Re: Style v. Substance

1

I, for one, will support our new shiny-faced overlords.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:15 PM
horizontal rule
2

I predict that by November McCain's ads will photoshop Willie Horton's face onto Obama's body.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:15 PM
horizontal rule
3

60 Minutes ran a segment on Reagan that showed the contrast between his actions and his photo-ops

Sounds like MAD Magazine:

I should add a third perspective. Being in junior high at the time, I recall seeing a Mad Magazine cartoon showing a Jeykll and Hyde-like Reagan, supporting the Solidarity union in Poland, but firing the PATCO strikers.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:15 PM
horizontal rule
4

The post I linked in 3, which I chose simply because it was the first relevant-seeming google result for "reagan mad magazine air traffic controllers", quotes (calling it an "oldie but goodie") a column in which it is averred that "Since 1981, labor in America has prospered because it is less protected".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:17 PM
horizontal rule
5

Oh, and: Maybe the claims of all the terrible things Obama is going to do if he gets elected

Forget the current claims of the things that Futurebama will do, what about, when he's actually elected, and does such things—will our eyes have stopped being induced to whirl by his pretty cute good looks then, or will we continue not to care?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:18 PM
horizontal rule
6

So, I have yet to watch a McCain ad with the sound on, and what's struck me is how much they look like Obama ads; "look at Obama, speaking to adoring crowds. Look at Obama, happy and beloved. Look at Obama, the kind of desirable rock star you would like to be!"

Is this really working on any level?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:19 PM
horizontal rule
7

6: No. And Obama's ads aren't going to work, either. Absent a major and unexpected event/catastrophe, we knew, months ago, how this election was going to play out. All the other stuff is just noise. Unless you leave the sound off, I guess.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:21 PM
horizontal rule
8

You know the McCain ad which people "speculate" is a "dog whistle" to the "eschatology-n-pork rinds" crowd? While I haven't been able to force myself to view it all the way through (the amateurish voiceovering is especially off-putting), I can't believe that anyone thought it was, you know, insightful to point out that Obama's figured therein as an antichrist figure. Could anything be more obvious? I'm not exactly immersed in the culture of those who think the end times are nigh, either.

Anyway, it's a really aggressively stupid ad.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:22 PM
horizontal rule
9

7: well, yeah. Historically, right, I was right there with Dukakis when he was up 18 points in August. Still, I see your point.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:23 PM
horizontal rule
10

Still, I see your point.

You do? That's reassuring. Would you send me an e-mail letting me know what it is.

Seriously, I'm not saying Obama can't lose. He can. And he might. Though I'm still willing to bet that he won't. It's just that the fundamentals really are so unfavorable for the Republicans that it's almost a joke.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:27 PM
horizontal rule
11

10 to 10, Ari you worrywart.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:28 PM
horizontal rule
12

8: And yet millions of people will look at you funny when you make that obvious observation. Just like they pretend the Paris/Britney ad isn't a race dog whistle now, but it will be taken as a given come next spring.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:29 PM
horizontal rule
13

I should add one more thing: it's too early to know anything from the polls. Only idiots like us are really paying attention at this point. Particularly because, after the primary, the general has been pretty boring so far. And people, even those who otherwise might be paying some attention, are fatigued. Everyone else is at the beach. After the conventions, then the polls will start to be more revealing. Which isn't to say that they're wrong now. Just that if they're right it's almost by accident.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:30 PM
horizontal rule
14

It's just that the fundamentals really are so unfavorable for the Republicans that it's almost a joke.

That is why I am all extra specially what when I read Rasmussen polls saying they're neck and neck, and that half of Americans think Obama was being a racist when he mentioned that he doesn't look like the presidents on the dollar bills.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:31 PM
horizontal rule
15

It's just that the fundamentals really are so unfavorable for the Republicans that it's almost a joke.

*Almost* a joke? A black man named Hussein that was a state legislator three and a half years ago is leading a media-beloved war hero in 48 of the last 50 polls taken, often with leads well outside the margin of error. If it weren't for the seven years of disastrous misrule, this would be hilarious.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:32 PM
horizontal rule
16

I see that I have been anticipated by Ari.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:33 PM
horizontal rule
17

I suspect this is because reminding us that he is a black man is meant to be scarier than showing him in grainy black and white.

Maybe that's true, though I've never had trouble figuring out who was black in black and white photos.

I worry a bit about Dems worrying the race issue. Obama seems to have handled it pretty well so far, and I think we can trust him to continue to do so.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:34 PM
horizontal rule
18

14 see 13. And also 9. Really, August polling is just nonsense. As for 15, I'm not sure when the last time was that someone suggested that I had undersold an argument. These are strange times, I tell you.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:34 PM
horizontal rule
19

Fundamentals be damned, the last couple of elections showed that nearly half the electorate is simply sold on the Republican brand in presidential politics. It's no surprise the polls are close.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:35 PM
horizontal rule
20

worrywart

It's actually "worrywort", and it's used widely in traditional Kentish medicine.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:35 PM
horizontal rule
21

Also: pdf23ds!


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:36 PM
horizontal rule
22

Maybe that's true, though I've never had trouble figuring out who was black in black and white photos.

Speak for yourself. My mom had a childhood crush on Harry Belafonte before she learned his Dark Secret.

20: I knew that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:38 PM
horizontal rule
23

often with leads well outside the margin of error

Not often, actually.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:40 PM
horizontal rule
24

Not often, actually.

?

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2008/president/us/general_election_mccain_vs_obama-225.html#polls


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 9:57 PM
horizontal rule
25

This graph is happy-making. Go look at it and be made happy, if only for a fleeting moment.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:00 PM
horizontal rule
26

The second: they can't find a truly unflattering shot of the guy. Even the "bad" photos of Obama, especially displayed in color, look pretty cute.

As I understand it, they are showing pictures of Obama looking goofy and overconfident, and contrasting them with pictures of McCain looking weary and hopeless. This being part of the plan to portray Obama as having unrealistic optimism in these bad times, while McCain can face reality and know that America has been totally screwed by do-nothing Washington politicians over the last 8 years.

This is one of the drawbacks of having a system in which we are told to vote for the person we like best instead of for a party. So far Obama has failed in making it clear that a McCain presidency means a continuation of 100% of Bush's policies.

People in the UK don't seem to have any problem believing that Gordon Brown = Tony Blair.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:03 PM
horizontal rule
27

Not to get all, "Didja see, Obama's gonna win!" but did y'all see the graph of likely election results? Ezra had it up. Someone (not the 538 guy) went state-by-state and ran the election 100* times, with McCain winning exactly once. Obama is leading or tied in all the battleground states, plus all the states that usually go slightly Red. So even at 49-44 nationally, he's crushing in the EC.

I do think that McCain's fundamental stiffness makes a surprise win almost impossible for him - he's painful to watch in a way that even W isn't. W is clueless, and comes off as a prick, but he's at least comfortable talking to people. Except on a talking heads show, McCain always looks like a nervous best man giving an ill-considered toast. The words are kind of stupid, but the utter failure to deliver them is toxic. It makes it really easy for Obama to come out ahead in these little tussles (eg, tire gauge), because he doesn't even have to try to bat them down.

* I think it was actually exactly 100 passes; regardless, Obama won 99% of the time


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:05 PM
horizontal rule
28

Oh fine, Stanley, pwn with a content-free link comment. Very impressive.

How he got to be a poster, I'll never know....


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:06 PM
horizontal rule
29

26 uses "drawbacks" in a way I don't quite understand. Is your argument that these ads are "working", somehow?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:06 PM
horizontal rule
30

Wow, in 24 really told off in 23!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:07 PM
horizontal rule
31

How he got to be a poster, I'll never know....

I'm not saying you should sleep with w-lfs-n, or that I did, but he makes a mean breakfast the day after, um, I've heard.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:08 PM
horizontal rule
32

29: I guess I shouldn't use the word "drawbacks" when describing negative aspects of something that has no positive aspects.

But sure, the ads are working on some people, who don't have the "ALERT! MCCAIN IS A REPUBLICAN! BUSH IS A REPUBLICAN! THIS MEANS THEY HAVE THE SAME POLICIES!" response which should be virtually an instinct.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:09 PM
horizontal rule
33

he makes a mean breakfast the day after, um, I've heard

I heard he likes to run out on the check.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:12 PM
horizontal rule
34

Is your argument that these ads are "working", somehow?

I shouldn't answer for Fatman, but there's circumstantial evidence that they blunted, if not reversed, Obama's post-trip momentum. He had a great trip, complete with the leader of Iraq effectively declaring him the one American who was correct about Iraq, and yet the polls were closer after the trip than before. As noted above, August polls are pretty stupid, but whatever they're measuring, it wasn't a triumphant Obama.

Regardless, I think Fatman was making a weaker claim, that the very notion that McCain's ads even make sense as a strategy is a lamentable side effect of our stupid politics. It would be like General Mills running ads suggesting that the CEO of Post is a loser - no one thinks that's relevant to selecting cereal, but people seem to think voting for President should include judgments about the personalities of the party leaders, not the content of their platforms and personal commitment to those contents.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:13 PM
horizontal rule
35

Vicious slander. I didn't like doing that at all.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:13 PM
horizontal rule
36

30 made more sense before the website ruthlessly elided the extra spaces I used to indicate that neither 23 nor 24 was signed.

I'm not saying it was clever, just that it was less pointless.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:15 PM
horizontal rule
37

Gah! 12:25! Must go sleep before Kai wakes up again.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:15 PM
horizontal rule
38

Willie Horton's face onto Obama's body

Obama's too thin for Tim Horton.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:17 PM
horizontal rule
39

My guess is that this is the Reagan story (via Wrongshore).


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:24 PM
horizontal rule
40

30 made more sense before the website ruthlessly elided the extra spaces I used to indicate that neither 23 nor 24 was signed.

I'm not saying it was clever, just that it was less pointless.

So what you meant to say was that 's 24 completely pwned 's 23.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:28 PM
horizontal rule
41

On the subject of style v. substance, I've been somewhat taken by surprise by all the furor over offshore drilling and ANWR drilling. I'm surprised that Dems have turned out to oppose it so strongly, which I suppose reflects public opinion against it. How do y'all feel about it? And are people opposed to drilling because they care about the environment or because they want our shores/national parks to look good?

Personally, you can guess, it doesn't really bother me. For one, off-shore drilling, especially if Democrats passed the bill, would raise money for coastal protection, which is a worthy public project in need of funds. Second, it's just more tax money, period, and we're in debt. Third, we're going to be using to be consuming oil no matter what, which means environmental damage no matter what. However, we have the money and technology to minimize environmental damage more than anyone else. The oil we buy from other countries isn't free of pollution, is it? I'd like to think we can produce oil more cleanly than Iran or Venezuela. Fourth, it's just going to happen, eventually.

My assumptions here, or rather what I understand to be the case, is that oil drilling will not affect global supply much, but the environmental effects will also be small, almost zero in ANWR. Unless I've been led wide astray, these basic facts are agreed upon by reasonable people on both sides of the aisle.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:30 PM
horizontal rule
42

If the idea that "environmental effects will be small, almost zero in ANWR" was "agreed upon by reasonably people on both sides of the aisle", then there would have been a whole lot more drilling over the last 20 years.

Not that I actually know anything about the issue, but it's definitely an environmental issue for mainstream Democrats who care about that sort of thing.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:32 PM
horizontal rule
43

24: If the margin of error is 3.5%, then anything up to a 7-point lead is within the margin of error.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:39 PM
horizontal rule
44

On the eschatological side of things, the lettering on this video somewhat resembles that on the McCain "One" ad.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:39 PM
horizontal rule
45

I've looked pretty carefully, and it appears that nearly every single point in 41 is wrong. And that, if I'm not mistaken, someone has been reading too many Chevron press releases.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:42 PM
horizontal rule
46

reading too many Chevron press releases.

