Al Gore: Reclaim American values, hold Obama to his Promises

June 22, 2011

Those of us who remember listening to Rush Limbaugh in his early 90s heyday recall the frequent voice impersonation of Al Gore droning about “mah info-mayshun super highway” — a far fetched, moonbat idea obviously, as every righteous “Rush Room” listener knew.

Since then, the “super highway” has made a noticeable impact on our lives, and become one more indicator of just how prescient Al Gore has been over his long career, and why he drives Climate deniers into raving, spittle flecked fits.  His very existence has been a constant reminder of just how deeply divisive, dishonest, and deluded the right wing noise machine has been from the outset.

Gore has an article in Rolling Stone coming out, and the headlines are that it bashes Obama’s inaction on climate change, but there’s really more to it.  Gore spends a fair amount of time detailing how the democratic process can only work if citizens have access to good information – and how that information has been deliberately poisoned by the Fox News/talk radio/thinktank  axis of disinfo.

In 2002, for example, the feverish desire to invade Iraq required convincing the American people that Saddam Hussein was somehow responsible for attacking the United States on September 11th, 2001, and that he was preparing to attack us again, perhaps with nuclear weapons. When the evidence — the “facts” — stood in the way of that effort to shape the public mind, they were ridiculed, maligned and ignored. Behind the scenes, the intelligence was manipulated and the public was intentionally deceived. Allies were pressured to adopt the same approach with their publics. A recent inquiry in the U.K. confirmed this yet again. “We knew at the time that the purpose of the dossier was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence,” Maj. Gen. Michael Laurie testified. “To make the best out of sparse and inconclusive intelligence, the wording was developed with care.” Why? As British intelligence put it, the overthrow of Saddam was “a prize because it could give new security to oil supplies.”

I was a member of the 10 percent of supposedly “disloyal terrorist sympathizing” Americans who were screaming that the Iraq war was a mistake.  It’s no accident that the same players that were the shrillest shills for Dick Cheney’s war policy are also the most active vectors for climate denial propoganda.

We haven’t gone nuts — but the “conversation of democracy” has become so deeply dysfunctional that our ability to make intelligent collective decisions has been seriously impaired. Throughout American history, we relied on the vibrancy of our public square — and the quality of our democratic discourse — to make better decisions than most nations in the history of the world. But we are now routinely making really bad decisions that completely ignore the best available evidence of what is true and what is false. When the distinction between truth and falsehood is systematically attacked without shame or consequence — when a great nation makes crucially important decisions on the basis of completely false information that is no longer adequately filtered through the fact-checking function of a healthy and honest public discussion — the public interest is severely damaged.

Gore prefaces his critique of Obama with a little context:

…anyone who honestly examines the incredible challenges confronting President Obama when he took office has to feel enormous empathy for him: the Great Recession, with the high unemployment and the enormous public and private indebtedness it produced; two seemingly interminable wars; an intractable political opposition whose true leaders — entertainers masquerading as pundits — openly declared that their objective was to ensure that the new president failed; a badly broken Senate that is almost completely paralyzed by the threat of filibuster and is controlled lock, stock and barrel by the oil and coal industries; a contingent of nominal supporters in Congress who are indentured servants of the same special interests that control most of the Republican Party; and a ferocious, well-financed and dishonest campaign poised to vilify anyone who dares offer leadership for the reduction of global-warming pollution.

But in spite of these and other achievements, President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change. After successfully passing his green stimulus package, he did nothing to defend it when Congress decimated its funding. After the House passed cap and trade, he did little to make passage in the Senate a priority. Senate advocates — including one Republican — felt abandoned when the president made concessions to oil and coal companies without asking for anything in return. He has also called for a massive expansion of oil drilling in the United States, apparently in an effort to defuse criticism from those who argue speciously that “drill, baby, drill” is the answer to our growing dependence on foreign oil.

