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Tom Friedman has come back from vacation with an astonishing slap in the face of George Bush and Dick Cheney over their continued support of the failed politics of the past as opposed to the politics of the future. He says that the current biggest enemy facing this country is not Islamism, Communism, or other such ideologies, but Petrolism, or the practice of sustaining a country through oil revenues. He calls for a new policy of Red, White, Blue, and Green.

If this had come from someone from Greenpeace or Earth First, nobody would raise their eyebrows. But coming from a man who was at one time one of Bush's biggest enablers is a sign that the Bush administration has run desperately adrift and is losing some of its key supporters. This would explain the photo-op meeting yesterday by the Bush administration and many former Democratic and Republican administration officials which was all spin and no deliverance.

Friedman frames this issue as not being a sissy girlie-man issue, but a National Security issue:

But when it comes to what is actually the most important issue in U.S. foreign and domestic policy today - making ourselves energy efficient and independent, and environmentally green - they ridicule it as something only liberals, tree-huggers and sissies believe is possible or necessary.

Sorry, but being green, focusing the nation on greater energy efficiency and conservation, is not some girlie-man issue. It is actually the most tough-minded, geostrategic, pro-growth and patriotic thing we can do. Living green is not for sissies. Sticking with oil, and basically saying that a country that can double the speed of microchips every 18 months is somehow incapable of innovating its way to energy independence - that is for sissies, defeatists and people who are ready to see American values eroded at home and abroad.

Living green is not just a "personal virtue," as Mr. Cheney says. It's a national security imperative.

Friedman is not the only one-time Bush supporter who is getting fed up with the President. Look at these examples of comments from Bush supporters getting restless:

Peace like a River:

"Now, in doing this, I am absolutely not trying to say that these brave soldiers died in vain. I've begun paying closer attention to this solely to ask the question, are we truly doing all we can to provide those who are in harm's way on our behalf with what they need? If not, why aren't we moving heaven and earth to develop an adequate fighting vehicle?"


"While advances are being made in Iraq, these attacks - along with other mass casualty attacks in the last few days and the severe disruption of Iraqi oil production and distribution - show how far we have to go."

This sort of criticism from supporters has not been answered by any kind of understanding. Instead, Bush's response to such acts is more of the Same Old Thing -- yet another PR gimmick designed to create the illusion of bipartisanship and mask the fact that this is one of the most partisan administrations in US history. This is a classic example of government by PR as opposed to actually governing the country, like President Clinton did for eight years.

Returning to Friedman, he totally explodes another Bush myth -- the notion that he is somehow promoting democracy. In fact, the Petrolist nations that he supports or at least looks the other way on -- like Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Nigeria -- give their people government jobs to keep them in line, use gas and oil to intimidate enemies like Russia did with Ukraine, and hog up a dwindling supply to build their own military powers and then make even more profits as the world's oil reserves continue to shrink.

When a nation's leaders can practice petrolism, they never have to tap their people's energy and creativity; they simply have to tap an oil well. And therefore politics in a petrolist state is not about building a society or an educational system that maximizes its people's ability to innovate, export and compete. It is simply about who controls the oil tap.

Friedman points out that our energy gluttony is propping up such dictatorships like Russia, Iran, Sudan, and other such countries. He says that without our energy gluttony, regimes like this would have collapsed a long time ago, having never build up a solid educational system or creating alternatives to exporting oil. What the Petrolist countries are doing is a standard business blunder -- investment experts tell us all the time not to invest in one single stock or one single investment type. Instead, they advocate diversifying your money. That way, if one stock or one sector goes bad, the others will prop you up. And that is exactly what the Petrolist countries are not doing.

We need a president and a Congress with the guts not just to invade Iraq, but to also impose a gasoline tax and inspire conservation at home. That takes a real energy policy with long-term incentives for renewable energy - wind, solar, biofuels - rather than the welfare-for-oil-companies-and-special-interests that masqueraded last year as an energy bill.

