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Words

| 101 Comments

Theodore Sorenson has a draft acceptance speech up for the next Democratic presidential candidate:

To meet the threats we face and restore our place of leadership in the free world, I pledge to do the following:

First, working with a representative Iraqi parliament, I shall set a timetable for an orderly, systematic redeployment and withdrawal of all our troops in Iraq, including the recall of all members of the National Guard to their primary responsibility of guarding our nation and its individual states.

Second, this redeployment shall be only the first step in a comprehensive regional economic and diplomatic stabilization plan for the entire Middle East, building a just and enduring peace between Israel and Palestine, halting the killing and maiming of innocent civilians on both sides, and establishing two independent sovereign states, each behind peacefully negotiated and mutually recognized borders.

Third, I shall as soon as possible transfer all inmates out of the Guantanamo Bay prison and close down that hideous symbol of injustice.

Fourth, I shall fly to New York City to pledge in person to the United Nations, in the September 2009 General Assembly, that the United States is returning to its role as a leader in international law, as a supporter of international tribunals, and as a full-fledged member of the United Nations which will pay its dues in full, on time, and without conditions, renouncing any American empire; that we shall work more intensively with other countries to eliminate global scourges, including AIDS, malaria, and other contagious diseases, massive refugee flows, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and that we will support the early dispatch of United Nations peacekeepers to halt the atrocities in Darfur. I shall make it clear that we do not covet the land of other countries for our military bases or the control of their natural resources for our factories. I shall make it clear that our country is not bound by any policies or pronouncements of my predecessor that violate international law or threaten international peace.

Fifth, I shall personally sign the Kyoto Protocol, and seek its ratification by the United States Senate, in order to stop global warming before it endangers all species on earth, including our own; and I shall call upon the Congress to take action dramatically reducing our nation’s reliance on the carbon fuels that are steadily contributing to the degradation of our environment.

Sixth, I shall demonstrate sufficient confidence in the strength of our values and the wisdom and skill of our diplomats to favor communications, negotiations, and full relations with every country on earth, including Cuba, North Korea, Palestine, and Iran.

Finally, I shall restore the constitutional right of habeas corpus, abolish the unconstitutional tapping of private phones, and once again show the world the traditional American values that distinguish us from those who attacked us on 9/11.

Wow. I'm not quite sure what to say. Actually, I am. He says the candidate should commit to "building a just and enduring peace between Israel and Palestine, halting the killing and maiming of innocent civilians on both sides".

Well from my point of view, I'd like to commit just as strongly to having a wonderfully romantic date with Uma Thurman. I'll take her to my favorite New York City bistro, Devin Tavern on Greenwich in Tribeca, and we'll have a wonderful and romantic conversation that will sweep her off her feet, and leave her desperate for my attention and affection. Oh wait, I don't know her, am not likely to meet her, and I'm married.

Both of these look nice as words on the page. Words are not deeds, however ... and I'd feel a lot better if the winning Democratic nominee was willing to think in terms of deeds rather than empty words like this.

101 Comments

It is astonishingly vapid. It looks, A.L., like your desire to have the Democrats begin to express real adult substance on issues has a very long road ahead.

That's so naive I'd expect someone like Jeneane Garafalo to have written it, during one of her "moment's of clarity"

Who is this Sorenson, and why should we pay attention to him?

Yes, It's niave,,,unlike, "We'll blow up the infrastructure of a middle eastern country, invade it, shoot it up a little more, depose its leader and the the people of that country will shower our troops with flowers and candy, elect the leader we chose for them and then live happily ever after in a Jeffersonian democracy. They will love the US and, neighboring countries, like dominoes, will fall into the same pattern of democratic revolution and will also love for the US. And the best part is that oil revenues, not US taxe dollars, will pay for it all."

Now there is some solid minded reality based thinking............I think you have a better chance of a date with Uma Thurmon, but then I like Sorenson's speach and the ideas contained in it.

If our leadrership is threatens to act on its astonshingly vapid concepts, I'd rather have the action be based on Sorenson type thinking than on the the Bush/neocon type.

I shall make it clear that we do not covet the land of other countries for our military bases or the control of their natural resources for our factories....

Dubious that he (or anyone) could both make that clear and be telling the truth. There's a lot of blood in the gutters. "Making it clear" doesn't make it so. "Naive" doesn't even cover that one.

Fifth, I shall personally sign the Kyoto Protocol, and seek its ratification by the United States Senate, in order to stop global warming before it endangers all species on earth, including our own....

Evident feel-good poppycock. The quantitative effect of Kyoto if 100% enacted is down in the noise. Let's cover our ears and sing "la la la", shall we?

Politics as usual. Color me skeptical.

Ted Sorenson is the keeper of the JFK flame. He's also an idiot. Like most Dems when thinking about foreign policy and America.

He has nothing to say concretely about how to achieve peace in the Middle East. He's actively STUPID. Peace in the Middle East can only be achieved by: killing enough of one side till they stop fighting. Probably closer to 60% of military aged males than the 40% that it took to stop the South during the Civil War.

Like I said, Sorenson is ten kinds of stupid. Stupid that only an active denial of reality gets you. Stupid unique to the Dem Party and it's astonishing level of stupidity. Stupidity that only a deeply feminized, weak, victim-fetishized, rich and comfortable elite could generate.

But wait, there's more:

Withdraw from Iraq (and Afghanistan, Maxine Waters and the CBC are already calling for that now, predictably). Then WHAT? Put a giant frickin NUKE ME sign on every American City? With Musharaff hanging by a thread, the Taliban controlling all the NWF, the Red Mosque running Islamabad, and Osama's men controlling a goodly part of the ISI?

That's all kinds of stupid. I'm all for something new, but not for losing American Cities. Sorenson like all Dems is just plain frickin stupid when it comes to National Security. Even more stupid than GWB and that's going some.

Next, transfer all inmates of Gitmo to ... where exactly? Sorenson is stupid because many of these guys CANNOT be tried. We can either let them go, shoot them, and that's it. They ARE NOT CRIMINALS. They are enemy combatants, illegal ones at that (and legally we could just hang them or shoot them, but Sorenson like all bleeding hearts loves the brutal killers).

For example, one guy we have, at age 15 murdered a medic treating a wounded soldier in Afghanistan. While he was under no uniform in the violations of the Geneva Convention. By rights we should just hang him and shoot him (as Iran does with it's under-18 offenders). But we have chosen not to. Another is KSM, the architect of 9/11. All the evidence we have on him is through secret intelligence which cannot be disclosed in courts or Americans will DIE, or interrogations. Another guy we have is Osama's bodyguard who killed CIA agent Spahn in Afghanistan, and organized the 1998 Embassy bombings.

What Sorenson is REALLY saying is he'll let these guys go. To kill again as every guy we've let go has killed again. Sorenson like all Dems just can't be trusted with National Security. He's STUPID. These are not purse snatchers, but cold hard killers who will kill lots of Americans again. Want an anti-Muslim pogrom by vigilantes? Show your impotence, weakness, and idiocy in the face of cold hard killers (one of whom who helped plan 9/11).

But wait ... it gets even STUPIDER. Unbelievably there are depths of Stupid Sorenson hadn't mined yet.

Sorenson, proposes to TURN OVER US SOVEREIGNTY. We already had a take on that, and Open Borders and Amnesty lost. Sorenson wants to apologize for being an American (OK, he's both a Democrat and an elitist, that makes him by definition DOUBLE STUPID). The UN would be more important than the interests of the US. We in the US would be nothing more than the goon squad and money source for every tin-pot, third world, anti-semitic, corrupt, human-rights violating dictator on the planet.

As proof of Democratic and Sorenson stupidity: the UN Human Rights Commission created a permanent investigation of human rights violations by Israel, while formally forbidding ANY investigation into: Cuba, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and Iran.

Only someone profoundly stupid would recommend turning over US sovereignty to the UN. Sorenson compounds his stupidity by proposing to grovel and apologize for America's existence.

But wait, Sorenson is not done with stupid. Oh no ... he's got even more stupid in the speech.

Sorenson proposes to wreck the economy and give all our money to China, Europe, and India, which have not and never will adhered to Kyoto, so the polar bears are extra cozy. He wants to throw everyone who actually works for a living (unlike him) out of a job so he can be important. Like Sheryl Crow advising only one square of toilet paper per visit.

But wait, there's more stupidity on tap. Even more stupid with:

Apologizing and groveling to our enemies: most especially Iran which wants to wipe Israel off the map (OK, nearly all Dems are down with that one and look forward to it with glee), has killed our troops in Iraq, has killed them in Afghanistan, invaded our embassy and held our people hostage, and killed 19 Airmen in Saudi in the Khobar Towers bombing.

This is a quantum level of stupid. Like most proposals from Dems, it just keeps getting stupider. I've saved the most stupid for last:

Stopping any attempt to prevent another 9/11 or worse, and going back to the 9/10 mentality. Of course Dems feel terrorism is just another "fact of life" and when you get down to it, they think it's "kinda cool that they kill the little people." Most Dems back Osama, think it's great he kills Americans, and wonder "why they hate us?"

OF COURSE hardly any Democrat, at any time, is willing to do what is needed to prevent another terror attack. They'll gladly sacrifice whole cities to terror attacks just to show their moral superiority.

This is why Dems are stupid. Why they cannot be trusted. Why they are a menace and need to be purged from public life. Because of their monumental stupidity.

Shot through this stupid fantasy is the priority moral superiority of a smug, rich, self-satisfied elite that loathes the common people has for the public duty of protecting the common man from being blown apart and the message of Osama which is "I will keep on killing you in bigger and more spectacular ways until you submit to me and Islam."

And it's even stupider because the natural reaction of the people to such blatant moralizing stupidity on the part of their elites is to replace them and act ruthlessly on their interests.

Sorenson is stupid, and Dems are stupid, because one more big terror attack and we will have a different dynamic. Bush is a numbskull but he's not stupid, he at least understood what was at stake after 9/11. Cheney even more so.

If we lose a city, and without hyper-vigilance, every measure used, and no limits to what needs to be done to stop another attack, it's almost a slam dunk we will, then we will come to that Silverado Moment.

The moment when Linda Hunt tells Kevin Kline that the Brian Dennehy Character (the evil Sheriff) can't hurt her if he's dead. A light goes on in Kline's head. And he kills the Sheriff right dead.

Right now the US public has not come to the conclusion that Muslims cannot hurt us if they are all dead. We are not at that point. We absolutely positively will be if we lose a city or three. And at that point the weak, victim-fetishized, feminized, weepy, incompetent, moralizing, self-satisfied, populace-loathing elite will be replaced by a Jacksonian or Jacobite fury. With our own Hickory or Napoleon to make life end for Muslims.

The weak, effeminate, elitist, moralizing Whigs under Martin Van Buren failed to act against the Seminoles, the Creek, and other Indian tribes because they despised the Western settlers and the populace. In turn the Westerners got Jackson elected, finally, and he settled the Creek question forever in Georgia. Cruelly and without a trace of mercy. But I understand why it happened. The Westerners were not going to endure a massacre here and there by moralizing Eastern elites who found themselves morally superior to their Western "servants" and so ended the matter forever.

We are going to solve our problem with Islam one way or another. I suggest that Sorenson is Exhibit A of stupidity. And reason enough to never vote Democratic.

Avedis -- "neo-con" thinking at least puts that evil day of "they can't hurt us if they are all dead" far off in the future. And anything can happen. Something can turn up. I'd rather a few thousand dead than a couple of US cities gone, MILLIONS of US dead and a BILLION Muslim dead. Which we are on the knife edge of right now.

The Iraq War is trivial compared to what else could happen if no fight at all is conducted against the enemy (which is Islam and Muslims, let's be honest).

