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Thoughts on a Politics-Heavy Night

The Fix sits surrounded by televisions.

At around 9:45 pm, the television on our right was tuned to the Democratic presidential debate between Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. Meanwhile, on the television on our left, Larry King was interviewing Mike Huckabee about his third place finish in the Michigan primary.

What a tableau! What a night!

Below you'll find some of our thoughts/musings from a night full of politics. This is not a comprehensive look at what happened -- rather glimpses of a night in the life of The Fix. It's been a long one so tomorrow will be a slow day in this space.

* Romney not only got the win he needed but his margin -- 10 points as we write -- could give him a burst of momentum moving forward. It's not clear whether Romney will play for keeps in South Carolina -- our guess is he won't -- but with Florida looming on Jan. 29, Romney has to be happy with what is coming out of Michigan tonight.

* That three different Republican candidates won Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan speaks to the continued lack of certainty among GOP voters toward their options. Each state seems to be content to pick their favorite without regard to momentum or the perceived need to rally around a candidate early in the process. Put simply: the Republican field lacks a clear frontrunner.

* South Carolina is now very important to John McCain's chance at the nomination. A loss in Michigan will be quickly forgotten if McCain wins in five days time in the Palmetto State. But if McCain loses South Carolina to Huckabee, then the New Hampshire win looks more like the exception than the rule. For McCain to win South Carolina, he MUST carry the Republican vote, which he was unable to do in 2000. This time around he has far more establishment support and his long advocacy of the troop surge strategy in Iraq should help him among the large and influential military community in the state. The key question? How much damage will his support for a comprehensive illegal immigration bill do to him among GOP base voters.

* The last minute decision by the Nevada Supreme Court to keep Dennis Kucinich out of the Democratic debate worked to the benefit of John Edwards. Without Kucinich, Edwards sat around a table with Clinton and Obama -- a visual that should help him make the case that the race is really a three-way affair.

* After siding with Obama against Clinton in the debate just before the New Hampshire primary, tonight Edwards tried to lump Obama and Clinton together as flawed candidates. In the section in which each candidate was allowed to ask a question of another candidate, Edwards tried to paint Obama as the top recipient of money from drug and insurance companies. (Obama's campaign insisted that claim was wrong, releasing a document that said Clinton had collected $1.7 million from health care professionals to Obama's $1.3 million.) If Edwards stays in the race all the way until Feb. 5, he could complicate the nomination math for both Obama and Clinton.

* Obama and Clinton seemed content to blast President Bush rather than attack one another. Even when Clinton obliquely referred to the fact that Obama had said he wasn't an "operating officer", the Illinois Senator pushed back against Bush rather than Clinton. "What he could not do is to listen to perspectives that didn't agree with his ideological predispositions," Obama said of Bush.

* The idea that Clinton's showing in Michigan -- 56 percent of the vote with 86 percent of precincts reporting -- somehow can be interpreted as a defeat doesn't make much sense. None of the candidates including Clinton competed in the state and no delegates were available. Her win -- regardless of the margin -- is fundamentally meaningless.

* Moderator Brian Williams spoke for all of us sleep-deprived and travel weary journalists when he welcomed the audience back to Los Angeles. He was greeted with lusty booing from the Las Vegas crowd.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 15, 2008; 11:28 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: Fix Pick: Obama, the New Gary Hart?

Comments

The enormous sums the politicos waste are astonishing. The billions upon billions we have foolishly allowed them to toss out like confetti belongs to the taxpayers. The tax rates are rediculous, biased and very complex. Why in the world does it take a trained professional to figure things out at tax time? Is it simply another ploy to grab more?

Posted by: hmays8363 | January 22, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 17, 2008 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Love Canal had nothing to do with nuclear power. It was a case of disposal of toxic chemicals.

Posted by: AlaninMissoula | January 16, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

a billion dollar hoax in 1979 dollars, apparently...

'The cleanup of the damaged nuclear reactor system at TMI-2 took nearly 12 years and cost approximately $973 million. The cleanup was uniquely challenging technically and radiologically. Plant surfaces had to be decontaminated. Water used and stored during the cleanup had to be processed. And about 100 tonnes of damaged uranium fuel had to be removed from the reactor vessel -- all without hazard to cleanup workers or the public.

A cleanup plan was developed and carried out safely and successfully by a team of more than 1000 skilled workers

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

bn1123 writes
"But if John Edwards or Barack Obama had received more than 50% of the vote, the media would have called it a landslide."

If Kid Johnny Edwards can win 50% of the vote on a ballot that includes Obama & Clinton, it will rightly be called a landslide. If he wins 50 to 44 when he's running against 'undecided' the results will be ignored.

Posted by: bsimon | January 16, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Three Mile Island is an overblown media-environmentalist HOAX.

Why don't you do some research?

How many casualties were there again? I forgot.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | January 16, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

It is obvious that many here who think Nuclear Power is fine and the waste is harmless should do some research on the Nuclear Power Plant leak at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and the Nuclear Waste problems at Love Canal in New York.
If anyone knows about Nuclear Waste Problems it is President Jimmy Carter because he was the President during both incidents. President Carter was responsible for the cleanup of Love Canal where people had died from exposure to the nuclear waste.
When Three Mile Island had the problem, he personally went there with the inspectors.
I agree with Senator Clinton that there has to be a better way to take care of the waste before we start Nuclear Power programs again.

Posted by: dolsac3 | January 16, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

"Now, I ask you, is this a good thing"

No, it's a bad thing. I 100% agree with you.

I don't LIKE big oil. I'd rather us end our addiction.

I'm just saying... don't blame them, blame us.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | January 16, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the result in Michigan may be meaningless for Democrats (although, the party may give Michigan and Florida some delegates in the end). But if John Edwards or Barack Obama had received more than 50% of the vote, the media would have called it a landslide.

Posted by: bn1123 | January 16, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I might add, Bush just sold $20 billion in advanced weaponry to our friends the Saudis [who gave us 9/11] and then begged for more oil production -- but was turned down. To your argument Adrick, add global public humilation.

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I forgot,

'tax cuts and subsidies are the same thing

in drindl's mind.'

and also in reality too, which is were I live. targeted tax cuts to specific industries result in shortfalls that must be made up somewhere else.

when oil is extracted from publlic lands, the taxpayers are owed a royality. It's OUR oil. So if no royalties are paid, in effect, our oil is stolen. and at every stage of the process, taxpayer funded 'incentives' are handed out, then we are again charged high fees at the pump? And the result? Profits go up, production goes down.

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

from USMC_Mike:
"...I get tired of hearing from liberals (not necessarily from you) about the big, bad, oil companies running America. I mean honestly, do you think a match up between Exxon and the US Military has an un-obvious outcome?"

Well, firt of all, Mike, the idea of a military showdown between a company and a government is ludicrous.

And secondly, Exxon's power is not military. It is economic and political.

I'm not saying that oil companies are "big, bad... and ...running America".

I'm saying that their loyalty is to Profit and Power -- and not to the U.S.A.

They WILL act against America's best interest when it is their interest to do so. Look into the actions of ARAMCO during the Oil Embargo of 1973. And this was at a time when Americans still had a large stake in ARAMCO -- before the Saudis took full control. The oil companies continued selling oil to Hitler during the early stages of WWII. These are just a couple of examples -- there are more.

And I'm also NOT saying they should be taxed because they are "too profitable". That is a ridiculous characterization of my position.

What I am saying is this: we are addicted to oil, we can't function without imported oil, our enemies are in control of this oil, we pay them exorbitant sums for it, they, then use those profits to finance attacks against us. They also use those massive amounts of petrodollars to turn millions of people against us, thus, creating generations of future enemies.

Now, I ask you, is this a good thing? To finance your enemies?

P.S.
I, too, am a former military man (USAF, wouldn't you guess?!).

Posted by: AdrickHenry | January 16, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I forgot,

tax cuts and subsidies are the same thing

in drindl's mind.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | January 16, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

'Why should the govt make more off a gallon of gas than the company who took on the risk of exploration, recovery, refinement, distribution?

What value did the govt add to that gallon of gas?'

Oil is heavily taxpayer subsidized. Taxpayers take the risk of exploration, recovery, refinement and didstributon. Oil companies reap the profits.

'Last month, the Bush administration confirmed that it expected the government to waive about $7 billion in royalties over the next five years, even though the industry incentive was expressly conceived of for times when energy prices were low. And that number could quadruple to more than $28 billion if a lawsuit filed last week challenging one of the program's remaining restrictions proves successful.

''The big lie about this whole program is that it doesn't cost anything,'' said Representative Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who tried to block its expansion last July. ''Taxpayers are being asked to provide huge subsidies to oil companies to produce oil -- it's like subsidizing a fish to swim.''

But on Aug. 8, Mr. Bush signed a sweeping energy bill that contained $2.6 billion in new tax breaks for oil and gas drillers and a modest expansion of the 10-year-old ''royalty relief'' program.'

And what do we get from it?

'Profit from worldwide oil and natural gas exploration and production operations jumped 28 percent, to $4.91 billion. Production decreased 4.3 percent, to 3.91 million barrels a day.'

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Jim - thoughtful analysis as always. As a military man myself (although with far less experience than you), "less than enamored" with the bureaucracy would be an understatement. But also, as a student of FINC and ACCT, you're dead-on about short-term goals chronically outweighing long-term health.

My sense is that the direction toward green is inevitable, and that sooner or later, you better get on board or go bankrupt. Kind of like the last wooden ship builders. I bet they made the best damn wooden ships in the industry. But I still wouldn't want to be them.

Funny thing, these profit-driven entities. So often their interests and our interests are the same.


Blarg and AdrickHenry - I think you over-estimate the power of oil companies. I get tired of hearing from liberals (not necessarily from you) about the big, bad, oil companies running America. I mean honestly, do you think a match up between Exxon and the US Military has an un-obvious outcome?


Illinois - I don't think taxation should be a tool used by the federal government to influence behavior. For instance, I'm a conservative, and I think Marriage is good and proper. However, I am opposed to the govt encouraging Marriage in tax policy. While you may be right about its effectiveness, I don't like it as a principle.


judge - I just don't buy the environmental hype, and don't see an 'impending doom' for us all. Of course, if I'm wrong, maybe it will be too late and you're right, we're all screwed. Who knows. Al Gore? Doubt it.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | January 16, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

thecrisis: Energy is one of the easiest problems we have to solve. Wind Power and Sun Power is the answer. I firmly believe the main reason this is not being done is because of the oil industry. Nuclear is to dangerous, there is no way to get rid of the waste that will be around for thousands of years. The Weather Channel is a good source to get an idea of how only a few places have the potential of creating electricity from Wind Power that could provide our whole countries needs.

Posted by: lylepink | January 16, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

"I actually agree with USMC_Mike that it doesn't make sense to tax a company because they seem too profitable. "

I don't think anyone proposed such a tax on this thread today. Some people did propose such 'windfall' taxes when big oil reported huge gains over the last couple years. I agree that such a tax is / would have been inappropriate.

