Monday, April 30, 2012

The column Jack Kelly should write/have written

Today I saw a column about how certain significant parts of the media (really the most well known parts - the Washington Post, The Atlantic, The New York Times. Time, NBC) are slavishly trumpeting the achievements of the Obama administration, and in return are granted extensive access - to Osama bin Laden's private documents, to the White House Situation Room and to comments from high officials. My first thought was this is the sort of thing Jack Kelly wants to say exists, yet it was not a product of the PG and/or Jack Kelly. This column came from Salon and Glenn Greenwald . I suppose I should have known it could not be Jack Kelly since the column was rather scrupulously fair. The column noted that much the same thing (part of the press corp being slavishly positive and thus being granted exclusive access) occurred during the Bush administration. I would suggest that some time during Bush's second term increasing parts of the press corps started to attack the Bush administration, but certainly it seemed the press was incredibly faithful in reporting exactly what the administration wanted them to say in the run up to the war in Iraq.

The lesson Greenwald takes from this similarity of affairs (I assume one might well find such a situation in all administrations going back 40 years or more) is that the motivation of these reporters is specifically not political. The reporters are not interested in supporting Obama because he is a Democrat per se, they are intoxicated by the proximity to the power of the office. I will say I remember Bob Woodward (surely the very icon of liberal journalism) wrote some rather positive books about George Bush during the Bush administration, books made at least better by some pretty exclusive access.

Still, the point of Greenwald's column should not be understated. The Obama administration have taken drone attacks to a new level, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is a war on whistle blowers and on legal (at the state level) medical marijuana that has exceeded not only what the Bush administration did, but to some extent all previous administrations. There is the assassination of Anwar Al-Awlaki and his son, both American citizens, without the benefit of trial or any sort of due process. There is even the failure of the administration to examine the activities of the Bush administration.

I suppose it is good news that the Obama administration has not come up with some "unitary executive" theory of government, although it is bad enough that the administration is saying these assassinations of American citizens are being reviewed and decided on by a secret group of advisers. Even though Kelly (stupidly) thinks that a liberal media is in bed with the Obama administration, his actual point that the press is not doing its job; it is not challenging the administration on many substantive issues. Unfortunately Kelly can almost always only just repeat the (Tea) Party line, so he is no help on this front either.

Too bad the PG hasn't syndicated Glenn Greenwald.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Facts or Dog Whistle?

Let's look with an open mind at the President. I will say that Obama could have done more with the economy if a Republican blocked Senate and (now) Republican controlled House had helped him out. In areas where Obama does have control (and I am not talking about this silly "Fast and Furious" thing) Glenn Greenwald claims Obama is behaving immorally and frequently illegally (you can read the variety yourself at Greenwald's columns). Yet the majority of Republican attacks on Obama do not use anything Greenwald says. Jack Kelly did write "Obama can kill you", but even then Kelly contradicted his own past statements and claimed no liberals were covering this issue (thus losing credibility with anyone who has read Greenwald).

I didn't write a post last week, in part because I noticed Jack Kelly is writing more than I thought, and I started to think I should go back and write about these mid week efforts. I might still do that (I guess it started in the last month).

Even though I missed last week, looking back at last week's column "Obama the loser: His arrogance, ignorance and laziness have led to failed policies" and this week's column "Romney might win big: He's talking issues while Democrats attack", there is a certain irony in Kelly first attacking (and also insulting) Obama, then turning around and claiming that Democrats are the ones making personal attacks.

So Kelly claims that while Democrats are only attacking Romney, Romney is raising real issues. Yet Kelly fails to mention any specific policy issues, and at best raises a sort of non-policy issue of competency. Competency is a complicated issue (how does one look at Massachusetts, and "Romneycare"?), but let's face it, Kelly's column is essentially a series of dog whistles, not specifics. Right off the bat, he mentions Hillary Rosen and Obama eating (being fed) dog as a child in quick succession. (By the way, do you think there is a difference between an adult deciding to place his dog on the roof of his car for a multi-hour highway trip and a child living with a stepfather and his mom after his biological dad abandoned them?).

