Wednesday, May 21, 2008


There is a very good chance that motor fuel prices will continue to increase if a Democrat is elected president. There is also a very good chance that prices will rise if a Republican is elected. The key is that Democrats will still be in control of congressional agendas and a key feature of that agenda is to block any further oil exploration in U.S. territory--period. Block it for any reason. Block it if gas goes to ten bucks a gallon. Block it no matter how badly their constituents may be suffering. Block it under any and all circumstances, even the most economically dire imaginable. Block it because it doesn't advance the cause of renewable fuels. Block it because new discoveries won't come on line for years therefore will not help the current situation. Block block blockity block.

The liberal/leftist/progressive resistance to further hole-punching in Mother Gaia is adamantine---carved in stone everlasting. The only way this green grip on our throats will be broken is if the Dems. suffer a complete political donnybrook and decisively lose control of the Congress and Senate which seems unlikely this election cyle although if Dem. obstructionism persists in the face of 5, 6, 7 dollar or higher fuel prices then I would not be surprised at a thorough housecleaning in 2010.

For now of course the Dems are in the obligatory throes of blaming oil company execs. Oil company profits have increased a percent or so in the last year. If the oil companies decided for some insane reason to stiff their stockholders (most of us nowadays) and cut prices enough to eliminate that 1 percent difference the numbers on the pumps would fall about 5-10 cents a gallon, at most. Boy I know it would make me sing hosannas of joy to see prices drop from $3.79 to $3.69. I could finally buy that Lambo I've had my eye on by gollykins.

The Dems won't back down willingly because in their lunge away from the center they have thrown in their lot with the environmental left who appear to want mankind in general and the evil U.S. in particular to use less motor fuel, electricity, plastics, chemicals, etc. etc. In short they want less use of anything, anything at all, that has even the remotest prospect of injecting another single molecule of CO2 into the environment. Climate change is the religion, CO2 is the Devil, oil companies are the demons attending that Devil, and anyone wanting to live a reasonably comfortable American lifestyle is a member in good standing of the Legion of the Damned.

To want to drill in ANWR, or the continental shelf, or anywhere at all is to challenge the dogma of the new religion and its apostolic intolerance can give those boyos waiting for the return of the 12th Imam a run for their money. Don't believe me? Imagine a Saudi-sized oil discovery off the west coast 20 miles from San Francisco. Do you doubt there'd be thousands of screaming purple-faced demonstrators ready to fling their bodies underneath, well, whatever is handy to avoid the apocalyptic horror of the sight of a drilling rig in the far foggy distance?

These obstructionist tactics are a slam-dunk to continue unhindered if the big O. ends up sitting in the oval office and only slightly less likely if the current RINO nominee ends up there. So enjoy the 4 bucks a gallon while you can. After a couple years of Democratic "energy policy" that price is likely to be looked on with a wistful nostalgia.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Immiment Layoffs

Obama has just informed the punditocracy to lay off his wife. What a curious, if husbandly protective, injunction. Mrs. O. has been continuously on the stump for the Chicago Kid and has opined hither thither yon and at length on a variety of topics so to expect the chattering classes to give her a complete critical pass is arrant nonsense. To use the old lady as an agent provocateur and then to sniff in high dudgeon when she is criticized is a peculiar sort of arrogance. Perhaps it is of a piece with the arrogance displayed by Barry's recent statement that "We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK,".

This is the arrogance of creeping internationalism wherein not merely policy but our actual domestic behavior must pass muster with "other countries" which can only be code for the UN in general and the Continental powers in particular. Oh no I hear you cry he must mean other countries that our policies harm such as, well, let me see, er, uh, hmmm, well none come to mind at present but there must be some must'n there? It is beyond laughable that we should even in an extremity desire to have our domestic policies and such intensely private matters as our eating habits vetted by sundry European bastions of tattered and decaying Realpolitik. It smacks less of leading by example and more of deferring to our supposed Continental betters. Mark Steyn recently opined that the reason Hamas is endorsing Obama is that he is their best hope of getting a feckless European style minister installed in the White House who will perforce bend over backward to excuse virtually any third-world mendacity and minimize any resulting negative western reaction.

