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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.