Jun 12

Heh. The Obama administration is so very “transparent” that there is nothing at all to see.

Via Green Hell:

House Republicans Darrell Issa and James Sensenbrenner are calling for an investigation of whether Obama climate czar Carol Browner’s secrecy in developing Obama’s CAFE standards and EPA’s CO2 endangerment finding was a “deliberate and willful violation” of the Presidential Records Act.

According to the letter,

… Mary Nichols, the head of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), revealed to the New York Times that the White House held a series of secret meetings with select special interests as they were crafting the new CAFE standards. Nichols was a key player in these negotiations because of California’s determined efforts to regulate fuel economy standards at the state level. Nichols admitted there was a deliberate “vow of silence
surrounding the negotiations between the White House and California on vehicle fuel economy [standards]. According to Nichols’ interview, “[Carol] Browner [Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change] quietly orchestrated private discussions from the White House with auto industry officials.” Great care was taken to “put nothing in writing, ever.” This coordinated effort, led by Carol Browner, to leave no paper trail of the deliberations within the White House appears to be a deliberate and willful violation of the Presidential Records Act. This Act requires the President to take, “all such steps as may be necessary to assure that the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of his constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties are adequately documented and that such records are maintained as Presidential records.” Clearly, Browner’s actions were intended to leave little to no documentation of the deliberations that lead to the development of stringent new CAFE standards.

So much for President Obama’s Jan. 21 committment to unprecedented openness in government.

The entire Issa/Sensenbrenner letter is here.

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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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