More and more it appears that the Toddlin' Townsman has drunk the Kool-Aid of the leftist academy and is willing to obsequiously defer to Internationalism and sneer at American Exceptionalism. He is routinely derisive about what he labels Cowboy Diplomacy but his philosophical alternative seems to be the coyboy's objective---the cattle herd. Perhaps that's why he continues to, as it were, step in it.

Anyone who dares twit the dragon's tail of politics and cannot stand having their words and intentions parsed mercilessly should look into a less stressful line of work such as, oh I don't know, mine clearing maybe?.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Divided We Stand

In some quarters to accuse someone of being "divisive" is meant to be a searing criticism of an individual's lack of willingness to "solve" problems by cooperation. The peaknuckle of princely forebearance and benign comity currently is alleged to be Mr. Obama who is expressly running a campaign whose conerstone supposedly is the candidate's desire and ability to "bring us together" and end the toxic political diviseness devouring the country.

It cannot be overstated how vast a load of rhetorical horse manure this appears to anyone with a political maturity greater than Britney Spears or Jimmy Carter--a low bar to be sure. It is akin to stating that we should all inhale moonbeams that we might then flatulate rainbows. The whole anti-divisiveness thrust of the Obama campaign is at once so gormlessly puerile and shrewdly calculating that his employment of it amounts to political child abuse--a substantiatable charge considering how many gullible young folk have flocked to his banner.

That j'accuse aside even those a tad less teeny-bop in their political sensibilities give currency to the trope that "partisanship" is always and at all times ipso facto and presto-chango a BAD THING. In this formulation partisanship is accused of being the sand in the gears of "change for the better". Its very name implies loyalty to party and in the syntax du jour this means a kind of greasily unsavory obeisance which hinders crucial legislative responses to the needs and vicissitudes of the crisis of---well there's always a crisis isn't there? These days being labeled a child abuser is very nearly preferable to being labeled a partisan or a divisive influence. Tellingly this invective currrent flows primarily from Dem. to Rep. through the diode of progressive sanctimony.

Let us all stand now in praise of partisanship. Not that it deserves cheering for its own shady sake but rather for its results. And salutary they are. Partisanship can slow down the legislative process to a crawl or even in its exquisite fullness derail it altogether. I thrill to think how much crap-awful legislation has been abandoned because party loyalty demanded it. I also despair to think of it because of how much consensual meddling is represented by the millions of pages of federal law that have NOT been prevented by partisan maneuvering.

Partisanship is the only real bulwark against one party steamrolling over the other and committing feckless follies in the heat of the moment. The ethanol mandate and the 55mph speed limit are just two of so very many ill-conceived laws passed by leges desperately wanting to appear to be doing something about something-anything.

The days of the broad stroke are over--the cultural heavy lifting done. More and more legislation is passed in the service of ever more elusive and marginal goals. Progressives viciously dispute this of course and remain in headlong, and ever more asymptotic, pursuit of the legislative "remedy". Conservatives who are chary of the need for a remedy for every conceivable lament of the human condition are seen as divisive, among other nasty characterizations. This has now officially become code for "not voting like us". Almost always these days the "us" is/are progressives who have the tendency to see themselves as elegaic bringers of tolerant light to the benighted masses of prejudiced rubery and to paint their political antipodes as the brutish jack-booted enforcers of racism and sexual oppression. Think this is rhetorical overkill? Read any "progressive" blog and then argue that.

Beware, beware, Oh Lord Beware of across-the-aisle agreement. A "remedy" approved by two whole buildings full of congress critters would make me want to hide under the bed quivering in apprehension. That many self-serving indiduals agreeing on a similar something must surely be the fear that FDR stated was all we have to fear. My hope is that if the Dems take the White House this year that the Reps have the cojones to be "divisive" enough to control the inevitable headlong rush of Dem. legislative hubris. Perhaps it's the best result possible in a period where the public appears to be in a mood to cut off its nose to spite the Bush presidency. Continued divisiveness is about as close to "The Audacity of Hope" as I can muster presently.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Bad Bet