People do.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:43 PM
horizontal rule
47

Not to get all Bagnewsey, but there will be a dark and brooding Obama pic from some 527, reminding us of the lighting on those OJ cover stories.

Recommended movie: _So Goes the Nation_; see the 'OJ's Guilty' chanting scene.


Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:44 PM
horizontal rule
48

44: So as an aside on the eschatology portrayed in that movie, is the belief really that True Believers will time-warp bodily into heaven, à la the Ascension of Jesus, rather than just have their souls saved? I'm not really familiar with the belief.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:46 PM
horizontal rule
49

Upon re-reading 45, it's quite dickish. Sorry about that. The depravity of the energy debate is really getting me down. But I should keep my hostility to myself.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:48 PM
horizontal rule
50

48: not only true believers, but won't the souls already in heaven be reunited with their bodies? Hence various burial customs?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:51 PM
horizontal rule
51

You know, the resurrection of the body n'at.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:52 PM
horizontal rule
52

51: Right. I think my mom always blurred my questioning of that sort of thing with a "well the Catholic Church talks in metaphors; eat your broccoli" sort of argument, so I remain confused about the literal readings.

But the real reason I hate the Facebook zombie app is because it's stupid.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:56 PM
horizontal rule
53

I'm surprised that Dems have turned out to oppose it so strongly, which I suppose reflects public opinion against it.

Oh yes, truly, all the guys at the local diner and the neighbourhood off-track betting shop are quite vehemently opposed to off-shore drilling, and where go the preferences of the gente, there we see national energy policy being made...

But you must have been joking, right?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:58 PM
horizontal rule
54

And I said "reason...is because" to piss w-lfs-n off by saying something he'd otherwise agree with in terms he finds disagreeable. FACT.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 10:58 PM
horizontal rule
55

Goddam, Stan. You are one vicious, fiendish bastard.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 11:00 PM
horizontal rule
56

Ressurection of the Flesh


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 11:01 PM
horizontal rule
57

Unless I've been led wide astray, these basic facts are agreed upon by reasonable people on both sides of the aisle.

Care to name some names?


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 11:01 PM
horizontal rule
58

57. Kevin Drum, for one. You'll have to hypnotize me to get me to remember better than that.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 11:21 PM
horizontal rule
59

i'm going to put a mark in the "against" column for ari.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 11:23 PM
horizontal rule
60

This is the best thread. I was about to come in here and be all, "haven't you been reading my poorly executed links in the comments sections of other blogs?" And eb in 39 had been doing exactly that.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 11:32 PM
horizontal rule
61

42. I would guess that drilling methods have been improving over the last 2 decades, possibly even in response to these type of situations (also, of course, because one would assume that not spilling oil allows one to sell more of it.)

I should mention that there was a bill a couple of years ago to open up some drilling in the gulf. It didn't pass, but it was close. (Hillary voted for, Obama against, for the record) Now it seems we have watched the Dems coalesce firmly around "no" and then progress to "ok, a little bit". (By the way, my point above in 41 about moneys going to coastal restoration, that was a feature of this previous voted-down bill. )


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 11:36 PM
horizontal rule
62

...did some racist comment just get posted and deleted? or was that just weird spam?


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 11:47 PM
horizontal rule
63

Don't worry your pretty little head about it, Michael.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 11:52 PM
horizontal rule
64

...did some racist comment just get posted and deleted? or was that just weird spam?

There were no pastries. I saw nothing. You saw nothing.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 11:52 PM
horizontal rule
65

If you have questions, Tia can explain it.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 11:54 PM
horizontal rule
66

59: I really am sorry for overreacting. Yours was a perfectly reasonable question, girded, it seemed to me, with lousy facts. First, drilling in ANWR will have some impact greater than zero on the environs there. Major and relatively moderate environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, suggest that the impact on calving Caribou, among other species, may well be dramatic. Coupled with the fact that the amount of oil there is unknown, and well might be very expensive to pull from the ground, I think reasonable people can agree that ANWR is more a wedge issue used by Republicans than a serious policy disagreement.

Second, I don't know where you get the idea that allowing increased drilling will necessarily yield much in the way of increased revenue for the federal government. The current fee structure for leasing the public lands to extractive industries is monumentally skewed toward business. I know that Senator Obama and other proponents of the energy compromise promise that they'll improve this situation. I'm entirely unconvinced by their claims (particularly because I worry that Obama isn't genuinely committed to addressing climate change). At the same time, the tax incentives already in place for petroleum exploration are a scandal. So where's the money going to come from. The sale of the oil? In that case, we're talking about a minimum of four to six years down the road. And a lot can change between now and then.

Which leads me to, offshore drilling is a really ineffective band-aid to put on a wound that might already be bleeding us to death. We're in the midst (or, if you'd prefer, at the very beginning of) an energy crisis. So why not start now to deal with the crisis's root (our addiction to oil) rather than proximate (not enough cheap oil RIGHT NOW) causes. Why not just decide, when a Democrat may be in power, that we're not going to enact a policy that certainly won't address the very real problems we face but every likely will have long-term and devastating environmental consequences (spewing more carbon into the atmosphere) and might also create big problems in the near-term (leakage, at best, and perhaps spills in either ANWR or off the coast of Florida and California).

And by the way, if you think Californians and Floridians are blithely going to accept drilling off their coasts, you've got another thing coming. Sure, their/our opposition is classic NIMBYism, which is deprecated. But last time I checked, Florida is a battleground state. And California has a governor who can totally kill robots from the future.

Okay, this is way too long already, but yes, coastal protection is a worthy policy. So maybe we should fund such initiatives by increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Now that's a surefire way of raising revenue. Or, here's another idea, maybe we can roll back some of the tax giveaways already in place to oil companies, and then use the money that pours in to build nests for Brown Pelicans. Also, you may not realize that the number of oil leases sitting out there unused is remarkable. Perhaps it makes sense to look in the places we've already agreed it's okay to look before we start opening up new territory to exploration.

Okay, apologies for going on so long. I told you this debate is getting to me. And again, sorry for my earlier hostility. It was uncalled for.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 6-08 11:56 PM
horizontal rule
67

Trading drilling in the ANWR for more money for coastal protection is trading pie today for the promise of pie tomorrw: 'ffing stupid.

Besides, why should the Dems try and compromise with the 'publicans now when in a few short months they will have an unassailable majority in congress?


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:00 AM
horizontal rule
68

So many missing question marks. So many spelling errors. Alas, I have to apologize to everyone now. Sorry, everyone.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:01 AM
horizontal rule
69

You're doin' a great job, ari!


Posted by: Everyone | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:04 AM
horizontal rule
70

I don't consider Mr. Drum an expert on any of the relevant topics.

I guess your formulation in 41 was ambiguous. I read it as 'agreed upon by all reasonable people on both sides of the aisle, ]but then if it was meant as 'agreed upon by at least one person on both sides of the aisle,' then I've got no problem with it. Although, of course, the same can be said of the wisdom of commencing an immediate war with Iran. We're going to do it anyway, and the impact isn't going to be that bad.


Posted by: NĂ¡pi | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:17 AM
horizontal rule
71

hey ari - we cool.

First let me say that I am assuming that the bill would be crafted and passed during an Obama presidency. Pelosi has already decided against allowing significant legislation through until then.

I agree that more oil revenue should go to the public, but I'm just not sure how doable that is. We have a long tradition of doing things the wrong way, and that can be hard to change. Also, rolling back tax breaks on oil companies sounds great, too. Better that than a windfall-tax, really. (which I'm unenthusiastic about solely because I don't think it's a political winner. Republicans are just going to whine, with merit, that it's just passing on the buck to the consumer. Voters don't like it when it's pointed out that they're naive.)

And of course you're right that we need to deal with the root of the energy problem. But offshore drilling is such small fries that it's not going to offer any real reprieve, that is, it's not big enough to allow us to procrastinate longer.

I think what irks me about this bit of NIMBYism is that it's really a "leave the pollution in the third world!" argument in the guise of environmental consciousness. Oil has to be drilled somewhere.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:26 AM
horizontal rule
72

63. don't think flattery will cause me to miss the note of condescension in that comment.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:31 AM
horizontal rule
73

I wouldn't think of it, dear.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:34 AM
horizontal rule
74

Oil has to be drilled somewhere.

For now, this is certainly true. But what irks me is that the current proposal for a compromise/pander on offshore drilling only forestalls the near-inevitable realization that the above statement not only isn't true but is hugely destructive.

That said, I hear you about passing the buck on pollution. But in that case, if we're going to start examining the commodity chains that make our way of life possible, and then we're going to use the fruits of those examinations to help us decide what's good and bad legislation, man we're talking about a can of worms and a huge political loser (another consideration you mention). Which isn't to say that you're wrong on the merits. I happen to think you're right. But part of your comment tilts toward pragmatism. And this issue, at least, strikes me as politically untenable. The other part of your comment, the part about morality, sounds right enough to me.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:37 AM
horizontal rule
75

hey, i just pulled another argument out of my ass!

Unsightly oil derricks and pollution may spur public support for development of alternative energy. I propose resources be spent to harness LittleBitchery radiation. With the proper harnessing technology, W-lfs-n could power Oakland, at least.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:37 AM
horizontal rule
76

Concerning political tenability, I'm going to predict that McCain and Obama will support drilling offshore of Cali but not Florida. Obama won't lose Cal, McCain won't win it, but they both hope to take Florida.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:45 AM
horizontal rule
77

||
I was at a bar here in Chicago, and I ran into the male LB (if I understand LB's education history correctly). He went to MIT undergrad, and U of C grad. In six years of school, he'd had one girlfriend, who he'd broke up with he found out she was cheating on him with two different guys. For his own sake, I wanted to shoot the dude in the back of the head.
|>


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:17 AM
horizontal rule
78

He had a great trip, ... and yet the polls were closer after the trip than before.

Not that I am not eaten up by barely repressed anxiety (what Dem wouldn't be after 2004?), but I do think Obama himself had the right take on this.

"Probably a week of me focusing on international issues doesn't necessarily translate into higher poll numbers here in the United States, because people are understandably concerned about the immediate effects of the economy. And that's what we will be talking about for the duration," the Illinois senator said.
However, he added, "I do think that in terms of me governing, being an effective president, that that trip was helpful, because I think I've established relationships and a certain bond of trust with key leaders around the world who have taken measure of my positions and how I operate. And I think can come away with some confidence that this is somebody I can deal with."

And somewhere else, I remember him saying that the trip was meant more to blunt potential criticisms late in the race, "Obama still hasn't been overseas" type of stuff, that would surely come if he had not gone. I viewed the trip as a necessary risk. All that media "attention" the McCain crowd was whining about was just a gaffewatch, in place to crank up the freak show. The fact that he basically avoided that, other than the minor one about not visiting the troops that was dishonestly ginned up, was good stuff in the long run. And getting the Maliki win was gravy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:19 AM
horizontal rule
79

There's a related study--which I have no citation or link for, and may only exist in my tiny head--in which three sets of people were showed made up headlines. One saw "Senator Smoot cleared of corruption charges," another saw "Senator Smoot accused of corruption" and a third saw "Senator Smoot found guilty of corruption."

All three groups subsequently gave Smoot equally high unfavorable ratings. Basically, all they remember is seeing the name "Smoot" near the word "corruption"

It is like syntax doesn't really exist most of the time, and people interpret language entirely by behaviorist association of positive and negative stimuli.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:47 AM
horizontal rule
80

For his own sake, I wanted to shoot the dude in the back of the head.

So you're saying he had so little dignity, you didn't think he could handle it to the front of the head?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:48 AM
horizontal rule
81

It is like syntax doesn't really exist most of the time, and people interpret language entirely by behaviorist association of positive and negative stimuli.

Rob is planning on citing this comment in his academic publishing.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:49 AM
horizontal rule
82

Oh, God. Those tools over at Slate are running "Obamaisms," complete with a book for sale, The English Language, Barackafied. Just shoot me now.

