Friday, May 9, 2008

Traveling to Paradise Lost

This blog will be on a short hiatus.

You can stop clapping or weeping wildly now. The creators of this blog are off to the Middle East to travel and discover what it really is like there on the street. When a Wi-Fi signal finds itself on a laptop (where would I find a Starbucks..?) then a blog post will occur. We have our cameras so maybe a photo or two will emerge too. :)

From Flaming Moderate and I - Stay Safe,

Strong Moderate

PS. I will try to finish the last day of the Alternative Energy Vehicle articles in an airport along the way.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Green Cars, Black Earth Part Deux

Part Two of Three, an expose on alternate energy vehicles. Today's topic: Plug-in Electric/Hybrid Vehicles.

Tesla Roadster, a good looking plug-in

Day Two: Plug-in Electric/Hybrid Vehicles

Plug-in electric/hybrid cars seem like a pretty good idea, like most alternate energy vehicles, until you start looking at the details and the implications in the long run. Don't get me wrong, I love helping the environment and the look of the new Tesla Roadster (in fact the supposed Future Ferrari Front-Engine V8 looks eerily similar) however again, when something smells too sweet there must be something hiding.

First, the obvious. When you plug in a car into an outlet and then drive it around there is ZERO emissions, which is wonderful! Problem is.. where did all that energy come from? That's right, most likely big ol' power plant. If you are in the US there's a pretty high chance that you will be taking your energy from a coal power plant which is putting a huge hole in the ozone and spewing out harmful things like mercury and sulfur oxides. So, basically when you buy a plug-in hybrid you end up shifting the pollution, and although you feel like you are saving the world all you've most likely done is put the pollution somewhere you can't see it directly. If you happen to live next to a wind-farm, solar array, or nuclear power-plant.. more power to you, buy a plug-in hybrid as soon as they are released in mid to late 2009!

Another issue with these hybrids or fully electric vehicles again is their batteries.. they are heavy. Very, very heavy. With fuel-combustion vehicles, the more gas you burn the less of your cars energy is going towards pushing the weight of the gasoline however in an electric vehicle it must constantly propel all the weight of the battery (minus a few lost electrons). Car companies are promising new, lighter batteries but I'm not holding my breath.

The next installment will be on hydrogen-powered cars.. stay tuned

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cinco De Mayo!

Happy Cinco De Mayo everyone! Fiesta! Siesta! Andale!

Why are we celebrating Cinco De Mayo? Why are main stream Americans and Public school systems all over the US celebrating this holiday? I mean hey, if you are Mexican I'm sure it is a day of national pride just like the Fourth of July but for most Americans... why would you even care?

Any excuse for a party I guess..

Green Cars will turn the world Brown too

Heil to the mighty Prius.. now featuring cute kitty exhaust!"

The so-called "Green Revolution" must affect people's brains in some odd way as to make them short-sighted and arrogant. The movement for conservation and preservation of nature is something I support, however, there are smart ways to save... and then there are ways that feel good but are just plain dumb. One of my greatest pet peeves is people's new attitudes towards the new generation of alternate energy cars, which fall into three categories: Electric Battery Hybrids (Toyota Prius), Plug-in Hybrids (Chevrolet Volt), and the Hydrogen Car (BMW Hydrogen 7). I will tackle each of these abominations in a separate post so stay tuned!

Day One: Electric Battery Hybrids

Wow, this seems like the perfect answer! Less emissions AND greater fuel economy... what more could you ask for?! It must work by magic, making the evil oilman go away and the ozone will be effected a lot less! Wow!

OK.. now seriously, if you just bought that happy go-lucky picturethen you haven't thought this idea out. The whole idea behind this car is how great it is for the environment but what about that little magical device that makes the car so 'wonderful', the BATTERY? Now someone remind me.. what are batteries filled with? what are they made out of? Right... plastic and acid. Plastic doesn't exactly evaporate into thin air when you're done using it.. it sits in a dump for a couple thousand years and breaks down very, very slowly. The acid could be neutralized if disposed of properly using more chemicals which also take a bunch of energy.. which has to come from somewhere.. right? Hmm...

