Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 23, 2008

Josh Marshall Hit By Electric Shock

Josh Marshall is Shocked, Shocked ... that General Motors starts a crash program to develop an electric powered car.

It's sort of inspiring to see an American company try something so ambitious.

Let's just say that I can not find the company which killed its own EV-1 inspiring for building it again. 

Anyway here comes the whopper:

On a related note, I've been finding myself thinking more and more about alternative energy sources -- or more specifically non-fossil fuel energy sources. [...] [A]s I got older and thought more about politics and began to write about it for a public audience, I cannot say it's ever been a real focus for me.

So Marshall, a historian and journalist, has written about U.S. foreign policy and internal U.S. political bickering without ever considering the main driver of these? Fossil fuels and how to profit from them? Oh boy ...

But that's changed over the last several months: most of the key issues that face us today, from environmental issues proper, to our geostrategic position vs. other great powers and the future of our economy, all turn on our reliance on fossil fuels. Not just 'foreign' ones, all of them.

Higher gas prices really seem to wake people up. Hi Josh, welcome to the party. But I am shocked, shocked ... to find that only now people like you are starting to think. What again was Gulf War I about? Pistachios?

It's not hard to imagine historians of 50 or 100 years from now writing the history of our period -- stretching back almost forty years now -- around that central focus.

Oh really?

No. Those historians will wonder how companies like GM could come up with a crash program for electric powered cars without being pressed by journalists to explain where the electricity for those cars would come from.

They will find, 50 or 100 years from now, that journalists of that time believed that
electricity was apolitical and would forever come in unlimited amounts out of wall sockets.

Posted by b on June 23, 2008 at 18:28 UTC | Permalink


Josh Marshall shows his true coat...discuss something other than.. The triple/quadruple gymnastics "flips" by Obama supporters.


Posted by: Cloned Poster | Jun 23 2008 19:19 utc | 1

The GM Volt/E-flex project has been underway for several years now and is scheduled to release in 2010. It will be the basis of most of their future platforms. The target is 64km electric-only range with gasoline range extension. The electric range covers 75% of all daily commuter miles. This enables diversified energy sources to power automotive transportation: coal, solar, nukes, bio, petrol, etc. This is potentially quite revolutionary.

Posted by: Paduba | Jun 23 2008 20:45 utc | 2

The GM Volt/E-flex project has been underway for several years now and is scheduled to release in 2010. It will be the basis of most of their future platforms. The target is 64km electric-only range with gasoline range extension. The electric range covers 75% of all daily commuter miles. This enables diversified energy sources to power automotive transportation: coal, solar, nukes, bio, petrol, etc. This is potentially quite revolutionary.

Posted by: Paduba | Jun 23 2008 20:46 utc | 3

I'm Shocked and dead!

Posted by: Al Sleet(The Hippy-Dippy Weather Man) | Jun 23 2008 23:21 utc | 4

Yes, sad about Marshall. I used to visit his site daily, then less frequently, and finally completely dropped it a few months ago. The most disturbing piece of this is that he really does represent our "elite thinkers" in this clearly we are doomed!

Posted by: Maxcrat | Jun 23 2008 23:45 utc | 5

"journalists . . . believed that
electricity was apolitical and would forever come in unlimited amounts out of wall sockets."

And not only journalists, b! Doesn't EVERYONE know that electricity comes from wall sockets?



Posted by: Gaianne | Jun 24 2008 0:34 utc | 6

I love the edge.

Can we imagine that this awareness -- amazingly absent from even one such as Josh (shouldn't be so amazed; didn't he give the invasion his basic imprimitur)-- will spread even further? Born again conservationists. More accurately, Johnny-come-lately capitalists. But will the awareness translate into real change, and in time to keep the US from slipping irrevocably into a third world banana republic? Its a whole lot simpler just to find some "other" to blame and bomb than to see we have indeed met the enemy -- you know the rest.

-- former transit policy analyst

Posted by: DonS | Jun 24 2008 1:07 utc | 7

If the US would have stayed on Jimmy Carters path, we would be in much better shape today. Its hard to believe that Marshall don't know that history. But, unless your 50 years old, you may not remember much of Carter.

