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April 29, 2008

Energy breakpoint - new hybrid vs old car

I've been wondering when the break-even point arrives for a more efficient car when you also count the cost of manufacturing and delivering the car (since for an old car, that is already a sunk cost).  Here's the answer.

Re: A Tree in Trade?:

Now let's compare the Prius with an older car. The Prius is rated to get 46 miles per gallon. Let's say your old car gets half as much, or 23 miles per gallon. The average car is now driven about 12,500 miles a year--sad but true, or truly sad. So if you bought a Prius instead of keeping your old car, over that 12,500-mile year you'd save 272 gallons of gas. Since burning a gallon of gas generates 19.5 pounds of carbon dioxide, the Prius would emit 5,300 pounds less CO2 per year than the old car. But because it requires the energy equivalent of about 1,000 gallons of gas to manufacture a Prius--which results in 19,400 pounds of carbon emissions--it would take four years before the Prius started to save that net amount of 5,300 pounds of CO2.

[Now he addresses an earlier question about planting a tree a year instead of getting a hybrid...]  In ten years you would have planted ten trees, which together would only absorb about 1,320 pounds of carbon, way less than the almost 32,000 pounds the Prius would've kept out of the air in that period. In the real world, as opposed to the imaginary enchanted forest of Prius haters, it would take 30 or 40 years for the trees to match the Prius's savings on CO2, assuming they all survive--which just might be too long to wait. Seems like we should be buying hybrids and planting trees or, better yet, not driving and planting trees.

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Gas tax follies - Paul Krugman

The McCain/Clinton summer gas tax cut always seemed like a bad solution to me -- the tax is a small percentage of the price paid and it would cut $10B from transportation projects, which badly needs more new investment not less ... and would do nothing for global warming to boot.

Gas tax follies - Paul Krugman - Op-Ed Columnist - New York Times Blog:

Why doesn’t cutting the gas tax this summer make sense? It’s Econ 101 tax incidence theory: if the supply of a good is more or less unresponsive to the price, the price to consumers will always rise until the quantity demanded falls to match the quantity supplied. Cut taxes, and all that happens is that the pretax price rises by the same amount. The McCain gas tax plan is a giveaway to oil companies, disguised as a gift to consumers.

Is the supply of gasoline really fixed? For this coming summer, it is. Refineries normally run flat out in the summer, the season of peak driving. Any elasticity in the supply comes earlier in the year, when refiners decide how much to put in inventories. The McCain/Clinton gas tax proposal comes too late for that. So it’s Econ 101: the tax cut really goes to the oil companies.

The Clinton twist is that she proposes paying for the revenue loss with an excess profits tax on oil companies. In one pocket, out the other. So it’s pointless, not evil. But it is pointless, and disappointing.

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April 17, 2008

McCain Proposes Break in Gas Taxes - Politics on The Huffington Post

Goofy.  Cut gas taxes, which are trivial portion of the cost of gas, which will cut $6-8 billion in road improvements from the budget, so we can drive just as much on worse roads.

McCain Proposes Break in Gas Taxes -  Politics on  The Huffington Post:

John McCain called Tuesday for the federal government to free people from paying gasoline taxes this summer

The [Annotated] Climate Speech Dot Earth

“Excerpts” from Bush's climate speech (too little, too late):

The [Annotated] Climate Speech Dot Earth - Climate Change and Sustainability - New York Times Blog:

- “That’s why I’m calling on the Congress to fully fund my Administration’s Future Gen program to build clean coal power plants that will reduce our competitivity with foreign sources of oil and increase our commitment to carbon emissions.”

- “Congress needs to fully permit and fund the development of our oil reserves on the outer continental shelf. These reserves can be developed with clean, cutting edge technologies with no environmental damage, because nobody lives in the ocean.”

- “We have got to develop carbon capture and rendition technologies so we can keep the carbon locked up before it attacks America again.”

- “My administration believes in the promise of solar, I believe in the sun. In fact, top scientists with the Department of Energy have evidence that the sun comes up every single day, rain or shine. We need to study this and, if confirmed, Congress should set aside significant funding to confirm these studies.”

- “Finally, America can not achieve its energy and climate goals without learning how to pronounce the word ‘nukular.’ Tonight, I am announcing a new initiative through the U.S. Department of Education to train America’s children in the appropriate spelling and diction of nukular technologies. I am committing $14 trillion dollars to this program, which is about what it would cost to build two or three nukular power plants by the year 2075 – enough to dramatically reduce our discussion of carbon dioxide emission reductions while accelerating the deployment of kerosene lanterns, candles and dung fires. Together, we can take America back to the future, which, with my commitment, looks a lot like the past we all miss so dearly. Thank you and God Bless.”