AQ is not going away The Management of Savagery is AQ's strategy for the US as well as every other nation. Basic thinking: replicate the collapse of the USSR and Afghanistan. Attack the US with constant "big" terror attacks until chaos descends, and rebuild the fractured US as an Islamic nation. They won't ever stop until we either kill all Muslims (I'd like to avoid it) or we play for time until something happens. I'd vote for the latter and at least neo-cons want something other than total annihilation.

Kirk:

Who is this Sorenson, and why should we pay attention to him?

Sorensen was the guy who wrote all the ringing phrases of the Kennedy administration, like "Ask not what your country can do for you ..."

Note the crashing descent from this:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty ... Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah — to "undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free."

To this:

We will support the early dispatch of United Nations peacekeepers to halt the atrocities in Darfur.

So why pay attention? The canned bravado that Sorensen supplied to the Kennedys was probably as fake as the Kyoto and Guantanamo stuff he peddles today, so pay attention to Shakespeare instead: "My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go."

Marc, why don't you come up with a draft acceptance speech of your own?
and once again show the world the traditional American values that distinguish us from those who attacked us on 9/11.
Presumably, that includes self-deception.

Avedis,
I can only agree that the neo-cons' thinking (if you want to call it that) was naive. To believe that a Middle Eastern culture could be democratized is naive to the point of insane. However, to say that because the neocons were wrong Sorenson is right is a bit of a false dichotomy. The tragedy of Iraq is that we had a golden opportunity to become Osama's "strong horse" in the minds of the barbarians (and it was beginning to work, Syria left Lebanon; Khaddafi gave up his WMD) and we blew it. I'm much more concerned that we blew the invasion than that we invaded. Iraq will become one more in a long line of demonstrations of American weakness going back to Viet Nam, through the Iranian hostage crisis, Beirut '83, WTC '93, Somalia '93, inaction on the African Embassy bombings in '98 and the Cole in 2000, encouraging people like Osama to hit us again and again. The left loves to call the Iraq invasion a boon to terrorist recruiting. Just think of the boon to terrorist recruiting of being driven out of Iraq by Allah's warriors (because whether that's the case or not, that's how people in the ME will see it).

A.L., I'm not sure you are being fair here. Peace in the ME based upon a two-state solution is just an announced goal...something to work for. What deeds could be performed during an acceptance speech? How is this different from Bush's "vision" of a two-state solution. I agree that words are words, but speeches are composed of words not deeds. What's she supposed to say? or do? Stand there is silence and accept the nomination without outlining any goals? In terms of the ME, other than claiming we are going to stop funding Israel or, conversely, invade Gaza, there are not a lot of actions we can take. "We will no longer buy oil from Saudi Arabia because of their funding of Palestinian causes..." C'mon....of course, it's naive. It's an acceptance speech. By tradition...almost by necessity...such things are idealistic and, thus, naive.

An aside: I happen to know at least one restaurant frequented by Uma Thurman here in NYC. Perhaps we can meet there at least once this summer and increase your chances of meetng her. Do you like Indian?

Fred, I generally agree with you. I'm just saying that if we are going to be critical of pie in the sky thinking we should recognize that it is not a problem of the democrats only. It is what policians do regardless of affilitiation. Also, Sorenson's pie in the sky is more closer to a realistic goal than the neocons'.

Glenn,

That Theodore Sorenson? I didn't even know he was still around, much less contributing to the public debate. OK...

Still, I think you do a bit of disservice to the JFK-era stuff. Granted, maybe Sorenson didn't believe it, but Kennedy most likely did. Doesn't mean the execution was always well-done, or even advisable, but that's a different question.

Kirk:

In the same speech, Sorensen wrote: "The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans."

That was for sure true. A new generation with so little faith in America that they were ready to cede moral superiority to anybody, starting with the incredibly brutal Vietnamese Communists.

I admire John Kennedy, too, but he's dead. They made a beautiful myth out of him, and when he got killed a whole bunch of people went more or less permanently insane. They're still chasing after that myth. It's the worst kind of idealism - hatred of everything that exists in favor of something that never did and never will exist.

But Glen, isn't all idealism the quest of a state being that is mythical in its pefection?

"It's the worst kind of idealism - hatred of everything that exists in favor of something that never did and never will exist."

Wow! Don't these words you wrote apply to Jesus Christ even more so than to democrats?

Wouldn't they also apply to Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speach?

I think you are the worst sort of cynic.....but then I notice that your cynicism seems to only be directed at visions guiding liberals because you certainly don't even recognize how very much the neocon dream of democratizing the middle east by force of arms fits cleanly to your depiction of people gone "insane" over ambitions to achieve conditions that never existed and never will.

So you are not just a cynic, you are a hopelessly confused cynic.

Finally what is it with all of this talk about liberals "hating" America. You take a few deranged outliers - like Hanoi Jane - and expand her behavior and attitudes to cover everyone with even vaguely overlapping outlooks. Not fair, not reasonable and pure propaganda; a short cut to thinking that renders your opinions questionable at best and rubbish for the most part.

BTW, A.L.: where exactly did Theodore Sorensen "put up" this "draft acceptance speech? Since you haven't provided a link.

Is this anything "official"? Is it sponsored or endorsed by any particular candidate? Any specific organization? Or is old Ted just op-ed'ing away using the hoary "speech I'd like to hear X deliver" trope?

I mean, taken in isolation, it's just so much idealized boilerplate; neither, IMO particularly good or bad: but some context would be helpful.

Jay, apologies - it's from the Washington Monthly. I'll add the link - I just spaced on doing it.

A.L.

It's just as wonderful as a John Lennon song, and just as content-free.

"Sign Kyoto!" I wonder what he'd do about its requirement that the US drop its per capita CO2 emissions by about 40% by 2010? In case anyone's wondering, Kyoto's emissions reduction targets are per-country, not per-capita, so population growth and immigration since the "reference year" of 1990 would require a vast emissions drop by the "trigger year" of 2010.

Methinks shutting down American power stations and banning cars may cause him to have a bit of Congressional turnover issues in the 2010 midterm elections - if his head isn't on the end of a stake first.

This just goes to show that this guy, along with the rest of the Gulfstream Left, doesn't actually let facts get in the way of the need to win the "Nice Race".

avedis:
Finally what is it with all of this talk about liberals "hating" America.
Are you asking me? I didn't mention liberals in either of my posts, nor did I use the word "hating", though you put it in quotes. Are you sure it's not your guilty conscience you hear?

And no, not all idealism is created equal. We could talk more about that, but I wouldn't want to subject you to any more questionable rubbish.

"I admire John Kennedy, too, but he's dead. They made a beautiful myth out of him, and when he got killed a whole bunch of people went more or less permanently insane. They're still chasing after that myth. It's the worst kind of idealism - hatred of everything that exists in favor of something that never did and never will exist."

Was this written by another Glen Wishard?

avedis,

"It's the worst kind of idealism - hatred of everything that exists in favor of something that never did and never will exist.". . . Wouldn't they also apply to Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speach?
Actually, I can't think of a worse way to characterize King's speech than as "hatred of everything that exists". On the contrary, he very much approved of America's general premises and was tired of blacks being excluded (de jure or de fact) from them. For another view of how tied he was to traditional Christian understanding, see Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

Kirk,

Yeah, I know what you're saying. King, as an American, was engaging in some deep and honest introspection. He was being honest about America's good qualities (often unrealized ideals) as well as it short comings; its failures to live up to its excellent ideals.

I - like you - would not lable this type of constructive criticism as being hatred. In fact, to the contrary, I think that if you love someone or something, it is necessary to be honest about failings with the hope that a dialogue might ensue that would, ultimately, lead to improvement.

All I was trying to do was relate to Wishard on his level- which I have gathered from reading many of his comments over time seems to be one where criticism of the US, president Bush or his policies or anything said or done by rightwingers is the equivalent of hatred of the US.

If not, what the hell was Wishard refering to regarding a whole bunch of Kennedy followers (Wishardspeak for liberals)going "insane" and "hatred for everything that exists" (Wishardspeak for anti-war protests, etc).

I could also easily bring up numerous comments from the archives where Wishard (not to mention AL, Rockford, Gabriel....et al) also demonstrate a complete lack of ability to distinguish between criticism of US policies and hatred of the US.

So, excuse me if I am wrong, but I made an assumption based on past experience here.

I've been reluctant to get involved, because there's just so much here to begin with (and after that, so much to repond too), but I'll try to nitpick:

On the two-state solution: I think our attitudes towards palestine have been as damning as the Palestines' attitude to Israel. After we pushed for democracy, we shouldn't be surprised that Hamas won. That's democracy at work, like it or not. I understand our reluctance to give Hamas money, that's reasonable. However, when we start splurging money on militias instead of trying to make the best of a bad situation, that's when we lose the populace (as per Iran), or create a dictatorship (as per Fatah, Iraq (Saddam), Taliban etc). IT's a very cynical view that says "We don't trust your democracy, so we'll take it away for you".

I really think what we need is an outside of the box solution to give basic neccessary living standards to Palestine, without just giving them money. I have previously suggested building an american hospital that helps the poor and impoverished. It would employ american doctors, hire and train locals, and if succesful, could also grow a nursing school wing. It would of course require robust american security, but we would basically be in charge of (and pay for) everything, and would get credit for our aid. I think it's a relatively difficult idea, but it's based off an idea that's been working very well for small groups of american doctors in pakistan.

On Kyoto: I agree that Kyoto was probably a bad deal for america. However, Bush offered no alternatives, did not bargain, did not work to create a dialogue about the problems of the plan. That's bad diplomacy (period).

ON negotions with communist regimes: Hey, it's working for Russia & China right? Start with relatively simple goals. Each year they demilitarize their country a little bit, we offer more trade options. Obviously, want they want is military technology, but trading that would be stupid. Still, there's gotta be something more humanitarian that they will bargain for...

Kyoto was never going to get through the Senate, and even the most fanatic AGW paranoids admit that it wouldn't do diddly-squat anyway. Clinton was smart enough to never attempt to table it in the Senate after the Senate voted 97-0 against it in a nonbinding vote in 1997.

And, oddly, during the Bush administration, US per-capita CO2 emissions have actually dropped a bit, despite a generally robust economy.

So, excuse me if I am wrong, but I made an assumption based on past experience here.

Avedis, speaking as a Marshal here, what you did was to mention stuff directed at thread participants that was nowhere in evidence on this thread -- apparently in order to add emotional weight to your post(s) and/or discredit theirs.

This sort of thing is likely to derail the thread. I urge you to consider carefully what the benefit of doing that is.

Nort

JFK -- a very bad President who's assassination sent Liberals off the deep end into conspiracy paranoia and hatred of America.

JFK was a bad President because he provoked fights with the USSR that were not central to the security interests of the US and ran the risk of getting us all nuked to satisfy the Kennedy family passion for needless risk. Specifically the Cuba Missile Crisis, when the whole thing was negotiated with the rational (dangerous but rational) Kruschev in a swap for Turkish missiles. See also the Bay of Pigs, Diem assassination, etc. Coupled with cowardice in Civil Rights out of fear of alienating the South.

The worst thing about JFK was his death and what it provoked. JFK was killed by a communist nutcase lunatic over his Cuba policy (and said lunatic's desire for fame). That's it. Liberals were unable to process this and turned JFK into Oliver Stone's words "Your Martyred King."

It cemented Liberals desire to be a patronizing elite opposed to the interests of the people. Liberals love the idea of a King and the people loathe it.

Avedis -- I am all for criticism of the President's policy, as long as an alternative is offered that benefits the nation and the people.

