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How Green Is My President?
Thomas Friedman writes of George Bush's misplaced priorities -- going all out to privatize Social Security while ignoring the energy crisis. Many people who voted for Bush said they thought he would be better on terrorism than Kerry, but look where we are now:

By doing nothing to lower U.S. oil consumption, we are financing both sides in the war on terrorism and strengthening the worst governments in the world. That is, we are financing the U.S. military with our tax dollars and we are financing the jihadists - and the Saudi, Sudanese and Iranian mosques and charities that support them - through our gasoline purchases. The oil boom is also entrenching the autocrats in Russia and Venezuela, which is becoming Castro's Cuba with oil. By doing nothing to reduce U.S. oil consumption we are also setting up a global competition with China for energy resources, including right on our doorstep in Canada and Venezuela. Don't kid yourself: China's foreign policy today is very simple - holding on to Taiwan and looking for oil.

Finally, by doing nothing to reduce U.S. oil consumption we are only hastening the climate change crisis, and the Bush officials who scoff at the science around this should hang their heads in shame. And it is only going to get worse the longer we do nothing. Wired magazine did an excellent piece in its April issue about hybrid cars, which get 40 to 50 miles to the gallon with very low emissions. One paragraph jumped out at me: "Right now, there are about 800 million cars in active use. By 2050, as cars become ubiquitous in China and India, it'll be 3.25 billion. That increase represents an almost unimaginable threat to our environment. Quadruple the cars means quadruple the carbon dioxide emissions - unless cleaner, less gas-hungry vehicles become the norm."

Friedman wisely calls for a gas tax, an investment in alternate energy sources, and a recommitment to nuclear power. Before all you knee-jerk anti-nuke people start kicking and screaming, from what I've read, the data on nuclear power says the pluses far outweigh the minuses in terms of safety and environmental impact. Wanna breathe? Think the North Pole should remain snowy, not filled with sandy beaches and people drinking Mai Tais? Something's gotta give.

It's smart geopolitics. It's smart fiscal policy. It is smart climate policy. Most of all - it's smart politics. Even evangelicals are speaking out about our need to protect God's green earth. "The Republican Party is much greener than George Bush or Dick Cheney," remarked Schwartz. "There is now a near convergence of support on the environmental issue. Look at how popular Arnold Schwarzenegger, a green Republican, is becoming because of what he has done on the environment in California."

Imagine if Bush declared that he was getting rid of his limousine for an armor-plated Ford Escape hybrid, adopting a geo-green strategy and building an alliance of neocons, evangelicals and greens to sustain it. His popularity at home - and abroad - would soar. The country is dying to be led on this. Instead, he prefers to squander his personal energy trying to take apart the New Deal and throwing red meat to right-to-life fanatics. What a waste of a presidency. How will future historians explain it?

Posted by aalkon at March 29, 2005 8:52 AM

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I don't like this gas tax. It's emblematic of the starve the beast philosophy, but applied to citizens. It affects less well-off Americans--guys who drive their truck around delivering parts to auto shops, cab drivers--disproportionally.

Pushing it also plays into the prejudice that all 'Liberals' (which appears to be the new name for all non-religious conservatives) want to do is raise taxes all the time. There are better ways to conserve gas.

Posted by: Little ted at March 29, 2005 9:47 AM

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