Category Archives: Ali Velshi

How You Know Your Empire Has Died


Here’s the audio clip:


This discussion between Ali Velshi and Stephen Leeb on Al Jazeera America yesterday was the smartest five minutes I’ve heard on TV news in a long time. The segment was about the new carbon pollution proposals the EPA just unveiled, the same proposals causing aneurisms in right-wing “Drill Here, Drill Now” land (sorry, bear with me guys: for some reason I can’t get the audio clip to post, so here’s the transcript. And you’re gonna have to take my word for this until I can figure out how to post audio, which I believe involves me making a purchase of some kind, possibly more storage) (Got the link posted, I was right, I needed to buy something. The things I do for you guys):

AV: Joining us to tell us more is Stephen Leeb, founder and research chairman of the Leeb Group. Now Stephen, you and I have talked for years about cleaner energy, you‘re an expert on the energy field and somebody who embraces a cleaner environment. My guess is that you would like this, but I’ve heard rumblings that you don’t think this is a good idea?

SL: Well Ali, it’s not that I don’t think it’s a good idea, I think it’s a day late, a dollar short, and maybe that’s an exaggeration. It’s way too little. What we need in this country is something nationwide, something like the interstate highway system. Something like a smart grid that runs across the country. I mean for me the key here in reading it was that it’s up to the individual states. That just doesn’t cut it. We have a grid in this country that in some.. there are cases in which our grid is more than a century old.

AV: This is our electrical grid.

SL: This is our electrical grid! I mean the only reason people can’t hack it is that one state doesn’t talk to another state! That’s the only advantage I can see to having a grid this old. We could create so many jobs by following China’s example. Build out a smart grid. Then you can have all these energy sources — gas, solar, wind, hydro, geothermal…

AV: Everything feeds in.

SL: Everything feeds in. Right now the Chinese are eating our lunch. I mean there was an item about a week ago in the Financial Times. EDF, a massive French utility, is building an electric plant that will supply 7% of British electricity. Massive! Except they didn’t have the skill sets. Who did they turn to? Not us! The Chinese. Who now has the fastest way of transmitting voltage from one part of the country to the other part of a country? The Chinese! We need to get our act together, Ali, if we’re really going to do something. Yes, I mean, I applaud any efforts to cut down emissions, to use new fuels and we may even get more solar and more wind because ….

AL: And that’s starting to happen. But in Europe it was the cap.. I hear you on how this can be unwieldly with the states but the concept of a cap-and-trade system and an exchange has worked out for Europe.

SL: It can work out yes, but it’s not going to be the solution unless you have a grid that can accommodate it across the country. Eventually you run into trouble. And I’m not even talking about the troubles that you see when you write down the amount of shale oil in this country by 60%, which we did the other day. All of a sudden the Monterey has 4% of what we originally thought.

AV: Right, across the country we are finding in these wells where we thought there was more oil and in some cases natural gas, there’s less.

SL: And it could be much less or maybe there’s more, I mean, you can always hope. But right now we’re becoming more and more dependent on the Marcellus. And you’re starting to see very rapid decline rates there. We need something Ali, I mean we were able to do it 30-40 years ago, interstate highway system, man to the moon…

AV: We don’t have the will to do anything on a national level, particularly something that would cost billions and billions of dollars.

SL: But create billions and billions of jobs! I mean, we somehow equate investment with spending, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Investment in an electrical grid, is not spending, it’s not wasteful. It’s creating something that will benefit all of us, our children, etc.

AV: Give me a sense, because we’ve had some Republicans come out and say this will increase energy costs for the average family in this country where the middle class is struggling. What is the net result on electrical prices out of this?

SL: You know, my guess is the net result is electrical prices go up because the guts of our electrical system right now is still hydrocarbons, and they’re not getting more plentiful. They’re getting scarcer, despite the shale revolution. They are. We’re not going to ever become energy independent, at most maybe we’ll be able to produce 11 million barrels of oil. We may have a little gas to export but basically we’re still going to be relying on outside sources. So regardless, it’s going to up. We need cleaner, renewable, new sources of energy in order to counteract that and this legislation or these proposals — they’re not legislation, not by a long shot — they just don’t go anywhere near far enough to getting us to that goal. I mean I hate to say this but we should take a page out of what the Chinese are doing. I mean look…

AV: There’s no question, they are well ahead of us when it comes to electricity.

SL: And look at their economy? They’re spending all of this money but last I heard their economy is still growing at 7 and a half percent a year. One of the reasons is all the money they’re spending on infrastructure. Let’s do the same thing!

AV: From your lips to their ears, Stephen! Good to see you …

This is what makes me nuts. The idea that we’ve lost touch with what is an “investment” and what is “spending,” when the hell did we decide we can no longer “invest” in America? Now it’s all just “pork” or whatever. The Democrats can’t even get ahead of the damn meme.

