For those who are used to posts with hypermiling, energy, or physics content, my apologies for the following political rant.
I consider myself to be conservative. I believe in conserving natural resources. I believe in conserving the rights affirmed in our Constitution and its amendments (in particular, the Bill of Rights). I believe in personal responsibility. I believe in living within my (and our) means. I believe in granting others the right to differing opinions and acknowledge that, while I can campaign and proselytize for my beliefs, I must grant that same right to those with different beliefs and compromise with them. I believe that, on occasion, I will not get what I want and that that's OK. I believe that a mature individual accepts this. To me, these beliefs represent true conservatism and used to be the positions represented by the Republican party.
But now, the Republican party is a party of extortionate thugs. In order to change an existing policy (with respect to FAA funding) to the liking of those in whose pocket they dwell, they are willing to hold thousands of people hostage economically and flush millions of dollars down the toilet. I might even agree with the owners of the pockets on the specific policy issue (it revolves around unionization) but I don't believe in scorching the Earth to get my way at the point of a metaphorical gun.
The Republican party is now the party of ignoring evidence. "If it doesn't fit with my belief system/philosophy, it doesn't exist. Don't confuse me with facts." This leads to the possibility of ignoramuses such as Michelle Bachman, Rick Santorum, or Rick Perry becoming the Republican nominee for President of the United States. These are people who reject science in the name of letting students decide and support a false balance between evidence based science and facts on the one hand and faith-based superstition on the other. Quoting Professor Steven Dutch of the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, "If your religion says something that conflicts with objective evidence, your religion is wrong." Governor Perry's response to the drought in his state? Pray for rain.
The best that they can come up with for the crying, aching, desperate need for a coherent, far-reaching energy policy is "drill baby drill." This shows all the depth of understanding of third graders. Worse yet, they may understand it all too well but venally sacrifice sound long-term policy for short term political gain.
Further, the Republican party has decided that, no matter what concessions are made by Obama and the Senate Democrats (for whom I have no love whatsoever), it's more important to pander to their so-called base than to honor the obligations of the United States. It grieves me that this is what has become of their vaunted "American exceptionalism," i.e., in their minds we are the exception to having to pay debts. To make this point, they are willing to create an unpredictable amount of turmoil.
I am no longer a Republican. It's saddens me that the party has chased me away. On the other hand, don't confuse me for a Democrat.