It was a longstanding tradition among the “right” kind of liberal to declare “I’m going to move to Canada if wins.” There would be a long, dark teatime of the soul after Election Day and by March or so, while all wouldn’t be forgotten or even forgiven, life went on. Bumper stickers saying “[insert Republican president] [insert nasty action] [insert general noun] [insert verb]” would be affixed to rear bumpers of Volvos and Priuses. Organic, non-toxic, fair trade seitan mock turkey burgers would be purchased from Whole Foods to be consumed with a nice chardonnay from Trader Joe’s. Cruelty-free “world” flags would be unfurled at coffee shops staffed by tattooed and pierced straight edges and paranoid potheads. Unvaccinated children would be taken—wrapped carefully in helmets, knee pads, and other approved safety gear, all manufactured from sustainable organic quinoa plastic after being thoroughly washed in hypoallergenic soap made from Italian extra-virgin olive oil, of course—to non-sectarian private schools and then picked up by slightly balding sensitive new age pony tail guy fathers in the aforementioned Volvos and Priuses to go to mbira lessons or read Heather Has Two Mommies at a play date over at Adam and Steve’s condo to play with Bryce.

Indeed, life went on, and while it could have been better without “That Jackass in the White House” in the White House, it was OK enough.

Well turnabout is fair play. I’m quite sure that, now that McCain/Palin (or was that Palin/McCain?) are exiting stage right, there are a number of right-thinking people in brain lock.

How could this happen?

How?

How, my Lord, HOW could you have forsaken me?

I know, I’m going to take my bat and go home!!!! It’s time to move! That’s it, move! Move to where I’m wanted for who I am! A red-blooded AMERICAN! and my countrymen have let me and themselves down.

Time to move to…?

The problem, of course, is, where exactly are a bunch of disgruntled conservatives (or what passes for conservative these days) going to move? For people who are American ultra-nationalists, it’s damnably hard to think of a place.

Saudi Arabia? Well for social conservatism it’s hard to top, but it’s got this leeeetle bitty M-word problem…. Iran is even worse, being full of Chicken Shi’ites.

Germany? Nope, krauts are more interested in techno, cola-beer mixtures, scheisse movies, and the Green Party these days than in oompah bands and world conquest.

China? Post-Mao China is nationalistic and it’s certainly capitalistic, but it’s full of them damn slanty-eyed furriners. Can’t trust ‘em!

Denmark? Nice going on giving the old one-fingered salute to them Muslims but, but… it’s got a few too many wind farms and the Volvo factory is just too close for comfort.

Russia? It lives on oil and gas, baby! It’s led by a real man all right, one who shoots tigers, one who kicks ass as a judo champion, who got his starts as a spy, one who makes Cheney sit up and go “Man, YOU are the MAN!” One who’s brought back the power of the Lord in the very House of Godlessness and Communism. And you don’t see Vladimir Putin having elections turn out wrong for him, oh no. But, but, it’s… Russia. Ick. No. Maybe in fifty years.

I know! The next best thing! The place Vladimir Putin flies over to get to America, land of the socialist oppressed, she who has spurned the one true way!

Alaska!

The Last Frontier, home of the Alaska Independence Party, and their beloved messiah… Sarah Palin (and the First Dude, too).

Awesome!!!! They can all move north to Alaska, the Socialist Frontier! Where real men shoot real critters like moose or caribou or wolves or whatever they damn well please with their real women by their sides and if they’re really lucky their real women shoot too. Where hockey is played. Where real industrial swill beer is consumed by men named Joe, plumber or not. Where all stations play country and none of that wuss-ass Dixie Chicks stuff, no, but Toby Keith, Lee Greenwood and Hank Williams, Jr.! Where everyone is in the army, or if they’re not, I want to know why! Where there are NO soybeans and everybody knows you’re supposed to HATE seitan with ALL your heart because

SEITAN is the ENEMY of the LORD!

Maybe they’ll even have more follow-through than the liberals of the past.

