Saturday, March 19, 2011

Another Tragedy Twisted Into Political Gamesmanship By The Left, More Energy Policy Discussion

In what has become as predictable as tragic natural disasters themselves, the Left has once again attempted to twist such an event into their own political gain. It's disgusting, but depressingly typical. Case in point:

The March 11 earthquake off the coast of Japan and the ensuing tsunami is a tragedy hard to comprehend. Thousands are dead, entire villages are gone and hundreds of thousands are homeless. As the days pass, the death toll continues to climb. The U.S. military has mobilized to assist in relief efforts, while we and millions of others offer our prayers for the Japanese people.

Sadly, even in the midst of chaos and human suffering, the usual suspects have a political ax to grind. In this case, that ax is nuclear power. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northeast Japan has been a focal point since last week's catastrophe. When the earthquake hit, the plant automatically shut down and switched to generator power. It was designed to withstand an 8.2-magnitude quake; in fact, it survived a 9.0-magnitude one, which is many times stronger.

However, the ensuing tsunami destroyed the generators, and the debris-filled water contaminated the reserve coolant. The reactors soon heated up, pressure built, and the resulting explosions released radiation into the atmosphere. The jury is still out as to the impact this will have, though there has been no shortage of anti-nuclear hysteria on the Left.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) ran to the nearest microphone to pronounce the disaster "another Chernobyl" (it's nothing of the sort) and to call for the Obama administration to curtail any new nuclear reactors in the U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said that we should "put the brakes on right now until we understand the ramifications of what's happened in Japan." In the media, many of the alarmed so-called experts are actually just shills for anti-nuclear organizations.

Other voices, including even The New York Times, have been more measured. The Times wrote, "The unfolding Japanese tragedy also should prompt Americans to closely study our own plans for coping with natural disasters and with potential nuclear plant accidents to make sure they are, indeed, strong enough." We completely agree. In fact, 30 American nuclear reactors have similar or identical designs to the 40-year-old plant in Fukushima. While our facilities should be reviewed and updated as necessary, none are subject to tsunamis.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu was also on the right side, telling a House panel, "The American people should have full confidence that the United States has rigorous safety regulations in place to ensure that our nuclear power is generated safely and responsibly." He added that the administration "is committed to learning from Japan's experience." We hope the follow-through is as good as the rhetoric.

The U.S. hasn't built a new plant since 1979, the year of the Three Mile Island accident. In other words, the brakes have been on for 32 years. Even still, nuclear power provides 20 percent of our electricity. New, safer reactors are close to coming on line, and it should go without saying that our technology has come a long way in three decades. The situation at Fukushima is indeed grave, but any call for a nuclear moratorium in response is overwrought. Indeed, it's often mere political opportunism for those who oppose nuclear power under any circumstances.

And, like the dawn follows the darkness, Obama is now calling for a review of our nuclear power strategy.

While we're on the subject of energy sources, let's look at the continuing saga of Obama's misguided energy policy:

Sometimes, one has to wonder whether Barack Obama ever bothered to interact with anyone outside his ivory-tower inner circle … or buy a car in the last 40 years. Last Friday, while trying to commiserate with Americans suddenly hammered by skyrocketing gas and food prices, he offered this analysis of the American auto market:

“You may want to buy a fuel-efficient car,” quoth Obama, “but you may not be able to afford it. And so you’re stuck with the old clunker that’s getting 8 or 10 miles a gallon.”

Er, sure … if you’re “stuck” with a classic 1956 Ford Thunderbird, or something of that vintage, when American auto muscle meant big tailfins, solid steel construction, and gas guzzling supreme. If you’re fortunate enough to own a running vehicle of that type, you’re likely feeling pretty proud rather than stuck, too. Other than the original Hummer (again, hardly a choice for cost-conscious consumers in the first place), what was the last mass-market car to have an MPG even close to only getting 10 MPG? Even my 1973 Buick Century Luxus, which had to be one of the heaviest sedans ever made and came with a 350 V8 (optional to a 455 V8), got 14 MPG in the city. wasn’t the economy models that were the gas guzzlers, not 40 years ago and certainly not in any of the cars still on the road. The more fuel-efficient cars that cars get, the lower on the price scale they tend to be as well, usually because you get less car: smaller engines, smaller frames, less carrying capacity. The gas guzzlers tend to be larger, more expensive vehicles — although these days, to get to the 8-MPG range, you’d have to drive a fairly large commercial truck. Or a half-track.

