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More from the converted oilman

Okay, he hasn't been a good guy for very long. The point is, he's doing good NOW...


Op-Ed Columnist
The Oil Man Cometh
By TIMOTHY EGAN
Published: July 24, 2008

There he is, the sound of money in a wizened Texas drawl, the tired realist looking a bit like the John Huston character from “Chinatown” as he warns in national television ads that we should just listen here and do as he says.

And what the 80-year-old T. Boone Pickens says, in a $58 million campaign, is that we can’t drill our way to lower gas prices. By implication, anybody who tells you otherwise — including the fellow Texan he helped put in the White House — is a fraud.

This is a political parable for the ages: the guy who was behind one of the knockout punches to John Kerry four years ago is now doing Democrats the biggest favor of the election by calling Republicans on their phony energy campaign.

“Totally misleading” is the way Pickens describes Republican attempts to convince the public that if we just opened up all these forbidden areas to oil drilling then gas prices would fall. He’s not against new drilling, but he is honest enough to say it wouldn’t do anything.

Republicans are furious at their longtime benefactor. Senator John McCain is currently running an ad in which he directly blames Barack Obama for $4-a-gallon gas at the pump — as bogus a claim as anything yet made in 2008.

Then along comes Pickens, Texas oilman and billionaire corporate raider, overwhelming the McCain attack with a saturation message that has the added value of being true, as Henry Kissinger once said about another matter.

Pickens was a geologist before he found a deep pool of money, so when he says “the geology just isn’t there” to reduce oil imports through new drilling in offshore areas, he has some cred.

But, more importantly, Pickens is betting $10 billion in constructing what he says will be the world’s largest wind farm in the gusts of West Texas. If the mighty winds of the American midsection were harnessed, it could free up plentiful natural gas for vehicles — a relatively quick step away from foreign oil.

Would it enrich him further? Yes. But perhaps it’s not about money. In “Chinatown,” the old man played by Huston was asked by Detective Jake Gittes what more he could possibly buy at his age.

“The future, Mr. Gittes. The future.”

But before T. Boone poses for his statue, he has to answer to his past. Pickens was the moneybags, to the tune of $3 million, behind the Swift Boat attacks that made Senator Kerry’s honorable service in Vietnam sound like Rambo tangled up in lies. He even promised to pay $1 million to anyone who could challenge the veracity of the claims.

After a group of veterans presented him with documents identifying 10 lies of the Swifties, Pickens broke his promise. The vets misunderstood the precise details of the $1 million offer, he said last month. Sorry, but thanks for your service, boys!

The old-fashioned term for this is welshing on a bet, which dishonors Wales.

Because so much is at stake in the energy debate, some are quick to embrace Pickens. An endorsement from Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, is prominently displayed on the Pickens Web site.

“To put it plainly,” Pope says, “T. Boone Pickens is out to save America.” I asked Pope why he lent his words to someone who had so much to do with giving us another four years of the oil intransigence of the Bush administration.

“Ten billion dollars gets my attention,” he said.

No doubt, the Pickens plan makes sense. Just last week, Texas state officials gave preliminary approval to the biggest investment in clean energy in American history, backing a $4.9 billion plan to build transmission lines for wind energy.

Meanwhile, looking bravely to the past, Bush and McCain are trying to convince us that more oil drilling will save us from $5-a-gallon gas. History says otherwise. The number of oil and gas permits on federal land doubled in the last five years, with no effect on price or supply. And Bush’s own Energy Information Administration says increased drilling wouldn’t move the market in the short term.

McCain knows this, despite the brazen lie in his Obama gas ad. He now says drilling offshore would have “a psychological impact.” Just like that “mental recession” his former chief economic adviser Phil Gramm spoke of. These guys need to get off the couch.

It’s sad to see McCain go down this path, an easy sell for a fast-food nation. Straight talk distress.

Winning the argument may depend on who has the bigger megaphone. Advantage Pickens. Which means advantage Obama. Unless, of course, McCain wants to Swift Boat him, and then he knows who to turn to.


