Archive for June, 2008

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Is Conserving Gas An Act Of Patriotism?

June 29, 2008

Yesterday morning, I felt compelled to call in to a local talk radio show that was discussing interesting ways that ordinary people are helping their fuel economy and hypermiling.  It has been a hot topic around the Chamber as of late, after all, and since the host mentioned that he’s heard of people yanking out their passenger seat and speakers as a somewhat drastic measure of weight reduction, I just had to confirm it for him.   Yep, I’m one of those guys:

What got me in trouble with other caller, however, was the fact that I mentioned that my overriding motivation for hypermiling wasn’t to save money or the planet, but patriotism (yes, I used the “P” word.  “patriotic duty” was the phase, to be exact).   I should have known better, really.   After all, saying that you’re doing something because you feel its patriotic is one of those classic grenades, because you’re inherently implying that anyone who isn’t doing it is unpatriotic.   And them thar’s fightin’ words on a conservative talk radio show, I tell ya, even if it wasn’t really my intent.  So, “Rick” got on the line and took issue with what I said, saying that I was “right out of the Jimmy Carter era” (something I didn’t hear until I got a chance to cue up the podcast1 when I got home).  So, seeing as I was unable to retort and defend my position on the radio, I figured that I might as well bring it on here into the Chamber (and it makes a good follow-up to my previous post anyway).  

But am I completely off my rocker?  I mean, we’re not talking about an activity that most people can do without here.  If the price of, say, movie tickets jumps up to $20 within a few months, then what do ya know, people stop going to the movie theaters.  No biggie.  But if the price of gasoline rises up to $5 a gallon, then $6, then $7, and we’re still consuming the same amount, there’s really no reason to believe that it’ll go down, and the far-reaching implications of that are downright frightening.  Of course, to cope, people may drive less or decide to carpool to work, but unfortunately this stuff is the life blood of our economy, and there’s not much on the horizon that would lead one to believe that we’ll stop using it altogether anytime soon.   One could make the argument that, at this point, our ability to use it affordably is critical to our way of life.  And if someone who goes out of their way to do their part to protect that way of life is considered a patriot, well…would doing one’s part to decrease the demand2 be such a bad thing?

I should note, emphatically, that I’m not saying that just because you drive an SUV you are a problem.  Believe me, I work in the industry, and I know first hand that there are plenty of people out there who can’t get out of these vehicles even if they wanted to, and they’re hurting as much or more than anyone ($100 fill-ups gotta sting).   Heck, I wish I had it in my budget to get a 40mpg car right now.  But, interestingly, the reality is that the stuck SUV drivers have the greatest savings potential, as it turns out.  By employing just a few simple hypermiling techniques, any driver can see a 10% increase on their MPG, and if you do the math, that 10% in an SUV results in a greater impact on total fuel consumption than gaining 10% in, say, my Cougar.   And 10% in my Cougar has a greater impact than 10% in a Prius, and so forth.   Vehicles that are fuel efficient are great, and we can hope the manufacturers continue to improve them, but we all have the power to help out on this.  

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1 I come in at about 39 min into part 1, and it continues into part 2, if you’re interested.

2I’m going on the assumption that this is a supply and demand issue, which I’m sure is one of those things that people are going to debate as well.  So, if it isn’t, well, then I guess I’m just saving money.  (about $90 in the 2 months I’ve been concentrating on it)

Update:  How about a link and quote to support that I’m on the right track…

“If you could take 10% off the weight of every car on the planet overnight, it would make so much more difference than all the new engine technologies and fuel technologies that people are talking about,”

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Rush Limbaugh, “Sticking It” To All Of Us

June 25, 2008

I’m pretty sure that I made a promise here at some point that I wasn’t going to mention Rush anymore, but I was cruising along on my way to work today and heard something that made my jaw drop a little.  Here’s the relevant portion of the transcript:

Here is McCain lauding his intent to have a green government, and then they point out, he’s a hypocrite. I wish somebody would do a study on my cars. I mean, this is nothing. I got in my car the other day and I drove — there goes Dawn covering her — I’m not going to tell you which one. It doesn’t matter. I got in the car, I had to drive down to Miami for the weekend. I wanted to go to the Kobe Club in Miami. I had been in the one in New York. So I drove down there, checked in the hotel, stayed overnight and got all those doodads on the dashboard that tell me — your car does, too — the range you’ve got based on the gas in the tank and what miles per gallon you’re getting and so forth. Twelve on the highway, 12, I think it was 12.8 on the highway. I said, yes!