It would be hard not to, though somehow I doubt it.

As you can tell by reading the comments, my article on hybrids generated a ton of interest and comment. On top of the actual comments, we’ve had a bunch of discussion on our super-secret internal email list. Given the quality of the discussion in the aforementioned article, we’d like to give everyone a chance to continue the conversation.

For those of you who missed the first edition, I basically argued that hybrid automobiles only start to make sense for the typical American driver (as defined by the DOT) when gasoline reaches the economically crippling $10 a gallon. Mere “European” gas prices won’t cut it. Inflation, which is largely driven by gas and commodity prices these days, will not make matters any better as it increases prices across the board. If anything, hybrids are even more screwed.

So what do the 12 Angry Men have to say?

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Right, in fact hybrids in general (even at the SUV level) aren’t yet worth it economically. But they may be worth it for early adopters (who by definition buy such goods before it is economically rational to do so), nerds, and greenies.

Of course it would be far more worth it for the greenies to drive their old, decrepit, smog-producing VW minivan to a rally for greatly increased use of nuclear power, which would do far more to reduce fossil fuel emissions and oil dependencies than any number of hybrids.

But you can’t drive a pro-nuclear rally around to show off to your hippy friends, so that doesn’t work out…

Status good is spot on. (Note: Strictly speaking economists don’t use the term “status good” but such things would be a type of Veblen good.)

Mildly Piqued Academician
Right, in fact hybrids in general (even at the SUV level) aren’t yet worth it economically.

Well, not accounting for externalities. And “worth it” is tricky. It ain’t just gas mileage, or no one would ever get the add-ons to a car… or buy anything but the basic economy vehicle that gets you around.

But they may be worth it for early adopters (who by definition buy such goods before it is economically rational to do so), nerds, and greenies.

Right. If the nerds and greenies (big overlap there, obviously) need to justify their purchase, they can go right ahead. Fundamentally this is no different than the lawyer justifying his purchase of an Infiniti as a sign of having “made it.”As David Brooks has noted, it’s become acceptable to spend lots of money on high end “basics” such as a fancy kitchen among the bobo class, aka the current upper class.

Status good is spot on.

That’s true. But many other goods fall into that camp. Early adopter markets are quite important for the eventual broadening of the market. When fleet vehicles such as taxis, cop cars, etc., end up going hybrid you’ll see a big shift. Third gen hybrid may well push this as it will be cheaper, smaller, and better. In this case, the early adopters did
the rest of the world a big favor. :)

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Well, not accounting for externalities. And “worth it” is tricky. It ain’t just gas mileage, or no one would ever get the add-ons to a car… or buy anything but the basic economy vehicle that gets you around.

Right. I meant in simple economic analysis based on fuel efficiency. As you say, very few people buy their car for entirely (or even primarily) economic reasons. Otherwise the Fusion, Milan, and Altima could not all successfully compete—being the same car with different shells and options. Fortunately (for them) external options make a difference.

Right. If the nerds and greenies (big overlap there, obviously) need to justify their purchase, they can go right ahead. Fundamentally thi is no different than the lawyer justifying his purchase of an Infiniti as a sign of having “made it.”

Yes, and there’s nothing wrong with either. Both also signal to one’s peers that one is a member in good standing of the group and agrees with the aims and beliefs of the group, and such signals are of great importance to us naked apes.

As David Brooks has noted, it’s become acceptable to spend lots of money on high end “basics” such as a fancy kitchen among the bobo class.

Yes indeed. Or to spend lots of extra bucks on organic food at faux farmers’ markets like Whole Foods. I suspect part of this a legitimate interest in these things and part is a desire to be able to consume conspicuously without appearing to be a wasteful and evil conspicuous consumer.

That’s true. But many other goods fall into that camp. Early adopter markets are quite important for the eventual broadening of the market.

Yes, and there’s nothing at all wrong with status goods—together with other luxury goods they form a huge component of the economy, after all.

