Senate GOP seeks $100 gas rebate checks

Unbelievable. The free money plan includes drilling in Alaska, of course.

I can’t quite forget or forgive James Howard Kunstler for spilling the seed of his rhetorical gifts on the ground with Y2K before Peak Oil. He is a professional doomsayer who drags down the credibility of real and present dangers by seeing them everywhere and always. I was baffled when some of my wiser friends were really worried about Y2K; some of those friends now look askance at me when I tell them I doubt my son and his playmates — his whole generation — will grow up to drive cars. “People aren’t going to stop driving, Todd; I’ll be first in line to buy a hydrogen car!” one told me.

Still, a year ago Kunstler wrote this:

ANWAR contains perhaps four billion barrels of oil. Since America uses over 20 million barrels a day (one billion every fifty days), ANWAR represents about a half year’s supply. It will take several years to ramp up production there, and to build the expensive pipelines needed to get the oil out. By that time, the US will have hit the wall of energy reality. Gasoline will already be expensive enough to cast doubt on the continuing project of suburbia. Since building suburban houses and all their accompanying infrastructure is the basis of our national economy, the world will have reason to conclude that the US has poor economic prospects, and therefore other nations will feel a steep disincentive to continue investing in our debt and equities. When that happens, the dollar craps out, credit evaporates, and a huge new class of economic losers materializes here in the US.

When it becomes evident that Bush & Company have absolutely no energy plan beyond ANWAR, the Republican majority will begin its nauseating Icarus-like freefall from the political heights. Their unworthy opposition, the Democrats, may well go with them, since none of its stars and their hirelings have offered a single credible idea about America’s energy dilemma. The result of all this compounded lack of political cred is likely to produce disorder and, ultimately, some kind of extreme behavior — either the rise of a seriously nasty jingoistic new party pandering to all those economic losers, and / or some desperate affray with one or more of the many nations who are viewed as somehow causing America’s pain, whether that is Mexico, Venezuela, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, or, who knows, France.

The one thing American leadership seems completely unprepared and unwilling to do is admit that the game is over for the American Dream of suburbia. Our leaders will not take even the first baby steps toward admitting that the way we live is a problem, for instance making a serious effort to restore passenger railroad service. The nation’s sense of identity is now tragically linked to a living arrangement that has no future. It’s especially tragic because before we embarked on this childish dream of a drive-in utopia, we were a better people, a more realistic, honest, and brave people. We have become a craven people now worthy only of being lied to and misled.

Clusterfuck Nation Chronicle

12 thoughts on “Senate GOP seeks $100 gas rebate checks ”

  • 'Full Throttle' Mike
    'Full Throttle' Mike April 27, 2006 at 5:21 am

    If you want a thorough and devastating addition to the energy argument posted here + religious fundamentalism + crushing debt = the twilight of American hegemony, read Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy. Scholarly well written shredding of all things Bush, written by the man who defined modern Republicanism.

    Reply
  • Emma Howard

    There is a never ending supply of energy to be used from natural sources.

    It’s as though we’re looking for pennies when diamonds are buried inches below our feet.

    Aloha and thanks for inspiring information.

    Emma Howard
    Kailua, Hawaii

    Reply
  • Mauricio Babilonia

    I know Kunstler’s role as prophet drives him to make sweeping generalizations like “We have become a craven people now worthy only of being lied to and misled,” but fortunately not all Americans are that far gone. Newsweek was about the last of all the places I expected to read anything sobering or cogent about our profligate energy habits. But last week, their kitchen-table economist, Jane Bryant Quinn, delivered an absolute smackdown to the idea that we’ll muddle through. I especially like her parting shot:

    [...] It takes leadership to address a potential crisis in advance.

    Unfortunately, we’re investing in war, not in crash projects to develop new energy sources. Maybe there’s time to spare. But some events, like true civil war and collapse in Iraq, could change everything in a day. We’re running a faith-based energy policyââ?¬â??still addicted to oil. If something goes wrong, it will go wrong big. [my emphasis]

    Reply
  • Bill Manewal

    Uh, Emma, whatcha y’all smokin over there to get that never ending supply?

    Aloha ‘oe
    Bill

    On topic: I’ve been getting a lot of discussions going with the bumper sticker on the back of my Stokemonkey: “OIL IS FOR SISSIES“.

    The sheeple may not know the specifics about Peak Oil, but in their gut, they know the ground is shifting and it doesn’t feel good.

    Reply
  • Martina

    Just coming from the ‘burbs of Houston, I just feel soo doomed!

