Politics: 15 September 2010

It amazes me looking at the comments on conservative blogs. There are a number of somewhat reasonable old-school Republicans, but at least half the comments are from delusional teabaggers. Here is one such comment:

Beautiful thing! O’Donnell will easily draw more democratic support than Castle ever would have given the horrendous showing of the dems in DC since they took over the Congress with Castle as a willing accomplice.

So Democrats, who are angry at Obama for not being liberal enough, are going to flock to ultra-conservative O’Donnell (She is an outspoken opponent of–wait for it: masturbation!) rather than vote for the Democratic nominee Chris Coons. Unbelievable, especially when DailyKOS reported that Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling is releasing poll numbers today that say that Coons has a 44-28 lead over O’Donnell–again, wait for it: among Mike Castle voters! Admittedly, after they calm down and after the big-time Republican media machine comes in an gives O’Donnell a make-over, those numbers will shift. But Delaware is a blue state. Mike Castle was a sure winner because he is an old-style, moderate Republican who has been in Delaware politics for decades (I think he has won a total of 30 different times—really).

Like I said: delusional. You know, my politics are out there on the fringe—but at least I know it. It isn’t like I think my neighbors believe what I do. These people think everyone agrees with them. Of course, they only talk to people who agree with them. One person responded (sort of) to a comment I made on some other blog by relating a story of how nice everyone was at the Glenn Beck Rally. She was looking for a water fountain and asked someone who didn’t know where one was but who gave her a bottle of water. I responded that I’d had that exact same experience at a rock concert. I pointed out that with few exceptions, people are pretty nice. What I wanted to say, but didn’t was: isn’t it easy to be nice to one another when you are all white, rich, and ignorant. Truly, I don’t think that water giver would have be a tenth as likely to give water to a homeless black man. It is easy to be generous to people you consider part of your tribe. And the bad thing about the teabaggers (and I did say this) is that they consistently define liberals as not just people they disagree with, but as people who want to destroy the country. They don’t think for a second that they just might be a tad bit wrong about what America is.

Newt Gingrich is going around saying that Obama conned his way into the Whitehouse. He’s just an opportunistic liar. The woman who posted the comment above is just ignorant. People like her don’t seem to know that if voting were required by law (as it is in 32 countries including Australia, Brazil, and Singapore) that there would be a huge political shift to the left. American’s are far more liberal than their politicians. But no. They want to claim that people who say Obama is not a US citizen are equivalent to people who (rightly) said that George W. Bush was not a legitimate president (by popular vote or electoral college).

The teabaggers can go on about their conspiracy theories all they want. What makes me mad is that they think they somehow speak for America. Or that they even know what America is. They are yet another anti-intellectual group that has decided what they want to believe and the facts be damned. They are no different from the Intelligent Design crowd or the Global Warming Deniers or the Flat Earth Society. (I always thought the Flat Earth Society was just a joke. It is no joke. They have a very nice website.)

The Myth of Zero-Emission Cars

Anyone who thinks at all knows that the new plug-in hybrid and electric cars are not zero-emission vehicles. (Solar cars are, however.) The July 2010 issue of Scientific American has a nice short article on this called The Dirty Truth about Plug-In Hybrids. (Note: link does not include entire article.) What the article shows is that just how green a vehicle is depends upon where it is. For example, in California where 99% of our electricity comes from natural gas, plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles emit far less carbon and save huge amounts of gasoline compared to ordinary hybrids. On the other hand, in Illinois, where roughly three-quarters of the electricity comes from coal, these vehicles produce way more carbon, even though they still save about as much gasoline as they do in California. On the third hand, in New York, where two-thirds of their electricity comes from oil, these vehicles produce a bit more carbon, but save only a little gasoline: about 10%.

This is all very interesting, but it doesn’t provide the reader with a lot of context. (And to be honest, I think I just provided you with all you need to know from the article in a much more understandable way. But we must remember that only the best writers get to work at Frankly Curious!) The electricity that these cars require has to come from somewhere and that somewhere is a power plant near by. This power plant is necessarily going to (1) be more efficient at turning raw materials into energy and (2) less polluting—especially in areas where we care about pollution, like downtown Los Angeles. Even in those few places where plug-in hybrid and electric cars produce more carbon than regular hybrids, they only produce slightly more and they produce quite a lot less than old-fashioned gasoline engines. What’s more, if every car in the US was a plug-in hybrid or electric car, the net result would be a huge reduction in carbon emissions (not to mention emissions that affect local air quality).

We are not going to cure our global warming problem on the backs of cars, anyway. As a result, the bigger issue to me is gasoline. Regardless of where you live in the US, these vehicles greatly reduce oil consumption. Most of our electricity comes from natural gas and coal. We produce 84% of our own natural gas and 100% of our own coal (that link’s a PDF). What all these new car technologies mean is that we are less dependent on oil and that is a good thing, because we don’t have a lot of oil. So this makes us more self-sufficient. And that’s a good thing.

Getting off coal (which creates 52% of our electricity) is going to be harder. But we can do that too.