Sunday, May 13, 2007

McCain on Conservative Green Politics

John McCain (R-AZ) and hopeless candidate for '08 president tried to explain his rationale for flip-flopping on ethanol and the need for green politics to Timmeh on Sunday's Meet the Press.

MR. RUSSERT: This is what you said about ethanol--not about subsidies, but about ethanol.

SEN. McCAIN: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: "Ethanol does nothing to reduce fuel consumption, nothing to increase our energy independence, nothing to improve air quality."

SEN. McCAIN: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: And after you said that, you acknowledged you might pay a political price for that view, and this is what you said.

(Videotape, June 19, 2005)

SEN. McCAIN: My opposition to ethanol has--obviously would hurt me. But you know what I found out? That every time I've done something from what may have been influenced by political reasons, I've regretted it. Every time that I've done something that I think is right, it's turned out OK in the end. I've got to do what I think is right. And if it offends a certain political constituency, I, I regret it, but there's really nothing I can do about it.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: Now you go to Iowa and say this: "I support ethanol. I think it's a vital alternative energy source, not only because of our dependence on foreign oil but because of its greenhouse gas reduction effects." You had said it had nothing to do with reducing fuel consumption, nothing to do with improving air quality.

SEN. McCAIN: I, I, I am of the confirmed belief that when oil is 10, $15 a barrel, that ethanol does not make sense. When oil is $60-plus a barrel, then ethanol does make sense. I still oppose the subsidies to it. It makes a lot of sense. We are dependent on foreign oil too much. We have a situation where greenhouse gases has now become--emissions has become a vital issue. I am for sugarcane, biofuels, switch grass, and corn-based ethanol because of our need for independence on foreign oil. And it has become far more graphic and dramatic as we watch people like Mr. Chavez in Venezuela behave the way that he has, and President Putin behaving the way that he does. It's a fact that when oil is low amounts per barrel and--that we are not concerned about greenhouse gases or dependence upon foreign oil, it doesn't make the sense that it makes today. It does make sense today.

MR. RUSSERT: But you do now disagree with what you said in '03, that it has nothing to do with reducing fuel consumption...

SEN. McCAIN: What I was...

MR. RUSSERT: ...or nothing to improve air quality?

SEN. McCAIN: I don't...

MR. RUSSERT: You now believe...

SEN. McCAIN: I don't know what--I don't know what it does to fuel consumption. I'm sure that there is some question about that, as the...

MR. RUSSERT: How about air quality?

SEN. McCAIN: the, as the technology has increased dramatically. The air quality, it does reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Most effectively? Does--as much as nuclear power? No. But given our dependence on foreign oil, given the situation as the price of oil then--and, and the realities of climate change, we should go for many alternate fuels. I do not support the subsidies.

MR. RUSSERT: So you've changed your mind.

SEN. McCAIN: No, I haven't. I have--I have--I have adjusted to the realities of the world we live in today, and if I don't adjust to those realities, then I would be stuck in the past. I have to adjust to the realities. The realities today are that we have a serious problem with climate change, which I have been concerned about for many years, and we have a far more serious challenge as associated with our dependence on foreign oil.

Not too long ago, a year or so ago, there was an attempted attack on a Saudi oil refinery. If that attack had succeeded, the price of oil would have gone to $150 a barrel overnight.

MR. RUSSERT: And the reality of being part of the Iowa caucuses had nothing to do with it.

SEN. McCAIN: I don't--I don't--I can't respond to a, a statement like that.


SEN. McCAIN: I do what I--I do what I think is right, and I will continue to do what I think is right. And if conditions change as far as some specific issue is concerned, then, obviously, then I will continue to re-evaluate my position on specific issues.

Now, putting aside the fact that McCain is a bumbling fool who shouldn't be president of anything, least of all the United States, his position on the climate change issue is definitely representative of the way the right-wingers view environmental concerns these days.

McCain, along with every other winger who supported the war against Iraq, possible action towards Iran, cozy relationships with the Saudis and the shunning of leaders like Hugo Chavez realize now that their actions have so increased the public's anger towards oil insecurity which has resulted in higher energy prices everywhere that they have no choice but to talk about green politics in order to lessen dependence on a commodity that they thought they could control partially by seizing Iraq's assets. That's why there's a furious push against the al-Maliki government to pass the oil law in Iraq - private companies like Halliburton are waiting in the wings to take over. The problem is that the Bush administration mismanaged the war to such a point that security to enable the war profiteers to make off with the oil spoils has become almost impossible. Add to that the fact that, as the New York Times reports, billions of dollars worth of oil have been lost via corruption and smuggling and you have a bunch of right-wingers who are stuck with what to do next.

So what do they do? The obvious answer is to try and cover up their failures by now claiming that they want to "go green". But, it's not about the environment. It's about attempting to minimize the impact of the high oil prices on their disgruntled constituents, and thus the politicians' falling poll numbers, by pretending to care about things like pollution and emissions. That's why they have chosen to do as little as they can possibly get away with when it comes to things like honouring (or in the case of the US, not even signing on to) commitments to plans like the Kyoto protocols.

Canadians are already aware of the half-hearted efforts by Conservatives here to manage these issues via their so-called "Clean Air Act" and by this government's refusal to go after Alberta oil sands pollution.

And while pro-Bushites talk tough about the "addiction to oil" and feign interest in climate change, here's what they're really up to behind the scenes:

Negotiators from the United States are trying to weaken the language of a climate change declaration set to be unveiled at next month's G-8 summit of the world's leading industrial powers, according to documents obtained yesterday by The Washington Post.

A draft proposal dated April 2007 that is being debated in Bonn, Germany, this weekend by senior officials of the Group of Eight includes a pledge to limit the global temperature rise this century to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as an agreement to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The United States is seeking to strike that section, the documents show.

Many scientists have warned that an increase of more than 3.6 degrees this century could trigger disastrous consequences such as mass extinction of species and accelerated melting of polar ice sheets, which would raise sea levels.

It's all a political balancing act and it's meant to keep corporations happy - not average citizens. Oil companies are shoveling in profits but since that's not seen as a Good Thing(tm) by consumers, politicians who are responsible for failed foreign affairs policies have to find some way to appease the masses. Let's not forget that this isn't the first time we've been at this place in history. Back then, "ecology" was the buzzword. How far have we come since then? Not far enough, obviously.

Conservative politicians appear to be in "hurry up and wait" mode - hoping that Iraq will settle down enough to bring prices down to something that might be seen as being more comfortable to consumers (even though we'll still be gouged at the pumps) while pols sing in unison: "supply and demand, supply and demand". That reliance on fixing the Iraq situation is only an illusion when one considers all of the disastrous foreign policies right-wingers support that affect all of us on a daily basis.

It's just like McCain said:

It's a fact that when oil is low amounts per barrel and--that we are not concerned about greenhouse gases or dependence upon foreign oil, it doesn't make the sense that it makes today. It does make sense today.

Sometimes, even politicians speak the truth, when they probably didn't even mean to.

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