“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, July 04, 2008

Celebrate Independence. Overthrow Judicial Tyranny

Jefferson said judicial tyranny made the Constitution "a thing of wax."

If [as the Federalists say] “the judiciary is the last resort in relation to the other departments of the government,” … , then indeed is our Constitution a complete felo de so. … The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they may please. It should be remembered, as an axiom of eternal truth in politics, that whatever power in any government is independent, is absolute also; in theory only, at first, while the spirit of the people is up, but in practice, as fast as that relaxes. Independence can be trusted nowhere but with the people in mass. They are inherently independent of all but moral law … 

Jefferson Letter to Judge Spencer Roane, Nov. 1819

How Do We Stop Power-Hungry Judges?

Steve Forbes

For decades judges in U.S. courts, high and low, have been behaving like legislators, making laws as they see fit. The Supreme Court, for example, recently ruled that Louisiana could not execute a man for raping his very young stepdaughter, thereby overturning similar laws in five other states. The Justices rationalized their ruling by saying that there is "a national consensus" against applying capital punishment to such a crime.

A national consensus? Are the courts now going into the polling business before rendering decisions? Isn't turning consensus into law or instituting a change in law a function of elected legislative bodies? This ruling, alas, is not unusual. Since the 1930s justices in this country's courts have increasingly usurped powers they previously hadn't had. Precedent has meant little, and so has the U.S. Constitution. Three years ago, for instance, the High Court nullified the Constitution's ban on using the power of eminent domain for private purposes. The justices gave the green light to politicians' seizing of private property to help out politically connected developers.

For decades state courts have forced politicians to spend increasing amounts of money on schools, despite there being no demonstrable link between outlays and outcomes. New Jersey, for example, has some of the worst schools in the country in beleaguered cities such as Camden, Elizabeth and Newark, even though per-pupil spending in those schools runs around $20,000, about twice the national average.

Not content with their usurped legislative powers, judges have decided to reward themselves on a very personal basis. A New York State Supreme Court justice has ruled that the New York State legislature must increase judges' salaries, claiming that the cost of living is going up. Ponder that for a moment: judges decreeing pay increases for themselves. Talk about the ultimate ATM!

Judicial arrogance hasn't stopped there, however. In Brooklyn, N.Y. judges decided to use a public park as a place to park their cars. There are parking facilities a few blocks away, but the judges felt that walking to fetch their cars might be a danger to their personal safety. The New York City Parks Department has plans to use that park as a pedestrian walkway and told the judges to park their vehicles elsewhere. Not surprisingly, these judicial autocrats have threatened to sue the Parks Department for infringing on their self-awarded perks.

This type of egregious overreaching by grasping judges has already poisoned American politics. That's why nomination fights over jurists for the federal bench have become increasingly vitriolic and bitter.

Our Founding Fathers would be aghast at such power grabbing, which makes a mockery of the separation of powers and the checks and balances that they took such pains to enshrine in the U.S. Constitution.


  1. Yes, it sure is. No speechwriters in those days.


    Long Live The USA

  2. And here I thought it was GeorgeII that was causin' all the commotion, today.

  3. If you ever have, or can make the opportunity to watch a re-enactment at Gettysburg on a 4th of July, you should. You will never forget it.

  4. Just when was Independence declared?--

    Independence Days: Self-Evident Truths, Whenever Declared

    By George Will

    MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — The impatient patriots here had splendidly short fuses in 1775. Those who tilled the startlingly red clay or who lived in the town named for George III's wife, Charlotte, might have been bemused had they foreseen the annual hoopla that commemorates July 4, 1776.

    What occurred that day in Philadelphia might have been a Declaration of Independence, but the first such was enacted here on May 20, 1775. Presbyterians, meaning most Mecklenburgers, were incensed by Anglican meddling from London, such as the Vestry and Marriage Acts of 1769, which imposed fines on Presbyterian ministers who conducted marriage ceremonies. Marriage as a political issue is not just a recent phenomenon.

    On May 19, 1775, the day before the Mecklenburg convention met to act on such grievances, a rider arrived with news from Massachusetts about the April bloodshed at Lexington and Concord. The next day, Mecklenburg's convention declared:

    "We the citizens of Mecklenburg County do hereby dissolve the political bands which have connected us to the mother country. . . . We do hereby declare ourselves a free and independent people . . . to the maintenance of which independence, we solemnly pledge to each other our mutual cooperation, our lives, our fortunes, and our most sacred honor."

    Thus did a settlement on the fringe of the British Empire declare war on that empire. It used language — note, especially, the last nine words — that is echoed in the 1776 declaration, for reasons explained in a new book, "The 4th of July and the Founding of America," by Peter de Bolla of King's College, Cambridge. He is fascinated by Americans' fascination with the fact, such as it is, that their country had, as few nations can claim, an "originative moment." But what, and when, was it?

    The Declaration of Independence was not signed that day by the 56 persons whose signatures would eventually adorn it. Perhaps no one signed it that day; the evidence is murky. Still, uncountable millions believe otherwise because they have seen John Trumbull's painting, in the U.S. Capitol's rotunda, depicting Thomas Jefferson, at the center of six colleagues, holding "his" Declaration on July 4, as though for signing.

    What Congress actually did that day was agree to print and publish the Declaration authorized two days earlier. So, was July 2 what de Bolla calls the "punctual moment"? John Adams thought that day "will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America."

    What was voted on July 2 was, however, really decided on July 1. But on June 28, Congress considered Jefferson's draft of the Declaration, so was the die then cast? Or was it cast on June 10, when Congress voted that "a committee be appointed to prepare a declaration"? The Declaration was first actually declared — read aloud to a crowd (at the State House, now Independence Hall) — on July 8.

    De Bolla says that unlike certain events, such as an earthquake or the beheading of a monarch, the birth of a nation has "a different kind of temporality," one constructed as a tradition. This is true even of the United States, which did not, like Germany and France, emerge over millennia from history's mists.

    Fifty years later, less than two months before his (and John Adams's) death on July 4, 1826, Jefferson was determinedly protective of his reputation as "author" (he directed his tombstone to declare this) of the Declaration. Still, he candidly acknowledged that it "was intended to be an expression of the American mind," not "aiming at originality of principle or sentiment." Hence, "all its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day."

    Certain politically charged rhetorical tropes were then society's common property. Writing shortly before his death, Jefferson affirmed his belief that "the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of G-d." Those words were as stirring then as they had been when one of Oliver Cromwell's soldiers declared from the scaffold, "I never could believe that Providence had sent a few men into the world, ready booted and spurred to ride, and millions ready saddled and bridled to be ridden."

    What de Bolla calls "the intricate history of the nation's founding document" does not and should not inhibit Americans from asserting the truth that their nation originated on July 4, 1776. They hold that to be a self-evident truth, which means they have decided to believe it, thereby making it a self-validating tradition. So there.