Promising to close Gitmo because it will make you feel better as a moralizing elite when you jet to Davos won't do it. Promising to grovel in front of the UN and turn over US sovereignty won't do it. Promising to wreck our economy for China and Europe's benefit won't do it. Saying you're ashamed to be an American won't do it. Ignoring AQ and hoping the bad man will go away won't do it.

It's childish, stupid, naive, and idiotic.

Close Gitmo and then ... WHAT? Treat AQ like common criminals? We tried that under Clinton and IT DID NOT WORK. It got us 9/11, and made us weak and defenseless against Osama.

All I have heard from Liberals is moralizing and elitist superiority, with no concern with us "little Eichmans." I have not heard one single proposal that is concerned with National Security. Not one. Merely endless moralizing about how embarrassed Liberals are at Davos.

And the reason Liberals CAN'T offer answers (I wish they would) is that they are concerned only with elitist status. Not actually solving the problem. Heck they can't even acknowledge the problem exists because it conflict with their religions of PC and Multi-Culti.

Would someone please give this nice man a gold star then serve him some ice cream and cookies?

"speaking as a Marshal here, what you did was to mention stuff directed at thread participants that was nowhere in evidence on this thread"

Nort

"JFK -- a very bad President who's assassination sent Liberals off the deep end into conspiracy paranoia and hatred of America."

Rockford

There. You see Nort.

I would argue that "stuff" I mentioned was, indeed, in evidence. However, that point is now academic because I don't think that even you could now deny the meaning of Rockford's statement.

I would also argue that the "stuff" I mentioned is not tangental nor is designed in any way to derail the thread. Rather, it is germane to the discussion because it speaks to both the relative banality of Sorenson's words and to the nature and orientation of critics here.

However, you are the Marshal here and it is your perogative to enforce the "law" in any manner that tickles your fancy and if you chose to see relavence and civility and intelligence in Rockford's (and Wishard's) comments and a lack thereof in mine, then that is what you chose and I will abide by your law.

So I will drop participation on this thread and leave you all to enjoy the great sport of liberal bashing sans interference.

Tally ho.

What I see, Avedis, is that Rockford is now "in play" in this matter, not that some of the others you mentioned are.

I'd still encourage you to do what you can to not contribute to thread derailment. That is under your control, not mine.

Cheerio,

Nort

I could also easily bring up numerous comments from the archives where Wishard (not to mention AL, Rockford, Gabriel....et al) also demonstrate a complete lack of ability to distinguish between criticism of US policies and hatred of the US.

This sounds like fun. Please do so forthwith. One of my comments, please.

I think I will work on my own version of the speech...

...watch this space!!

A.L.

Glen:

First you need to save up enough cereal box tops and UPCs to get the decoder ring. Then All Will Be Revealed, including the fact that you and Lyndon LaRouche actually share a body with Rush Limbaugh...

Condensed Version of Sorenson's acceptance speech draft.

First: Go to flag store; buy white flag

Second: Raise it above the Capitol.

Third: Surrender.

No need for steps 4 through 6

I agree with Sorensen's speech and sentiments. The next American President has a load of repairing to do. We owe some parts of the world, and some parts of America, profound apologies.
It's as if half of America got so scared that they lost their minds on 9/11. Then they lost sight of what America is all about.
There's a lot of clean-up to do after this neo-con mess. A moral cesspool that has shamed us all.
The guerilla radicals on the other side live among their people. We have to convince the general population that we are worthy and worth backing before we can defeat an insurrection among them.
BTW, any Iraqi, in Iraq, shooting at a uniformed foreigner is NOT a terrorist - at least not at that moment.

Regarding Kennedy:

I confess that I am unsure about what I am about to say. One could easily argue it another way.

Kennedy committed the USA, in his famous speech, to a mad dash to the moon. This may have been necessary as a tactic in the Cold War, but was certainly not the optimum way to make space accessible.

To pay for the Moon race, many important programmes were cancelled; Dyna-Soar and Orion (the real one) among them. Orion in particular was costing and would continue to cost chickenfeed, but it competed with von Braun's vision of enormous disintegrating totem poles, so it had to go.

Kennedy didn't say enough. What he should have committed to was to landing on one of the moons of Saturn, in the same timeframe. And America could have done it, and major-scale space industry would have been developed, and perhaps the USSR would have collapsed decades before it did, for lack of a possible response to what would have been seen by them as a million-ton sword of Damocles hanging over their collective head.

And as well as that, one of the useful byproducts would have been another source of energy for the hungry machines of the West, and perhaps trillions of dollars would not have been given to terrorists to kill us with.

It could be argued, and I am arguing, that the US has wasted anything from thirty to forty-five years, going down the dead end that was Apollo and the Shuttle - and its equally impractical descendants. You should stop doing that, disband NASA, restart the real Orion programme and offer a prize of several billion dollars to any private company that does something meaningful (to be decided later) in space.

I say "you" because I am British. I can't influence the decision in any way - except perhaps in a very small way by writing this.

"Peace in the Middle East can only be achieved by: killing enough of one side till they stop fighting."

Ah. "They create a desert and they call it peace."

I don't think this is necessarily true. Zionism may evolve to the point that they will stop fighting without losing a lot of people first.

Actually looking at what Sorenson says, I like his first point. It's been a strategic problem that Bush has never been willing to say he'd take the troops out of iraq. Saying the troops will leave someday would help us with the insurgent's supporters and with lots of iraqis, and costs essentially nothing unless the hope of permanent bases is worth what it's costing us now.

His second point sounds good but it could backfire. It could lose a democratic candidate all zionist support, on the assumption that any serious attempt at peace would leave them worse off than they are now. Also, it looks like a promise that would be very hard to fulfill in the short run.

There's no plausible reason to leave Gitmo open. Even if you want to leave Gitmo open you'd do better to build a more secret place somewhere else.

The fourth point about the UN etc is too specific. Sure, we want better relations with the rest of the world but it doesn't make sense to be too specific about what we promise to give up. "We're going to turn into good guys again" is good. "We're going to defer to international tribunals" not so good. Let's wait and see how fair the international tribunals are before we promise we'll always go along with them. We can promise to stop being a rogue state without being that specific.

Better to promise to work hard at alternative energy than promise Kyoto. If we sign the Kyoto agreements we'll be in violation real quick. What good is that? Plus a lot of americans are dead-set against it, so promising to sign is divisive.

The sixth point looks good. We have nothing to lose by communicating with anybody. Of course, sometimes our communication might be "I have nothing to say to you." As long as we don't put diplomats in danger, there's nothing wrong with listening to whatever any foreign government has to say. And we can do that without risking diplomats.

Seventh, habeas corpus etc are good. We can do antiterrorism just fine with those intact. And the powers our government loses would be powers the founding fathers didn't trust government with in the first place. That one is fine.

So these 7 points have some very good things, and some that might be good to practice but that large numbers of americans would oppose, and some that might be kind of the right directin but as stated would not be good at all. The biggest problem I see with it is that it has nothing new to distract people from their old problems.

I would suggest an eighth point: Eliminate employment income from the income tax. As it is, employers have to do a whole lot of paperwork keeping track, and employers have to do withholding, and they send employees forms that the employees have to send to the IRS along with employee paperwork. Simpler to leave the employee out of that loop. Make it an employment tax that employers pay, that employees don't have to pay any attention to. So if your income is all employment income, you don't have to fill out any income tax at all.

That would remove or at least reduce a major irritant to a whole lot of voters. Significant income tax reform -- instead of rearranging the complicated loopholes and making the tax lawyers learn where they moved, we simplify away some simple stuff entirely. Various benefits ensue.

from alchemist at 11:03 pm on Jun 29, 2007

"On Kyoto: I agree that Kyoto was probably a bad deal for america. However, Bush offered no alternatives, did not bargain, did not work to create a dialogue about the problems of the plan. That's bad diplomacy (period)."

Like so many people these days you are either uninformed or being misleading. The Bush administration has been working on environmental issues for years. In 2005 Bush moved "Beyond Kyoto"http://www.techcentralstation.com/080305E.html" to an agreement which includes China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia. The agreement focuses on ways to protect the environment whithout crippling the economy.

Why is this not common knowledge - ask the media.

Second try with link

from alchemist at 11:03 pm on Jun 29, 2007

"On Kyoto: I agree that Kyoto was probably a bad deal for america. However, Bush offered no alternatives, did not bargain, did not work to create a dialogue about the problems of the plan. That's bad diplomacy (period)."

Like so many people these days you are simply uninformed. The Bush administration has been working on environmental issues for years. In 2005 Bush moved Beyond Kyoto to an agreement which includes China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia. The agreement focuses on ways to protect the environment whithout crippling the economy.

Why is this not common knowledge - ask the media.

J. Thomas:
Seventh, habeas corpus etc are good.

Yes, habeas corpus is very good. Sorensen joins the moonbat chorus that claims habeas corpus has been suspended, and that is a lie.

(Incidentally, Sorensen's grand declaration is not so much a statement of principles so much as it is a litany of back-handed accusations - as cowardly as they are wrong.)

Habeas corpus does not apply to foreign combatants. The courts have held that it does apply to US citizens who are accused of being illegal combatants. It is, at any rate, not suspended, and Sorensen knows it.

Most western countries do not have habeas corpus, and even those who do usually enjoy only a fraction of the rights that Americans do. In Britain, the homeland of habeas corpus, they can jail a British subject for 30 days without a court appearance or legal counsel, on no more grounds than suspicion. You are considerably better off in this country, where your rights have supposedly been suspended.

Glen, at the least we need to actually follow the court decision and once again grant habeas corpus to US citizens.

There's nothing particularly wrong with Sorenson's accusations, except that he's too specific about some of his promises.

But things like habeas corpus and illegal wiretaps shouldn't be much of a campaign issue because Bush/Cheney won't be running for office, and there's absolutely nothing to keep every republican candidate from promising the same reforms. This isn't a GOP/democrat issue, it's a USA/Bush-Cheney issue. Since no republican candidate needs to be a bad-guy, it turns into a dead issue for the campaign.

J. Thomas:
Glen, at the least we need to actually follow the court decision and once again grant habeas corpus to US citizens.

Okay, like who?

Padilla got his habeas corpus. So did Yaser Hamdi, who has since renounced his citizenship and been deported to Saudi Arabia.

Now how can that be, if habeas corpus needs to be "restored", as Sorensen claims?

Incidentally, Sorensen calls habeas corpus a "constitutional right". The constitution itself calls it a privilege which can be suspended "when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it."

"agree with Sorensen's speech and sentiments. The next American President has a load of repairing to do. We owe some parts of the world, and some parts of America, profound apologies.
It's as if half of America got so scared that they lost their minds on 9/11. Then they lost sight of what America is all about.
There's a lot of clean-up to do after this neo-con mess. A moral cesspool that has shamed us all.
The guerilla radicals on the other side live among their people. We have to convince the general population that we are worthy and worth backing before we can defeat an insurrection among them.
BTW, any Iraqi, in Iraq, shooting at a uniformed foreigner is NOT a terrorist - at least not at that moment."

This makes my point. Notice how the poster puts morality and spiritual superiority, "apologizing" above any consideration of what will achieve National Security. This is the mark of a degenerate and debased elite who put themselves above the people. Also the mark of an elite about to be overthrown by either a Jacksonian or Jacobin revolution.

J. Thomas -- to what do you offer Hamas, Hezbollah, and the various Fatah factions? Nothing because you project onto them an elitist, boardroom mentality. All of these people are tribal, there is no central state (where say the French Government can simply round up and kill the OAS if they wish to enforce peace). Anyone who doesn't like the agreement with Israel on any trivial matter can restart the war by blowing people up again. This is the mark of tribal societies -- constant war. Tribal societies NEED constant low-level war and raids to take care of all the young men without women. Polygamy and "big man" ism make that a feature: many/most young men in Palestine can not afford wives.