Posted by: bsimon | January 16, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Bringing the topic back around a bit to the CEO vs COO/leadership vs. management question:

I think the energy sector is definitely an area where the right mix of taxes, incentives, and inspiration could really spark some serious competitive innovation that would benefit us economically, environmentally and in terms of national security (and Obama has very directly said so). We really need a leader who will push it thoughtfully, but very hard.

Posted by: illinois2 | January 16, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

To add to what Illinois2 said, the libertarian viewpoint on CO2 is to wait until our coastlines are miles in from where they are now. Then the business costs of ignoring global warming will become more obvious and we can do something about it. I don't want to stick our heads in the sand for that long.

Posted by: judgeccrater | January 16, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

jimD52, I like your quote "I eat in the short term."

The corollary is the economist John Maynard Keynes who, referring to Capitalism working out its mistakes in the long term, said, "In the long term, we're all dead."

Posted by: malis | January 16, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I actually agree with USMC_Mike that it doesn't make sense to tax a company because they seem too profitable. However, I also think that it is reasonable to raise gas taxes to pay for the externalities caused by gas consumption. Getting rid of subsidies to the petroleum industry also makes a lot of sense.

To add to what jimd52said, if we as a society decide that we want to do something-- increase energy efficiency, reduce dependence on foreign oil, reduce pollution, whatever-- taxes and incentives are some pretty effective tools we have to promote change.

Posted by: illinois2 | January 16, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

USMC_Mike:
"Big oil knows they're past is brighter than their future. They can more efficiently, and more effectively, employ their resources than say, Hillary Clinton's bureaucracy, in the R&D of renewable energy because they are profit-driven, while government is not."

With all due respect, Mike, this is just flat-out wrong.

The oil companies are so powerful and diversified that the future beckons to them like a comply maiden in a white, spring dress.

Whether they can or cannot employ their resources more effectively than the U.S. Government is irrelevant, because the truth is that they WON'T employ their resources to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

To them, it is not "foreign" oil. They do not have allegiance to any government, per se, they are driven simply by greed and power. They are not motivated by what is good for America, Mike, only what is good for their bottom line.

History is rife with examples of the oil companies putting their own self-interest first -- ahead of America's interests.

I suggest to you, "The Seven Sisters" by Anthony Sampson for starters.

Posted by: AdrickHenry | January 16, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

"By JD/bsimon/Mark's collective logic, everything should be taxed more because it takes the US government to deliver it and clean it up when you're done."

Actually, I think the argument was that the government tax certain items to influence consumer behavior in specific ways - towards more fuel efficient vehicles was the most common example.

Also, depending on the planning horizon we are talking about, companies can be "penny wise and pound foolish". The short to intermediate term pay off from large investments in alternative energy sources might not be all that attractive to Big Oil. They would certainly rake in more profits for their shareholders in the short term by not investing in alternative energy sources in a big way. As someone with an MBA, I have studied dozens upon dozens of cases where companies have made decisions in favor of those short term profits despite adverse to disasterous consequences resulting in the longer term. The old saw is that "I eat in the short term". Present value calculations have a built in bias towards short term results, especially since the long term benefits cannot be as accurately calculated as the short term can be.

Now having worked inside a large government organization for most of my adult life, I am no more enamored of bureaucracies than you are. However, the government does maintain some world class research facilities in a variety of fields.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 16, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

"1.) Big govt shouldn't/doesn't get to decide when something is just "too profitable". That's a dangerous slipperly slope. Sort of like deciding whether or not my wife gets a heart transplant or not."

Nobody said that oil companies are "too profitable". You complained that they don't make enough money to invest in new technology, which is why their record-breaking profits were brought up. The purpose of taxing the oil companies is to protect the environment and prepare for a future with less oil, not as a way of making money.

"2.) We all know green is the new black. Big oil knows they're past is brighter than their future. They can more efficiently, and more effectively, employ their resources than say, Hillary Clinton's bureaucracy, in the R&D of renewable energy because they are profit-driven, while government is not."

And yet for some reason oil companies are doing everything they can to prevent the rise of alternative energy. The oil industry, and their Republican allies in Congress, have repeatedly defeated bills that would require more use of alternative energy. If oil companies benefit from the use of alternative energy, why would they do that?

As you say, oil companies are profit-driven. And yet for some reason you trust them with your welfare. You also trust profit-driven insurance companies with your welfare. (They're the ones who decide whether your wife gets that hypothetical heart transplant, by the way.) Profit-driven companies will do whatever makes them the most money; no more, no less. That's why we need government.

Posted by: Blarg | January 16, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

judge - I'll take your post to mean that things are as they are, rather than, things are as they ought to be.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | January 16, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

mlaliso:
"This process lies on a continuum...say, with Romney at one end (real position may well be opposite of what he states), Clinton and Huckabee somewhere toward that end, McCain and Obama toward the middle; and only the unelectables telling the complete truth"

My sentiments EXACTLY.

Posted by: AdrickHenry | January 16, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

"Big govt shouldn't/doesn't get to decide when something is just "too profitable"."

Mike: "Big govt" already decides what an 'arm,' as in your "right to bear arms," is. It isn't a bazooka or a grenade or a nuclear weapon. Establishing windfall profit taxes seems pretty darn innocuous by comparison.

Posted by: judgeccrater | January 16, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I got you point, Mark, just wasn't sure how many other 'civilians' understood how intense the micro-management culture in Navy nuclear power program is.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 16, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Mlalliso: "no comment."

Posted by: judgeccrater | January 16, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm not arguing oil companies are going broke and need help. I am only pointing out 2 things

1.) Big govt shouldn't/doesn't get to decide when something is just "too profitable". That's a dangerous slipperly slope. Sort of like deciding whether or not my wife gets a heart transplant or not.

2.) We all know green is the new black. Big oil knows they're past is brighter than their future. They can more efficiently, and more effectively, employ their resources than say, Hillary Clinton's bureaucracy, in the R&D of renewable energy because they are profit-driven, while government is not.

By JD/bsimon/Mark's collective logic, everything should be taxed more because it takes the US government to deliver it and clean it up when you're done. That goes for your computer screens, your milk, your cars, and yes, your Heineken.

This goes well beyond energy policy.

Can you imagine if good old Uncle Sam took home a bigger slice of your INCOME than you did, because, after all, he's such a nice guy who builds roads and protects your safety? I guess 60% tax rates are appropriate - after all, no free lunches here.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | January 16, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

judge, mark, of course, less than a thousand feet of cable, refrigerated to -321f in a two-year test, is not yet exactly economic viability. Some of the things I recall reading imply the possibility of much warmer temps (only -100f) as the key to wide-spread adoption.

Posted by: malis | January 16, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

judge never mind, google "AEP superconducting Ohio power transmission" returns

http://www.aep.com/newsroom/newsreleases/default.asp?dbcommand=displayrelease&ID=1302

..and lots more. thanks!

Posted by: malis | January 16, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

judge, I am too - so I do not feel stupid next week when I see my 2 ChE friends again, who told me this was "real."

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 16, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Jim - I agree.

But my point for JD was that BHO need not be precise in his statement of policy. My example was that we need "Carters" running nuke plants, but not trying to lead the country by micromanaging. I was trying to demonstrate to JD why I thought his criticism of BHO's policy as vague was misplaced.

Just in case you missed all the foreplay.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 16, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

judge, cool! Do you have a URL for that? I'm interested.

Posted by: malis | January 16, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

judge

At least the paper mills are long gone. When I lived in Charleston, SC (another paper mill place, at least in 1983-84) you could smell it miles out to sea.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 16, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

"here in NE Florida where Jeb Bush weakened environmental enforcement, companies are dumping all sorts of pollutants in the St. Johns River. Absent regulation, clean air and clean water suffer, period."

Hey JimD: is the St. Joe Paper Company still stinking up the place down there?

"Current plans call for them to be broad flat ribbons rather than round cables."

Mlalliso, it's way beyond 'plans' at this point. AEP is already testing these ribbons under superconducting conditions in a site in Ohio. They have rationalized the economics of superconducting power transmission.

Posted by: judgeccrater | January 16, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

"Carter was a failure in part because of his tendency to micromanage.
A Navy nuclear engineer as Prez - we do not need that. Again."

Micro-management is the hallmark of the Navy nuclear power program. This is one place where it is appropriate.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 16, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

USMC_Mike writes
"Perhaps if [oil companies] made more off a gallon of gas than Uncle Sam, they might have something to invest."

Uh, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't some US Oil companies recently set some records for most profit - ever - for any company in any country? Their margins may be tight, but they sure as hell make it up in volume.

Posted by: bsimon | January 16, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Mark, yes, plans for relatively high-temp superconducting power lines are on the drawing board. They depend on refrigerating the lines down to somewhere around -100f (much warmer than the -400 they started at!). Other difficulty is that the superconducting materials resemble ceramics--brittle and hard to manufacture into long flexible strands. Current plans call for them to be broad flat ribbons rather than round cables. Still a lot work to see if the gain in transmission efficiency pays for the higher costs (of course, the higher the cost of power, the closer to a payoff).

Posted by: malis | January 16, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

dave

Evironmental regulation is a necessity because left to themselves there is not much incentive for polluters to clean themselves up. What form that regulation takes is another question. However, I can tell you as someone who was around and following the news at the time, that there were all sorts of dire predictions about the terrible economic impact of environmental regulations. Those impacts did not happen and new industries and technologies developed to deal with the issue. These regulations have improved water and air quality. I can tell you though, that here in NE Florida where Jeb Bush weakened environmental enforcement, companies are dumping all sorts of pollutants in the St. Johns River. Absent regulation, clean air and clean water suffer, period.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 16, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

USMC_Mike- I see JD beat me to the punch, but a long shot. To his response, I would add the costs to build & maintain infrastructure that facilitates both the delivery of fuel to the consumer & the consumers' consumption of said fuel.

Posted by: bsimon | January 16, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Mike, JD's explanation of POS tax to fund externalities related to it seems cogent to me.
Also, seven execs of majors testified to the SFRC last year that they needed the tax break in 2002, but no longer.

JD, you may be requiring too much from the wrong person. Carter was a failure in part because of his tendency to micromanage.
A Navy nuclear engineer as Prez - we do not need that. Again. BHO's energy position gets points for being better than other pol's, not for being a technical treatise.


Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 16, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Pump away, Mark.

Even though I favor nuclear power, I would not be so dismissive as to characterize it as common sense. Rather, people are overly risk averse, overestimating the prospective costs of handling waste. But this type of miscalculation is common; you are guilty of the same if you fear terrorists more than a drive to the corner store.

Posted by: CJMiva | January 16, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Us being in need of power is a fact. But what also is a fact that it is a serious international crime to go to war for oil, or diamonds, or a countries natural resources.

Repubclains here would say, "they do it in africa. They do it in south america. Why can't we."

this is the hole thye dug. We can follow the fascist dictators of the past and create that environment here, like the gop would do. Or we can do what this country was founded for and had done up until the gop started it's sabotage america game.

We need to reverse where teh gop has taken us the last 30 years. reverse it nationally, locally, and overseas. Get back to people running to us, instead of away. This coutnry included.

the gop can't be willfully ignorant smurfs forever. Eventually they will have to get with the future, or the future will pass them by. The year is 2008. the gop and many moderates are decades in the past. The year is 2008. Stop the sabotage and get with the program.