Enough of this Bush-Cheney nonsense that conservation, energy efficiency and environmentalism are some hobby we can't afford. I can't think of anything more cowardly or un-American. Real patriots, real advocates of spreading democracy around the world, live green.

Brian Schweitzer proposes creating a system of changing coal to oil so that we would not have to depend on foreign imports. That is a better solution than the current policies, but it is still only a stopgap measure. What I would suggest is that we use coal-oil conversion as a transitional fuel to safe forms of energy such as what Friedman mentions.

All this bodes well for Senator Russ Feingold. Feingold was one of the leaders in getting the ANWR bill killed in the Senate this year. He has always fought for a stronger environment, including the following things:

Keeping Our Water Clean: Senator Feingold believes that when you turn on the faucet you shouldn't have to wonder whether the water is safe to drink. He has opposed numerous efforts to roll back the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act and cosponsored legislation requiring the establishment of a national primary drinking water standard and treatment techniques for the harmful bacteria cryptosporidium, which caused almost 100 deaths in the Milwaukee area in 1993. He has pushed for research, development, and funding for critical drinking water infrastructure systems to help local communities comply with environmental regulations.

Preserving Wetlands: Senator Feingold realizes the important role wetlands play in alleviating water pollution and preventing flooding. Wetlands absorb runoff from rainwater before it reaches rivers and streams, helping to prevent flooding and filter pollutants out of the water before they reach our drinking water. That is why Senator Feingold fought provisions in the 1996 Clean Water Act that threatened the classification and protection of over 60% of Wisconsin wetlands, and authored a clean water bill that would clarify that streams, ponds, and lakes are subject to Clean Water Act protections.

Cleaning Up the Great Lakes: Senator Feingold cosponsored the Great Lakes Amendment, passed by the Senate in July of 2001, which will prevent both onshore and offshore drilling for oil and gas in the Great Lakes until Congress has clear information about the specific dangers that drilling could pose to the Lakes. In 2004, he urged the Senate to extend this moratorium. Senator Feingold has also cosponsored several pieces of legislation to clean up Great Lake harbors, prevent non-native species like the Asian carp, zebra mussels, and sea lampreys from wreaking havoc on the Great Lakes, and has worked on efforts to clean up the Fox River and prevent tons of PCBs from flowing into Lake Michigan.

In 2005, Senator Feingold introduced a bill which would have restored the meaning of the Clean Water Act of 1972:

Feingold's bill does three things:

    * It makes it clear that the full range of wetlands, lakes, streams, and other waters are protected by the Clean Water Act.
    * It deletes the term "navigable" from the Clean Water Act to clarify that Congress's primary concern in 1972 was not to limit clean water protection to navigable waters, but to protect all of the nation's waters from pollution.
    * It affirms Congress's constitutional authority to regulate the nation's waters and wetlands so that our waterways will be protected by federal law.

Feingold would rewrite the Reclaimation Reform Act of 1982:

U.S. Senator Russ Feingold has introduced legislation that could help save $2.5 billion over the next five years. Feingold's bill would reform a federal irrigation subsidy program that has been exploited by large agribusiness in order to keep on receiving subsidies. The legislation would reform the 1982 Reclamation Reform Act to require a means test to qualify for federal irrigation subsidies to ensure that small family farmers, not huge agribusinesses, benefit from federal water pricing policies.

Feingold would overhaul the way the Army Corps of Engineers would do business:

"The Corps has wasted millions of dollars on projects that destroy the environment and fail to produce promised economic benefits," said Melissa Samet, Senior Director of Water Resources. "The introduction of today's legislation is yet another example of the bold leadership of Senators Feingold, McCain, and Daschle in protecting taxpayers and the environment. Their proven track record in taking on politically charged issues bodes well for reforming an agency whose budget is driven by the number of projects it delivers to Congress."