I knew (because the Republicans tell us so) that Obama was evil, but that he's directly responsible for $4-a-gallon gas, wow, that one's new to me. And Mr. McCain also told us yesterday that the recent slight dip in gas prices was because of the new order for off-shore drilling. Of course it was. How could I doubt this? After all, McCain recently learned how "do a Google."

I think I get sarcastic when I'm reading NY Times op-eds while watching The Daily Show.

In the less healthy food front, I baked peanut butter chocolate chip cookies this evening for tomorrow's birthday party at work. It's a very good batch; I hope I get to bring some home.

My arm is hurting again, worse than before, having spread across my whole back. I hurts. I think I'm going to draw a hot bath (provided it doesn't storm again), take a hydrocodone, and go to bed early. I haven't been to the gym all week. *is slug*

Still hatchlings, but they have names now:

Darjell:
Adopt one today!


Ruichi:
Adopt one today!


Xeil:
Adopt one today!


Arialla:
Adopt one today!

They should grow up soon, nutmeg3's babies are all growed up, and so are cornerofmadness's, and I got mine at about the same time!

And what will I do with 'em when they're grown? Beats me, but they're really cool.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
nutmeg3
Jul. 25th, 2008 03:33 am (UTC)
Obama is the Antichrist, don't you know? And McCain - always struck me as a straight shooter, even when I didn't agree with him - is turning into a sour old man who'll say anything so long as it has the benefit of being self-serving.

Also, I clicked the hatchlings. Yours have such regal names (especially compared to mine).
wildrider
Jul. 25th, 2008 04:35 am (UTC)
I once respected McCain - and he has the distinction of being the only Republican I ever voted for. Well, not this time - he was lobotomized a few years ago, and now he's turning into Bush-with-Brains, which is even scarier than Original Bush. But lots of funny stuff said on the Daily Show to make me laugh over the whole thing (especially since, after the last two elections, I'm fully and pessimistically prepared for him to be the next President).

I just looked at them until the names appeared! Besides, I love Beeble. *grin* I hope "Ruichi" is just a name that came to me and doesn't mean anything rude in Japanese. It's been a while since I did any actual studying on the language.
nutmeg3
Jul. 25th, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
Look! Arialla has wings now!
wildrider
Jul. 26th, 2008 01:35 am (UTC)
She's all growed up! Darjell has his wings now, too! (hopping up and down)

ishte
Jul. 25th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
I don't think you need to worry about McCain being elected. He's too liberal and most of his own Republicans would abstain before voting for him. Also, The media has pretty much already chosen Obama. Just look at the coverage he gets compared to McCain. Seriously, even on conservative talk radio, the spend more time bitching about Obama than they do talking about McCain. After 8 years of Bush the Younger, I don't think people will stand for another republican right now.

We had 8 years of great prosperity whatever the far right says, while Clinton was in office. Whether he philandered while he was in the office, really doesn't effect my view of the economy, or the important jobs a president has to do. I would never have been an issue if it hadn't been for the deep seated hatred for Clinton from the Right. Bush talked the nation right into a recession during the election trying to convince us that the great economy we had was failing, and then once he was in office fail it did.

Well anyway, the point here is that I don't think you'll have to worry bout McCain getting the seat. Obama has star power on his side, and the media. McCain, is too much perceived as Bush Jr. III or something. He's far to liberal (like Bush) for the Conservatives.

I myself am a Libertarian. That means socially liberal, but fiscally conservative. Bush was exactly the opposite. (and the opposite of what a Republican is SUPPOSED to be.) He was socially conservative and fiscally irresponsible. Obama at the very least will only be fiscally too liberal. At least he won't be trying to appoint people who will try to make laws that tell me what to do with myself, my time and my body. *shrug* I worry about what he plans to do with my money. I don't have much... and I'm not a fan of his marxist wealth redistribution thinking. (even though YES it WOULD benefit me.) I don't want them taking money out of someone else's pocket and handing it to me. Not having it makes me work harder to get what I need and to advance myself. People who have everything handed to them, don't ever learn to put an effort into getting it.

Another rant happened on the subject of Welfare harming the family units of poor people. I deleted it. haha if you want to discuss it better email me privately, nobody wants to hear me rant.

