“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."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Should Georgia be Included in NATO?

Do you see a President Obama in this picture?

Joe Biden predicted that shortly after taking office, President Obama would be tested somewhere by someone. Georgia seems a likely place. The issue will be NATO expansion into Georgia.

Putin is a ruthless, dangerous and violent KGB trained thug. He would love nothing more than to humiliate Georgia's Mikheil Saakashvili. Putin has publicly threatened to cut his ball off. Putin certainly has the EU by the balls regarding energy. A nice little nasty scare in Europe would be good for the suffering Russia energy business.

NATO expansion into Eastern Europe was always contradictory to the stated goal of including Russia into the West. A missile defense system, parked on Russian borders is hard to explain to the Russians while maintaining a straight face.

At best Obama is ambivalent over missile defense. Do not be surprised to see it be traded away in eastern Europe. Georgia in NATO? Not likely.

Putin has more to gain and very little to lose in challenging the new American President over Georgia.


Obama, Misha and the Bear

Published: November 19, 2008
TBILISI, Georgia

A wounded, angry bear is loose north of here, and it has people terrified.

The bear has ravaged this lovely country, a booming capitalist enclave that worships America, relies on a much-praised flat tax and has uprooted corruption almost overnight (in part by firing every traffic cop in the country).

A main road here is named for President George W. Bush, who visited in 2005. Everybody studies English, sometimes in the local McDonald’s franchises, and people seem bewildered at Western doubts about their behavior toward the Russians.

“We thought we had escaped them, and they came back and raped us,” said Alexander Rondeli, who runs a think tank in Tbilisi. “And people in the West are saying we have to tell them to be our guest.”

The architect of today’s Georgia is Mikheil Saakashvili. Misha, as he is universally known, is young, brilliant, charismatic, American-educated and staffs his government with people like him. You get the sense that any given Georgian cabinet official is about half the age and double the I.Q. of his or her American equivalent.

Now with Georgians mauled by the bear in the brief August war, they desperately want to join NATO for protection, and one of the few things that Barack Obama and John McCain agreed on in the campaign was to oblige by continuing the process of admitting Georgia into NATO.

In fact, that’s an awful idea. President-elect Obama needs a new approach to Russia if we want to avoid a new cold war, and we also need to get over our crush on Misha.

Look carefully and you see that Georgia isn’t quite the shining beacon of democracy that Americans sometimes believe.

“Journalists are basically forbidden from telling real stories,” said Sopho Mosidze, a television journalist. “If you watch Russian TV or Georgian TV, it’s the same. It’s government propaganda.”

Ms. Mosidze is bitter partly because the station she was working at a year ago was stormed by special forces carrying guns while she was anchoring a news show. She said that troops cut off the signal and then beat up some of the journalists. The channel soon was reborn as a pro-government station. Indeed, today all nationally broadcast TV stations are in effect controlled by the government.

Then there is the Georgian War of August. It’s still not clear exactly how the war started, but what is certain is that Misha’s narrative — an unprovoked Russian invasion that forced Georgian troops to try to defend their territory — is nonsense.

The most likely explanation is that Misha, tired of continuous Russian provocations and emboldened by American support, saw a chance to recover territories that Russians were nibbling on. That was spectacularly reckless, and as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented, the Georgian Army (along with Russia’s) fired cluster bombs that harmed civilians.

“It was possible to avoid this war,” said Nino Burjanadze, a former close ally of Misha who last month formed an opposition party to challenge him. “Because of miscalculation, my country was involved in a war it was clear that it would lose.”

Russia took advantage of the war on the territory of one of Georgia’s breakaway republics to invade Georgia proper, and, if it hadn’t been for forceful American and European protests, Russian troops might well have overrun Tbilisi.

Since then, the United States has announced a $1 billion package of aid for Georgia. We should remember that military assistance would be a waste, for Georgia’s Army will never be strong enough to deter Russia. In contrast, trade and investment give Georgia international economic weight and probably help discourage a Russian invasion.

Note to Mr. Obama: It would be a nightmare to have our troops tethered through NATO to Misha. In any case, Georgia doesn’t obviously qualify for NATO membership since it doesn’t control its full territory, while the talk about NATO pushes all the wrong Russian nationalist buttons.

“NATO is not Georgia’s future,” said Amy Denman, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia. “Georgia’s future is economic growth. If they can continue the economic growth cycle they’re on, they’re safe.”

Because Russia behaves irresponsibly — including its latest disgraceful threat to base missiles near Poland — the temptation in the Obama administration will be to continue with NATO expansion and perhaps even with the ill-advised missile system for Europe. (We have so many better ways to spend money!) Instead, let’s engage Russia as we engage China — while still bluntly calling Russia on its uncivilized behavior.