When fleet vehicles such as taxis, cop cars, etc., end up going hybrid you’ll see a big shift. Third gen hybrid may well push this as it will be cheaper, smaller, and better. In this case, the early adopters did the rest of the world a big favor. :)

Exactly. If hybrid tech pans out the early adopters will be those who kept it alive long enough to do so. And if it fails, they’re the ones who took the risk (and loss) to give it a try. Entrepreneurs of consumption, as it were… :)

Mildly Piqued Academician

Yes, and there’s nothing at all wrong with status goods—together with other luxury goods they form a huge component of the economy, after all.

They always feel a little “dirty” though… Why else would bobos go through so much trouble putting on counter-cultural airs? Why else would people like Richard Nixon famously go on about wife Pat’s “good Republican cloth coat” in the Checkers speech? Honestly I think that the argument that bobo-ism represents nothing more than changing tastes of the upper class is spot on.

Angry New Mexican
So, to paraphrase AOC from the comments of the original article are hybrid car owners
“driving around the block displaying your Goreon commitment to the admiring public,” like the folks who shop at Whole Foods (evidently including Obama… no wonder the wacky left opposes The Clinton Restoration(TM))? Are they really interested in engaging in self-promoting faux-greenery, namely saving the planet without sacrifice (or at least without their sacrifice… the opposition to Tata Motor’s ultra-cheap car betrays this hypocracy)?

Or on the other hand, are folks who buy hybrid just crazy first-adopting geeks (I can relate, I bought a 1st gen Iomega Zip Drive back inthe day), who will eventually help move the technology to the mass market?

Only time will tell… Readers, what’s your call?

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ObFascism Tag: Boboism is nothing new. Adolf Hitler practiced it personally—put on of being a “man of the people” while living in luxury himself—and it’s a part of the denouement of previous romantic movements.

In case you missed my last article detailing my passionate hatred for the latest bit of consumer stupidity, known as hybrid automobiles, I’m back with a sequel piece. Here I’ll be employing the mighty power known as algebra to explain why buying a hybrid automobile makes no economic sense, except in what would be best classified as a nightmare scenario. To illustrate this, I want to compare the Toyota Prius with (in my opinion at least) one of the best inexpensive cars on the market, the Toyota Corolla. The cars are of a similar size and equal seating capacity (5). So what makes the humble Corolla more than a match for the mighty Prius from an economic perspective? The answer is simple: cost.

Consider the following vital stats about the two automobiles:

Car City MPG Highway MPG MSRP Range
2008 Prius 48 45 $21,100 — $23,370
2008 Corolla 28 37 $14,405 — $16,415

According to Uncle Sam, it’s plausible to assume that the average driver puts about 15k miles on a car every year. Likewise, according to the DOT, the average American keeps their car about 4.5 years. That’s not a whole lot of time to recover the cost of the vastly more expensive Prius. But with the price of gas these days, it has to be a good deal, right? Wrong.

Assuming that the cars depreciate at an equal rate (or you just crash them into a tree and get nothing from your insurance company) and that inflation (now pushing 4% per year) drops to zero, here’s where the Prius becomes cheaper as determined by the price of gas (here we only consider the lowest end model of each car):

When the Prius Price of Gasoline (per gallon)
Costs Less $2.00 $3.26 $5.00 $8.00 $10.00
Years 22.8 14.1 9.1 5.7 4.6

So for a Prius to be more economically sensible for the “average” American, gas has to cost $10.00 a gallon. And this is assuming 0% inflation. The numbers get worse when you factor in a 3% inflation rate. Assume that the gas price listed is the price today and that the cost of gas increases inline with the 3% inflation rate (Ben Bernanke and I are both being hopeful). Then the crossover point looks like:

When the Prius Price of Gasoline (per gallon)
Costs Less $2.00 $3.26 $5.00 $8.00 $10.00
Years 36 18 11 6 5

So unless we assume that gas prices are going to head up significantly faster than the inflation rate, it’ll still take $10.00 per gallon gasoline to make the mightly Prius cost-competitive with the humble Corolla. Perhaps that’s something to think about the next time you head to visit the Toyota dealer…

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them,” Obama said. “And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

 

Pretty harsh stuff, or just self-evident? Typical liberal elitism viewing the average Joe as cattle to be managed or a lament for a loss of hope in American government and ideals? Anti-God, guns, and Old Glory or pro-progress, pro-trade, and pro-tolerance?