Don't worry. Obama will win... if Ohio is not a swing state, I will vote liberarian because it matters to me.
wildrider
Jul. 26th, 2008 02:19 am (UTC)
ell, I was that optimistic with Kerry, too...

ITA on telling me what to do with my body and other social niceties; but I won't get into the rest of it except I disagree about it being Marxist and "taking someone's money." Social programs that benefit those who don't have aren't intrinsically evil, especially when these days, those "haves" didn't exactly EARN that money...

ljs
Jul. 25th, 2008 10:31 am (UTC)
Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, mmmm!

And McCain just gets worse and worse, doesn't he. Just... what the hell was that?

[hugs]
wildrider
Jul. 26th, 2008 01:29 am (UTC)
It's a good batch, too! Virtual cookies (and possibly physical ones at Xmas time, too! *g*)

Yes, he does. We were just wondering if he were re-NED-ucated back in the early years of Bush's second term... that's when he seemed to have been lobotomized.

ishte
Jul. 25th, 2008 10:59 pm (UTC)
Lookie! Darjell and Arialla have little winglets now.

On that oil drilling thing, neither side has all the information, nor wants the public to have a good understanding of the situation. However, we have numerous times asked the Arabs to increase production in order to meet the demand. They are creating an artificial shortage in order to keep the price high. When we asked them to improve production, they have "politely" declined.

Now having an understanding of that... we must also understand that IF we get serious about drilling here, even if we won't extract a drop of our own oil for years. (which the disparity of claims about when we can start producing is very wide. We have wells NOW that could be producing which are not.) Those nations upon whom we are currently 'dependent' for our oil needs, would stand up and take notice... "Uh... hey... Ahab, I think they're serious. They're setting up rigs in the gulf. If we don't start producing enough to get the price down where they're willing to pay it, we're going to loose market share from one of our biggest customers."

So yes, drilling will drop prices, not becuase WE have more oil, but because those we buy from will jump to keep us from considering dropping them as a supplier.

We also need to improve our refining capacity.

On the other side of the fence, I do agree with Pickens too though, in that we DO need to put MORE effort into finding other means to power our homes and our cars. That means improving our solar, wind and yes NUCLEAR power capabilities. Get back into exploring clean cold fusion, Bio Diesel, and practical human powered vehicles.

I blogged about this once, what I'm doing to conserve. I think I will do that again just because this started getting pretty wordy, and your LJ doesn't need a long long LONG rant from me about the fallacies in the media reporting about this situation, and what people don't know, or don't want to know. INstead, you just get a long one, and I'll blather some more. maybe I'll make it a meme and see if I can get more people to talk about what they are doing, and get some ideas going around.

Hee hee... congrats on those little winglets. Anxious to see how some of these grow up.
wildrider
Jul. 26th, 2008 01:32 am (UTC)
Arialla's all growed up! Very suddenly, too!

I hear what you're saying, but I know that more drilling just does much, much more harm than good - it's better spent money if it's put into improving known sources of renewable energy than by enriching oil men further (and that's all expanded drilling would do, besides destroying more pristine areas that don't need the land gouged or poisoned by drilling). Wind, natural gas, and solar are all things America has in abundance and it won't hurt anything to improve harvesting it, as drilling would do.

ishte
Jul. 27th, 2008 02:29 am (UTC)
I don't think that's true at all. There are uninformed and uneducated people who will tell you that it's more harmful, but modern drilling techniques are very sophisticated. More oil leaks out of the floor of the ocean on it's own than we spill due to offshore drilling. Katrina destroyed loads of oil wells, and pumping stations, and not one drop of oil was spilled because of the technology we have today.

I am Gaian Priestess, so I do agree that we need to take good care of the earth she provides us. I do agree also that we need to put more effort into fully renewable energy sources. However, right NOW the technology isn't there. Will we just stop flying? We're nowhere near having a technology that can keep a plane in the sky. They can't run on diesel to my knowledge, so bio-diesel is not an options. Many auto makers are exploring the option of Electric cars and new kinds of Hybrid technology. The Chevy Volt for example, which rather than having an electric assist engine and running primarily on Gasoline as the Civic and Prius Hybrids do, the Volt will run primarily on an electric charge that can take it 40 miles... then a small gas engine will run which will do nothing but power a generator which will power the electric motor. This is good, but people forget that MOST of our power plants currently generate power with OIL, or COAL. Neither are renewable... so Hybrid cars are not a valid answer... they only buy us time.

