“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Does patriotism demand killing the Great White Whale?

If you like cars, you instinctively dislike Suvs. Park between them, and it is blind man's bluff backing into traffic. They reduce the traffic handling capabilities of small country roads and increase commuting time. Their use of gasoline increases overall fleet consumption and drives up prices for everyone and there is increasing perception and acceptance that they contribute to US security concerns over imported oil dependence. (I own one.)

On the other hand, they are fun to drive and necessary for some users in some places. If you are a sportsman or a blonde on a cell phone you love them, but are they un-patriotic?

Love Suvs or hate them, their days are numbered. There is a growing call for controls on vehicle fuel consumption. The Washington Post notices:

Politics of Fuel Economy Catch Up to Automakers
War and Worries About Foreign Oil Increase Pressure

By Sholnn Freeman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The auto industry is facing one of its toughest political battles in years as shifts in the political and business landscape have eroded its defenses against stricter fuel-economy standards.

Congressional Democrats and environmental groups have new allies in the fight to mandate higher vehicle mileage, including a coalition of business executives and retired military leaders. President Bush's support of higher standards also has hampered Detroit's efforts to fend off new rules. Increasingly, the war in Iraq and related concerns over U.S. dependence on foreign oil are changing the dynamics of the debate.

"Something happened in the last five years, most likely the war in Iraq," said Mike Jackson, chairman and chief executive of AutoNation, the nation's largest chain of dealerships. "People see the connection that we went to war for the first time over oil, we stayed around over oil and we're back there over oil."

Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) said the auto industry is confronted by a "sea change" in Washington, where lawmakers equate action on fuel economy with the issues of global warming, high gas prices, foreign oil dependence and the war in Iraq.

Attracting support from other senators on fuel-economy changes is "not an uphill push anymore," Dorgan said.

President Bush toured two Kansas City area auto plants yesterday to promote his plan to reduce gasoline consumption by 20 percent over the next decade. Speaking to workers at a Ford plant, Bush said he was looking forward to working with both Democrats and Republicans to reach his goals.

Bush also framed the issue in a national security context. "When you make one of these cars, you're helping the national security of the country," he said
... more here


  1. Jackson, of AutoNation, said higher gasoline taxes would also help. "Fuel economy right now in the U.S. is right next to cup holders in consideration. You have to have a component that entices or encourages consumers to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles as it's done in Europe. To just raise fuel economy without a consumer component will not work."

    I read the article and my immediate thought was, "What bastards." Instead of letting the alternative fuels market flourish on its own, they want to (in all their wisdom) impose higher mpg standards which is somewhat acceptable but on the other hand, the excuse to raise taxes to affect social policy is unacceptable. I am sick and tired of some fat, incompetent government sticking its greedy hands in my pocket.


  3. Whit: ...the excuse to raise taxes to affect social policy is unacceptable.

    The first income tax was imposed during the Civil War for the purpose of implementing a social policy of no slaves. Withholding of income was imposed in 1943 for the purpose of implementing a social policy of keeping the national language English instead of German and Nipponese. Yet here we are in the middle of the War on Terror, the beneficiary of tax cuts, and the suggestion that a tax on gasoline be raised to bring it more in line with its true cost (ie. including the cost of defending the oil wells and shipping lanes) brings a response of "what bastards!" and a whole slew of Ayn Rand-y small government rhetoric.

  4. Whatever it takes to help the Great Gore
    Save the World from Global Warming.
    Vote Gore, not War!
    Senate Immigration Bill Promised

    Kennedy had hoped to introduce the bill last week, but movement stalled amid concerns from McCain and other Republicans about labor provisions Democrats may include. The White House has been holding discussions with Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, both of whom opposed citizenship measures last year.

  5. You got something against Randy Stuff, T?

  6. Fight Gang Crime, Buy a Prius!
    Cops begin 4-day anti-gang sweep

    LANCASTER - Responding to public outcry for beefed-up patrols, dozens of Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies launched a four-day sweep Tuesday that officials vowed is just the beginning of a long-term crime-fighting effort.

    During a news conference at the Lancaster sheriff's station, officials announced that 40 deputies from the Community Oriented Policing (COP) and High Impact Team (HIT) joined a dozen local deputies in a sweep of central Lancaster in an effort to reduce burglaries, robberies and gang activity.

    The COP and HIT teams will saturate a 3 1/2-square-mile region from Avenues H to J-8 between 20th Streets East and West, Capt. Carl Deeley said.
    The unprecedented deployment comes just three weeks after an overflow crowd of more than 3,000 packed Lancaster Baptist Church for the newly formed Antelope Valley War on Gangs and Crime's first public meeting.

    And the timing is no coincidence, Deeley said.
    "There's no doubt that this is a direct answer" to the community meeting, Deeley said. He noted that the deployment had already been planned, but was expedited and expanded.

    "(Sheriff Lee Baca) came here for the War on Gangs and Crime meeting and promised he was going to help with the effort and this is a direct result of his promise," Deeley said.
    "(Baca) told me last week that this was coming and that it wasn't going to stop anytime soon."

    The Sheriff's Department will boost its COP and HIT team presence in the Antelope Valley for the foreseeable future, Deeley said, noting that similar sweeps are planned for Palmdale and surrounding unincorporated areas.

    COP and HIT teams are trained to pursue crime more aggressively than patrol deputies who typically respond to calls.

    Law enforcement and public officials are facing growing pressure from an electorate that has become dissatisfied with Antelope Valley crime-fighting efforts in recent years, particularly in Lancaster, which has seen an unabated spike in serious crime.