Hamas was given control of Gaza, and all they could do was blow stuff up including Fatah people, and engage in bloodletting. That is a feature of tribal society and the only way to cure it is to engage in shock warfare where all at once most of the military men are dead. Then they do stop fighting. Israel's main fault is their political leadership, being as weak and feminized as everyone else in the West, clings to a fantasy of not killing anyone to get peace. As if.

Israel will only get peace from the Palestinians when they kill so many of them that the Palestinians lose their appetite for continued constant, low-level tribal attrition warfare. With Iran, it will take wiping out most of their cities and reducing them to stone age levels. Fantasies about boardroom meetings and leveraged buy-outs are just that, puerile fantasies that aren't serious with hardened, kill-at-the-drop-of-a-hat thugs like Nasrallah, Ahmadinejad, and the men of Hamas or Fatah. Being weak only makes them attack more.

As for Gitmo, over at Hotair.com "Stashiu" a former Navy Psych Nurse at that facility agrees it should be shut down as it's a main point for propaganda. He feels that the terrorists there plan to take hostage and murder guards and other personnel. A chilling thought.

Very likely the terrorists will brought to the US. With very likely also hostage taking to free them, a media circus, various acquitals since the legal system cannot handle what happens on the battlefield. Do you want KSM walking free or getting a patty-cake sentence?

WHAT will that do to Liberals? When they push for and get "free KSM?" It makes by definition Liberals on the same side as the enemy and therefore the enemy. Not surprising given the definition of Liberals: unable to take their country's side in a fight.

I think most Americans would REJECT the idea that foreign terrorists outside the US are due Constitutional Rights including Miranda Warnings (if you give them one set you must give them all). Nor will the American Public support turning our soldiers into PC cops.

Sorenson is STUPID. But the reason he's STUPID is instructive. It's because he can't conceive of a vigorous defense of the US against it's real enemies. The only enemy he sees is the American People whom he so clearly loathes.

You can tell this by how he weights decisions. At every turn he puts the welfare of the people behind moralizing, the well-being and legal protection of terrorists out to kill us, and so on.

What do the people of Glasgow have to do with Bush, or Cheney, or Israel? Nothing. Muslims demand: submit to Allah as our slaves or we will kill you. Sorenson offers surrender and nothing else, like all Dems. Therefore no Dem is worthy of your vote. And the Party itself worthy only of contempt.

Jim Rockford, I cannot respond rationally to your post because you have been driven insane by your fantasies and there is no common ground.

I will try to respond anyway, as there might possibly be a little bit of common ground that is only shallowly flooded.

You point out some objections to things you imagine that Liberals or Democrats want. The problem I have with this is that over the last 6 years or so, Republicans have been even worse. In the short run we're stuck with a choice between dumb and dumber, insanely idealistic or insanely mean. Elections have turned into an exercise of masochism. "Well, Mr. Rockford, which do you vote for? Would you rather have a quick course of waterboarding or would you prefer twelve hours of stress positions while listening to 'It's a Small World After All?'"

We have gotten a political system that gives us two awful choices. And we aren't going to keep putting up with it.

The GOP and the Democratic Party have nothing going for them except their official duopoly and their perks. When things get bad enough we're going to get libertarians in. The republicans and the democrats will both turn into third parties and we'll have a choice between left libertarians and right libertarians with a plurality of center libertarians who take the best of both sides.

And people like you who're impaled firmly on one horn of the dilemma, who put up with GOP atrocities because they're the only alternative to the horrible Democrats, will be like fish out of water. Imagine a catfish who's spent his whole life grubbing at the bottom of a muddy river, and then it's like somebody grabs his tail and lifts him up into the sunlight. All of a sudden his eyes can see, and he's surrounded by air instead of water, and it's a world he never imagined. Then he's let back into the water, but his mind will never have the same limitations again. That's you.

Glen, when Padilla tried to exercise his right of habeas corpus, did the Bush Administration support or oppose him? It seems rather absurd to defend Bush on the grounds his attempt to eliminate habeas was rejected by the courts.

Andrew, of course the government opposed Padilla's writ. The court upheld it. As you may know, the court heard numerous habeas corpus arguments from non-citizens as well, some of whom are now running around free in Britain, at least for the nonce.

What is absurd is for you to claim that it is "defending Bush" to point out that Sorensen is flatly misstating facts.

There are court battles over habeas corpus all the time, most of which have nothing to do with potential terrorists. This doesn't mean that habeas corpus is suspended. On the contrary, it indicates that it certainly is not.

The Clinton administration, incidentally, successfully limited habeas corpus rights after the Oklahoma City bombing, through the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. Try to restrain your outrage.

Just how far is Genocide Jim Rockford allowed to go before the marshall of this site steps in with some intervention?

Ken, I can't tell if you've read and understood the comments policy .

Go ahead and read it; I'll wait here.

...

Are you back? Good. Here are a few pointers.

1) The primary "marshall" (sic) of a thread is the author of the post that heads it. In this case, that would be Armed Liberal. Make of that what you will.

2) AL also happens to be on the short list mentioned in the WoC sidebar. The others on that list are Joe Katzman, AMac, Robin Burk, Cicero, Lewy14, and lastly myself. So there is no "the" marshal.

Perhaps you confuse my recent visibility with something more.

Quoting the comments policy:

They speak softly and tend to work by persuasion more often than not...

You can take up any issues back-channel with joe@... or armed@... or bill@... if you wish...

I don't claim to enforce fairness. I try to influence such people as I think are able to take a hint. Of late, I primarily try to
1) keep people from throwing personal insults around and muddying otherwise good discourse, and
2) let people know that tossing off one-line drive-by comments is low quality.

I've also said somewhere hereabouts that imperfection is not hypocrisy. Of course, I could be wrong about that.

If you want to complain or request a reprimand of Jim Rockford (or me, for that matter), I encourage you to do so offlist to AL; this would be consonant with the comments policy.

I'm currently framing a post about the problem of trying to keep the flame level to a minimum when no one uses backchannel (private/offlist) communications. Perhaps I'll post it here at WoC. It's a wicked problem, and even such luminaries as Newton and Hooke wrestled with it.

In the mean time, a suggestion: if you consider Jim Rockford a troll, don't feed him.

Me, I wonder why you, ken, use the email address you do. What are the odds that such a short name at aol.com is actually valid, and that it is yours? I'll try using it and see if it works as a means of contacting you offlist. If it doesn't, that's... ...curious.

And ken, we have no policy against people making fools of themselves; if Jim's posts are sounding a bit Wild Turkey-ish, that's his cross to bear.

The goal I have here is for people to make arguments - even uncomfortable, politically incorrect ones like Jim is making. If you think he's being a fool, show us all how - pick his argument apart, or Fisk it, or whatever.

What I won't allow is people who call each other names in lieu of making an argument, or who try and derail developing argument with drivebys.

So yeah, I think Jim's arguments have holes like good Jarlsberg. His planned outcome is the one that I'm passionately trying to avoid. It's certainly a possible future - but I think there are a lot of other ones, and other achievable ones that I like a lot better.

A.L.

And Jim, do you really see me - as an example liberal - as unable or unwilling to take our country's side in a fight??

A.L.

Well, I don't get it. Apparently people in charge here actually think that having someone around who will advocate for the total destruction of dozens of cities along with the extermination of their populations contributes to this place in some worthwhile way.

What purpose does Rockford serve here? Does his out and out lunacy make the lesser loons seem more reasonable? Is that why you keep him around?

I don't visit this place often but when I do I can usually count on being amazed by the insanity that passes as normal discourse among the regulars here.

Selective attention, Ken. No, you don't seem to get it.

I've tried to contact you offlist at the email address you used in your recent post. If you don't respond in kind in a timely fashion, I'll be taking that as evidence of bad faith--viz., that you'd rather posture than communicate as an equal. Further, I shall not conjecture.

So -- pardon me if I continue my exploration of your thoughts onlist.

1) The best response to bad speech is better speech. You, by your lights, would appear to be engaging in that. Bravo! Now, others might find some fault with how you've chosen to respond: simply outraged and with animus and tarbrush in hand. They might say: You call that "better"? Is that the best you've got?

2) Your most recent post above is in fact the kind of communication that I'd love to have received offlist. On-list, it comes off as something of a setpiece, of a kind available by the yard in lots of other places than WoC.

3) Now then: If you don't visit this place often, how can you claim to have a grasp of the normal discourse? You expect us to believe you actually read all the posts to catch up with the zeitgeist before you yourself post? "I amaze!"

4) Your most recent post above reads out on my meter as about 85% bloviation, and we put up with a certain amount of it around here. Doesn't that (your post) count as part of the discourse?

Or must we all pile on, or stand accused as complicit in what you take as someone advocating mass murder, and failing in what you appear to detail as our duty in the discourse?

Somehow, I don't see this as anywhere near what Kitty Genovese got.

Cordially,

Nort

And Jim, do you really see me - as an example liberal - as unable or unwilling to take our country's side in a fight??

Of course not. He sees you for what you are. A kindred spirit. Funny how that works eh?

I guess it's all my fault. Jim isn't at all himself since I put him "in play". The poor dear just can't help himself.

Avedis: you need a handkerchief to go with that snot?

See, this is an example of what I/we don't want.

Are we going to have to lock this thread, or can we return to substance?

It's up to you-all. I'm going to bed.

I'll have a go at getting this thread back on track. Here are my notes on this proposal:

"First, working with a representative Iraqi parliament, I shall set a timetable for an orderly, systematic redeployment and withdrawal of all our troops in Iraq, including the recall of all members of the National Guard to their primary responsibility of guarding our nation and its individual states."

I'm pretty sure the idea of a "timetable" has been discussed passionately here in the past. If you're going to pull out, pull out, don't announce it in advance. If you do, you're basically letting the enemies of stability in Iraq put a nice big red "X" on their calendar for "mass bombings day". Is that really a positive development? Give your allies notice, but not your enemies.

Secondly, if the National Guard are recalled, what are they going to be doing? Is there some kind of a potential border skirmish about to flare up? Didn't think so. As annoying as it must be to send NG soldiers overseas to fight - obviously not their primary purpose - they'd otherwise be getting training and R&R. Training is fine, but well-trained soldiers are never a match for veteran, well-trained soldiers. And I'm sure we'd all love to see these guys get more R&R but, well, they're soldiers and there's a war on...

Thirdly, has he thought through the consequences of such a plan? Firstly, the USA (and your allies including us, the Australians), in my mind, made a commitment when we started this war, to see it through. It's on our heads - ALL of us - if we leave the job undone, and that leads to a bad outcome. It's costing us blood and treasure, but far less IMO than the blood and treasure that will be spilled if we pull out now. And don't pretend there will be no long term consequences for us if we throw the dice for Iraq. If they come up snake-eyes, and chaos sets in, it will have very real impacts on our standing in the world, how the rest of the world sees us (the term "paper tigers" comes to mind), and a big economic impact too. That's why we care about the ME in particular, remember? Personally, I can't advise this course at all. I don't think it's wise. To the contrary, rather naive.

"Second, this redeployment shall be only the first step in a comprehensive regional economic and diplomatic stabilization plan for the entire Middle East, building a just and enduring peace between Israel and Palestine, halting the killing and maiming of innocent civilians on both sides, and establishing two independent sovereign states, each behind peacefully negotiated and mutually recognized borders."