And gop. The thought global warming was a myth. so far you have came is so short.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | January 16, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

JD,

Please, you do understand you can't get accurate information from anyone running for national office, right? They're all for ethanol because the have to start in Iowa. They have to say they're against (in varying degrees) Yucca Mt. because of the early Nevada Caucuses. Yes, they could be be completely honest and truthful and end up as, well, Kucinich or Ron Paul.

That's only a little bit cynical...but it does take a degree of analysis to judge where the candidates real feelings are--which are most often somewhere between their documented position papers and what they really intend on doing.

Just as an observation, it takes some degree of courage for a Dem like Obama to state a position as supportive of nuclear power as he has. My judgment is that, as President, he'll probably allow Yucca Mt. to go forward, describing it as the best of a poor choice of available options.

Same process of analysis must be applied, by the way, to all the candidates' stated positions. This process lies on a continuum...say, with Romney at one end (real position may well be opposite of what he states), Clinton and Huckabee somewhere toward that end, McCain and Obama toward the middle; and only the unelectables telling the complete truth

Posted by: malis | January 16, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

"I'd love to see the SPECIFIC plans to solve America's coming energy crisis. Are you going to allow more drilling on American territory? (read: Alaska and off shore). Are you going to force higher CAFE? OK then, you're OK with spiking the deathrate from traffic accidents? Make SUVs and trucks illegal? Continue the silly investment in ethanol? (takes 1 gallon of petrol to make 1.25 gallons of ethanol, and raises the prices of all foods dependent on feed in the meantime)."

That was your 8:15 post, JD. You asked for specific plans to solve the energy crisis. I posted a link to Obama's energy plan, which answers your questions. And yet you still complain that nobody has a plan. I wonder why that is.

Posted by: Blarg | January 16, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Nobody congratulated me on my wordplay.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 16, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Beat you by 60 seconds, Blarg.

Posted by: judgeccrater | January 16, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"Perhaps if they made more off a gallon of gas than Uncle Sam, they might have something to invest. It's clearly in their best interest to maintain market power by evolving as society does (ie, to go greener)."

Mike, are you seriously saying that oil companies don't have any money to invest? They've been making record profits every year. In 2007, Exxon made bigger profits than any company in US history. And you're worried that they don't have enough money to invest?

Apparently you know more about the oil companies' best interests than those companies do. Oil companies have invested huge amounts of money in denying the existence of global warming and fighting legislation that would require greater efficiency and use of alternative fuels. Are they working against their own best interests? Or are they maximizing their profits by convincing consumers to continue using their products?

Posted by: Blarg | January 16, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"Perhaps if they made more off a gallon of gas than Uncle Sam, they might have something to invest. "

Mike, you folks in TX may be more interested in the welfare of oil companies. To the rest of us, their recent financial statements make them unlikely poster children for a few more cents of profit per gallon.

Posted by: judgeccrater | January 16, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Blarg, you seem to think that the plan you directed me to specifically states what Obama would do with nuclear waste. Now i must ask you: did you read it?

It says, in effect, "nuclear waste must be stored somewhere, Yucca isn't the answer, I don't know what the answer is but we'll study some more and find someplace"

You call that detailed. OK, whatever helps you sleep at night.

Posted by: JD | January 16, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

quote of the day (from judge)

"[Our failure to build nuclear power plants is...] a stunning example of how politics triumphs over common sense."

I think *most* people would agree with that.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | January 16, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

JD, I see you've forgotten how this conversation started. Let me refresh your memory.

You: Liberals complain about the environment, but they don't have plans to deal with it! (8:15 AM)
Me: Barack Obama has a detailed plan on how to fight global warming and protect the environment.
You: That's not detailed enough.
Me: It's as detailed as any plan by any candidate on any issue.
You: But Yucca Mountain is good, because...

That last statement is a non-sequitor. You're changing the subject. Is Obama's plan as detailed as any issue plan by a candidate? If so, then you were wrong to whine about liberals not having plans to deal with the environment. If not, then show me when any presidential candidate goes more in-depth than Obama. I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: Blarg | January 16, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Mike, it has to do with controlling for the costs of externalities. If 'that gallon of gas' also includes costs to fund the military to keep the supply line open, to account for the resulting emission/pollution, etc., then the honest way to pay for it (no free lunch here) is to collect it at POS.

Posted by: JD | January 16, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

PS, the writing is on the wall.

We all know what direction we're heading - green.

Like it or not, the oil companies are at the pointy end.

They have already invested billions. They would like to invest more.

Perhaps if they made more off a gallon of gas than Uncle Sam, they might have something to invest. It's clearly in their best interest to maintain market power by evolving as society does (ie, to go greener).

Why are we talking about raising the gas tax, when we should be talking about lowering it? Especially in today's inflation-rich environment?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | January 16, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

boko, I'm pretty sure we already have a gas guzzler tax. Not sure if that's federal or just Virginia (and I keep forgetting, I'm like the only local Wash DCer on this site).

You want to double that? OK. A better approach is just add a buck or two to the price of a gallon of gas. Then people can decide if they want to buy the SUV or truck, or go with the one-lung deathbox. But at least they have the choice - we trust the American people to make the decision.

Of course, which candidate has the courage to actually propose such a tax? Only one I've seen do this so far was whackjob Kucinich; and he ain't gettin in.

Posted by: JD | January 16, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

mlalliso - I have two ChE friends who swear that superconductivity is already feasible and cost effective for energy transmission. I will try to pump them for details.

Blarg - McC opposed the subsidization of oil & gas.

Mike - I am for McC, but I have never thought he had more than an outside shot at the nomination. I think WMR made standard liberal populist economic promises in MI to get out his vote. That's what they do, these pols running for office, you know.

Blarg and JD - Blarg is correct in saying that BHO's outline is better than anybody else's. In the spirit of the "leader v. manager" distinction, BHO is showing more leadership. JD, you could be the manager.

Judge, if the Navy buys from Japan, I am OK with it.

illinois2 - nukes produce small volumes of toxic waste; incredibly small volumes compared with fossil fuel plants.

The energy and management v. leadership discussions are high points for this weblog.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 16, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

JD, bsimon --

Why should the govt make more off a gallon of gas than the company who took on the risk of exploration, recovery, refinement, distribution?

What value did the govt add to that gallon of gas?

What did they take away?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | January 16, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

by the way, Yucca was first designated and studied as the repository in 1978. It's now 2008.

If we follow your boy Obama's plan and look for *yet another* site for the stuff, how long before we have it selected, built, and ready for use? Another 30 years?

You're willing to gamble the safety of this country, just because Yucca is a convenient political football?


More info here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_Mountain

Posted by: JD | January 16, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Rufus: "Anyone ever hear of Yucca Mountain?"

You might want to scroll up to the related comments posted, sometime before mine:

Posted by: mlalliso | January 16, 2008 12:28 PM

Posted by: malis | January 16, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

bsimon: saw the report on that bridge collapse. As we type I'm sure that highway engineers all over the country are scrambling, calipers in hand, to measure the thickness of their gusset plates.

Posted by: judgeccrater | January 16, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Blarg: I wish I could completely agree with you that we can so rapidly eliminate the need for any new non-renewable energy plants. I do agree that we can fairly rapidly scale up our use of things like waste heat and roll back energy use through aggressive efficiency measures. (Incidentally did you hear on NPR's show "Wait, Wait, Don't tell me" about the UK crematorium using waste heat from cremation to heat their chapel... pragmatic, definitely, but still slightly creepy)

I think Edwards' position on new plants is untenable, however, because the vast majority of our energy mix relies on coal and nuclear with plenty of gas peaker plants as well. Lots of the coal and nuclear plants are very old, extremely inefficient, and falling apart. Even if we can somehow manage to actually reduce energy demand (as opposed to just reducing the growth rate in demand), I can't see how it's possible to avoid replacing some of those facilities. Even though it sounds bad to build new plants for nonrenewable power, I think that we would derive at least minimal benefit from retiring obsolete plants and bringing more efficient, safer plants on-line while we're scaling up renewables.

I think, on the whole, people are also a little delusional about how quickly a shift to renewables will occur. Large-scale power production, even when it involves clean sources, involves incredible amounts of red tape. Even after the initial hurdles are cleared, it can take a long time to get to power production. Right now, for example, there are lots of wind farms that are sited, approved, funded, etc., but are waiting for their turbines to actually be manufactured... there is a serious backorder delay here because not many companies make giant wind turbines and there is lots of demand all over the world. Realistically, even radical transformation of our energy mix, will almost certainly include new coal and/or nuclear plants

Posted by: illinois2 | January 16, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

bsimon -- I understood your statement to mean something different. So long as we both agree US automakers CAN compete globally, we ought to give them a chance. They have thought up some really cool stuff - US manufacturing, engineering, marketing, etc., is more than capable of competing - so long as they don't have a hand tied behind their back.

MY point (not a rebuttal to a point you didn't make) was that we ought to make the competition fair - that is, less regulations that are unique to US automakers only.

Bokanon - I don't think it's the govt's place to tell PTA moms what they can and can't drive.

What's next, telling me where I can or can't get a heart transplant, if at all?

Oh wait, you probably want that too.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | January 16, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

JD, thanks for the answer. Would you be OK then with a progressive sales tax on cars and trucks which corresponds to the fuel economy of the vehicle? In order to do any good, it would have to make guzzlers so costly as to put them out of the reach of the average person... and inefficient cars/trucks/SUVs might then become a status symbol, as in "I can afford to drive a Hummer. Can you?"

That seems counterproductive to me. Who will remember the original motivation for discouraging the purchase of inefficient vehicles once they are seen as just more bling? (featured in movies, music videos, public appearances, etc.) i.e. helping to preserve the environment isn't sexy, whereas a big black car with tinted windows and jacked wheels will make you instantly popular in certain crowds... and that would be all the more true if, just by owning/driving/being seen in it, you would be able to send the unspoken message "I am rich and successful, and you wish you were me."

Posted by: bokonon13 | January 16, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I like your posts AdrickHenry . On point.

To elaborate. In 2000 average gas price was 1.68. So since bush took office gas prices have almost doubled. Man, that was convienant for him and his allies in Saudi arabia, isn't it.

The gop are not only in with the terrorists, they are the terroists. Good luck evading the law cowboys. treason may have been envogue the last decade by the gop. In 09 we become a nation of laws(against treason) once again.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | January 16, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

JD writes
"Liberals/big gov types want to use CAFE as a regulatory hammer, to drive change that way.

Libertarians/small gov types would prefer to use a tax on the price of gas (or car purchases, whatever) to allow the market to dictate the price/avail of gas mileage.

The difference is, you let the consumer decide if they want to absorb the cost of the externality. I prefer to let people make that call, not government."


