Climate

Obama’s Worst Speech Ever: “We’ve Added Enough New Oil And Gas Pipeline To Encircle The Earth”

Obama expedites southern leg of Keystone pipeline and embraces fossil fuels. Does this make him more or less likely to okay the northern leg post-election?

COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT: Pres. Obama's speech in Cushing

Once upon a time, Obama said future generations would remember his ascendance as “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

In a Cushing, Oklahoma, speech today, Obama made clear future generations would remember him for something quite different:

I’ve come to Cushing, an oil town — (applause) — because producing more oil and gas here at home has been, and will continue to be, a critical part of an all-of-the-above energy strategy.  (Applause.)

Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years.  (Applause.)  That’s important to know.  Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states.  We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high.  We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.

So we are drilling all over the place — right now….

Obama will, I’ve said, be remembered for a “failed presidency” simply for failing to seriously fight for a climate bill. And this speech certainly guts any possible claim for a climate legacy.

Ironically, as Brad Johnson notes over at TP Green, Cushing is “ground zero for climate disasters in the United States.” In the last five years, “Cushing alone has been hit by disastrous drought, severe summer storms, ice storms, and wildfire.”

Obama will have precisely one more shot to restore his legacy and, more importantly, to give the nation and the world a fighting chance to beat catastrophic climate change — the debt deal that is cut right after the election (see “Bipartisan Support Grows for Carbon Price as Part of Debt Deal“).  In the meantime, all we can do to divine his intentions is to listen to what he tells the American people. It ain’t pretty.

So how do we divine his intentions on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline? Read his lips:

So we are drilling all over the place — right now…. That’s not the challenge.  That’s not the problem.  In fact, the problem in a place like Cushing is that we’re actually producing so much oil and gas in places like North Dakota and Colorado that we don’t have enough pipeline capacity to transport all of it to where it needs to go — both to refineries, and then, eventually, all across the country and around the world.  There’s a bottleneck right here because we can’t get enough of the oil to our refineries fast enough.  And if we could, then we would be able to increase our oil supplies at a time when they’re needed as much as possible.

Now, right now, a company called TransCanada has applied to build a new pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down on the Gulf Coast.  And today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.  (Applause.)

Now, you wouldn’t know all this from listening to the television set.  (Laughter.)  This whole issue of the Keystone pipeline had generated, obviously, a lot of controversy and a lot of politics.  And that’s because the original route from Canada into the United States was planned through an area in Nebraska that supplies some drinking water for nearly 2 million Americans, and irrigation for a good portion of America’s croplands.  And Nebraskans of all political stripes — including the Republican governor there — raised some concerns about the safety and wisdom of that route.

So to be extra careful that the construction of the pipeline in an area like that wouldn’t put the health and the safety of the American people at risk, our experts said that we needed a certain amount of time to review the project.  Unfortunately, Congress decided they wanted their own timeline — not the company, not the experts, but members of Congress who decided this might be a fun political issue, decided to try to intervene and make it impossible for us to make an informed decision.

So what we’ve said to the company is, we’re happy to review future permits.  And today, we’re making this new pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf a priority.  So the southern leg of it we’re making a priority, and we’re going to go ahead and get that done. The northern portion of it we’re going to have to review properly to make sure that the health and safety of the American people are protected.  That’s common sense.

But the fact is that my administration has approved dozens of new oil and gas pipelines over the last three years -– including one from Canada.  And as long as I’m President, we’re going to keep on encouraging oil development and infrastructure and we’re going to do it in a way that protects the health and safety of the American people.  We don’t have to choose between one or the other, we can do both.

Unfortunately, it is simply impossible to have unrestricted development of oil and gas “in a way that protects the health and safety of the American people” — see Ken Caldeira: Natural Gas Is ‘A Bridge To A World With High CO2 Levels’ and “An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts: How We Know Inaction Is the Gravest Threat Humanity Faces.”

Source: NRDC

I used to be pretty confident that Obama would not approved Keystone after the election (assuming he is reelected —  if he hasn’t, the point is obviously moot, since Etch a Sketch guy will certainly approve it). Now I’d say it’s anyone’s guess.

As Bill McKibben wrote:

It’s hard not to wonder if those cynics might be right, now that he’s going to Oklahoma to laud the southern half of the project just as Transcanada executives have requested.