Does he have a plan, or does he just want to seem like he does? I'd love to hear this brilliant plan, and why it's better than the one that's currently being executed. It's easy to say you have a good plan, much harder to come up with one. Based on these words, I don't think he has one. "Building a just and enduring peace between Israel and Palestine" - how? Oslo could have worked, but it didn't. More of the same isn't necessarily going to have any different outcomes. Fatah are kleptos and Hamas are thugs. Who do you negotiate with? Who is actually in a position to adhere to any promises they make? Who is willing to compromise? Such a peace can not come about without compromise from both sides, and with a reasonable belief that the other side will follow through with their promises. Under the current conditions, I just don't see how this is possible. Talk is cheap.

I mean I suppose the USA could send in the Marines, draw lines on the map, and say "this is Israel, and this is Palestine, cross the line and we will shoot you". I don't see how anything short of that could FORCE partition upon them. If you're not willing to do that, you have to get them to agree in good faith, and that's easier said than done. Besides which, I very much doubt peace will break out in Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan, even if such a solution were possible. And say it comes about. Will that solve the problems - end the violence - between the Israelis and those who they fight with? Fat chance. They'll probably still be lobbing rockets at each other. Does he have a reason to believe otherwise?

"Third, I shall as soon as possible transfer all inmates out of the Guantanamo Bay prison and close down that hideous symbol of injustice."

This is just a guess, I suspect there are plenty of Americans in American jails who, given the chance, would voluntarily transfer to Gitmo. Having said that, I wouldn't care if it were closed, but I what would happen then? Where would captured terrorists go? The only answers I can think of are into foreign jails, which are likely to be substantially worse, or else into the ground. I'm not sure that would really be an improvement. It might seem like one, I suppose.

"Fourth, I shall fly to New York City to pledge in person to the United Nations, in the September 2009 General Assembly, that the United States is returning to its role as a leader in international law, as a supporter of international tribunals, and as a full-fledged member of the United Nations which will pay its dues in full, on time, and without conditions, renouncing any American empire; that we shall work more intensively with other countries to eliminate global scourges, including AIDS, malaria, and other contagious diseases, massive refugee flows, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and that we will support the early dispatch of United Nations peacekeepers to halt the atrocities in Darfur. I shall make it clear that we do not covet the land of other countries for our military bases or the control of their natural resources for our factories. I shall make it clear that our country is not bound by any policies or pronouncements of my predecessor that violate international law or threaten international peace."

I don't see why the USA or any other right-thinking country would have anything to do with the dysfunctional UN. After oil-for-food and various rape scandals, and their complete lack of action on Genocide (see Darfur), I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole, personally. There's also the question of rampant anti-semitism, and the recent apointment of Zimbabwe as the head of the Zimbabwe to head the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development. Please!

He doesn't even seem to recognize that "U.N. Peacekeepers" are not "U.N. Peacemakers". It's right there in the name. Also, I'm confused about "international law". Who gets to make it? Who gave them authority? How is it to be enforced? What if it conflicts with local laws, e.g. our constitutions? I'm not at all comfortable with this submission to the specter of this concept.

"Fifth, I shall personally sign the Kyoto Protocol, and seek its ratification by the United States Senate, in order to stop global warming before it endangers all species on earth, including our own; and I shall call upon the Congress to take action dramatically reducing our nation’s reliance on the carbon fuels that are steadily contributing to the degradation of our environment."

Is it not ironic that the USA, which did not sign the Kyoto Protocol, is one of the few developed countries actually reducing CO2 output? Pretty much all of the signatories are doing much worse. Given that, why would signing it be a good thing? There's also the question of the (lack of) science going into the UN IPCC panel and the joke that it has become. I'd want a full and proper investigation into the IPCC before I'd believe anything that they put out. There have been just too many scandals with their lead authors and their procedures and bias in their reports.

"Sixth, I shall demonstrate sufficient confidence in the strength of our values and the wisdom and skill of our diplomats to favor communications, negotiations, and full relations with every country on earth, including Cuba, North Korea, Palestine, and Iran."

Why bother having diplomacy with countries you know are never going to uphold their end of any agreement? I just don't get it. Does he like shooting himself in the foot?

Besides, diplomacy with hostile countries means nothing if you can't back it up with force. This makes about as much sense as having jails without fences, and just trusting the inmates to stay inside.

"Finally, I shall restore the constitutional right of habeas corpus, abolish the unconstitutional tapping of private phones, and once again show the world the traditional American values that distinguish us from those who attacked us on 9/11."

Nothing but a bunch of easy answers that don't actually pertain to the hard questions they pretend to answer.

I want to applaud the maintainers of this blog for their moderation policy.

I believe it doesn't work well to have no moderation at all. To depend on all the users to moderate themselves leaves us with a whole lot of useless noise to sift through. There are technological aids to that -- for example, it can help to put the comments into a tree structure where people respond to individual comments, and it's easy to skip whole branches that have degenerated -- but technology can't take us far enough.

And it's stifling when the hosts simply censor what they don't like.

Your approach depends on you to be effective in individual cases. You haven't presented an algorithm that works all the time. But it's potentially better than any alternative I've seen.

Thank you.

I'm pretty sure the idea of a "timetable" has been discussed passionately here in the past. If you're going to pull out, pull out, don't announce it in advance. If you do, you're basically letting the enemies of stability in Iraq put a nice big red "X" on their calendar for "mass bombings day". Is that really a positive development? Give your allies notice, but not your enemies.

I doubt we could keep it a secret. Say we tell the iraqi government, "We're going to be out of here in 10 months, get ready for it but don't tell anybody.". How well would that work?

And if we don't tell anybody but just start pulling out, they're estimating it would take at least 6 months unless we leave behind lots of equipment and munitions and incriminating paperwork and such. Maybe we could do it quicker if we start planning for a pullout now. As I understand it, the civilians have ordered the military guys not to make any plans for how they'd do a pullout. So that makes it slower and less efficient when we decide it's time to start. But really, we ought to at least make contingency plans for a withdrawal. We have contingency plans for how we'd invade iran if for some reason it became necessary, since we make contingency plans for everything. Withdrawal from iraq should have its plans too.

http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=21266
Over the past two months, the nationalists in Parliament have won two landmark votes: the first in support of a bill calling for the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal and the second in a vote demanding that the Iraqi government submit any plan to extend the US occupation past 2007 to Parliament.

It's certainly an inconvenience that the iraqi government has demanded a timetable. Should we just ignore them, or is it better to stage a coup and get rid of them?

If we're going to leave we might as well announce it. We can't hide it. And it's likely to cut down on attacks against our forces. Usually iraqis who attack us suffer heavy casualties, and lots of innocent civilians die too. Why should they accept those losses if we're leaving anyway?

I don't know whether an announcement that we're leaving would reduce or increase iraqi-on/iraqi violence. But I expect whatever effects came from it would come real fast. They wouldn't mark their calendars to start fighting right after we left -- our presence hasn't done much of anything to get them to stop fighting as it is, so why would our physical absence change that? But the claim that we were leaving would give them the idea that what they did mattered. Like, right now it doesn't matter much who runs the iraqi government because we call the shots regardless. So they don't have much reason to fight over that. But if it actually mattered what the iraqi government did, then they might fight over it. Or they might get all excited about building stuff if they thought we weren't going to blow it up. Hard to predict.

But it's predictable that an announced timetable would reduce US casualties while we withdraw. That's a good thing.

Firstly, the USA (and your allies including us, the Australians), in my mind, made a commitment when we started this war, to see it through.

Sure, but don't you guys have a plan to pull out in February? Not a firm commitment to pull out, of course, but a definite plan. I don't blame you at all, you shouldn't let the USA slip away and leave you holding the bag.

My strongest complaint about Sorenson's text is that he doesn't consider the biggest issue of our time.

We are running out of oil. Even if the peak oil guys have it completely wrong, and the crunch comes in 40 years instead of 20 years or less, that's still within the lifetimes of most of the people posting here.

Right now the USA can import affordable frozen lambchops from new zealand. The oil to keep them frozen and the oil to run the ships and the oil to keep them frozen while they get to the supermarket in chicago is all cheap at $70/barrel.

As supplies dwindle that sort of thing will get less workable. Sure, super-rich people will be able to fly in lambchops from new zealand if they like, or they can have their peasants grow sheep for them here. They don't care about economy of scale. But it will gradually get more expensive to ship potatoes from oregon or orange juice from florida. Everything gets more expensive. And -- oil is fungible. The time could come when our domestic oil producers want to export oil for hard currency rather than let us have it.

We're talking 10 to 40 years, beyond the election cycle, but if we don't prepare now how good can it go?

Without cheap energy we aren't going to have much of a middle class. We're going to have a whole lot of poor people and a very small middle class supporting the owners.

Israel? Currently israel imports something like 270,000 barrels of oil a day. What kind of economy can they manage if oil gets expensive or unavailable? Can they even support 6 million people on that land without cheap energy? Try to run their irrigation system with water that mostly flows downhill? Without cheap energy how can israel exist? But we aren't going to be projecting force over there much and it isn't clear what it will mean to be a world power at that point, so it won't be our problem.

Pretty much every material thing we care about depends on cheap energy. The oil is dwindling. We need cheap alternate energy. With cheap energy we get to choose between good and bad, or between good and better. Without cheap energy our choices are much more restricted; they're likely to be between bad and worse. "We do not covet their natural resources for our factories." Hah. We covet their oil and everybody knows it. Get a cheap alternative and we're better off. So are they, for that matter. Oil producers can get a moderate steady income with petrochemicals and practically everybody gets cheap energy.

We don't know how to do that, but then we don't know how to get peace for israel, either. We need to find out how to do it, and we get lots of chances we can try in parallel if we're willing to fund them. Not like israel where we get one try at a time and it can take years to find out it failed.

And he didn't mention it. Without cheap energy Kyoto is a bad-versus-worse choice. We burn away our fossil fuels in 50 years or so, or we get painful economic contractions and burn it away slower. Two bad choices. This isn't rocket science. (Space programs need cheap energy too.) Sorenson just swung and missed.

Nicolas:
... has he thought through the consequences of such a plan?

It's not really the job of people like Sorensen to think through the consequences of things. It wasn't his job in 1960 to wonder if the United States was really prepared to "bear any burden" or "pay any price" - which, of course, the United States was not. His job is make politicians sound good to their constituents, by figuring out what buttons need to be pushed.

So this speech is not about what Sorensen believes, it's about what Sorensen thinks Democrats want to hear, and his "accuracy" should be judged accordingly.

There seem to be lots of happy customers so far. Google the speech title and you'll see it praised at many of the big Donk sites, including Daily Kos, where yesterday the extra-silly Larry Johnson was ridiculing the UK terror attacks.

Looking at it from that perspective, one thing that sticks out is the paragraph that A.L. pointed to at the start: the lazy moral equivalence between Israel and "Palestine" (which must include not only the Palestinians themselves but the belligerents who back them). That would have been totally unacceptable to John F. Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson; they would not have said such a thing no matter how pretty it sounded. This is not just routine bash-Republicans hyperbole, it's a major line of demarcation between the past and present, and any Democratic candidate ought to be forced to make it clear whether he/she has crossed that line or not.

Sorensen has fingered the wind and found this: 1) the new Democratic generation cares nothing about Israel, 2) finds the issue of Israel-Palestine to be politically unprofitable to themselves, 3) is afraid of offending Israel-hating leftists, and 4) is ready to adopt the far left-wing (AND far right-wing) view that all of our Middle East problems are caused by those selfish Jews in Jerusalem.

J Thomas:

We do know how to get cheap energy, in several ways. One is nuclear fission, with intrinsically safe reactor designs - I'm no expert, but pebble bed might be the way to go there. As an aside to this, thorium is an under-researched nuclear fuel.

Another is ocean thermal, which we know works because a pilot plant was built 70 years ago. Another is wave power, which everyone working in the field is convinced would work, and quickly, if a decent amount of money was available for the research.