Or is a mix of both: a cogent analysis of why many small-town folks feel disenfranchised but also a glimpse into Obama’s big-city feelings towards small-town America?

And does either John McCain or Hillary Clinton have a leg to stand on in condemning these remarks?

Discuss!

Nancy Pelosi Hugo Chavez
Speaker of the House
Nancy Pelosi
Venezuelan President & Dictator
Hugo Chavez

 

Yesterday, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, refused to allow an up-down vote on the passage of the Columbian Free-Trade Agreement (HR 5724) as authorized under the Presidential Fast Track Authority. Speaker Pelosi has instead modified House rules, ex post facto, so that the vote required by the fast-track provisions can be circumvented.

This despite the fact that the House Democrats have repeatedly, through more than 250 consultations with Columbia, insisted on and won additional language in the trade agreement forcing Columbia to provide more protection for trade unionists in the country — in the past it has been open season on organizers, though through no fault of Alvaro Uribe, the President of Columbia. Thank FARC. President Uribe has, in fact, worked to reduce this violence and has delivered impressive initial results, reducing violence by more than 80% since 2002. This is also an agreement which Charles Rangel, Chairman of the House Ways and Means, and Bill Clinton support, as does President Bush. It is good for the United States and good for Columbia. Even Hillary Clinton’s staffer Mark Penn is^H^H was working towards this bill’s passage.

The standard media drivel is that this is the work of the labor unions in the United States, but, as with all things political, the phrase ‘cui bono’ comes to mind. 90% of Columbian goods arriving in the United States are duty free and the balance are subjected to very minimum tariff. US goods in Columbia are assessed a 35% tariff, which would be eliminated as part of the Trade Agreement. This means that companies producing goods for Columbia would be more price competitive, be able to sell more goods (in what apparently is a pending recession), and would be able to hire more union labor to produce the goods. In other words, this trade agreement is a good thing for the labor unions. The unions do, however, make a good smoke screen. What is going on under the smoke should give any American a case of the chills.

Nancy Pelosi, acting in her persona as Secretary of State, visited Damascus last year and presented the House position on national policy. It was argued at the time that this was technically treason and in fact has been previously prosecuted as such under the Logan Act of 1798. Clearly, Speaker Pelosi feels that it is in the interest of the House to establish foreign policy.

In light of the evidence of other Democrats (Kennedy D-MA) making arrangements with Hugo Chavez, perhaps more is going on here than meets the eye. Could it be that the real reason for dumping the Columbia Trade Agreement is that Pelosi has made a deal with Chavez to attempt to weaken Columbian President Uribe. It’s no secret, since a suitcase full of money and computer files revealed that Chavez is bankrolling and providing strategic intelligence to FARC.

Should all this be suprising? No. The anti-war left did it to Cambodia, stiffing our Cambodian allies after we pulled out of Vietnam, at a cost of about 1.7 million deaths at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. They are seeking to do the same in Iraq when we know Iran is actively seeking to destabilize the Iraqi government. What consequence is Columbia against sad examples of this magnitude?

Not supporting Columbia, especially when President Uribe has compromised so much at the request of the Democrats in the House, is as shameful an act as been seen in a decade.

Hillary, Servant of Blag'har

I’ve long been a staunch supporter of Barack Obama and while I still think he is the more qualified candidate I am today forced to endorse his opponent, the Mother of Lies, Hillary Clinton. After unsuccessfully running her campaign on a string of lies, yesterday Hillary Clinton showed her true face and purpose to the American Public™. Donning a robe of pure and utter darkness, she stood before the people of Pennsylvania on a cyclopean pedestal of untold horrors and said: “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”, those dark words of unspeakable power and fear.