Another thing, those batteries are worth about 8,000 buckaroos (or USD, for those not familiar with the term). The warranty on the car only covers the battery for four years.. during that period if you have a problem they just throw it out and replace it... doesn't seem as eco-friendly as simply getting your car fixed with a hammer and wrenches. After the warranty period if the battery goes out, you've totaled you car. You are up carbon-footprint creek without a paddle.

Finally, let's face it.. most people buying Priuses are not doing it for fuel economy, in fact only 37% said that was their motivation. According to a survey written up in the New York Times in 2007 (link below), the main reason people bought the Prius was for making a statement about themselves. Hmm... so do owners care about the environment or do they just want to put a smug smile and lambaste everyone about how they've done "part to save the rain forests and save the web-footed orange pigeon." If people are so into the carbon off-sets business ought to also pay-up for all the energy consumed just to make your fancy vehicle which includes the factory, the workers, their vehicles which got them to work, their homes - (they need to live somewhere, right?), their families, etc...

Toyota Prius Review

Look at me Factor.. B, personally I think it looks forgettable but folks go ga-ga over it for some reason
Interior.. D, for goodness sakes the glued on the vents and the interior is made of cheap plastic!

Overall.. F, A eco-friendly vehicle that's actually worse for the environment in the long run.. wonderful!


Maynard, Micheline; Nick Bunkley and Mary M. Chapman contributing. "Say 'Hybrid' and Many People will Hear 'Prius.'" The New York Times, via, 2007-07-04. Retrieved on 2007-08-13.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Hillary's Media Shenanigans

Hillary's Little Secrets

Hillary Clinton has a secret you don't know about...
and you won't, either.

Hillary Clinton's campaign has led a strong effort on keeping the lid on their most embarrassing moments, ties, and comments. Clinton's Communications Director Howard Wolfson has been at the helm of the media control, crisis management, and sometimes story suppression. The question arises of just how does the Clinton campaign control the media surrounding her so well?

Many stories criticizing the Clinton campaign have come out but the most damaging stories have stayed relatively quiet (a campaign staffer, Mickey Kantor, calling Indiana's people "s**t") in comparison to the Obama campaign's disastrous media control ( Rev. Wright ring a bell?) The Clinton campaign is using some very heavy leverage to stop big media outlets from publicizing her most embarrassing stories, access to Bill Clinton.

Former president Clinton will always be a news story, win or lose for Hillary, and the Clinton campaign are betting their chips that no media outlet is going to want to jeopardize their access to him just to run a hot story on Hillary. So far, the pressure has worked. Barack Obama on the other hand has been sorely missing a good media crisis response team and it is costing him heavily. The Wright controversy and the "bitter" comments cost him a closer finish in Pennsylvania and are seriously hurting his numbers among whites, blue collar workers, and rural voters.

One of the Achilles heels of Hillary Clinton is the perception (rightly so, I believe) that she is disingenuous and ready to do anything to get what she wants. These media suppression tactics are definitely feeding into that perception and are not helping her readiness if in a huge coup she takes the Democratic nomination. Chances are that somewhere down the line, Republicans are going to really turn up the heat and expose something that she will be unable to suppress and what will happen next will be a toss-up, either a well-planned crisis management plan or a complete meltdown. That being said Obama who now has much more experience taking heavy media fire is really going to have to work on his team's response management, time after time his response has been too slow, too weak or too philosophical. Obama is really going to need to get his responses ready and right before the convention if he wants to show super-delegates he has a chance against a GOP that seems to be almost in desperation to take the White House again.

In Conclusion,

Hillary Clinton needs to.. "man" up and start taking some real heat, stop dodging the media
Barack Obama needs to.. work on his responses to attacks, win Indiana in spite of the scandals
John McCain needs to.. raise money, describe his own plan on how to make the situation in Iraq better, raise money, outline his plans for the economy and health care, raise money, just keep cruising until June.


Newsbusters: Story on another Clinton Campaign Finance Fiasco
Newsbusters: Is the Honeymoon over?
CNN: Hillary's Rove Tacitics

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Economy: Not a Tax Cut problem but a Spending problem

{[ Warning: This is an economic rant, beware. ]}

Sometimes I can't help myself and get into intense debates with coffee shop liberals who think they've got all the answers. In one such discussion recently I found myself in the topic was the reason for the slumping economy. There were two major topics debated: the Bush Tax cuts and the role of the Federal Reserve.