JD, the problem is that the Club For Growth types refuse to consider any kind of tax increase because they think the sky will fall & economic growth will grind to a screeching halt. Personally, I'm in the gas tax school of thought, but every time the issue is raised - for instance, here in MN to fund infrastructure improvements - the Repubs will not entertain the idea at all. This week our gov issued a bonding plan to pay for road & bridge maintenance. The lunatic wants to borrow money to pay for maintenance! What a friggin' idiot. He won't stand up to the Club for Growth types & raise the gas tax - which hasn't been adjusted in 20 years. Yet the costs of building & maintaining roads have changed in the last 20 years, so we've effectively seen a slow lowering of the gas tax over that time, if you adjust for inflation. No wonder stuff is falling into the river.

Posted by: bsimon | January 16, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Blarg, I'll show you a plan: Look at what the current administration is DOING NOW. They are building (or trying to, if the congress and treehuggers would get out of the way) a repository for spent nuke waste.

Since nobody is suggesting we immediately mothball all 103 nuclear plants, which currently supply about 20% of the nation's electricity, I'd like to see what the plans are if Yucca is abandoned.

In other words, are Obama and HRC suggesting that we continue to store the spent nuke fuel at each plant, thereby creating 103 terrorist targets instead of one, heavily fortified? And if there is a strike or theft, enabling the creation of a dirty bomb, will HRC and Obama beg forgiveness of this administration?

Oh, I see. I didn't think so.

Posted by: JD | January 16, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

i don't like the three-eyed fish :)

Anyone ever hear of Yucca Mountain?

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | January 16, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Currently, billions upon billions of dollars are flowing to the oil-rich countries and to a very small minority of Americans (those in the oil industry).

These petro-dollars form the basis of the Terrorists wealth. We, Americans, are funding the Terrorists.

Hmmm... let's see: Bush family in big oil, Cheney from Halliburton, Rice from Chevron... invasion and occupation of Iraq (#2 oil reserves in the world) drives the price of oil to $100 a barrel. Can anyone connect the dots?

What we need is a steadily increasing tax on all petrol-products, including, of course, gasoline. Each year, this tax should steadily increase.

If the increase were slow but steady, Detroit could begin to produce more fuel efficient autos. Americans would WANT more fuel efficent cars if gasoline became too pricey.

And here would be an opportunity for Detroit to be innovative again. Take the lead in new technology. Maybe we could increase the tax credit for domestic R & D.

With a higher gasoline tax, we would being funneling money into OUR own Treasury rather then the treasuries of Iran, Libya and Saudi Arabia.

And we would move America -- gradually -- off of it's oil-addiction.

We are like junkies -- oil junkies -- and I say it is time tell the Pusher to go to hell.

This would be PAINFUL -- but kicking an addiction always is.

Once we stopped Financing our Enemies, the whole geo-political dynamic would change.

So as not to crash the American Economy, we would need to get out of Iraq first -- then let the price of oil come back to earth -- then we could instate this healthy, gradual gas tax hike. And gradually gain our energy Independence.

Those of you who want to stay in Iraq and are content with $100 a barrel oil: do you think it is good for America to be financing Terrorism?

Posted by: AdrickHenry | January 16, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

tHE OLD RULE SNO LONGER APPLY jd. yOUR LIVING decades in the past buddy. Get with the program.

In terms of energy, nuke is not the answer. They wan to shoot it in space so it comes crashing back down later in time. Not cool. Not cool at all. You can't get rid of it. Sun wind and water. all natural. Just harness it better.That is the key.

Yes we Can.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | January 16, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Toyota moved into 1st globally, and recently passed Ford for #2 in US sales.

Posted by: CJMiva | January 16, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

USMC_Mike writes
" unless you're operating under the assumption that American auto makers can't compete globally, your assertion is blatantly untrue.

I believe that they can. But *MORE* regulation is not the answer."

To start, I don't know where you get the idea that I said regulation is the answer. I was specifically offering a rebuttal to Gov Romney's claim that he can get the MI autoworkers' jobs back. I also didn't say that US auto mfrs can't compete internationally.

What I DID say is that the heyday is over. That is irrefutable. The Big Three used to be the three largest auto companies in the world. That is no longer the case - one of them was bought a couple years ago by Daimler-Benz, though it is now being sold off as unprofitable (for a huge Daimler loss, by the way). GM and Ford continue to struggle; I forget did Toyota move into 2nd or 1st for largets global automaker? The answer is irrelevant to the question at hand. In fact, by your very observation that US automakers will now be forced to compete with huge, efficient international competitors directly moots your question: The heydays of the US auto industry are over.

Posted by: bsimon | January 16, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I wanted to add that the US auto industry isn't dying. We are making more cars in this country then we were twenty years ago. The thing is that these cars aren't made in Michigan and aren't made by Union workers anymore. Toyota, Honda, BMW, etc all make cars in different areas of the country most of which in facotries that were built in the last 15 years or so.

Posted by: AndyR3 | January 16, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

JD: Show me a more detailed and specific plan about any issue, written by any presidential candidate. Obama's energy plan is as good as it gets.

Dave: The government is heavily involved in the pricing of energy, through subsidies to oil companies, among other methods. If you want the government to get out of the way, those subsidies need to be revoked, so consumers' energy costs accurately reflect the cost of producing that energy. Unfortunately, anything that reduces the profitability of oil companies gets filibustered or vetoed by the Republicans. Funny how that works.

Posted by: Blarg | January 16, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

boko, let me put it this way.

Liberals/big gov types want to use CAFE as a regulatory hammer, to drive change that way.

Libertarians/small gov types would prefer to use a tax on the price of gas (or car purchases, whatever) to allow the market to dictate the price/avail of gas mileage.

The difference is, you let the consumer decide if they want to absorb the cost of the externality. I prefer to let people make that call, not government.

Posted by: JD | January 16, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Nuclear engineers also like to point out that their emissions, while dangerous, are captured unlike coal/oil which get belched into the atmosphere.

I did some analysis for a grad school paper which demonstrated tremendous benefits, with admitted costs, of a significant gas tax. It would reduce emissions, improve efficiency, lower use and dependency on foreign sources, and increase CAFE w/o regulation by encouraging people to buy efficient cars and drive less. The costs were economic growth risks and the regressive nature of the tax.

We noted in the paper that this was all irrelevant because it would be as politically popular as butchering puppies on live television.

Posted by: CJMiva | January 16, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

"Just out of curiosity, did you go to any effort to find Obama's plan? Or did you just insult the Democrats for not having specific plans, without bothering to find out if such plans exist?"

As anticipated, Blarg, you're not going to get an admission of deliberate ignorance. Just remarks about plans not really being plans.

Boko - I'd modify that picture to say "In frustration, and sneeringly muttering something about 'personal virtue,' Dick Cheney clicks his jackboot heels together three times and disappears forever, leaving behind only a cloud of CO2 and asbestos."

Posted by: judgeccrater | January 16, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

'You can bet that US manufacturers (GE comes to mind) will start up an intense lobbying effort to subsidize THEIR manufacturing of such units'

Exactly.. Socialize the cost and risks, privatize the profits. How it works today.

And mentioning GE -- red flags! Every GE appliance i've ever bought has been garbage.

My bad, Andy!

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

JD:

"He (Obama) wants to jack up CAFE standards."

wasn't that just done last week? Of course, there must be further improvement as time goes on...

"OK, does he understand that that will either dramatically raise the price of an SUV/big truck/sedan, or make them unavailable completely?"

are you saying that the relative benefit of owning one of these vehicles outweighs the decrease in demand for fossil fuels and the decrease in carbon emissions? I don't agree - PTA moms can find some other way to move their kids from point A to point B, and those who drive a pickup as a car (and use it as a truck maybe 3 or 4 times during the time they own it) can find some other way of bolstering their self-esteem.

"Are Americans really wanting to sign up to this, in a time of economic strife?"

So at a time of economic strife, we are to discourage automakers from producing vehicles which could go 100+ miles further on a tank of gas (anywhere from $38-50 at today's prices, depending on the grade of gas and the size of the tank)?

Posted by: bokonon13 | January 16, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

"You should run for office, bsimon. Good speech."

I don't have the intestinal fortitude to ask people for money.

But thanks

Posted by: bsimon | January 16, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Drindl,
The article you sited from Charlotte NC is about something that happened in South Carolina. It says Charlotte because that is where the Charlotte Observer is based and the observer is the main paper for alot of Norhtern SC. So don't try and lump the good folks of North Carolina (and my home state) with those backwoods hillbillies to our south.

Posted by: AndyR3 | January 16, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Have to agree with Mike about nuclear power plants. However, the normal pathway to this in this country is a stunning example of how politics triumphs over common sense. The Department of Energy recently asked Japan to assist in developing new nuclear power plants in the U.S. Japan has more expertise in advanced, fast reactors, which produce less radioactive waste while producing more energy. The US has clearly lost its competitive edge in this particular technology.

So what? Let's just buy the darn things from Japan and get the transformation of our power generation grid over with. Nope, NOT going to happen. You can bet that US manufacturers (GE comes to mind) will start up an intense lobbying effort to subsidize THEIR manufacturing of such units. Does this make sense? Not at all since the result will be more expensive and less safe (at least initially) and take a LOT longer (during which millions/billions more tons of CO2 will be dumped into the atmosphere). Politics triumphs over both efficiency and the wallet of the US taxpayer. Disgusting.

Posted by: judgeccrater | January 16, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

jimd52 - "We certainly are far more energy efficient today than in 1973 when the first Arab oil embargo happened."

Perhaps, but the question I have is were we far more energy efficient in 1973 than we were in 1938? Did efficiencies come about because of the Clean Air Act or in spite of it? But i concur with you that technology is the future. The question is do we want government directed or market directed (or a combination) technology? When the price of energy is low, market based fuel efficient technologies don't progress much and a government push is probably needed. When prices increase and the demand for better efficiency is there from the market, goverment should probably get out of the way (or we get ethanol solutions). The problem is that low prices = low interest by market AND government and vice versa with high prices.

None of this is to say that we should not examine conservation - we can all do more in that area.

Posted by: dave | January 16, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

'What do Romney supporters think they're getting whtn they vote for this guy, other than his hair?'

isn't that enough?

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Bokonon13, actually, I'm waiting for room-temperature superconductors (which would enable the perfect battery tech you mentioned, plus no-loss power transmission) combined with cold fusion (nuclear power without the nasty wastes). Also, I want all 'Celebrity News' restricted to a single cable channel so I never even stumble across it.

Oh well, the first two are probably more likely than the last.

Posted by: malis | January 16, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Thanks bsimon. I read the paper version early in the morning but the only names I tend to retain are Ruth Marcus and Eugene Robinson, which says something I guess. Buttons are good.

Posted by: esmerelda123 | January 16, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

"The heydey of the American auto industry is over. We need to develop new areas of expertise & create the industries of the 21st century that will continue to grow our economy & create jobs for our citizens."

You should run for office, bsimon. Good speech.

'In frustration, Dick Cheney clicks his heels together three times and disappears forever, leaving behind only a cloud of sulfurous red smoke.

I know it's unlikely, but you should never lose sight of your ideals, improbable though they may be.'

tthanks for that picture, boko.

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Also: Romney is a complete phony. I may have mentioned that before? Romney is a complete phony on a massive self-funded ego trip, and his only absolute position is that he REALLY likes to tell other people what to do.