To his credit, Kelly does note that others say that a second term election is a referendum on the current President's performance, yet refuses to connect the dots and admit that said referendum essentially means attacks on (not issue discussions with) the President. Although maybe he tacitly admits that, since he gives us personal attacks on Obama before and after the referendum remark, and also last week.

Why doesn't Jack Kelly give us any issues that Romney is (supposedly) talking about? Maybe because the policies Romney advocates are things like the Ryan budget, eliminating the department of Housing and Urban Development and the state and local tax deduction for itemization. Romney says he doesn't worry about the very poor because they have a safety net, yet he promises wealthy donors to gut that safety net (partly through eliminating HUD) when he (Romney) thinks the general public can't hear.

In any event, Jack Kelly's attacks on Democrats and Obama certainly seem like dog whistle type attacks, and (perhaps you'll agree) distortions of reality. For example, Kelly says "this time Democrats are emphasizing abortion and gay rights". Well, whatever you think of how the Affordable Care Act controversy concerning paying for contraception played out, everyone should agree it was about contraception, not abortion. And as fas as I know, it has been Rick Santorum talking about gay rights, not Democrats (except perhaps in response to Santorum) and certainly not Obama.

As I mentioned at the topic of this post, there are reasons to attack Obama. But unfortunately in our current system there end up only two candidates to choose from, so we have to choose from that tiny pool. Between the two, I think there is a possibility that Obama could be persuaded to change his ways. I think that people like Jack Kelly push Mitt Romnney so far to the right that he will sign into law the gutting of government aid to the poor. (Which of course raises the question of why the PG allows Jack Kelly to continue to write columns, let alone expanding his platform)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Romney has a "Bitterly Clinging" moment

Everybody must know by now that Mitt and Ann Romney spoke to wealthy donors in Palm Beach. You'd think after Barack Obama's experience in the last campaign (in 2008), candidates would never stray from their public script (maybe if there was only one other person in the room).

Romney promises the wealthy additional tax cuts (nothing we haven't heard before), and apparently says they will be paid for with some cuts in deductions and cutting some cabinet level departments. He suggests that education could be reduced until its only activity was to bust teacher's unions, and HUD might not be around too much longer.

But I found the suggestion of which deductions he would end most interesting. I mean, ending the mortgage deduction for second homes might have hurt some of the donors at the event. Which means I should give points to Romeny for at least doing that. However, Romney immediately loses points when someone for suggesting ending the deductionS (for itemizing purposes) of State and Local taxes. I mean, sure, Florida has no state income taxes (only real estate taxes, which Romney did not suggest ending) so no better places to announce that. But ending that deduction would hurt middle class itemizers, especially those who have more modest houses. The Republicans accuse Obama of initiating class warfare, and then Romney pulls this.

But Mitt's real "bitterly clinging" moment is when he and Ann talk about what a gift Hilary Rosen's charge that Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life is. Hmm, the Romney's care so much about women that they will exploit any comment made about Romney (Ann or Mitt) (comment not even made by Obama, but stuck to Obama by the Romney's).

Two things about this. First Romney made a comment a while back that a poor single mom should have to work to get welfare. So much for how much like real work for pay raising children is. Of course, considering how Bill Clinton ended long term welfare, the earned income credit is one of the few ways single (working) women can get any government assistance. Still, Romeny is falling easily into a contradiction. Not a good way to attract independents and undecideds.

Second, I have to say, glancing at the Romney biography on Wikipedia, the Romeny's had kids at an awfully early age. They started in undergrad, and had at least one more before Mitt finished grad school. A heck of an example for the moralizing Republicans clearly want to do. Much like Romney has taken to calling Obama a Harvard educated snob, funny considering Romney has twice as many Harvard graduate degrees as Obama.

