Bush asks California Agencies to cut back on email to
When I first read the headline, I hadnt
had enough sleep. My habit of late has been to crawl out of bed early
in the AM to skim a portfolio of news sites before things get too hectic,
too rushed. Sometimes, my insomnia gets creative with the news before
I can understand it. But digging deeper on this particular morning,
I saw that I hadnt misread. It was true. The inhabitant of the
White House, the President-Select, The Shrub, Gee Dubya -- anything
except "president", thank you very much -- had asked Federal
agencies in California to cut back on their use of email to save energy
and to prevent more rolling blackouts.
This is daft, even for The Shrub. Perhaps, in
all of my days installing Linux and setting up servers, I had missed
something important, or failed to grasp some fundamental yet elusive
core principle. But no: once the servers are on, theyre on. Period.
Energy consumption is practically the same whether two hundred or two
million emails pass through the server. Such high and informed inspiration
is characteristic of the "new" energy policy being put forth
by The Shrub and his handlers. Cheney, always a few hopeful heartbeats
away from massive coronary failure, was sent out on the road to sell
the plan. In case youre not familiar with it, it has all of the
predictable elements of any energy policy produced by former oil men
(sic), complete with supply-side tinkering under the guise of
the "free" market, and calls for the destruction of pristine
wilderness all in the name of lower gas prices for the average "merkin".
The plan, noteworthy only in its absence of any real promotion of conservation,
was plugged by Cheney in the following way:
may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis
for a sound, comprehensive energy policy." (New York Times).
Reasoned policy may be a sign of intelligence,
but it definitely cannot be a sufficient basis for insuring that The
Shrub and his ilk repay the massive debts incurred to the fossil fuels
industry during the last election. Cheney, while stumping for this policy,
was careful to argue that increased drilling was the way forward, as
opposed to, say, raising fuel economy standards, researching viable
alternatives, or even encouraging consumer conservation.
In any case, conservation would not be popular. With vehicles like the
"big, strong, and gracious" 7,156 pound Ford Excursion on
the road, most 'merkins arent in the mood to hear that theyre
responsible for a disproportionate amount of fuel consumption. The Excursion
has the ability to carry one ton of cargo, or as the review I read says,
"four 300 pound defensive linemen, three 250-pound linebackers,
and an anorexic German shepherd". Such power is clearly a necessity
in suburban America, where no self-respecting family would dare show
up at soccer practice without a vehicle capable of transporting enough
military personnel to restage the Bay of Pigs invasion. (In case youre
interested, you can supposedly buy the Excursion in any one of one hundred
and fifty colors, minus yellow -- test marketing at Ford indicated that
people too easily mistook the vehicle for a schoolbus.)
While the Excursion may be one of the largest
passenger vehicles in America, it is not, unfortunately, in a class
by itself. In my small VW, I always feel as though Im in a canyon
of steel and headlights. Most of the vehicles on the road now have bumpers
where my windows are, all so people can feel empowered as they drift
off to the mall, or to buy groceries. Like the first brave American
settlers, we too have territory to discover, new crap to claim as our
own, and many bumpy roads to deal with. As merkins, were
on top of the world -- and theres no reason why our automobiles
shouldnt be as big and strong and powerful as our great nation
is. And if you have a problem with that, son, you can go back to Mexico,
or whatever commie rock you crawled out from under.
Despite my intense dislike of SUV drivers and
their quest to overtake America, they have a certain pornographic value.
The "SUV squirm", a courtship ritual involving a prolonged
period clutching a gas pump, accompanied by increasingly concerned glances
at the meter, followed by a double-take, cringe, careful dribbling withdrawal
and reluctant spent fumbling for wallet, is one of the high moments
in the love affair between US bourgeoisie and the automobile. Gas prices
are expected to go as high as $3 per gallon this summer, which, as one
of the members on the excellent Metafilter website pointed out, means
the cost of filling that 44 gallon Excursion tops out at $132. The Excursion,
lets not forget, gets 10-12 mpg. Thats an awfully expensive
ride to the mall.
In this climate of SUV madness, the administration
has played off conservation as an impossibility, and has instead turned
its focus to the development of a space-based missile defense system
to guard the US from all of our enemies. A comrade and fellow weblogger
summed this up beautifully in a recent message:
"i was reading today about the Bush admin's
plans for full-scale space warfare development. sure, we can make
that work. but, if you think that we can make a reliable electric
car, boy, you're being unrealistic. space men with laser cannons shooting
at missiles travelling at high speeds, now that's realism.honda has
an electric car (and toyota too). dual-powered, actually. gets something
like 70 miles per gallon. the one we saw was $17k. it looked ridiculous,
though. and, the effective range was low. i think i'll buy a space
cannon instead. but only if it is specially designed for chinese targets."
Indeed, we may all be buying space cannons soon.
In either case, the goal of the administration is the same: to line
the pockets of those interests that got them elected in the first place.
The administration has sworn off fuel price caps, which makes lots of
sense if you were a one-time (and probably future) oil baron, as both
Cheney and the Shrub were.
While most analysts see this policy as a huge
political liability for The Shrubs administration, Im not
so sure. I can accept that any challenge to the apparently god-given
right to consume at low cost is bound to make most people in America
antsy, and $3 or $4 per gallon gas prices are bound to make all of those
Excursion drivers downright angry. But because the emphasis is on more
drilling, more consumption, and building more power plants -- rather
than the more sensible aim of the "personal value" of conservation
-- I think this policy has some serious mileage left in it. When it
comes down to it, this is what we want. Americans do not want to be
told that they need to cut back, or to be limited in their ability to
roll their armored personnel carriers freely around the suburbs. We
want cheap gas, dammit, and if someone can bring us that, well then,
hes our man.
If you do happen to be stateside this summer,
though, keep your eyes peeled for angry SUV drivers who will be especially
keen to run you down; if you had such a large vehicle and were paying
so much to operate it, youd need to feel like you could actually
use the power for something a little less sedate than trips to the mall.
If you do manage to survive the onslaught, be sure to pop into a gas
station for a quick titter. And whatever you do, please be sure to send
as little email as possible. We wouldnt want you wasting all of
our precious resources.
Bob Torres' daily weblog appears at www.bobblog.net