Even in the days after he won the 2008 presidential election, but before he took office, it was obvious to some of us that Barack Obama was a political hack and nothing more. It was obvious the O-Man had no grand vision for a New America. Business-as-usual would continue because Obama lives inside the usual political box.
The President's oil speech yesterday gave us another example of what politics-as-usual means. Obama had never bothered to address America's outsized oil consumption until we experienced a mini-price shock after the revolts in Egypt and Libya. Only recently did it became necessary for him to give us the usual foreign oil dependency boilerplate. Like every president before him, he gave us a goal and a time frame. We will cut our imports by a third in "a little more than" 10 years by 2025, which is about 3.7 million barrels-per-day (based on our 2008 imports) if U.S. production were to remain constant over those 15 years. What do you think the chances of that are?
How we will achieve this miracle is mostly irrelevant, although it is not obvious how we will produce more biofuels when we already use 40% of our corn crop to brew moonshine. And it not obvious how the new fuel mileage standards, which start in 2012, will make much of a dent in gasoline consumption when few Americans can afford to buy a new car. (This is called the light vehicle turnover rate.) And it is not obvious how we will increase our domestic production, which is due to decline over the next two years. But never mind all that.
Just as with any other issue, the problem posed by America's super-sized oil consumption is held captive by our corrupt, dysfunctional politics. As I've said, politics makes you stupid. Consequently, the debate about the issue is predictably shortsighted, simplified and mindless. Here's the way it works. The stupefied Democrats (liberals, left-wingers, etc.) are pro-environment and anti-oil. The imbecilic Republicans (conservatives, right-wingers, etc.) are anti-environment and pro-oil.
It's really just this simple. This is how the debate is always framed. In actuality, the only thing that matters is the current election cycle. I've been watching this fucking charade for almost all my adult life. I'm so sick and tired of it at this point that I can hardly bring myself to describe it, even briefly.
Like it or not, our civilization, such as it is, was built on the back of fossil fuels. Oil is the most energy dense of these fuels. Some people think gold is the most precious substance on Earth. That's silly. Oil is and always will be the most precious substance on Earth. But in the past, there has been a lot of it, relative to our needs, so humans forgot that oil is so precious. Having convinced themselves they have an almost infinite supply of the stuff, humans became profligate in their consumption of it.
Over the last decade, it became clear that the oil supply is not all it was once cracked up to be. Prices rose, wars were fought, good, highly-valued crudes became scarce, and discoveries continued to fall short of our needs. Yes, extraction technology improved, but rising rates of consumption more than made up for grudging, incremental improvements there. All the "big picture" evidence pointed to a unique historical event: the Oil Age was drawing to a close. Some observers came up with a name for the twilight times. They called it Peak Oil.
Yet our pandering politicians have stuck with the same myopic script. President Obama, a political animal extraordinaire, is certainly no exception to the rule. As I forced myself to read through the reactions to and commentary on the O-Man's speech, I was painfully aware that I was reading exactly the Same Old Shit I've been reading for years and years. The oil companies are sitting on leases they're not developing! (Democrats, Obama) Drill in Alaska! (Republicans, McConnell) And so on.
Obama is merely the latest politician to give us the same stale, pointless speech. The President is a tool with only one agenda: to get re-elected. Mitch McConnell is a tool with only one agenda: for the Republicans to take over the government. There's no historical sense at all. No sense of a crisis in the making. No sense that civilization will have to take a different tack if we want to preserve it for future generations.
Here's a "chicken & egg" conundrum. We know that people living Inside The Beltway exist in a weird kind of bubble. Rahm Emanuel called it fuck-nuts-ville. But unbeknownst to us, is there is a kind of "force field" around our Nation's Capital that makes its residents exceedingly dense & stupid? Or is it that only exceedingly dense & stupid people are drawn to Washington, D.C. in the first place? Just something to think about.
These politicians are so dumb, so blind, so obtuse, so self-interested, so drunk with power, that they can only think of politics-as-usual as they unknowingly rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. I've seen far more of this crap than I can stand. I've seen more than enough of this embarrassing spectacle. I won't put up with it anymore. Don't bother to wake me up when our next president gives us his version of The Energy Speech. Enough is enough.
Bonus Video — Don't take my word for it. Here's Obama's entire speech, 47 minutes of bullshit.