Also: why do Slate and Salon insist on auto-refreshing their sites so that, as I scroll down to see if there's anything worth reading [probably not], it reloads and sends me back to the top of the page? Stupid annoying jerks. It's not like either one is publishing Breaking! News! First!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:52 AM
horizontal rule
83

why do Slate and Salon insist on auto-refreshing their sites

For the same reason they insist on splitting stories that could fit onto one page onto two or three pages: to artificially inflate their hit count to justify higher ad rates.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:07 AM
horizontal rule
84

to artificially inflate their hit count

So if I click on Article A when I first go there, then there's an auto-refresh, and I click on Article B, there's an extra hit in there? Surely the simple fact of refreshing while my browser window is open doesn't result in an extra hit. Does it?

I'll say this for Slate: their writers are mostly shit, their politics is stupid, but I often find worthwhile outside references, as to this Vonnegut piece on dictionaries.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:12 AM
horizontal rule
85

I'm going to predict a narrow McCain win in September. Most of his negatives can be dismissed as "old news" and he has the media eating out of his hand. Obama is an unknown quantity, so all his negatives are news, and all his positives are already out there, pushed by his campaign. The Rove machine is still in existence, strengthened by eight years of tweaking from the White House. The Democrats are (as always) chickenshit about calling out the machine or fighting back effectively. Between smears, dirty tricks, and outright fraud, there is plenty of room for a McCain win.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:59 AM
horizontal rule
86

86: I'm going to predict a narrow McCain win in September

So this is a prediction that come Spetember you will predict a McCain win?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:06 AM
horizontal rule
87

He can win in September all he wants!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:08 AM
horizontal rule
88

Correct - I'll predict a McCain win in Spetember, which as we all know is an alternative spelling of "August."


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:09 AM
horizontal rule
89

88 - November dammit. More coffee. Excess blood in my caffeine stream is making me lightheaded.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:10 AM
horizontal rule
90

In other news, yet another Republican sex offender has been busted.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:12 AM
horizontal rule
91

Obama's going to win, and McCain is a joke, which is why I'm more concerned with how bad Obama's going to be once he's in charge than kicking around the utterly pathetic barely moving corpus of John McCain.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:16 AM
horizontal rule
92

I think mrh originally linked to href="http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2008/Pres/ec_graph-2008.html">this bunch of graphs comparing 2008 and 2004, and it seriously bummed me out.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:21 AM
horizontal rule
93

Let's try that link again.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:22 AM
horizontal rule
94

Stras - The fact that so many people are taking an Obama win for granted is what initially got me thinking about how McCain might win. The inevitability approach didn't exactly work for Clinton in the primaries, and there's no reason to believe it will be any more effective in the general.

This race is the Democrat's to lose, and they are doing exactly what is needed to accomplish that.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:33 AM
horizontal rule
95

Most of his negatives can be dismissed as "old news" and he has the media eating out of his hand.

I think you're underrating the extent to which the news that McCain's old is going to hurt his chances. Seventy six is no joke.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:40 AM
horizontal rule
96

In other news, yet another Republican sex offender has been busted.

The schadenfreuderific glee over the exposure of the sexual exploits of GOP politicians is something that always got on my nerves about dkos and the like.

The dude in this story took advantage of a 14 y.o. girl. He could just as easily have been a Democrat. I can take no delight in this story, only solace that the abuse (and it is abuse, even if she ostensibly consented) will presumably cease and the girl has a chance of getting help.

There are cases (e.g. Larry Craig) where the hypocrisy angle makes partisan gloating more forgiveable. But please, none of this "Republicans are a bunch of libertines and perverts" stuff.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:43 AM
horizontal rule
97

and it is abuse, even if she ostensibly consented

As I read the article, it was explicitly nonconsensual. Sickening.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:46 AM
horizontal rule
98

togolosh: When two football teams play, and one of them loses, it's not always because of the gameplan.

But people took for granted in '84 that Reagan would win big, and look how that turned out.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:48 AM
horizontal rule
99

This race is the Democrat's to lose, and they are doing exactly what is needed to accomplish that.

What does this mean?


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:49 AM
horizontal rule
100

togolosh the inevitability approach in the primaries was an explicit strategy of the Clinton campaign. Anybody talking about Obama's inevitable victory is some random idiot on the internet (I include myself in this characterization).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:54 AM
horizontal rule
101

This can only help.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:57 AM
horizontal rule
102

Republicans are a bunch of libertines and perverts.

There.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:58 AM
horizontal rule
103

My anxiety-reducing observation for the day, and then I will refrain from commenting on this topic until at least mid-september:

In 2004, the "battleground" states included an uncomfortable number of states that went for Gore in 2000: Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin. Kerry's team made some self-serving comments to the effect of "I'd rather be fighting on friendly territory", but that was transparent bullshit. They were defending so many states that they could barely play offense, and ended up having to go for broke on Ohio, which they lost.

Now the tables are turned. McCain is playing defense all over the map. Now, admittedly, he could win by just playing a successful defense in all of Bush's 2004 states. But he has shown very little sign of having an effective offensive strategy anywhere, which makes his strategy very risky.

So I don't have the sense that it's a replay of 2004. Both the environmental fundamentals and the candidate are immeasurably more favorable this time around, and the geography of the campaign shows it.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 8:03 AM
horizontal rule
104

He could just as easily have been a Democrat.

You'd certainly think so, wouldn't you, but it seems as though it's Republicans who get busted for the really deviant stuff (or the stuff their constituents regard as deviant.)

Sure, you've got your Edwardses and Clintons, but in the process of trying to bring Clinton down, how many Republicans lost their careers? What's the score been since then?

But please, none of this "Republicans are a bunch of libertines and perverts" stuff.

From the article:

Muschany has been seen by some as a rising star in the conservative wing of the Republican Party.

Are we allowed to brand the conservative wing of the party as a bunch of perverts? How about if I concede that netroots Democrats have a complementary infantile tendency toward political Shadenfreude?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 8:06 AM
horizontal rule
105

100: The Democrats have awful party discipline and consistently manage to destroy excellent political advantages by party infighting or working at cross purposes. It's a pattern that has allowed the GOP to repeatedly win electoral and legislative battles in the face of majority support for the Democrat's positions.

What you'll see in the runup to the national elections is tight message discipline from the right, and on the left there will be people who prefer Obama to McCain, but somehow just can't quite resist criticizing Obama in ways that play into the right wing narrative. There will also be an extreme reluctance to play political hardball, and in the event that some group or other does make effective attacks on the McCain campaign there will be a rush of leftists to criticize the attack as being excessive. When the right launches an attack that's grounded in falsehoods and/or racism, the democrats will whine instead of launching an effective counterattack that shows up the lies and bigotry. This is the consistent pattern of Democratic Party behavior in nearly every election of my adult lifetime.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 8:06 AM
horizontal rule
106

Kinda OT but not really. If you haven't seen the Paris Hilton rebuttal please do. It is surprisingly awesome. I don't believe for a minute Paris wrote it but still the delivery is awesome.

For the attack ads I think we need to consider the target audience. I'm a little worried that the ads may seem stupid and clumsy to us and yet they may be working for some people. Maybe I'm paranoid. Maybe I worry too much. I'm cynical, I know, but I've just had *so* much disappointment in the past decade or so (a lone tear drips down my cheek).

Sorry for the brief moment of self doubt. Here comes the overconfident Tripp you are all familiar with.

When considering US Federal politics we *must* keep in mind the true powers in America.

Yes, the hidden "Gods" in modern America, the ultra-rich. While they will always seek to retain and increase their power they are not stupid. They are also patient.

Yeah, some of their minions - lackeys like Rove who barely has a HS diploma and yet has gotten way more riches than he deserves, are *not* patient and won't like to wait.

But IMHO it is pretty obvious the Gods of America are getting behind Obama. They know which direction America is heading and they know at most Obama will be able to futz around the edges and that is about it.

Mark my words. After Obama is elected the street buzz will be "we need to tighten our government's belt in these trying times." When the GOP is in power the buzz is "we need to expand military spending in these scary times."

I've seen this cycle more times that I want to remember. The buzz is either lower taxes on the ultra-rich or allow the ultra-rich to loot the treasury. Bush managed to do both at the same time. He was a great lackey, and obviously expendable. They've cast him aside like a broken hammer.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 8:08 AM
horizontal rule
107

KR@97 - Schadenfreude wasn't my intention, more like disgust. That said, I still shouldn't have posted it. Sorry for the threadjack.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 8:09 AM
horizontal rule
108

On a tangential topic: If you're Fox News, you've got a real dilemma right now. You'd love to run an on-air poll on the question "Do you think it's possible that Obama is the Anti-Christ prophesied in the Book of Revelations?" But you wonder whether it would backfire to push this meme into the consciousness of the MSM. Maybe it would be better to keep it below the radar. OTOH, the "Is Obama a muslim?" controversy probably served to further the erroneous belief, so maybe it could work again. Do you run the poll?

The answer, I think, is to run the poll on the Christian Broadcasting Network.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 8:11 AM
horizontal rule
109

I don't believe for a minute Paris wrote it but still the delivery is awesome.

I thought the writing (and staging) were the weakest parts of it. Paris acquitted herself well.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 8:14 AM
horizontal rule
110

106 is wrong on most points.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 8:16 AM
horizontal rule
111

To be clear, I am 100% in favor of using the sexual pecadilloes of Republican politicians as an electoral weapon. The fact that the Mark Foley coverup helped bring down a few GOP Congressmen is a blessing from almighty God, AFAIAC. All's fair in love and war.

It's the Schadenfreude (and I'm not trying to pick on you, tog; more the dkos crowd) that rubs me the wrong way.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 8:17 AM
horizontal rule
112

111 - since much of it is framed as a prediction, we'll see about those parts. For the rest, do you have specific objections?


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 8:18 AM
horizontal rule
113

Well, I think a lot of the impression of terrible party discipline on the part of the democrats has been a product of them being more-or-less out of power. Even now, they don't have enough of a majority to do very much without either (a) a coöperative subset of the GOP or (b) the top-down blow-up-the-world strategy the GOP has lately been fond of. The fact that they aren't willing to wholeheartedly embrace (b) is, to me, a good sign that they realize that their policies are in fact majority-supported, and that building an enduring governing coalition is probably a better way to get more good done long term. I could be wrong about this, time will tell, but (a) not all the leadership are rank idiots, (b) Karl Rove kind of is, and (c) the Democratic party did, in fact, manage to get a lot done in the last century, between bouts of ineptitude and nonwithstanding massive realignments of party and country.

The idea that Obama won't play political hardball is belied by every campaign he's ever run, including in the primary. The idea that democrats will whine instead of launching effective counterattacks is belied by the effective counterattacks launched by Obama like two days ago.

In general, I think there's a narrative that's taken hold (especially) on blogs of democrats (and by extension the Obama campaign) as the headless chicken party, when I think the evidence is that Obama has run an exceptionally well managed, tight campaign.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 8:28 AM
horizontal rule
114

research yesterday suggests that the authors of the Hilton ad were Adam McKay and Chris Henchy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 8:29 AM
horizontal rule
115

106: Those all seem like factors that could affect a close race in which the fundamentals favor neither party. This year the fundamentals strongly favor the Democratic candidate, so those factors are unlikely to swing the race.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 8:33 AM
horizontal rule
116

Actually, the authorship was no mystery.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 8:47 AM
horizontal rule
117

At this point it's a race between a tall good-looking young guy with shitloads of money and incredible speaking skills and a short ugly old man connected to the most unpopular administration in living memory with almost no money. Yes, I know, Obama's black and Republicans are mean, wah wah wah, but he's going to win.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 8:58 AM
horizontal rule
118

research yesterday suggests

What is this, fucking Nature?

