Free Forum Friday March 25 Edition

Elizabeth Taylor; 1932 - 2011

Pawlenty to talk about this week. Japan shows us a window into the questionable wisdom of nuclear energy, particularly in areas that cannot realistically be evacuated. The Wisconsin fiasco spreads to other states while the political blowback on Republicans in Wisconsin mounts. Quite possibly the most esteemed actress of our time passes away.

But the biggest news is still the continuing rise of democracy in the Middle East. Yemen and Bahrain continue to have protests. Syria explodes and several protestors are killed. Hamas seizes the opportunity to try to drag Israel into the fray. President Obama gets criticism from all sides for not consulting with Congress over the No-fly zone…even from those who themselves advocated for a No-fly zone.

Got something on your mind? Let it all hang out.

Free Forum Fridays are an open discussion where commenters are invited to bring up topics that may not have been covered in the previous week. Got something on your mind? Throw your opinion out there.

About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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96 Responses to Free Forum Friday March 25 Edition

  1. filistro says:

    I think the biggest news this week is Michelle Bachmann’s presidential run assuming its larval form… Newt fiercely debating himself in public… and Donald Trump out courting the birthers!

    Chuck Todd is calling this the “Andy Warhol primary.” 🙂

    What would be the opposite of “coattails?” Because that’s what down-ballot GOP candidates are going to have next year.

    Oh.. and.. Tim who?

  2. shortchain says:


    As mclever (notably among others) has requested, I’ll agree: I’m still waiting for someone — anyone — to give an example of something that Sarah Palin has provably said which displays any conspicuous intelligence (op-eds written under her name don’t count, as we know for a fact she doesn’t write her own material, but I’ll accept as evidence something delivered in a speech under the theory that, if she can mouth the words, she might understand them).

    And anything that Newt has said that his life story demonstrates he’s not being hypocritical.

  3. filistro says:

    Here’s another fascinating political story this week.

    “The 2010 Census revealed that in the past decade the adult Latino population has nearly doubled in Nevada, Virginia, and North Carolina. Also, it’s increased by 60 percent or more in two Midwestern battleground states, Indiana and Ohio.

    Obama won all five of those states in 2008 — two of them by very narrow margins — and they are likely to be decisive in next year’s balloting.”

    LOL. I wonder if FOX News is going to keep airing news items every 20 minutes about some vicious, dangerous “illegal immigrant” committing a minor crime somewhere in America.

    Those “Be afraid!” Be very afraid!” tactics can come back to bite you. If I were the GOP I would indeed be very afraid of Latinos… but not for the reasons they like to push. 😉

  4. filistro says:

    shortchain…. the Palin Problem for the GOP is that whenever you defend an idiot, it makes you look idiotic.

    The more they are driven to say, “She IS smart! And she’s NOT mean or stoopid! She really KNOWS STUFF! Does too, does too , does too!”… the more they are diminished. All their putative candidates who are afraid to antagonize “Sarah’s base” (which intersects widely with the birthers) have already been diminished by this vain and ignorant woman.

    By the time one of those candidates eventually gets on a debate stage with Obama, the Palin Party will have rendered him so tiny and silly that the president will be able to pick him up and tuck him away in a vest pocket.

    I’m beginning to expect a brutal wipeout up and down the ballot.

  5. TakingAmes says:

    First, I gotta say how much I love that some of Nate’s most ardent commenters (on all parts of the spectrum) have formed their own political blog, especially with the NYT paywall coming up.

    I love, love, love that Michelle Bachmann is (maybe, possibly) going to announce a run. The primary debates will be priceless, if only for their entertainment value. She’ll probably look at the wrong camera the whole time.

    I do wonder if the seeming weakness of the potential GOP field is simply because the party insiders don’t think an incumbent President Obama is beatable. In my brain, I would really like to see a Mitch Daniels throw his hat in the ring, if only so that those of us who would like a reasonable choice in this here democratic republic might have one. In my heart, I know an independent, thinking Republican won’t take the primaries, and we’ll be left with no choice at all.

  6. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    It won’t be the “Andy Warhol primary”.

    The “Tim who?”, is Tim Burton.

    It will be the “Nightmare before Election Day” movie!

  7. Monotreme says:

    Thanks for finding us, Ames. We can never recreate the vibe of the “old 538” but maybe we can create a new vibe that’s just as good.

    We welcome reasonable commentary from all points on the political compass.

  8. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Someone commented earlier on the fact that, since 1980, the 2008 election was the first without either a Bush or a Clinton on the ballot. It actually is a bit more of a note (and maybe somewhat incestuous for the GOP) in that 2008 was the first time since 1976 that the GOP didn’t have a BUSH or a DOLE on their TICKET.

    Over 30 years!!!

  9. filistro says:

    Welcome, Ames! You have the first bright red snowflake I’ve ever seen among the hundreds that have been issued here. You must be somebody special 😉

    Like you, I would be encouraged (and.. I’ll admit it.. a bit frightened) by a Mitch Daniels candidacy.) But it’s never going to happen. Mitch is on video saying “the Republican party needs to move past social conservatism,” and “no reasonable politician would ever take a vow not to raise taxes.”

    Clearly he’s too sane and smart to make it through a GOP primary.

  10. TakingAmes says:

    My momma sure thinks so! 😉

    filistro, on that note, someone yesterday said (in response to your post about the actual event that brought about this hyperpartisan era) that it was not religion being brought into politics, but politics being brought into religion. I think that’s absolutely true. You said it’s easy to change someone’s convictions about politics, but much harder, if not impossible, to change their faith, and if the two are tied together, it brings a world of problems.

  11. filistro says:

    Ames (have I mentioned that I LOVE your snowflake? :-).. I really think that’s true. The problem isn’t just religion, it’s evangelism which is probably a noble and generous impulse in itself but has no place in politics. Because it’s one thing to believe you have the “good news” all mankind is waiting for and it’s your duty to share it. It’s entirely a different thing to think… “hey, let’s all get elected and use the legislative process to IMPOSE it.”

    The GOP really needs to separate itself from the religious fervor in portions of its base. I know they’re afraid of what they’d lose in electoral heft… but I believe the loss would be more than balanced by what they’d gain among thoughtful independents.

    I think there are many (like me) who lean very left on social issues but are pretty fiscally conservative and would give the GOP a look if they had enough courage to purge their crazies.

  12. dcpetterson says:

    Welcome, Ames!

    I agree with you about the cross-influence of politics and religion. The First Amendment’s prohibition on the “establishment of Religion” was designed as much to protect one as the other. Both are cheapened when the influences are too great.

    It is one thing to take political action out of religious conviction, and that has a long and honorable history; the banning of slavery, the civil rights movement, opposition to unjust wars, all these and other efforts were profoundly affected by religious sentiment.

    But it is another thing entirely to use religion to legislate private conduct through the legal code. And to bring politics into Sunday sermons surely defeats the purpose of an opportunity for religious teaching. When membership in a church becomes a political statement, and when politicians are required to pass a test of religious purity, we have surely gone too far.