Poking badly behaved bears is no substitute for sober diplomacy. We don’t want Barack to be another Misha.


  1. Removal of US forces from Germany is long overdue, at least the massive ground force and tactical air wings. I suppose an argument might be made for a logistics capability for airlifts to elsewhere, but even that's probably arguable.

    Rent the anti-missile batteries to the Poles, if they want them.

    Bringing Georgia into NATO seems reaching too far, for many reasons.

  2. Stephen Sestanovich in Foreign Affairs:


    As officials in the next U.S. administration examine the individual pieces of a U.S.-Russian relationship gone bad, they will have many reasons to consider specific changes in policy. On issues ranging from the military balance to democracy promotion to Russia's relations with its neighbors, new U.S. policymakers will review what is working and what is not and try to fashion a new and more productive relationship. The most significant obstacle they will face, however, is not the complexity of the individual issues in dispute -- many of those are, actually, exceedingly simple. It is the fact that Russia's leaders have gone a long way toward reconceiving the relationship. In their view, common interests and strategic compatibility are no longer at its core.


    The impact of Russia's new strategic outlook will be particularly evident when the next U.S. administration reviews U.S. arms control policy. The East-West treaties on nuclear and conventional weapons negotiated at the end of the Cold War have caused a more massive and more dramatic reshaping of military forces than is generally recognized. Since 1990, with little fanfare and virtually no opposition on either side, the number of Russian nuclear warheads on intercontinental ballistic missiles -- which make up the largest part of Russia's nuclear force -- has been cut by almost 70 percent. Also with no controversy, the largest part of the United States' strategic nuclear force -- weapons deployed on submarines -- has been cut by almost 50 percent. Cuts in conventional forces have been even more dramatic: the number of U.S. tanks in Europe has dropped from over 5,000 to 130; Germany has eliminated more than 5,000 tanks of its own; Russia, over 4,000; and the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine, together almost 8,000 tanks. With all this dismantling going on, the U.S.-Russian military balance gradually became the quietest corner of the relationship.

    Now, however, arms control is back at center stage. One reason is the calendar: the two treaties on U.S.-Russian strategic arms reductions will expire during the next U.S. president's term. But far more important is Moscow's altered view of what is at stake. The former chief of the Russian general staff, Yuri Baluyevsky, declared earlier this year that U.S. nuclear policies reflect a "drive for strategic domination." Ignoring the ongoing decline in military forces across Europe, Putin has charged that other states are taking advantage of Russia's peaceful nature to wage an "arms race" (and on this basis, in December 2007 he suspended Russia's compliance with the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe). Russian officials also insist that the U.S. missile defense system planned for deployment in eastern Europe after 2012 is, despite Washington's denials, designed to neutralize Russia's strategic deterrent. To thwart this, they say, Russia must deploy nuclear forces that restore it to a position of rough equality with the United States. "National security," Putin and his successor as president, Dmitry Medvedev, have taken to saying, "is not based on promises."

    Many U.S. foreign policy specialists look at the return of arms control with a mixture of boredom and regret. Most stopped viewing Russia as an interesting security problem years ago. In the U.S. military, Russian issues are no longer where the promotions are. When civilian experts bother with the issue of strategic arms reductions, it is usually not because they think that the U.S.-Russian strategic balance matters but because they want to revive attention to some related issue, such as "loose" nuclear weapons and materials or the need for the United States and Russia to strengthen nonproliferation efforts by making large cuts in their own arsenals. It is telling that the most significant arms control idea of recent years, advanced by the Cold War veterans Kissinger, Sam Nunn, William Perry, and George Shultz, has been nuclear abolition. Mere nuclear parity apparently bores them, too.

    Hostility to old-style arms control and inattention to the growing mismatch between U.S. and Russian thinking on national security clearly led the Bush administration to mishandle these issues with Moscow. Merely dismissing Moscow's charges that the U.S. missile defense plans threaten Russia's security has not stopped the Russians from objecting -- or from winning the sympathy of some U.S. allies. Washington proposed allowing Russian military monitors at the U.S. missile defense sites in the Czech Republic and Poland, but the Czechs and the Poles opposed this plan, giving Moscow one more reason to complain.

    To keep military issues from becoming a continuing source of U.S.-Russian discord, the next U.S. president will want to adopt a different approach. He will surely drop his predecessor's resistance to formal and legally binding arms control agreements. Yet both Washington and Moscow will further benefit by preserving some elements of the Bush administration's outlook -- above all, the recognition that the treaties that work best are those that allow each side maximum flexibility in implementation. If both sides can also agree that their military forces do not really threaten each other, they will not have to sweat every detail over limiting them.

