for the same reason solar won't work (algae power is, after all, solar power).

Pogo said...

reader,
The market is how the questions regarding management of scarce resources are best answered. To suppose that some central agency like the US government can more fairly and efficiently divide up the oil to which we have access begs credulity.

As oil dwindles -if it does in fact dwindle- its price rises, and alternatives arise. Nuclear power is a quick answer, one that could be in place a short interval -if Congress gets off its prohibitionist ass. Other methods can find utility as well.

The only way oil would be completely used up without alternatives having come into play would be via a central planner, because that's how all stories involving the tragedy of the commons end.

Henry said...

Malthus actually described the pre-industrial world very very well. In the third world, famine remained a constant into the 20th century.

Peak oil theory doesn't mean much, one way or another. Either we're running out of oil and prices will rise and we'll eventually be forced to transition to nuclear. Or we're not running out of oil (very fast) and rising prices will stabilize.

The problem is with governments that refuse to allow oil prices to rise in response to demand. See Obama's energy speech for a prime example of a politician who talks the talk of bad oil, while walking the vote-getting line of cheap gasoline.

We can't transition from an oil-based economy if our policy is to always punt the crisis to another administration.

Eventually, in 10 years or 100 years, transition won't be possible. Crisis will be all that's left.

reader_iam said...

Yeah, a simplistic analogy, probably not a good one.

Whew! I was just SURE I'd written that. And so I had.

I vote we all forget the whole thing and just hang out, just as we are, and worry about tomorrow whenever. Que sera sera, no worries, and all that.

Off to score a math placement thing-y for my son so I can throw today's to-do list away and read a nice relaxing not-mysterious mystery in a bubble bath. 'Tis a far far better thing I do.

Revenant said...

A few other responses,

Don't we have a fraction--maybe just one percent--of that surface area in terms of rooftops?

Well, if every person in America had a 50x50ft section of roof associated with them, that would be a little over 25,000 square miles; five percent of what we need. That's if they all lived in the desert southwest; solar panels in cloudier and/or more northern parts of the country get less sunlight.

Well, it seems to me that IF we do "run out," they will turn out to have been right, just not about the time frame. Right?

The reasoning behind the "we will never run out" theory isn't that there is an unlimited supply of every resource, but rather that supply and demand will push people to replace a dwindling commodity with an alternative. Oil becomes harder and harder to find, which means that its production price and market price both increase; at the same time, alternatives to oil become cheaper (new technology), so more people adopt those. Under this theory we will "never run out" of oil because eventually we'll be driving electric cars charged by fusion power plants and using genetically engineered plants to produce our plactics and pharmaceuticals, and thus it won't be worth spending a ton of money to drill oil in the Arctic. It is pretty much the same reason we don't hunt whales for their oil anymore -- they're hard to find and the alternatives are cheaper.

veni vidi vici said...

"Great! So we don't have to drill, just talk about drilling."

It sure sounds better than talking about properly inflating your fucking tires. What kind of moronic Dukasis/Carter-speak is this guy high on? I thought he was supposed to be at least somewhat savvy, yet this is his pissant excuse for an idea? That properly inflating your tires will compensate for all the oil we'd produce if we drilled?

Yeah, no wonder he's changing his tune on drilling; he's running for his life from that asinine youtube moment.

I feel like there's beginning to emerge a pattern where Obama's "flip-flops" or whatever you want to call them (I just call them refinements/changes, no need to load the description) all seem to come short on the heels of a gaffe-ish youtube moment. There seem to be a lot more of these "refinements" as the campaign wears on...

Seven Machos said...

Malthus actually described the pre-industrial world very very well. In the third world, famine remained a constant into the 20th century.

Where to begin?

As a rule, famines in the "third world" are caused and have always been caused by a combination of autocratic plundering and really, really stupid government policy. There was no natural reason that Ethiopians had to starve, or Chinese, nor is that a natural reason that North Koreans are starving.

Secondly, yes, with zero technological advances and with geometric population growth, yes, mass starvation would occur. When in human history has this ever been the case?

To take this to a whole new level, ever notice how the very people moaning about a future of starvation are the very same people who want to limit new technology? Funny, isn't it?