Now I have long suspected Hillary was a vile servant of Blag’har, Cthulu, or some other elder god, what with her drinking the blood of the innocent, desecrating churches and temples, the way dogs and other animals shrink from her presence, and her tendency to offer up human sacrifice. But today, barring her later citing sleep deprivation, or claims that she has been misspeaking for months now, we have ample evidence that indeed Hillary is attempting to awaken the evil spawn which has been dead for eons to cleanse the Earth of mankind.

In her senate seat in Washington dead Clinton lies dreaming, dreaming of the day she will summon the ceaseless horrors that lurk behind life in time and space and unleash these blasphemous beings from their prisons behind elder stars to wreak havoc on our lives. She yearns to see the seas run red with the blood of our race, and to hear the howling of our suffering in the air as if it were the very wind. She waits with anxious joy for the gates of Yogsothoth to be flung open so that the unspeakable horrors beyond can devour all who stand in her path.

The question many of you are likely asking now is, “If Hillary will bring the world to its knees with madness, terror and death, why would you endorse her?” The answer is simple, yet unintuitive. Voting for Obama will lead to a reasoned presidency in which Republicans and Democrats finally bury hatchets and begin working for the good of the American people rather than their own personal bank accounts, it is true, but what if you vote for Obama and Hillary wins anyway? Woe be unto us who anger the wrath of the High Priestess of Pain, Suffering, and Lies! While all of the Earth will tremble and die in the path of her unholy quest, you can be sure those who oppose her will be killed last after she wracks our beings with suffering so great that we will fill the air with our pleas for death. If instead we vote for Hillary, perhaps she will be merciful and slay us before we have to witness the Earth descend into Chaos and Madness!

So Vote Hillary! It may usher forth the final era of suffering for this world, but at least your death may be swift!

-Angry Midwesterner


The New York Times brings up a set of very interesting questions about Barak Obama with their article Obama’s Test: Can a Liberal be a Unifier? Here at the 12 Angry Men Blog, we’re always interested in providing more analysis than you get on the news. Today, three of the twelve offer their perspective.

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Angry Immigrant

“I’m interested in solving problems as opposed to imposing doctrine,” he said. “I see a lot of convergence of interests among people who in traditional terms are considered to be divided politically.

Well, yes, but those people are divided politically between the left “The government should regulate core industries for public health and safety concerns” and the far left “anyone trying to make a profit is evil, and we should become Sweden”. He’s even having a hard time uniting those people.

But, on the flip side, a junior Senator who actually tries to build bridges and unite a massive center coalition will get zero support from his own national committee, which is largely partisan. It’s possible that he knows he has to bow, scrape, and be generally subservient to his party handlers until after the convention. After Hillary actually steps down, Obama could suddenly actually become the centrist uniter he keeps insisting that he really is, since he won’t have to appease the foaming-at-the-mouth crazies on both sides of him anymore. He could really mean what he says, but be constrained to being fanatically Democrat his whole career up to the point that he’s the presidential nominee. It’s conceivable. I don’t really believe it, but I’m exploring possibilities. If Hillary would just sit down and shut up, he could actually start working. Or he could self-destruct in a fall not seen since Icarus once the Democratic party gets to look at his ideas long enough for some small child to point out that the Emperor is naked…

McCain, being the senior senator who never really thought he’d get a shot at the big boy chair, already switched over to “curmudgeon” mode to do whatever he felt like doing at the moment without real fear of recriminations from his party. He’s done some real uniting across the aisle, but that’s more of a coincidence of convenience, rather than an overarching theme to his career. He’s already moving left to grab the center, and generally leaving the camo-wearing nutjobs and the pinko-commie socialists to fill the blogosphere with their empty whining.