Finally, there is advice for the citizen activist on how to take action and hold the ruling party’s feet to the fire -

First, become a committed advocate for solving the crisis. You can start with something simple: Speak up whenever the subject of climate arises. When a friend or acquaintance expresses doubt that the crisis is real, or that it’s some sort of hoax, don’t let the opportunity pass to put down your personal marker. The civil rights revolution may have been driven by activists who put their lives on the line, but it was partly won by average Americans who began to challenge racist comments in everyday conversations.

Second, deepen your commitment by making consumer choices that reduce energy use and reduce your impact on the environment. The demand by individuals for change in the marketplace has already led many businesses to take truly significant steps to reduce their global-warming pollution. Some of the corporate changes are more symbolic than real — “green-washing,” as it’s called — but a surprising amount of real progress is taking place. Walmart, to pick one example, is moving aggressively to cut its carbon footprint by 20 million metric tons, in part by pressuring its suppliers to cut down on wasteful packaging and use lower-carbon transportation alternatives. Reward those companies that are providing leadership.

Third, join an organization committed to action on this issue. The Alliance for Climate Protection (climateprotect.org), which I chair, has grassroots action plans for the summer and fall that spell out lots of ways to fight effectively for the policy changes we need. We can also enable you to host a slide show in your community on solutions to the climate crisis — presented by one of the 4,000 volunteers we have trained. Invite your friends and neighbors to come and then enlist them to join the cause.

Fourth, contact your local newspapers and television stations when they put out claptrap on climate — and let them know you’re fed up with their stubborn and cowardly resistance to reporting the facts of this issue. One of the main reasons they are so wimpy and irresponsible about global warming is that they’re frightened of the reaction they get from the deniers when they report the science objectively. So let them know that deniers are not the only ones in town with game. Stay on them! Don’t let up! It’s true that some media outlets are getting instructions from their owners on this issue, and that others are influenced by big advertisers, but many of them are surprisingly responsive to a genuine outpouring of opinion from their viewers and readers. It is way past time for the ref to do his job.

Finally, and above all, don’t give up on the political system. Even though it is rigged by special interests, it is not so far gone that candidates and elected officials don’t have to pay attention to persistent, engaged and committed individuals. President Franklin Roosevelt once told civil rights leaders who were pressing him for change that he agreed with them about the need for greater equality for black Americans. Then, as the story goes, he added with a wry smile, “Now go out and make me do it.”

To make our elected leaders take action to solve the climate crisis, we must forcefully communicate the following message: “I care a lot about global warming; I am paying very careful attention to the way you vote and what you say about it; if you are on the wrong side, I am not only going to vote against you, I will work hard to defeat you — regardless of party. If you are on the right side, I will work hard to elect you.”

The take home is that the responsibility for leadership still rests with the United States.   It’s a climate denial canard that action by this country cannot make a difference because of growing emissions from China, India, and the third world.

I happen to believe that the United States is still the leader of the world. Leaders don’t wait for others to take action. Leaders consider facts carefully, come to a judgement on the right course, and then set out to do the right thing. The force of a living example has been proven time and again throughout history – the now, more than ever, is the time for America, and Americans, to stand up.

Gore concludes:

The climate crisis, in reality, is a struggle for the soul of America. It is about whether or not we are still capable — given the ill health of our democracy and the current dominance of wealth over reason — of perceiving important and complex realities clearly enough to promote and protect the sustainable well-being of the many. What hangs in the balance is the future of civilization as we know it.

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6 Responses to “Al Gore: Reclaim American values, hold Obama to his Promises”

  1. TDAR1405 Says:

    Gore gets a very bad rap, undeservedly so, from the denier camp and especially the “truthers” – I use the term lightly – who, put simply, believe the world is governed by conspiracies.

    It’s such a shame that politicians elected today who are entrusted with the future of the planet appear to see climate change and ‘green’ politics as nothing more than something of a publicity stunt – something low on their agenda, but high on the list for PR.