  13. filistro says:

    DC and I often think along similar lines 😉

  14. filistro says:

    Since it’s FFF…

    I’m ashamed to confess that, rabid newshound though I am, I’ve sort of lost the plot on this whole Odyessy Dawn thing. And everything I read presents a different viewpoint.

    Can we thrash it out a bit here and shed some light?

    Is this new NATO plan a good thing or not? Is Obama a military genius or a Jimmy Carter chump? Will Daffy stay or will he go?

  15. shortchain says:


    According to some accounts, the Khadafy supporters in Libya are now looking for a way out. If true, and it continues, this may yet turn out reasonably well (at least in the short term).

    Keep those fingers crossed.

  16. TakingAmes says:

    filistro, I’m with you on this one. I really just don’t know where this one’s going, or where it should go. I’m glad we waited to get the UN and other Arab nations (semi-) on board with us before we cowboyed it up over there, but then again, I’m not sure any of it was really our business. We don’t intervene in every nation’s pro-democracy protests/civil wars/ genocides. What makes this one special? Is it the oil?

  17. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Thank you, Ames.

    And may I say that you are at least as intelligent as you are handsome!

    Concurring with dc from my original comment about politics in religion. (Remember, I cited there were TWO events leading to todays atmosphere, 1968 Nixon/Thurmond “Southern Strategy” and Reagan’s embracing the Christian Right) America has always made sure the Constitution and the Laws that flowed from it EXPANDED liberty. Where religion played a role in that endeavor, it has a place in the American political story.

    But once politics enters the various religious arenas AND those good folks (with their good intentions from THEIR view) begin to foist THEIR religious beliefs to dictate the curtailment of liberty, whether they do so “in the name of religion” or not, they are swimming OPPOSITE the stream of American history and jurisprudence. The failure of the 18th Amendment, with it’s unintentional midwifery of organized crime that reverberates to this day, is undeniable evidence.

  18. Chris Rich says:

    Aah Libya.
    We are off the hook already as the French grab the blame for any problems in definitions of air support. They interpret their mandate to interdict tanks and heavy weapons when they are clearly being used to shell civilians in their homes.

    This has severely degraded Daffy’s only real advantage. Meanwhile the outcome will turn on decisions made by certain tribes and members of what remains of Daffy’s officer corp.

    By the way, I deplore the usage of tribes and wish news people could come up with something more useful.

    Juan Cole’s most valuable message is that these factional pirouettes happen suddenly without much to signal their imminence. At this point, Daffy’s origin tribe/clan/ constituency in Sirte is getting restive and a larger one in the Southwest appears ready to give fearless leader the heave ho.

    The French understand that when you eliminate Daffy’s armor the playing field levels to the point where the people can sort it out on the ground. Daffy’s air force is no more.

    Other Arab League members, most recently the United Arab Emirates are sending aircraft.

    So it turns on a number of remnant leaders of various factions. If they conclude Daffy is toast, they will abruptly dump him.

  19. Rorgg says:

    Nice blog/forum/what-have-you-here. I’ve been on board since the Poblano on DK days, but haven’t been too active commenting since the election.

    Yeah, I like to think of myself as a moderate, but I’m fairly liberal on social issues, and non-religious, so after being independent for 20 years, I finally joined Team D in ’08, because Team R made it known in No Uncertain Terms that my kind wasn’t welcome in those parts. If they keep that up… well, they’ll have their gains from time to time, but it’ll be more of their identity as The Other Guy than for anything they ostensibly stand for.

    Scared of the Libya situation but very cautiously hopeful. I can see a potential good outcome, which puts it 3 steps ahead of Iraq. I don’t like to think about what the actual probability of getting there is, though. Wake me when it’s over and tell me the good guys won.

  20. Brian says:

    Just had a random thought. Wouldn’t it be nice if colleges required students to partake in discussions like this. A mandatory class for every student every semester where they have to read up on current events every week and engage in discussions about what’s going on in the world. Break it up into 1 class of ~20 people per forum and grade them on the quality of their answers. Wouldn’t even have to meet in person, just like discussion posts. I think it would do wonders in degrading the ignorance of our citizens.

  21. Chris Rich says:

    Oh and of course it’s about oil…duuh. Everything from here on in will be about diminishing resources from oil to rare earth metals. Our hogging days are numbered.

    In many ways the usual anti/pro war posturing and simple minded utterances of both sides regarding a US role were mooted when few were paying attention. No one likes Daffy save maybe other sympathetic hermit despots of the Noth Korea variety.

    This is one the EU and Arab league led on and we just agreed to support it. Now, after what, a week, our role is down to minimal considering the scope of the problem. I bet there is some incentive to prevent another Somalia. Conflicts elsewhere have less potential for that for a variety of reasons.

    Algeria loosened up, Syria’s baathist culture more closely resembles Iraq with a less toxic leadership history. There are no easy general rules governing decisions to engage some levantine mess. Each place has fairly specific conflict patterns and hazard potentials with much turning on oil. Details, details.

  22. Mr. Universe says:

    Possible two nations. Tripoli and Eastern Libya. If we are truly interested in democracy we have to respect that there may be tribal factions loyal to Gadhafi. They deserve to be given equal voice.

  23. filistro says:

    Hi Rorgg! Nice to meet another old-timer who knows who Poblano was. It’s like a secret handshake.

    (Oh.. and gray snowflakes are nice too ;-))

    I’m struck by how often I hear the same thing you just said.. I like to think of myself as a moderate, but I’m fairly liberal on social issues, and non-religious, so after being independent for 20 years, I finally joined Team D in ’08, because Team R made it known in No Uncertain Terms that my kind wasn’t welcome in those parts.

    I can’t imagine what’s wrong with the GOP strategists and message-crafters .They used to be whip-smart and deadly. Now it’s like they all went out for lunch about six years ago and forgot to come back.

  24. TakingAmes says:

    @Max: Um, thanks, I think! 😉

    @Chris: I hate to be a cynic, but that’s kind of what I was afraid of. Being the touchy-feely, bleeding heart that I am, I really dislike the idea that we only get involved in “humanitarian” crises when they might affect our gas prices.

    And finally, @filistro: I think the GOP strategists came back, but they came back drunk and have managed to create this surreal atmosphere we find ourselves in now, where Fox Noise can spew whatever it wants and call it “news,” and a frightening number of American people take them at their word. If you’ll note, the Dem strategists, more often than not, run scared at the least provocation and generally seem to have their heads up their collective asses. If you can’t get ahead of the story, you can’t control the message, and that’s the Dems’ problem.

  25. filistro says:

    @Ames… If you’ll note, the Dem strategists, more often than not, run scared at the least provocation and generally seem to have their heads up their collective asses.

    Ow! Harsh… but, alas… kind of true. 😦

    I do sense that it’s changing, though. They seem a bit more sure-footed recently, and even a bit proactive. Of course, it helps that there’s no opposition on the field… just a few mascots in tattered furry costumes, two clowns holding balloons and a couple of aging cheerleaders with droopy pompoms.