True, the most critical part of the pipeline still can’t be built — thanks to Obama and 42 Democratic Senators, the connection to Canada remains blocked, and hence that remains a great victory for the people who rallied so fiercely all fall. But the sense grows that Obama may be setting us up for a bitter disappointment — that his real allegiance is to the carbon barons.

Now a very wise political analyst I know wrote me, “I believe that the more he does on the Cushing leg, the easier it will be to block the Alberta leg.” He is a glass-is-one-third full guy.

How about you? Do you think Obama will ultimately approve the rest of the pipeline or not?

62 Responses to Obama’s Worst Speech Ever: “We’ve Added Enough New Oil And Gas Pipeline To Encircle The Earth”

  1. Richard Miller says:

    It is hard to tell what he will do. Making speeches like this at ground zero of climate disasters does not help Democrats use areas like Cushing to educate the public on climate change and move towards serious policy solutions. Also, Obama does not have a chance in Oklahoma, so why piss off the environmental community?

    On another note, a running theme on this blog , which I have wholeheartedly embraced is that the president has not used his bully pulpit to push for serious policies to deal with climate change, in particular climate legislation. That is clearly a true statement.

    There are, however, other important relevant question: Does the president’s use of the bully pulpit really work? Can it actually be counterproductive? I had never questioned that it does work, but some recent work in political science suggests that it doesn’t. Here is an interesting article by Ezra Klein from the New Yorker —
    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/03/19/120319fa_fact_klein

    I have not yet read the political scientists that Klein is drawing upon. It would be interesting to invite a guest post from a political scientists on these theories because they are very relevant for what you and many of us have been calling for on this blog, namely, that the President use the bully pulpit on climate change.

  2. M Tucker says:

    My feeling has always been that he put off the final decision on a new route until 2013 so he could avoid a fight with environmentalists during the campaign season. I always thought President Obama was in favor of the pipeline extension. That is why it took such a strong boot to the arse to get him to postpone. However, I think if property owners, ranchers and farmers, along the new pipeline route continue to protest, President Obama may side with them. In either case we will still be getting Canadian tar sand oil.

  3. Peter says:

    Its going to be another 15-20 years before an President makes the kind of speech we at CP want to hear. As much as we all want to see immediate action on climate change its just not going to happen. Obama is a just another cog in the plutocracy that has evolved over the last 3 years, he has for the most part sold us out.

    Yes the weather is becoming increasingly bizarre- but on my local News Channel all they talk about is ice cream stands opening a month early.

    Mike Mann in an interview recently says that change will come- but its going to take far more time. Many of us do not want to wait- unfortunately we may have no other choice.

  4. prokaryotes says:

    “It is hard to tell what he will do.”

    Indeed. Judging from this speech he is not concerned about climate change at all.

  5. Mike Roddy says:

    Political scientists have no way to determine cause and effect from policy announcements and public opinion polls that are designed to capture overall voter support. Variable timelines and embedded issues of trust make an attempt at a study a fool’s errand. Like Economics, Political Science isn’t.

    Considering the stakes, playing politics with the survival of sentient life is pretty gross anyway. This is one more reason why we need a leader with inner strength. Vetting by the 1% in both parties appears to have prevented this from ever occurring. They had too much trouble with apostates like Roosevelt and Kennedy.

  6. prokaryotes says:

    Maybe the strategy is this: Compensate for the foreign oils and have the military use less.

    How Much Energy Does the U.S. Military Consume http://www.dailyenergyreport.com/2011/01/how-much-energy-does-the-u-s-military-consume/

    However not mentioning climate change and alternative energies and energy efficiency in an energy speech nowadays is mind boggling. Especially though when done by the largest consumer of energy.

  7. Ben Lieberman says:

    Exceptionally disappointing.

  8. Mark Allen says:

    Joe, I take your point but we all need to be a little careful here. As you know if we can’t change the balance of power in the US House and improve in the Senate President Obama can go nowhere with climate change legislation. We first need to get him reelected. I have been on your side of this issue for over a decade and I have come recognize in the past year that for most people to really get behind climate change mitigation they first need to feel like they have some sense of energy security. Sounds strange but I think it is real. If domestic production helps move climate concerns forward then we need to have domestic production.