  5. Mat -

    RE your Cramer post previous.

    Cramer’s had a bad year and

    Israel is a small country.

    One of Kudlow’s frequent contributors Jared Bernstein has a new book out called “Crunch”. I haven’t read it but I might when I decide to go out again.

    His thesis is that if you analyze the most recent business cycle 2000-2008, and look at the traditional supply-side linkages:

    Tax cuts leading to business investment leading to increased productivity leading to increased wages

    The last link is broken. His thesis as per the numbers from the most recent business cycle. Wages flat as a board.

    In the speaking appearance that I watched, he mentioned anecdotally that everyone’s favorite billionaire, George Soros, also has a new book out in which he presents a similar analysis to Bernstein’s. (The anecdotal part is that the wife wants to know why he isn’t as rich as Soros.)

    What I do know is that and listen up because it’s so brief you might miss it.

    I know that this market is no longer “traditional”. I don’t know if it is correct to say that it is broken but the usual performance metrics don’t apply. So predictive capacity is lost which means speculators might have larger impact.

    I say “might” because everyone yelling and screaming for more regulatory control should know that controls are already in place to cap volatility in futures markets.

    Whatever with the speculation, and whatever favorite epitaph is reserved for Soros, it appears to me that there is at least the question that global influences have weakened - if not broken - traditional supply-side linkages.

    The challenge question - and I don’t have the answer - is to what degree the wages of the illegals were included in Bernstein’s analysis. [I still can’t determine if they are covered under Obama’s health care proposal, both sides being adamant.]

    I bought again last January because I thought the market had bottomed out.

    Dopey old me.

    I am just so angry. Now McCain is retracing his “I don’t understand economics” statement and Obama is threatening tax increases and universal health care all of which to be paid for through conservation.

    When I turn on the news I am entertained by some babe telling me how to consolidate my trips and do all my errands at once.

    To borrow a phrase “what fucking universe are you from?”

    [the babe not you]

    This is what we will get in this country. No structural changes. No plan. No tax breaks or incentives. No regulatory breaks.
    Just some smiley face telling Americans how to conserve.

    I am so angry.

  6. "No structural changes. No plan. No tax breaks or incentives. No regulatory breaks.
    Just some smiley face telling Americans how to conserve.

    I am so angry."

    Me too, Slade. America can do better.

  7. Obama is threatening tax increases and universal health care all of which to be paid for through conservation.

    Yeah, instead of blowing 12 billion dollars a month in Iraq, Obama is going to "conserve" that money and use it here at home.

  8. "Israel is a small country"


    Israel is also a very poor country. You can not imagine the kind of stresses people are subjected to due to economic hardship. Just imagine your average American salary cut in 2 and prices all around you are 2 times higher what they are today. And that's just the beginning. Now imagine that every year you will lose 30 days of work while serving in the Army, 7 days of work while serving as a guard at your kids kindergarden or school. Imagine municipal and state taxes doubled. Imagine your water gas electricity bills doubled if not tripled. Imagine your insurance costs double. Imagine a gov bureaucracy where the smallest of issues requires you to take a day off work because you will be spending that day waiting in line to speak to a clerk that will then refer you to another clerk across town who will then refer you to another, and so on.

    And yet thru all the stresses (political, military, economic, psychological) Israelis can manage to set themselves on a practical footing towards energy independence, but Americans can't?

  9. Trish, say it ain't so. The FT is reporting this:

    "The bloodless and apparently brilliant operation to free 15 hostages from the Colombian jungle today became mired in confusion, with some reports even claiming that the entire episode was nothing but a sham to disguise the payment of a ransom.

    Swiss public radio cited an unidentified source “close to the events, reliable and tested many times in recent years" as saying the operation had in fact been staged to cover up the fact that the US and Colombians had paid $20 million for their freedom.

    The hostages released on Wednesday, including Ingrid Betancourt, the French-Colombian politician, "were in reality ransomed for a high price, and the whole operation afterwards was a set-up," the public broadcaster said.

    The report added said the wife of one of the hostages’ guards had acted as a go-between after being arrested by the Colombian Army. She was released to return to the guerrillas, where she allegedly persuaded her husband to change sides.

    The report claimed that the US, which had three citizens among the hostages, had been behind the deal. The Colombian Foreign Ministry fiercely denied the allegations, with a spokesman describing them as "completely false." He added: "They are lies".

    Before the allegations of a payments arose, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the rescue “was conceived by the Colombians and executed by the Colombians with our full support,” while implying that Washington had provided intelligence and even operational help."

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  12. The interesting thing about Bernstein’s argument - broken linkages in the traditional supply side chain - is that the Democrats are carefully making their technical case that the markets - and by extension capitalism - are “broken.”

    Something that is “broken” requires “fixing.”

    Look for more regulatory code.

    The operative word in Creative Capitalism is “creative.”

    This pendulum is swinging whether anyone recognizes it or likes it.

  13. Speaking of Democratic “fixes.”


    Obama has continued to support increased subsidies as a presidential candidate, calling for the creation of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which could distribute an estimated $500 million a year to developers. The money would be siphoned from the profits of two mortgage companies created and supervised by the federal government, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    “I will restore the federal government’s commitment to low-income housing,” Obama wrote last September in a letter to the Granite State Organizing Project, an umbrella group for several dozen New Hampshire religious, community, and political organizations. He added, “Our nation’s low-income families are facing an affordable housing crisis, and it is our responsibility to ensure this crisis does not get worse by ineffective replacement of existing public-housing units.”

    “I’m not against Barack Obama,” said Willie J.R. Fleming, an organizer with the Coalition to Protect Public Housing and a former public housing resident. “What I am against is some of the people around him.”

    Willie Sutton when asked why he robbed banks famously answered, “because that’s where the money is.” People who are disappointed to learn that community activists sometimes take advantage of the poor should ask themselves ‘who else would they fleece’? Next to an actual criminal background, the company of the professionally virtuous is often the most dangerous one to have.


  14. Those that claim to be selfless, are usually anything but.

    Most are as self-serving as the next fellow, if not more so, due to their hypocricy, that then becomes an accepted norm.

  15. From the comments link above:

    And in regards to his [Obama's]patriotism speech, I like this line. “…that we could have the right to pursue our individual dreams but the obligation to help our fellow citizens pursue theirs.” - [Peterike]

    So many obligations.

    "The missionaries came to do good, they did well." - [Chip]

    The disconnect in this election is between the front-end personality and the back-end policies.

  16. Depends on the environment.

    Selflessness in families is often a norm.

    In politicians, more like a genetic defect.

  17. But I wouldn't argue the point that selflessness be confused with an attribute of the honest broker.

    Time and place.