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Angry Overeducated Catholic

When Obama speaks of uniting, he’s been pretty clear that he doesn’t mean some sort of mushy middle ground where we, and he, give up our dearly held principles. Rather, he means that in the midst of partisan fights, he’s also willing to move ahead on those issues where there’s shared ground. Or, at least that’s my read on him. To me, that’s actually pretty refreshing. I don’t expect, or even want, liberals to just give up their wacky, unworkable ideas. ;) But, as we work hard to ensure that those insane ramblings never become law, I do want us to be on good speaking terms and get work done in those areas where we actually agree.

A commitment to work with your political opponents on issues where you agree doesn’t sound like much, until you look at how much political “debate” is shrill name-calling on both sides (“Bush lied,” “They’re not anti-war, they’re just on the other side,” etc.). If Obama is really willing to sit down and rationally talk with those whose policies he abhors and look for common ground, I’m behind him 100%. In this light I think the knee-jerk reaction to his desire to “talk with Iran” was silly. I can understand worrying about his Carter-like naivite but viewing any call for discussion as treason seems foolish. It just illustrates the current problem, and the thing that makes Obama so attractive to many people.

In short, he just drips common sense and reasonableness, at least on the issue of dialog. For me there’s no contradiction between Obama being a hardcore, dyed-in-the-wool liberal and promising to support honest and respectful dialog. Actually being able to pull off the promise is a different matter, but that may not be his fault. It takes two to dialog, but only one to shrilly accuse, after all. Anyone attacking Obama on his liberalism might be on dangerous ground, though. If Obama can stay calm and reasonable, and find a few Republicans to announce that they disagree with his politics but admire his bipartisan efforts, any attacks could come across as just more tiresome partisan sniping. No, as I see it, if Obama stumbles it won’t be on this issue, it will because certain past associates, etc. make us wonder if he really cares all that much about dialog in any form (*ahem* Pastor Jeremiah “Down With Whitey” Wright).

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Angry New Mexican

As John McCain has learned time and time again in his campaign, pretending to be someone you’re not (in his case, pretending to be a social conservative) will cost you dearly as human beings are generally pretty good at spotting phonies. McCain’s gotten off easy — he hasn’t been subject to a full-out assault from the likes of George Soros yet, so the price he paid was watching his campaign disintegrate last summer. Barak Obama has yet to learn that lesson, and I guarantee you it will come back to haunt him come the general election. He’s painted himself into a corner with rhetoric incompatible with his record. As Danny Diaz, a RNC mouthpiece noted, “When you’re rated by [the] National Journal as to the left of Ted Kennedy and Bernie Sanders, that’s going to be difficult to explain.” Mr. Diaz, I believe has hit the nail square on the head… and the Republican attack machine will be working overtime this fall to get that message across. I can see it now…

Cue the ominous music and cut to a middle-aged, lower-middle class white woman with a child. “I want straight talk from the next president. Don’t claim you’ll do something when you’ve been something different your entire career,” she says angrily.

Cut to a still of Barak Obama: “We need a leader who can finally move beyond the divisive politics of Washington.”

Cut to a middle-class white man: “Run on your record. Talk is cheap.”

Cut to a photo montage of Obama meeting with liberal icons. Cut to ominous voice: “And what is Senator Obama’s record? In 2006 he was the 10th most liberal member of the Senate. In 2007 he was the most liberal.” (The ad can go on for an additional 5 seconds or so touting Obama’s liberal record).

Cut to man and woman above: “He’s a died-in-the-wool liberal.” Ominous voice echos: “Obama. Liberal.”

Cut back to voice (now much nicer) as a video clip of McCain fades in: “Who is the candidate who has an actual record of working with both Democrats and Republicans to achive real change in Washington? John McCain. Check the record. It’s in black and white.”

Cut to Senator McCain: “I’m John McCain and I approve of this message.”