As I said, a "bitterly clinging" moment.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Kelly weighs in on Zimmerman

Strangely, although I was able to buy a Post-Gazette Sunday "Early Edition" at 8:30am yesterday morning, Jack Kelly's column has not made it to the PG web edition at of 9:50am on Sunday morning. So no link yet (maybe later).

Today Jack Kelly declares his man love for Rick Santorum, and describes the steamy weekend they had in ... what, your print edition doesn't have that column? Well, show me a link ...

Naw, today Jack Kelly veers away from racist economics and returns to racist sociology, talking about how the media, in talking about George Zimmerman, engaged in a "Rush to Judgment" (see, this is where there would be a link, since "Rush to Judgment" is the title of Kelly's column).

This is something of a complicated topic. It would be impossible to deny that there has been a lot of attention paid to this topic, one crime out of hundreds of thousands. Yet, what my girlfriend pointed out to me when I mentioned Kelly's line of thought here, is that without all that media attention, Zimmerman would not have been arrested. Probably that is the result Kelly would have wanted. On a recent Bill Maher, a conservative (woman, I forget who) was complaining that Zimmerman was/is being convicted by liberals without having a day in court, to which Van Jones (who was also on) plaintively said "That's what we want, Zimmerman in court".

Of course, that's not all Kelly said. One issue he raised was a surveillance tape from the police station when Zimmerman was brought in for questioning on the day Martin was shot. I saw a brief version on the Maher show, and first of all, you certainly see Zimmerman from the front. One of Zimmerman's claims is that Martin punched him in the nose. Well, there was no sign of blood on Zimmerman from the front. Even if the paramedic's cleaned him up, it seems likely his shirt would have shown some blood, yet there was none I could see. Perhaps the paramedics or cops gave Zimmerman a clean shirt ... but why would the cops or paramedics have a spare shirt? How far do we have to stretch the bounds of credibility?

Now, Kelly claims there is a longer version that shows injuries to that back of Zimmerman's head, supporting his claim that Trayvon Martin had been slamming Zimmerman's head to the ground (perhaps sidewalk pavement). Now, once again, my girlfriend has been paying a lot of attention to this issue, and just recently has had the time to search on the internet. She says she saw a longer version of the police tape, and she disagrees with what Kelly says. Given that Zimmerman claimed a nose injury for which no evidence was shown on the tape, and the explanation for why there is no sign is tortured and far fetched, it calls Kelly's statement into doubt.

On another point Kelly raises, there is, first, the fact that Zimmerman called 911 so often that the police had him call some other number to report "crimes", to keep him from clogging the 911 line. So he called the number on the fateful day, and talked to an operator. Kelly details how there is the actual version of the call, that somehow shows Zimmerman is not being racist, compared to an edited soundbite that was replayed by the media countless times. I disagree, I think the longer version shows the same racism as the shorter version, it actually adds American stereotypes about black crime. For example, Zimmerman asserts (at the time) Martin "looks like he is up to no good, or on drugs or something. It's raining and he is just walking around, looking around".

And by the way, let's not forget what Kelly doesn't mention, that Zimmerman tells the police operator that he is following Martin, to which the operator replies "we don't need you to do that". Zimmerman did anyway, carrying a gun, which, especially in light of what then transpired, I think provides ample evidence to support a charge (if not conviction) of reckless endangerment.

There is also apparently a (and pardon the word, I am quoting) "coon" remark, which I don't know much about. I could easily find out, but I haven't been motivated to do so. So apparently this remark is on tape (perhaps Zimmerman was still talking to the police operator). Kelly claims what is actually said is "It is (expletive(fucking?)) cold". Was Zimmerman focused on Trayvon Martin or on the weather?

Kelly also mentions an incident where a black Sanford homeless man is killed by the son of a cop, and that Zimmerman is "foremost" aomng those calling for justice. Citation? No no, we are just supposed to accept Kelly's word for it.

But the final straw(s) for me are how Kelly ends his column. As an example of a rush to judgment, Kelly brings up the Duke lacrosse case, and then brings up Dan Rather's story about letters to get Dubya Bush into the Texas Air National Guard as example of what should happen to reporters who quote facts they (Kelly would say) they know are untrue. Kelly never mentions what should happen to columnists who selectively present facts, who quote what are deliberate lies.