  18. Dennis Miller:

    Friday, July 4

    Hour 1: Tom Brokaw, Alice Cooper, Adam Sandler, and Donald Trump

    Hour 2: Don Rickles, John McEnroe, Ted Nugent, Newt Gingrich, and Tommy Lasorda

    Hour 3: Robin Williams, Steven Wright, Dick Cavett, Al Michaels, John Stewart, Jay Leno and Dana Carvey

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. All right Mat, I wasn't going to bait the hook but there it is.


  21. Betancourt, in France, Details Her Captivity

    Two days after her rescue from the clutches of guerrillas in the Colombian jungle, Ingrid Betancourt shared some painful details of her long ordeal.

    Bold Colombia Rescue Built on Rebel Group’s Disarray

    Interactive Timeline

  22. He's deluded, Slade.
    We all know when she's at her most dangerous.


    Dennis will be on in 3 hrs and 20 min, following Hewitt.
    First 20 min could be improved, but almost all the interviews are classic.
    Funniest being Tommy Lasorda.

  24. Alice Cooper was a Marathon Man @ 17 in AZ.
    Book is about golf saving his life.

    Realized he wasn't taking the best of care of the bod drinking a fifth of VO plus beer everyday when he started coughing up blood when he woke up.

    Substituted Golf, no doubt saving his life.

  25. Celebrate Independence Day by meditating on This Farce

  26. Down with George III

    Down with John Marshall

  27. Jesse Helms manages to die on the 4th of July.

  28. Solar industry pushes tax credit extension
    UPI Correspondent
    Published: July 3, 2008 at 9:30 AM

    Solar energy could provide a substantial amount of the nation's electricity if Congress extends federal tax incentives, industry representatives told senators Wednesday. The potential for solar to green the nation and wean it from foreign oil is huge, particularly Concentrating Solar Power, witnesses at a Senate Energy Committee hearing said. CSP uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight, creating an intense heat that produces electricity by driving a generator. At a time of skyrocketing oil prices and growing concerns about climate change, the sun provides a promising alternative, said Alex Marker, research fellow for SCHOTT North America, a company that produces equipment for solar energy power plants. "In just one hour's time, the amount of energy that the sun shines upon the Earth's surface exceeds the energy consumption of all of mankind in an entire year," Marker told senators. "Solar energy is relevant for almost every country in the world, especially the United States, where conversion of only 2.5 percent of the nation's usable area into solar farms would satisfy the entire nation's energy needs. Utility companies and the public have shown increasing interest in this technology, and 400 megawatts of CSP are already being generated in the Southwest. A number of companies plan to build CSP power plants in the near future. Studies project this growth will lead to more competitive prices, said Charles Andraka, a member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, where the hearing was held. "The current cost of electricity generation by CSP trough plants is about 16 cents per kilowatt-hour," Andraka said. "With further technology development and increased deployment, the cost of CSP-generated electricity is projected in several studies to reach 6 cents per kilowatt-hour." However, this progress may stagnate before CSP ever gets off the ground if Congress doesn't extend current tax incentives, witnesses at the hearing said. "Without the eight-year extension of the (solar) investment tax credit, this industry will be stopped dead in its tracks," said Fred Morse, senior adviser of U.S. operations at Abengoa Solar, a solar technology company that announced in February its plans to build the world's largest solar plant in Arizona. "The contracts (for new plants) will not go forward without the ITC. My company has one, and we can't get it financed without the ITC." Legislation currently in the Senate would extend the ITC for eight years as part of the Energy Independence and Tax Relief Act. However, the bill was filibustered when introduced on the Senate floor on June 17. An attempt to end the filibuster with a cloture vote, which requires 60 votes in favor, failed 52-44. However, solar industry advocates say they expect to see the bill come up again soon, including Jared Blanton, spokesman for the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade organization. "The Majority Leader (Harry Reid, D-Nev.,) currently has control of the bill," Blanton told United Press International. "He's indicated he plans to bring it up for another cloture vote after the Fourth of July." If the bill garners enough support to invoke cloture, the Senate will then debate it on the floor. The stalemate over the ITC extensions mirrors the current deadlock in Washington over a number of energy policies. In early June a comprehensive climate-change bill died on the Senate floor after a week of filibustering, cloture votes and general finger-pointing by both sides. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said he's frustrated by the political impasse on an issue that demands immediate action. "We Republicans act a certain way … and Democrats act another way, and we don't get anywhere," Domenici said at Wednesday's hearing. "The huge amount of money we send overseas (for oil) is unbearable. We can't wait around for something to happen." Meanwhile, without a long-term ITC, businesses are having a hard time convincing investors to ante up for expensive solar power plants, said Ken May, division director at Abengoa Solar in Colorado. "These are huge, huge projects," May told UPI. "To build something you need to know what the economic environment will be when it comes online." Currently, the tax credit is 30 percent, which effectively reduces a solar power company's federal taxes by 30 percent. However, it's scheduled to drop to 10 percent at the end of the year. "Obviously, that's a huge difference and the economics of these projects are written under the assumption of a 30 percent credit," May said. "So if the tax credit isn't extended, there's a possibility those plants won't be built." Another roadblock for new solar plants is the application process, said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Sanders expressed concern over a recent announcement by the Bureau of Land Management, which approves plant proposals on public lands, that it was placing a temporary moratorium on new applications while it processed the 125 already in the system. Sanders also said the number of people working on processing the applications is unacceptably low. "To my knowledge, none of these (applications) have been approved," he said. "That's because, in the middle of this crisis of global warming, we have a bottleneck with two guys sitting there trying to process these applications." Shortly after Wednesday's hearing, the BLM announced it would once again be accepting applications. The bureau has a commitment to renewable energy, and Sander's characterization of the application-approval process is inaccurate, said Matt Spangler, spokesman for the BLM. "We have three key staffers in Washington working on the applications, plus a program lead and a variety of resource specialists in each state office," Spangler told UPI.

  29. "Yeah, instead of blowing 12 billion dollars a month in Iraq, Obama is going to "conserve" that money and use it here at home."
    All wars eventually come to an end.
    Even W's triple priced war is but a pittance, less than a third, of the cost of the
    "War on Poverty"
    Which has only resulted in the destruction of many poor families, most poor black families, and continued poverty, with GREATER impoverishment of the soul.
    ...but then you remain adamantly ignorant of such truths so you can continue to spout off your half-baked, left-wing sound-byte drivel.

  30. .

    Another roadblock for new solar plants is the application process, said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Sanders expressed concern over a recent announcement by the Bureau of Land Management, which approves plant proposals on public lands, that it was placing a temporary moratorium on new applications while it processed the 125 already in the system. Sanders also said the number of people working on processing the applications is unacceptably low.

    "To my knowledge, none of these (applications) have been approved," he said. "That's because, in the middle of this crisis of global warming, we have a bottleneck with two guys sitting there trying to process these applications."

    Shortly after Wednesday's hearing, the BLM announced it would once again be accepting applications. The bureau has a commitment to renewable energy, and Sander's characterization of the application-approval process is inaccurate, said Matt Spangler, spokesman for the BLM.