    When there’s no opposing team on the field, you’ve got a lot of time to run practise plays 😉

  26. GROG says:

    Yesterday you said you don’t think Palin is any dumber than other Repubs. It’s her meanness that opens her up to attacks.
    You cited her calling Couric perky and her referring to Obama’s cojones as evidence.
    Contrast that with Obama making fun of the mentally disabled and your accusations seem rather petty. It clearly shows how Palin is held to a different standard then the men.

  27. shortchain says:


    We note that, although you seem not to have heard it, Obama apologized sincerely, and, by account, gracefully for his comment about the Special Olympics.

    When did Sarah Palin ever apologize?

  28. filistro says:

    GROG… I like you too much to argue with you about this. I admire your dogged loyalty. You are the kind of person I always want to have for a friend. I really appreciate your participation here and I very much want you to stay. As you have noted, your participation in any thread makes it more lively and interesting.. and your opinions are valuable because they give us another POV and something to think about it. I really enjoy debating you (I think everybody does) because you’re smart and even-tempered, and you never, ever give up.

    But please, please… don’t ask me to argue with you about Sarah Palin!

    Let’s just not go there, okay? 😉

  29. Justsayin' says:

    Wow, Grog, do you ever get anything right? It’s Palin’s tone, she is on constant snark and outrage attack. As someone who has a brother who is severely retarded, I was not upset by Obama’s lame attempt at humor, but was completely put off by Palin’s disingenuous “outrage” at Obama as she trotted out her son Trig at every opportunity.

  30. Max aka Birdpilot says:


    What an ass! For the record, Obama DID NOT “make fun of the mentally disabled”. For you to say so is a blatant attempt to rewrite and restate the facts! Funny, how many folks who call themselves conservatives, HATE political correctness. Except when they try to use it to turn the tables and THEN they go into high dudgeon and rank hypocrisy.

    Obama made fun of HIMSELF, specifically his bowling score, in the comparison with the Special Olympics.

    Give up your “Palin as victim” meme and lets move on to more factual topics. You’ve had your nose rubbed in it many times now as to how the Left tees off on male AND female Righties when they consistently demonstrate stupid errors. One would think you’d recognize you’re holding nothing but a turd in your hand.

  31. dcpetterson says:


    I have to agree with you. Ms. Palin’s shameless exploitation of a child for petty personal and political purposes has done far more harm than did President Obama’s one snarky comment, for which he quickly apologized. It’s a false comparison, a rather weak attempt at tu quoque.

  32. filistro says:

    Getting back to Libya… Mr U said at the top of the thread: But the biggest news is still the continuing rise of democracy in the Middle East.

    Is that what’s really happening? Will these nations all be “democracies” after the dust settles and the gunfire stops?

    The Freepers certainly don’t think so. They believe all these “rebels” are just Al Qaeda, and Obama (who is of course, an anti-American Muslim) is helping them to overthrow stable leaders and establish an Islamic theocracy that stretches from Europe through Asia (or, as Glenn Beck says, a “vast and brutal caliphate.”)

  33. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Speaking of caliphates, could anyone here let us know any details of the Sunni Abbasid Caliphate:

    Religious freedom for Jews and Christians,

    you know, what ACTUALLY happened during Abbasid rule versus Beck’s dream scenario.

  34. WA7th says:

    This week I enjoyed everyone’s contributions to the Pawlenty thread. There seemed to be general concensus that the average person still has no reason to know who Pawlenty is, but disagreement over whether that’s a good or bad thing for him.

    I’m surprised no one mentioned what made Abraham Lincoln such an attractive candidate Dark Horse at the 1860 convention: no one knew enough about him to be offended. Seward, Chase, and Bates each had enough people dead-set against him that none could get a majority of delegates at the convention. Enter Abe, the virtually anonymous Dark Horse, who won on the third ballot, not because everyone liked him, but because no one disliked him as much as the others.

    Would the convention rules still allow a similar scenario in 2012 if the nomination is not locked-up by then?

    Not that Pawlenty is Abeish, nor that the average potential convention delegate wouldn’t already have a strong opnion of him, but the discussion seems to be beating around the bush regarding whether or not 2012 is looking like a suitable year for a Republican Dark Horse without directly addressing whether or not the current rules (or current situation) would allow for that possibilty.

    Would Ron Paul make a good Dark Horse if Romney can’t sew it up ahead of time?

  35. filistro says:

    Re democracy in the Middle East, it’s a tiny pet peeve of mine that everybody (even many on-air commentators who should know better) will continually reiterate that “Israel is the only functioning democracy in the Middle East,” as if that somehow proves the very concept is an impossibility.

    It ISN’T.

    Turkey abolished the sultanate in 1922, fought with the Allies in WWII, became a multi-party democracy in 1945 and has been a NATO member for 59 years.

  36. WA7th says:

    shortchain says:

    “And anything that Newt has said that his life story demonstrates he’s not being hypocritical.”

    I don’t think Newt is claiming not to be a hypocrite. Rather, he’s trying out the “America is a nation of Christian forgiveness” meme as a cover for his “America is a nation of forgetfulness” campaign.

    I just wanna see the part where he gets nailed to two pieces of wood, especially if he’s willing to do the hammering himself.

  37. filistro says:

    Since I’m noticing snowflakes today, WA7th’s is interesting, isn’t it?

    Fancy, fetching… and fuschia.

  38. Number Seven says:

    I have to wonder what will happen to Daffy’s personal guard of virgin warrior women. If they get through this ok, I see a hollywood special in their future.

  39. filistro says:

    #7… you’re so deep…. 😉

  40. filistro,

    The Freepers certainly don’t think so.

    I fear you had an extra word on the end of that sentence. Want me to correct it for you?

  41. Chris Rich says:

    “Tribal” loyalties in Libya are tied with regime largess. I met someone from Saga Petroleum years ago who worked on a rig there and he described the odd reality. The citizens had ‘pretend’ jobs with real salaries while actual work was done by foreigners.

    The citizens would get paid vacations usually spent in Sardinia. If there isn’t much of a gravy train, there won’t be much loyalty. It could break into Cyrenaica, (ancient Roman name for the West) and Tripolitania, (ancient Roman name for the east) which would leave the Cyrenaica in the best shape because the oil is there.

    Yes it would be nice to come up with better reasons for slaughter than oil and there is a humanitarian motive in the soup too. If you don’t like oil wars, immediately cease every kind of purchase and transaction that oil touches and get back to me.

    Otherwise, brace yourself for a long run of resource wars as everyone tries to be like us with likely improvements in their ability to hog stuff. Our most valuable leadership signal would to be admit that our bloat run is over and our dumb mindless heedless life style demands are in the ash can.

    Chicken is tasty but it does suck for the bird when we wring its neck.

