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Oil habit hard to break, experts say

Steve Gelsi, MarketWatch
Energy experts agreed Thursday the U.S. won’t wean itself off imported oil any time soon even in the face of growing national-security threats in the Middle East and concern about global warming.

With congressional power switching to the Democrats starting next year, policy makers said raising any taxes for new energy subsidies would be difficult and quick action on the federal level will be unlikely, partly out of fear that the price of oil could fall in the short term.
(7 Dec 2006)

Our reality, their spin

AIJAZ ZAKA SYED, Khaleej Times (UAE)
THE Press is so powerful in its image-making role, Malcolm X warned, that it can make a criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal.

The words of Malcolm X, the icon of African Americans’ struggle for dignity still ring true, four decades on. In fact, they are all the more relevant today when spin has been perfected into an art form by its successful practitioners such as Thomas L Friedman.

The New York Times columnist and old hand on the Middle East is one of the foremost spin meisters of the US establishment. He is one of those incredibly talented opinion makers who can make the victims look like oppressors, justice as injustice and truth as falsehood. People like Friedman can turn logic, reason and facts upside down and get away with it.

…Hmm. So we are now the ‘oil pushers’ — a la drug pushers. So now the Arabs are to be vilified and demonised for providing most of the world’s oil? So if the world is dependent on Arab oil for its growing energy needs, Arabs themselves are to blame? So while the world economy, especially the US economy including its gas-guzzling SUVs, runs on Arab oil, Arabs are to get brickbats for pumping it up at ridiculously low prices.
(8 Dec 2006)
I can’t remember who commented that one of the big problems with addressing peak oil and climate change is that they “don’t have a beards” – ie. we’re more likely to rally around a threat posed by a personified ‘evil’ enemy than these more serious threats and challenges. In this sense, Friedman is very cannily, by extending President Bush’s addiction metaphor, injecting allegorical flavours into our predicament – whether or not that allegory is fair or true.

The mustache is the message

David Roberts, Gristmill
It’s safe to say there are mixed feelings about Thomas Friedman among this blog’s contributors.

His advocacy on the Iraq War was and is risible. His cheerleaderly, monochrome enthusiasm for globalization maddens (how come pundits never talk about outsourcing punditry?). And his chipper, un-self conscious cheesiness can occasionally cause even a pacifist like me to want to physically strike him.


Watch this video, where he explains the green thing to Tim Russert:

That, friends, is a state-of-the-art piece of 21st century communicating. It may not be as thoughtful and nuanced as wonks like me would like. But it is absolutely, exquisitely suited to our current media environment. He picks the right talking points — security, competitiveness, strength — and reels off a perfectly composed raft of fine-tuned soundbites for each.

It can sound false and programmed to some ears, but it is effective. It speaks directly to mainstream ears in a mainstream voice.

In short, despite his irksome flaws, it is a blessing for greens that Friedman is on our side. His mustache fu is strong.
(11 Dec 2006)

Bush to Make Energy a 2007 Priority, Economic Aide Hubbard Says

Brendan Murray, Bloomberg
President George W. Bush wants to make energy independence a domestic priority next year with an eye to gathering bipartisan support in the Democratic-controlled Congress, his chief economic adviser said.

“The American people are very interested in the leadership of our country figuring out a way for us to be less dependent on foreign sources of oil,” Allan Hubbard, director of Bush’s National Economic Council, said in a Dec. 8 interview. “I’m sure he will address energy security in his State of the Union and his other major speeches.”

Bush, in his State of the Union address last January, declared the U.S. “addicted” to oil and set a goal of cutting Middle Eastern imports by 75 percent by 2025. House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, has pledged to make rolling back subsidies for oil companies one of her top priorities when Democrats take over Congress in January.
(11 Dec 2006)