But what is most important to me is that Kelly refuses to discuss the Martin/Zimmerman case on its own merits, and instead raises these two Republican dog whistle issues. When Democrats/liberals say that the current bad economy was caused by events that occurred on George W Bush's watch, Republicans/conservatives ask when it will become Obama's economy and for Democrats/liberals to stop bringing up ancient history. Yet Duke Lacrosse was apparently from 2006 and the Rather thing from 2004.

Democrats are not models of consistency and Obama, as President has done things which should be grave crimes. Yet Republicans/conservatives, in a depressing race to the bottom, and as exemplified in part by Jack Kelly's various columns, continue to show how they would (as they did from 2000 to 2008, and particularly from January 2003 to December 2006) make things so much worse. Jack Kelly shows with his dissembling about the Martin/Zimmerman issue/case what sort of commitment to the truth he has.

Why does the PG allow him to present the distorted and deceptive conservative perspective?

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Kelly wants the poor and unemployed to suffer

I have said before, Jack Kelly is no economist. Today, he is toeing the Tea Party line about government spending, even to the point of questioning Paul Ryan's conservative credentials, based on the budget the House just passed. Kelly goes so far as to suggest (without attribution to any source) "Trouble starts with sluggish growth, but ends typically with a spectacular crash, hyperinflation and depression". I'm surprised he didn't mention frogs and boils.

Kelly simply makes statements like that throughout his column, lumping together unemployment, slow growth and high gas prices and blaming "chiefly" the government. Since government measures show inflation at no more than 2.9 percent, Kelly references the American Institute for Economic Research which has it's own ""Everyday Price Index"" that says inflation "rose 7.2 percent" (a year, a month; Kelly doesn't say). If what the government says is inconvenient, find someone who says the right things

By the way, Kelly has referenced the American Institute for Economic Research previously. It is described on the internet as centrist, but there are indications of an agenda (involving George Mason University?!).

Kelly keeps on in this vein, quoting Republican donor Ray Dalio among others or making his own interesting assertions: "The nations which recover fastest after a crash are those which sharply restrict government interference in the economy. The "economic miracle" in post-WWII Germany is the most spectacular example, but history is replete with others." I don't know what the government of post-WWII Germany did, but I have to wonder if Jack Kelly has heard of the Marshall Plan?

Kelly's grasp of economics is pretty clearly murky at best. He is trying to appeal to "common sense", that running deficits is not sustainable, that government regulations - rules of behavior, are ruining the free market and thus causing the slowdown and our current massive unemployment. He simply ignores the housing bubble, the incredible fraud amoung financial institutions - a willful blindness. He has no idea what following his advice would actually achieve/cause.

But further there is the sheer meanness of what he proposes. As I said earlier, Kelly apparently can't support the Ryan budget "Yet when times are tough, few propose that government tighten its belt. The budget that House Republicans passed last week is "thinly veiled social Darwinism," Mr. Obama said. But even under the GOP budget, federal spending rises year after year.".

The Ryan budget in fact (vaguely) reduces government spending across the board, including "reforming" Medicare by giving senior citizens a voucher for private care. When that program was attempted during the Bush administration, it consistently lost money (the government had to give the private insurance companies more and more money). The reason the Ryan budget still grows the deficit is that the Ryan budget actually forces the defense department to accept more money than was planned in the event Congress couldn't agree to a budget (at least for next year). Kelly apparently wants defense at least not to grow, if not shrink.