Research - like fact-based opinionating - is deprecated.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:00 AM
horizontal rule
119

The idea that democrats will whine instead of launching effective counterattacks is belied by the effective counterattacks launched by Obama like two days ago.

Yeah, I must say that I was getting a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach during the whole tire gauge thing, where the media was treating it as of course a winning issue for McCain. Then Obama blew them out of the water (with an assist from Paris), and I feel better going forward.

Now I just feel nauseated by the inability of the Forces of Good to get Americans to understand that we really fucking need to stop burning fossil fuels like 15 years ago. Seeing public approval for offshore drilling double in two weeks* is depressing.

* No links, but I recall seeing that it was a minority position when Bush first mentioned it, and now it's got at least 60% approval.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:04 AM
horizontal rule
120

114 - Many good points. I think you're right about Obama running a tight ship (especially in comparison to McCain), but I lack confidence that he'll be able to maintain tight control as the full resources of the party are brought to bear. In addition, McCain's current floundering isn't likely to last for long, and the goopers who were swearing up and down they'd never vote for him will rapidly start coming around after the Democratic convention. Going into the election I see all the dynamics as leading to a net tightening of the race. Throw in purges of voter rolls and perhaps some outright fraud, and McCain could well pull into the lead.

I'd place odds at about 51% likelihood of a McCain win.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:09 AM
horizontal rule
121

Now I just feel nauseated by the inability of the Forces of Good to get Americans to understand that we really fucking need to stop burning fossil fuels like 15 years ago.

The problem is that Democrats accepted the Republican frame on this from the start - that the goal of energy policy is to drive gas prices down. Once you accept that, you're in desperate pander territory. It would take real courage to get up there while running for president and say, "Look, gas prices aren't coming down any time soon, because we're running out of oil. There's nothing we can do about that. What we need to do is start living in ways that reduce the amount of oil we consume, and the amount of energy we consume in general, while working on clean alternatives." But nobody wants to hear that, because they'd rather hear the fantasy that there's a magic pot of crude on the other side of the rainbow.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:10 AM
horizontal rule
122

Seeing public approval for offshore drilling double in two weeks* is depressing.

Yeah, this is sickening. And it points out, again, that leaders really do matter. Obama's pander, coupled with the Group of Ten, has made offshore drilling seem palatable to many people who previously thought such a course was wrong.

And so, while I'm not much worried that Obama's going to lose, I am getting increasingly concerned that he may be a truly excellent politician but not be much of a leader. Especially not when it comes to the issue of climate change.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:14 AM
horizontal rule
123

I'd place odds at about 51% likelihood of a McCain win.

In which case, i'm writing the whole process off.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:15 AM
horizontal rule
124

120: ,i>Then Obama blew them out of the water (with an assist from Paris), and I feel better going forward.

And McCain himslef saying it was a good thing to do. (Which got a little media attention but not much.)

I think this one is coming out OK despite the general media narrative (which is eroding a bit, but if you want to vomit into your mouth read Broder's little "Can't we all just get along" column in the WaPo today).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
125

121: You should seriously consider putting your money where your mouth is. I'm still offering odds, you know.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
126

91. Reading the news constantly makes me worry that I'm not going to make it through life without murdering someone.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:19 AM
horizontal rule
127

I'd make a bet that no change to the offshore drilling ban will make it through Congress in the next year.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:19 AM
horizontal rule
128

122: Yup.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:19 AM
horizontal rule
129

I think it's too early to tell, but fuck it, it's fun to act like a winner for a change. Why the hell should Rove dominate the narrative? Look what his guy has managed. I'm sure there's something this administration has not messed up, but I can't think of one.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:20 AM
horizontal rule
130

127: Yup.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:21 AM
horizontal rule
131

The dude in this story took advantage of a 14 y.o. girl. He could just as easily have been a Democrat.

Prove it.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:24 AM
horizontal rule
132

120:
Now I just feel nauseated by the inability of the Forces of Good to get Americans to understand that we really fucking need to stop burning fossil fuels like 15 years ago. Seeing public approval for offshore drilling double in two weeks* is depressing.

Here is the problem with your framing.

Yeah, we've been swamped since Bush with conspicuous consumption and there is no excuse for that but look what you are asking people to do. You are asking them to stop driving, stop using electricity, stop heating their homes, and most likely stop working. Oh yeah, and stop eating and stop drinking water that they don't haul from the well themselves.

The problem is that our entire way of living is based on cheap energy from the burning of fossil fuels. This includes food, water, shelter, and our entire economic system. That is the huge trap we are in and there are NO good answers so we ignore it and kick the can down the road.

We are like the skier bombing a slope, going so fast he cannot traverse and picking up speed, making things even worse in the future.

Even now people on this very blog refuse to see how bad things are going to get. No one wants to hear it. No one wants to face it. No one. We can cry about that past but the real work is right here, right now, in the present, and the dilemma we have is that we need to get people to make huge, massive changes in their lives while giving them no good reason for doing so because we don't dare tell them the truth.

Our trap is that the truth is too horrible to face and yet without it why should we make huge changes?


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:28 AM
horizontal rule
133

93: I think that was me when I was asking people to bother Nate Silver about the question of what his model would have predicted for Kerry at this point in '04.

In 127, do you mean to say that you read the news all the time or that you spend all of your time worrying about whether or not you're going to murder someone.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:28 AM
horizontal rule
134

I'm still offering odds, you know.

What are the current odds?


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:28 AM
horizontal rule
135

125 was about the tire pressure stuff BTW.

Sometimes the truth on the ground is so clear that even the media narrative gets overridden. An example was Rudy last fall. Until he had already cratered and become a joke (or actually until Florida, long after he was a joke) the national media was not that tough on him, giving only cursory coverage to things that would have sunk any Dem ten times over. But people still got it. In part this was because Rudy had the problem of being a well-known fuckup in New York itself.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:30 AM
horizontal rule
136

But nobody wants to hear that, because they'd rather hear the fantasy that there's a magic pot of crude on the other side of the rainbow.

Stras, given this reality, what strategy would you propose that Obama pursue on this issue ?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:42 AM
horizontal rule
137

I think that Stras and Tripp are right about the reality. But there's no political-campaign way to recognize reality. Jimmy Carter actually tried, and he was severely punished..


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:43 AM
horizontal rule
138

Our trap is that the truth is too horrible to face and yet without it why should we make huge changes?

Part of my frustration is that - pace stras - changes within everyone's reach would make a huge difference. Reduce meat consumption to 12 oz./wk, plus 8 oz. of small fish. Grow your own vegetables. Live in existing housing stock or in new, zero-net-energy housing in walkable neighborhoods. Buy less disposable crap. Use a clothesline. I know those are all SWPL things, but you know what? They represent a carbon footprint a quarter that of a typical non-poor resident of Phoenix. And they're totally livable, enjoyable changes. Everybody doesn't have to go vegan or live in a yurt with bicycle-powered appliances in order to massively decrease this country's carbon output.

I recognize that the lifestyle I describe is anathema to some; that's why we need leadership.

Good thing earnestness is no longer deprecated.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:45 AM
horizontal rule
139

There should be more people out there saying "Really, we ought to conserve less if we want any hope of spending less money" (something with marginally more potential upside than "we're fucked"). Obama probably can't say that, but various surrogates could.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:45 AM
horizontal rule
140

Er, "conserve more and use less".


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:46 AM
horizontal rule
141

Don't be so negative, John! Why, Obama could suggest that everybody who's getting foreclosed out of their house move to small apartments near transit.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:46 AM
horizontal rule
142

91: There's a state rep in MA who's been charged with groping women and harassing them. He's not running for reelection. It's too bad about that, because his policies were pretty good.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:46 AM
horizontal rule
143

Stras, given this reality, what strategy would you propose that Obama pursue on this issue ?

I'd rather he stuck with what he was saying a month ago, which wasn't good enough but at least wasn't caving in to Big Oil and Big Stupid. He didn't cave on the gas tax holiday; he told the truth, and he pulled through. He shouldn't have caved on drilling, he should've kept telling the truth - that it's not going to help anyone and that it's a waste of precious resources.

The election isn't going to be won or lost on offshore drilling; it's going to be won largely on intangibles like the fact that people are sick of George Bush and everything he stands for, and Barack Obama looks a lot more like a break with George Bush than John McCain. But the Democratic instinct is to go into a defensive crouch at any attack, and so offshore drilling it is. Who needs the ocean? We can always drill offshore for more!


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:48 AM
horizontal rule
144

There's a state rep in MA who's been charged with groping women and harassing them.

The well-connected people always get the plum assignments...


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:50 AM
horizontal rule
145

144: I'm sure I'll have more sympathy for those sorts of complaints after Obama has won. Now, not so much.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:51 AM
horizontal rule
146

146: Tim, he has won. Barring a live boy/dead girl scenario, Obama's the next president.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
147

147: Stop it, Stras! You'll jinx us!


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:53 AM
horizontal rule
148

I wouldn't describe growing your own vegetables as "enjoyable". Or using a clothesline when it's cold outside. But I agree with RJoth.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:53 AM
horizontal rule
149

147: From your lips to God's ears, but I'm going to wait for Nov. 5.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:54 AM
horizontal rule
150

Obama might be able to say some of those things later, but not during the campaign. Maybe in a vague, heavily-coded way.

The suggestions in 139 are all reasonable and not really difficult, if you want to do them, but essentially that amounts to asking about 50% of the population to become different people and want different things. If you spend 10 years dreaming of getting a big fancy car, and if that and things like it have been the focus of your existence, you're not going to give up hope quickly or happily.

There are also lots of hip upper-middle class sacrifices still on the table unmade, of course.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:55 AM
horizontal rule
151

Did you spend all of '96 crossing your fingers and worrying about the Dole Juggernaut, Tim?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:56 AM
horizontal rule
152

I think that Stras and Tripp are right about the reality. But there's no political-campaign way to recognize reality. Jimmy Carter actually tried, and he was severely punished..

I agree, and the Carter thing really pisses me off. I agree with Jroth, too, that there are some really good, smaller things we could do without much pain at all, but Carter showed that it is political death to propose those.

I'd like to think that we, you and me, are all more mature than our parents were and would accept the inconvenience as something necessary but maybe that is my hubris.

I really don't know. Hell, if we wanted an immediate drop in gas consumption all we'd need to do right now is enforce the existing speed limits! We don't even need to drop them to 55, not yet, just enforce the ones we have. Is that a politically viable proposal?

Beats me.

Another idea I'd like to see is a mandatory instantaneous MPG gauge on every new car. Many cars have them already. Let the lead-foots see, in real-time, how much gas they are wasting racing to each red light. Would people complain about that? More info?

I dunno.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:56 AM
horizontal rule
153

Um, wow. I'm optimistic, but not as optimistic as stras. (Is optimistic the right word? Pessimistic about how bad the best outcome (that you are certain will happen) is going to be? If I were a lazy reporter writing a story I'd make some crack about how there must be a German word for that.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:56 AM
horizontal rule
154

I wouldn't describe growing your own vegetables as "enjoyable". Or using a clothesline when it's cold outside.

I genuinely enjoy going out into the yard for lettuce for dinner, as opposed to having to buy it and make sure to use it before it goes bad. I'll admit that I don't enjoy the mysterious death of my tomato plants, but I come from a long line of non-gardeners, so there's a curve.

I'll admit that we use a dryer in winter. But it is ultra-high efficiency, and we paid extra for a gas model, which is more environmentally sound in this coal-fired neck of the woods.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:58 AM
horizontal rule
155

Did you spend all of '96 crossing your fingers and worrying about the Dole Juggernaut, Tim?

Dole wasn't beloved by the press, and Clinton wasn't black. I expect Obama to win, but the estimate referenced at The Monkey Cage, that McCain has about a 33% chance of winning, sounds right to me.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:00 AM
horizontal rule
156

There are people who enjoy growing vegetables, and there are others such as me who don't, and then there are still others whose whole goal in life has been to quit having to grow vegetables. I still run into ex-subsistence farmers around here now and then, and they don't all have good memories of it.