    "We have three key staffers in Washington working on the applications, plus a program lead and a variety of resource specialists in each state office," Spangler told UPI.


    LOL! Get it?

    "Sander's characterization of the application-approval process is inaccurate."

    It's not 2 guys working on these applications, it's 4!

  31. From Doug‘s second link above”


    “The FARC and the paramilitaries in the mid-90s both had shots in the arm from the drug business,” said Bruce M. Bagley, chairman of the International Studies Department at the University of Miami. “They put the Colombian government on its heels.”

    A turning point came in 2000 when Congress and President Bill Clinton agreed to send Colombia more than $1 billion to emergency aid to battle drug traffickers and their allies. President Andres Pastrana later broke off negotiations with the FARC, deciding instead to fight.

    It’s a small incestuous world. So (1) the western drug habit is fueling the violence and (2) there is a point in the balancing act where “decisiveness” is used to replace the “D” in DIME with the “M”.

    Drugs in U.S. I had a conversation with one of the grey beards in my life. He said look at the numbers. How can the poor people support drug traffic of this magnitude? The answer is that they can’t. Drug demand is not dominated by the ghetto.

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  33. Regulatory Reform.

    The technical community needs to inform the regulatory community what is important, what is negotiable, and what is irrelevant.

    The regulatory community needs to learn how to ask the right questions.

    Instead of allowing the lobbyists to write the code.

    Paradigm Shift.

  34. Often the technical community is the "lobbyist."

    When a majority of the public has no interest in politics, those that do will write the laws.

    I believe it's always been this way. In some cases and countries more so than others.

    We need to be careful when using the term "lobbyists."

  35. Yes to that.

    I stand corrected.

    But the technicians are going to be front and center in the coming transition. No way around that.

    The larger point - is building the vocabulary. This AGW cr@ap just one example.

    "Evidence" defined as 99% certain.

  36. Dr. Bill would agree with you there, Whit.

  37. When a majority of the public has no interest in politics, those that do will write the laws.

    Exactly. As "honest brokers" or advocates of the broader population, public representatives are tasked with implementing the will of the people. To that end the are obligated to perform "due diligence" and get the facts.

    Fine Line.

  38. WOW Hey, look at this--

    Appeals Court: Federal Judges Shouldn't Act As Scientists

    Forest Service officials hail unanimous ruling overturning challenge to Idaho logging sale

    Boise, AP--

    An 11 judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled it's improper for federal judges to act as scientists when weighing in on disputed U.S.
    Forest Service timber projects.

    Timber industry lobbyists and Forest Service officials called the unanimous ruling overturning a challenge to a northern Idaho logging sale significnt, partly because it emerged from a court often seen as favorable to environmental groups....

    The 9th Circut Court, fancy that!

    Talking about bull fighting, aren't they running the bulls in Pamplona today or this week?

  39. Well, when it comes to reform, Maverick is a leader.

    His reforms always increase regulation and the authority of the unelected.

    From those reforms that have been enacted to those just proposed and defeated.
    From finance reform to immigration.

    The Maverick always sides with the unelected Federal minion, not the electorate.

    That's his style.

  40. I'm going to make a blanket staement here, ala Michelle Obama's "don't know nothing about the details of ______________"

    This is where it's at folks.

    Like it or love it or leave it or diss it or ignore it.

    This is where it's at.

    A "policy" of values won't disguise or mitigate or erase.

    "Reality is that which, which you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

  41. We need to be careful when using the term "lobbyists."


    What public mandate does the Bureau of Land Management have in putting a 2 year moratorium on the construction of solar plants when none such moratoriums exist for nukes coal oil and gas?

  42. Btw, Whit, she aint made of glass.

  43. Good grief Mat, when was the last time a nuke plant was built on an BLM fief?

  44. I've been thinking about building a little dam on my place to back up some water, attrack some ducks, so I can shoot 'em in my old age. Anyway, I happened to get a call from an engineer I know, and asked him about it. He said how tall a dam, over 10 feet? Well, maybe twenty or so. Keep it under 10 feet you don't have to deal with the bozos at Water Quality, EPA etc.

    Water flows downhill, alas, and crosses state lines. Letting the regulatory foxes in.

    Shit, it'd look about as imposing as a stock pond.

  45. You ain't heard of the 3mile from ANWAR Wildlife Reserve Nuke Plant?

  46. See, there ya go:
    Ya wanna tear down the PEOPLES dams at the same time ya wanna have your own g_d damn selfish dam.

  47. Bull Running In Pamplona That one fellow, that's Doug there, taking the bull by the horns.

  48. Bob,

    Where is the government moratorium?

    These nukes haven't been built because they proved themselves to be uneconomical to built. And without the government assuming 90% of the financial liability nobody would even think of building them.

  49. Yucca Mountain in Nevada, who does that belong to?

  50. Yucca--the Feds, I'm almost certain. Everything down that way belongs to the Feds.

    A scientist has finally caught up with bob on global warming, bob who has been boycotting Plasma TVs since the gitgo.

  51. Serena and Venus Williams are going to be fighting it out in the finals at Wimbledon--should be a great match to watch if one had a flat screen tv.

  52. Where's the moratorium there? Even when the majority of Nevada citizens violently oppose the site. So let me ask again, what public mandate does the Bureau of Land Management have in putting a 2 year moratorium on the construction of solar plants when none such moratoriums exist for nukes coal oil and gas?

  53. Deuce,
    Please take down that independence day link.
    At the same place is a sophisticated govt inspired propaganda coverup of Trade Center 7 Collapse.
    We all know (thanks to 'Rat) that Bruce Willis and a gang of agents snuck into that burning bldg. Strategically placed explosive charges, and brought the thing down.
    That Propaganda footage just muddies the issue.

  54. ..proved themselves to be uneconomical to build..

  55. All that's been done so far is studies at Yucca Mt. It's proposed as a waste site. I don't know if there is an actual 'moratorium' on the construction of nuke plants on Fed land. Nothing's been built for the last 30 or 40 years, anywhere.

    The one in south Idaho that is being proposed, I'll try to find out just whose property that is proposed to be built on.

  56. Well, Bobal, I celebrated the Fourth by watching a pal become a citizen of the United States over by the Space Needle. It was a big deal, 548 people were sworn in, Governor Gregoire and two Congressmen and the Seattle Mayor was there. Just before the actual oath they called out the countries one by one, Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe, and the people stood up and sat back down when their country was called. It was very moving, I was caught up in it and started crying. Two sailors and five soldiers were there too, two of them had already served in Iraq on two tours. And of course, as soon as they were all sworn in they were steered to the voter registration tables like cattle.

  57. And of course, as soon as they were all sworn in they were steered to the voter registration tables like cattle.


    But were they given their Federal Income Tax Forms?

    Well, tell them all to vote against whomever the incumbant is, T, the American Way.

