Jun 05

From The Wall Street Journal in response to this Dan Henninger column, and this video that accompanied it:

Thanks for putting the blame squarely on the pointy heads of the environmentalists and others who couldn’t imagine a love affair if handed one riding sidesaddle on a horse. I am 71 years old, have had 20 or so cars in my life, and these “horses” have helped me gallop away from the realities of the world and have provided me with the luxury of private space, adventure, self-planned journeys and a bit of being “in charge” for hours upon hours.

Tomorrow, I leave for San Francisco, through the Oregon and Nevada deserts, into the metropolis extraordinaire in my 2003 Caddy Escalade, a vehicle that could have been the stopping place for any further technical wonders in the greatest “affair” a man can ever have.

Jack H. Titus
Marsing, Idaho

And a bonus letter on the same subject:

I can’t help but be reminded of video clips of Havana, where old, classic cars are still being driven. Granted, the Cubans are driving old cars for a different reason, but I just wonder if Americans might not eventually rebel against the new “little green cars.” Perhaps in 2050 we’ll all still be driving our meticulously maintained 2005 Chevy Tahoes and Chrysler 300s.

Ingrid Bower
Manhattan Beach, Calif.

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May 30

Earlier this week, I linked to Dan Henninger’s column titled, “Obama vs. The Beach Boys“. I thought the column was excellent, but I wasn’t necessarily surprised when it didn’t register more than average traffic statistics on this blog. Poking around tonight, I discovered the video on WSJ Online where Hennninger discusses the same column. The video is even more effective than the original column.

I’ve transcribed Henninger’s commentary, and edited out the questions, as his comments are of much more value than the questions that set him up:

I don’t think people really realize what’s coming. These are going to be very, very small cars. They are not going to be anything like the famous cars of the past, and…cars were really part of the warp and woof of American life, and if you think back, and especially as they sort of featured in American songs, The Beach Boys, “Fun, Fun, Fun”, “Shut Down”, “Little Deuce Coupe”. Bruce Springsteen is famous for his car songs, “Along the Jersey Shore”, “Thunder Road”, “Born to Run”, I mean they just celebrated an entire culture. And I think that just going to be all swept away by these new car standards, and I don’t think the American public quite realizes what’s being lost….I think the debate even predated global warming. There was always two different world views, some of it was beneath the environmental movement, and it was that it sort of ran counter to, I think, the culture that cars represented. It wasn’t just about cars, it was about an American way of thinking about the world – dynamic, open, fast, open to possibility. The idea that global warming movement and the environmentalists is that we have to survive…throttle down, be more careful, and being careful isn’t really part of the traditional American ethos, taking chances is part of that ethos. So I think there is a real tension here between the politics that’s going on right now, and that which has existed long before that….I think the politicians, by and large, are completely intimidated by this movement, sort of green ethos, and there won’t be much push-back, but I think once guys start going into those show rooms, and start seeing that every one of the cars has about a 100 inch wheelbase, which is really, really small, they’re going to go, “time out”, and I think there could be a crack-back at that point.

I couldn’t agree more with Henninger on all of these points. Are we really willing to flush a huge portion of American culture down the toilet over an imagined problem? Moreover, the problem is not just culture related to American rock-and-roll songs, and the hot rods and muscle cars that inspired them. It’s SUV’s, of course. But, it’s not just SUV’s, it’s mini-vans. Most folks are aware that the larger SUV’s, such as the GORE LIED staff GMC Yukon, aren’t on the upper end of the fuel efficiency standards. But, most seem to forget that the good old mini-van also fails most environmentalists idea of a fuel efficient vehicle, i.e. the 2009 Honda Odyssey mini-van gets 17 MPG in the city, and 25 MPG on the highway.

This weekend is my son’s Little League Jamboree. I arrived in the parking lot bright and early this morning, and about 75% of the cars were either SUV’s or mini-vans. I didn’t see a Prius in the entire lot, nor a Smart Car for that matter. The drivers were driving these SUV’s and mini-vans because they needed them. Smart cars just won’t do when you are trying to transport dad, mom, the Little Leaguer, his little brother, his little sister, the Little Leaguer’s gear (bat or bats, glove, and helmet), four lawn chairs, and a cooler for snacks and drinks for all. When these new CAFE standards kick-in, Henninger is exactly right that there will be a back-lash, and not just from the fans of The Beach Boys.

The loss of American automobile culture due to President Obama’s new CAFE standards is even greater than Henninger imagined.

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May 27

An excellent read from one of the Wall Street Journal’s finest wordsmiths, Daniel Henninger:

How long before the midnight drag races return on dark and dusty roads?

When Barack Obama announced that the government will use its fist to wave onto the highways of America cars that get 39 miles to a gallon of liquefied switch grass or something, he said, “Everybody wins.”