There a great article over at Alternet about Citigroup and its oil speculation arm Philbro. Our own leaders have sold us out, but I would be as naive as Marshall if hadn't realized that a long time ago.

Posted by: jdp | Jun 24 2008 2:01 utc | 8

"journalists . . . believed that
electricity was apolitical and would forever come in unlimited amounts out of wall sockets."

The thing is, that with Hot Rocks and Thermal Solar, this *is* do-able within a useful time frame - given the appropriate focus.

Posted by: Peter | Jun 24 2008 3:32 utc | 9

I may not be 50, but i do recall hearing how Carter got lambasted for suggesting amerikans wear sweaters inside during the winter, because it was goddamn un-amerikan to suggest altering our lifestyles was necessary. fast forward and amerikans are still strutting about their plots of dirt like proud cocks puffing out their feathers. they still expect technology will bail us out of this partially artificial, partially inevitable slow motion catastrophe we've all helped coax along through a combination of junky-denial and national arrogance. as more slowly realize the hangover from six decades of post WWII amerikan hedonism will be long and painful, many more are burying their heads deeper in the sand.

Posted by: Lizard | Jun 24 2008 4:25 utc | 10

All I have coming out of my wall socket is entropy.

Posted by: biklett | Jun 24 2008 5:26 utc | 11

One thing the elite DC thinkers missed, 'onturgidency recapitulates philatgio'!
Now that source of power could launch a moon mission! Or as cartoonist Pfieffer
was alleged to've said, "The next great source of energy will be human slavery."
Or as that Ford executive put it, "There will always be good jobs in America for
chauffeurs, and hookers." Might as well get Timmy Jr into Blackwater Security
driving school now, because the only ones enjoying our all-electric future will
be the silver haired gentleman in the back seat, getting some of that philatgio!
There's not even enough iron ore left on earth to build an all-electric A.D.,
unless you happen to be this lucky UAE shiekh, made of solid silver. Maybe Tim will get to polish it!?!?

Posted by: Seymour Hughes | Jun 24 2008 6:08 utc | 12

I read an article (newsprint) about the super sports car, Tesla -- and the usual phrase, "the owner can drive with a clean conscience" was of course used. This is bullshit, the power source, the batteries, leave an ugly enviromental footprint.

The Tesla uses almost 7,000 lithium-ion battery cells. How are these to be disposed of after three years? (Li-ion batteries age from the time of manufacture -- even if not used) The question of charging could be fixed, of course with renewable energy sources, but not likely, as most solutions are decentral and won't get support from big money.

The best that can be said for the electric car is that (assuming the batteries don't explode) is that the polution footprint is not visible where the rich folks live and the poor, well, they shouldn't be poor.

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Jun 24 2008 6:25 utc | 13

It isn't just a matter of wearing a sweater indoors: we Americans like to set our thermostats at 72° in the winter and 68° in the summer when the AC is on.

And we have been told that GM cannot compete because the costs of pensions and insurance ad $1,300 to the price of each car. How about the fact that they cannot compete because they turn out products that nobody wants to buy anymore?

Posted by: ralphieboy | Jun 24 2008 7:17 utc | 14

The energy/climate crisis is really two separate problems: how to substitute for coal-fired electricity generation, and how to substitute for oil-fuelled road transport.

Both problems are straightforward to fix with a couple of decades of investment: nuclear fission can generate all the world's electricity, and electrified railways can provide all long-distance ground transport (with electric road vehicles for short hops).

Why are the obvious fixes so unthinkable? The IEA's report on the oil crisis doesn't even mention railways: the emphasis is on trying to develop new batteries and hydrogen fuel cells for road transport. The safety/waste/proliferation issues with nuclear power are pretty much solved: look at the designs for generation 3 and generation 4 reactors. Anti-nuclear campaigners should maybe wonder if they're being exploited by the coal industry and by those who need a pretext for attacking Iran.