    T., I remember when the Space Needle was built! The year of the big fair. We all went to it.

  58. .."All that's been done so far is studies at Yucca Mt. It's proposed as a waste site."..

    But the construction has been approved. This is my point.

    .."I don't know if there is an actual 'moratorium' on the construction of nuke plants on Fed land."..

    So why one on solar? Storing nuclear waste is ok, but building plants using cleanest possible energy deserves a moratorium? How does that make sense.

  59. I hope ol' Ash hasn't sunk out there somewhere, not on the 4th of July.

  60. Meanwhile, the Euros RECYCLE their waste, while we waste away under a restriction put in place by the Peanut Farmer!

  61. I'm not saying it does. They say they got too many applications, and 2 guys to process them. If I was doing it, I'd probably get out the rubber stamp.

    Shortly after Wednesday's hearing, the BLM announced it would once again be accepting applications.

    Looks like they're back in business anyway.

    I wasn't aware that construction had been approved at Yucca. Why hasn't Clean dirty Harry stopped this?

  62. Doug's right, it all a bunch of crap. Everybody else goes ahead and does what's sensible.

  63. In 1998 and 2000, independent cost and schedule reviews of the program were performed by DOE contractors. On the latter review, the contractor concluded that DOE’s schedule for licensing, constructing, and opening the repository by 2010 was optimistic by about two years and that DOE’s estimate of the total cost of the program over its 100-plus-year lifetime — $58 billion (2000 dollars) — was understated by about $3 billion.[11]

    As of 2008, nine billion US dollars had been spent on the project[8] which has made Yucca Mountain the most studied piece of geology in the world.


    $70 billion (2000 dollars), and that's just to store this crap.

    In today's dollars that bill would be upwards of 100 billion dollars. How does that make economic sense?

  64. The French must be geniuses, is all I can say.

    See you folks later, going to dinner and the fireworks later. Have a good one.

  65. Florida Power and Light have been approved to add two new reactors at their existing plant in South Florida.

    Two additional plants are planned for Crystal River (central Florida just above Tampa.)

  66. This comment has been removed by the author.

  67. Seems, that without Government subsidy, solar stops.

    Without that Government subsidy, there is no "clean coal"

    Without Government subsidy, there is no "peaceful atom"

    None of the technologies can be used, economicly, without Government subsidy.

    Especially oil.

  68. This comment has been removed by the author.

  69. Had one of those working a fire near our Tonto Basin place, couple years back, doug.

    A sight to behold.

    But an indication that the poppies of Afghanistan could be irradicated, from the air.

  70. This comment has been removed by the author.

  71. This comment has been removed by the author.

  72. Niether are market solutions, mat.

    That is the explanation.

    Each one requires varied levels of protection or subsidy. Physical security, financial security from liability or at a minimum a tax holiday of one sort or another.

    The solution is to be found in government, by government and the "market" will follow.

    The Bush Administration Government "plan" is oil dependency. Or the GOP Senators would not have filbustered the latest set of "green" subsidies.

  73. Since reality avhors a vacuum, it may just be that the Jurists have merely expanded into the political vacuum left by mediocure politicians,

    As shown earlier, the elected officers of Government have ample tools to control the Court, if that was their desired effect.

  74. The fourth of July is a popular day to kick the bucket. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and now Jesse Helms.

  75. The US nuclear industry received $150 billion in subsidies. By contrast, if the current tax subsidies remain in place, the solar and wind** industry will receive $7 billion over the next 10 years.
Explain to me how is nuclear power a market solution.

    **Edit: Sorry, dRat, that needed correction. It's solar and wind combined that will receive $7 billion over the next 10 years, if the bill to renew the subsidies passes. 

  76. But niether solar, wind or the peaceful atom have a thing to do with fueling the current fleet of vehicles that are being operated, today, and the majority of which still will be, in 2025.

  77. "Niether are market solutions, mat."

    That's not what I meant, dRat. When I say "market solution," I mean the lowest cost most rational solution. And there's no way nuclear fits that description.

  78. This "energy crisis" at the electrical generating level is a strawman to draw attention from the real issue, which is oil.

    The only replacement or supplement for oil is ethanol.

    Now granted Israel cannot become self sufficent with ethanol, and can gain a lot of independence with solar. As you mentioned, earlier, Israel is not a free market economy, at all.
    More structured, by Government, than either Canada or US.

    Any technology solution requiring an Israeli Government subsidy to succeed. The Government picking the winners, not the market.

  79. That's ok, dRat. GM and Ford design their vehicles for a 3 year lifespan.

  80. Not exactly, mat.
    It is the scale of the different process. The "wind & solar" production plants, proposed for the tax holiday, do not come close to the wattage provided by the peaceful atom.

    I'd almost guarentee that if the path to energy parity, green to nuke, were graphed, the subsidy line would grow, in tandem with the topline of energy production.

  81. This comment has been removed by the author.

  82. I better tell mine it's time to hit the junk yard. But my '96 Chevy still purrs. My buddy's '66 Mustang still drives, nice

    Regardless of their design, mat, the vehicles last about twenty years, some even more.
    Here in the American Southwest

  83. .. Israeli Government subsidy ..

    The "subsidy" is to the consumer in the form of a tax break. Israel correctly prognosed that oil can no longer be used as a viable transport fuel, and so, going electric is the only viable solution. The tax break is to incentivize an orderly transition from fossil fuel vehicles to electric vehicles.

  84. The subsidy rate per watt, that's the number that counts, not some topline guesstimate, to be used in a headline.

  85. Esactly, mat, the Israeli have made a command decision. One that may fit tini tiny Israel.

    Israel about the geopgraphic size of Maricopa County, with as many folk of all of Arizona. In the middle of a desert. They could have made the right decision, but it is not a "market" decision, except in a command economy marketplace.

    That does not mean that a similar solution would be viable in the United States, or America, for that matter. Over the next twentyfive year time line.

    Even the Hybrids being built today, the current green solution, will require carbon-based fuel, not solely wattage to operate.

  86. dRat,

    The only reason these subsidies are needed is so that the industry can grow its capital base to certain critical mass and thus be able to self finance its growth from collateral on assets and cash flow from on going operations.

    The efficiency of solar panels, like the efficiency of microprocessors, will only get better.

  87. They always say that, about Government subsidies.

    They lie, mostly.
    Hardly ever a Government power taking that is ever rescinded, nor a program disbanded.

    The subsidy programs gain life of their own.
    Like low cost housing, a "market need", in Chicago. The subsidies go on, performance never matching promise.

    Yes, the technologies continue to improve.

  88. dRat,

    I'm sure if the US gov provided 90% loan guarantees for solar as it does for nukes, there would be no need for solar tax breaks to save on financing costs.

  89. The Israeli will have their battery stations and home rechargers, while technology marches on.

    So that in ten or fifteen years, Israel will be locked into the equivilent of Model T's while the rest of the world motors on.