Make no mistake, though, Paul Ryan, Jack Kelly and the rest of Republicans, conservatives and the Tea Party wants domestic spending to largely disappear. Unemployment compensation, aid to families with dependent children, Child's health program, aid to public schools, basic research in health (the National Institutes of Health), aid to poor students to go to higher education of any kind, Mediciad ... all on the chopping block. Think about what the country would look like if we ended unemployment compensation; according to Republicans more American would find jobs, and possibly some few would accept huge cuts in pay, taking a job as a McDonalds fry cook after having made cars. But there are only so many McDonalds jobs, let alone good paying jobs that companies seem to have but don't offer to those who are currently unemployed. Further the ones who didn't find a job before their retirement savings (their dreams for the future) run out, who still can't make ends meet or don't have savings, they would end up perhaps on the street. The country would not have the benefit of the spending fueled by unemployment compensation - the foreclosures our neighbors would suffer and the sales at mostly grocery stores.

Which brings me to my final point (I know, finally). Just before throwing Ryan under the bus, Kelly says "The federal government will spend about 31 percent more in the current fiscal year than was spent in 2008. The president's cronies will benefit. Most Americans won't.". What goes into current federal spending? Is some significant fraction money flowing to liberal-owned solar power companies, like Kelly would like you to think? Not so far as I can see. But what is different between 2008 and the current year. Well, the stock market crashed in the fall of 2008, but the real effects of that did not really hit until Obama took office in 2009. Since then, some say "automatic stabilizers" such as unemployment compensation and food stamps are the biggest part of the what (actually smaller) increase in federal spending has occurred. This as unemployment went from 5% in January of 2008 to near ten percent in January of 2010.

Without this spending, those who were unemployed would have had suffered so much more. The rest of us would not have had the benefit of their spending. Essentially the country would have slipped into a full blown depression. Period. And Jack Kelly's blathering can't change that. The 2009 stimulus was too small, the result of Obama trying to accommodate Republican concerns. But without it and the automatic spending on unemployment compensation and other programs for the newly poor, this would be 1932.

(by the way, state and local spending, especially in Republican controlled states, has contracted, threatening our fragile recovery).

Friday, April 06, 2012

Things sort of environmental, on the personal front.

I have been working on this post for (like) a week.

Earth hour was last Saturday. Just like I am only mentioning it now, I kinda blew it off, watching TV (and later driving over to my girlfriends to walk her dog while she worked). I watched a LCD TV in my apartment which has all CFL's (expect for a couple of LED lights). But do I feel bad I didn't turn off my lights (I can't even remember what I was watching).

I just recently bought a Prius C, which was probably a bad or at least unnecessary decision. The "C" is a new model hybrid, which Toyota says is selling quite briskly. It is smaller, a hatchback built on the Yaris sedan's frame, and starts under 20 grand (mine was around twenty). It is being marketed to people in their twenties getting their first car, which is funny in a way because I am finding that to maximize mileage, you kinda need to drive like a 70 year old on tranquilizers. More on that later.

I am pretty sure I have mentioned I had a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid with a manual transmission. Was there a problem with the Civic? Well, yes and no. It was starting weirdly, that is, sometimes when I turned the key lights would come on, it would wuh wuh like cars do when the battery is low, then it would catch. Mind you, the auto-stop, which turns the engine off at traffic lights, still worked fine. The starter problem actually scared me some.

Plus, there was a (not really official) mechanism for tracking mileage that was estimating high. The car has a real time mileage horizontal bar graph below the odometer, which was hard to get exact readings from but worked well enough to give me a sense of where I was MPG wise at any given moment. But with the trip odometers there was also an average mileage reading, showing the mileage from the last time you tripped the trip odometer. I would trip the trip odometer every time I got gas (I generally let the tank get pretty low), so I could have a sense of how I was doing. I also tracked my mileage on fueleconomy dot gov, each fill up. Well, the trip odometer was showing mileage higher than what was showing me. And the car's mileage in general was down. I had been in the low 40's pretty consistently (except on trips when I was in the low 50's!), but now I was in the upper 30's.