Posted by: pm | Jun 24 2008 8:50 utc | 15

Uh, PM, I do believe that so-called "nuclear" power has a much larger footprint than is recognized. True, much of the footprint comes down the road and, again, true, many of the effects could be exported to where the poor people live. Or, maybe there will be found a technological fix to the problems nukes leave us with.

The thing to be aware of is that every tecnological fix has a hidden price in the fine print -- and this is as true of nuke energy as any other.

I refer to nuke power as so-called because it is a misnomer -- in essence they are simply coal/oil fired plants where the heat source has been replaced by a rather primitive use of the heat generated by fissioning atoms.

Ah, the heat! Where does the excess (wasted) heat go in a nuke fission plant? Hmmn? Usually large amounts of water are required which go where? The river, the ocean?

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Jun 24 2008 12:51 utc | 16

Our problems started with the 1970's oil embargo. Back then Henry
Ford made the comment, "Small cars make small profits." And the making of monster pigs continued. I remember dating a British girl in 1974 when I owned my last big pig: a 1967 Chrysler 300 convertible. She didn't love me. She just love to lift the hood (she called it a bonnet) and look at the big Mopar 440. It shocked the Hell out of her. Already GB was miles ahead of the US when it came to conservation.

They were also a few million miles ahead of us with light rail service and public transportation. They were building these systems up while we continued to shred our mass trasportation systems. Now the task of creating one is prohibitively expensive. Just getting the land rights to old railbeds is nearly impossible. The track is long gone.

But even if mass transit could be revived, small cars and mass transit do not resonate well with the American cult of individualism. Trains and busses are for poor people. Cars are the standard of the middle class: One Car, One Driver, and the Flag are the American Way. The US population will have to end up traumatized significantly to sacrifice a cultural corner stone and make the changes necessary to allow for a reduced energy consumption future. That includes electric cars.

I live in a poorer, rural area of northern Maine. The average family income is less than $24,000 a year and that's with two adults working 2-4 minimum wage jobs. The roads are still full of pick up trucks (though I see a lot more "For Sale" signs as I travel up and down Route One). Though there are side walks, there is little increase in pedestrian traffic. Often my bicycle is the only one on the road. I know I'm one of the few bikers that shops at the grocery store or takes a bike to work. My old Honda gets 35 mpg, but I use as little gas as I can. I promised that when gas reached $4.00 I would fuck the system as much as one could.

So how are my fellow citizens paying for their gas? They are skipping paying for electricity and water bills, and shut up notices are popping up on front doors all over town. OK, that may work for a while. But what I fear most is winter. With fuel oil at $5.00 a gallon locally and about three months of below zero weather a few months away danger is just around the corner. How do poorer people cope with that? Electric heaters, space heaters, wood stoves, open ovens, fire places, and more dangerous, going without central heating. This year, big oil and speculator's greed will kill people. I predict that house fires, carbon monoxide poisonings, CO2 deaths, and people freezing to death will be common news.

We'll I've been an energy/environmental Jeremiad for a while now. I remember George W. Clusterfuk Bush came to the College of Charleston during the 2000 primary season. Students were invited to make signs with questions on them for the illustrious candidate. Two students from my honors program wrote: "Mr Bush, What is Your Position on the Environment?" As they sat there quietly, two goons in sunglasses came from behind them, escorted them out, ripped up their sign, and told them, "No environmental questions!"

Now the Republicans campaigning for the 2008 election are going green! John McCain has pictures of wind generators in his latest campaign spot. And now he wants to offer a prize of $300,000,000 for a super battery. The party that set attack dogs on anyone questioning big oil's holy President is yapping about electric cars and solar power. But there is no fundamental difference in policy. They're just getting ready to corner the next market even as they plan to drill for oil in the pristine wilderness in Alaska and near a coral reef near you. Its all an act and for the NeoCons all the media's a stage. And meanwhile, folks will die at home and abroad.
Food will be taken out of production for biofuel increasing world wide malnutrition, and it won't be enough to help those who have the greatest need for energy in the US.