Slightly more speculative? Well, perhaps electrostatic-confinement fusion, biomass growing (plant to be used still to be determined).

Will work with a lot of work: SPS is probably the only one here.

Won't ever make enough difference, or will take far too long: Wind, solar, tokamak fusion. In two cases it's far to diffuse and unreliable, in the other it will take decades and tens of billions and may never work anyway.

What's lacking is the will and the money, in both cases because entrenched interests prevent it.

Fletcher Christian, thank you.

People have various complaints about fission, but some of the problems could be solved or sidestepped. Liberals are concerned about storage of nuclear waste. I would suggest storing nuclear waste inside nuclear reactors. You already have the shielding, and to some extent the waste would provide more shielding. When reactors are decommissioned and new ones built, design the new ones to store the waste from the old ones too. Someday we might find something it's good for.

A second problem is bombs. Reactors that cannot produce waste that's useful for weapons turn out to be expensive to build and expensive to use. At the moment, if you want cheap nuclear energy you have to accept cheap nuclear bombs as a byproduct. In a crunch we could accept that. Then plutonium reactors turn out very cheap, and we have a whole lot of U238 to use. We have twice as much thorium, which also produces weapons.

Liberals are scared of the waste and conservatives are scared of the proliferation. Both problems are solvable, given money and time.

Ocean thermal would affect the ecology in unknown ways if we did a lot of it. A little bit ought to be OK. Wave power is likely to have subtle ecological effects but at least not such big unsubtle ones. That ought to be OK on a small scale too.

I think all parties need cheap energy as a campaign plank, and then look for some way past the entrenched interests.

What's lacking is the will and the money, in both cases because entrenched interests prevent it.

True to a degree. But another way to look at "entrenched interests" is to take some of that as "installed base" and market inertia/product loyalty. Humans are mostly shortsighted beasts.

It's a truism in places like the Chicago school of economics that when oil hits $xxx/bbl people will wake up and change horses. It might be nice or even wise if they did it before then, but it wouldn't be typical human behavior.

It's particularly unfortunate that research on some of the most promising stuff is underfunded, by your and my lights.

I'd ask Mr Sorensen to ask George Soros to fund some out of his own pocket, but he wouldn't listen to Ted, being totally focused on truly visionary things like bringing down a seated American president.

"Ain't nothin' simple."

"Sure, but don't you guys have a plan to pull out in February? Not a firm commitment to pull out, of course, but a definite plan. I don't blame you at all, you shouldn't let the USA slip away and leave you holding the bag."

Not that I'm aware of, but if we do, I'm ashamed.

We absolutely should be the last guys there, because we should recognize our commitment. If the Iraqi politicians tell us to get out... well, it's their funeral I guess.

There have been stories about a secret plan for the last month or so and they keep coming out again after being denied. Howard says that he doesn't have a set date to leave, that the withdrawal date depends on circumstances.

Howard keeps saying things that look like he's getting ready to leave, while still more-or-less denying it.

[J: Bare links are eschewed here at WoC; it messes up the layout. Two such have been corrected by me, this time. Thanks for your contributions, btw. --NM]

Guys,

I think Jim Rockford's real sin isn't the "nuke Mecca" stuff; he himself says in #6 that this is not his preferred option, it's just that he fears that's what it eventually will come down to, in order to stop "constant ... terror attacks". His is just a more alarmist, and less coherent and nuanced, way of saying the stuff that's in "Wretchard's Three Conjectures".

Rather, his problem is the fast and loose way he lumps together disparate domestic opponents: using "Democrats" where he should say "leftists" or something even more specific like "the looney left", or "chomsyites" or... (pick your favorite term.) A little more (well, ok, a lot more) of simply staking out his position, making arguments for it, and inviting others to join him in it would make for a much better conversation.

J Thomas:

I agree about the side effects of ocean thermal, but at least two of them might be actually what we want.

Ocean thermal brings cold water up from the depths. This not only cools down surface water and because of that would lessen the frequency and violence of hurricanes, but brings nutrients up from the depths, thus increasing plankton growth and therefore reducing ocean acidity and eventually atmospheric CO2 - and as a side benefit makes more food for fish, which are a valuable resource - healthy food with pretty low energy requirements for production.

And the best thing, as I already said - we KNOW it works.

Off topic, but i submit to you anyone opposing nuclear power must either have an utterly irrational fear of nuclear power (as in Godzilla destroying civilization) or doesnt really believe the global warming hype to the extent that civilization is in imminent danger. Or a combination of the two.

Logically there is no way to believe that AGW is going to destroy mankind but that nuclear power is too messy of an alternative.

Mark, you have a point. While nuclear waste might be more likely to cause an extinction event than global warming, in the short run it could allow us to keep our technology.

On the other hand, nuclear reactors at present are very very expensive, and if we can find alternatives that are cheaper and safer, then it makes sense to do so.

So it doesn't have to follow that anybody who's concerned about global warming has to advocate fission reactors. But there's certainly a lot of room to believe in both.

My own thought is that if we don't get anything better fairly quickly, we will need to build a whole lot of breeder reactors and just accept that NNPT is dead. This is what will happen unless we get a better alternative. All the nations that have agreed not to have nukes will look at the cost of breeder reactors versus the cost of everything else, and they'll look at US dwindling power, and they'll build cheap reactors no matter what we say or do about it.

I don't think it's a good thing to have lots of plutonium lying around, but if the alternative is depending on ox-power or bio-alcohol, it's going to happen.

0) how many comments. I Will read half day now

Mark B.,

"Logically there is no way to believe that AGW is going to destroy mankind but that nuclear power is too messy of an alternative."

The logic here may be unnecessary since no one is arguing that global warming is going to destroy mankind. I think the argument is that it will probably have an overall negative impact....not complete anihilation.

J, I dont think we disagree but your two points seem to be at odds. If nuclear power is prohibitively expensive (or at least not the most economical) we shouldnt have to worry about dozens of nations making the leap. What would their pretext be if the energy production isnt worth it compared to alternatives? Witness how pathetic Iran's pretexts appear considering they sit on one of the largest oil reserves on earth- nuclear power just doesnt make a lot of sense for them.

Nuclear power certainly has a massive capital investment, but from there the costs drop off massively and you have a reactor that will run with a minimum of fuss for 50 years. Better yet, nuclear is the only really scaleable energy source left to us. Trying to scale up any fossil fuel source is obviously rife with Carbon, which even using clean coal technology creates rising disposal costs, Production and transportation CO2 emmisions, etc.

Wind power we are already butting heads over placement- the idea that we can use wind for anything like a majority of power production just seems vastly unlikely (not that it doesnt have its place, but it will always be a niche). Same goes for solar, geo, tides, etc.

Until we manage to create a space based production source we are really tied to fossil or nuclear barring some unforseen breakthrough, and nuclear simply wins hands down when it comes to global warming- if indeed it is the civilization killer it is claimed to be.

Im not advocating using this logic to build policy- obviously if global warming isnt likely to destroy humanity we need to try to estimate whats its costs actually are likely to be and do a cost/benefit analysis vis-a-vis how badly we need nuclear power. The current debate unfortunately doesnt lend itself to this kind of conversation in most quarters.

"The logic here may be unnecessary since no one is arguing that global warming is going to destroy mankind. I think the argument is that it will probably have an overall negative impact....not complete anihilation."

Mark, I wish that were true but i think the public debate very much hinges on the now conventional wisdom that AGW is likely to devastate mankind. If Al Gore can be considered the 'main stream' of AGW thought, his threats of 20 ft sea level rise, drought, hurricanes, disease, 1 million species becoming extinct in the next 50 years ( source:http://www.climatecrisis.net/thescience/ ) should be considered the base line of the debate. If proponents actually believe that that is where we are almost certainly headed. Gore and the activists have either pointed out this catastrophe, or created it (depending on your pov), we really have to play on their turf even if it seems unrealistic to even scientists in the field. Either they believe what they say, or they dont entirely and we deserve to know why. If this issue has been intentionally hyped to unrealistic extremes (no matter how noble to intent) that needs to be revealed and examined in order to have a legitimate debate.

"And that is what is at stake, our ability to live on planet Earth, to have a future as a civilization."

Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth
tagline- "By far the most terrifying film you will ever see."

IMDB

Mark -- you've identified a major logical contradiction in the global warming activists recommended strategy for mankind's survival.

The major opposition to reviving fission-based nuclear power is ideological and/or quasi-religious. Energy technologies are considered "good" if they conform to these criteria:

1) They harness natural energy sources such as sun, wind, water, geo-thermal, bio-fuels;

2) They don't create carbon dioxide;

3) They also don't create lots of other pollutants;

4) They can be operated by individuals or small groups without specialized expertise;

5) They can be distributed widely in small production centers that have a small ecological footprint;

6) They do not require a large infrastructure for support;

7) They are not connected in any way with weapons technologies.

8) They encourage humans to reduce energy consumption, adopt a simpler lifestyle, and live closer to Nature.

Amory Lovin's book, Small Is Beautiful, is a good introduction to a lot of this thinking. Nuclear power definitely violates criteria 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.

It also creates nuclear waste. J. Thomas points that this isn't a show-stopper if you store the waste securely, or better yet, re-use it in the nuclear fuel cycle.

Nuclear energy is a great technology for generating huge amounts of base-load electricity at relatively low cost with no particulate pollution and no carbon dioxide release. However, it's going to be opposed by the more ideologically driven global warming activists for the reasons cited above.

Mark B.

I agree to some extent, but I think your earlier statement is an example of hype from the other side. The potential effects some people fear and that you outlined in #73 hardly amount to the destruction of mankind, however devastating they may be should the worse-case scenario come to pass. It is possible to think that 20 ft rise is sea levels, drought, hurricanes and disease may be consequences of global warming and still conclude that reliance on nuclear energy is an equally bad alternative WITHOUT logical incoherence. It's not a position I would hold, but it isn't the cretinous outlook you paint it to be.

I think you are putting unreasonable restrictions on what is required to have a legitimate debate. While it would be nice, it is never possible to cutout the extremes of opinons surrounding public debates, especially on such a complex and science-driven issue. On the one hand, you have at least one senator who believes the whole issue is a giant hoax. You also have a gov't that up to now has taken no measures to decrease even the rate of increase in carbon output.

To me there is a very silly unspoken, unarticulated under-debate going on in this country/world between those who FEEL that mankind's use of energy to create civililzation must have negative consequences and those who FEEL that mankind's use of energy to create civilization must not have negative consequences.

"It is possible to think that 20 ft rise is sea levels, drought, hurricanes and disease may be consequences of global warming and still conclude that reliance on nuclear energy is an equally bad alternative WITHOUT logical incoherence."

Again, i dont see how unless you embrace a wholly unrealistic, even absurdist, fear of nuclear energy that the science simply cant support. Gore is clearly claiming the human race is at stake. Unless you somehow tie nuclear energy to the risk of nuclear war... which is an odd idea in itself considering the overwhelming majority of CO2 polluters already have nuclear weapons and/or nuclear power (the real big players have both). Sudan or NKs contribution to CO2 emmissions is rather laughable as a pretext for aquiring nuclear energy technologies. Considering we already have an international agreement stipulating that some nation can have nukes and some cant, i dont see how China, the US, India, and Russia vastly expanding their nuclear power baseload would affect proliferation in any way that hasnt already happened. Building a pebble bed nuclear plant in Tennessee or Delhi isnt going to change what Iran and Syria are intending, that is a total red herring.

Mark, traditional nuclear power is prohibitively expensive in the USA. Partly this is due to a regulatory web which has successfully prevented any significant nuclear accident in the USA. (TMI was expensive but compare it to Chernobyl.) Partly it's because we have standardised osbolete technology.