Someone could be almost self-sufficient for food if they made potatoes their staple, though. Organic close-to-Mother-Earth people always piss me off when they make Basmati rice, etc., their staple. For most people, potatoes would be it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:01 AM
horizontal rule
157

but I lack confidence that he'll be able to maintain tight control as the full resources of the party are brought to bear.

I find your lack of faith disturbing.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:01 AM
horizontal rule
158

146: The substantive case in favor of drilling really is awful - and the awfulness of it is not complicated. For its stated purpose - having a noteworthy impact on oil prices and foreign dependence - offshore and ANWR drilling simply won't work, and everybody who has studied the issue agrees on this.

Can Obama make that case - or rather, could he get the media to adopt a fact-based framework when reporting this issue? I think I have to agree with stras that Obama is gifted enough to occasionally defy Big Stupid, and this might have been a good time to do it.

That said, it would be political malpractice for Obama to suggest that maybe high oil prices aren't such a bad thing. Politically, he's got no choice but to frame everything in terms of bringing gas prices down.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:01 AM
horizontal rule
159

156: also, weren't you a Republican?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:02 AM
horizontal rule
160

160: Mmm, no.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:04 AM
horizontal rule
161

OT: Has anyone seen Jackmormon?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
162

If you spend 10 years dreaming of getting a big fancy car

Go ahead and get one! Just move somewhere where you don't have to drive it 400 miles/week.

I realize that's not exactly your point, John, but still. I love cars and driving, but I don't feel that I've lost anything by not needing a car to get groceries. There's this weird suburban defensiveness that believes that any reduction in the exurbanization of America will start with the forcible confiscation of all private automobiles. Except for Manhattan, it's completely reasonable to expect every family with kids to have a car - they're handy as hell. Just set up your life so that you don't need to use it every damn day - it's not hard. Just different.

Again, I know I'm not really arguing against anyone here. Shit just drives me nuts.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
163

||

Where the hell is this Meekins character, anyway? He scored a plum position as a font-page poster by representing that he had an overabundance of buttsex topics to write about, and what have we seen to date? Nuthin'.

I hope his contract specifies a probationary period.
|>


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
164

161: musta been some other Tim.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
165

160: Ah, sorry. I read "aren't" instead of "weren't." I was when I was a kid, during the Reagan years. Not since. (I can't remember what I thought of Bush v. Dukakais.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:06 AM
horizontal rule
166

The substantive case in favor of drilling really is awful - and the awfulness of it is not complicated.

This is true, but in its role as a potential massive giveaway to corporate interests, it's still a bargaining chip.

That said, it would be political malpractice for Obama to suggest that maybe high oil prices aren't such a bad thing. Politically, he's got no choice but to frame everything in terms of bringing gas prices down.

That's why it's dumb to cave PUBLICLY on the drilling issue. Just say "These five things I want to do (which have nothing to do with gas prices, and I think should be done for completely unrelated reasons) will bring down gas prices." That's what Republicans always do. For example, allowing more offshore drilling to occur that will increase the world's oil supply by 1% 15 years from now will have very little effect on gas prices.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:07 AM
horizontal rule
167

For most people, potatoes would be it.

AB drives me nuts with her potato ambivalence. Other than mashed, she could do without entirely, whereas I would gladly eat them 4 times/week. She'll eat whatever I prepare, but I'm on my own for leftovers - which, frankly, can be a bit much with 2 lbs of potatoes.

FWIW, on the gardening thing, I don't view it as absolute - for northerners, gardens only really produce a few months out of the year. But if it were the norm to garden some, and reasonably common to grow half your summer produce, that would be a big improvement.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:10 AM
horizontal rule
168

I can't remember what I thought of Bush v. Dukakais.

How con-veen-ient, Comrade. Perhaps you should try harder to remember.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:11 AM
horizontal rule
169

Join Al Gore's crusade. It's a lot more likely to work than getting people to change their lives in the 139 sense.

Dole didn't play to his advantages, he ran away from them. (I think he was afraid that Republicans were too stupid to be able to appreciate the concept of a legislatively competent president -- a Republican LBJ -- and so he didn't run on it. Dole was right.). As McCain is doing now -- but there's still time for McCain to come back. The Kleins of the world can be brought back by a single non-apology apology, and the redemption narrative would totally work. (Eg if McCain fires Rove in September, announcing he'll run as his real authentic war hero reformer self, the press will totally swoon.)

Togolosh's comments embody that which he complains about. Whining about Dem weakness, or disorganization, doesn't cause either strength or organization. It's instead like the Smoot corruption headlines.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:12 AM
horizontal rule
170

FWIW (via Sullivan):

The March 2008 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, the prestigious peer-reviewed journal published by the American College of Physicians, has an article by fourteen PhD's and MD's who do scientific and medical research at Duke University, University of Michigan, RAND Corporation, University of Southern California, and University of Iowa, entitled Prevalence of Cognitive Impairment without Dementia in the United States.
In this study which was conducted from July 2001 through March 2005, and initially included 1770 individuals, their results state: In 2002, an estimated 5.4 million people (22.2%) in the United States age 71 years or older had cognitive impairment without dementia. Furthermore, the Editors note the following: This study of 856 individuals from the national Health and Retirement Study found that 22% of adults age 71 or older had cognitive impairment that did not reach the threshold for dementia. Annually, about 8% of those with cognitive impairment without dementia died and about 12% progressed to dementia.

Sometime in September or October, the media will, I hope, start paying attention to this sort of thing.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:19 AM
horizontal rule
171

The things about a big fancy car are 1) No matter how little you drive it, the MPG is bad, 2) What's the point of having a big fancy car if you don't drive a lot? 3) You don't buy a big fancy car for use, you buy it for show -- it's an alternative to buying an ordinary, maybe used car. We're not talk about the car that's needed to drive the kids around. And usually people with that dream want more than one car, and a new one every 2-4 years.

While there are small changes that can make a considerable differences, as I understand, the changes needed will require widespread major lifestyle changes.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:23 AM
horizontal rule
172

139: Those are relatively major lifestyle changes for a lot of Americans, especially when it comes to transportation. Most of the country relies on cars over bicycles and public transit, doesn't live in walkable cities, etc. We're talking about a major shift in population distribution across the country. And that's just to handle global warming and energy - it's not even touching on water scarcity or loss of biodiversity issues.

As I've said before, I don't think we're necessarily fucked, I just think getting the United States government to do what it has to - to say nothing of the rest of the world - to make our civilization sustainable - is going to be improbably difficult, the most difficult task we've ever faced, in fact. You're not going to get Americans to eat less meat just by telling them it's good for the planet; you're only going to get them to eat less meat by making meat a lot more expensive. That means taking away the massive subsidies for meat and agribusiness, punishing factory farmers for polluting the same way we'd punish anyone else dumping toxic waste, and passing and enforcing much more rigorous animal rights legislation. Who in Congress is going to be willing to do all that, riling up not just the agribusiness lobby but the millions of Americans ready to bitch about expensive beef? Right now we're seeing Americans bitching about high gas prices, and Republicans and Democrats pandering to the hunger for cheap oil. Is anyone going to want to hear the message that "No, gas prices need to be higher"?

The problem is that transitioning to a sustainable future means giving up a lot of creature comforts we've taken for granted in the past, and that we've pretended will always be around in the future. It means giving up the illusion of unlimited economic growth on a limited planet. It means giving up short- and medium-term comfort for the long-term benefit of our civilization, our species and our planet. And we don't have a very good track record in that department. Sure, it's not impossible, but it's likely the most difficult thing we've had to do as a species.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:24 AM
horizontal rule
173

Dole didn't play to his advantages, he ran away from them.

Dole had a big problem: no enthusiasm from the base, because he was thought to be unreliable on taxes (because he cared more about balanced budgets than about anti-tax fundamentalism), and because he was thought to be a little bit wet on abortion and "social issues". He won against divided opposition in a race where a lot of primary voters thought it was "his turn" to get the nomination. But his war-hero biography could only carry him so far. His obvious panders to the base (15% income tax cut!) weren't enough to win over skeptical conservatives, but they lost him a lot of respect with a press corps that admired his previous record of defying party orthodoxy. He went negative early, but the attacks were too far-fetched to do much damage to a popular opponent, so they just ended up reinforcing a previous reputation for having anger issues.

The comparison to McCain is left as an exercise for the reader.

FTR, I would rather be governed by Bob Dole AND eat a bowl of live slugs than be governed by John McCain, lest anyone take the equivalence too far.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:25 AM
horizontal rule
174

What's the baseline of cognitive impairment with and without dementia for the general population? I thought it was 30%.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:25 AM
horizontal rule
175

Whining about Dem weakness, or disorganization, doesn't cause either strength or organization.

On the contrary, "whining" about Democrat's self-defeating tendencies is the first step towards fixing them. My initial objection upthread was to Stras' confidence segueing into a criticism of Obama. I disagree on the confidence, but that's not the issue. The issue is fragging your own guy, something Democrats have developed to a high art. That's also part of the reason Obama's tight ship campaign style isn't enough - the people who aren't part of the campaign need to stfu already with the sniping at their own guy.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:27 AM
horizontal rule
176

The issue is fragging your own guy

Obama's not "my guy." I don't think he's anyone else's, either. The sooner liberals realize this, the better.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:33 AM
horizontal rule
177

Beyond fragging your own guy, which I haven't seen so far except from a few PUMAs, Democrats are not effective at countering the other side's ploys. Just recently Kerry was on TV and gave a lame though reasonable response to some talking point that he should have blown out of the water. Not a good candidate, not a good surrogate.

One thing I think I've noticed is that Democrats respond by building gradually up to their main point in a sort of avuncular, professorial way, whereas what you need to do on TV is knock the talking point down immediately, in 3 to 7 words.

Mr. Matalin really is contemptible, but he's very effective at quick-response type stuff. Few Democrats are.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
178

One thing I think I've noticed is that Democrats respond by building gradually up to their main point in a sort of avuncular, professorial way, whereas what you need to do on TV is knock the talking point down immediately, in 3 to 7 words.

Few Democrats are.

Agree with that. I think part of it is that the Dem pols are still feeling out their base, which is changing under them.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:36 AM
horizontal rule
179

I can't remember what I thought of Bush v. Dukakais.

That either way we were totally fucked?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:40 AM
horizontal rule
180

I have a long theory about that weakness of the Democrats, based on the fact that so many of them, including the voters, come from academic, bureaucratic, professional, or administrative backgrounds where speaking circumspectly, working for a consensus, avoiding conflict, respecting hierarchies, and reserving judgment are standard operating procedure. So they can easily be trapped into seeming mealy-mouthed and lame, since most voters aren't from that background. (While the New Class is a big demographic, it isn't enough to win.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:42 AM
horizontal rule
181

I saw Tom Brokaw doing Meet the Press interviewing John Kerry as a surrogate for Obama along with Lieberman acting as a surrogate for McCain.

Lieberman was mostly obsessed with war and "national security" issues and talked about McCain's experience as preparation for him to lead, but what really struck me is how strongly Lieberman came out in favor of offshore drilling. I've heard so many people say that Joe was annoying on X,Y or Z but that he has a solid environmental record.

I don't know what he stands for other than war and Hartford insurance companies.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:48 AM
horizontal rule
182

181: Maybe. I think it's that the coalition was unwieldy and divided against itself for a while.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:48 AM
horizontal rule
183

I can't remember what I thought of Bush v. Dukakais.

I remember thinking something along the lines of "If you're going to run this guy, why not run Jesse Jackson and let me have the fun of voting for him?"