Everybody? What country has he been living in? This marks the end of the internal combustion engine as we knew it, and it is the way Americans have defined, designed and literally driven much of the nation’s culture for as long as anyone can remember. Car culture is America’s culture.

Mr. Obama is fond of giving people iPods as gifts. I’ve got a playlist for Mr. Obama’s iPod.

Track 1: “Shut Down” by the Beach Boys. Clip: “Superstock Dodge is windin’ out in low/But my fuel-injected Stingray’s really startin’ to go. To get the traction I’m ridin’ the clutch/My pressure plate’s burnin’, this machine’s too much.”

Track 2: “Little Deuce Coupe” by the Beach Boys. Clip: “She’s got a competition clutch with a four on the floor, and she purrs like a kitten til the lake pipes roar.”

It’s 2016. Imagine a Brian Wilson ever thinking to write: “And she’ll have fun, fun, fun til her daddy takes her Prius away.”

We are being offered a different world now. One designed, defined and driven by a new set of un-fun obsessions — carbon footprints, greenhouse gas and alternative energy. This large transition passes before us, barely seen, as the gray water of public policy. Hardly anyone notices how much is being changed.

To put a stop to the new sin of spending too much time out on Highway 9, we are getting the mark-up hearings this week in Washington for the Waxman-Markey climate bill. It’s 900 pages long, dripping with thousands of Mickey-Mouse rules to reorder how we live. A Senate Finance Committee document last week on the Obama health-care plan proposes “lifestyle related revenue raisers.” Lifestyles like drinking beer. This is the “taxing bad behavior” movement. They get to define what’s bad.

This tension over how we live arrived before the world began standing on its head over global warming. The guys in the hemi-powered drones used to mock the granola and Birkenstock crowd. Look who’s on top now.

“Everybody wins?” Not quite. What’s winning is a worldview that goes deeper than the data beneath global warming. The gasoline cars they want to turn into scrap were about a lot more than the thrill of roaring on.

Read it all at the Wall Street Journal.

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Aug 06


By Editor Daniel Henninger, Dingy Harry, Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Obama Comments Off on Enviromania

Daniel Henninger writes in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal:

With gasoline over $4 and with life as they love it in the suburbs being shut down, did people call for the windmills? Nope. A heavy majority want to drill the bejeezus out of anywhere in America we can find familiar black slop.

Fearful of an up-or-down vote on drilling for oil in, of all places, our own country, the Pelosi House and Harry Reid’s Senate shut down Congress. House Minority Leader John Boehner calls drilling the greatest issue Republicans have had in his political lifetime. A party flat on its back is ready to run on oil pumps.

Why stop there?

Republicans shouldn’t settle for making the world safe for SUVs. What’s going on here is about more than $4 gasoline.

When Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats spent a week holding the people’s chamber under house arrest, they made plain a political vulnerability beyond drilling. To achieve greenhouse gas goals in the out-years, they are willing to risk a slowdown now in the American economy. How else can you interpret what happened this week? These Democrats aren’t environmentalists. They’re enviromaniacs.

An environmentalist with two feet on the planet is someone who admits that fixing what economists call “externalities,” such as air pollution or climate effects, requires a balance between those goals and protecting the productive economy.

An enviromaniac is the sort of person who would say: “Breaking our oil addiction . . . will take nothing less than a complete transformation of our economy.” The complete transformation of our economy?

So said Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in his major energy statement this Monday. Though the speech had hedged bows to oil, coal and nuclear, it was overwhelmingly a Goreian jeremiad about “building” a new economy on a promise called renewables.

We can see shuttered factories open their doors to manufacturers that sell wind turbines and solar panels that will power our homes and our businesses,” he said. “We can watch as millions of new jobs with good pay and good benefits are created.” This will “meet our moral obligations to future generations.”

Whoa. “Millions” of new jobs building solar panels and wind turbines, and this is to “meet our moral obligations?”

Virtue aside, here’s the biggest problem with Sen. Obama and Democratic enviromania: It’s a risky roll of the dice with the U.S. economy.

The economy we’ve got works. We know that carbon makes the U.S. economy run like a Swiss watch (transportation, distribution, production, commuting). The bet between carbon inputs and growing American outputs is virtually 1:1.

Mr. Obama and his Democratic colleagues in Congress want a “complete transformation” of an already successful economy. Not partial. complete. Can any of them say what the odds are that all this economic activity, including the nation’s electrical grid, will work as well with their new fuels? Assuredly, growth’s odds aren’t as good as the ones we have now.

Democrats this week chose the prayer of alternative energy over proven prosperity. They’ve handed prosperity in the here-and-now to the Republicans. Run with it.

Henninger’s entire column here.

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