  9. nyc-tornado-10 says:

    Obama will only do the right thing if we protest and raise hell, like the OWS movement is beginning to do now. This is obviously better than having a republican in office, but it does not speak well for obama. We have to understand that freedom is a constant struggle, and it is not just on foreign battlefields, it is in the public forum at home. We can not just vote for someone and hope they do the right thing, we must keep the pressure on them. Wall $treet does it to their politicians, we must do it to ours. Wall $treet uses money, our capital is free speach.

  10. Jim Pettit says:

    This strategy is such an absolute lose-lose-lose-lose situation for Obama that I can’t believe anyone in the White House suggested it. That is:

    –His expanding domestic production and/or transport isn’t going to lower gasoline prices one bit, so he either won’t get credit for having done it, or he’ll be accused of pandering;

    –Because gas prices won’t drop, the Right will still accuse the President of being incompetent in that arena anyway;

    –Big Oil will happily suck up the extra profits from the increased capacity and use them to fund pro-pollution candidates on the Right;

    –And environmentalists will be angered because Obama reneged on a campaign pledge (not for the first time).

    In short, then: he didn’t do enough to appease anyone on the Right–but his efforts at appeasement will cost him on the Left.

    (Now, if Obama turns out to be a master political chess player, my analysis is moot. But I don’t see it at this point.)

  11. Lou Grinzo says:

    Honestly, I sometimes wonder just what it will take for the message to get through to people on “my side” of this issue (which includes everyone here, for the record).

    All elected officials who plan to be re-elected are first and foremost politicians. Every. Last. One.

    That means they often do things that really upset their base in the general election, and for the incumbent, the general starts much earlier than it does for challengers embroiled in a primary race.

    I’ve been saying it for months and getting a ton of hate mail over it, but that doesn’t change my view of the situation: KXL, the whole smash, will be built. I detest that as much as anyone here and for reasons we can all recite, but we have to get over the self-indulgent thinking that Obama “can’t” do X or Congress “must” do Y. (Notice how often you see that kind of absolute language thrown around as if it makes sense.) Obama, Senators, House Members, Governors, etc., right down to your local town council members, will almost always do what they must to get re-elected. And in a country that thinks cheap gasoline is their Constitutional right, anything that appears to them to lower prices is a Good Thing. And it doesn’t matter in the least if their judgment is wrong; this is politics, where perception is king and facts are mere speed bumps.

  12. James says:

    Someday we will
    tell our grandchildren
    what ice was.

  13. Joy Hughes says:

    He’s taken both sides of every issue – he doesn’t really stand for anything.

  14. Leif says:

    …”Under the guise of his “All of the Above” energy strategy,..” Well Obama has sure given the Ecocidal fossil “All of the above”, just when does green energy get its chance at the plate? There is not much left to give the fossil folks, they got most of the Money already! Stop profits on pollution already!

    The Lorax may speak for the trees, however humanity cries out for a sustainable future.

  15. Sasparilla says:

    Wow Lou your comment should be framed and highlited, spot on.

  16. Sasparilla says:

    In answer to Joe’s question – Yes Obama will approve the XL when the time comes.

    He approved the two other tar sands pipelines previously just months into office (after all that good climate change action campaigning) in summer of 2009 (Keystone 1 and Alberta Clipper).

    He stacked (crony capitalism’ed) the approval process for a slam dunk (having TransCanada’s prime consultant write the environmental impact statement for the State Department) – this was going to be approved before, it was only press reports of this corrupt process and Nebraska’s protests (and the 350.org folks) that stopped up the works.

    When the Canada leg comes up for approval next year, he’ll do so – just as he said he was for this pipeline when he had to cancel it.

    President Obama has never made a choice where he chose climate change over US oil security – there’s no reason to think that is going to change.

    From a strategic standpoint, its clear Obama made the choice to go with U.S. oil security when he came into the White House and climate change became a nice to have if delivered to his desk by the house and senate.

    As Lou has said – they are all politicians and being on the wrong side of approving the XL has and is hurting Obama and his election campaign (the GOP has seen to that very effectively).

    JMHO, but if Obama had gotten up there today and said he was going to quash the XL because of climate change and stuck to it with gasoline where it is and where its trending for the summer – Obama would get our votes but Mushy Mitt would be in the White House in 2013 courtesy of what the GOP would do to him.