    I also cannot help but feel a little debilitated when you have people in senior positions such as Janusz Lewandowski – the European Commissioner who is responsible for the budget of the European Union – saying:
    “We already have overambitious agreements on CO2 emission reduction. [20% cut to CO2 emissions by 2030 based on 1990 levels]
    “There is a notion that the thesis that coal energy is the main cause of global warming is highly questionable. Moreover, more and more often there is a question mark put over the whole [issue of] global warming as such.”

    http://euobserver.com/9/32529

  2. mrsircharles Says:

    Agree. Obama is gambling with the votes of his supporters. On the other hand he will never get any votes from the right-wing which he seemingly is trying to serve.

  3. sailrick Says:

    Well said by Gore. I was pleasantly surprised to not see the comment section flooded with denier trolls (at least not yet). After all, Al Gore is fat and flys around in a big aeroplane, so global warming isn’t real.

    I believe that global warming could be the issue that defeats the GOP in 2012. The science free party.

    GOP congressman Rohrbacher suggests trees cause global warming

    Speaker of the House Boehner says CO2 emissions nothing to worry about because humans breathe CO2 in and out. Brilliant.

    Michelle Bachman says there have been no scientific studies showing CO2 is harmful.
    I guess she missed the ~10,000 (up to about 2006) published research papers behind the IPCC’s 2007 4th Assessment Report

    GOP Rep Fred Upton says there can be no global warming because God won’t allow it to happen.

    And of course Sen Inhofe says its all a big hoax.
    Sure Senator, the entire world scientific community is just trying to get more grant money.

    Barton and Ihofe get more oil money than any other legislators, in the House and Senate, respectively.

    Minnestota GOP senator claims to have studied all 13 fields of science related to climate change. Just so you know, no climate scientist would make such a claim.

    “Turns out that the self proclaimed “No. 1 global warming denier in Minnesota” one Michael Jungbauer, a man, whom in his own words, has “studied all 13 disciplines of science” contained in the IPCC reports, and now sits in the Minnesota state senate.. The problem is, he is not a scientist.”

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2011/06/cage-match.html

    Bottom line: He doesn’t even have a bachelor degree in any field of science

    Christopher Monckton has no scientific background, his only higher education being in journalism. Yet, he is Chief Policy Adviser at the Science and Public Policy Institute a global warming skeptics group.

    This is who Republicans brought to a U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing as an expert witness, in 2008.
    Energy and Commerce Committee Minority Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX) referred to Monckton, in his opening remarks, – as being “generally regarded as one of the most knowledgeable, if not the most knowledgeable, experts on the skeptic side”.
    Global warming is not a matter of popular opinion, its a matter of science. Monckton is an activist, not a scientist. And what he claims is science isn’t. He is known to make completely absurd claims, like that industrialization helps the environment and that global warming will be beneficial.

    And then, in May 2010, U.S House Republicans chose Monckton as their only expert witness for a hearing at the Select Committee On Energy Independence and Global Warming.

    One of Inhofe’s star witnesses at Senate committee hearings, that he chaired, was science fiction writer Michael Crichton.

  4. sailrick Says:

    If you’re not sure that Monckton isn’t a good expert witness on climate change, watch this video.

    And try to remember that this is who your elected officials are listening to, on global warming.

    Professor John Abraham demolishing every point Monckton had made in a university presentation.

    http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/jpabraham/global_warming/Monckton/index.htm

    Physicist and blogger Joseph Romm comments:
    “The number of errors Chris Monckton makes is so enormous it would take a thesis to go through every single one of them…. Nonetheless, you rarely see such a thorough debunking of an anti-science disinformer as this astonishing point-by-point evisceration put together by John Abraham, an engineering professor at St. Thomas University in St. Paul, MN”

    • greenman3610 Says:

      Abraham’s presentation is a good primer on the controversy.
      you’ll notice that the last time the GOP presented witnesses on climate, Monckton was not invited.

  5. otter17 Says:

    I like how he gives recommendations on how the public can get involved.


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