You know that America is no longer a global superpower when we can no longer do The Big Things. The saddest thing is, we can’t do these Big Things not because we don’t have the money or the know-how or the military might, but simply because we don’t have the will. This is how empires die, people.

The last “big” thing we did was invade Iraq and Afghanistan. And we did it, not because we forged consensus and compromised and came together as a nation to do it, but because one faction bulldozed their way over anyone who so much as asked the question, why? They used every tool in the toolbox — fear, flag-waving, you name it — to get their way.

The fact that the Left is completely unable to muster the same amount of national will on something clearly more in the country’s interest than invading an oil-rich country in the Middle East is, to me, the single biggest threat to America’s future.

Damn depressing, folks.


Filed under Ali Velshi, carbon offsets, China, climate change, environment, EPA

CNN’s “Leave It There” Problem

Since we’re memorializing our late, great news media this weekend, I thought I should direct folks to Jay Rosen’s piece on CNN’s “leave it there” problem. Rosen’s Jon Stewart clip from last year is priceless and sums up everything that’s wrong with cable news. Rosen writes:

But too often, on-air hosts for the network will let someone from one side of a dispute describe the world their way, then let the other side describe the world their way, and when the two worlds, so described, turn out to be incommensurate or even polar opposites, what happens?… CNN leaves it there. Viewers are left stranded and helpless. The network appears to inform them that there is no truth, only partisan bull.

Last week CNN’s Ali Velshi actually made news for not doing this. A clip of Velshi calling Rick Santorum on his hilarious claim that the stimulus “only created 240 million jobs” went viral, with bloggers and the Twitterati dutifully applauding Velshi for telling Santorum to “check his math.” So, you know, good for Velshi — but even here he missed the point. Worse than Santorum’s math was his obviously incorrect facts, which Velshi completely ignored. Think about it: we live in a country of 300 million people! A stimulus that created 240 million jobs would have created more jobs than workers, more jobs than able-bodied adult citizens.

Which begs the question: is this what it takes before a CNN host calls a guest on their does a guest have to make claims so obviously this flat-out wrong before a host calls them on it? Before CNN decides not to “leave it there”?

Says Rosen:

Leave the partisan fights to the guests: sounds great. Until you think about it for a minute. And really, that’s all it takes: about a minute. In a hyper-polarized environment like the one we increasingly have in the U.S. these fights have long since broken the borders of opinion. They now routinely break out over matters of fact. (Example: does cutting Federal tax rates increase revenues to the government?) Leaving partisan fights—over matters of fact—to the guests is a disaster, journalistically. But intervening in those fights takes skill, knowledge… and balls. Because one side could be a lot righter than the other, factually speaking.

In other words, you could have a situation where in order to do your duty journalistically, you have to take sides and say, “I’m sorry, Senator, but that simply doesn’t square with what we know.” Soon as you do that, your mantra, “We cover both sides but don’t favor either side” starts working against you. Cognitive dissonance rises. You’re not doing “straight news” any longer. You’re calling foul on the deceiver, raising the question: why did you invite this guy, anyway? You’re taking to heart what Daniel Patrick Moynihan was supposed to have said: You’re entitled to your own opinion. You’re not entitled to your own facts.

Rosen notes CNN’s managing editor Mark Whitaker has hinted they’ve seen the error of their ways. Whether CNN will continue to “leave it there” remains to be seen.


Somebody, please tell me he’s joking:


Filed under Ali Velshi, CNN, Media, Rick Santorum

>Memory Hole, Clean Coal Division

>Ah, remember when coal was clean, and CNN didn’t waste an opportunity to tell us so?

Good times, good times:

Coal Industry Sponsors CNN, CNN Praises Coal

CNN senior business correspondent Ali Velshi has been promoting coal-to-liquids technology and praising “clean coal, 99 percent clean” for an entire month. On Tuesday, CNN held a no-holds-barred coalfest, promoting coal-to-liquids and coal gasification technologies, calling coal “seductive,” and criticizing “blogs” who “go nuts” and “environmentalists” who “want to get rid of coal.”

What’s motivating CNN to closely mirror coal-industry talking points?

One hopes it has nothing to do with this:

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity is a $45 million front group for over 40 companies in the coal industry.

CNN’s response to the coal story has been anemic, at best. Two days after the disaster there was no coverage whatsoever, then links to local coverage.

I’d say it’s long past time for CNN to airdrop Ali Velshi at ground zero to remind us how clean coal really is.

Comments Off on >Memory Hole, Clean Coal Division

Filed under Ali Velshi, ash spill, clean coal, CNN, environment, media