  17. Joe Sherman says:

    I’m very disappointed in Obama. He’s just a corporate Democrat. No transformative change agent he.

  18. Zach says:

    America is not concerned with climate change, and Obama is determined to be a reflection of his country. Unfortunately, for all Obama has done, he’s not been a major risk-taker especially when it comes to anything green. This is evident from the phony fossil-fueled counter-balance we have to add to anything green we do (i.e. increase solar and wind, BUT ALSO increase coal and oil because hey, we need all the energy we can get). His campaigning for the end of oil subsidies is welcomed, but I don’t think it’s necessary to also campaign on the other hand for more oil.

    The main issue is, however, that Americans do not know about the real dangers of climate change, and are not exposed to doomsday scenarios that would likely create a wider-incentive to act. In fact, it seems like any time we mention getting off fossil fuels or pushing for green energy, we have to use some other reason (the re-branding) i.e. it will create jobs, it will help us to compete with China more, it will grow our economy, etc, but the biggest incentive for these things is the reality of climate change, and it’s simply not being talked about by gov’t officials.

    Will Obama approve the pipeline after re-election? I think deep down Obama cares about climate change, and with the threat of a 1-term presidency removed, I think he’ll disapprove it. But who knows for sure. I think Obama’s current move to praise the pipeline is purely political. People are angry about gas prices, and this summer if they rise to potentially 5 dollars a gallon, people aren’t going to be very pleased with a president who they perceive as helping to raise gas prices by not approving oil projects.

  19. Bill Goedecke says:

    I don’t know why anyone would have had any optimism that Mr. Obama would do anything else then represent the system. He was elected on a huge wave of financial industry money and one of the first things he did was put L. Summers in as the Director of the White House United States National Economic Council – a sure sign of compliance with the powers that be. He is a good politician – he plays both sides of the street. I think he is just going to do what is necessary to reassure the average American that will be plenty of gas, reassure the oil industry that he ‘has their back’ and assure the environmentalist that these industries are to be well-regulated. The system is the system and will continue to act according to its internal prerogatives.

  20. Peter says:

    correction; that’s 32 years not 3 years.

  21. Omar says:

    It’s smart politics and smart energy strategy. We can’t get off oil overnight, and blocking a pipeline isn’t going to help speed up that process. Meanwhile, requiring tougher emissions standards from automakers and keeping oil prices down in the short term helps everyone.

    I don’t think this has any bearing on the president’s decision for the northern leg of Keystone XL. The oil will be sold to China, and the environmental risks probably aren’t worth it.

  22. BBHY says:

    I am getting more than a little tired of people who say that Obama can’t do anything because of the Republicans in congress.

    Really? It was the Republicans in Congress that prevented him from not making this speech?

    Giving another donation to the Green Party.

  23. wvng says:

    I agree Mark. Obama has to get re-elected and, if possible, Dems need to retake the House and retain nominal (if not filibuster proof) control of the Senate, in order to have any chance at a rational, public energy policy. On the plus side and for a variety of reasons, demand in America is down, efficiency is up, oil imports are down – a major national security goal for generations. The US continues to invest in green energy and infrastructure to the extent that is not blocked by republicans. Without solid control of the legislative process in Democratic hands, that is about all that will happen. And Klein’s piece the other day on the ultimate power of the bully pulpit rang true.

  24. Timeslayer says:

    True.

    Also, anyone who thinks that President Obama even has the option of presenting “reasonable arguments” to the American people has been asleep for the past 15 years. Republicans have mastered control of the feckless New York Times-led mainstream media.

    TS

  25. David Fox says:

    Here we go again. Let me start by saying that I am about as progressive as one gets, and I voted for Obama. But just because I like him, just because I voted for him doesn’t mean I stop thinking.

    You have to look beyond the man to the policies, and Obama’s presidency gets an ‘F’ in my book. Just ask yourself what your comments might be on this thread if you swapped out Obama and put George W. Bush in his place.

    From a progressive point of view, Obama has been a disaster. One of the main reasons is that Democrats have thrown their critical thinking out the door regards Obama, where they would do nothing of the kind were it a Republican doing the exact same thing.

  26. Ken Barrows says:

    Regardless of the future of Keystone, the tar sands will be developed.