The Bush Tax Cuts

More money in an economy will stimulate it. That's just a simple truth.

To argue that the Bush Tax Cuts are the reason for the enormous deficits is just ridiculous. Now whether the richest 10% should have been the largest target of the tax cuts is debatable but a tax cut is never a cause for deficits. (over)SPENDING your resources IS the cause of deficits. Let's reduce this to a more simple model for a moment. You've got a great job at Company XYZ that pays 100,000 dollars and every year you spend 75,00 dollars - everything is just fine and dandy. Then your company comes around and lets you know that you've been fired and you land yourself a job at Company ABC where you make 60,000 dollars, you would like any rational human being change your spending habits not continue spending much more than you make and blame the company XYZ for your losses and you sure as heck wouldn't start spending MORE! That is what the Bush Administration has done to us, first the economic forecasts for 2000 on were pretty good, so "we" got a tax cut, hooray! Then when things started turning for the worst we found ourselves in a quandary because we are spending millions of dollars on unwanted, unneeded projects and military adventures.

If you want to pay for a BMW then you either go work overtime or you reduce spending everywhere else so you can afford one, right? If the Bush Administration was handling your finances they would be buying it all on credit then passing the debt on to your kids when you die. That is wrong. What happened to Fiscal Responsibility and Fiscal Conservatism? I thought we elected Republicans to control the White House and Congress between 2000 and 2006, shouldn't we be running high on surpluses and tax cuts and low on wasteful spending, social programs and unsustainable programs? It seems as though just the opposite is happening but the blame should go on the way the Bush Administration is spending! No tax increase alone is going to cover the enormous deficits that we are running, if you blame the Tax Cuts then you stipulate that undoing them would undo the situation, which is patently false.

So Liberals, remember this: Over-Spending = Bad, Tax Cut = Good, Bush Administration = a stab in the back for Fiscal Conservatives (and common sense folks)

Next, the Federal Reserve

[If you believe the Federal Reserve is in fact a part of a banking elite conspiracy - GO AWAY NOW!]

The number one priority of the Federal Reserve is to ensure the Dollar stays strong and that the American economy stays relatively stable. It is not the Federal Reserve's responsibility to ensure economic growth, combat housing bubbles bursting, regulate the economy outside the interest rates, or bailing out private securities companies. The Federal Reserve is made up of one chief appointed by the President along with the heads of huge banking entities allover the country, these people are not elected with the best interests of citizens at heart - they care about the interests of the banking community not you or me, directly. In fact, take a moment - name at least one of the twelve federal reserve chiefs... nope, didn't think you could.

So, don't go around blaming the Fed for the current economic problems folks. I know it is easy, the Federal Reserve is a secretive group of very rich people... but their mission is just to keep the American economy stable - not in growth so this isn't their fault. It is the role of Congress and the President to try to foster an environment that is conducive to a growing economy. Our economy like any other has its phases in the cycles of growth and decline, it is the role of the Fed to make sure declines don't turn into bank panics and growth doesn't turn into wild inflation. Also, they are NOT perfect - they do make mistakes... so sometimes they get it wrong or work too slow to fully blunt the effects of a decline (this happens a lot when they are under heavy political pressure).

The Federal Reserve should also NOT be given any more power as Secretary of the Treasury Paulson would like. The Federal Reserve is an organ of the government that is run by outsiders, private citizens, and Banking Holding companies and is NOT a part of our Department of the Treasury. So giving it more power is not going to help ordinary citizens like me or you, they have relatively no oversight and report to Congress only if they oblige a request. (If you haven't realized yet, I love using metaphors.. but there is no easy metaphor with which I can simplify this situation.)

A Few Conclusions..

In conclusion, who are we going to blame for the economy which is in recession? (Yup, I used the r-word!) We should be blaming 1)The Bush Administration ,for overspending and not being Fiscally responsible, 2)the Bush Administration, again, for putting too much political pressure on the Federal Reserve hence impeding a rate cut earlier which could have lessened the blow, 3)Congress, for advocating bio-fuels and driving up food costs (this will be discussed soon in another post), 4) Simple Economics, for having up and down cycles, 5) both Subprime loan companies and the people who took those loans, don't be sneaky and don't be stupid, respectively.

Anyone I forgot to add? Comment Below!