Despite the insane and mathematically challenged ramblings of some of my colleagues, Hillary Clinton is still losing, and badly. The end result of her marginal victories in Ohio, Texas, and some County which likes to think it is a state, on March 4th was a mere +6 net gain of delegates. Given that Obama was leading at the time by over 100 delegates, you’ll excuse me if I don’t see Hillary as a serious challenge to Obama’s lead. Add to that the fact that Obama won a +7 net gain of delegates in Wyoming and Mississippi, which not only erased her progress, but pushed her further under, and it is pretty clear that Hillary is getting into deeper and deeper delegate trouble.

Given Hillary’s continued failure to achieve any measure of real success in this primary, one cannot help but notice the extreme arrogance of her suggestion that Obama become her VP. Excuse me Hillary, but you are losing. You don’t get to offer the current front runner second place. Maybe expecting an ex-Republican state swapping hussy like Hillary to have some class is a bit too much to ask, but this kind of audacity manages to dive under even my low opinion of Hillary. It’s no wonder that black voters are turning from her in droves. She is basically asking Obama to move to the back of the Democratic bus.

This latest arrogant misstatement by Hillary just serves to further emphasize the fact that if the Democrats want a snowball’s chance in hell to win the 2008 election, they will need to give Obama the nomination. Hillary has shown us that she cares nothing for the will of the people, the democratic process, or even common decency. Top this off with the fact that she is despised and hated by a large portion of the body of Democratic voters, while McCain is actually pretty well liked by the same voters, and a Hillary vs. McCain match-up is a clear recipe for a Republican victory.

You’ve seen them around, you know, the greener-than-thou yuppies-cum-hippies who own their shiny new $25,000 hybrid automobile and insist on castigating everyone about how they should be more green — you know, by buying a hybrid like they did. Nevermind the cost arguments — $25k is too much to spend on a car that doesn’t carry little Johnny’s soccer team and can’t go from 0-60 in 4.2 seconds (like Tata Motor’s Electric Car, say)— it’s all about the planet man. Didn’t you see Al Gore’s movie?

Now, I’m all for making the planet a better place for the grand-kids to live in, but thinking that your hybrid is going to do that means that you’ve succumbed to Toyota’s marketing machine. You know, Prius == Green (not Prius == Lunchbox as Jeff Dunham might have you believe. In a sense, that’s right… Toyota is getting lots of your green for that Prius. The planet, on the other hand, might not be feeling as good. There are a few serious problems with hybrid automobiles — first, the environmental impact of the batteries, second, that they have batteries at all and third that the better gas mileage advertised for hybrid was largely an illusion. I’ll deal with each of these points in turn.

First off, making batteries, especially the quantity of batteries needed for your average hybrid, is an environmentally nasty process. Mining the lead or nickel needed to make the current generation of batteries creates an environmental mess worthy of
Black Diamonds, not to mention all the copper for the added wiring or that creating batteries is a very energy intensive process that involves taking a ton of electricity from the grid (yay for coal). And the newer batteries are even worse — the old lead ones are merely an environmental disaster, the NiCAD’s and Lithiums have the added danger of being highly chemically reactive. Yum! Overall, this is a negative environmental impact that good old non-hybrid just doesn’t have. Score one for gasoline.

Second, adding an additional drive mechanism (aka the electric motor, batteries and the like) adds additional weight. Automobile manufacturers (from my quick googling) don’t seem to like listing curb weights for the hybrids because of the fact that they’re much heavier than a comparable single-fuel car (howstuffworks.com explains this quite well). The best estimates I’ve seen are somewhere in the realm of 10-30% weight increase if nothing else is done to drop the weight of the car. While regenerative breaking will mask this in city driving, on highway driving where your electric motor is just dead weight, you’ll see your hybrid doing worse than a single-fuel car on the same chassis. Another often missed point is the comparison of energy density. Gasoline is 45 MJ/kg, while the lead acid battery is somewhere in the range of 90-162 KJ/kg. Just moving around the “fuel” takes substantially more energy for a hybrid than for a good old gas guzzler. Score another one for gasoline.