  27. ltr says:

    President Obama evidently cares nothing about climate or environment issues, only about playing the politics of the issues. The idea that Obama will not approve the entire pipeline is comical. Of course the pipeline will be approved. Obama cares about being elected, other than that Obama is a true Republican conservative on policy.

  28. ltr says:

    I am tired of the game of Obama the conservative Republican pretending to be a Democrat.

  29. SecularAnimist says:

    And here I thought I voted against the “Drill Baby Drill” guy in 2008.

    Silly me.

  30. Susan Anderson says:

    Per New York Times, Obama is in real trouble here, just lost a lot of votes with his Oklahoma shenanigans. He has plenty of access, but presumably that includes deniers as well, and being a lawyer he is unable to separate the wheat from the chaff. It’s unfortunate, as the alternative is much much worse. Personally, makes me want to spit or something worse!”

    I also remember he likes it hot which doesn’t help.

    Oddly, NYT highlighted this excellent factual on tar sands oil from National Geographic, worth remembering and publishing as often as possible:

    “Current tar sands extraction is incredibly energy intensive. The material is mined, not pumped. It’s then baked to about 900 degrees to separate out the hydrocarbons which then get shipped elsewhere for further refining. And that’s the high quality stuff. 80 percent of tar sands reserves is low quality that must be heated in the ground in order to produce it. The point: a gob-smacking lot of energy must be plowed into the ground to get energy out of tar sands. The ratio of energy return on energy invested is in the single digits. This is abysmal compared to traditional oil extraction rates. No surprise that tar sands takes dirty energy to a whole new level.”

  31. M Tucker says:

    I did not know that true Republican conservatives are in favor of the Affordable Care Act, ending DADT, ending the war in Iraq, stronger EPA regulations, providing family planning and health care services for women, unions, subsidies for solar, subsidies for wind, subsidies for alternative fuels, Wall Street reforms, banking regulations, to mention just a few issues I always thought the true “Republican conservative” vehemently opposed. I will have to start paying closer attention.

  32. Luc Binette says:

    It is really disappointing to read so many excuses that are being offered to explain Obama’s failings. It makes me think of the peace Nobel prize he was offered in the hope of … Can’t he be judged by his actions? He will not stand neither for peace nor for dealing with climate change. The guy is unable to take a stand that will not bring him votes. By shifting evermore to the right, the GOP simply moves further to the right, and US citizens as well as mankind all lose. Please denounce what needs to be denounced.

  33. with the doves says:

    Re Ezra Klein’s piece – didn’t Joe have a post here a little while back showing that public concern about climate was driven by attention from politicians and the like?

    Not a big EK fan here. I’ve not read the article but I bet it comes down to how to define “bully pulpit.” Think if FDR had not, prior to Pearl Harbor, bothered to discuss the dangers of Nazi triumph.

  34. john atcheson says:

    Yes, encircle the Earth the way a python encircles its victims.

    Thank you President Obama for you courage … err no that’s not it … your honesty …. err, no, not quite right … your … let’s see … ah, I’ve got it, your political expediency while the world burns. Yes, that’s it.

  35. john atcheson says:

    Mark:

    I have very little patience with this argument that Obama can do nothing — we need a leader who will be a compass, not a weather vane. One who will shape polls not be shaped by them.

    As George Lakoff points out, and as Joe has noted many times, repetition creates its own reality, particularly when it’s framed in the language of values.

    Obama, by being mute on the issue, is less a victim of bad poll numbers than he is a progenitor of them.

    And the fact is, we don’t have the luxury of time. The effects of what we’re doing to the climate are already devastating and each year that goes by pushes us further into the realm of the irrevocably bad.

    Be careful, you say?

    Yes, be careful political expediency for the short term doesn’t doom us for the long term.

  36. john atcheson says:

    Simply getting re-elected without a mandate to do that which must be done is useless. It gives us a kiss-your-sister victory.

    It may be that no politician with the skills, ideals and passion to lead can make it through the system, but that doesn’t mean we should ever be satisfied with the mediocre cast of clowns we get.

    In short, winning with the wrong platform — the least bad platform — isn’t a great deal different than losing when it comes to global warming.

  37. ltr says:

    I agree completely. Time to look at what Obama has actually done, and I do not care for what has been done at all.