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:50 AM
horizontal rule
184

181: respecting hierarchies

Please explain how that one point differs from the authoritarian impulses of the right. Do Democrats really respect hierarchies?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:51 AM
horizontal rule
185

135: Odds are now 2:1, with winnings going to the winner's charity of choice. Either that or your $50 bottle of red against my $100 bottle.

Also, everything Stras has written in this thread is absolutely right.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:52 AM
horizontal rule
186

181, 183: No matter what the Dems do, the media is going to fuck 'em. Swift Boating doesn't happen without active media collusion, nor do the Gore/Love Canal/Love Story/Invented the Internet confabulations.

Bill Clinton, for the duration of one election cycle, was able to beat back the media - in part, I think, because George HW himself was treated pretty unkindly by the media.

Talk about Kerry/Gore's weakness as candidates all you want, but there wasn't a single debate, for instance, where GW Bush was a clear winner. And that's with the media pretty actively reporting the debates from a Republican point of view.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:54 AM
horizontal rule
187

I don't know what he(Lieberman) stands for other than war and Hartford insurance companies.

Submarines. He is big on submarines, thanks to the shipyards being in Newport. Insert "long, hard and full of seamen" joke here.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:59 AM
horizontal rule
188

I don't know what he (Lieberman) stands for other than war and Hartford insurance companies.

Submarines. He is big on submarines, thanks to the shipyards being in Newport. Insert "long, hard, full of seamen" joke here.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:00 AM
horizontal rule
189

Democrats respect professional and institutional hierarchies, and (relatedly) various forms of due process. It's a bit different than pledging devotion to the maximum leader, or wanting to lock up dissidents in Guantanamo.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:00 AM
horizontal rule
190

186 was me. Also, I suppose one could call what Lieberman has been doing to Obama -- and what Zell Miller did to Kerry in '04 -- "fragging." By contrast, what goes on here and across the blogosphere amounts to little more than people venting or trying to think of ways to push Obama to become the leader they want him to be. Nearly everyone here will vote for Obama, nearly everyone here wishes him well. Given that, fragging is a rather unfortunate choice of words.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:01 AM
horizontal rule
191

Doh!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:01 AM
horizontal rule
192

I saw Tom Brokaw doing Meet the Press interviewing John Kerry as a surrogate for Obama along with Lieberman acting as a surrogate for McCain.

That booking agent must've been pissed when he/she couldn't get Gore as the Obama surrogate. Political gimmick chasers have got to be salivating over that.

I lack confidence that [Obama]'ll be able to maintain tight control as the full resources of the party are brought to bear.

I'm not. A lot of the DNC people moved into Chicago HQ a month ago, and it's really been no problem thus far. The organization there is tight. Really everyone is there for Obama, so they see preventing leaks as half their job. The way they deal with reporters, the way they treat any sort of internal documents, the way that information is restricted to a very small core of staff until the rest of the workers absolutely need to know, it's all quite impressive.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:01 AM
horizontal rule
193

186: I've got 10 $5 bottles for you.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:02 AM
horizontal rule
194

pf, George HW looked so fake--even by Republican standards--when he tried to eat pork rinds to show that he was a Texan coowboy that the media were unable to do anything other than laugh.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:02 AM
horizontal rule
195

Or 25 $2 bottles. Your choice.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:03 AM
horizontal rule
196

I've got 10 $5 bottles for you.

If McCain wins, this will be far more handy than one $50 bottle.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:03 AM
horizontal rule
197

While there's plenty of reasonable debate about political strategy, it's hard to come up with something that could be reasonably described as an unambiguous Obama blunder.

Sure, Obama's got to be way better than McCain to be treated equally, but so far, he's been way better.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:05 AM
horizontal rule
198

unambiguous Obama blunder

"bitter" remarks


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:07 AM
horizontal rule
199

Groton. Newport is in Rhode Island.

Re: Dole -- it's a lucky thing that the Fundies are all wrapped up in identity politics. Otherwise, they might realize that a competent guy who is beholden to them would be way better than an incompetent guy who is one of theirs.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:18 AM
horizontal rule
200

I was about to ask whether he meant Groton, having never heard of Newport, Connecticut.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:22 AM
horizontal rule
201

Those are relatively major lifestyle changes for a lot of Americans, especially when it comes to transportation

Oh, I don't mean to deny that at all - I just mean that it's a recognizably Modern American lifestyle. The strawman response to "we need major changes if we're not going to be fucked" is the yurt-dwelling vegan.

50 years ago, 200,000 additional people led something like the lifestyle I describe, right in this city. Nationwide, there are tens of millions of empty slots in old cities and their inner-ring suburbs. Fill 'em back up, and we're a good chunk of the distance to something sustainable(ish). And you still get to have the personal electronics and labor-saving devices that separate us from the animals.

What we need is for there to be higher-profile advocates for vegan yurt-dwelling, so that President Obama can say to them and to the Club for Growth, "You're both wrong. The middle path of traditional American town-dwelling* is the Path of Righteousness."

* I've said a few times and places that I see a lot of potential in the small town county seats of America - most of them have a walkable downtown, it's an attractive association for people, and most of them were once connected by rail (trolley) to the nearest metropolis. Essentially, empty out exurbia, and everyone has a choice of streetcar suburbs, cities, or county seats. Redistribute office parks to the county seats and trolley stops, or good old-fashioned Downtowns.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:23 AM
horizontal rule
202

Otherwise, they might realize that a competent guy who is beholden to them would be way better than an incompetent guy who is one of theirs.

That's not giving them enough credit. They pragmatically backed GWB in 2000 over Gary Bauer and over a bunch of other candidates who had kissed their asses for years. Now part of the credit belongs to Bush and Rove for pushing their buttons all the right way, but the smartest ones in the leadership had to realize that they were making a corrupt bargain with someone who wasn't truly one of them, but was willing to convincingly pretend he was.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:24 AM
horizontal rule
203

JRoth gets it exactly right in 202.

The suburban lifestyle of the late 20th century is not God-ordained, nor is its identification with The American Dream. The trick is to redefine the American dream along the lines that JRoth describes. When higher density living becomes something to aspire to (as it already is for many of us), rather than something to fear, the power of American self-indulgence and capitalist genius can transform the residential geography of the country within a generation, as it did between 1950 and 1975.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:30 AM
horizontal rule
204

The suburban lifestyle of the late 20th century is not God-ordained, nor is its identification with The American Dream. The trick is to redefine the American dream along the lines that JRoth describes.

And a pony.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:43 AM
horizontal rule
205

Hey, who just blew out my single candle? I can't see a thing. And mind your language, whoever that is out there cursing.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:52 AM
horizontal rule
206

And you still get to have the personal electronics and labor-saving devices that separate us from the animals.

I for one, won't sign on for any societal change that would involve a disruption to Skymall.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:53 AM
horizontal rule
207

Ponies as secondary transportation would be very helpful from an urban gardening POV.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:53 AM
horizontal rule
208

And you could recycle their fertilizer and feed them trimmings and scraps.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:54 AM
horizontal rule
209

The suburban lifestyle of the late 20th century is not God-ordained, nor is its identification with The American Dream. The trick is to redefine the American dream along the lines that JRoth describes.

Stirling Newberry is about the only one I've read who see suburbia as at least as much a deterministic economic change as social or cultural.
The "suburban lifestyle" is the heart of consumer capitalism. Levittown was built before the demand really existed, and was not only built because it was possible, but because it was necessary.

Macroeconomics and expectations Your high density neighborhoods will need less cars...and less lawnmowers, washing machines, floor vacumns, air conditioners etc etc ...will create less jobs, or very different (service?) jobs.

You know it's funny. Everbody understands the poor moving to the megalopolis in say South America as materialistically determined, as a dislocation...but the same people see the middle class moving to the suburbs as a "lifestyle choice."
When you start to to look at suburbanization as materially determined is when you start to understand the costs of a forced transition.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:10 PM
horizontal rule
210

Stirling Newberry is about the only one I've read who see suburbia as at least as much a deterministic economic change as social or cultural.

Really? I've always thought this was a given.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:15 PM
horizontal rule
211

Having gone thru the Great Depression, the Keynesian question after WWII was:"How do we sustain high aggregate demand?"

Answer:suburbs. If you think we can maintain that aggregate demand with energy projects and parks and entertainment, you are probably off by about a factor of ten.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:15 PM
horizontal rule
212

When you start to to look at suburbanization as materially determined is when you start to understand the costs of a forced transition.

It's weird how the U.S. went through this unique, unprecedented stage of capitalism where the underlying material conditions forced all the people to move to the suburbs, when the same migration never took place on anything approaching the same scale in other advanced industrial countries. It's almost as if superstructural phenomena like interstate highways, tax-subsidized mortgages, and racial politics were somehow involved. But of course we know that can't be. Those are mere epiphenomena that distract our attention from the real scientific drivers of history: the material relations of production.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:18 PM
horizontal rule
213

211:The suburban lifestyle of the late 20th century is not God-ordained, nor is its identification with The American Dream ...this kind of sentence, and the discussion in this thread, and what I've read from urbanites around the web, leads me to believe it is not a given. It is mostly spoken as a psychological or cultural problem, e.g., "people love their backyards"

The number of jobs needed to transpost a million people by rail is probably 1/10th the number needed to transport them by auto/truck. Yes, I am pulling these numbers from my ass. But this is how you need to think about it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:21 PM
horizontal rule
214

when the same migration never took place on anything approaching the same scale in other advanced industrial countries.

And during that period, what was our economic & military status relative to those other countries?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:23 PM
horizontal rule
215

Remember, GM pulls the strings!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:24 PM
horizontal rule
216

Having gone thru the Great Depression, the Keynesian question after WWII was:"How do we sustain high aggregate demand?"

Precisely! Which is why the countries with the highest cumulative aggregate demand growth post WWII have only hollowed out cities and sprawling suburbs. The data match the theory perfectly.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:26 PM
horizontal rule
217

KR you're cracking me up. A consultant's toughest job: talking the old marxist down.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:28 PM
horizontal rule
218

highest cumulative aggregate demand growth post WWII

You don't compare a nation moving from pre-industrial to industrial to nations already industrialized, or moving post-industrial.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:32 PM
horizontal rule
219

Yes, I am pulling these numbers from my ass. But this is how you need to think about it.

Persuasive, that.

In any event, I think that's the first time I've heard a Marxist argue that the puppets of the bourgouisie who run our government have made maximizing employment their chief objective of their hidden policy agenda. Whatever happened to "the reserve army of the unemployed"?


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:38 PM
horizontal rule
220

Ok, let me try another track

Energy use per capita is correlated with mean wages per capita, corrected for trade.

If say, America or Western Europe is able to decrease its energy use, it will be at the expense of local wages, and directly matched by increasing energy use per capita in the developing countries.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:39 PM
horizontal rule
221

Correlation is not causation, bob.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:40 PM
horizontal rule
222

Whatever happened to "the reserve army of the unemployed"?

1945-75, the reserve army was either in the military or stay-at-home wives.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:41 PM
horizontal rule
223

Gotta go pick up my car from the mechanics. Damn manifold gave out at 210,000 miles. They don't make 'em like they used to.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:45 PM
horizontal rule
224

Energy use per capita is correlated with mean wages per capita, corrected for trade.

In 1925, I bet you could have found a neat correlation between mean wages and carbon paper consumption per capita, but by 1990, the high per capita carbon paper using countries would have been pretty far down the list of rich countries. The energy consumption per dollar of GDP has been in decline in the advanced industrial nations for 30 years now. Bob is wedded to physiocratic model of aggregate output that went out of style before Marx was born.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:53 PM
horizontal rule
225

Have you all read this? It's excellent. [Insert academic qualifiers here.]


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:54 PM
horizontal rule
226

Just here to give some love to 127.


