Chemistry Lab Equipment

(photo by sheepfur)

Chemistry has never been my strong suit but it’s easy enough to understand the basics. You take this atom and combine it with that atom and you have a molecule with unique properties, usually much different  than it’s component atoms. Take  the difference between hydrocarbons and carbohydrates for example: If you have a mixture of carbon and hydrogen, you have a hydrocarbon (which makes fuels, lubricants, etc), but if you add a little bit of atomic oxygen, (as opposed to O2 which is what we breathe),  you now have a food. Pretty cool, eh? That little oxygen atom, (and whether it’s bonded with other oxygen atoms), makes a world of difference. The carbohydrate is beneficial and necessary for life while the hydrocarbon will poison and even kill you.

Let’s take another example: Gasoline and water. While water is not a hydrocarbon or carbohydrate, (not having any carbon), it is chemically similar to hydrocarbons like gasoline. Water is H2O while a typical gasoline mixture is 2 C8H18, (the carbon atoms vary in number from 4 to 12). Now we’ll add an oxygenator to the mixture and we have 2 C8H18 + 25O2. Do we now have a carbohydrate? No, clearly we now have an oxygenated hydrocarbon. The result is combustion, producing 16CO2 + 18H2O and a lot of heat. But what if we ignore all of the carbon and most of the hydrogen? If we made our formula look like 2 C8H18 2 + 25O2 (which we can do quite easily with a little strategic ignoring of components and rearranging of terms), is our product now safe to drink? Of course not! It’s still just as much gasoline and just as deadly as it was before we convinced ourselves that the carbon and hydrogen were just as benign as they are separately and could thus be ignored.  But how can that be, you ask? Carbon is nothing more than charcoal or graphite and not deadly poisonous, right? Diamonds don’t poison people! If you eat one, you’ll just poop it right back out without your body chemistry being remotely affected. Except in chemistry, like in people, it’s the whole that matters. It’s the mixture, not of the individual atoms that define it’s overall properties.

The same can be said about Ron Paul. I too have listened to and applauded him when he spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives in Opposition to the Iraq war fiasco and have been very interested and very supportive of his position on the so called “war on drugs” but then, while I was still paying attention, I heard him speak against all corporate regulations, a woman’s right to choose and a progressive tax structure. I heard him personally defend, (and later deny having done so), overtly racist newsletters his office put out. I noticed that his homophobia is about as deep and uninformed as homophobia gets and I have heard him rant against civil rights protections and I heard when he said supply side, Randian economics are going to save this country, (regardless of the fact that we’ve been trying just that since at least 1980 and it hasn’t done anything but pushed 99% of us further into poverty, while making the one percent, [like Paul himself], much richer). It’s his overall philosophy that makes Ron Paul dangerous and one can’t just ignore his failings or assume that there will be a functional and effective Congress to make sure his leash stays on him. Anti foreign adventure, anti war on drugs, etc are all good things and greatly to be desired but then you add his economic philosophy, his bigotry, his misogyny, his comically simplistic “understanding” of the Constitution, the role of the courts, etc and Ron Paul becomes gasoline and no amount of bleating about how people who speak the truth about Ron Paul are Obamabots or are “steeped in blood” is going to change him into water.

I’m not going to ignore the carbon and most of the hydrogen that is in a Ron Paul molecule and agree with the idea that those good things in him can be separated from the overall bigoted, supply side, misogynistic asshole that the guy really is. No more than I’m going to ignore the carbon and most of the hydrogen in gasoline and call it “water”. Ron Paul isn’t “progressive” anymore than gasoline can be a substitute for water.