    Reply
  • Mike C

    As in Aesop’s fable of the boy who cried wolf, I’m guessing the story won’t end well for the sheep…

    Reply
  • Rider

    I won’t fall into the pessimistic view. What one has to understand is that in a free,
    society the leaders at the top can only suggest major changes. If Bush or any other president
    tried to force changes to our suburban/automobile mindset, the push would only last until the
    next election. The people would throw him out on his butt.
    However, $5,6, or maybe $10 a gallon gas will change hearts and minds like no leader could. Once
    entrepeneurs smell profit in finding a better way- look out. Change could happen a lot faster
    than you imagine.

    Reply
  • Jim

    Hey Bill, I expect a nickel royalty for every conversation started by your bumper sticker.

    Re: “a neverending supply of energy from natural sources…”
    Well, yeah, in theory. How to extract that energy and make it portable, now that’s a puzzler.

    Re: “the leaders at the top can only suggest major changes…”
    Well, yeah, in theory. But I haven’t yet heard any suggestions for ANY changes. Instead, what I’ve heard has been to the tune of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. Anybody who isn’t all that bright might be led to believe that Bush is going to root out the “gouging”, we’ll grow a few extra acres of corn, and then everything will be fine. They’ll give us $100 apiece to soak up the cost of fuel – that doesn’t sound like a plan for a long-term problem – it’s hardly enough to get most people through half of the next month.

    Reply
  • @man

    The whole picture will be much clearer, I’m afraid, after the conclusion of this year’s hurricane season.

    Add it up: the refineries are still on the coast, and the devastation will hit communities which have still not been fully rebuilt from last year’s 500-year storms. This could both destroy a lot of refining capacity on the coast but also wreck the Gulf oil industry, which is still fairly productive and accounts for a lot of US oil. The chances of a major grid breakdown in the eastern seaboard are also fairly high; nothing but bandaids have been applied since the last one two years ago. Add possible craziness with Iran and gas is gonna get expensive, people are going to get restless, the 2006 election season will see unprecedented levels of voter fraud through Diebold and similar easily hackable machines…It won’t be pretty but it will add up to the change we need.

    Chant down Babylon, brothers and sisters of this human spaceship. Time is on our side.

    Reply
  • Ted Howard

    As a peak oil researcher (http://www.aspo.org.nz/), I am not only very concerned with what’s
    happening , but also very happy to be on my Xtracycle!

    The more I’ve dicovered about how fragile and extended we are over the cliff, the more I’ve
    headed off in another direction. It’s not just peak oil, it’s also climate change, peak water,
    peak food, and bio-diversity collapse, added to a global industrial civilisation preferring
    to stay in comfortable denial, and not talk about what really going on, while being stuck in
    rampant consumerism.

    Depression and grief have lead me to direct action. I now work from home, and am instigating
    a permaculture garden network, and find my Xtracycle to be a great way to walk my talk. It
    has opened up my world to bicycle activism, and now I’m wishing I could afford a Stokemonkey
    (it would be over NZ$2,500 plus shipping to get it here!).

    I like the ideas of a grass-roots environmentalist Derrick Jensen (www.derrickjensen.org)
    and on feeling all our feelings, he says “I’m a complex enough human being that I can hold
    in my heart great sadness and great joy…I’m really, really sad, and I’m really,
    really happy!” So I have no qualms in feeling doomed, I just use those feelings to motivate
    me to live differently!

    In his latest talk on energy decent (peak oil/gas) David Holmgren, co-founder of
    Permaculture said that “electric bicycles are a no-brainer, we should be using them”, so
    I’m greatly encouraged by what you’re doing Todd!

    Regards
    Ted Howard
    Nelson, New Zealand

    Reply
  • Erik Sandblom

    Ted, electric bicycles are definitely not a no-brainer. Todd sells them (the motors at least) and he has the brains to know. He says you only need an electric bike if you often need to cope with large distances or elevations. http://cleverchimp.com/

    To think that undiscriminating use of electric bikes will solve our problems is as wrong as thinking what we need is a new kind of car. We don’t need a new kind of car, we need good old public transit and bicycles, nine times out of ten unmotorised bicycles. Public transport and bicycles are both older than cars, so it’s not some brave new world we are headed toward.

    Don’t come to bicycles thinking they are some kind of sub-car. They are ueber-transport, not sub-car. They can be powered, but seldom need to be.

    Reply
  • Ted Howard

    Hi Eric
    Yup, you’re onto it! No probs with anything you’ve said here, good points.
    What David Holmgren meant was it’s not rocket science to work out that Todd is onto a really
    good thing!
    I agree with you on the undiscriminating use too. One of my favorite authors is
    William Catton and his book “Overshoot”. He’s very clear about undiscriminating
    consumption that may have a green flavor. Read about his definition of ‘cosmeticism’ at
    http://www.greatchange.org./footnotes-overshoot.html
    At this point I’ll be sticking to my unpowered Xtracycle, working from home playing in the
    backyard permaculture garden, and doing whatever I can to support my community to powerdown
    and head off in a more sustainable direction.

    Thanks
    Ted

    Reply
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