    Libya accounts for about 2 % of the worlds oil and is said to be better endowed with natural gas. Most of the oil goes to the EU via Italy where ancient relations between the two nations obtain, (see Roman Empire). Berlusconi was fairly torn by this mess but is up to his ears in problems now that Italians are having major qualms about electing ‘their’ Rupert Murdoch.

    So it isn’t even ‘our’ oil. The initiative was from Sarkozy and we reluctantly signed on. In general, the right won’t have much time to scavenge their confusing memes from this and the left won’t be able to do too much hand wringing before some other corner of an angry world led by 80 year old autocrats blows up.

    All in all I’m impressed with how Obama handled it and not surprised by the reflexive sputters from both sides of the aisle. At least the left has respectable objections to a point. The fatuous right is all over the map, a map they can barely read.

    I pray for the price of gas to hit the roof so people will stop being idiots about cars. I’ve long favored taxes similar to those in the EU with the revenue used to make critical infrastructure we will need when oil becomes even more expensive.

  42. parksie555 says:

    The Chinese won’t be sweating the resource wars. They are smart and resourceful enough to come up with stuff like this, and actually commit to making it work:

    Meanwhile we waste time and tax dollars with bullshit initiatives like high speed rail and wind farms (but not off the coast of oh-so-blue Massachusetts).

    Unfortunately the troubles at Fukushima Daiichi will probably allow the envirowackos in the US to drive the last nails into the coffin of nuclear power here just as it was starting to rise out of the grave.

    And Filly – I hear the new commander of the Libyan operation is in fact a Canadian!

    Canadians have always been pretty tough when it comes to warfighting. See Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach.

  43. filistro says:

    @parksie.. And Filly – I hear the new commander of the Libyan operation is in fact a Canadian!

    You betcha… Charles Bouchard. And Canadian CF-18’s are now bombing Libyan munition depots. Canadians are proud of their participation in this mission. OTOH… if the PM had ever committed Canadian forces to Dubya’s Iraq adventure, the resulting fury would have caused the government to fall within days.

    Speaking of which, Harper just lost a no-confidence vote a few minutes ago, so we will have an election. It will be called next week and held in May. Now THAT’S how you run a federal election!

  44. WA7th,

    Would the convention rules still allow a similar scenario in 2012 if the nomination is not locked-up by then?

    It’s remotely possible, but not likely. The conventions have changed dramatically in the past century and change. What was once the place where the nominee was chosen, it has since become the place where the already-decided nominee is anointed.

  45. Rorgg says:

    Grey snowflakes… yes. I am a valiant commentary barbarian from the land fof … uhh…

    A Canadian friend of mine made a comment a couple days ago that the inaction of the Canadian peacekeeping forces in Darfur left a pretty big stain on the collective national psyche, and that’s helping drive opinion there for intervention. That hold up for you, too?

  46. Chris,

    So it isn’t even ‘our’ oil.

    Except that it is, insofar as the EU isn’t going to drop their consumption by ~20% just because Libya’s oil goes offline. Instead, they’ll buy from the same places the US does. And that translates to a decrease in availability of “our” oil.

  47. parksie,

    The Chinese won’t be sweating the resource wars. They are smart and resourceful enough to come up with stuff like this, and actually commit to making it work…

    I’m afraid you’re confusing dictatorship for “smart and resourceful.”

  48. TakingAmes says:

    Parksie, wouldja care to debate the merits of nuclear power with one of those “envirowackos,” as you so lovingly put it?

    And the Kennedys are hypocritical assholes for objecting to wind farms off Nantucket.

  49. parksie555 says:

    Nice piece by Nate on the Old Grey Lady moving to a semi-subscription model…

    Currently the only things on-line that I pay for are Baseball Prospectus, SOMWorld (a Strat-O-Matic analysis site), and the Gameday Audio feed.

    I think BP is about $20 a year and the MLB Gameday Audio and SOMWorld are about $10 a year.

    I would probably be willing to pay $20 a year for the Times online but probably not a whole lot more.

    If the NYT went to a complete subscription model (no access unless paying a subscription fee) what would fellow 538ers be willing to pay?

  50. parksie555 says:

    Sure Ames, whaddaya got?

    Are the any other carbon-neutral energy sources with even a prayer of supporting the energy needs of the Earth’s current population?

    That would be a good place to start, I think.

  51. filistro says:

    @Rorgg… “Dandruffia.” LOL. I like you already 🙂

    A Canadian friend of mine made a comment a couple days ago that the inaction of the Canadian peacekeeping forces in Darfur left a pretty big stain on the collective national psyche, and that’s helping drive opinion there for intervention.

    I don’t think it’s Darfur per se… it’s more that Darfur reminds Canadians of Rwanda which really was a cause of immense national angst. Romeo Dallaire , now a Senator from Quebec, was the Canadian General in charge of the UN mission to Rwanda, and when he saw the genocide coming he begged for reinforcements to head it off but they never arrived.

    After he came back to Canada he had a very highly public nervous breakdown over the horrors he witnessed (and felt responsible for) and the whole country sort of fell apart along with him.

    Canadians never want to suffer through something like that again.

  52. TakingAmes says:

    Well, the sun comes to mind, but obviously the technology is not there yet, due to a total lack of investment. We could start there.

    I’ll be honest, I don’t have a good carbon-neutral immediate solution. However, being of the conviction that nuclear power will be humanity’s ultimate downfall, I’d rather just use coal (and there’s no such thing as clean coal) until we figure out better way. I’m a pretty big tree-hugger, so that alone should imply how seriously I take the nuclear issue.

    Leaving my personal feelings about it out, though, let’s just start with how bloody expensive nuclear power is. Nuke plants are always heavily subsidized by the government in order to get them built, and still take billions of dollars and tens of years to bring online. In the meantime, the power companies (Southern comes to mind) are allowed to “pre-charge” their consumers for power that doesn’t exist yet. There has never been a nuke plant built in this country that came online on time and under budget. Once they are built, the government again is forced to heavily subsidize the power in order to make it in the least affordable for consumers.

    Moving on to what we do with the highly radioactive waste when it’s no longer suitable for creating electricity. We don’t know. There is simply no way to sufficiently protect it for the necessary half-life of tens of thousands of years from any number of incidents, including (but not limited to) terrorism, earthquake, alien invasion, what have you. Not to mention the potential for catastrophe when you have to transport high level nuclear waste (across state lines) to store it in some underground facility (which, thank God, is not going to be Yucca Mountain). Then you have the additional costs to the states when there is a train/truck/shipping accident involving that high level nuclear waste within their state, regardless of whether that state uses nuclear power.

    So, I guess we can completely leave aside my envirowacko feelings about nuclear power and just talk about the money.

  53. parksie,

    Are the any other carbon-neutral energy sources with even a prayer of supporting the energy needs of the Earth’s current population?

    As I noted before, there’s enough geothermal energy accessible in the US to take us nearly zero-carbon all by itself. It’s harder for me to speak about other countries, since I’m less familiar with what they may have available in supply, relative to the projected demand.

