With an apparent hat-tip to Saddam Hussein's post-Gulf War strategy, George W. Bush continues his scorched earth policy on the way out the door. Earlier this month his EPA announced a new last-minute rule allowing mining companies to dump their waste into mountain streams. Last Friday, he continued to take his dump on America, by issuing a permit to allow cruise ships to dump "untreated graywater" --- including oil, grease, metals, pesticides, viruses, fecal coliform bacteria from human sewage, medical and dental waste, detergents, and cleaners --- just one mile off shore of coastal U.S.A.
"A large cruise ship on a one-week voyage can generate one million gallons-which would fill 33 large swimming pools-of graywater," say Friends of the Earth in a press release issued last week (posted in full below) following the EPA announcement.
Hope you folks in Florida will remember to thank the Republicans in 2010...
I suspect GM's stock price would shoot back up upon such an announcement, and there would be unprecedented anticipation for how Apple's co-founder, the visionary Steve Jobs, might bring the same type of innovation to the American automobile industry that he brought to the computer and communications and music industry.
Would it be enough and in time to save them? That I couldn't tell ya, but it'd be just about the best chance they'd have, I'd venture.
While I'm focused on this point, allow me to link back to my recent article asking why Congress hasn't asked GM about their popular, fully-electric car, the EV1, before trying to give them billions of dollars.
The company introduced the EV1 in California in 1996, before killing it inexplicably three years later and, literally, shredding every last one of the much-sought-after vehicles. Several excellent comments left by readers on that article, also look into the related mystery of Texaco having purchased the patent for the second generation battery for the car. The purchase occurred at nearly the same time as the EV1 was taken off the market. The new battery technology is said to have had a superbly long life on a single charge. The purchase effectively took the battery off the market --- has it been heard from since?
Texaco itself was purchased by Chevron just days after they'd bought the rights to the battery in 2000. At the time of the purchase, as coincidence would have it, Condoleeza Rice was on Chevron's board, and Andy Card was GM's VP of Government Relations, according to Wikipedia, where he served until he was selected as George W. Bush's Chief of Staff. Prior to that, from '93 to '98, Card had been President and CEO of the American Automobile Manufacturers Assoc. (AAMA), representing GM, Ford and Chrysler. All just coincidences, of course.
But back to the main point of this item...If Steve Jobs is disinclined to leave Apple, the company he co-founded, in order to take the reins as CEO of the floundering GM, then I suppose I could revise the headline of this piece to read instead:
How to Save the American Automobile Industry in Three Words:
'The Apple iCar'
UPDATE 12/11/08: Looks like a few others were having the same idea just about the time that I was, and in a bit more detail...
I haven't been able to watch all of the Capitol Hill hearings with the Big 3 automaker CEOs, but caught a fair portion. I've yet to hear anybody ask GM CEO Rick Wagoner why the hell his company killed their perfectly good, and rather popular, fully electric car which was introduced in CA in 1996.
The EV1 was much beloved by its owners (leasers, actually, since they were not allowed to buy them). There were waiting lists to be able to get one, before finally, three years later, with little or no explanation, GM announced they would not be renewing any of the leases on those cars and those who used them would have no recourse but to give them back.
Customers were outraged, heartbroken even. Many had tried to buy them outright --- and even sign contracts that they'd not hold GM accountable for any future problems or repairs --- but they were all turned down. When the devoted customers learned the planned fate of the cars --- and discovered, by helicopter, that they were all being rounded up in the desert --- they took up a round-the-clock, 24/7 vigil in an effort to block what GM had planned for them.
Incredibly, not only had GM taken back the cars, they were actually sending them, in perfectly good working order, to be shredded --- yes, literally shredded. As EV1 supporters tried to physically block the movement of cars to the shredder, they were threatened with arrest if they didn't get out of the way to allow the perfectly usable, and almost brand new cars to be taken out by trucks to be completely destroyed.
Why? That was never really made clear, at least not in the excellent 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? which detailed the entire heartbreaking tale of the cars which ran quickly and quietly, and without a drop of gasoline. Here's a short teaser for the film...
So, as promises of the Chevy Volt for 2010 have been well advertised, has Wagoner been publicly asked about the shameful EV1 chapter, and why his company can't just start making them again --- like tomorrow? Surely they didn't shred the blueprints for the cars as well, did they? If anyone has asked him, even about why the hell they destroyed them in the first place, I've not seen it. But with everything that's going on right now, and with GM's hat-in-hand, threatening "bankruptcy within the month" if they don't get billions of dollars pronto, it sure seems like someone oughta bring up the still unanswered questions of the EV1.
“There are things you can do individually to save energy,” Barack Obama said last week “… Making sure your tires are properly inflated — simple thing. But we could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling — if everybody was just inflating their tires. And getting regular tune-ups. You’d actually save just as much.”
Despite the fact that even NASCAR extols the gas-saving virtues of proper tire inflation on its website, the McCain campaign spent the early part of this week mocking Obama’s assertion that keeping tires inflated conserves gasoline by selling tire gauges, for a $25 donation, labeled “Obama Energy Plan.”
On Wednesday night, however, during a conference call with supporters, McCain did a complete 180 on tire inflation:
Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.
Drilling off the coast of California, Florida and elsewhere would increase domestic oil production by 7 percent by 2030, according to the Energy Information Administration. But “because oil prices are determined on the international market…any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.” There is no short-term benefit to drilling, says the EIA, because it would take at least five years for oil production to begin. (Source:Center for American Progress.)