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: All right, all right. Many of you might think I’m obnoxious, those of you just tuning in who don’t know me as the audience knows and loves me, you might think why am I going, “Yes! Yes!” when I see that my hog car is only getting 12 miles per gallon on the highway. Because I just love sticking it to the environmentalists. I am not an conformist. I just love sticking it to these people who want to interrupt my choices and my freedom. If I’m willing to pay for whatever happens and I’m not violating any law, it’s none of their business to tell me what I can and can’t drive and what I should and shouldn’t drive, and I’m not going to allow these kind of left-wing wacko kooks make me feel guilty about enjoying life. So there.

Good grief.  This is a guy who always insists that the high gasoline prices we now face are due to strict economics. Supply and demand. So what does he do?  He blathers on about how he’s doing his part to mess up the curve, thinking he’s “sticking it to the environmentalists” and undoubtedly trying to influence his audience of however many millions of listeners to do their part as well (he does like to talk about how influential he is, in case you don’t tune in regularly).

So I’ll just say that, no Rush, you’re not sticking it to the environmentalists.  According to your supply and demand argument, you’re sticking it to all of us.  Sure, I can’t tell you what you can drive and what you can’t, but I can tell you that you’re a jackass.

Update:  I forgot to mention that I originally broke this news to my hypermiler pals over at cleanMPG.com, and the reaction is decidedly mixed.  I gave Rush the “Jerk Of The Day” award.

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Obama Couldn’t Possibly Have Another Compound

June 24, 2008

“Obamunists”

“Obamabots” (this one even has its own wp.com tag)

“Obamacons”

“Obamanation” (complete with Urban Dictionary entry)

“Obamanated”

“Obamatards”

“Obamanuts” (not to be confused with “Obamanauts”)

“Obamaites”

“Obamamania” (with the obvious variation “Obamamaniac”, naturally)

“Obamadons”

“Obamanators”

“Obamarama” (yep, its own site)

“Obamaheads”

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Update: I was wrong. There are more!

“Obamaholic” (h/t WPPBA member Christopher)

*slaps forehed*  Of course!

Obamanomics

“Obamatons”

“Obamasia”

“Obamaland”

“Obamaglam”

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Mental Gymnastics: Not An Olympic Event (I checked)

June 23, 2008

(OK, OK, so I was watching the Olympic trails, and it inspired the title for this post.  So what?)

Anyway, I just had to bring up this post I saw (and commented on) over at Hot Air:  McCain advisor: A new terror attack would be “a big advantage to him”

Now, before I continue, I suppose I should note that I have addressed this issue before here in the Chamber: What Color Is The Sky On Hillary Clinton’s Home Planet?

I only mention this now because …well…because there’s this phrase that’s etched into my brain.  It’s “NO ATTACKS SINCE 9/11”.  This probably comes to me so quickly since, as a brave traveller of the political rightosphere, I’ve heard it dozens of times.   The phrase has been effective, apparently, as it had somehow permeated and invaded Mrs. Clinton’s brain as well (however many fallacies inherent), but the reason why I title this post the way I have is because…well…because it would mentally take a perfect-10 triple-backflip with a stuck dismount to somehow reconcile this phrase with the now de-facto notion* that another attack on the US would be beneficial to the side that has spouted it with such confidence.

I mean, how in the hell can both the lack of attacks and an attack be a political advantage? 

*just see the comments section of that Hot Air post

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Put That Seal On eBay, I Guess

June 23, 2008

The other day, I was perusing the political interwebs and noticed that there was quite a buzz over Barack Obama’s new podium “seal”:

My initial reaction, I left at Jimmie’s site:

Obama is running for president. The blue seal is an advertising/PR gimmick, playing on the design of the presidential seal. Panties need not be twisted.

Now, today, checking memeorandum again, I see that the reaction isn’t quite what the Obama camp had hoped for, so with only one use and around 48hrs later, the plug is pulled on the seal concept.   Perhaps those panties got twisted after all.

Cue the “thrown under the bus” line.

Anyway, I figure that, even if the graphic design department of Obama’s marketing team swings and misses every once and awhile, there could be a silver lining:  Ebay.   Collectors just love things that were only used once, are controversial, and represent their own milestone in American history, so maybe it’d get a fair price.  Donate the proceeds to a worthy cause, and presto!… you’ve turned a losing idea into a winning one.

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Update: I’ve cross-posted this over on Obama’s site. What the heck, maybe they’ll do it.

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How-To: WP.com Political Blogger Alliance Ping Code

June 17, 2008

After fielding quite a few emails related to questions on the WPPBA ping code, I’ve decided to post a little step-by-step.  I probably should have posted something like this awhile ago, as I’m sure it would have saved myself and others a lot of time, but better late than never I guess.