  54. parksie555 says:

    Are there any large scale geothermal facilities producing electricity now? How do they work? Why are we not using more geothermal? Is it locally concentrated in certain areas?

    Not trying to be a smartass, I just don’t know much about the theory or technology behind geothermal.

  55. msgkings says:


    And the sun produces many times that. But if that was enough, we’d all be living in the cheap energy paradise. The question still is, how to get that geothermal, or solar, or any other energy produced at a cost at least in the ballpark of oil and coal.

    I am an optimist on this, however. A lot of brainpower and money is out there trying to make this work. I feel that it will.

  56. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    In the article from Nate linked above, it was interesting to see the data on the sources cited with the hits on searches.

    Was a bit surprised to see Fox/Fox News cited at less than half the rate of Al Jazeera, a third the rate of CNN and barely ahead of the Hindustan Times.

    Thanks, parksie, for bringing that to our attention.

  57. WA7th says:

    MW: Yes, these days all the delegates are as locked-in to a candidate before the convention as they could possibly be, so I guess what I’m driving at is that I don’t see any possible situation where the teapers can garner enough delegates for all their candidates combined to make any sort of play for power at the convention.

    If no one has enough delegates to take the nomination going in, then it would likely look something like Romney #1, Huckabee #2, with all others combined in third. For the convention to become a free-for-all, I would think that “all others combined” would need to have a lot more delegates than Huck or whomever is the ranking #2, and whomever is #1 would have to be at their theoretical maximum support already and unable to peel off any more delegates to their side.

    Am I right? That would be a tough row to hoe, but it also would require the party to be in much worse shape than it currently appears to be in for a situation like that to unfold. The teapers made their decision to take over the party from the inside rather than to position themselves as a third party, and they have not offered much evidence that they can successfully do that.

    So, it will never happen.
    Romney and Huck aren’t so far apart. If those two establishment candidates enter the convention at #1 and #2, then one of those two will win, no matter what the other variables are. If a Romney or Huckabee nomination alienates the hard-liners on the right, then that’s their problem. If they stay at home or vote 3rd party, then Obama has that to his advantage.

    Does that logic seem unreasonable to anyone?

  58. WA7th says:

    parksie555 asks:

    If the NYT went to a complete subscription model (no access unless paying a subscription fee) what would fellow 538ers be willing to pay?

    Not a cent, because all the meaningful action is now at 538refugees. Not that I’m biased or anything.

    Thanks, everyone, for all the meaningful action. Think I need to go have a smoke now. ::yawn:: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. 🙂

  59. parksie,

    Are there any large scale geothermal facilities producing electricity now?

    A handful.

    How do they work?

    There are various approaches. The simplest takes existing hot artesian springs (such as found around Yellowstone) and uses the heat from the water to drive turbines.

    There are some others that take cold water and drive it down into hot porous rock, where it is brought back up and used to drive turbines. These have a greater potential to trigger earthquakes, due to a number of factors, including fracturing the rock underground at the site. This could be mitigated (at greater cost) by keeping the water physically separated from the rock; this reduces the efficiency somewhat, but it’s not like the extra heat is being wasted so much as not yet being tapped (an oversimplification). It’s also unclear whether the earthquake danger is short- or long-lived in the frac model.

    In Hawaii, there were problems arising from hydrogen sulfide gas leaking out along with the hot water…it’s pretty much a given to have that sort of problem in a place with active volcanoes, though.

    Geotherm availability is concentrated in the northwest of the US, though there are a handful of good spots to the east as well.


    And the sun produces many times that.

    It’s not a question of production. It’s a question of availability. It can be quite attainable in the desert regions of the world, for about 8-10 hours a day, but it’s not as useful elsewhere. Even in the more useful regions, watts per unit of land is lower for solar than for geotherm. But in the southwest US, where geotherm isn’t available, solar is an excellent choice. Solar shingles on houses in the southwest are pretty close to cost effective, when you factor in a house that needs to be reshingled in the first place. And that presumes oil prices of less than $100/bbl.

    any other energy produced at a cost at least in the ballpark of oil and coal.

    And this is where things get really messy. What’s the “cost” of oil? Shouldn’t we include the amount we’re spending on activity in the Middle East? And on any government subidies of the oil industry? All of that money has to come from somewhere. The issue is that we don’t pay for it at the pump, so those subsidies are “sunk cost” for the purposes of our ultimate energy purchase decisions. That hardly helps us make the right decisions even from a short-term perspective.

  60. WA7th,
    Your analysis of the Republican convention matches my expectations. So if you’re wrong, at least you’re not alone. 🙂

  61. parksie555 says:

    Ames, I partially agree with you about solar. I think it’s the next best option after nuclear and I think the government is currently doing the right thing by subsidizing solar until the technology improves. Solar clearly has by far the lowest risk profile and is carbon neutral of course. I think for residential usage, especially in rural areas with lots of open space solar has a lot of potential. Plus my company makes a lot of money selling certain polymers that go into large scale solar panel production :).

    However I think you are a little off base on the costs of nuclear power. The plants are hideously expensive but this is in large part due to the amount of regulations imposed on them by our government. Unfortunately a lot of that money goes into environmental impact statements, endless studies, and other bureaucratic nonsense that adds very little to the actual safety of the facilities.

    And operating costs for nuclear are roughly equivalent to coal and less than natural gas, even with natural gas prices as low as they currently are. A big part of the reason for this is that on-stream time for most of these reactors has increased markedly over the last 20 years. Refueling times have decreased and the intervals between refueling outages have grown.

    So I think your cost comparison is a little off base.

    You have to remember that we are still very early in the technology life-cycle for nuclear power. And basically most developments as far as new plants go stopped 30 years ago.

    I am a bit of a specialist in industrial process control and I can tell you that the technology used to control nuclear plants is several decades behind what is currently available. If anybody in the process industry building a new plant proposed a control system similar to that used in US nuclear plants (pnuematic instrumentation, mechanical relay logic, panelboard instrumentation) he would be laughed out of the room.

    Spent fuel disposal is an issue as you accurately point out but that is the price to be paid for carbon neutrality, IMHO. And again, we are early in the technology cycle. And the waste quantities are relatively quite small – extraordinarily difficult to deal with, but manageable in volume.

  62. Rorgg says:

    I think you’re overlooking that it’s structurally unlikely to GET to the 3-way or more split of delegates. Parties, and especially the GOP tend to fall in line behind candidates and candidates who can’t win tend to drop and throw their strength to the consensus likely winner. It’s a party unity thing, and it’s a very strong effect. 2008 had an incredibly fractured field and look how quickly they fell in line. Now consider that the GOP primaries themselves have been restructured for 2012 for more Winner-Take-All and less proportionality, and I don’t see a brokered convention as being any more likely than it was before.

  63. dcpetterson says:

    Back in the early 1970’s, Gerard K. O’Neill proposed that we build massive orbital colonies, whose main purpose would e to construct huge solar power collectors. (If any of you remember the TV show Babylon 5, the big station there closely resembled O’Neill’s designs.) His projections for the costs and benefits were impressive.