    On this basis, arms control could once more become the easy part of the U.S.-Russian agenda. Washington and Moscow would face no real obstacles to the quick negotiation of a new strategic arms treaty that preserved the framework of existing treaties while making further (although probably small) cuts. The current impasse over conventional forces might also be resolved, which could result in bringing more states into the treaty, lowering the caps on major weapons systems, and easing the restrictions on deployments within a country's own boundaries (the last a feature that the Russians have long and loudly denounced as "colonial"). On missile defense, an understanding could be easily reached that offered Russia concrete and binding commitments that U.S. deployment plans would not be fully implemented if the threat from Iran did not grow; for its part, Moscow would not try to block them if the threat did grow.

    This should not turn out to be a completely fanciful forecast. Putin quietly laid the groundwork for such an agreement on missile defense in the statement that he and Bush issued in the Black Sea port of Sochi last spring. In it, Putin declared that the conditions Washington had offered to place on the deployment and operation of its radars and interceptors in eastern Europe would, if fully and sincerely put into practice, "assuage" Russia's concerns. Although this language will hardly keep Putin from trying to get still better terms from a new U.S. administration, his approach does suggest that Russia's leaders do not necessarily believe the charges they level against Washington. Resolving outstanding disagreements on nuclear and other security issues would not remove all the contentious issues in U.S.-Russian relations, much less revive the consensus of 2002. But it would achieve what arms control advocates claimed to want in the latter years of the Cold War: a measure of predictability and mutual confidence in the relationship. And for now, that would be progress enough.

    Why, then, is it so hard to imagine such a new round of agreements? Many of the major players in Russian domestic politics have benefited from the new atmosphere that Moscow's angry zero-sum rhetoric has created: the military leaders whose budget has grown by almost 500 percent since 2000, the political leaders who have made suspicion of the outside world a kind of ersatz regime ideology, the bureaucrats and businesspeople who say that reviving the defense industry will require continued infusions of state funds. None of these groups will change course except very reluctantly. The balance of power between the United States and Russia may matter to them, but the balance of power within Russian politics matters even more. Until Russia's domestic situation changes, it may be a long time before military issues again become the quiet corner of U.S.-Russian relations.


  3. Cont.



    When Russian tanks rolled across a neighbor's borders this past summer, they forced new choices on U.S. policymakers: how and how much to support a small Western nation with no chance of resisting a Russian invasion. Yet even if the choices were new, the policy behind them was not. From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed, it was the policy of the United States and its Western allies to give Russia's neighbors, like other postcommunist states, a chance to integrate themselves into the Western world. In the 1990s, states of the former Soviet Union -- unlike Hungary and Poland, or even Bulgaria and Romania -- were not considered good candidates for the ultimate prize: full membership in the European Union and NATO. But they enjoyed many other forms of support from the West: sponsorship of oil and gas pipelines that provided access to international markets, the encouragement of foreign direct investment, mediation efforts to resolve separatist disputes, technical advice to speed accession to the World Trade Organization, training and equipment to combat drug trafficking and nuclear smuggling, cooperation on intelligence and counterterrorism, and funding for nongovernmental election-monitoring groups. All these were the same tools that the United States employed in its relations with Russia, and their goal was also the same: to encourage the emergence of somewhat modern-looking, somewhat European-looking political and economic systems from the post-Soviet rubble.

    At first, this U.S. policy did not threaten U.S.-Russian relations. But then, something unexpected happened: Russia's neighbors began to succeed. In the past five years, the economic growth of many former Soviet states has outstripped Russia's own. While Russia became less democratic, several of its neighbors made important political breakthroughs. All of them began to seek ties with the West that would bring them out of Moscow's shadow, and two -- Georgia and Ukraine -- have sought to lay claim to membership in the European Union and NATO.

    In part because U.S. policy had not really changed over time, Washington probably underestimated the significance of encouraging such aspirations. It surely underrated the single-mindedness of Russia's opposition. With its own economy reviving, Moscow sought to block Western pipeline projects and to close off the West's military access to air bases in Central Asia. It accused Western nongovernmental organizations of trying to destabilize Russia's neighbors. And in April, Putin labeled the further enlargement of NATO "a direct threat to the security of our country."

    In all this, the United States and Europe misjudged their ability to help Russia's neighbors slip into the Western orbit without a full-blown international crisis. Now that there has been a test of strength, and Russian strength has prevailed, many of the tools of Western policy are severely damaged. Those NATO members that had endorsed eventual membership for Georgia or Ukraine are now divided on the issue. Those former Soviet states that had viewed closer cooperation with NATO (even without membership in the alliance) as a critical lifeline to the outside world now wonder whether this is still a good idea. Energy producers in Central Asia that were considering new pipelines outside the Russian network may see such projects as too risky. Western mediation efforts are on hold along Russia's entire periphery; in Georgia, they are dead.