Sorry barflies. I have a deep sinking feeling anbd Obama speeches aren't making it go away. We waited too long.

Posted by: Diogenes | Jun 24 2008 13:12 utc | 17

The truly sad part of all of this is that
the real problem is not caused by insufficient energy, but by the population explosion. Learn what an exponential function is if you don't believe that.

Posted by: Ray Rl | Jun 24 2008 13:30 utc | 18

This is slightly off topic, but not really -- I have seen statistics such as: air traffic accounts for 2%, ship traffic for 3% and all the laptops, computers and servers 2% of the CO2 footprint worldwide.

I have googled my heart out and found some interesting things such as this which supposedly lets you calculate your personal footprint and a cute little thing which figures out that all the cheesburgers consumed in the United State of Arrogance is equivalent to 100,000 SUVs...

But what I want is statistics on the enviro footprint of, say, television, weapons production and use, and so on.

It's a serious thing -- it's little use to talk about electric cars or nuke heated power plants without this kind of info. Heck, even windpower must have a footprint which, hopefully, is smaller than the energy a windmill puts out in its service lifetime, including going to trash.

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Jun 24 2008 13:56 utc | 19

Diogenes: you are spot on raising the winter alarm bells right now, because it's not going to be pretty. I have already heard a few mainstream news sources talking about the extreme increase in heating oil. they're getting ahead of the story because it's going to be a big deal in this theatrical election season. amerikans dying because they can't afford to heat their homes?

Ray Rl: overpopulation is a huge problem, but what are the solutions? maybe you should familiarize yourself with the tenets of the Georgia Guidestones.

cheap, abundant energy is the cornerstone of amerika. without it, the illusion of our national coherence will be stripped away. the final war (not for the world, but for the US) will be between desperate citizens banding together fighting for survival, and the elite, who will have their energy reserves to power their militarized vehicles.

the war will finally come home. for those who believed up to the last second that our government's stated allegiance as outlined in the constitution and BoR, it will be a terrible psychic and physical shock. for those of us who understand why they see we, the people, as a threat to their continued reign, it will be the predictable outcome brought about by the heartless actions of dangerous people who will protect any shred of the dying empire they can hold on to.

Posted by: Lizard | Jun 24 2008 15:21 utc | 20

I'm not a Neo-Malthusian (shit: is everything Neo-something these days?) but that's a real factor. I still remember Lester Brown and his World Watch publications warning about the costs of overpopulation back through the 1980's. Meanwhile George W Clusterfuk Bush ties aid to the poorest countries in the world to their pledge to eliminate birth control to made the Xian Mullahs like James Dominionist Dobson happy. There are so many ways to kill people. Religion is always a righteous choice, ain't it? Come back Jesus! Take us up into the clouds and we'll leave this used up world behind for the sinners we hate so much!

Make mine a double, barkeep. Scotch on the rocks.

Posted by: Diogenes | Jun 24 2008 15:29 utc | 21

Drinking in the morning...tisk, this is serious.

Posted by: beq | Jun 24 2008 17:01 utc | 22

...and this is seriouser.

Posted by: beq | Jun 24 2008 17:17 utc | 23

have said here and elsewhere on web before, after coasts go Tesla based system of electricity from atmosphere and transmitted through earth will appear, wondrously, replacing (eventually, after needed herd culling and curricula) power plants on said gone coasts.
Might even get wondrous discovery that oil does not peak, just leaks from below when drillers caress sensibly, diamond tips only necessary for engagement, suction sufficing after.

Posted by: plushtown | Jun 24 2008 18:23 utc | 24

is pleased to hear that suction will suffice.

(not being a snarker here, just luv the wording plush)

Posted by: rapt | Jun 24 2008 18:47 utc | 25

What else would you expect from a Zionist shill? I stopped reading Marshall three years ago when his Israeli propaganda started seeping into his posts on semi regular basis.

GM killed interurban trolley companies by buying up the local traction car companies through "front" companies back in the Thirties and Forties. GM then got rid of the street cars, switched to buses and downgraded service to the point that anyone who could afford a car bought one. I believed GM was ultimately fined $5,000 by one of the Federal Courts for this bit of fraud.