    We could have had a huge amount of our electrical needs supplied by orbital colonies by now, tens of thousands of people living in orbit, or on the Moon, and the entire project would have more than paid for itself. No environmental damage, almost zero carbon footprint (only from space launches — which can be minimized with a space elevator). Very little impact on resource use, as most of the needed resources would have come from mining the Moon and asteroids. Most of the fabrication of materials, construction, and manufacture would take place in orbit, so no factory pollution, either.

    We could still do this. But conservatives object to the idea of gubmint subsidies, let alone a massive government-run energy project. By the way, the projected costs were amazingly low; compare to, say, the Iraq War, it would have been dirt cheap. It was never a question of affording it. It always was (and is) a question of priorities.

    We may eventually get there. People like Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic are pointing the way to the future. But be aware, it’ll be privately-owned multinational corporations, and we’ll be as dependent on them as we are on oil companies. And they’ll be no more concerned with safety and the like than they were on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. At least government projects in a democracy are answerable to the voters, rather than just to a small group of wealthy stockholders.

    Every now and then, I pull out my copy of O’Neill’s book and dream about what might have been. No oil wars, no threats of shortages, no reliance on dangerous sources like nuclear power. Ah, well.

  64. TakingAmes says:

    Thanks, parksie. Am I correct in my belief that France has a method of recycling their spent fuel rods? Do you have any insight about this?

    I definitely appreciate your insight, as I am certain you have a much deeper knowledge about the technical aspects. I am simply not convinced that it is possible to make nuclear power safe enough over the long term for it to be worth the investment. Would it be more cost effective to make similar investments in the alternative fuel sources?

  65. dcpetterson says:

    The two best suggestions I’ve heard for how to deal with waste from nuclear plants are a) drop them into subduction zones where they’ll be pulled deep into the Earth’s interior, or b) fire them into the Sun (this would probably only be practical if we moved the nuclear reactors themselves into orbit — and if we did that, we’d be better off with orbital solar collectors).

    Plan a) has the advantage that it doesn’t take much in the way of technology to do it.

  66. Number Seven says:

    I hear the term ‘thorium reactor’ used a bit by a few on some other boards. Other then what can be found on wiki, does anyone know if these are really feasible? From what I can find out, they seem like a dream come true. They self shut down in emergencies, they can eat the more dangerous forms of nuke waste.

    Anyone know more?

  67. parksie555 says:

    No problem Ames. I don’t know much about recycling the spent fuel rods, have not heard about it. I do remember my father (who worked for our public utility) talking about something called a “fast-breeder” reactor, maybe this was a reference to “breeding” additional fuel, not sure.

    Safe is a relative term. How safe is coal mining? Or driving on the interstate? I think that the benefits of nuclear power outweigh the risks. But I also think that it is a worthy investment of my tax dollars to subsidize solar power and electric cars at this point. Not so sure about wind or MWeiss’s geothermal though…

    Had to laugh a little at DC talking of “dangerous” nuclear power proposing “safe” power production in orbital colonies. I think I would rather work in a nuclear plant than on an orbiting platform, but YMMV. Things with enough energy in them to lift into orbit tend to blow up every now and then. And sometimes coming back home is a little hairy as well. Although if I had to drive on the interstate to get to the nuclear plant that would probably push the risk up a bit 🙂

  68. #7,
    From what I know, thorium reactors use a molten salt as the heat carrier, instead of water. The waste is radioactive for 300 years. The technology is in its infancy because it never made it past uranium as the fuel of desire. Uranium was liked more in the 50s because the waste products could be used to make bombs, whereas thorium waste had to be discarded.

    As a result of the lack of investment in the technology over the past several decades, there is a cost associated with development of new thorium reactors. It probably would be able to be amortized in around a decade, though. (I’m guessing at that)

  69. Brian says:

    Yay, an energy conversation, something I can intelligently contribute to!

    With 2 years of research in solar energy production, and another 3.5 to go, I’m very confident solar is our best bet. Even if we don’t use solar power itself, we can generate a current from solar cells to produce hydrogen gas from water. It’s one of the cleanest, most sustainable, forms of energy available to us.

    The biggest problem with this is many of the metal oxides that are used to do this, mainly TiO2, only absorb in the ultraviolet, where there is 4% of the solar spectrum. However, there are constant advancements in this field, particularly in the area of dye-sensitized solar cells (Google Michael Gratzel), doping using metal nanoparticles (my work), and some other tricks to shift into the visible part of the solar spectrum.

    I could see geothermal energy working, but nuclear has never really seemed like the final answer to me. At best, it’d just be a transitional energy from oil to something cleaner and more sustainable.

    As I’ve offered before, if people want the journal articles regarding this, just let me know where to send them.

  70. parksie,

    maybe this was a reference to “breeding” additional fuel

    Basically, yes. See

  71. parksie555 says:

    Seven, I did read something about thorium reactors recently. Can’t remember where. I think the issue was that the energy density of thorium is considerably less than uranium, so that the reactor was safer during operation as it is easier to control, but that the amount of radioactive waste generated was higher, also due to the energy density issue. I think possibly the article mentioned a thorium plant being built in India, but I can’t remember for sure.

  72. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    dc, you reminded me.

    I am currently looking at the September 1974 copy of Physics Today with the artists rendition of a O’Neill colony. The article “The Colonization of Space”, by O’Neill begins on page 32, and goes into some depth on materials needed and costs (Table 4, in 1972 dollars).

    Looking at the state of the art equipment for 1974 is a real eyeopener!

    Sadly, it only made second in that months Contents.

    First place went to “The urinary drop spectrometer”, by Aiello, Lafrance, Ritter and Trefil.

  73. Chris Rich says:

    I’ve found to be the other useful antidote to energy nonsense. The NYT and all others were next to useless during the well head mess last summer but Oil Drum had great threads from all manner of people who work the oil patch, regulate it and study it.

    New Zealand has fairly advanced big geothermal but a basic geothermal heat pump system works anywhere by warming air in the ground below frost lines where a constant temp prevails.

    The main driver for price spikes in the past several years has not solely been endemic cost but speculation on commodities by large hedge funds. They move money around wherever there is higher return activity and will pig pile the commodities exchanges when it looks like a good spike is forming.

    One antidote for that is the return of long term contracts for delivery at a specified price. China and Japan are enthusiastic participants in these arrangements.

    It isn’t clear that the EU would just grab more oil from ‘our’ share as their prices are much higher due to VAT structures. A significant reduction in use would be a first reaction. They aren’t as hobbled by cars as we are but are more vulnerable to heating costs.

    If a war driven price rise happens going into summer, reduced driving works better there. Winter is where the crunch comes. In any case, there has been a recurring trend of significant productive capacity reduction in the aftermath of war.

    With damage to refineries in several locations there will be significant bottlenecks for gasoline delivery. Who knows what sort of impairments Libya will know when the conflict subsides?