Bothersome, but these things should not have been enough to make me want to replace what was still quite a good car. I mean, I felt a sense of mortality about the car, but it was/is a Honda, and potentially good for another 100,000 miles (not with those hybrid batteries, though). Still, the Prius C really caught my eye. It appeared to be everything the Honda Insight (second generation) hybrid should have been but was not turning out to be. The Insight (second generation) was the first hybrid to sell under 20 grand. But the Insight (second generation) got only about the same mileage as my 2003 Civic hybrid and it's drive-ability was pretty well slammed by reviewers.

The Prius C (c for city), on the other hand, also starts under 20 grand (my level two was a bit over 20), gets a bit better mileage than a regular Prius and is supposed to be reasonable to drive. As I mentioned, it is built on the Yaris frame (I believe it must be the four door sedan frame), so it is truly a small car. The front seats are roomy, the rears are OK if the front seats are pushed forward by/for short people like me, and the cargo space is pretty small (although you can fold down the rear seats).

But the Prius C is turning out to be a challenge to drive in such a way as to get the EPA rated gas mileage. Let me back track on this issue for a second. With the Civic hybrid, I obsessed when driving about how the hybrid battery was doing. That battery would discharge when one accelerated, and recharge when one "engine braked", which to say let my foot off the gas pedal while the car was going and still in gear. When one did that in the Civic, the car would apparently change to have only one cylinder firing, although the other three kept moving (presumably from the motion of the car), and of course the electric motor was spinning in reverse or something to do the charging and braking. Engine braking gives you fantastic mileage on the Civic hybrid. You could see whether the battery was charging or powering the electric motor by looking at the dash (which once prompted my mother to tell me to stop looking at my dash). So obsessing about the state of the battery was actually a good way to get good mileage out of the Civic, although it tended to make one look for hills to drive down, and make one shudder at big rolling hills on the highway.

But if driving the Civic stick shift hybrid took some skill, the Prius C has brought a whole new set of challenges. So far, the way tracking the gas mileage in the Prius C works is this: every time you start the car, it starts from zero gas mileage. There are ways to set up recurring mileage, but so far I haven't attempted that. But I am using an energy monitor-type thing, that tells you whether the car is running in gas only, gas and electric, electric only, recharging mode, gas and also recharging mode and maybe other modes too (cloaked?). This monitor also displays the mileage for your (my) current trip.

Now, being as it is spring and therefore somewhat cool in the mornings, when you start the Prius C, the gas motor kicks on after about thirty seconds. When the gas motor is on, when the car is warming up, the mileage really sucks. Once the gas motor warms up, you can take off from a stop light using the electric motor if you accelerate really (really, really) slowly. There are times when accelerating that slowly drives my fellows American drivers somewhat crazy, but the more you use the electric motor, the better the city mileage.

Of course, in busier traffic, one feels pressure to accelerate faster. What you can do in that situation is when you do reach 25 MPH, you start to "pulse and glide". To pulse and glide, one needs to let one's foot off the gas and coast and then speed back up at some point. Then if you are coasting/rolling along at, say, twenty three MPH, when you put your foot on the gas (gently) the car will run on electric only, which really helps keep gas mileage up higher despite the earlier faster acceleration.

Now as I said, the Prius C starts gas mileage fresh each time you drive it. Getting up to 40 or (ideally) 50 miles per gallon in any given city trip can be a considerable challenge, especially on trips of three miles or shorter. If I didn't try to drive so gently, if I just put my foot down and went, I suspect my mileage would be in the 30's or (maybe) low 40's. Many people would be happy enough with that sort of mileage, but the person likely to buy a Prius C is likely to expect more. So I roll slowly, keeping an eye on the dashboard energy monitor thingie.

As I said, the "C" is being marketed to people in their twenties, a whole new market for the Prius line. Now, I suspect a significant fraction of the current brisk sales are people like me, mileage enthusiasts excited by a twenty grand hybrid that gets Prius mileage. We will be the trailblazers, who will work at getting the high mileage, who will have the patience and different priorities to accelerate and drive so gently (read: slowly) to get there.