In his campaigns for the Senate, MA governor, and president, he has now been on both sides of such issues as:
Iraq,
same-sex marriage,
reproductive choice,
the relative merit of SUVs and hybrid vehicles,
the tax rate,
global warming (and other issues related to environmental protection),
religious freedom,
the political wisdom of MA voters (personal for me),
the value of torture as an interrogation technique,
the validity of the theory of evolution,

and the list goes on. What do Romney supporters think they're getting whtn they vote for this guy, other than his hair?

Posted by: bokonon13 | January 16, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Blarg, I've read that plan. Obama says that Yucca is not an option, that instead we should find a safer place 'based on objective studies'. OK. That's your idea of specific?

Did I see this plan before you mentioned it? No (surprising, I know, a web domain of 3cdn.net is practically intuitive).

He wants to move forward with ethanol, even though it makes no sense, thereby buying the farm vote. He wants to introduce cap and trade, which I favor. He wants to invest in clean coal, which I very much favor. He talks a lot about investments, making federal buildings more green, etc. OK fine. Nothing really controversial here.

He wants to jack up CAFE standards. OK, does he understand that that will either dramatically raise the price of an SUV/big truck/sedan, or make them unavailable completely? Are Americans really wanting to sign up to this, in a time of economic strife?

Some good ideas, some stupid ones, but please don't pretend that this is a specific plan to address the problems.

Posted by: JD | January 16, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

A leader would step in and say "The heydey of the American auto industry is over...."

Bsimon -- unless you're operating under the assumption that American auto makers can't compete globally, your assertion is blatantly untrue.

I believe that they can. But *MORE* regulation is not the answer.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | January 16, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

esmerelda123 asks
"Where was the Gershon column that you mention?"

At the top of the page, click on the [OPINIONS] button. That will send you to a page with all of today's opinion/editorial columns. Click the button every day...

Posted by: bsimon | January 16, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

"How could it be safer?"

There has never been a US nuke-power-related fatality.

Not so much as someone falling down a flight of stairs.

As JIM points out, the reiterative safety precautions are damn near infallable.

Think about all the miner's stories this summer and fall...

Thousands of dead miners. Not a single dead nuclear engineer.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | January 16, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

JimD wrote, amongst a long post, that
"I believe that technological innovation is our best hope."

That is exactly correct. The larger point is that an effective LEADER in the White House will be able to make this point to the voters. If we look at Mitty's promises to the out-of-work laborers in Michigan, he's promising to get their jobs back. That is not leadership, that is delusion. A leader would step in and say "The heydey of the American auto industry is over. We need to develop new areas of expertise & create the industries of the 21st century that will continue to grow our economy & create jobs for our citizens."

Posted by: bsimon | January 16, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

'nuclear energy is actually among the safest and least expensive to produce'

How could it be safer?

It's only cheap for the industry to produce because it's heavily subsidized by taxpayers..

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Just because politicians in the past claimed that nuclear power would be "too cheap to meter" doesn't mean it is truly cheap. It is massively subsidized (especially, if I'm not mistaken, the very expensive process of uranium refining, and storage of waste), and, as thecrisis notes, it yields tons of incredibly toxic waste that we haven't figured out how to deal with. It's a classic case of privatizing profits and socializing risks.

I do think, however, that as we consider how to deal with climate change we need to have a very honest discussion about all sources of power (even though honesty is not something you see much of in any energy debate) and not take anything off the table until we're sure that 1) risks outweigh benefits, and 2) that we can't develop ways to mitigate or eliminate risks.

Posted by: illinois2 | January 16, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I agree that we can't entirely abandon nuclear energy; I also agree that a mandate for the development and promotion of more and better energy-saving technologies is the 'low-hanging fruit' - the technology exists today, but because they're not as cheap to produce, the older and dirtier technologies still have the lion's share of the market. This is an excellent example of an area where government subsidy (coupled with tighter standards on industry) might actually nudge consumer behavior in a positive direction, so that everyone would be happy: capitalists would get to say that the market rewards (and promotes) economic behavior that is in the national interest, and the rest of us would get a cleaner environment, supported by the popularity of green purchasing decisions...

yeah, and Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch, and Bill Gates would all take vows of poverty and donate half their entire fortunes to paying down the national debt, after which they would devote themselves to ending poverty worldwide, supporting biodoversity, and making the US and other major economies carbon-neutral.
Following which all radioactive materials worldwide would suddenly become completely inert, just as an international consortium of scientitsts announces two discoveries - 1) a battery that is both environmentally friendly and holds a charge forever, and 2) a revolution in solar energy technology that allows the sun to supply all of the energy needs of everyone everywhere.
In frustration, Dick Cheney clicks his heels together three times and disappears forever, leaving behind only a cloud of sulfurous red smoke.

I know it's unlikely, but you should never lose sight of your ideals, improbable though they may be.

Posted by: bokonon13 | January 16, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

One more observation, about CC.

When McCain wins NH, a state he has spent more than a decade campaigning in, he has somehow 'established himself as the front-runner'.

When Romney wins his 2nd state, after 2 other 2nd place finishes, has the most delegates and money, the race is even more 'unclear'. And McCain still has 'establishment support'.

Let's at least call it like it is. If McCain is the front-man after NH, Romney is even moreso the front-man (right now).

Otherwise, McCain never was the front-man (and neither is Romney), and we can all at least try to look at this objectively.

I can't wait until the closed primaries and McCain's inevitable crash-and-burn.

10% is a trouncing, and that's exactly what he got last night.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | January 16, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

As a Westerner, I've been following the Yucca Mountain debate for years (and the associated Arco, ID and Richland, WA issues; and especially the nuclear weapons-testing "Downwinders" suit--relatives in Emmitt, Idaho are part of that).

I've come to the conclusion (along with an increasing number of environmentalists) that nuclear power provides the only realistic option to substantially reduce carbon emissions enough to have an effect on global warming. We're going to have to do everything drindle describes too, but that simply won't make enough of a difference.

I've followed Yucca Mountain closely and have come to the reluctant conclusion that most of the really strong opposition lies in two camps.

1) Anti-nuclear, anytime, anywhere, anything (at the extremes, even against nuclear medicine). They unfortunately share some of the characteristics of the Global Warming-denier movement...cherry-picking statistics and highlighting the few 'outlier' scientists supporting their view.

2) Nevada NIMBYs. Most of these would happily support Yucca Mountain if it were in, say, upstate New York or the Texas Hill Country. I don't give them any more credibility than I give NIMBYs anywhere (in that just because they're NIMBYs doesn't necessarily mean they're either lying or wrong--but they have tremendous motivation to be either).

This is an issue today only because the debate was in Nevada yesterday, and all the voters are potential NIMBYs. Would have been interesting to have a Republican debate there too, The Rs tend toward support of nuclear power more than the Dems...I wonder how they would have finessed that.

Posted by: malis | January 16, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't take Hillary's 56% in the Democratic primary to mean anything. Every township, city and county had extremely important local issues that needed our attention, like proposed school district bonds and consolidations, road repair assessments and fire department millage renewals. I just voted in the Dem primary because I don't want to get a flood of Republican literature.

Posted by: corridorg4 | January 16, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Blarg,

I am not advocating sitting back and waiting, but the obstacles to making changes and the challenge of the industrialization of the developing world make it extremely difficult. That is why technology is probably the most likely solution. The potential from the alternative sources you mention is dwarfed by our energy consumption - even with far more efficient energy consuming devices.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 16, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

bsimon - thanks for the feedback.

ASinMoCo - good luck with your degree.

I'm extremely concerned about Hillary's admitted greatest weakness - her impatience. This should be the biggest red flag to voters about why they should not vote for her. Impatience leads to flawed legislation and bad decision making. (How many deadly traffic accidents are caused by impatient drivers? - and if elected she will be in the driver's seat!)


Posted by: Nevadaandy | January 16, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

'A 20-year extension of liability caps for accidents at nuclear plants.'

I just wonder, if they're so safe, why they need this? This is the kind of stuff I object to.

'With efficiency, you simultaneously eliminate the waste that would have occurred throughout the energy production process, from mining (coal, uranium, even metal for wind turbines), to power plant inefficiencies, to line losses.'

good point illinois.

Bu

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the post JimD. Where was the Gershon column that you mention? I have always been confused by the nuclear debate, though I confess much of that stems from ignorance of how nuclear energy works. But I always understood that, despite the devastation from nuclear accidents, nuclear energy is actually among the safest and least expensive to produce. Is it more of a NIMBY issue because of the extensive potential harm when there IS an accident? How do we go about weighing risks, from accidents on the one hand and from poor energy resources that are expensive and cause massive daily pollution on the other? And thanks for the Obama pdf link up there -- I plan on reading it.

Posted by: esmerelda123 | January 16, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Apparently none of you pro-nuke hawks understand the concept of highly toxic, permanently radioactive waste. There is NOTHING that can be done today to reverse the damage done by nuclear waste. Everyone wants the cheap power but no one wants the radiation in their state.

Nuclear energy is in the past. We need to find truly renewable, clean power. Solar power is entirely untapped, though more solar energy hits the United States every year than any pro-nuke hawk could ever fathom. If we develop the technology to capture solar power - even a fraction of it - we'll be set for life with a neverending source of the cleanest power imaginable. Nuclear is not the answer.

Posted by: thecrisis | January 16, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

JimD: Improved technology will certainly help us fight climate change, but we shouldn't rely on it too much. We can't just sit back and wait for some great new technology (carbon sequestration, clean coal, switchgrass ethanol, hydrogen fuel cell cars, etc.) to give us clean energy. That's like eating cheeseburgers every day and assuming that improved medical technology will continue to keep you healthy. It might work, but if the technology doesn't pan out you're out of luck.

illinois2, I don't think it's clueless to oppose new nuclear and coal plants. If we focus on reducing the amount of energy we use, generating energy more efficiently (primarily by using waste heat from other industrial processes), and getting new power from renewable sources (wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, etc.), we don't need new nuclear or coal plants. Personally, I'm not opposed to nuclear plants in theory, as some environmentalists are. But I don't think their position, or Edwards', is unreasonable.

Posted by: Blarg | January 16, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I appreciate your post, thoughtful and reasonable as always, Jim.

' This is one area where highly intrusive government regulation is absolutely necessary.'

But hat's the problem.. If republicans are in power, we will NEVER have that. That's why it's so risky. It's not even the power plants that are the big problem but the waste, the gift that keeps on giving. Leaving it at the sites is dangerous, transporting it across the country a nightmare.

In any case, with our broken campaign system, we will end up with laws written by the hundreds of nuclear lobbyists entrenched on the Hill, which will transfer all the risk and cost to taxpayers and all the profits to energy companies.

And taxpayers have been Santa Claus to the nuclear industry too long already:

'The Energy Policy Act of 2005 was a key focus of the committee's work in Flint's [lobbyist] tenure as staff director. Its provisions, which became law when signed by President Bush last August, were labeled "The Best Energy Bill Corporations Could Buy" by Public Citizen and delighted the nuclear industry. Among them:

$3 billion in research subsidies.
More than $3 billion in construction subsidies for new nuclear power plants.
Nearly $6 billion in operating tax credits.
More than $1 billion in subsidies to decommission old plants.
A 20-year extension of liability caps for accidents at nuclear plants.
Federal loan guarantees for the construction of new power plants.'