Henry said...

Seven, you're on autopilot. I'm talking about history, not ideology. I specified the pre-industrial world on purpose.

In India, about 4,000,000 people died in the Bengal famine in 1943. There were multiple famines in China in the 19th century that killed 50 to 100 million.

Now you can believe that the famines in these countries were the fault of the British. Or you can note that the green revolution was a post-WWII event.

Prior to the industrial revolution, low life expectancy was the norm. In Europe this was accomplished by disease (and famine). In Asia, this was accomplished by famine (and disease).

Malthus did, in fact, describe the world the way it worked at the time he wrote. He failed to anticipate the advances of the industrial revolution because they had no historical precedent.

His sorry followers of our era are another story.

Seven Machos said...

I don't give Malthus nearly as much credit. The trajectory of civilization has been toward less nasty, less brutish, and less short. It's not like technology began in the Industrial Revolution.

When you project a long-term future worse than the past, you are betting against thousands of years of history.

MARV said...

I think Senator Kerry is doing a great job of defending and representing Senator Obama. Who better than the man who represented our party so well in 2004. He has class and style and is respected by many, many people in the general public. Some childish bloggers hold grudges and find fault with him, but that is their problem. I enjoy seeing him take on the McCain representitives armed with the truth and the facts. Leiberman lied on MTP Sunday and he talked RW talking points. He came off as a sore loser and as someone who holds a grudge and is seeking revenge on the party that he believe deserted him. In contrast, Senator Kerry was gracious, got his points accross in an intelligent manner and dominated the interview. I think he did a good job and if I have one criticism, it is that I have seen him do even better. But, since he rode 110 miles on Saturday to raise money on behalf of cancer research and in honor of his friend- Ted Kennedy, I think he might just have been a bit tired. Oh, and did I mention he raised 120,000 dollars in donations. Not bad for a guy that some of you would like us all to believe is not liked.

Seven Machos said...

Anyone who cannot beat George W. Bush in an election is not particularly liked. QED.

Revenant said...

Malthus did, in fact, describe the world the way it worked at the time he wrote.

No, he didn't.

The historical famines of humankind have, with rare exceptions, not been caused by overpopulation (Malthus' great bogeyman), but rather by natural disasters or warfare. It isn't that there are too many people; it is that earlier societies (and all too many modern societies) can't handle a sudden decline in their ability to produce food. Any amount of population is "too much" when all the crops die and you lack the ability to store food long-term or buy it from abroad.

Malthus' prediction was that the increasing population of the Earth, because it was growing faster than the ability of the land to support it(*), would cause more and more frequent famine, strife, et al. There was no historical evidence for this, and there still isn't. The general historical trend of human history -- entirely visible in Malthus' time -- was towards decreased warfare and famine and increased agricultural capabilities. He should have known better, and most sensible people did. Most sensible people still do, but there are still Mathusians among us.

Revenant said...

But, since he rode 110 miles on Saturday to raise money on behalf of cancer research and in honor of his friend- Ted Kennedy

There's something odd about a man with hundreds of millions of dollars raising money in honor of another man worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Maybe Kerry should have gotten a decent night's sleep for the show just written Kennedy a check instead.

Henry said...

When all the crops die and you lack the ability to store food long-term or buy it from abroad.

There's a word for that idea you speak of.

The word is famine.

Malthus may have made wrong predictions (wrong for Europe, not for Asia -- see my earlier post), but he first published in 1798. At the time the industrial revolution was in its infancy, only in one small country in the world, and only in the cloth industries. It took another 50 years for England to see any significant advances in agricultural production. During that same time the United States provided an open frontier that absorbed immense numbers of English, German and Irish immigrants.

If you consider Malthus as a analyst of economic history, as opposed to a futurist (as his ideas have been misued), you might realize that what he wrote is not a critique of industrialization, but its foil.

PatCA said...

I think this Sunday, with Obama Surrogates being flayed on Meet the Press and Fox News Sunday, will be remembered as the day the "likelies" turned against Obama.

Obama is in a vortex now and any move he makes just makes it spin faster.