Posted by: Currence | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:56 PM
horizontal rule
227

The energy consumption per dollar of GDP has been in decline in the advanced industrial nations for 30 years now

What an asshole. Didn't read the part about trade and increasing energy use in developing countries?
That our washing machines are made in China does make the advanced countries look cleaner, but does not mean we are using less energy. We are simply outsourcing some energy demand.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:58 PM
horizontal rule
228

The energy consumption per dollar of GDP has been in decline in the advanced industrial nations for 30 years now

And real wages have been in decline in the US for about the same thirty years.

Of course, correlation is not causality.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:05 PM
horizontal rule
229

Sorry, Bob, but you're still full of shit. Energy consumption per unit of PPP-adjusted output is dropping in non-OECD countries, too (including China), just not as fast, since the fastest growing countries are adopting some of our energy-intensive consumption habits (bigger houses, more cars) as they grow richer.

Your premise that the wealth of nations is stored in hydrocarbon bonds is just as wrong as Quesnay's belief that the source of all wealth is in the soil.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:07 PM
horizontal rule
230

Ari, I will take your odds for $20 to the charity of your choice. Not a lot of money, but I expect to lose anyway.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:10 PM
horizontal rule
231

153

"Another idea I'd like to see is a mandatory instantaneous MPG gauge on every new car. Many cars have them already. Let the lead-foots see, in real-time, how much gas they are wasting racing to each red light. Would people complain about that? More info?"

My car has one of these and it is pretty useless. When you speed up the mpg goes down and then when you slow down again it goes up. But the efficiency of your engine isn't necessarily changing, it is just that when you speed up some of the engine output is being banked as kinetic energy which is then withdrawn when you slow down again. Similarly with going up a hill and back down except that the output is banked as potential energy. So if you could arrange to be always slowing down and/or going downhill you would get great mileage but unfortunately this isn't very practical.

Also the guage is a distraction and a safety hazard if you actually look at it a lot.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:15 PM
horizontal rule
232

CJB, send me an e-mail at kelmanari AT geemail DOT com so I don't forget. And I'm not interested in large bets. I just make book for the kids.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:17 PM
horizontal rule
233

energy-intensive consumption habits (bigger houses, more cars) as they grow richer.

Why do you keep looking at this as consumption instead of production? I see (bigger houses, more cars) as jobs & credit/capital.

Energy consumption per unit of PPP-adjusted output is dropping in non-OECD countries, too

And this is pretty stupid. "Consumption Per Unit Output" is obviously nowhere near as significant as energy use per capita or total energy consumed. Efficency in China is increasing arithmetically while consumption is increasing geometrically. The world is saved!


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:19 PM
horizontal rule
234

Hey Shearer, how come you never joust with the Marxists? Not as much fun as puncturing the comfortable liberal consensus? Or is it that strange convergence of conservative and Marxists viewpoints (Conservative: "The welfare state will choke off the lifeblood of our capitalist system, you liberal fools"; Marxist: "The welfare state will choke off the lifeblood of our capitalist system--and not a moment too soon!")?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:21 PM
horizontal rule
235

And the Physiocrats (and Malthus) are making a comeback, dude.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:22 PM
horizontal rule
236

CJB, send me an e-mail at kelmanari AT geemail DOT com so I don't forget. And I'm not interested in large bets. I just make book for the kids.

Sent.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:28 PM
horizontal rule
237

John McCain has a comprehensive economic plan.

Ok, so where are my reward points?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:49 PM
horizontal rule
238

Efficency in China is increasing arithmetically while consumption is increasing geometrically. The world is saved!

May God have mercy on the soul of that poor strawman, because McManus had none when he struck him down with a single blow to his grassy torso.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:50 PM
horizontal rule
239

James,
When you speed up the mpg goes down and then when you slow down again it goes up.

I get your point. People are too stupid to understand what the gauge is showing. Thank you for demonstrating that.

Would it be more helpful to show money being burned as the consumption goes up? Something like dollar bills slowly burning when you are idling but then getting to a roaring fire when you floor it?

Do you think you could understand it then?


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:51 PM
horizontal rule
240

John McCain is highly unlikely to have a sexual dalliance with a White House intern.

John McCain has no record of felony convictions for crimes involving violence or fraud.

John McCain has not, since becoming a member of the U.S. Senate, exposed his genitals to any schoolchildren.

John McCain can laugh at himself, as long as the joke is reasonably flattering to his self-image, and as long as it doesn't touch on the topics of the Keating Five, his divorce, his current wife's tax records, or discussions he had with the Democratic leadership about switching parties.

I'm halfway to a baseball cap already!


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:56 PM
horizontal rule
241

Do you think you could understand it then?

That was a little ungracious, Tripp. That was the good Shearer talking there, not the troll Shearer. I happen to agree with his point, BTW. I keep the gauge on our car set to cumulative mpg, so that I can keep an eye on it without all the volatility of an instant readout.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:58 PM
horizontal rule
242

244: If there were any justice in the world the points would only be redeemable at SkyMall.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:59 PM
horizontal rule
243

245: Don't you think the instant readout is useful for reminding yourself to moderate the spikes in MPG? Discouraging jackrabbit starts and such?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:01 PM
horizontal rule
244

KR,

Your premise that the wealth of nations is stored in hydrocarbon bonds

The premise is that it all comes down to energy, and I agree with that premise.

Build all the creations and structures on top of that you want but when you dig down far enough it all does come down to energy.

We've got plenty of ways to improve our usage of energy but fundamentally it really does come down to energy - how much usable energy we have.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:04 PM
horizontal rule
245

247: It is definitely useful for that. Also for pointing out how much more inefficient 75 mph is that 60 mph on the freeway ( that nonlinear term is a killer, and that sort of thing. If you're paying attention, such a guage can show you what bad habits you have. Especially if in conjunction with one that averages over a few minutes.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:08 PM
horizontal rule
246

245: KR

I suppose I was confused by this statement: But the efficiency of your engine isn't necessarily changing, it is just that when you speed up some of the engine output is being banked as kinetic energy which is then withdrawn when you slow down again.

From a physics standpoint that is totally wrong and jackrabbit starts and sudden stops are nothing like speeding down a hill and then coasting up the next hill.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:09 PM
horizontal rule
247

We've got plenty of ways to improve our usage of energy but fundamentally it really does come down to energy - how much usable energy we have.

In an abstract thermodynamic sense you're right, but there is vastly more potentially usable energy on earth than we could ever need to satisfy our demands (solar, tides, geothermal, etc.). We're in a technological rut now because we've gotten used to the convenience of breaking hydrocarbon bonds to supply most of our energy needs, but there's no reason it has to be so. Nor is there any reason (and this was my original point) that the pinnacle of consumer aspiration needs to be the most profligate energy usage patterns imaginable.

The difference between the status quo and a sustainable trajectory is not unbridgeable, even if it does promise to be difficult and require some short-term sacrifices.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:11 PM
horizontal rule
248

From a physics standpoint that is totally wrong and jackrabbit starts and sudden stops are nothing like speeding down a hill and then coasting up the next hill.

This is true. Also, a typical automobile has a very non-linear efficiency. One of the advantages of gas-assist hybrids is that although they have a ICE under most circumstances it is running (when running) significantly more efficiently than your conventional ICE engine. Idling is particularly bad.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:17 PM
horizontal rule
249

KR,

In an abstract thermodynamic sense you're right, but there is vastly more potentially usable energy on earth than we could ever need to satisfy our demands (solar, tides, geothermal, etc.). We're in a technological rut now because we've gotten used to the convenience of breaking hydrocarbon bonds to supply most of our energy needs, but there's no reason it has to be so.

This is the crux of our disagreement. I see no viable alternatives to the chemical energy we've been using for the past 100 years or so. I assume that you do.

I don't see the thermodynamics as abstract either. It is fundamental to our situation.

Abstract things are easily changed. Fundamentals are not.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:26 PM
horizontal rule
250

I see no viable alternatives to the chemical energy we've been using for the past 100 years or so. I assume that you do.

I'm not a cornucopian; there will certainly be unpleasant disruptions in the transition to the post-hydrocarbon economy. And there are some applications for which there will probably never be an equivalent substitute (in petrochemistry, for example). And a lot of the potential alternative energy sources (e.g. ethanol-shitting bacteria) don't do anything to help on the carbon emissions front.

All that said, the earth is being replenished with energy every day, through solar radiation (including photosynthesis, the water cycle, atmospheric wind) and gravitational attraction (the tides). Even if we don't find a replacement that packs as much potential energy per kg as fossil fuels, we aren't going to run out, and we will surely devise ways to make the abundant sources of energy more usable, storeable, accessible, and mobile. I trust the market (with some judicious prodding from state actors) to do that.

Equally, I trust that consumption patterns will adapt (if not without protest) to new conditions. Having household servants used to be an indispensable condition of bourgeouis existence. Now it's not. Some of our current profligate habits might seem just as odd a century from now.

The exhaustion of soil nutrients in the 19th century looked like a Malthusian catastrophe in the making, and military conflict over guano islands was a major threat to global stability. Then came the Haber-Bosch process, and we were on our way to the post-guano agricultural economy. I see fossil fuels as our guano.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:42 PM
horizontal rule
251

247

"Don't you think the instant readout is useful for reminding yourself to moderate the spikes in MPG? Discouraging jackrabbit starts and such?"

You are missing my point. When you are traveling at a constant speed on level ground the engine has to produce enough power to match the energy lost to wind resistence (and other frictional losses in the tires etc). When you are accelerating the engine has to produce additional power to make up for the additional kinetic energy represented by the mass of your car traveling at a higher velocity. So you appear to be getting lower mpg. But this is misleading because the added kinetic energy is not lost, you can get it back when you slow down (without braking). As you coast down some of the kinetic energy is drawn down to help overcome wind resistence. So you appear to be getting higher mpg. Accelerating slowly doesn't necessarily gain you anything. Because you are building up your kinetic energy more slowly the drop in mpg is smaller but it takes place over a longer time period. The gauge is not telling you what rpm is most efficient for your engine which is what you need to know.

Note braking (assuming no regenerative braking) is a dead loss. It is better to always coast to a stop. Of course this isn't practical but you want to minimize braking. The guage won't tell you this, it will show you getting great mileage when you braking because you are moving forward but the engine isn't working hard.

Going up hill is similar. You also store and release energy in the engine flywheel but I don't know how significant this is.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:45 PM
horizontal rule
252

there will certainly be unpleasant disruptions in the transition to the post-hydrocarbon economy.

There really isn't a choice about this, there is only a question of how quickly it is forced.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:45 PM
horizontal rule
253

(e.g. ethanol-shitting bacteria)
Hey, that's yeast. Not bacteria. Don't be insulting my good buddies like that.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:45 PM
horizontal rule
254

James is missing a couple of things, but he's basically correct about instantaneous gauges not being enough -- you can derive useful information from them though.

The gauge is not telling you what rpm is most efficient for your engine which is what you need to know.

This would be useful information.

Friction becomes a huge issue on the freeway, and here a mpg guage is useful, but one that averages over a few minutes is probably better than instantaneous.

Typical automotive engines are terrible at idle, and quite bad in their upper third or so of RPM. But this latter part varies quite a bit. Typically you are better off accelerating more slowly, and reducing braking.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:51 PM
horizontal rule
255

255: I'm pretty sure you're just wrong here (that is, wrong that fast acceleration and higher speeds don't really affect gas mileage on average). First, you've got the wind-resistance as proportional to the speed, and that's just lost energy, you don't get it back. On the quick, rather than slower, acceleration to the same speed point I don't have a simple physics explanation for why it uses more gas, but I'm pretty sure there's a complex physics explanation (that is, something dependent on the nature of the engine, rather than simply on the energy it should take to move an object at a given acceleration) for it -- I've always seen avoidance of jackrabbit starts given as advice for saving gas.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:52 PM
horizontal rule
256

I realize 258 a252 could read as contradictory, but they aren't.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:52 PM
horizontal rule
257

249

"... Also for pointing out how much more inefficient 75 mph is that 60 mph on the freeway ..."

Except that it doesn't really do this. The numbers jump around too much.