Over the past four years, the Corps has been rocked by scandal and a steady stream of studies exposing efforts to justify proposals to Congress with severely flawed environmental and economic analyses, and the Corps' failure to replace wildlife habitat harmed by its projects.

"The legislation being introduced today is the key to regaining control of an agency that persists in promoting outdated projects that wreak havoc on the nation's rivers and wetlands," Samet said.. "We urge Congress to respond to America's call for healthy waters and quickly send a Corps reform bill to the President's desk."

Given the massive array of criticism of Bush coming from one-time lockstep supporters, it is clear that George Bush is seeping down the drain of irrelevance while people like Senator Feingold are taking the lead in proposing solutions to protect our environment and eliminate our dependence on foreign oil so that we do not have an excuse to go to war in the Middle East.

Tom Friedman is right -- protecting our environment is no longer a tree-hugger issue; it is a National Security issue. Given the ominous predictions of the extent of global warming, it is clear that our survival as a human race will depend on how we address the damage we have done to our environment and minimize the damage done to our environment as much as possible.

Originally posted to Stop the Police State! on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 10:27 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  He's argued this sort of stuff (none)
      for several years, if I'm not mistaken.  I know I recall his call for hefty gas taxes.  How he manages to combine this sort of insight with ANY sort of support for the leaders of our Petrolgarchy is beyond me.  Let alone his love of go-go-globalism.  

      No one likes armed missionaries. -- Robespierre.

      by Gator Keyfitz on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 10:33:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  He misses the point on globalism. (none)
        I have argued elsewhere that NAFTA and other such treaties encourage environmental irresponsibility and thus defeat his very objective here. He preaches free trade like the early Christians did the gospel.

        But he is right on the need to move away from dependence on foreign oil as a National Security imperative

  •  Yup... (4.00)
    Never made sense to me why Americans figured that keeping Bush/Cheney in office... the guys who brought 911 down on our heads due to their oil-lust...

    why we thought that was the way to make ourselves safe.

    I mean... they're the reason we were attacked in the first place.

    Exactly why would puting the guys that everyone worldwide wants to kill at the head of our government make us safe?

    Well... answer is... it won't. It can't.

    Republican can't keep us safe. Everything they stand for... those are the reasons people want to kill Americans.

    It really is as simple as that. And until Americans wake up out of their comas and get real... all our kids will live under the cloud of a catastrophic attack...

    As long as Republicans control America's agenda, we're all in danger of being blown to hell. That danger will only subside when Republicans are no longer in power.

    Period... end of story.

    U.S. blue collar vs. CEO income in 1992 was 1:80; in 1999 it was 1:475.

    by Lode Runner on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 10:33:44 AM PST

  •  The day the Bush cabal... (none)
    ...takes material steps to speed development of renewables and non-polluting energy sources is the day I eat a bowl of broken glass.

    The topic is even more poisonous to Republicans after 9/11 as reducing our dependency on foreign oil is somehow seen as appeasement of terrorism.  It's acknowledging that oil is what entangled us in that region of the world and that means acknowledging that we have ourselves to blame to some extent.  They can't swallow it.

    "The American people will trust the Democratic Party to defend America when they believe that Democrats will defend other Democrats." Wesley Clark

    by The Termite on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 11:01:08 AM PST

  •  Fill me in here (none)
    I know Tom Friedman is not very popular here, he fits more into the 'DLC' crowd than the DKos crowd, but I don't really have a perception of him as ever being a Bush supporter.  He's definately pro-corporatist, but in The World is Flat, he is decidedly anti-Bush, seriously bashing him for incompetence.  Unfortunately all his stuff is now behind a paid registration, so I can't really dig into his history, so maybe I missed some of his earlier stuff.
    •  Iraq: (none)
      If you get the chance, read his stuff on the Iraq War during and right after the lead-up. He was one of the chief enablers of the Bush administration and architects of philosophy behind the Iraq War. In addition, if Iraqi turns into a civil war, he would side with the Shiites and Kurds against the Sunnis. His recent Iraqi pieces are full of self-righteous moral judgements against the Sunnis, ignoring the fact that opposition to our presence there is broad-based.
  •  Right Wingers Already Have A Think Tank (none)
    Frank Gaffney has done the rounds on NPR for this new think tank - Set America Free and along with others of Project For A New American Century fame, is also advocating a similar strategy.  So you gotta ask, "why?"  Are they just trying to get ahead of the issue and take control of it?  Or are they sincere?