On the other hand, in a single step tomorrow --- closing the Enron Loophole --- Congress and George Bush could create an overnight drop in oil prices of between 25 and 50 percent. This is according to testimony before a Senate Committee two weeks ago by Michael Greenberger, the former director of Trading & Markets for the Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC), the government board that oversees commodities markets.
"Yes," Greenberger testified, "overnight [closing the Enron Loophole] will bring down the price of crude oil to get at least a 25 percent drop in the cost of oil and a corresponding drop in the cost of gasoline. Some people estimate 50 percent."
Greenberger's testimony was brought to light by an investigation into the Enron Loophole by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's "Countdown" last week. (A transcript of Olbermann's report follows.)
The Enron Loophole is the nickname for a provision written into the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA) of 2000 that was drafted by lobbyists for Enron and inserted in the bill by then Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) that deregulated an aspect of the market Enron sought to exploit with its "Enron On-Line" trading program, the first Internet-based commodities transaction system. Phil Gramm is now a key economic adviser for the John McCain campaign.
While it was a technical success, Enron On-Line was based on a flawed business model that drained corporate revenues --- even while the company was manipulating the rates consumers paid for electricity in California. Enron On-Line eventually drove the company into bankruptcy, and the cooking of the books to hide its losses led to charges of conspiracy and fraud against Enron executives.
The Republicans' sudden rollout of the campaign to lift the ban on offshore drilling is really meant to shift the blame from Bush and the GOP to the Democrats and their opposition to offshore drilling. To their credit, they have done a masterful job --- and all it has cost them is the credibility of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who broke tradition in the state and came out in favor of lifting the ban. (It has also cost whatever meager credibility Crist's predecessor, Jeb Bush, had left. Bush opposed lifting the ban when he was in office but came out wholeheartedly in favor of it this weekend.)
Here's the transcript of the video of the report on the June 18 edition of "Countdown":
Last week we reported that a CBS poll finds Al Gore trailing Hilary Clinton by just 5% in the Presidential Primary race and is ahead of all of the others, even though he's not officially on the ballot.
Last month we reported that a Zogby "blind bio" poll of Republicans found that some unknown guy --- Ward Casscells --- who's not even running, led the Republican candidate field among GOP voters when no names, just summarized resumes, were given for each candidate polled.
Yesterday, Zogby released the results of their Democratic "blind bio" poll, showing that Al Gore is, hands down, in front of the pack with 35% support. His closest rival was Hillary Clinton at 24%.
Also in the poll, 60% of Dem voters would consider voting for someone other than the current slate of candidates, based on dissatisfaction with the positions on the Iraq War by the current official crop. 65% said they'd be open to supporting a new candidate based on the current candidates' global climate change positions...
Zogby Poll: Al Gore Leads Top Tier Dems in 'Blind Bio' Poll
Survey finds most Democratic likely voters would consider a new candidate given the current field’s views on Iraq and global climate change
A Zogby International “blind bio” telephone poll shows that former Vice President Al Gore is favored over the current Democratic frontrunners by likely Democratic Party voters nationwide – particularly among liberal Democrats.
When Democratic likely voters were given brief biographical descriptions of the top three Democratic candidates – New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards – along with the biography of Gore, the former Vice President won 35% support, while Clinton won 24%, Obama won 22%, and Edwards trailed with 10% support. Gore’s bio was the top choice of both men (39%) and women (31%), and also most favored by younger voters. Self-described liberal Democrats strongly favored Gore’s bio (43%) over Clinton (21%), Edwards (17%) and Obama (12%). The bio selections of moderate Democrats closely mirror the choices of likely Democratic voters overall, with 36% giving the greatest preference to Gore’s bio.
During the "Live Earth" concerts this past weekend, in one of the great speeches (both video and text transcript here) in recent American history, activist and radio host Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (his other sites here and here) called Glenn Beck and other right wing pundits "flat-earthers" and "corporate toadies" for continuously lying to the American people about global warming. Tonight, RFK, Jr. appeared on the "Face-Off" segment of Beck's CNN Headline News show and (in a heavily edited interview, see "UPDATE" at end of this story) continued to call out the host, stating at one point, "Your sentence should be that you should have to read the IPCC Report from cover to cover and I don't mean this with any particular disrespect, but I don't believe you have a long attention span."
The "IPCC Report" referenced by Kennedy is a report on global warming, recently issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international body which "assess[es] on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation," according to their website.
Beck then followed up with a clever retort about Kennedy's "even shorter attention span" because the longtime environmental advocate-turned-media critic had failed to define "fascist" for the host. Kennedy quickly replied:
"Let me answer your question. You asked me what the definition of fascist is. The American Heritage Dictionary defines fascism as the domination of government by corporate power. You and John Stossel, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have made yourselves the primary spokesmen for the domination of corporate power over American government."
After more Beck antics, RFK Jr. closed by prescribing that Beck "Go back to journalism school, number one" and "number two, that you read the IPCC Report with somebody standing over your shoulder to help you."
UPDATE FROM BRAD: I spoke with someone from RFK's office late yesterday, who said the interview with Beck was originally much longer, but that it was greatly edited by air time. Indeed, the version of the video posted by Alan above reveals a number of uneven cuts where, clearly, the interview had been edited. Big time.