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11845981/page/3/

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

rachael_bliss, there is an extra period in your blog address (.com./). You have to delete the period after '.com' in order for the site to appear.

Posted by: bokonon13 | January 16, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Were my mother and I the only ones who thought that MSNBC changed the rules during the debate? At the beginning, Russert/Williams explained that each candidate would have the opportunity to ask two questions. Well, after John Edwards asked his first question, Williams suddenly announced that the rules had been changed - they could only ask one question. When Obama was responding to HRC's Rick Lazio moment to him, he fell into the trap of having his response serve as his question.

In the end, that section of the debate appeared to completely favor Clinton, simply because the rules stated at the debate's onset no longer applied.

Posted by: GordonsGirl | January 16, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Trumbull | January 16, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

ASinMoCo: I also really appreciated Obama's emphasis on energy efficiency/green building design. Having cleaner energy sources is great, but using less energy, is really capturing, as Obama said, "the low-hanging fruit." With efficiency, you simultaneously eliminate the waste that would have occurred throughout the energy production process, from mining (coal, uranium, even metal for wind turbines), to power plant inefficiencies, to line losses. Plus, consumers get to save money on their energy bills. (I hear people complain about upfront costs of efficiency, but my EnergyStar fridge paid for itself in reduced bills in less than three years). Inertia seems to be the main reason people don't adopt more of the great, efficient technologies out there (since it is definitely in one's self-interest to pay lower energy bills), so I think a good leader could really create a major shift in how we use energy.

By the way, I'm all for massively reducing our CO2 emissions AND nuclear waste AND for quickly shifting to green energy sources, but did anyone else think that Edwards' wish to put a moratorium on all new nuclear AND coal plants sounded a bit... umm... clueless?

Posted by: illinois2 | January 16, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I know from first hand experience that nuclear reactors can be operated safely and safely decommissioned when they reach the end of their service life. Without having researched the matter, I would bet dollars to donuts that the private sector plants do not operate with the level of redundant safety checks the Navy uses. It can work with extremely strict government regulation by the Energy Department (many of the senior nuclear positions are held by retired Navy nuclear power officers). Oversight of the Navy's program is managed by a very independent program office that is "double hatted" to the Navy and the Energy Department. The first person to hold this position was the legendary Admiral Hyman Rickover. We would need an equivalent position to oversee the civilian sector. This is one area where highly intrusive government regulation is absolutely necessary.

Drastic changes will be required to deal with climate change. I was listening to a oceanographic researcher interviewed on NPR yesterday. His studies have found that the Antarctic ice mass is melting at a rate greatly in excess of predictions by the climate models. The models predicted melting based on ambient air temperature. However, it appears that the ocean temperature is warming at a faster rate and causing greatly accelerated ice mass melting.

Michael Gerson has an interesting column today on increasing global prosperity and environmental damage. Increasing global prosperity is a very welcome development for scores of reasons. However, the increasing industrialization of developing countries adds to greenhouse gases and water pollution.

I believe that technological innovation is our best hope. The short-term downsides of so many solutions are far more obvious than the long term benefits. I do think some people grossly underestimate the resiliency of the economy to adapt - dire predictions about economic disaster were rampant when the Clean Air Act and other environmental regulations were first introduced. These regulations actually spawned new industries and have ended up helping economic growth. We certainly are far more energy efficient today than in 1973 when the first Arab oil embargo happened.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 16, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

got Propoganda? Rush is basically saying, "The problem with america is, there's to many americans there. to many people are free and love freedom. We got to change that." Why not move somewhere else conservatives? If you hate freedom HERE and americans. Go to china. Go elsewhere. for all our sakes. Please

"Vincent in Rhode Island, great to have you on the program, sir, thank you for calling.

CALLER: Rush, this is a tremendous honor. I've been a fan for -- a big conservative raised in this liberal state here. I just wanted to comment that I think what Newt -- I think he kind of means that, I don't think Reaganism is dead as much as it needs to evolve maybe to encompass some of today's issues that weren't around back in the day, you know, some of the things that we're going through today.

RUSH: Wrong. Wrong. They're always around.

CALLER: Oh, they're always --

RUSH: The biggest enemy, the biggest enemy we face in this country is liberalism.

CALLER: Oh, definitely.

RUSH: Conservatism is the answer to it. The second biggest enemy we face is ignorance. It's the most expensive thing we pay for in this country. Conservatism fixes ignorance. We have different events happening, but we don't have to adapt conservatism. Do you hear the liberals talking about, "Well, you know, the era of liberalism is over. We've gotta adapt." They talk about maybe appealing to the values of voters after they lose an election, but they don't change anything, and we never hear 'em talking about it. Nobody ever suggests that they do. We're always being told, "Abandon this Reagan stuff, Rush, it's old hat." It's not old hat. It's freedom."

http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_011508/content/01125112.guest.html

Enjoy it while it lasts gop. conflict of interests. That's what going to get thee guys. Like the moderate dem's taking bribes to allow the gop to spy on us. Conflict of interest. I can't wait for the day when bribery is illegal again

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | January 16, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

2 Cents:

1. "If France and the US Navy can operate nuclear reactors safely, why are some Ds, like JRE, so dead set against it?"

Environmentalism is nothing more than a political movement - a long-ago hijacked cause to expand the govt's role in our lives.

Can we build clean, safe, cheap, nuke power? Of course.

Who stands in the way? Why, the 'environmentalists' of course!

2. I watched the Democrat debate after MSNBC called MI.

BHO v. HRC on leadership v. management was great for him. I think POTUS is a leadership role, not a managerial one. HRC doesn't understand that aparently?

Maybe it's because she sees President Hillary as manager-in-chief - manager of our lives, that is.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | January 16, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The fact that Clinton was the only one on the ballot gave a perfect tally of how unelectable she actually is. She was competing against no one and still didn't get 40% of democrats to vote for her. If her own party rejects her by 40%, how can she expect to rally moderates AND democrats in a general election?

If Obama had been the only one on that ballot, it would have been closer to 90%, I guarantee it.

Posted by: thecrisis | January 16, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to Nevadaandy, TomJx and DonRitchie for making the CEO/COO distinction. I'm working on a Master's degree in public administration, and everything I've learned so far supports what you (and Obama) are saying.

Thanks also to Blarg for posting the Obama energy plan. To me, it was the energy issue that won the debate for him last night. Not just his willingness to examine all options, but his pointing out that Americans need to play a role in conserving energy, and that we can do it without decreasing our standard of living. Make no mistake, energy is going to be THE issue of this century, and we need a president who is really serious about dealing with it.

YES WE CAN!

Posted by: ASinMoCo | January 16, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

GREAT DIAGNOSIS by cc.

Rudy loses to ron paul again.

Not sure about that debate. Senator Obama, bless his heart, understands how this real this is now. As far as words and actions, the link and the disconnect of the two. The time to stand up or down is now for him. We see about that south side of chicago reputation for toughness. We need it now. not to fear teh fascists or the establishment. But if he believes what he says, to confront it. On our, the american people's, behalf.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | January 16, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

'CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charges of dirty tricks flew once again in 'South Carolina Tuesday as supporters of Republican Sen. John McCain's campaign described as "absolutely despicable" a flier claiming that he turned his back on fellow prisoners of war in Vietnam.'

anybody from NC out there? what is it with you people and dirty politics?

did anyone doubt yet another war hero would be slimed by chickenhawks? as predictable as it is despicable. and who do we think is behind it? well let's look at motive. hmmm, let me guess.

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for posting tht Blarg. It will be met in silence is my guess.

Thought all you Reagan and Rudy fans would enjoy this:

"What Giuliani didn't say was that, as the Justice Department official who oversaw the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and as a member of a 1981 White House working group on immigration, he helped craft the Gipper's first-ever amnesty bill, which was passed in 1986 and ultimately legalized three million undocumented immigrants, mostly Mexicans. It's that law--echoed in many ways by the 2006 bill that Giuliani opposed--that is widely seen as having spurred millions more to come to America in anticipation of future amnesties. Giuliani testified at a 1982 federal trial in Florida over INS detention policies that he was "the singular individual" responsible for immigration issues at the Department of Justice, and that he'd been deeply involved in drafting Reagan's immigration policy. Giuliani said that it "felt like" he was spending 100 percent of his time on immigration issues. A 1983 New York Times story reported that Giuliani "was active in promoting the administration's immigration bill last year, which sought to grant amnesty to illegal aliens."

Shortly after the defeat of the McCollum amendment, Reagan said: "I supported this bill. I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and have lived here, even though some time back they may have entered illegally." While the Reagan administration, including Giuliani, had argued for years before the bill's final passage that legalization would lead to a reduction in illegal immigration, a record-breaking 850,000 new undocumented immigrants were said by the INS to have arrived in 1989, attracted by the promise of a repeat of the just-completed Reagan amnesties.

Today, Giuliani insists that, if elected, he will end illegal immigration in 18 months to three years through a national ID-card program--which is somewhat ironic, given that Reagan dismissed a similar proposal with a joke at a 1981 cabinet meeting, saying: "Maybe we should just brand all the babies."

Who knew the Gipper was so funny...

http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0803,barrett,78878,2.html

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

"Financial news is bad, bad, bad, and getting worse. Whom in the presidential race will this help/hurt?"

MI says Romney is the man to solve that problem. My perception is that he pandered relentlessly & doesn't have any real plan.

Meanwhile, here in MN, unemployment is up, the State economist says we're in a recession & the Gov won't say a darn thing about it. Perhaps he's more focused on the McCain campaign.

Posted by: bsimon | January 16, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Very interesting points! To see my analysis of the top three Democrats, I recommend http://peoplepowergranny.blogspot.com. Readers can also vote in the poll on what issues they think is most important in 2008.

Posted by: rachael_bliss | January 16, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"Financial news is bad, bad, bad, and getting worse. Whom in the presidential race will this help/hurt?"

But Drindl, didn't you watch Faux News last week? Days of wine and roses are just around the corner in 2008. Happy days will be here again blah, blah, blah. I wonder why they might want to give everyone that impression?

"Just out of curiosity, did you go to any effort to find Obama's plan? Or did you just insult the Democrats for not having specific plans, without bothering to find out if such plans exist?"

Reposting hoping you actually get an answer, Blarg.

Posted by: judgeccrater | January 16, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

NevadaAndy, good writeup on leadership. We need a leader & decision-maker with good judgment, not a manager. Top-level managers sit in the cabinet.

Posted by: bsimon | January 16, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

JD, you want a specific plan on solving the energy crisis? Barack Obama has an 11-page PDF. Is that specific enough for you?
http://obama.3cdn.net/4465b108758abf7a42_a3jmvyfa5.pdf

His plan focuses on many of the technologies and regulatory changes supported by environmentalists. The main focus is a carbon cap-and-trade program, increased energy efficiency, and use of alternative energy sources. Obama also supports nuclear power, but not Yucca mountain. His plan isn't perfect; it includes industry-pleasing money pits like clean coal and corn ethanol, but it's orders of magnitude better than what we have now.