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April 08, 2008

Clip: A Different Kind of Election

Re: A Different Kind of Election:

Senator Clinton’s supporters are hoping for a miracle, hoping she can win big in Pennsylvania, run the table after that, and somehow seize a nomination that looks more and more like it is going to Mr. Obama. If that doesn’t happen, an awful lot of white working-class voters across the country will be faced with a stark choice: voting for a Democrat who happens to be black, or voting to continue policies that most no longer believe are in their best economic interests.

I had no trouble finding opposition to Mr. Obama’s candidacy. But the most intense hostility, the most passionate, spontaneous, bitter and at times venomous comments were reserved for George W. Bush. And in conversation after conversation, you could see the fallout from that hostility descending on the candidacy of John McCain.

Clip: Molehill Politics

This is a really great article about the style, substance and approach differences between Obama and Clinton.  Here are some excerpts:

Clip: Molehill Politics:

In Wisconsin, in some frustration—as Clinton was calling him “a talker, not a doer”—Obama said:

Everybody has got a ten-point plan on everything. You go to Senator Clinton's Web site, my Web site, they look identical.... The problem is not the lack of proposals. The question is, who can bring Democrats, independents, and Republicans into a working majority to bring about change. That's what we're doing in this campaign. This is what a working majority looks like. That's how we're going to move the country forward. That's what I offer that she can't do.
Obama has a big idea: he believes that in order to change Washington and to get some of those ten-point programs through, and to reduce the power of the lobbies and “special interests,” he must first build a large coalition—Democrats, independents, Republicans, whoever—to support him in his effort to change things. He has figured out that he cannot make the kinds of changes he's talking about if he has to fight for 51–49 majorities in Congress. Therefore, he's trying to build a broader coalition, and enlist the people who have come out to see him and are getting involved in politics for the first time because of him. If he can hold that force together, members of Congress, including the “old bulls,” according to a campaign aide, “will look back home and see that there is a mandate for change.” Thus, Obama talks about working “from the bottom up” to bring about change. When he says he will take on the special interests and the lobbies, to him it's not as far-fetched as most jaded Washingtonians think: he intends to do that with the army he's building.

April 07, 2008

Strong Obama gains in upcoming primaries

A few weeks ago, Obama was down by 20 points in Pennsylvania, but some polls now show a dead heat.  Even if that is an outlier, the trend is clearly a narrowing from double digits to a few points.

In addition, his lead increases in North Carolina by 3X to 23%.  Again, even if that is a bit of an outlier, the trend is to keep widening his lead.

But the proof of the danger of Clinton continuing is that, in NC, 55% of Clinton supporters would not vote for Obama against  McCain, showing some combination off:

  • what sore losers her supporters are or
  • that almost half are actually McCain supporters who might not vote for Clinton in the general either or
  • that their Democratic values are weaker than some other factor.

None of those are good answers for Clinton's support in the general either.

ARG Poll: Deadlocked in Pennsylvania
A new American Research Group survey in Pennsylvania finds the Democratic presidential race tied with Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama each getting 45%.

Rasmussen: Obama Pulls Away in North Carolina -- Political Wire:

The latest Rasmussen Reports survey in North Carolina finds Sen. Barack Obama has opened up a 23 point lead over Sen. Hillary Clinton, 56% to 33%.

A month ago, Obama's lead was just 7 points.

Key finding: “Perhaps the only disturbing news for Obama in the survey is that most Clinton voters (56%) say they are not likely to vote for the Illinois Senator in the general election against John McCain. A month ago, 45% of Clinton voters said they were not likely to vote for Obama against McCain.”

April 03, 2008

No exceptions to the rule of law: Investigate Bush’s lawlessness

The constitution, the law and the UN convention against torture provide for no exceptions, no special circumstances in which it is OK to torture.  Government sanctioned torture is a crime and a war crime that legal fictions can't disguise or provide legal immunity.

The already public evidence is too large to not investigate the charges.

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April 02, 2008

Re: The Green Light: Politics & Power

A devastating look into the disturbing torture and war crimes of the Bush administration, well worth a read.  Towards the end, the author provides some glimmer of hope for prosecution, even if outside the US for those that created and enabled torture as a matter of policy by America.

The Green Light: Politics & Power: vanityfair.com:

“Military necessity can sometimes allow … warfare to be conducted in ways that might infringe on the otherwise applicable articles of the Convention.” [said William J. (Jim) Haynes II, the general counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, at a press conference with Alberto Gonzales] Haynes provided no legal authority for that proposition, and none exists. The minimum rights of detainees guaranteed by Geneva and the torture convention can never be overridden by claims of security or other military necessity. That is their whole purpose.

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