    THE SET AMERICA FREE COALITION brings together prominent individuals and non-profit organizations concerned about the security and economic implications of America's growing dependence on foreign oil. The coalition, organized by the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS), promotes a blueprint which spells out practical ways in which real progress toward energy security can be made over the next several years.

    TWO THIRDS OF U.S. OIL CONSUMPTION IS DUE TO THE TRANSPORTATION SECTOR. We believe that by spearheading a global effort to transition the transportation sector to next-generation fuels and vehicles, that can utilize them, the United States can deny its adversaries the wherewithal they use to harm us. Doing so will also protect our quality of life and economy against the effects of cuts in foreign energy supplies and rising costs of oil.

    I haven't reviewed their blueprint, but I can imagine that understanding the document itself requires more than just reading the words of such a document.  I just became aware of them yesterday in reviewing an old podcast I had.  So this diary is timely, as I was trying to figure out how this fit with the activities of some of these people before.  Is this just window dressing, is it "progressive" of them?  Or is it something else?

    They've got a lot of suspicius usual characters they list as "involved" - though not stating they are on their board -  such as R james Woolsey, who seemed to be an outspoken advocate for turning the Iraq War into "World War III".  Is this just the latest effort to manipulate the public and keep control of all the issues?  Or have a large chunk of neocons suddenly reformed?  And is Friedman a soft spokesman for a portion of the neocon movement?  Or is he advocating his position independently?  What's up?  Anyone have a clue?  Just curious.

    Suddenly all of these previous advocates for war, are talking about alternative fuels, environmentalism, etc.  It feels suspicious to me, or at the very least, like untrustworthy fellows are suddely taking the spotlight on a big issue that is not theirs.

    •  This is a big piefight brewing. (none)
      This seems like a case of them turning on the Bush administration as an effort to C.Y.A. and claim they had no part in the mess that Bush created. I wonder if this is Friedman's idea as well.

      I have no idea what they mean by "Next-Generation of Fuels and Oils." It could mean one of any number of things. I suggest many of them know their grand dreams of empire are shredded and that they must weasel out of it the best that they can.

      •  A Big Economic Pie Fight (none)
        I think they are jockeying to keep control of the agenda, realizing that the war war was just one part of that effort, and that they have to be always agile.  I don't think it represents defeat or retreat on the war, just a tactical effort to keep balance and maintain control of key agenda items which will shift power from one set of actors to another.  They want to be very important in any new industries that pop up to address these issues.  They also probably get sponsorship and monies or are on boards or are involved with interests that want to keep control, even if there is a shift to alternative fuels.  However, I'm mostly speculating based on past behavior and typical political cronyism.  I don't have a complete analysis to provide at this time.  It's hard for me to believe that R. James Woolsey and Gary Bauer are suddently against the oil companies, Bush and the Iraq War and for radical environmentalism.  It just feels tactical, but that doesn't mean the agenda won't be pursued aggressively.  It could become a big tactical shift that has been in the works as a possibility for years.
        •  We'll see. (none)
          But if Tom Friedman serves as the Neocon's enabler, the way he goes after Bush suggests that the Neocons are turning on him. I see it as an attempt to cover their rears. That is typical behavior from the losing side in a debate -- they now want to come forward and say they were for the environment all along, but Bush would never let them get their way. It helps them break their associations with the radioactive Bush and is part of a calculated ploy to stay in power.
          •  right (none)
            ...the neo's turned on Bush after the last election....remarkably unremarked upon very often in the blog gossip world was the fact that Bush Sr. called in some of his own old hands to try and steer Jr. off his disaster path..and while Jr. won't admit or say he listens to Pappa , even to Pappa, Jr. did get some instruction from some non neo's concerning the ME blunders...
    •  the old guard repubs (none)
      ..have the neo's number now....and the neo's are jumping on the Dem bandwagon issues to make sure they have a seat at the Dem table too...