    The long view is inexorable. Bloat can’t continue, period. Saudis have begun to acknowledge their best fields have less capacity than was previously thought.

    Generally, footprint reduction turns on a bunch of incremental facets in combination. Make sure structures retain heat as well as they can. A significant part of derided stimulus money was applied to popular tax deductions for energy efficiency improvement, ‘cash for caulkers’ or whatever but there is still quite a lot of urban rentier slumlord housing stock that wastes stupid amounts of energy.

    I’m with Kunstler on this and view the faith in tech fixes with a jaundiced eye. What is so terrible about learning to not live like brainless imbeciles entranced by stupid toys?

    Humanity is good at finding ways to live beautifully within its means when it isn’t distracted by shiny things.

    Oil has run its course. A guy finds cheap liquid burnable ooze in Titusville and whales are off the hook for being lamp oil fodder.

    Someone else comes up with light bulbs to get rid of flammable kerosene lamps. This cycle churns to the point where less is more again. We are awash in shiny things but not notably secure for a long haul as well adapted sustainable people would know one.

  74. dcpetterson says:

    Looking at the state of the art equipment for 1974 is a real eyeopener!

    Yes, back then, they could actually fit a computer into a single room!

    Rent Apollo 13 and look at the equipment that brought us to the Moon. It’s amazing anyone lived.


    parksie, you’re right that “safety” is a relative thing, and a subjective assessment (though many aspects of it can be quantified). I’d rather do away with rocket-powered ascent to orbit, and opt instead for a space elevator. Much better solution. O’Neill didn’t know about the concept back in the ’70’s.

  75. Mr. Universe says:

    Yay, Brian!

    I’m into solar right now, too; particularly residential solar.

    Also we’re doing some interesting things with bio-mass. Brazil is almost independent from foreign oil because of this.

    Feel free to share any really interesting articles with me. Click on the contact button at the top of the page and drop me a line.

  76. filistro says:

    LOL… the Freepers, who never met a conspiracy theory they didn’t love, are all over this
    Canadian election thing.

    They’re convinced there’s deep, sinister significance in the fact that the no-confidence vote fell on the same day a Canadian was named commander of the NATO mission in Libya, and obviously signifies worldwide disenchantment with Obama’s foreign policy.

    What frickin’ idiots.

    In fact the non-confidence vote was because Harper’s conservatives have steadfastly refused to reveal the financial details of their “tough-on-crime” bill, defense procurements and corporate tax cuts, and were held in contempt of parliament as a result.

  77. dcpetterson says:

    Well, yes, filistro, but why are these charges coming out now? Isn’t it because the world is disenchanted with Obama’s foreign policy? 😛

  78. WA7th says:

    Isn’t a breeder reactor used in nuclear fusion, whereas all the reactors actually operating today are nuclear fission reactors?

    That’s what I learned in high school way back in the nineteen hundreds, anyway, and I haven’t paid much attention since then. As I recall, the Tennessee Valley Authority was working on a fusion reactor at Oak Ridge but it never went live for consumer production of electricity.

  79. Max aka Birdpilot says:


    I have a #10 washtub, scrub board and 50 feet of nylon coated wire when you are ready to move to a completely environmentally friendly laundry.

    Zero carbon footprint, low water usage, completely off the grid. And sweet smelling clothes.

    Let me know!

  80. dcpetterson says:

    A breeder reactor is used to create fuel for fission reactors. The idea is to create radioactive fissionable elements, which can be put into a fission reactor to produce power.

    A fission reactor takes heavy elements (such as uranium or plutonium) and breaks their nuclei apart, releasing the energy that held them together. This is the same principle (but more controlled) as an atomic bomb. This produces lighter elements, many of which are also radioactive – that is, the nuclei continue to release high-energy protons and / or neutrons, and excess heat, and high-energy particles such as x-rays and gamma rays. We don’t have a good solution as to what to do with this readioactive waste.

    A fusion reactor takes hydrogen atoms and smashes them together, “fusing” them into helium atoms. A hydrogen nucleus consists of a single proton (or, in the case of deuterium, a proton and a neutron). These are fused to create helium atoms, consisting of two protons and two (or three) neutrons. During the process, one or more of the protons from the hydrogen are converted into neutrons. Neutrons are less massive than protons, and the excess mass is released as energy. This is the same principle as a hydrogen bomb. It is far more powerful than nuclear fission, and far more energy is released.

    There has never been a workable fusion reactor. The amount of energy needed to get the process started is immense (it actually takes an atomic bomb to produce enough energy to ignite a hydrogen bomb), and the amount of energy released is so great that we haven’t found good ways to keep it controlled. However, the primary waste product of nuclear fusion is simple helium — which is not radioactive, and, in fact, is inert and fairly harmless.

    I am not certain, but breeder reactors may be fusion reactors, in the sense that they fuse heavy elements together to form still heavier elements, which can then be broken apart in a fission reactor. As I say, I’m not certain of this; it could be that the process is to slam heavy elements together, and break them apart into slightly lighter (but still heavy) elements that can be used in fusion. Perhaps someone else can address that distinction.

  81. shortchain says:


    Nuclear fission with enriched U-235 has, as a byproduct, lots of neutrons. Some of these neutrons are absorbed by U-238 (or, in some designs, Thorium) and the result is one of the isotopes of Plutonium. A breeder reactor is a reactor designed to enhance this.

    wikipedia has a decent introduction to this.

    The design can be tweaked to “burn up” the waste products, so (it is claimed) as to produce only short-lived radioactive waste other than fuel (which can be recycled).

    There are no fusion reactors today that can produce any elements heavier than about Helium, so they’re not capable of producing reactor fuel.

  82. Mr. Universe says:


    Yeah, Oak Ridge. A city completely constructed for the purpose of creating the atomic bomb. I have a relative who was a resident there. I, myself, grew up in the shadow of a TVA nuclear plant. We used to hear the warning sirens being tested the first Monday of the month. Big air-raid sirens.

  83. Todd Dugdale says:

    Are there any large scale geothermal facilities producing electricity now? How do they work? Why are we not using more geothermal? Is it locally concentrated in certain areas?

    Iceland is the best example. A friend of mine is a native Icelander, and he tells me about the geothermal energy programme there.

    By and large, most peoples’ homes are heated for virtually nothing. Major streets are heated and never need to be plowed. You can even install pipes under your sidewalk and driveway so that you never have to shovel.

    Of course, businesses and government buildings are also geothermally heated, and most of the electricity in Iceland comes from geothermal power.

  84. Chris Rich says:

    Max I’m in a city with exorbitant water rates, Cambridge, so all laundromats have mandated hyper efficient machines and I haven’t used a dryer in more than a decade.

    I just drape stuff over chair backs, hang t shirts off of door knobs and so on. I have enough dirt cheap thrift store clothing that I never need stuff fast dried and the smell outcome is the same. I’d be fine with a washboard out in the country and drape stuff on tree branches or make a clothesline of the same textile sash chord my grandmother used but really, a clothes line is almost overkill.

