Hope and Disappointment

I made it my business to listen to the President’s Oval Office speech from last night. I found it to be an intensely disappointing experience.

From where I stand, he had the opportunity to really strongly push the country in a new direction, particularly in calling for new energy policy. While he did say that new policy was needed – and at least he also gave a shout out to the need for stricter regulation – he didn’t present any kind of specific plan. And honestly I think that’s what we needed. Give us something, Mr. President – you mentioned the plan you came up with for energy independence as a candidate. Even retreading that would have been preferable to the nothing that we’ve got. I’m also mystified that he brought up the House passing the cap and trade legislation and didn’t take the opportunity to put pressure on the Senate for sitting on their hands. (The Senate: where good legislation goes to die.)

Of course, some of the responses to the speech have been pretty ridiculous. Like Sarah Palin telling Bill O’Reilly:

“Otherwise, Bill, we are going to be dropped to our knees and bowing to the Saudis and Venezuela and places like Russia, that will keep producing oil and petroleum products,” she said. Then “we will have to ask them to produce for us because we will still be dependent upon these sources of energy.”

We’re going to have to ask people to produce energy for us anyway; even if we drilled every available reserve tomorrow, the oil wouldn’t last long enough to transfer us over to a new energy economy. I’m extremely tired of the lie that domestic drilling will magically fix our “dependence” on “foreign oil.” Short of the god of your choice floating down to earth on a cloud made of cotton candy and pissing out an endless river of crude oil for us to dip in to, nothing is going to end our oil dependence until we build ourselves in to a society that no longer feels the need to waste it by setting it on fire.

Also, all the people going on about how the number one priority should be plugging the hole? No shit, really? Are we simply allowed to talk about nothing else until it’s plugged? Because standing anxiously around and staring at it, not daring to say another word is not going to make it get capped off any faster. Though I suppose if you’re suckling on the teat of the oil companies, that’s preferable to using that time to discuss alternative fuel sources.

I was even more disappointed that rather than address the specific policy issues and strike while the iron was hot, so to speak, the President devoted the entire end of his speech to praying. Maybe it’s a measure of how helpless he and the people caught directly in the path of this man-made disaster feel, that all they can think of is prayer. But praying isn’t going to come up with concrete policy goals that voters can get behind. Praying isn’t going to clean up the beaches or stop BP’s rather creepy attempts to shut out public observation of the cleanup. God apparently wasn’t with the men who died on the drilling rig.

We did this, and we need to fix it. Period. What Rachel said.

But I do disagree with Rachel about one thing. Last night, she said:

In the current setup we have in this country, the oil industry has everything going in their favor. They get all of the gains, all the profits from their incredibly lucrative industry. And the risk is always ours. It’s our American beaches that get doused in oil, it’s our American marshes that get ruined when something goes wrong, it’s our American industries that get destroyed when places where people make their livelihoods get polluted and made toxic.

It’s not just our beaches and marshes and livelihoods. As long as our demand for oil remains monstrous, as long as we lionize a business culture where the only responsibility that exists is to make money for the shareholders and damn the social consequences, we own a share in all of these disasters.

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