      Have you noticed all the little "new" "Dem" advocate organizations that are Pro-Defense, Pro "Spreading Democracy"..look real close, heheheh...same little neo groupies.

  •  We're Conservatives (none)
    Admit folks, we're conservatives!
    (Oh I know I'll get some feedback on this one).

    We want to:
    Conserve the environment
    Protect people's constitutional rights
    Protect a woman's right to choose
    Practice fiscal responsibility
    Have a government that is answerable to the people

    A few years back I was lucky enough to hear Robert Kennedy, Jr. talk at the yearly Piedmont Envrionmental Council meeting in Virginia. He's an environmental lawyer and, like most Kennedys, can give one hell of a speech. His basic message was the notion of it's either business OR conserving the environment is as bogus as all the other BushCo ramblings. The Bushies are Fascists, not conservatives.

    Friedman's right on this one. I predict that, if nothing is done to arrest global warming, by the end of this century the environment will be the ONLY topic we'll be discussing.

  •  huummmm...I wouldn't (none)
    I wouldn't wipe my dog's butt with a Friedman column...I prefer a clean handi-wipe that isn't just day old crap sprayed with lysol to hide the underlying crap.

    And I wouldn't minge Feingold with Friedman..Feingold is obviously sincere...Friedman is a:

    Number one..Liar
    Number two..convoluter

    And if Freidman is supporting Feingold then I will have to take a second more critical look at Feingold on the birds of a feather rule.

    I can't count the columns I have read by Friedman that twist like a pretzel some 'social concern' ..some international issue...for his own purpose.

    Based on his foray into India, outsourcing is wonderful for America because the World is Flat.
    Based on his foray into Egypt the Egyptian workers aren't "rioting" because the WTO forced them to shut down some factories in their former free trade zones in Egypt and forced  some of their cotton exports to be routed thru Israel, they are "celebrating" that "some" of them still have jobs. Based on his latest foray into domestic issue he thinks Medicare, not the defense budget or tax cuts will bankrupt America and is the biggest danger to America....and all this under the guise of patriotic concern and no agenda of his own. Barf.

    And I am sure his conservation ideas regarding alternate energy have nothing to do with his avid dislike and desire to see Saudi lose wealth and heft...and why now like his friends, Gaffeny, Feith and other neo's he has switched to one of those cute little hybrids as a 'statement".

    Friedman's brain is flat. To avoid being infected with the same condition  I suggest anyone reading what he says as a personal conviction or non politcal good for America stance first take a course in Propaganda 101 and Critical Reading.

    •  Feingold and Friedman have huge differences. (none)
      Friedman was one of the chief supporters of free trade; Feingold was one of its main opponents and was one of only 15 to vote against the China Agreement, which helped cost John Kerry Ohio.

      Friedman was one of the architects of the Iraq War, Feingold voted against the Iraq War Resolution.

      I do not see them getting in bed any time soon.

      However, I could see Russ Feingold leading the way on such issues and people like Friedman and the neocons do the "me, too!" syndrome. They are already doing it, which is great for us. Every time we did the "me too" song and dance to the Republican talking points, we have lost. Now, they are getting a dose of their own medicine.

      •  yes I combed thru (none)
        ..every position of Feingold and am in 99% agreement with him on almost every issue.

        However I cringe to think that Friedman and his ilk might start "promoting" certain dems under cover of shared concerns, especially Feingold as whoever they promote will be tainted by the endorsement to anyone not understanding Freidmen's real game.

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