Here at the luxurious environs of Radical Center Headquarters, known around the cooler and to a few good old boys as RCH, we've been contemplating an office pool. The pooled funds will go to the worthy who accurately guesses the number of months after a putative Obama inauguration that the U.S. suffers a major terrorist attack. My personal pick is eighteen. I figure about a year for an Obama administration in cooperation with a Democratic congress to dismantle large parts of our post 9/11 intelligence apparatus, empty out Gitmo's potential recidivists (100%), and chat up sundry jihadi thugs/heads of state--all in pursuit of confidence building measures--for the terrorists that is. Add a short six months for attack planning, quicker Saudi funding due to fewer financial impediments, and much easier border penetration than last time. Call it kerblooey in late summer of 2010. My sincerest apologies if you think that's a wildly pessimistic view of things. If an attack occurs I personally will be as angered and appalled as anyone and utterly, utterly unsurprised. Lest you think I am an unregenerate beast if the worst does not happen I will be glad of heart and very happily surprised.

Oh Son of Jamin Hear Me!

Our core mission here is to critique and expose sundry manifest idiocies of both the left and the right. Recently the left has seemed so intent on cornering the market and attention payed thereto perhaps excessively so in fairness to recent left-jabs a right-cross seems in order. A gentleman of whom I have had a fairly favorable opinion of for years is Ben Stein. From my first notice of him as the hyper-deadpan teacher on The Wonder Years to recent years as reliable conservative gadfly I have enjoyed most of his perorations in service of conventional wisdom skewering. But now Ben appears to have taken a swan dive into the deep end with his promotion of a new movie, Expelled, which purportedly takes the educational establishent to task for freezing out discussion of Intelligent Design in the classroom. Some consternation has occured in more respectable conservative environs. John Derbyshire, one of my favorite people, has taken Ben to considerable task on the issue and goes as far as to accuse him of betraying Western Civilization. Bit overheated that but understandable from a mathematician.

Ben Ben Ben, do you not realized what a pack of boobs, rubes, ignoramuses, and moutebanks with whom one must consort by buying into the whole creationism thing? And do NOT attempt to persuade that Intelligent Design is in any significant way different from straight-up creationism. Even the dullest banana in the bunch knows that a putative deity can be the only possible "intelligence" referred to in I.D. So you were thinking maybe the Tooth Fairy? Ben Ben Ben, in the vanishingly unlikely event conventional natural selection were proven wrong in virtually every detail there is not the remotest logical necessity to supplant it with the farrago of nincompoopery that is I.D./creationism. Ben Ben Ben, the exquisite logical construct that is natural selection is not true merely to itself but its precepts enable and make possible virtually all of modern medical and genetic science. Things such as Population Genetics studies and endless scientific questions involving the heritability of traits would simply not be approachable without the framework and guidance of the fine points of natural selection. Ben Ben Ben the flak you have been getting is far more than the high-dudgeon of a petulant neurotic educational establishment. This nonsense really does threaten rationality. In matters cultural that establishment is hardly without sin but this time I fear I have to side with them. Wish I didn't have to but I do. Tell you what Benjamin, I'll spot you all the Christmas pageants and prayerful invocations you'd like in the schoolhouse if you'll just gather your recently soiled hem and slink away leaving the sciences unsullied.

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Mighty Wind?

Relentlessly, ruthlessly (I wonder where Ruth is?) wind power advocates continue to tout the multitudinous fabulosities of the process of littering the skylines of this auld sod with vast fleets of massive wind turbines. Wind power we are repeatedly, and unctously, informed has diddly for a carbon footprint and deserves a rightful place of pride in the battleranks of our unstoppable advance toward the sunlit uplands of the green energy utopia.

Any fool can see that wind power is ever so free-deedly free--harmless zephyr harvesting that has fewer deleterious effects on the all-hallowed environment than anything, period. Any fool can see that if that fool looks no closer than the virginally white turbine blades spinning merrily away on the distant horizon.