Does Obama know anyone who actually bought a car? Or drove one himself?

This helps shed some light on where he's coming from, which in turn helps us understand his view of American energy policy. In short, he's out of touch, and his radical Leftist background and training have taught him that America is the source of all evil in the world (especially in terms of energy usage), and that we need to pay more for energy. You know, like this:
Some more grim details [on the Chevy Volt], though: almost 49 grand (not including tax credit) for a car that’s actually a glorified hybrid (the gas engine has to be on if you want to take this sucker on the highway); and the effective gas mileage is somewhere around 27 mpg. Now, that sounds great if you’re the President - because Obama thinks that the average clunker out there gets 8 to 10 mpg, mostly because the President is an urban liberal* who probably hasn’t driven himself anywhere in the last decade - but it’s a bit more disconcerting for the rest of the population to be told that this Government Fiat car is the Wave of the Future.

I mean, we were told the same thing about Soylent Green.

Anyway, if you think that I’m being too cruel about the Volt, apparently it’s nothing compared to Consumer Reports’ initial assessment, which appears in the April 2011 issue and is distinctly unkind - to the point where the reviewer in two separate places explicitly questioned whether buying one of these things made anything like logical sense. That article, by the way, casually notes one under-mentioned but actually critical point: the lack of a ambient heating system. The way the Consumer Reports reviewer put it? “You have seat heaters, which keep your body warm, but your feet get cold and your hands get cold…” - which is bad enough for commuters. But it’s even worse for parents who thought that they could use this vehicle to do anything like a long trip in wintertime.

Free advice? Don’t.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Which means that he comes from an insular subculture that does not drive on a regular basis, does not drive long distances, and that adamantly refuses to voluntarily interact with other subcultures except in the most stylized and controlled circumstances.

But hey, by all means, let's keep ignoring the fact that the U.S. has more untapped fossil fuel resources than any other country in the world, and let's keep ignoring the fact that under Obama's policies, gas prices have gone up 67% in just the past two years. The reality is that until the American people throw Obama and Leftist liberals like him out of office, they're going to continue lying about these things.

Oh, and by the way...does anyone remember this?

“Critics (of Arctic drilling), including Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., say the drilling plan would violate the nation’s last remaining pristine wilderness. Moreover, they charge, the oil would consist of a 6-month supply for the nation, and would not be ready for use by consumers for up to 10 years.”

That newspaper article was written April 2, 2001. For those of you in Rio Linda, that would be ten years ago.

Likewise, roughly ten years ago on July 3, 2001, the Bush Administration began consideration of drilling in the outer continental shelf.

Democrats opposed that too because it would take up to ten years to see a return on investment. In other words, it would take until about right now to see a return on investment.

I sure hope they are better at forecasting health care than oil futures. Otherwise, if we don’t repeal Obamacare, we’re screwed in ten years on that too.

And every other policy that Obama and his ilk are forcing onto the American people against our will!

But back to the current time, and current urgent issues. What is Obama doing right now? Demonstrating an astoundingly poor grasp of the situation, he is traveling to Brazil to promote American exports...kind of:
...the timing is very suspect. As mentioned above, the federal government is now six months late with its budget, and its deficit exceeds 10% of America’s GDP. Those are both crises which demand presidential involvement, if not leadership, and instead Obama wants to go on tour. Also, with the UN resolution approving a no-fly zone, shouldn’t the Commander in Chief be in town to oversee the advent of American military action, assuming that the momentary cease-fire in Libya doesn’t moot the effort? The beginning of hostilities is a strange time for a President to be taking off for a business trip.

But even putting that aside, if boosting exports is the idea, then where is Colombia on the tour? We could boost exports if Obama would press for ratification of the free-trade agreement signed in November 2006 — an agreement that largely benefits the US, as Colombia already exports to the US without tariffs now, thanks to incentives offered for drug interdiction. Almost two years ago, Obama promised to push for ratification, but hasn’t done anything since to back up that pledge. Tellingly, Obama doesn’t even bother to mention Colombia in this essay, despite its staunch support for American interests in the southern hemisphere and its action against drug cartels that have put its officeholders at considerable personal risk.

Even while heading out of town, it seems that Obama finds ways to avoid leadership.

And with each new major issue or problem or international crisis that emerges, we see again and again just how lacking in leadership he is. Funny how a guy with no practical experience other than 'community organizing' makes for a really crappy President, isn't it? Who would'a thunk it?

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