  7. Energy to Burn
    By Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    Posted 3/18/07
    "There is the Pledge of Allegiance-and then there is the pledge on energy. The first is revered. The second is empty. None of the programs to relieve our dependence on foreign oil (or reduce global warming) have had much impact-witness the fact that, in the past 35 years, we have gone from relying on imported oil for 35 percent of our energy needs to today, when imports supply 60 percent of the fuel we consume.

    Programs that could have worked have not been implemented. Who is to blame? All of us. Really. Americans hate higher prices at the pump, even though they tend to discourage consumption. Auto companies dislike tougher fuel-efficiency standards. And politicians, of course, don't like to make tough decisions.

    A perfect illustration is the history of fuel efficiency. Astonishingly, average fuel efficiency for new vehicles has dropped since 1988. Six years into office, President Bush is belatedly asking the auto industry to improve its miles-per-gallon ratings by 4 percent a year in all new vehicles. If passed-without loopholes-this would help, but less than 8 percent of the nation's auto fleet turns over every year, so it's going to take time to get a lot more fuel-efficient vehicles on our roads.

    Another option is to force us to change our habits by raising taxes on gas and oil. This is another political no-no because we are a nation weaned on inexpensive gasoline: Americans can and do drive everywhere in our very large country, and in large swaths of the nation there is no public transportation, so a car is the only way of getting to work.

    What about recovering more oil within our borders? It is mainly in the Arctic and on the continental shelf. We might get at least a helpful million barrels a day from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but that has become such a political hot potato it is now off the table as a legislative option.

    There is even less prospect of progressively attacking global warming. Energy use sustains economic growth and, in turn, enhances political and social stability. Poor countries are not going to sacrifice this growth and its benefits simply to placate the global warming fears of the rich world-which already consumes many times as much fuel per person as do poorer countries. Nor can we expect an overall reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions when China is firing up a new big coal-fuel generating plant every few days. By 2030, China will have built 2,200 coal-fuel plants! Think of this: If China and India begin consuming per capita quantities of oil even approaching those of countries like Japan, which consumes only about half the per capita energy that we do, global oil demand will double from 85 million barrels a day to roughly 170 million barrels."

  8. There is an up-side to being a big consumer:

    U.S. tightens financial squeeze on Iran
    But sanctions aimed at energy projects could anger Europe

    By Steven R. Weisman
    Published: March 20, 2007

    "WASHINGTON: For all of the U.S. efforts to apply economic and political pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, Washington has never used a potentially potent tool in its arsenal — penalties on foreign companies that assist Iran in producing oil and natural gas.

    That may be about to change. The United States has quietly been warning energy companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, Repsol and SKS, as well as the governments of China, India, Pakistan and Malaysia, that sanctions are possible if they pursue energy deals with Iran."

  9. I'm in downtown dc this morning at the national press club. newt is going to give a talk here at 9:00 AM. I'm trying to collect my thoughts for a question that I'll address to him but one that's really aimed at the national press.

    The question is twofold: how do you get stats on the number of Americans killed by illegals 2.) how do you bring that number before the US public. It would be a helpful number since it would be appropriate to consider the costs of illegals.

    The LA Times ran a piece a couple weeks ago about the rising crime in big cities. what they didn't mention was that it looks like is the result of illegals murdering american. up until the time of that report LA ran a list of wanted for murder. The info included the nationality of the perps. all were foreign nationals and most were mexican. after the la times report --the nationality of the perps was deleted

    here is the list of LA wanted for murder
    Here is a list of Washington DC wanted for murder

  10. Hey!
    You left out the Hat Tip for Charles!

  11. Sorry Charles,
    Thot it was Deuce,
    Should be asleep.

  12. Doug: You got something against Randy Stuff, T?

    Nothing like the FBI killing Randy Weaver, his wife, his son, and even his dog.

  13. thanks doug this place gives me a little head room. I went up to newt during the photo op and gave him a heads up for the coming question.

  14. Thanks Charles. No Danes Swedes or Amish. What happened to inclusion?

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. I managed to work in a
    Hawaiian Swede
    at Belmont.
    Bobo Lives!

  17. Over the last couple of days whilst driving in my car distractedly listening to the radio I heard a couple of interesting ideas regarding taxation. Basically they were saying that we should tax that which we don't desire, or we deem 'bad', and remove taxes from that which we deem good. We should stop with subsidies. So, you tax things like fuel, cigarettes, alcohol, and you remove taxes from things like work and business.

    Another chap this morning was going on about if the government added a tax on fuel essentially equivalent to its price now (i.e effectively doubling its cost) all federal income tax for those earning less then 150,000 could be done away with. (This was in Canada, land of many taxes, so the US numbers would vary but the concept is what was interesting).

  18. I did the Newt question. It looks like more americans have been killed by illegals than in Iraq. However, the info is annecdotal. It would take someone to do a freedom of information inquiry or a lexus nexus search and a lot of phone calls to track down some numbers suitable for the major media.

    Newt threw it back at me. He didn't seem to understand that the next election hinges on the amnesty vote in congress.

    However, I don't have time to work on this. I'm studying SEO , working on my business, and doing a desalination blog. If someone were interested in taking this up I would gladly swap my very detailed info on doing SEO web sites that can be extremely remunerative. I do PPC search and do very well indeed. I have the inside track on the best info.

    "Taking this up" means doing the research and doing what it takes to get the info up to the national level fast.

    The reason this is vitally important is that congress is taking up amnesty. If they pass the enabling legislation then the conservatives will be zoned out of the presidency well nigh permanently.

    Some verifiable stats on illegal murder rates that showed they were as high as KIA's in Iraq --that made national headlines and national television would--throw a monkey wrench into the gears of congress moves toward amnesty.