If you live in the putative heartland then you may well have had the experience of seeing a trio of semis bustling along each laden with a single gigantic wind turbine blade. Think about that for just a second. It takes an entire semi-tractor trailer rig to haul just one of those Brobdignagian blades about. How much fuel is consumed in getting that blade from the factory to the installation site? Hundreds of gallons at least I'm sure. Multiply times three and we're likely looking at well over a thousand gallons to deliver the blades for a single turbine. And of course that doesn't include however many other loads needed for the 150ft. plus tall main support pylon and all the other equally outsized, heavy, and wildly expensive hardware necessary. Likely as many as ten or more trailers full will be needed--for a single turbine. Not only will this single turbine cost several million bucks to manufacture the installation will run several hundred grand, at least, with additional large sums needed to hook the turbine up to the grid. We might easily be looking at an investment of ten million dollars before a watt is ever generated.

"But wait!", I hear you cry, "after that it's all gravy with that lovely free wind flowing across the landscape now being put to good use." Well it is gravy--if you don't count hefty maintenance costs for the immense and complex mechanisms that make up the turbine which will likely be in the tens of thousands of dollars per year. As regards the impact on the landscape one can hardly ignore the required road building, the massive concrete base construction, the extensive high-tension line building, and the potential for producing a few hundred pounds of Partridge pate' per year. And let's not forget whatever visual and aural pollution the farmer or landowner next door will perforce be enduring. Those whirling white icons of greenie goodness look benign enough in the hazy shimmering distance but a mile away is another story with many reports of belly shuddering growling coming from multiple 300ft plus rotating masses. This is hardly suprising given how much energy is being dissipated--some of that will inevitably manifest as noise.

Total environmental impact must be considered in any electrical generating system and it does no one any favors to hide negative aspects. Even a single turbine installation will use many many tons, each, of aluminum, steel, fiberglass composites, heavy duty electronics, with additional numerous tons of concrete, steel, aluminum, and ceramics needed for transmission lines. Add to that total the thousands of gallons of motor fuel used in transportation/construction/maintenance and you end up with a project a very long way indeed from "low impact". And that sports fans is for a single turbine not a "farm" of a dozen or, saints presarve us, a hundred.

At present, after a decade of ever more frantic wind power developement, it is contributing approximately 1% of the nation's electrical power. To increase that percentage to something respectable, say 10%, will require millions of tons of aluminum, steel, composites, heavy power electronics along with fleets of trucks and construction equipment, armies of construction workers, thousands of miles of road and transmission line building, countless millions of gallons of diesel fuel, and lastly hundreds of billions of dollars. And all this to exploit a diffuse persnickety resource that can produce energy at about 20% of an installation's "rated" capacity, at best, for highly unpredictable amounts of time and of wildly varying grid convenience. How many millions of tons of the bugaboo of the age, carbon, will be released in the building and maintenance of all this "free" power? Remember the perennial stories of engines that will run on "free" water? Well my hunch is that if it ever happens the fuel will be free but the vehicles will cost 2 million clams each.

I see your lower lip quivering, "But but we need to DO something!" Oh grow up whydontcha. Stop being such a techno-pussy. Do some research. Stop automatically swallowing the straight progressive media line that any "alternative" energy source is ipso-facto better than anything currently being used. Or don't but don't then complain about your ever escalating bill that applies to your ever less reliable electricity service. You want a free lunch then head over to the Salvation Army chow line and stop whining about why "free" power---isn't. There is NO method of producing electrical power that does not incur major costs. And I'm not just speaking of money--trivial as that concern often seems to greenies. I'm talking about good old fashioned environmental impact on the land and its resources. In fact when you carefully, or heck even casually, break down all the assorted costs of the "alternatives" it rapidly becomes clear that not only do they have trouble competing economically but they also have a tough time doing so in any relevant metric of environmental impact--carbon feetprints included.

What this boils down to is that in the near and middle futures our manifold green hysterias will have us spending umpty gazillion dollars on alternative energy sources that have the sole advantage of making us feel better about ourselves and will have the net effect of removing a few teaspoons of carbon, maybe, from the atmosphere. Oh heck I'm sure it's worth spending a few lousy trillion so that we can continue our religious crusade to save "The Planet" from Mr. Gore's predicted cesspit of drowned cities, worldwide crop failures, hurricane ravaged coasts and lordy knows what all else horrifications. I suggest that those so concerned contribute an additional ten percent of their incomes to the treasury towards this effort. Heck forget the governmental middleman just cut Al a check straight out. Can't afford to have his trusty Gulfstream run out of JP4 now can we?