    As likely as not.

    Remember the Bricklen!

  90. Thanks to the GOP filibuster, we'll never know, fer sure.

  91. dRat,

    The car is a lease, you're not stuck with anything. As new battery technology makes its way, the battery will get updated.

  92. Istael will be stuck with the infrastructure, amigo.

    They'll have the factory in the Peace Valley.

    The Government will manipulate the market, to keep it economical, even when it's not.
    That is the historical lesson.

    The Ford factory in Argentina is exemploray of how such command economics work, over time.

    The Argentinian Ford Falcon is a full size car that was built by Ford Motor Company from 1962 to 1991. Mechanically, it was based on the 1960 North American Falcon. The Falcon retained the same body style throughout its production, with a substantial face lift taking place in 1982 (utilizing many Cortina/Taunus parts), to bring it into line with other Fords. However, by then, it was apparent that it was a 1960s design wearing a 1980s grille.

    Socialism at work, with a capitialistic twist.

  93. .. "Istael will be stuck with the infrastructure, amigo." ..

    What infrastructure? A forklift to switch a spent battery with a charged battery? What the hell are you talking about?

  94. That generation of electric batteries, commanded by Israeli Government may never making the grade, while the technologially superior batteries or the future are incompatible with the Nissan product line.

    Beta and VHS, redux

    As I said, for a City-State like Israel, it may be a viable solution to an intractable challenge.

    But that does not make it a viable solution, elsewhere. The US has a different set of natural assets to work with, when compared to Israel, or most anywhere.

    The challenge is to fuel the current fleet, not to replace the fleet.

  95. I'm talking about the factory they are subsidizing, in Jordan. The fleet of autos that are being leased out.

    The Israeli will be heavily invested in that fleet, as it ages.
    What are they going to do, with the lease returns?
    Release them, amigo, to the nnext generation of drivers.
    Lease a wreck. Those vehicles will not de-materialize or die after the first leaseholder is done.

    You are the one that claims their Government corrupt, led by selfserving liars and thieves.
    If true, the vehicle fleet is an pretty tempting plum.
    It'll be plucked.

    If the vehicles have any major market penetration, the infrastructure holder has the economy by the balls.

    So many avenues of misadventure, for a corruptable culture to take.

  96. I don't think you know and understand how electricity and electric systems work. What you're saying is completely asinine.

  97. I've got a video disc player in a closet, somewhere ...

    Know a couple of guys that bought into a lot of equipment for Beta, by Sony. How could the better mouse trap not prevail?

    What ever happened to VHS, anyway?

  98. What does that have to do with battery efficiency?

  99. $550 x 12 x 4 = $33,000

    5 years is more than enough to recoup cost and make a handsome profit. These cars are pure electric and therefore technically are very simple and cheap to produce.

  100. Not at all, amigo.

    They propose to build tens of thousands of cars, for the Israeli market.

    With technology propietory to Nissan/Reanault. The cars will use batteries designed for those specific cars.

    Just as a VW engine will not "pop and swap" with a Chevy, the Honda or Toyota battery solution will not "pop and swap" with the Nissan.

    Israel is buying the Nissan technology package.
    First generation consider vehicle to be considered economicly viable.

    If Honda or Toyota develop a better solution, Israel will have already made it's choice. Certainly buyers remorse will set in, when the euphoria erodes. Batteries fail & vehicles under perform expectations.

    When the rest of the world drives DVDs, Israel will be fully invested, in Beta.

  101. Did the Argentinans have the Peanuts ad campaign too?
    Snoopy as car salesman.

  102. It'll be interesting to watch, the downstream realities of such a command economic decision.

    Hope it works out better than the Bricklen did, for the Irish.

  103. You're talking nonsense. The Israeli consumer is not locked into anything. Nissan doesn't have an exclusive to the Israeli market. What Nissan got, is a reduced tariff regime on its product. If Honda wants, Honda can negotiate the same.

  104. Once the subsized factory was built, that 1962 Falcon was manufactured, for the Argentine market, for 29 years.

    Socialism at its best,
    at least they kept a parts inventory that was easy to maintain.

  105. The Israeli Government will not let that segment of their vehicle fleet to vanish, mat.

    They will not grant the subsidies for other technologies. So, while better, the "market" value is warped. Or have the Israeli politico reform, over night?

    Sharon had his financial scandals, Olmert his. They all do.
    Once the factory and infrastructure has made market penetration, they'll own the Government, just as the oil/auto consortium does here.

    That's not nonsense, that's reality.

  106. At least they started with a good BASIC design.
    Kind of the US equivalent of the Beetle, simplicity wise.

  107. The Israeli Government will not allow that segment of their vehicle fleet to vanish, mat.

    They will not grant the subsidies for other technologies. So, while better technologies may present themselves, their "market" value is warped by Government.
    And crediblly so, how many other manufacturers will build the production plant in the Peace Valley? Invest in jobs and infrastructure.

    Those jobs and the political signifigance of the manufacturing facility will become great political fodder. Or have the Israeli politico reformed, over night?

    Sharon had his financial scandals, Olmert his. They all do.
    Once the factory and infrastructure has made market penetration, they'll own the Government, just as the oil/auto consortium does here.

    That's not nonsense, that's reality.

  108. It was, doug.
    They made a good choice with the command decision. But Argentina could only support one production facility.

    It was something to see, Falcons and Brazilian Beetles, everywhere.

    I bought on of those Brazilian Beetles, in Panama. Was a nice, basic, car. Unchanging, too.

  109. No, it is nonsense. Israel has 5 cell phone carriers, using 3 different types of cell phone systems. And that's exactly the business model that applies, not your propriety socialist jibe.

  110. If the car is a lemon, they'll go down with the ship

    Study the Bricklen in Ireland story. It's informative as to how Government reacts, when it's command decisions were not as good as the Argentines, in regards the auto industry.

  111. If the car is a lemon, there will be other that will follow. The business model is sound, regardless of the product.

  112. No, because the investment in a car and the manufacturing facilities is not the same as a cell phone, made in China.

    Or does Israel have three cell phone manufacturers, pumping out product?

    It's the manufacturing plant, the promise of exports, the politicos will sell their souls for that.

    You were saying Spain or was it Portuguel was looking at a pilot program, were you not?

    Nissan/Renault will have your politicos by their wallets and balls. The politicos will protect that factory and those jobs with all the tarriffs one can imagine.

    As you have said, that's their model.

  113. Nissan/Renault may improve its engineering, one would suppose.

    May work out well, for Israel.
    If their cehicle density is the same as ours, we're talkin' 4 million cars, the entire market.

    There are more than that, in Arizona, and I'm betting vehicle density is a lot less, in Israel, at the economic costs you described, earlier.

    So maybe two, three million vehicles, in Israel. At the most.
    A micro market or a test market.