U235 reactor technology is inherently expensive. We must first enrich the fuel for U235. Then we must use the enriched fuel. Then when the fuel ages we must separate out the dangerous waste products including plutonium and store them somewhere safe, while enriching the fuel again with more U235.

This is expensive. Plutonium reactors are potentially much much cheaper. It is cheap to create plutonium from U238, and it is cheaper to purify it -- a chemical process. The problem is that plutonium reactors involve lots of highly-poisonous plutonium. This plutonium can be used to make bombs, or it can be used to make lo-tech "dirty bombs" which spread radioactive contamination.

Thorium reactors are also cheap and make bombs. I don't know how cheap they'll be, only india has done much work on them. Thorium bombs make a distinctive radiation while they're being stored and would probably be harder to hide if you wanted to smuggle one.

Nuclear power makes as much sense for iran as it does for france. Iran can expect to mostly run out of oil in 20 years or so, and in the meantime every barrel they burn for electricity is a barrel they could have sold for something like $70. That's a big opportunity cost. If they want to have enough reactors to supply their energy needs in 20 years, they need to start now.

The issue is that we insist they start with a few extremely-expensive plants that are expensive to run, and they must pay somebody else to do the expensive fuel-rod replacement. They must sell the uranium they mine cheap to foreigners who can then enrich it and sell it back to them expensive. And of course if there's an embargo then they'll have trouble buying fuel rods at any price. And the reason we want to impose all this on them is that we don't trust them not to make bombs.

It makes perfect sense for them to design cheap reactors now -- whether or not they want bombs. Mine their own uranium, build a U235 reactor to provide the neutrons to make plutonium, and then run their cheap breeder reactors. And ometime later if they decide to make bombs they'll have everything ready. They can do it all themselves without buying fuel from foreigners. It all fits together.

There's no problem at all with their reasoning except for people whose first priority is to stop iran from having bombs.

J, if nuclear power is so capital intensive, and we know Iran is cash strapped, and we know they dont have a working reactor using Uranium much less plans for untested thorium which will be expensive to test and field, then how can Iran consider nuclear power a wise investment?

In other words, if its prohibitively expensive for the United States to rely on nuclear power, how much moreso for Iran? Particularly given the opportunity costs involvd in pissing off the world and risking trade?

I just find those two assertions mutually exclusive, particularly when talking about nations with a fraction of US resources.

I think the answer is that nuclear power, (however it is produced) is profitable and will only grow moreso. Otherwise why are companies clamboring to get back into nuke building? Much of the current cost is tied up in lawyering and the very real risk that you start building a plant, a new administration rolls in and shuts you down with red tape.

Mark B, if we're going to think about big changes in sea level and such, we're mostly thinking long-term. Grandchildren or later. Mostly people don't think on that timescale because it's kind of speculative and uninteresting. So in the long run, if we make a lot of nuclear waste and we don't figure out how to get rid of it, and then civilization collapses and it gets loose, it makes it harder for humans to avoid extinction. Genetic damage and all that. Of course there's no guarantee that we'll leave nuclear waste lying around, we might find uses for it that use it up. And there's no guarantee that civilization will ever fall.

In the shorter run, we desperately need cheap energy. Without cheap energy the USA will wind up with a third-world economy whether we have mexican immigrants or not. Our civilization will collapse in that case. Maybe quickly.

But if we get cheap nuclear energy and it spreads worldwide, that means nuclear proliferation. Everybody gets nukes. That threatens us with extinction too, maybe. Maybe quicker than nuclear waste spreading by accident.

You suggest that we can deny nuclear power to the third world. But see, for the last 60 years we've been telling those people that they can live like us if they just do the right things. Keep a free-enterprise capitalist society, sell us their raw materials and work hard, they can stop being underdeveloped nations. Now you want to tell them "Haha, we lied, we were rich because we got your oil and stuff for ourselves and used it up. Now we're rich because we have nuclear reactors and electricity but you don't have reactors or electricity. Haha, we win, you lose. If you try to get your own electricity we'll stomp you."

That might work if all the developed nations cooperate. But if we compete for raw materials and such, then it won't work. It will make for a lot of hard feelings whether it works or not.

To use nukes we have to assume the long-run problems like handling the waste will work out. I'm willing to assume that when the alternative is we lose our society in the short run. We also have to assume we can survive nuclear proliferation. I'm willing to assume that too when the alternative is real bad.

If we get a better solution -- even a patchwork of niche sources -- then I'd rather go with the alternative. But it has to look like it will be adequate. Nuclear power has some big flaws but it might be our best chance.

MarkB, you partly answered your own questions about iran.

Probably they're building a U235 reactor because that's something that a lot of people have done and the methods are pretty well-known. India is the only one I know of that's done much with thorium. After they have a U235 reactor running they can use it to make plutonium. Then they can build plutonium reactors and use them to make more plutonium. At that point they can shut down their expensive U235 enrichment system -- they won't need it anymore. And they can shut down the U235 reactor likewise. Mine uranium, enrich it with plutonium by exposing it to a reactor, separate out the plutonium cheaply if they want to bother, make more reactors with the plutonium as fast as they want to build them. Training the technicians might be the limiting step.

If somebody else gave them enough U235 or plutonium for their first reactor it would all be a lot quicker and cheaper but apparently nobody did.

Reactors are expensive for us because we settled on U235 reactors. Maybe we did that partly to set a good example for the rest of the world. Our reactors aren't that easy to build bombs from. Cheaper designs are.

Iran has a big startup expense because you need reactors to make plutonium, and you need plutonium to make cheap reactors. The boostrap process is expensive. Once it's running it's cheap. It makes lots of cheap plutonium that can be used to make bombs.

We don't have to make nuclear plants as expensive as we do. But we do that. We could quit, we could allow cheaper designs.

J, my point is that Al Gore is claiming sea levels are due to rise 20 feet by 2100. That may be our grandchildren, but plenty of us will be alive to see most of it. You and I and most scientists may agree that that is a very unlikely and outlandish possibility, but it is being sold politically as though it is next to certain.

It wont do to ignore what has become conventional wisdom and counter-argue what is rational- you just end up looking like a denyer or a lunatic. My point is that Gore and his fellow activists need to answer the questions on the grounds they have posited. I can't excuse the policy makers just because i know they are wrong- they have to face up to what they are suggesting or policy debate cant go on. You cant debate policy using different sets of facts, one side will look like its acting in bad faith.

"Now you want to tell them "Haha, we lied, we were rich because we got your oil and stuff for ourselves and used it up. Now we're rich because we have nuclear reactors and electricity but you don't have reactors or electricity. Haha, we win, you lose. If you try to get your own electricity we'll stomp you."

Again- didnt you just saying nuclear power is a financial loser? By your first statement we would be doing them a huge favor by denying them nukes. Secondly, what you just described is de facto the path we have been and are slated to continue. We would have to do something differently to address the point you are making, so i dont see it as in any way a factor in our own energy policy. We arent giving up our nuclear weapons or reactors and neither is China, Russia, India, or anybody else that matters- thats why your point is a red herring, its already factored into the equation.

In the long run, you do have a point. Our current policy sucks because its an 'i got here first' policy. The truth is that we are ok with responsible nations having nuclear power, and we probably need a new policy that reflects that and encourages it.

I laugh when opponents of nuclear power point to Chernobyl. As if comparing a crash test of a 1918 Model-T and a 2007 BMW 525i.

That said, there is no rational reason to not ramp up our nuclear power capabilities.

What's especially ironic, is the same crowd that gets their panties in a twist over the bogus science of Intelligent Design, will get equally freakish when discussions of nuclear power are mentioned.

The religion of environmentalism has cost us far more progress in the pursuit of renewable cheap energy, than anything the oil lobby, or other competing energy providers could ever have done.

My thanks to Kirk Parker for his post #66. Bravo. That's discourse, no hanky needed.

Nort, refreshed after his hibernation

re nuclear energy:

I think we need to distinguish the U.S. situation from abroad (particularly explosive economic powers like India and China, but not Iran, its economy is heading toward the stone age)

AFAIK the U.S. is projected to have stable electricity demand that can be easily and cheaply met by expansions and upgrades to its existing power plants. And we have plenty of coal to power them. I don't see a lot of ecnomic incentive to build much in the way of any power plants, let alone nuclear power plants. Again AFAIK, nukes cost more to construct, less to operate, and that includes the French designs that have been proposed. My point here is not that nukes are prohibitively expensive, I'm saying that in a relatively flat market for energy demand, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. And I've seen projections in which energy conservation actually reduces future electricity demand.

But coal is dirty and Mark B is right that you aren't serious about global warming or CO2 reductions if your background assumption is fossil fuels. I see only three things that can make nuclear energy a bigger player: (1) fossil fuel costs are increased by tax or regulation, (2) nuclear plants are subsidized as per the McCain/Lieberman/Obama bill, or (3) demand for electricity is substantially increased by the conversion of the automobile fleet to electricity. Why not all three?

"My thanks to Kirk Parker for his post #66. Bravo. That's discourse, no hanky needed."

I'm calling you on this one, Nort.

What a bunch of BS. Giving Kirk the benefit of the doubt, I think he is not as familiar with Rockford as others are. Because if he was, I'd say that Kirk was a weak excuse making enabler of an insane person.

Come to think of it, I'll say that Kirk is probably a nice guy who is still an excuse maker ,but more for you, Nort.

Rockford has trotted out the same beligerent incoherent "liberal" bashing year after year. He has dismissed entire cultures and religions as unworthy of existance, year after year. He has never engaged in even feigned two way dialogue, even though he has been politely challenged to do so.

You know this to be true. Kirk does not.

I don't see any reasoned response from Rockford to what Kirk wrote; no attempt to engage.

The only reason Rockford continues here unsanctioned is that his ideologies - ideologies advocating conventional and/or nuclear destruction of Islamic countries - are more closely aligned with yours and the hosts of this blog than are the positions of others guilty of lesser sins who are, indeed, sanctioned.

If this is how you want to run things then go ahead. However, please don't try to shade things with a color of respectability. The reality is just too apparent for that to come off clean.

Mark B, your #82:

In terms of politics 2100 is the unimaginably distant future. 12 years is over the political horizon -- that's 2 senate terms. 2 Senate re-elections for 2/3 of senators, 3 re-elections for somebody whose term ends next year. Nobody in politics can look that far ahead. It simply doesn't matter what anybody says about global warming 93 years from now. It simply doesn't register.

Again- didnt you just saying nuclear power is a financial loser?

Again -- I'll explain this yet again because you just haven't heard it -- I'm saying that the kind of nuclear power that we have been using, and that we try to pawn off on NNPT signers, is a financial loser. There is such a thing as cheap nuclear power but we oppose it for others on the grounds that it allows too-easy bombs.

In the long run, you do have a point. Our current policy sucks because its an 'i got here first' policy. The truth is that we are ok with responsible nations having nuclear power

Look how that one goes. "We don't care about nonproliferation, we want nukes for our friends and we'll kill to keep them from our enemies."

Of course russia and china and india and for that matter israel will want to give nukes to their friends and deny them to their enemies. "Our friends are more responsible than your friends, and our enemies are more dangerous than your enemies!"

When we started NNPT most of the world went along with it. The claim was that nukes were bad, that MAD was a dangerous game that would get far more dangerous with more players. They mostly agreed not to get their own nukes and the nations with nukes agreed to gradual partial disarmament. The world mostly went along, partly because we did a lot of armtwisting and partly because it looked like a good idea. Occasionally nations got nukes anyway. China said they needed nukes because the USSR and the USA had them. India maybe needed nukes because china had them, and pakistan surely needed nukes because india did. Israel needed nukes because they were a tiny country surrounded by hordes of implacable bloodthirsty barbarians. South africa likewise, though they lacked good targets. Taiwan of course needed nukes because of china. Etc.