  38. Timeslayer says:

    Right, the trustworthy New York Times, of Judith Miller fame. And so many people here still read it, as though it doesn’t insult their intelligences on a daily basis. And Americans actually think the NYT is “liberal”. It’s the best newspaper we have in the US, and it’s utterly terrible.

    Everyone here complaining about President Obama simply does not understand what he’s up against – staggering widespread public ignorance and a media that only reinforces and exacerbates it, and ignores or distorts ALL progressive ideas. I’m sure he knows more than any of us do about the full power of his opposition, and I think this awareness probably explains the actions he takes that are “disappointing” to liberals.

    How many people here complaining about him have read his book Dreams From My Father, which he started writing during his final year at Harvard Law?

    The impression I got from reading that book in ’05 is that the guy is as progressive as anyone who ever had any shot of becoming president of the United States ever was. He’s smarter than me and probably most of you, definitely most people in general. I think the power of his political opposition (including their media enablers and cheerleaders) is unprecedented in US history. I trust that he’s doing the best he can, and he deserves the full support of any serious progressive.

    TS

  39. Timeslayer says:

    I know, right? How did we miss that?

    In that case, I think we should all just support and vote for the Green Party presidential candidate this year instead of Obama. I’m sure that’s the path to progress.

    TS

  40. A.J. says:

    In the absence of any serious fossil carbon control policy, you’re probably right. But there would be obstacles to it (see today’s article). The pipeline is the preferred method of freeing up Canadian bitumen/it’s refined product, and facilitating it’s sale on the global market. It would be better from an accelerated climate change perspective if that process were slower and more costly.

  41. Dan Ives says:

    Spot on. The endless Obama apologist comments on here are pathetic. If it were John McCain doing all these things, I doubt the comments would be saying “Well, he is a politician, and politicians will do what they have to do to be elected.”
    This is the #1 climate blog and the usual readers/commenters, including the editor himself, are ready and willing to re-elect the guy who is paving the road to a climate disaster. And their only defense is that the speed limit on Obama’s road is 70 while Romney’s road would be 75.
    PATHETIC!

  42. Dan Ives says:

    Joe said, “How about you? Do you think Obama will ultimately approve the rest of the pipeline or not?”

    Well, gee, Joe. I could talk to some Very Wise Political Analyst and see what probabilities their 11-dimensional analysis comes up with… or I could take a look at what Obama’s past actions are are judge for myself.

    Obama increased offshore drilling, increased gas drilling, adopted the GOP’s “all of the above” talking point, dropped smog standards, shielded BP and low-balled the spill rates during Deep Water Horizon, and now just fast-tracked the approval for a portion of Keystone XL.

    If he were a self-admitted conservative Republican oil man, would this question be so goddamn controversial? Would you need to consult your Very Wise Political Analyst to answer it?

  43. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It’s not hard at all. He will serve his owners, the rich kleptocrats who have promoted him from the beginning. The USA is a plutocracy with a very tattered ‘democratic’ facade. Only servants of the real power, that of money, float to the top.

  44. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    What-even for Obama?

  45. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The great cleverness of ‘Plan Obama’ was to have the wolf, (the third GW Bush term and possibly a fourth) in the sheep’s clothing of the first African-American President. Quite brilliant, really, and, as Obama has gotten away with more and more betrayals of the ‘Hopey-Dopey’ crowd, his audacity has grown, and his masters’ predilection to grant him a second term has grown, too.

  46. Steve says:

    Dan,

    I don’t want to be “pathetic” in your eyes, so as I asked Frank, who is your candidate and what is his or her platform on this issue? And, while you are at it, please assure us that you’ve been out there on the streets, and have seen a broad spectrum of America, so you are confident of both the candidate’s electability and effectiveness of the policy enactments you desire.

  47. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Obama’s pre-Presidential posturing was all a confidence-trick. He was designed to neuter the ‘progressives’ by sucking them into his ‘Audacity of Hype’ crusade, then betraying them at every step. Partly this is designed to discourage as many leftish voters as possible from voting in your voluntary system, and we saw the success of that policy already by November 2010. November 2014 should deliver a real low turnout, save for the Tea Party senile delinquents, and Obama can ‘lame, lame, duck’ his way to that cosy job they have waiting for him at Goldman Sachs.