Finally, the initially advertised ultra-awesome gas mileage for hybrids is largely an illusion. This is due to an artifact in how the EPA mileage tests were conducted and this artifact favored hybrids immensely. The EPA has since revised their numbers turning your 2007 Prius from 60/51 to a 48/45. That would be a 20% decrease in estimated city gas mileage (which is still higher than what you actually get in practice. Wired has a nice bit on this phenomenon, noting that Consumer Reports was routinely getting less than 60% of the EPA numbers on their real-life road testing.

But 48/45 on that ’07 Prius is still green-good, right? Yeah, it beats the heck out of the mammoth SUV, but still pales in comparison with the real-world 72 MPG you’ll get out of an ’05 Kawasaki Ninja EX250R. Behold the power of the crotch rocket! You see, the big difference between the Prius and a standard gasoline car is not so much the battery, but the shape and engineering. If we ripped out the hybrid stuff from a Prius it would still get better gas mileage than most normal cars — because the car is engineered to be light weight (to make up for the secondary drive system) and aerodynamic. Hence why the Ninja eats any automobile for lunch when it comes to gas mileage.

As our longtime reader, the Angry Diesel Engineer will attest, this gives you a much better bang for the buck than the fancy schmancy electric drive. Why this is not obvious to consumers is largely due to Toyota’s impressively successful marketing machine and their alliance with yuppy pseudo-greens (who believe that you can save the planet with no effort beyond writing a check). I mean, we’ve always known that driving smaller (lighter) cars gives better gas mileage. Even in the hybrid era, this is still true — a shiny gasoline-only ’07 Corolla does better on the highway (and not so much worse in the city) than the larger (and much heavier) ’08 Camry Hybrid even with all that extra hybrid engineering. So instead of banging their heads to make better batteries, perhaps the car industry could take some of that advanced engineering, currently the province of the Prius and put it to use on old-fashioned gasoline cars… a 40 MPG (highway) Corolla would be really nice… and with an MSRP starting around $15k or so for the ’09 it’ll be a lot less expensive too.

Special thanks to Angry Political Optimist and loyal reader Angry Diesel Engineer for some really good suggestions for this article..

It turns out that Mark Penn was right after all… Ohio and Texas could and did stop the abomination Obamanation. With a solid 10 point victory in Ohio, this perennial swing state made it quite clear who they wanted to be the next president — and she occasionally wears pantsuits. According to CNN at least, the only demographic Obama could say he captured in Ohio was non-Christians. Every other demographic either went for Hillary or was evenly split (note: CNN didn’t have age breakdown data, so I can’t comment on whether Obama got the 18-29 vote or not).

Tejas was a more complicated case, but my muchachas y muchachos delivered solidly for Hillary, leaving Obama with his two core constituencies — blacks and young, rich, white liberals. Looking at the district-by-district map is even more interesting — Obama takes the major urban areas where blacks and young, rich, white liberals live (aka districts the Democrats win anyway), but the rest of the state (aka the “red” parts”) went solidly for Hillary. Could she take Texas in the general election? Maybe not, but she certainly has a better shot than Obama does against Sen(i)or McCain.

Vermont and Rhode Island split ways, with the uber-liberal paradise that brought you these hippies, falling solidly for the liberal candidate (hint: has a wang), with the more moderate New England state (you know, the one that doesn’t put a socialist in the Senate) going solidly for the more moderate candidate (hint: has bigger balls).

One thing that worked in Hillary’s favor is her ability to kick Mr. High-Falutin’ Law Professor’s ass in debates. In all of the March 4th states besides Vermont, the folks who thought the debates were important all went for Mrs. Pantsuit instead of Mr. My-Wife-Never-Liked-America-Until-Now. The fact that she and Mr. Penn finally found attack ads that could stick to Obama certainly helped, not to mention the Chicago journalist field day on Barak (It’s Obama season… call Dick Cheney!). The latter leaves me with today’s Moment of Zen:

Obama: “Guys, I mean come on. I just answered like eight questions.”

To which I can only say: All hat and no cattle.

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