"... Especially if in conjunction with one that averages over a few minutes."

This might work better but the one on my car figures in IIRC 2 second intervals and is very nosiy for that reason.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:53 PM
horizontal rule
258

259: I'm reading James as complaining about instantaneous mpg guages not really giving you the right information, which is true. You can use them to help infer some of the right information.

If he's claiming that fast accelerattion and higher speeds don't really affect gas mileage, it would be crazy.

Best things you can do to improve gas mileage, (probably in order for typical use)

1 - slow down on the freeway if you do a lot of miles at 65 or above
2 - check your tire pressure regularly and maintain it at high end of range (conditions permitting)
3 - no jackrabbiting, never speed up toward red lights, etc
4 - reduce idling as much as possible


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:57 PM
horizontal rule
259

This might work better but the one on my car figures in IIRC 2 second intervals and is very nosiy for that reason.

2 seconds is kind of ridiculous for that. I've got one that does 5 minute bars, and it's very clear for freeway effects (speed, headwinds, etc).


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:58 PM
horizontal rule
260

that is, something dependent on the nature of the engine, rather than simply on the energy it should take to move an object at a given acceleration

There are two things going on. One thing is that the efficiency of the engine is not linear. Another is that with jackrabbit starts/stops you're peak speed is not necc. the same as otherwise. You can have the same average speed light to light and use a lot more energy that is then thrown away as heat (braking), and spend more time idling (also bad) if you are catching reds.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:01 PM
horizontal rule
261

The instantaneous mileage gauge should be filtered by e.g. a Kalman filter. Easy!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:03 PM
horizontal rule
262

259: hypermiling.com seems to think it 's a matter of overcoming friction along the drivetrain, which makes sense, but maybe isn't the whole story.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:05 PM
horizontal rule
263

265: One additional problem is that your car often doesn't have a very accurate measurement of the remaining gas....


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:05 PM
horizontal rule
264

Incidentally, last night's Mythbusters (nerd!) had a pretty funny demonstration of the principle that driving angry makes you use more fuel.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:06 PM
horizontal rule
265

Actually, I rather like our mpg gauge. Soup gets it right. Also useful: biking a lot for many years, so you develop an intuitive sense of the energy costs involved in seemingly small things like a touch of acceleration or a slight incline.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:08 PM
horizontal rule
266

James,

Accelerating slowly doesn't necessarily gain you anything. Because you are building up your kinetic energy more slowly the drop in mpg is smaller but it takes place over a longer time period.

You seem to be mixing the real case of a modern car with the ideal case of a rocket operating in outer space.

I think you are ignoring friction and specifically aerodynamics, or at least including them sometimes and not at others.

Aside from that, though, I am interested in your real-world experience with your mpg gauge.

Are you saying that traveling at a constant speed on a highway the 2-second reading jumps around? If so I am surprised at that. I would have thought it would be fairly steady.

I think it is OK to show people the drop in MPG as they accelerate because we both know that they will not get all that energy back. Even with regenerative braking they can't get it all back. So if the mpg drops from 20 to 10 during acceleration when it should ideally show a drop from 20 to, say, 11 because of the increase in momentum some of which you might get back later what is the problem?


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:09 PM
horizontal rule
267

Hey, that's yeast. Not bacteria. Don't be insulting my good buddies like that.

No, I really meant bacteria. Yeast need starches to shit ethanol, and plant starches require a lot of energy, water, and arable land to produce. As I understand it, the goal of some researchers is to genetically engineer bacteria to metabolise cellulose into ethanol on a commercially viable scale. Plant cellulose, unlike plant starch, can be produced with relatively little energy and water on otherwise unproductive land.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:12 PM
horizontal rule
268

259

"... and higher speeds don't really affect gas mileage on average). First, you've got the wind-resistance as proportional to the speed, and that's just lost energy, you don't get it back. ..."

I didn't intend to say higher speeds don't affect mileage. Wind resistence is actually proportional to the square of the velocity and this certainly means higher speeds decrease mileage at freeway speeds where wind resistence is the dominant term.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:13 PM
horizontal rule
269

Actually, I rather like our mpg gauge. Soup gets it right. Also useful: biking a lot for many years, so you develop an intuitive sense of the energy costs involved in seemingly small things like a touch of acceleration or a slight incline.

I totally agree with that. Even aside from biking I think it is worthwhile to try some physical things to really see and feel how much power we get from cheap energy. I'm not being snarky.

Our ancestors did the grunt work and then could feel and know how great 'labor-saving' devices were. Most people today have little appreciation for how much energy it takes to do the things that seem so easy - like getting an FUV to go from 0 to 60.

Few people understand just how much work is done by fossil fuel in our lives.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:14 PM
horizontal rule
270

Wind resistence is actually proportional to the square of the velocity
And power needed goes as the cube. High speeds on the the freeway are expensive, energywise.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:17 PM
horizontal rule
271

268: the principle that driving angry makes you use more fuel.

Which is why Obama winning would help me personally save energy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:18 PM
horizontal rule
272

to try some physical things to really see and feel how much power we get from cheap energy.

Tripp made his kids use a mangle for 1 year before they could use the washing machine. That's why they picked on him through their teens.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:18 PM
horizontal rule
273

Wind resistence is actually proportional to the square of the velocity and this certainly means higher speeds decrease mileage at freeway speeds where wind resistence is the dominant term.

I first gained a full appreciation for this while driving on the Autobahn in Germany. When you're doing 180 or 200 kph, you need to give a lot of gas to maintain your speed. The deceleration from suddenly letting off the gas pedal at 200 kph (~125 mph) feels like slamming on the brakes at 100kph.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:19 PM
horizontal rule
274

Yeast need starches to shit ethanol

Do they? The yeast we host every fall thrive on glucose and fructose.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:20 PM
horizontal rule
275

Wind resistence is actually proportional to the square of the velocity

Huh. High-school physics did me wrong (I went flying off to wikipedia because I was sure I was right, and found out that the F=bv equation I remembered only works at low speeds, and at higher speeds it is quadratic. Drat.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:22 PM
horizontal rule
276

273: feel how much power we get from cheap energy.

Walking along a highway is one way to appreciate it. I once came across a colleague who was trudging up the hill along a not very pedestrian friendly semi-busy road to our place of work (some ride arrangement had misfired). After he got in to my car he looked at me and simply said the truest words I have ever heard, "Cars are fast""


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:22 PM
horizontal rule
277

Yeast need starches to shit ethanol
Do they?

Yeah, I was going to nitpick that, too. In fact, they can only produce ethanol from simple sugars, which is why brewers need the malting and mashing steps, to create and apply enzymes that degrade the grain starches into simple sugars. But point taken that ethanol-for-energy research is using at least some different, freaky ethanol-producing organisms.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:23 PM
horizontal rule
278

Huh. High-school physics did me wrong, F=bv equation I remembered only works at low speeds

This would be the HS physics favourite, the typical linear approximation, which in this case works reasonably for low Reynolds numbers.

We don't really care about the force though, what we care about is the energy we'll need to expend. So multiply (well, vector product) by velocity again and you'll get proportionality to the cube of the velocity.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:27 PM
horizontal rule
279

278: You're quite right. If you start with starch, there is the intermediate step of breaking the glycosidic bonds. I was thinking of the feedstock for industrial ethanol production, which is typically starch rather than sugar in the U.S.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:29 PM
horizontal rule
280

I first gained a full appreciation for this while driving on the Autobahn in Germany. When you're doing 180 or 200 kph, you need to give a lot of gas to maintain your speed.

And your gas mileage sucks.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:30 PM
horizontal rule
281

And your gas mileage sucks.

I never fully internalized this point, because, although I had an onboard computer that told me my instantaneous and cumulative fuel economy, it was calibrated in terms of "liters per 100km", which is difficult to mentally convert to mph. In the same way that spending foreign money on vacation doesn't hurt quite as much as spending your own currency at home, getting 10 liters to 100km was less distressing than if I had converted it to mph (low 20s, I think).

BTW I didn't drive that fast all the time. Mostly I drove around 160kph on my own dime, and only drove faster in rental cars when I could expense the fuel to someone else.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:41 PM
horizontal rule
282

LB, we want more days like this when you apparently don't have much/any work to do. I know you like your job and all, but what about our needs?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:41 PM
horizontal rule
283

I'm in that bad place where I have plenty of work that needs doing, but no immediately looming deadlines. And I'd managed a complete taboo on commenting from work for awhile, but I've kind of lost it on that, although I should really try to get it back.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:44 PM
horizontal rule
284

I'm in that bad place where I have plenty of work that needs doing, but no immediately looming deadlines.

I'm right there with you LB. Trouble on the horizon.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:45 PM
horizontal rule
285

BTW I didn't drive that fast all the time.

Nothing puts the lie to the idea that motorcycles are fuel efficient like taking one over 250 for a while....


Posted by: what seems to be the problem, officer? | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:47 PM
horizontal rule
286

270

"I think it is OK to show people the drop in MPG as they accelerate because we both know that they will not get all that energy back. Even with regenerative braking they can't get it all back. So if the mpg drops from 20 to 10 during acceleration when it should ideally show a drop from 20 to, say, 11 because of the increase in momentum some of which you might get back later what is the problem?"

See this article for why acceleration is not neccesarily bad for mpg. Under some conditions accelerating and coasting gives better mileage than keeping a constant speed because the engine is running more efficiently when accelerating.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:00 PM
horizontal rule
287

Doesn't look very practical for driving on a road with other cars on it, does it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:06 PM
horizontal rule
288

Under some conditions accelerating and coasting gives better mileage than keeping a constant speed because the engine is running more efficiently when accelerating.

It's true that such situations exist (and vary by vehicle a bit) but it's pretty uncommon in practice, and sometime impractical. The hyper-miler types have all sorts of tricks to eke out another 10 or 20% on top of basic efficient patterns, but some of them will piss off anyone following. For typical drivers this is down in the noise, though. Typical driving patterns in city traffic are sub-optimal, and a good part of that is due to overaccelerating.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:07 PM
horizontal rule
289

*sometime should be somewhat impractical in 292


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:15 PM
horizontal rule
290

292

"... Typical driving patterns in city traffic are sub-optimal, and a good part of that is due to overaccelerating."

The problem with city driving is you are braking all the time and that is a dead loss (absent regenerative braking). Accelerating is bad if it causes more braking.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:43 PM
horizontal rule
291

294: Fundamentally the problem is throwing away energy, sure, but it isn't like you're stuck with typical use. Typically people accelerate faster than they should, and brake more. Idling is also bad (inefficient). And if you're really gunning it from the lights, you're typically going well past your ICE's most efficient RPMs, so that doesn't help either. So even without fundamentally changing traffic patterns, you could see a significant improvement with entirely practical changes primarily in driver competence.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:55 PM
horizontal rule
292

270

"Aside from that, though, I am interested in your real-world experience with your mpg gauge.

Are you saying that traveling at a constant speed on a highway the 2-second reading jumps around? If so I am surprised at that. I would have thought it would be fairly steady."

Ok, here is my experience based on having the car a few months. The display cycles between a bunch of things as you press a button on the steering wheel. Each can be reset independently. IIRC they are elapsed time, averge mph, average mpg, instaneous mpg and miles to empty. The instaneous mpg is based on succesive 2 second intervals. It bounces around a lot. The highest mpg it will display is 99 and it is not hard to get 99, I think you just have to take your foot off the gas for 2 seconds. I found it useless and distracting and usually have the display set to something else.

I haven't used it recently on the freeway and I can't really remember exactly how noisy it was but I did not think it was giving me a good idea of what mpg I was getting. Freeways do go up and down and sometimes you have a crosswind and sometimes a tailwind and you aren't going at a completely constant speed. Over 100 miles this stuff tends to average out, over 2 seconds (176 feet at 60 mph) not so much.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:36 PM
horizontal rule