  85. filistro says:

    @Chris Rich… but really, a clothes line is almost overkill

    LOL! I ask you… is it any wonder I love this guy? 🙂 🙂

  86. filistro says:

    Actually, I think all of us love Chris, ever since his legendary smackdown of Pete Kent.

    Anybody who was around in the old 538 days and witnessed that episode… it was truly a thing of beauty. Gladdened the hearts of real people everywhere.

    I’m sure poor old Pete the Parrot has never fully recovered 😛

  87. dcpetterson says:

    It looks more and more like we’ll be out of Libya within days. So much for the predictions of disaster. Obama set a definite mission, with a huge U.N. coalition. Complete with definite goals and exit strategy. It’s being successful.

    Proving once again that Obama is not Bush. America has changed. This is the change we wanted, the change we voted for.

    And the world is coming along. I saw a story about worldwide polls the other day. America’s standing in world opinion continues to skyrocket. The rest of the world has realized that the change has come. When America gets involved militarily, it is for the right reasons, done in the right manner, and creates the right effects.

    And the right wing in American politics doesn’t know how to handle it. There were calls for us to get involved in Egypt. We didn’t. It turned out the way we hoped. Then came Libya, and people like the Newtster were for intervention before they were against it. They now can’t decide if we should do more. or if we should never have done anything. Meanwhile, we’ve prevented a genocide — which was all we set out to do. Definite goals, executed brilliantly.

    Gotta love it.

  88. dcpetterson says:

    Meanwhile, the situation in Japan continues to worsen. One could argue that nuclear power is basically safe, and is dangerous only when power plants are built atop geological faults. Possibly. (Is that the only dangerous place to put them?)

    But there are alternatives, safer and cleaner, and we don’t need nuclear power. Really: even if we dived it with both feet, it would take a decade or more to bring new plants online — by which time we could have enormous geothermal, wind, solar, and tidal plants in operation. And biomass. And probably have other technologies in the wings.

    So why do nuclear? What real purpose would nuclear power serve? I don’t mean that as a rhetorical question. I’m asking for a realistic assessment. Maybe if we had started building new, safe, well-positioned plants, a decade ago, maybe they’d be useful about now. But we are where we are. Seriously, tell me what the advantage is — when it doesn’t seem like the alternatives would be particularly more expensive.

  89. filistro says:

    @DC.. Obama set a definite mission, with a huge U.N. coalition. Complete with definite goals and exit strategy. It’s being successful.

    And, as Rachel Maddow pointed out tonight, all kinds of GOP politicians are now fretfully questioning the cost of the mission in Libya…. another plus. For the first time perhaps in history, Republican politicians are on record (and on video!)opposing the cost of a military operation.

    This can only be a Good Thing for future battles.

  90. dcpetterson says:

    @filistro For the first time perhaps in history, Republican politicians are on record (and on video!) opposing the cost of a military operation.

    Republicans always oppose humanitarian intervention. And you’re right, their opposition is never on the grounds of cost. If a limited and focused humanitarian military intervention actually works — particularly if said intervention was initiated by the U.N., and then turned over to (ohmyfrickinGOD!) the French, or NATO, or some other internationalist body — whatever will they do?

    By the way, for people who pretend to value the Founders and What They Did And Stood For — how in the name of reason can Republicans contemn the French? Those Frenchies were our first and most vital allies. Always have been. There would not even be a United States of America without the French. They gave us the Statue of Liberty, dammit, and you’d think Libertarians would know that.

  91. parksie555 says:

    dc – You are dreaming if you think that a decade would be enough to build an energy infrastructure based strictly on wind, solar, geothermal, and “tidal” power. Those technologies just are not there yet.

    Are they part of the solution? Certainly. But to ignore nuclear power’s potential is foolish. Right now it is the best and really only realistic alternative to the problems caused by fossil fuel generation of electricity. The cost is comparable to coal and natural gas right now. Solar and wind are not even close at the moment.

  92. Todd Dugdale says:

    dcpetterson wrote:
    And the right wing in American politics doesn’t know how to handle it.

    Palin on Libya

    Hard to make sense of her remarks. She says Khadafy should be “ousted”, and at another point says he should be killed.

    Then she says, “I think Gaddafi is going to end up dead through this mission, whether it’s at the hands of the rebels who have turned on him or whether it is at the hands of America and her allies.”

    So, IOW, she thinks the “mission” will be a success, right?

    But “the president seems to be confused and have confusing messages”, so even though she thinks this is the right thing to do, and that it will be successful, this is ‘wrong’.

    I think what really is confusing the Right is that the U.S. is not in charge of this operation, and is only playing a prominent role in the initial stage – which is coming to a close. The job of the U.S. is virtually complete, and we can leave at any time claiming success in what our task was – to knock out air defences and air bases.

    Now that Ajdabiya is in the rebels’ hands, and Khadafy’s tanks and artillery are out of the equation there, the east does not look good for the loyalists.

  93. Mr. Universe says:

    You are dreaming if you think that a decade would be enough to build an energy infrastructure based strictly on wind, solar, geothermal, and “tidal” power. Those technologies just are not there yet.

    Nobody thought we could get to the moon in under a decade either.

    I’ll admit, parksie, I’m on the fence about nuclear. I like it better than coal but it seems to me that there are better ways to get the biggest bang for the buck. One is to reduce the bang. Two is to reduce the transmission loss. Three is to find more effective means of boiling water (essentially what nuclear plants do).

    I do think that we can’t wait for the market to drive the R & D otherwise oil companies have little compelling reason to get behind research that effectively competes with their profit margins. I think we would be best served to stop giving the richest corporations on the planet subsidies and turn that money into renewable energy projects.

  94. TakingAmes says:

    Two quick things in further response to the nuclear question, in particular the waste issue.

    1. Nuclear power has been around for, say, 70-ish years. The half life of the radioactive waste it currently produces is in the range of 50,000 years. Please name me one human-built structure in the history of the planet that has lasted 50,000 years, give or take.

    2. Please name me one region or area of this planet that has not seen catastrophic earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, volcanoes, what-have-you, in the last 50,000 years, give or take.

    I realize the horse is sort of out of the barn on this one, but why should we continue to create high level nuclear waste given the answers to the above questions?

  95. msgkings says:

    @ Todd D:

    It does appear to be looking more and more like the country will end up split in two, something I mused on in a thread a week or so ago.

    After the east is secure, I doubt the outside coalition will provide the aid the rebels need to actually take over the west and physically push Q out. They have nowhere near enough to do so alone.

    Fine by me.

  96. Chris Rich says:

    Hi Fili, thanks for the accolades, Old Kent was kind of a slam dunk hoisted on the petard of his own paranoia and superstitions.

    And Nylon for a clothes line is like using a steel I beam to hang a christmas ornament.

    Good to see you well and the real accomplishment here has been to get both sides to move away from reflexive posturing and toward a neighborliness that is unique.

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