Just out of curiosity, did you go to any effort to find Obama's plan? Or did you just insult the Democrats for not having specific plans, without bothering to find out if such plans exist?

Posted by: Blarg | January 16, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

'Kucinich currently has the votes of 21,715 Michiganders while Rudy is pulling in 24,708, thus topping Kucinich by just shy of three thousand votes.'

look-- rudy's strategy is working! he's ahead of kucinich!

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

mcnight, I hasten to point out that "Uncommitted" will have as many Michigan delegates to the Democratic National Convention as Sen. Clinton.

Unless the Party relents.

And then would come the deluge.

But I will not post this three times.

Posted by: MoreAndBetterPolls | January 16, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

'The NYT and the WSJ front news that Citigroup, the largest bank in the U.S., needed to be bailed out by foreign investors after posting fourth-quarter losses of nearly $10 billion. The NYT focuses on the losses as further evidence of the subprime mortgage mega-meltdown, while the WSJ highlights how the infusion of international money represents "a dramatic shift in power" away from the U.S. in world financial markets. Both papers use the phrase "hat in hand" to describe the way Citigroup and Merrill Lynch went begging for cash from outside investors in Asia and the Middle East. '

Financial news is bad, bad, bad, and getting worse. Whom in the presidential race will this help/hurt?

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Fractal -

Michigan held its primaries early against the national whims of the two parties. As a penalty, the Republicans struck half of MI's delegates; the Democrats struck them all.

Florida is in the same stew.

Both states' parties think the National Committees will relent, but if that happens, the cries of "foul play" may rival any heard since Bush v. Gore.

Posted by: MoreAndBetterPolls | January 16, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

'it comes off as overly divisive and attempting to create idiotic wedges unnecessarily'

the media loves to create a bloody dogfight. it sells.

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Give 'em Hill! I was actually really disappointed that McCain performed so poorly last night in Michigan. He is the only realist amongst the Republicans. He understands moderation on issues from national security to environmentalism. I really hope he holds onto that lead. Obviously, he'll be the toughest to beat in November, especially compared to the Mittster. But at least we'll have someone who is sane to run against, rather than the God = Constitution rantings of Huckabee. Plus, McCain is pretty awesome on the environment.

greenpieceblog.blogspot.com/2008/01/mccain-and-environment.html

Posted by: crumbrye1 | January 16, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Why aren't there any delegates in Michigan for the Democratic party? Can someone explain?

thanks!

Posted by: FractalCones | January 16, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

The loser in last night's debate?

Tim Russert and his incredibly tiresome "gotcha" questioning style. It's lazy journalism when he does it on MTP, and it comes off as overly divisive and attempting to create idiotic wedges unnecessarily. If Brian Williams had half a brain, he'd tell Russert to stay home next time.

Posted by: scorbett1976 | January 16, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

'And what's the alternative? You'd rather have 150 terrorist targets instead of one?'

I'd rather have none. As to the below, you're perfectly willing to beleive that the Sierra club is invoved in some vast leftwing conspiracy [when they have no financial motive] but you are unwilling to beleieve that a private contractor [with a great deal indeed to gain] would lie? For credibility, give me the Sierra Club over K Street any day.

'My guess is that Sierra club et al have ginned up some bogus 'facts' to continue to delay this needed project.

Of course the government studies will be accused as 'rigged' etc by the vast right wing conspiracy types.'

There's a lot we can do to conserve that will help tremendously, like building cars [as they do bikes] out of lighter and stronger materials for higher mileage. And market forces will help too -- everyone I know is turning down their thermostas. When business building start doing that too, we will start making tremendous strides.

The future belongs to our children. Let's not saddle them with the curse of a nuclear wasteland.

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

"Each state seems to be content to pick their favorite without regard to momentum or the perceived need to rally around a candidate early in the process."

Bad, bad, bad, state, shame on you! You can go sit in a corner with Michigan and Florida.

So you prefer to see the first state in the primary sequence pick the eventual winner?

Posted by: judgeccrater | January 16, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Hillary - she was supposed to be the front-runner, the inevitable candidate for the Democrats - the key is to look at how many people are voting against her - even in New Hampshire over 60% of the voters voted against her.


She can not say anything about this math.


Hillary is way way behind in her attempt to get to 51% - the Democrats have rejected her and things are simply getting worse for her. Obama is going to win South Carolina and she will have little momentum going into SuperTuesday. I don't think she cares about the health of the Democratic Party (read 1994), however if she did, she would get out of the race and allow the Party to regroup.

Posted by: Miata7 | January 16, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Romney uses "comeback" at least three times in his victory speech.

Posted by: youcrew | January 15, 2008 04:39 PM


I believe my prediction was wrong. I only heard "comeback" twice in the victory speech. Both instances were in the same sentence.

In Romney speeches I have heard in the past, he seems to use a form of stammer. That is, he gets half way through a sentence, pauses, and then repeats the word he last said as he continues.

Does anyone know if this is a planned speech tactic (repititiion drives the point home), just his particular style, or a form of speech impediment?

Posted by: youcrew | January 16, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Having reviewed the statewide results, uncommitted didn't win any of Michigan's 83 counties and none were very close. It may not be a big victory, but it's does demonstate the breadth of her support.

mcknight13

Posted by: mcknight13 | January 16, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Having reviewed the statewide results, uncommitted didn't win any of Michigan's 83 counties and none were very close. It may not be a big victory, but it's does demonstate the breadth of her support.

Posted by: mcknight13 | January 16, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Having reviewed the statewide results, uncommitted didn't win any of Michigan's 83 counties and none were very close. It may not be a big victory, but it's does demonstate the breadth of her support.

Posted by: mcknight13 | January 16, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Having reviewed the statewide results, uncommitted didn't win any of Michigan's 83 counties and none were very close. It may not be a big victory, but it's does demonstate the breadth of her support.

Posted by: mcknight13 | January 16, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Last post from me - from Detroit Free Press, it is obvious that Michiganders think the parties will relent and seat their full delegations.

That should not happen. Goes against our notion of not changing rules during the game.

But I do not think it is illegal for a party to change its rules whenever it wants to, except in the context of voting rights. The inventive argument would be that changing these rules disenfranchised voters, I think. Colin?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 16, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I can't imagine the government would be anxious to spend billions of dollars to store radioactive material in a dangerous place. My guess is that Sierra club et al have ginned up some bogus 'facts' to continue to delay this needed project.

Of course the government studies will be accused as 'rigged' etc by the vast right wing conspiracy types. But being a government contractor who has worked for companies who did EXACTLY these kind of studies, I seriously doubt it.

And what's the alternative? You'd rather have 150 terrorist targets instead of one? You'd force people back to the stone age? You'd cripple our economic growth, which then exacerbates all our other problems? (debt, inflation, baby boomers retiring, etc)

No Democratic candidate will actually offer a real solution to this. It's much easier to criticize soemone else's, than actually to solve the problem.

Posted by: JD | January 16, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

drindl, when I went to sleep, RP had 6%, RG had 3%, and MDH had just enough to get the last 2 delegates, assuming 12 at large.

WMR outspent all his opponents put together, from what I have read.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 16, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Drindl, the seismic info was new to me. I will research that at some time in the near future. My understanding had been exactly like JD's - "dead" mountain, no water table, etc.

The Hill Country is stable in the seismic sense - the Balcones Fault is old and dead. But the water table is too close.

As JimD has said, the safety issues in the Navy have always been addressed successfully. There should be no problem forcing the new plants to use modular parts so that they can easily be repaired and renovated. I am not arguing for slipshod nukes. Hire the French to build them, or contract them to Navy oversight. But build them.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 16, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

'Are you going to force higher CAFE? OK then, you're OK with spiking the deathrate from traffic accidents? '

again -- such defeatism. I have been a bike rider since I was a teenager, and I have watched over the years as bikes have gotten both stronger and lighter from the use of new materials, because the bicycle industry [which is mostly foreign] has been flexible and innovative, while our own automotive industry hasn't. Part of their problem -- they got lazy and complacent.

Due to any number of factors that did not exist in the recent past, the price of gas will not go down in the foreseeable future -- oil is stuck at $100 a barrel now. This alone will likely drive people to buy smaller, more fuel efficient cars.

Mark, where did Ron Paul end up last night, percentage-wise?

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 8:32 AM | Report abuse

OK Claudia, if you believe that nuclear isn't a good option for US anymore (even the French-Honeywell new reactors), then OK. I don't believe that switchgrass, etc will be anywhere close to closing the energy gap anytime soon - you could invest 10b in the technology tomorrow and we wouldn't see much for our investment for years.

Geothermal and hydroelectric is a good idea, but in the US the % it can contribute is miniscule. Wind - OK, but tell your buddies Teddie and Kerry that they have to start sacrificing the view from their mansions off Martha's Vineyard and let them build some mills. Those hypocrites.

Posted by: JD | January 16, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Spent nuclear fuel is extremely radioactive and very deadly. It requires extraordinary precautions and shielding in order to safeguard the public and others from its lethal effects. A person standing one yard away from an unshielded, 10 year old fuel assembly, for example, would receive a lethal dose of radiation (500 rem) in less than three minutes and would incur significant damage within seconds.

The surface dose rate of spent fuel is so great (10,000 rem/hour or more) that shipping containers with enough shielding to completely contain all emissions are too heavy to transport economically. Consequently, NRC regulations allow a certain amount of neutron and gamma radiation to be emitted from shipping casks during routine operations and transport (1,000 mrem/hr at the cask surface and 10 mrem/hr 2 meters from the cask surface).

Solutions should come from the future, not the past. This defeatism, this let's do things the way we always have is so negative. We need to invest in new technologies, as we always did before when we were a world leader. Now our backwards looking attitude is causing us to fall further and further behind.

There is tremendous energy potential in biomass [weeds, for instance] and we should be looking to harness that [forget ethanol] it's too expensive to grow and drives up the price of food].

We should also look to other countries like the Netherlands and Iceland who are using innovative new techniques that take advantage of regional/local geothermal and weather properties.

The nuclear industry is just another expensive, wasteful boondoggle that ends up costing taxpayers far more than its worth.

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Chris, with respect you're again missing the point about the Michigan Democrat ballot. Of course it's irrelevant to the overall race cos no delegates were at stake. And clearly, Clinton "won" - she wasn't defeated.

But that said, it's of note for four reasons:

1. That being the only (mainstream) candidate on the ballot she could only win 56%

2. That plenty of Democrats traipsed out in the snow to vote in a meaningless primary to vote undecided rather than FOR Clinton

3. That Clinton was on the ballot in the first place - which shows at best a disingenuity on her part to abide by the letter but not the spirit of the pledge the candidates took to boycott states that violated the DNC calendar.

There was a lot of anger among Dems turning up unaware of their disenfranchisement to find her the only candidate on the ballot - and that *may* have some national implications, especially if she's now begun staffing Florida again in breach of the spirit of the candidates' collective boycott. It's a little like she's crossing a picket line to my mind.