    Phoenix has always been a marketing test market, being historically isolated from other media inputs. Those days of information isolation are about technologically done, though.

  114. Israel has nothing to do with the manufacturing. Israel will provide tax incentives to year 2019 and that's where it ends.

  115. That's never where it ends.

    The polical ramifications and the nature of protectionism means that the Israeli expect to tax or in other ways get an advantage from the facility and infrastructure investments. Either post 2019, as time should not end then, and the factory still in production.
    Or through other fees collected prior to 2019.

    Discounting to get the sale, mat, same way Northern Trust discounted Obama on his first loan. To get that account and future business.

  116. "That's never where it ends."

    Well, that's where it ends here. :)


  117. In an economy such as Israel has, of course the government is instrumental in the manufacturing plant.

    Tax subsidies, tarriff protections, the whole litney will be trotted out, over time.

    That they are not presented in the original marketing, common. Sell the frosting, ignore the cake. But the Nissan cake may turn out to be tasty, could well.

    But a closed auto factory, that's never a sign of a vibrant economy, here or abroad. The Israeli will what it takes, what they can, to prevent that propaganda fiasco from occurring.

  118. @ Fri Jul 04, 11:51:00 AM EDT

    A certain European govt is miffed that they asked for and didn't get a piece of the action. Boo hoo.

    The op had more moving parts than you could shake a stick at. Murphy was on our side this time. No so back in Feb. It failed.

    Better than Entebbe, said one SOC guy I rode with today.

    The French are sensitive.

  119. Being too old to handle firecrackers going off on the wind shield, I came home. But the night is lit up tonite.

    Mat, you know I love ya, but this--

    That's ok, dRat. GM and Ford design their vehicles for a 3 year lifespan.--

    is bs, as my 1960 Ford F-600 an ol' bob can testify, in court, if need be.

    Hell, Mat, last I heard, Cuba was still using 1960 Chevys.

    A mechanic has the world by the balls.

  120. And that's up here in the fuckin' cold without any underseal. Shed 'em good, bring 'em out when needed, they'll serve, like muzzie women.

  121. The only reason these subsidies are needed is so that the industry can grow its capital base to certain critical mass and thus be able to self finance its growth from collateral on assets and cash flow from on going operations.

    Just exactly the argument we farmers have been making all these years, and getting away with it, fucking over the City Suckers.

    Yet, there is more to it than that. I am for carefully targeted help to starting farmers, for political reasons. I want to build up the middle class. But this shit has no justification now, unless it is targeted for starting out farmers. And we need them. Lest we become princedoms in agriculture.

    Bush was right to veto the Farm Bill. Wish it could have stuck.

  122. Rat, you were sparking on a lot of cylinders there, especially with that last ad, I salute you sir, for your memory, and your files!

  123. It was a first class snatch and grab.

    A different scale than Entebee, the Colombians not nearly as ambitious, by distance or size of the rescued passangers.

    Different scope, too. The Colombians using some kind of FARC command feedback loop to order the transfer in the first place.

    Not at all similar to Uganda.

    The Colombians operating in their country, the Isaeli projecting power well into Africa.

    Apples and oranges, not to detract from the Colombian success, but to note it vastly different that going to Uganda and containing an airfield.

  124. The memory is mine, the files are google's, amigo.

  125. Did you see this one, Trish?

    Martin said:

    You want some definitive analysis?

    Here it comes:
    "How dare the Colombians rescue Ingrid Betancourt"

    Yes, Sarkozy freed her by sucking up to Chavez.

    This is what we in Europe have to live with.

  126. .. "Hell, Mat, last I heard, Cuba was still using 1960 Chevys." ..

    And they keep em from falling apart with bubble gum. :D

  127. The only replacement or supplement for oil is ethanol.

    Just a reminder: Fischer-Tropsch process converts coal to liquid fuel. China is currently invested in one plant. South Africa has a functioning plant. Complicated with large capital and O&M costs.

    It seems to me that large coal deposits would enhance the cost-effectiveness of this solution.

  128. Yeah. I think I saw that yesterday. They'll get over it.

    He wasn't referring precisely to scale, Rat, but to other factors and to other outcomes - the former of which will never be reported, the latter purposefully delayed in the media.

    Betancourt was briefed (though not in the specific manner Mat suggested) on the flight to Bogota. Her politics will undergo a seachange. As has the country she'll be returning to here in a few months. It's no longer the one she knew when the was kidnapped.

  129. Bob,

    After a depreciation regime of 10 years, most cars are not worth fixing.

  130. Not so. I have a Mitsubishi 205engine ["one of the best ever built"] in a '98 model that's got at least 200,000 miles on it according to the mechanic. By the time I pay taxes, depreciation, and insurance, I can replace the transmission at least once and come ahead on maintenance, which is exactly what I am doing until the car thing showns some signs of direction.

  131. mat speaks of accounting proccesses, not reality, slade.

    The same is true of a '96 Chevy "Vortex" V-6. While the windshield wiper motor needs to be replaced, occassionally, the Vortex still purrs along. Twelve years om.

  132. As for coal to fuel, may be a solution. I do not think it is as "green" as the ethanol method.

    But if we were to choose to take the coal course to energy independence, fine by me.

    I do think, though, that we could jump start an ethanol program much quicker. The ethanol being capable of decentralized production, while the coal program would be rather centralized and more capital intense. On the face of it.

  133. Krauthammer:


    Two weeks ago, I predicted that by Election Day Obama will have erased all meaningful differences with McCain on withdrawal from Iraq. I underestimated Obama's cynicism. He will make the move much sooner. He will use his upcoming Iraq trip to finally acknowledge the remarkable improvements on the ground and to formally abandon his primary season commitment to a fixed 16-month timetable for removal of all combat troops.

    The shift has already begun. Yesterday, he said that his "original position" on withdrawal has always been that "we've got to make sure that our troops are safe and that Iraq is stable." And that "when I go to Iraq . . . I'll have more information and will continue to refine my policies."

    He hasn't even gone to Iraq and the flip is almost complete. All that's left to say is that the 16-month time frame remains his goal but that he will, of course, take into account the situation on the ground and the recommendation of his generals in deciding whether the withdrawal is to occur later or even sooner.


    I know what Petraeus, Odierno, Mullen and Casey are going to tell him.

  134. Yes carbon would have to be sequestered or recycled but the coal deposits in MT low sulfur.

    I keep it alive because it seems like a strong regional solution to me, as per the argument that European solutions won't work in U.S., which they won't, which means we face a more complicated problem of coordination.

    I am not a Big Oil scold but the international companies have huge capital reserves - recently from stock buy-backs - and the criticism is that they haven't invested - in anything, which they haven't. Big Oil could easily fund one of these plants. I can guarantee a ROI, regardless the O&M costs.

    It's not my intent to argue this. Just keeping it on the table. Regional solutions are intermediate along the centralized-decentralized spectrum.