Natural Gas, btw is a fossil fuel like Oil and Coal. A non-renewable energy source. Natural gas wells are often sitting on top of an oil well (because it is lighter) in an oil well.

I think one of the most important things we can do is educate ourselves (ourselves, not just listen and repeat what we hear blathered about because so much of it is misinformation, misguided or misleading [sometimes intentionally on both sides of the debate]) about our options, where we are with different technologies and then make an educated decision. Until people do that, nothing will be solved because those who make the decisions really do rely on us to be to unaware of the facts so they can continue to just do what they want, tell us what they want us to know or believe and maintain the status quo. Once we stop relying on government to take care of us, and government to tell us what is going on or what we should and government to educate us (and learn that government does nothing well... it's set up that way on purpose) and start to educate ourselves about things much more progress will be made where it needs to be made, because we will fully understand where it needs to be made.

This was too long, so It'll have to be a two parter.
wildrider
Jul. 27th, 2008 03:46 am (UTC)
The trouble is too many people are not educated at all, much less interested in self-educating, and they DO believe everything they're told.

So I'd just as soon they were told a less evil lie, if lies they're going to believe (and they will).

ishte
Jul. 27th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
Did you know that bio-diesel is a currently available energy source? That cars are made which will run beautifully on bio-diesel? Do you know what bio-diesel can be made out of (just by a filtration process)? Fryer grease out of a deep fryer. I spoke with a man a few weeks ago who had a car that ran on it. Problem is that very VERY few gas stations actually carry bio-diesel. He said you pretty much had to find a restaurant owner who is eco-minded and work out a deal to buy his used fryer grease from him regularly. It's a win-win situation. You guy his grease. He makes a dollar a gallon (when he normally has to PAY someone to take it away) and the car owner gets a fuel that after filtering and so on gets about 50 miles per gallon for a dollar a gallon. AND it comes from a renewable source. That's where we ought to be looking, not this ethanol that has done nothing but drive up the cost of everything because farmers are switching to ethanol corn which makes them more money, and not making food crops any more. It's creating a viscious circle.

Meanwhile as we develop these better technologies, we still need oil. OPEC won't produce more because they don't want to, It's not the oil companies making all the money, (they actually have a lower profit margin per gallon than the government makes in taxes on it and note: congress is trying to get the gas tax RAISED right now I hear... but I have not researched that yet. The OPEC producers are the real profiteers. We drill, they drop the price to keep us from continuing because they don't want to loose market share. They are enjoying their profits right now, they don't want us to get serious and go away as a customer. I understand that in Saudi Arabia right now, the cost of a gallon of gas is about 67¢. (Again, I have heard this, but not researched it for myself yet.

Just some food for thought.
cornerofmadness
Jul. 26th, 2008 03:11 am (UTC)
hey i clicked on Darjell and he grew wings and the pink one is all grown up. I still want that stone one to mature
wildrider
Jul. 26th, 2008 04:12 am (UTC)
She's purty. Yes, I want Xeil to grow up, too, and see what he looks like!

cornerofmadness
Jul. 26th, 2008 04:48 am (UTC)
i've been back a few more times tonight but nothing shaking out.

oh hey FINALLY started reading the moira story. I'm enjoying it
wildrider
Jul. 26th, 2008 05:23 am (UTC)
Oh, thanks! I have to get on the stick and read yours, too! *g*

cornerofmadness
Jul. 26th, 2008 02:18 pm (UTC)
don't worry about it. I can't even remember which I sent. The vampire thing I think, the one in teh club which isn't likely to see the light of day. I decided not to send it to circlet since they had such a hard stance about clubs and vampires.

Evil little dog sent me a bunch of edits on it too since the beginning is rough
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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