When that devolves to "Our friends can have nukes but our enemies can't" then right away brazil and argentina will each need nukes because the other is getting them. Indonesia and malaysia. Greece and turkey. Nukes aren't nearly as expensive as they used to be, particularly if you can get a breeder reactor to start with.

NNPT is dead. It's already dead, but with "We're Ok with responsible nations having nukes" the last maggots have crawled out of the corpse and flown away.

I say, we might need cheap nuclear power enough that this is OK. But we need to understand what we're giving up. We're talking nukes for pretty much everybody. MAD with at least 20 players, probably heading toward 50 players. They might reach some new understanding where this sort of thinking just seems insane. If so it isn't a way that americans know how to think now.

It's a wild leap into the unknown. But we have to take some sort of leap because America with very-expensive energy isn't America. To get a chance to avoid deteriorating into just another third-world country, we have to take some risks.

You and I are thinking about which risks to take, and we're looking 20+ years ahead -- which is way off the charts for politicians.

I see only three things that can make nuclear energy a bigger player: (1) fossil fuel costs are increased by tax or regulation,

PD Shaw, thank you. You're focusing on things this country can do in the short run to improve our situation.

I would like to suggest an approach for taxing fossil fuel. It goes like this:

First, we put a tax on fossil fuel when it is mined or imported. A hefty tax. We keep careful track of the money collected. This is likely not to involve a giant collection expense -- most of the fossil fuels are produced or imported by reasonably large companies. It wouldn't be like alcohol where small-scale bootleggers could do a lot of smuggling.

Second, we collect the money and distribute it equally among registered voters, or possibly among individual taxpayers. If it's voters then we are imposing a hefty penalty on resident noncitizens, which isn't real good. If it's taxpayers then we get complications about filing jointly and such. Pick one.

The result is a tax that doesn't cost the average voter anything -- he even gets a bonus from the money collected from corporations and people who don't get returns. But at the same time he gets all the incentive to be fuel-efficient that come from a hefty tax. The more he saves, the more profit he gets from his tax returns that he can spend on whatever he wants.

And of course citizens get a giant incentive to register to vote.

Avedis:

"Dear sir:

You may be right.

Sincerely,

Mark Twain"

Addendum:
Unlike Twain, who would send that form letter as a blow-off reply, I'm going to try to communicate with you offlist. I have every hope you're more receptive than that keeper of the flame, ken, who can't be bothered to provide a working email address.

J. Thomas #78 --

Thanks for the primer on U-235, Pu, and Th reactor technology. Can you offer any links that expand on this at the literate-layperson level?

PD Shaw #85 --

You wrote that US baseline electrical generating capacity looks adequate for the near-to-medium term. FWIW, that is not how the power industry looks at it. The general feeling there is that the US is in the early stages of a major building phase to meet significantly higher projected demand. Demand comes from population growth and specifically from growth of the middle class in the South and Southwest (think AC). Supply is also affected by the desire to replace old pulverized coal plants with newer, more efficient ones. They also pollute less (with the notable exception of CO2). The major constraint is the environmentalists' position that supply and demand should be brought into alignment mostly by conservation measures, with some contribution from Green sources. This is amplified by the NIMBY concerns of those living downwind from proposed new generation station sites.

For a specific recent instance of how these factors have come into play, there is TXU's 2006 proposal to build 11 pulverized coal plants in Texas to serve its markets. Google "TXU coal plants takeover." The search will bring up stuff like this WaPo article.

J. Thomas #88 --

There was a recent essay online by an economist proposing an AGW-neutral carbon tax along the lines you suggest. His innovation was to tie the magnitude of the tax to the increase in average global temperature. This might have a "put your money where your mouth is" benefit of making the tax more attractive to global warmists (as temperature rises so does the tax) and skeptics (if temperature rise modestly or not at all, the tax follows suit). I will post the link if I find it (or hopefully another reader will beat me to it).

Points that are somewhat far afield from A.L.'s original comments on Sorenson's proposal, but I think there has been a fairly linear progression from there to here.

Can't wait for the Fairness Doctrine. Then fully 50% of this blog can be devoted to avedis complaining about the fact that people write things he disagrees with.

avedis,

So it's all or nothing, a fight to the finish, eh?

Very well then, I challenge you to FOAD's at 15 router-hops. Are you man enough to accept???

Thanks for the primer on U-235, Pu, and Th reactor technology. Can you offer any links that expand on this at the literate-layperson level?

Wikipedia will give lots of information, in more detail than you want. If you can skip over the details you can probably find what you want that way.

This is one link into the maze.
fuel cycle

The central facts I'm interested in here are:

1. There's a bootstrapping process. If you don't have a good source of neutrons, then the usual way to get started is separate U235 from mixed uranium ore at great expense. Then you can make a U235 reactor for a good source of neutrons, and from there you can do cheaper approaches. If somebody gives you already-enriched U235 or plutonium, then you can make better fuels, quicker and cheaper. (So for example israel had an easy time making nuclear fuel (and bombs) because they acquired fuel that let them make more fuel.)

2. Keep workable reactor fuel from a nation and they have a slow expensive time making it themselves. If they can beg borrow or steal a good neutron source then it's much much easier. So we choose reactor technologies partly based on how hard is it to steal the fuel, and how easy is it to use the fuel once it's stolen.

3. The fuel cycle is important. The more you re-use the same fuel the more very-radioactive contaminants it gets and the harder it is to deal with it. Good when it's harder to steal, bad since it's more expensive to reprocess. (Ideally you would reprocess your used fuel by remote control in the same facility where it will be used. Then you don't have to transport dirty stuff until you decommission the plant, and possibly not then.)

4. When we choose nuclear fuel cycles that make it harder to divert fuel to weapons, that constraint tends to result in expensive reactors and expensive electricity. Cheaper to ignore that limitation. But we insist on this expense for NNPT nations to keep them from getting weapons. When NNPT is not an issue nuclear power gets cheaper. Perhaps much cheaper.

All of this is subject to technological change. Somebody might find a cheap neutron source that lets them make nuclear fuel without expensive U235. We might get cheap fuel cycles that are very hard to divert fuel from. Etc.

But while it's this way, imagine a frank talk between a brazilian Science Officer and our Secretary of Energy, Sam Bodman. (Bodman looks like Santa Claus without the beard.)

Brazil(B): We need cheap electricity. We have a design for a cheap nuclear power plant. Why can't we use it?

US: Well, we looked at that design and it would make it too easy for you to build bombs. We have another suggested design that's very good.

B: With our design we can afford to build eight times the capacity. And it works better.

US: Yes, but you signed the NNPT, you promised you wouldn't do that sort of thing.

B: When we signed the NNPT we had a vision of a world without nuclear weapons. Now you have the majority of all the nuclear weapons in the world. You threaten other nations which gets them to build nuclear bombs to protect themselves from you. If brazil must sacrifice to stop nuclear bombs, when will you do your part?

US: We are reducing our stockpile. We have gone from 32,000 warheads in 1966 to under 10,000 today. Quite a reduction, ho ho ho! And we intend to reduce that by another 89 warheads next year.

B: We need electricity. You know that we are not a threat, we will not make nuclear weapons. What if we should make our efficient power plants and you ignore it.

US: We can't let that go. If you do it, argentina will do it. Then they will make nukes and you will have to make nukes in self defense. No.

B: What would you do to stop us? Would you drop nuclear bombs on us?

US: Nothing is off the table.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

It doesn't get better if we decide our current friends can have nukes and NNPT only applies to our enemies.

Sorenson's take is so galactically vapid, so much a grand effort at craven bootlicking and apologetics, that the American people would roundly reject so weasely a platform.

J. Thomas,

Thanks for link and discussion. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NNPT) seems to have been a Cold War exercise in Kick The Can. Fifty years later, the distant future of 1968 has come to pass. In particular, a fractured and increasingly nongovernmental world has replaced a bipolar power structure, and technical advances have turned the Top Secret/Impossibly Complex into Public Domain/Off The Shelf.

The nonproliferation regime has either reached the end of its useful lifetime, or collapsed under the weight of its own internal contradictions. Different words, same concept.

Useful discussion by author William Langewiesche. As an Atlantic Monthly liberal, Langewiesche frames his thoughts in The Usual Context that will exasperate some WoC readers. But he's a facts-on-the-ground kind of guy (perhaps akin to Robert Kaplan, Michael Totten, Max Boot, Thomas Barnett) who's done first-rate journalism.

We are well past the Dead Parrot point, where Hans Blix and Mohammed el Baradei remind onlookers (save the Nobel Prize committee) of Inspector Clouseau, at best. It's an AQ Khan world now, with no regime (treaty, policy, or otherwise) yet acknowledging the implication that awful fact.

... implication of that awful fact.

AMac: Search for Ross McKitrick, the proponent of that tax structure, or go back a couple of weeks in the thread archive of www.climateaudit.org and you will find it. I believe he called it the "T3 Tax".

Thanks, Nicholas! Link via Climate Audit to McKitrick's T3 tax proposal here.

AMAC: You wrote that US baseline electrical generating capacity looks adequate for the near-to-medium term. FWIW, that is not how the power industry looks at it. The general feeling there is that the US is in the early stages of a major building phase to meet significantly higher projected demand.

I may have overstated my case a bit, but I still hold to my larger point. I think that electricity demand is (relatively) too flat to produce a significant switch from fossil fuels to nuclear energy without significant government intervention. One of the reasons is the availability of relatively cheap upgrades to existing plants. Here are the current projections:

Nuclear and renewable generation increase as new plants are built, stimulated by Federal tax incentives and rising fossil fuel prices. Nuclear generation also increases modestly with improvements in plant performance and expansion of existing facilities, but the nuclear share of total generation falls from 19 percent in 2005 to 15 percent in 2030.

The older units will be retiring then.

The reason I harp on this is that it's not enough for environmentalists to accept nuclear energy. They need to embrace an industrial policy that a lot of fiscal conservatives may be reluctant to endorse. Since most industrial policy is heavy with corporate welfare, it doesn't shock me that environmental groups use this opportunity to look for money for their pet industries. On the flip side, I think conservatives are often too eager to blame environmental issues for nuclear's problems when there is also a market component.

Langewiesche is a great writer and that's a great article, I've never sensed a particular idealogical stance from him.

PD Shaw, That's a very useful link. I'd say that despite predicted rising consumption (Fig. 53), there will be a relative decline in nuclear power generation, absent government intervention. Awfully close to the point you were making.

How far ahead do American politicians look? The answer is important, because technologies are coming that make nuclear bombs, war germs and poison gas look benign if used wrongly; and most of the attention of said politicians is on jihad, which could be solved, permanently, in an afternoon - and sooner or later will be, one way or another.

Relevant subjects: A Japanese company has released footage of a working humanoid robot optimised for industrial tasks, with almost-human dexterity - release date 2010 and projected cost $120k. Scientists all over the world are busy designing the world's first fully-artificial lifeform. There is nanomechanical engineering design software in development, release date last quarter this year. And Moore's Law continues to hold, which means that by about 2025 the PC on your desk will have about as much processing power as you do.

We don't know what the triggering factors for sentience are, or how it originates, and we may find out the hard way before we are ready. The Singularity approaches by stealth, and those who make policy are yacking about where to spread the pork.

Consider, if you will, military nanotech in the hands of jihad - or even in the hands of deep ecologists or animal rights campaigners. Or in the "hands" of a sentient robot that has decided it doesn't need humans any more.

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