  135. Obama at a second press conference:

    "Let me be as clear as I can be. I intend to end this war. My first day in office I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in, and I will give them a new mission, and that is to end this war — responsibly, deliberately, but decisively. And I have seen no information that contradicts the notion that we can bring our troops out safely at a pace of one to two brigades a month, and again, that pace translates into having our combat troops out in 16 months' time."

    I repeat: I know what they're going to tell him.

  136. And the beat will go on.

    With a new marketing twist

    But not after he were to gain office, he'd find new commanders within a year.

    It depends on if the SOFA becomes a political issue, here, before November.

  137. 16 months become 24, maybe 30 at the outside

  138. To complete the thought, (1) the energy balance of F-T is better than biofuels, (2) impact on food supply will limit field crops (real or perceived doesn't matter) and (3)commercial trucking won't go electric as fast as the residential fleet.

    Actually am a bit of an advocate. Governor quips that investers are lined up to build the "second plant." The thing that gets me about this line is no guts, no glory.

    We are told American entrepeneurs will rally and the world will once again marvel at those scrappy Yanks.

    Just to close the circle - again - the inevitable consequence of the green movement is to restrain, if not halt, human activity that leaves any kind of footprint. (Do not underestimate these people. A few days ago I almost posted a link to an article coming out of Europe about a group objecting to biofuels on a carbon basis.)

    And so an alternative like F-T plant will never see light of day.

    This is why causation (global warming/climate change) remains a critical issue.

    Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.

    And Accoutants,

    Resource Economists, and


  139. "Just to close the circle - again - the inevitable consequence of the green movement is to restrain, if not halt, human activity that leaves any kind of footprint."

    Except for those who can buy penance.
    BTW - a bit of gossip. The single, 51-year old Governor of Florida has announced his engagement to a 38-year old whom he met last September. I'm sure this is a prerequisite for any VP considerations.

  140. Michael Steele or Charlie Crist:
    Black or Lily White and Lily Livered.

  141. One final thought.

    From Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner (had a reputation as one of the good ones, died young too):

    The generating capacity of the hydropower development of the first part of last century, primarily by Bureau of Reclamation and Corps of Engineers, that put dams across the great rivers of the west, was a critical factor in the ability of this country to quickly mobilize the industrial machine after Pearl Harbor.

    Today of course that construction is viewed in a very different light. Changing paradigms for changing times.

    But it seems to me that the F-T approach would - at a minimum - constitute backup capacity, in the risk management sense, a additional layer of reserve - in the event of massive crop failure or some other unforeseen circumstance likely from countries not friendly to U.S. interests.

    The point - if I can find the right words - is to have redundancy along different vectors - not just quantity of product and reserve storage, but different production streams. Redundancy is a form of mitigation against various failure modes. Systems designers do it all the time.

    Just because production is physically decentralized does not guard against other modes of failure causing various degrees of regional disruption.

    I’ll just park this comment down here and end of story for awhile.

    And penance is just another word for nothing left to mitigate ...

    and ain't none of it free [Janis Joplin or words to that effect]

  142. All true, but there would be no shortage of diesel fuel, if 30% of the gasoline was ethanol.
    Sweet sorghum is not a foodstock for people, but is the premier plant to process, growing well in sub-prime land. The post disterilly product is a cattle feed.

    The first, five year objective would be to supplement to replacement of the Middle East oil imports, then Venezuela's share.

    The age of the average vehicle in the current fleet, a tad short of ten years.
    So a vehicle entering the market has about a twenty year sevice life. There is the minimum liquid fuel requirement, strecthing out for at least thirty plus years.

    Liquifying coal, that'd be ok, too. If we could get 'em built.

  143. The possibilities can be compelling with a little thought.

    I don't see that biofuels present as good a solution for densely populated European countries as it does for U.S. If the U.S. were to pursue the F-T technology, excess capacity could be exported.

    I'm just not seeing an insurmountable downside. The argument is (1) too technically complicated, (2) too capital intensive and (3) too much O&M costs.

    The South Africans have three plants - the last one was built in under 3 years (not to mention the Chinese effort currently underway). Technically they have also done the heavy lifting in refining, if you will, the process. I expect there is some O&M expense but at least you don't have to worry about crop failure due to weather, pathogens, etc. And the process provides feedstock for rubber, plastics, and other chemicals so it is becoming a diverse product range with multiple revenue streams.

    Just to reiterate, I am not necessarily trying to convince anyone here, but the larger point is this "no can do" thing that seems to be the New American Way.

    That's not good.

  144. Secret report: biofuel caused food crisis

    It [latest study] argues that production of biofuels has distorted food markets in three main ways. First, it has diverted grain away from food for fuel, with over a third of US corn now used to produce ethanol and about half of vegetable oils in the EU going towards the production of biodiesel. Second, farmers have been encouraged to set land aside for biofuel production. Third, it has sparked financial speculation in grains, driving prices up higher.**[via Glenn Reynolds]

    Based on this logic, the use of a non-food crop like sweet sorghum would still be viewed as an impact because corn field acreage is being transferred into biofuel crops.

    Second, the food impact in Europe** is probably more “real” than it would be in U.S., but that wouldn’t stop the trans-Atlantic export of the argument into this country for the purpose of constraining the biofuels industry.

    The speculative angle is interesting (even if no corn acreage were converted into alternate crop).

    The two approaches will be negotiated against each other. If food is your issue, then build a F-T plant. If Big Oil is your issue, then plant - and be prepared to mitigate acres of lost habitat - poor quality or not, I can guarantee you there is something living there.

    Biofuels - corn or sorghum - won’t be killed by a single study, but the policy position lines are being drawn. Not a slam dunk.

    I do not believe these people to be owned by Big Oil.

    True Believers.

    And that is my final final word on the subject. At some point, the various proponents are going to have to hold their noses and work with each other in order to deal with environmental and regulatory issues. That’s what I don’t see happening. Too much extremism for building coalitions - Mother Gaia vs. Big Oil. It’s going to be one little mini-crisis after another for at least a decade, more likely two, until we stumble on something workable.

    **the same Europe that discourages production and importation of bio-engineered food crops.

  145. The possibilities can be compelling with a little thought.

    And obviously not suggesting that anyone here has not given the requisite thought. Just the way I write.

  146. The other thing about coal-to-liquid is reduced discovery risk. The coal is there - near the surface too so safety issues of mine tunnels not applicable as in eastern coal deposits. The uncertainty of discovery completely absent from the "cost of exploration" equation.

    And I think this pony is good and dead. Whack. Yep. Dead.

    It is completely unacceptable that the people who get paid to have sharp pencils seem to be missing in action.

    If this country insists on voting personality over politics, McCain has the force to bend these trendlines in a direction that benefits the future of the U.S.A. The Democrats will contine to try to be all things to all people. McCain will make decisions.

    As I have.