So…if you are a member of the Alliance and want to use the code (which is nothing more than a package of links to members’ ping pages) for politically-themed posts, the easiest way is to do the following…

First, you’ll notice that my sidebar contains the latest code (yes, I am in charge of the code; I am the General, after all LOL)….COPY IT.  It’s usually easier to do this from another window, so I always open another one when I want to do this.

Second, PASTE the code at the bottom of your post, making sure that you are in “Visual” mode when you do this.

The code will look like this:

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Scroll your cursor over each letter, and you’ll notice that each one represents a link to an Alliance member’s blog.   Click on a letter, and it will take you to that member’s ping page, and display a chronological history of the pings they’ve received in the comments section.  For example, if you click on the “W“, it will take you to my page, and you’ll see that I’ve collected hundreds of them since the code was originally conceived.  All those pingbacks contain links to posts by members of the Alliance.

The idea behind all this is that when you post the code, it notifies those members of your post (as it will show up in the comments section of their ping page, as well as on their wordpress dashboard).

I should also note that, in theory, this should work like a charm, and every member should get a ping.  In practice, however, I’ve noticed that it’s actually quite rare that everyone gets the ping. This is for reasons that neither myself nor the wordpress.com people have been able to figure out, but I still use it because I figure that some is better than none, and it takes only a few seconds to add this to your post.   I have discovered, however, that the more times that you “edit” and “save” your post once the code has been entered, the more it seems that pings tend to go out.  This may be because the system attempts to “re-send” the ping each time one saves, but I’m not sure.

You may also notice that there is only one letter that is left unused, so I may take the time to kick out some members whose blogs are demonstrably dormant, or members who have deleted their ping page.

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James Kirchick Didn’t Get the Memo, Apparently

June 16, 2008

I came across a post by fellow blogger Jimmie over at Sundrie’s Shack, in which he reported on an editorial in the LA Times penned by the assistant editor of New RepublicBush never lied to us about Iraq: The administration simply got bad intelligence. Critics are wrong to assert deception.

Now, as tempted as I was to dissect this over at Jimmie’s place (since it was the second time in a week that an editorial rebutting the “Bush Lied” meme was featured over there), I figured that it’d be better for me to address this over here in the Chamber, and give my pal Jimmie a couple of pingbacks instead.  That, and I do feel frustrated that when the topic comes up, the focus is always on claims about WMD intelligence and connections to al Qaeda.  And as much as I’m convinced that the administration attempted to hyperventilate the American public with ad nauseam presentations of worst-case scenarios as iron-clad fact, this misses what I feel is the actual, bigger “lie”, so if I haven’t covered this already (I have), I’m going to do it now…again

From what I remember, the “Bush Lied, People Died” really picked up steam after the publication of the famous Downing Street Memo, because the focus was primarily on the passage that read “But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy“. To be certain, that portion of the “memo” deserves a fair amount of attention, but what most people miss is the broader point, encapsulated by the sentence the preceded it, reading “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD“.

The meeting took place in Britain on July 23, 2002, remember, and it’s fairly contradictory to what Bush himself said months later in October, when he signed the AUMF:

“Our goal is not merely to limit Iraq’s violations of Security Council resolutions, or to slow down its weapons program. Our goal is to fully and finally remove a real threat to world peace and to America. Hopefully this can be done peacefully. Hopefully we can do this without any military action. Yet, if Iraq is to avoid military action by the international community, it has the obligation to prove compliance with all the world’s demands. It’s the obligation of Iraq.”

There are plenty of reasons to believe that the Congress took him at his word here, and that the AUMF was meant as leverage to force Saddam to comply with U.N. disarmament resolutions, and not a green light for invasion.  Indeed, Congress wouldn’t have granted an AUMF under other conditions, and the administration knew this.  So, the idea was to play along, attempt to scare up public support, convince a few allies to come on board, and when they felt they had jumped through enough hoops (like sending in U.N. weapons inspectors), they went ahead and used it.  It’s really not that complicated.

Of course, there are war supporters out there who are quick to discredit the DSM (even though no one has challenged its authenticity), and I certainly wasn’t going to base my entire accusation on one document.  But lets face it, there is enough evidence out there (other documentsstatements from high-ranking officials, and other evidence) to corroborate the notion that Bush was more interested in invading than he was about finding out if the weapons inspectors were actually going to find anything.   But for some reason that just doesn’t sink in for everyone.  Heck, I’ve come across war supporters who concede that the nation was misled, but it was necessary and that the ends justify the means.  I just don’t get it;  it’s OK with them?  But make no mistake, misled we were…lied to, in fact.

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