4. That again, the numbers of young people voting undecided - ie AGAINST Clinton - was huge - and that is nationally significant.

Posted by: adamcgray | January 16, 2008 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Yucca Mountain has serious flaws, Mark. There are many other factors to consider besides water tables. There is also the nightmare of transporting nuclear waste.

In fact, any nuclear plant is a continuing series of nightmares. I live about 15 miles from Indian Point, and there's constantly something breaking down. The older they get, of course, the worse they get and then decommisioning them is another nightmare. And, of course, if something goes wrong, there's no escape route that wouldn't be completely gridlocked and paralyzed within 5 minutes. Simply put, several million people would be trapped.

http://www.sric.org/voices/2001/v2n1/yuccaproblems.html

'There are 33 known geologic faults at or in the near vicinity of the Yucca Mountain site. In the past 20 years, there have been over 600 recorded seismic events of Magnitude 2.5 or greater within 50 miles of the site, the largest of which was a Magnitude 5.6 earthquake in 1992, known as the Little Skull Mountain earthquake. It was centered about 8 miles from the site, causing damage to DOE's Yucca Mountain project office at the Nevada Test Site (NTS).'

But then, perhaps there's a suitable replacement site near Austin? :)

Posted by: drindl | January 16, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Mark, since you bring up Yucca Mtn...

This issue is part and parcel of the strategy of: criticize Bush's plan, but don't offer one of your own.

Bush's admin wants to consolidate all long term nuke waste storage in a dead mountain surrounded by Fed lands. Survey after survey says it's OK to go forward. Yes the stuff will be radioactive for a jillion years.

He's been criticized by the Dems (and some Nev GOPers) for this plan.

So what's their plan? Um, uh, hmm.... I don't know, 'more conservation'? 'Green power'? OK, fine. Specifics please.

Cue the crickets.

I'd love to see the SPECIFIC plans to solve America's coming energy crisis. Are you going to allow more drilling on American territory? (read: Alaska and off shore). Are you going to force higher CAFE? OK then, you're OK with spiking the deathrate from traffic accidents? Make SUVs and trucks illegal? Continue the silly investment in ethanol? (takes 1 gallon of petrol to make 1.25 gallons of ethanol, and raises the prices of all foods dependent on feed in the meantime).

Posted by: JD | January 16, 2008 8:15 AM | Report abuse

I have now read the transcript of the Yucca Mtn section of the D debate.

BHO has hamstrung his own nuke power options by linkage to closing Yucca Mtn., but does say he has always maintained that position. I do not have a specific recollection about that, but he was not called on it by the moderator.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 16, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

It was a terrible night for the liberal mainstream media because their boy did so poorly. Republicans know the true conservative by the who gets the worst media (Romney)I have no doubt Romeny will be our nominee and will most likely go up against HRC after she cheats Obama out of the nomintion. We will go in the general election united with Mitt while the african-americans will stay home after realizing what the democratic party is really about.(Give us your vote but don't be so upity as to expect power.)

Posted by: vbhoomes | January 16, 2008 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Some great comments here. I was hanging out a couple of days ago at the Comment Is Free forum at the Guardian (UK) website, and they were complaining that the D frontrunners weren't being more specific about policy proposals, that it was all just fluffy, personality stuff. And I thought, you know, Hillary doesn't have much to offer except specific policy proposals, but in a larger sense, American presidential politics isn't really much about specifics. Because the president doesn't sit as the head of the majority party in the legislature, and because both the House and Senate act according to their own institutional prerogatives, any bill the president proposes will be utterly transformed by the time it returns to her or his desk, if of course it comes back at all.

So for that reason, what we are or should be more concerned about is less tangible stuff -- what do the candidates bring with them in terms of experience and perspective, what are their values and their visions for the future, what do they see as the demands and the limits of that office, how and how well do they work with others, what would they do in a crisis, how well do they understand the problems facing ordinary folks. We're bigger picture voters than we give ourselves credit for. The CEO/COO analogy is an apt one.

Posted by: novamatt | January 16, 2008 7:48 AM | Report abuse

should be "and", not "or", in my 7:26A.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 16, 2008 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Typically there would be fewer desperate R voters than there are in MI. Typically the "economic liberal interventionist" message miata7 identified [previous thread] would not work well with R voters. McC spoke truth, but it was a hard truth for a desperate audience to swallow.
------------------------------
NV
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If France and the US Navy can operate nuclear reactors safely, why are some Ds, like JRE, so dead set against it?

If Yucca Mtn is the place in the continental USA furthest from a water table, why would we dump nuke waste anywhere else?

Will NV hold the nation hostage so that we cannot have nuclear power in the mix of solutions for moving away from fossil fuels?

I recall BHO being for nukes - is he standing firm in NV, or will straight talk lose him Las Vegas?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 16, 2008 7:26 AM | Report abuse

DonRitchie, we obviously disagree. Too much detachment as a manager and you don't realize that the lunatics (Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al.) are running the asylum. And yes, I've had that kind of manager (and witnessed the waste and three hour lunches that resulted) so I am not that kind of manager myself, but one must try to set a vision. In the last 7 years, the manager's detachment from the reality of what his "policies" wrought has ruined this country.

Posted by: dyinglikeflies | January 16, 2008 7:16 AM | Report abuse

No, I don't agree with the last poster. Have you ever had a "detached vision manager." This is - absolutely - the best environment to work in. My last boss could be described as this. It was frustrating at times because I simply didn't know what to do in certain circumstances. Not once did my boss ever tell me what to do in these circumstances. He had had 30+ years experience in this field as well - including 5 years experience doing my exact job. He could have told me exactly what to do - but he never did. It was a tense, high pressure environment, but I have never excelled on the levels that I did in this position.

I'll never forget my first day on the job. There was a pre-existing problem that had to be dealt with. My boss was standing over me at my desk and I looked up at him and asked what I should do - he held his arms out at me palms up and said, "My problem. I pass it on to you." And walked away.

I disagree with you 100%. This hands-off manager, only giving the most token advice or clarifying certain fine point idiosyncrasies of company procedure, created the best environment I have ever worked in.

Posted by: DonRitchie | January 16, 2008 6:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm amazed that after seven years of Bush Democrats could even consider a candidate as cynical and bland as Hillary Clinton. America is truly a conservative country.

Posted by: nerdoff | January 16, 2008 6:54 AM | Report abuse

Obama has it wrong, but Clinton may also. You can't be a detached "vision" manager and not know what is going on, on the ground (hello, Bush) as Obama says you can, but you can't be an inspiring leader (and SOME inspiration is needed) if you get too much into the wonk-ish nitty gritty, as Hillary seemed to. And Mr. Edwards, you can't be a soul-less empty suit who changes his speech depending on the year and the audience either.

Posted by: dyinglikeflies | January 16, 2008 6:05 AM | Report abuse

Clinton stressed the importance above all of "holding people accountable every single day". Wince. That's called "micro-management" - top-down, old-style management out of the 1950's. What works in a highly changeable environment (such as the presidency) is convincing the best people (as opposed to cronies) to join your team and then let them get on with doing what they do best. Ask any successful CEO.

Of course you review what they're doing, but no one person can successfully make all the decisions, tell everyone exactly what they're supposed to do, and check up on them daily. Not when the job is running the country.

That exchange reminded me that Obama's had years of experience in community organizing - getting work done through people. That's new-style management (well, not all that new). It works.

I have my doubts that Clinton learned much from her health-care experience, which brings up the question of just what the rest of her 'experience' is worth.

Posted by: TomJx | January 16, 2008 2:34 AM | Report abuse

Again Obama is correct when he said he is not a Chief Operations Officer. He is running for President of the United States, which is the equivalent to the position of Chief Executive Officer. There is a difference between a Chief Executive Officer and a Chief Operations Officer. The Chief Executive Officer is the person who has the vision and makes the hard and final decisions. The Operations Officer is responsible for implementing the vision and orders of the Chief Executive Officer.

Obama pointed out the flaws in our current leader - the things that he was not capable of doing like being honest, not being able to see things from different perspsectives other than his own. We need honest leadership and a leader who is willing to look at all sides of the issue before making a decision.

I thought Obama gave the best and most direct response when asked to point to his greatest strenght and weakness. He said his strength was as a unifier. This is what we need at this time. Clinton on the other hand again touted her years of experience and pointed to ability to do things for people. Not particulary what I want to hear from someone who wants to be a leader - maybe a manager, but certainly not a leader. Her response about her weakness only validated my concerns that she does not have the temperment to be an effective LEADER. She said at times she is impatient. This is of great concern to me and should be to all voters. Impatience leads to flawed legislation and flawed decisions. Many of our recent legislation have been made in haste, the Patriot Act for one. Because of the impatience of the President and Congress to get something passed they do not give enough thought to the consequences and consquently there are a multitude of problems that result from the legislation.

Another concern I had with Clinton was when she pointed to the cronyism in the Bush administration. I would venture to say that she and Bill have twice as many cronys as Bush. I don't believe that croynism would change if she were in the White House.

I took an Army Leadership course and I learned that as a leader you need to be:

A person of strong and honorable charater -
have determination, compassion, self-discipline, initiative, flexibility, and consistency.

An example of individual values - loyalty to the nation, selfless service, duty, integrity.

An example of individual values - courage, candor, competence, and commitment

Be able to resolve comples ethical dilemmas - interpret the situation, analyze all the factors and forces that apply, and choose a course of action that seems best for the nation.

I see all of these leadership skills in Obama. I don't see the Clinton as having the flexibility, consistency, integrity or the candor to be our leader.

Posted by: Nevadaandy | January 16, 2008 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Good, substantive debate, with little sniping and melodrama. All three showed well I thought, but no clear winner. Chris Matthews' foaming about Hillary's big "power play" and win didn't strike me as overly accurate, but she did well. She also continued her aggression first policy with the other two, but at least didn't pout this time when the returned fire. Edwards good, but a little unsettled at times. Obama good too, but not overly memorable. Didn't think it would alter too many opinions, but independents might have a better overal view of Democratic candidates for it.

Posted by: macalnic | January 16, 2008 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Eager to turn the page, the candidates tonight did everything they could to focus on substantive issues. If the ABC debate of January 5th allowed viewers to get a clear sense of where candidates stood on process, tonight featured the most policy-oriented discussions we have seen in quite some time, and the candidates avoided any high-profile clashes.

Read Campaign Diaries's full analysis: http://www.campaigndiaries.com/2008/01/democratic-debate-staying-away-from.html

Posted by: campaigndiaries | January 16, 2008 12:26 AM | Report abuse

I think it should be said with 95% of the vote in that 40% of Democrats, showed up to vote for someone other then Clinton. They had no phone calls, no canvassing, no political rallies. They showed up to make a statement, they want change. It should be shown that Hillary may have gotten the most votes, but it was not a victory.

BTW ... Clinton had less then 30% of the African American vote in Michigan, not something she should be proud of going into South Carolina next week.

Posted by: sjxylib | January 16, 2008 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Democrats Debate in Las Vegas

Who Won the MSNBC Democratic Debate in Las Vegas?

http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=1548

.

Posted by: PollM | January 15, 2008 11:47 PM | Report abuse

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