  48. Mike 22 says:

    Or, he will play to the voters, which, after all, have an average IQ of 99.

  49. prokaryotes says:

    As i mention above, you have to factor the entire picture, which includes the biggest emitter.

  50. Timeslayer says:

    Judging by your tone and hyperbole, I don’t think we’re going to agree on this anytime soon unfortunately, but let me suggest an alternative explanation to yours-

    It’s a mistake to think that if we could just get “the right truly progressive man or woman” in the White House, things would be so much better. And it’s a mistake because it’s not true: our democratic system is significantly more dysfunctional than even you realize. Facts supporting the implementation of progressive policies are next to useless to any president, in term of generating public support (much less support IN CONGRESS). This is because the entire mainstream media has, does, and will allow Republicans to lie about the facts and keep the public ignorant and misinformed on the issues. President Obama is an very smart guy, and he’s trying, so what he has accomplished and is trying to accomplish is about the best that ANY PRESIDENT could do. Our severely dysfunctional democracy also means that there are huge political pitfalls for President Obama on any number of issues, which he must avoid – and should avoid – unless you really think President Mitt Romney would be just as good as President Obama.

    And since you mentioned Goldman Sachs, I take it you haven’t read Obama’s first book which I asked about, or you’d know he turned down a job at a Wall Street investment bank after college to work as a community organizer in Chicago. But yeah, you’re probably right – even though he could have sold out decades ago instead of pretending to help poor people as a community organizer, Barack Obama was just so determined to help the rich that he went through the whole public service, become President route just so that he could do it on a much grander scale.

    TS

  51. Dan Ives says:

    Steve,

    “I don’t want to be “pathetic” in your eyes” – You could start by dropping the condescending comments.
    “Who is your candidate and what is his or her platform on this issue?” – To me the best candidates are Rocky Anderson or Jill Stein. As for their platform, I’m not going to do your homework for you.
    “And, while you are at it, please assure us that you’ve been out there on the streets” – I have in fact protested in the streets. Can you say the same?
    “And have seen a broad spectrum of America, so you are confident of both the candidate’s electability and effectiveness of the policy enactments you desire.” Most of Rocky’s and Jill’s policies poll with solid majority support.

    Now it’s my turn to ask you a question. How will re-electing the current President benefit the earth’s climate? Please be specific.

  52. Steve says:

    I don’t want to be “pathetic” in your eyes […]

    […] the policy enactments you desire.

    Steve, these two snippets highlight exactly what’s so morally bankrupt about your ‘thinking’.

    Do you realize that, if a close friend of yours falls ill or dies, you don’t react by asking ‘how will this affect Obama’s chances of re-election’?

    Do you realize that we, as citizens of the world, exist in our own right — and not as mere pawns in your oh-so-epic struggle to send votes to Obama?

    Do you realize that climate change is a problem because it can cause real harm, suffering, and death — and not because it can cause certain politicians to gain or lose votes?

    Do you even realize that?

    — frank

  53. So in your view, the Obama administration had no choice but to send Tim DeChristopher to jail, because The Republicans Made Him Do It?

    — frank

  54. Timeslayer says:

    While your comment basically ignores my main point, and I’m not totally familiar with the details of DeChristopher’s case, I think it should be noted that (1) the Obama Administration had absolutely nothing to do with his arrest, which happened during the Bush administration, and (2) we do have a legal process and a judicial branch that is supposed to be independent of the executive branch, and I’m not sure how easy (or wise) it would have been for President Obama to personally try to stop a pending prosecution. From what I have read about Tim DeChristopher, he sounds like a very brave guy who certainly does not deserve to be in prison.

    But I’m curious to know: Do you think that President Obama has accomplished anything worthwhile at all?

    TS

  55. KB says:

    It’s the Dems – not the GOP – in Congress that are essentially forcing Obama to support the pipeline. It’s one thing to stand up to big oil and the GOP, but if you add your own party it’s too much. He had to call Senators just to beg them to support his rejection; next time he may have to veto a bill, and perhaps be humiliated with an over-ride. The environmental movement, millenials and donors did an amazing job to get the denial when the Administration wanted to approve this. We won a great battle, but we are losing the argument about oil, even among moderate and “progressive” Dems. The visit to Cushing was a low point, without doubt, but this isn’t all about Obama.