Posted by: Buzz Meeks | Jun 24 2008 19:45 utc | 26

Much as I hate to admit it, McCain has a better energy consultant than Obama. McC has announced plans for a $300M prize for a better battery and has promoted building 100 more N-plants for generating electricity. Considering that the US hasn't built a nuclear generating plant since 1978, it's about time.

Since India, China and Russia are also pursuing nuclear power technology, U235 is probably not going to be as cheap as it's been. Instead of BWR or PWR technology, we may have to revisit FBR scchemes--the technology that both Clinton and Carter tried to kill. Not all bad--fast neutron reactors generate far less waste than the other varieties.

Posted by: Obelix | Jun 24 2008 23:52 utc | 27

@ beq, 23

Fer fuck's sake, can't they keep their filthy hands off the Bruichladdich?! What else makes life worth living these days?

Posted by: Tantalus | Jun 25 2008 1:28 utc | 28

Diogenes’ readable post (“Sorry barflies. I have a deep sinking feeling and Obama speeches aren't making it go away. We waited too long.”), point to (as do others) the fact that on the energy matter, the US lacks policy and planning.

The Health care fiasco, as well as territorial management (incl. agri, transport, etc.) are similarly beleagured. Some would add Education to that list, but that is less clear, as its aims and its outcomes, public and covert, are less evident and more flexible.

The US’ problem: it is very big. Probably too big. And rich. Its size, it’s land is transmuted into power, military investment, arrogance, etc. The country is held together by an overreaching ideology and organization which rests on myths that ppl pay lip service to but that disintegrate in stressful times. (See Obama, Change we can believe in' !!)

These 2 real quotes from the past 2 days:

Man, 50, top level scientist: I love living in America because it is so easy...that’s it .. really .. we have money...I can just (altered by me:) pick up the phone and get the services I want. Woman, 30, aspiring immigrant: If I ever get there I can do it. (Start a small biz, etc.) Right...

US politics does not aim, or even claim, to run a country for the greater, or common, good, or the survival of the society.

Its politics and jockeying, influence play, between different shifting groups, with space for individuals to adhere to the top dogs, or live on crumbs between the cracks. It is Big Oil against Environmentalists, Christian conservatives against metrosexies, Black against White, bureaucrats against libertarians, Insurance cos. against patients, and on and on. All dressed up in laws, hubris, manipulation, time wasting, aggro, paper pushing, smoothed by the increasingly hysterical mainstream news, but the richest and toughest get the pie (say, a puppet President)...

The common delusion is that the riches will serve to subjugate others to make them adopt the same system (free market, democracy) as the US, that is the present deciders or elite, or the interest being represented, cannot benefit unless others fall into, accept, the same system. The US cannot occupy and control a country straight up (see Vietnam, Colombia, Iraq) as the uber-endowed Brits did at one point, or the Romans, for that matter, both mostly thru technological / market edges, that is past history, in a large part decried and killed off by the US itself.

70% or a bit more of electricity in the US comes from burning fossil fuel. Plus 20% nuclear, 5% hydro, from CIA factbook.

There is no reason for the US Gvmt. /elite to promote trains, local shipping, electric cars, solar heating, banning AC, or anything that might be reasonable in the long run. Ethanol from corn, was, is, a deal between Gvmt. lackeys and the agri lobby. Money changes hands for what? Mutual profit and influence. Promoting electric cars, etc. can only be a temp. fashion that some might make a killing out of. Understandably car cos. have been hesitant, the costs are tremendous, the sales dubious...there is no profit in it.

My round! Barkeep!

Posted by: Tangerine | Jun 25 2008 15:38 utc | 29

Would our little ball of dirt support 6.5 billion+ hunter/gatherers? I'm not so sure, but then if we had remained hunter/gatherers, there likely wouldn't be 6.5B of us at this point.

Posted by: jcairo | Jun 25 2008 16:02 utc | 30

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