But what of the twenty years olds who are being courted by Toyota? Well, the car has kind of a regular (automatic) gear sift instead of the other Prius model's joystick like tiny gear shift. It also has an almost alarming array of audio type features (as if the energy monitor were not enough to distract you). There is a CD player and of course car radio. The car radio, by the way, sometimes tells you stuff about what song is being played. There is a port for a USB cable (from your iPod or increasingly your smart phone's music player). There is bluetooth as well, to either sync your phone for calls, your phone for playing music, or to sync it for both.

What happens if the twenty year old starts having kids? Time for a Prius V (as in Victor, apparently, since we have forgotten about the Romans, except when counting Super Bowls).

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Obama is the worst, says Jack Kelly

The first paragraph in Jack Kelly's column today lays out his view of Obama in history: "The presidency of Richard Nixon was destroyed, and that of Bill Clinton nearly ruined, by scandals that erupted over lies they told. But no president ever before has lied as frequently, as flagrantly or as foolishly as has Barack Obama.".

If you read Two Political Junkies or my past posts, you know that I (and others) think Jack Kelly himself frequently omits important details or selectively chooses "facts" (sometimes myths) to present, at the very least. Given Jack Kelly's extreme partisan beliefs, it is not surprising that he would describe Obama in such extreme terms (can we say cognitive dissonance). The problem with that is that any legitimate criticism (criticism that more than just Tea Party people might agree with) gets lost in the noise. Kelly's last criticism in the column, that Obama has done the opposite of creating an unprecedented level of openness in his administration, is one that probably Glenn Greenwald could agree with. But since Kelly simply throws everything Obama says back at him, no such unified criticism would be possible.

About two thirds into his column, after presenting distorted facts about the Keystone XL pipeline and Solyndra, Kelly says "Mr. Obama lies most often about energy, but not only about energy.". I could mention that there is much more to the Solyndra story than Kelly ever bothers to mention, or that tar sands are considered to possibly be the final straw that pushes man made climate change beyond our ability to reduce.

But I want to talk about energy in general, somewhat separate from either Jack Kelly's accusations of lies or President Obama's somewhat watered down energy policy. As I see it, we have the ability right now to choose one of three possible energy paths. We could continue as we are progressing now, drilling some for oil and natural gas, watching the price rise (seemingly caused by speculator) and I guess eventually adding some solar and wind to electricity and biodiesel to auto fuel. Or we can do what Republicans and conservatives like Kelly seem to advocate, and double down on extraction and consumption, using tar sands for gas and fracking out natural gas frm shale formations. Possibly fuel costs would com down (though personally I doubt it), and we would have both local and possibly global negative environmental effects.

Our third option would be to pursue a more sustainable energy system. We, three percent of the world, consume twenty percent of the world's oil. What we do will not be the absolute factor that will affect climate change, be we have the opportunity to set the tone. Either we will make it clear that modern life requires unlimited consumption, or we can show the rest of the world that mindful consumption is not only possible, but positive. I have seen people say to me that the future will take care of itself, and maybe it will. But there is not certainty that what we are doing now will not cause suffering for many millions, if not the entire planet in the future. Future generations may have some use for the fossil fuels in the ground now (currently we use oil not only for fuel, but also for fertilizer and plastics, and probably other things I forget about). I think we need to start to minimize our use of fossil fuels, transitioning to hybrids, biodiesel vehicles as well starting to increase our use of mass transit, encouraging businesses to locate with walking distance of population centers and setting up incentives to live in walkable parts of cities and disincentives to live further away. but that doesn't mean we need to suffer. I think that internet shopping can replace driving to malls, and for that matter, if the population of the planet declines (which Jack Kelly has addressed in the past), the internet can still provide perhaps even more effective links to keep critical mass of collective discussion, debate and ultimately thinking to move science and culture forward.

It's too bad that Jack Kelly doesn't think our future is an issue worth examining, that he is only interested in advancing the agenda of the Tea Party.

PG, do you think your readers are best served by politically biased columns, that blindly accepts the word of corporations that their practices are safe for the environment. Do you want to encourage the anti-scientific thinking of climate change denialism.