  56. Rick Covert says:

    I think those of us who voted for candidate Obama in 2008 can agree he gave us Oil Change we can believe in.

  57. KB says:

    Whether Obama approves the KXL pipeline in a second term depends on what we do, just as it did the first time around. If we whine about him while the oil industry advocates for its interests, he’ll approve. If we organize as well as we did the first time, we have a chance.

    And he’ll need allies among his party. Even the President can’t go it alone. Is there a Dem besides Henry Waxman and Bernie Sanders who has come out unequivocally against the pipeline?

  58. I’m not sure how easy (or wise) it would have been for President Obama to personally try to stop a pending prosecution.

    What, given that this is exactly what Obama did with torturers in the CIA?

    Please stop giving excuses for Obama’s failures.

    Do you think that President Obama has accomplished anything worthwhile at all?

    That was never the issue. The issue is that people such as you think that Obama can do no wrong.

    — frank

  59. Steve says:

    Oh well, I have some obvious typos and screwed up complex sentences in that one (specifically concerning state programs in light of possible preemptive federal interference), but I think most people will see the point… got to get to work.

  60. Holly says:

    I agree, I’ve been unbelievably disappointed by both parties. I feel like we should punish them for all this BS and take all of our votes away to somewhere else. Exactly why I’m voting 3rd party this year, someone I actually agree with. Thing is they don’t get much mainstream media so share who you like with your friends or they wont know the other better options we have.

  61. Forrest Palmer says:

    My man, you said ’15 to 20′ years in your post…I really don’t know what world people are living in nowadays…it would be sad if someone said this who has no clue about climate change, but I don’t know how someone who is on here can make an insane comment like that…that 15 or 20 years you are referencing started back in 1990 or so…now we are creeping up on that 2015 to 2020 timeframe where analysts have been saying for years is the beginning of IRREVERSIBLE climate change…basically we are here now and there isn’t anymore ’15 or 20 years’…stop doing like all these psuedo-environmentalists and acknowledge the truth: this should have been started DECADES before and now, it is too late…thank you

  62. Don says:

    IMO, a leader can be judged from where he/she has taken a nation or tried to take a nation. A leader is not satisfied with managing the status quo, in effect forfeiting his/her responsibilities to time and future generations. He/She seeks to pursue a vision of something better and takes concrete steps and significant risks to try to translate that vision into reality.

    When it comes to climate change, the chronic absence of leadership in the U.S. persists. Ironically, an ambitious program to diversify the nation’s energy supply could be justified on multiple grounds beyond climate-based ones:

    1. Geopolitical realities concerning locations where fossil fuels are disproportionately concentrated: The costs of maintaining an adequate balance of power and readiness to assure access are high. Given the United States’ long-term fiscal path, those costs will force tough trade-offs in the future, especially as the U.S. economy becomes relatively smaller globally.

    2. Supply-Related Risk Exposure: A lack of energy supply diversity exposes the nation to the consquences of supply disruptions and resource nationalism. Such shocks typically play out with price spikes and reductions in economic activity. In turn, reduced economic activity leads to less income growth than might otherwise have occurred, higher levels of unemployment, and overall lower standards of living than would otherwise have been the case. The longstanding bipartisan commitment to the status quo has constrained the nation’s strategic flexibility to deal with such shocks, much less avoid them.

    3. Most new industries yield sizable learning and experience benefits that signficantly lower their average costs over time (yielding higher profits for companies and improved welfare for consumers). Nations that achieve breakthroughs or early entry in such industries often gain a sustainable competitive advantage on account of those learning/experience benefits. Given the paramount importance of energy to economic activity, the nation or nations that achieve breakthroughs in new energy will likely leverage those breakthroughs into faster economic growth and greater job creation than the laggards who tried to perpetuate the status quo.

    Today, the U.S. lacks the kind of bold leadership required to dare reach beyond the narrow vision of the status quo. Words to the contrary and political atmospherics mean almost nothing in the long-run. Today’s choices shape tomorrow’s outcomes. Concrete actions, credible investment, and risk-taking build the future. The choice to do nothing/maintain a business as usual course leaves a nation a prisoner of developments beyond its control. By remaining a bystander, a nation merely locks itself into the status quo and its limitations, even as the world around it changes.