    Yet whatever else Putin has accomplished in his pummeling of Georgia, he has failed at the most important thing. Even as Russian leaders have begun to speak openly about their desire for a sphere of influence, their actions have made Russia's acquisition of such a sphere less, not more, acceptable to the United States and Europe. It is now necessary to consider whether Russia's invasion marks the beginning of a concerted drive by Moscow to restore its influence over other post-Soviet states. In the past, such a revival might have seemed undesirable in the West for sentimental reasons. Today, the reasons are more serious. There can be no doubt that a Russia that dominated an industrial powerhouse such as Ukraine, an energy storehouse such as Kazakhstan, and the other pieces of the old Soviet Union as well would change the national security calculations of virtually all the world's leading states.

    Because the stakes are high, simple prudence will oblige the next U.S. administration to move cautiously. Whatever Washington embarks on now, it must be able to carry through, and that rules out overreaching. To have broader options down the road, U.S. policymakers must offer Georgia, in the short term, effective humanitarian relief; then, support for economic stabilization and reconstruction; and, after that, help in restoring the country's armed forces. As such steps begin to succeed, the question of Georgia's membership in NATO will arise again. Georgia deserves a place in the Western alliance, but nothing will do more harm to Georgia's security than to raise the issue before NATO is ready with an answer.

    Rebuilding Georgia -- and rebuilding a policy that gives post-Soviet states a place in the Western world -- must be the first order of business for the next U.S. administration. There is no other way to deal seriously with the wreckage created by Russian aggression. But in making this effort, the United States and its European allies will have to wrestle with a seeming paradox: in the past, the United States was able to do more for Russia's neighbors when its own relations with Moscow were good (and the neighbors' relations with Moscow were at least civil). For the foreseeable future, U.S.-Russian relations will not be good, and that will impose a serious burden on U.S. policy. There is no way to break cleanly out of this box, but to do so at all, the United States needs to regain the diplomatic initiative. It needs ideas and proposals that can blunt Russia's recent strategy while offering Moscow a different path to international influence.


    Worth reading in its entirety.

  4. Georgia has to be a European problem. Europe has to go its own way out of necessity. We cannot afford to do otherwise.

    Simply stated, we have to learn when to declare victory and go home.

  5. ... we have to learn when to declare victory and go home.

    Certainly true words, but, even more important than knowing when to go home, knowing when to intervene, outside the US, is even more important.

    Richard Cheney made this point well, in 1991. When he was a spokesman for "conservatives" and not the Federal Socialists.

    Before you commit U.S. forces, there are certain questions you need to be able to answer. You need an objective that you can define in military terms. Our military knows how to liberate a country, destroy a navy, take down an air force; those are militarily achievable objectives. But if you say, "Go in and stop the bloodshed in Bosnia," that's not sufficiently clear to build a mission around. Does that mean you're going to put a U.S. soldier between every Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Muslim?

    A second requirement is to specify rules of engagement. The soldier or marine in the trenches needs ground rules -- what we call "rules of engagement" -- about how he is to achieve his mission. Whom does he shoot? How much force can he use, and under what circumstances? That's very difficult to define in this nebulous kind of civil war that's been raging in Bosnia. Who's the enemy? And how do you tell the good guys from the bad guys? Is this a three-sided conflict among Serb, Muslim, and Croat, or a two-sided conflict between Muslim and Serb? That's never been very well defined.

    You also need to know what constitutes victory. How would you define it? How would you know when you had achieved it? And finally, how do you get out? What's the end game? How do you wrap it all up? And what's the cost in terms of American lives in that involvement?

    Truer words were never spoken, by Mr Cheney, to bad he forgot them when it was his turn at the wheel.

  6. You also need to know what constitutes victory.

    How would you define it?

    How would you know when you had achieved it?

    And finally, how do you get out?
    What's the end game?

    How do you wrap it all up?

    And what's the cost in terms of American lives in that involvement?

  7. No. Not Georgia, not the Ukraine. Already the US has too much stuff in Europe. War is over.

    Might be nice to have some military hospitals and some empty equipped bases where US troops could quickly arrive and go. They would serve as launch pads.

    But that's about it.

  8. Overheard at the Kremlin last Spring: "Georgia has to be a European problem."

    Certainly scored on that.

    I guess now we only await reassignment of the Russia problem.

  9. Cheney didn't forget. No one forgot. They just failed to foresee - and then, once the denial wore off, found themselves trapped in the exceedingly unpleasant and unexpected.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. To say that Mr Cheney & Company "forgot" is to lessen their guilt of ineptitude and worse, dereliction of duty.

    If, as you say trish, they had not forgotten those words, but elected to ignored them, they are guilty of criminal mismanagement of the United States.

    I'd rather think that they forgot the importance of their own core values. Rather than Team43 merely dismissing them, in a craven pursuit of power politics and military over reach.

    Because, it was not that hard to foresee the quagmire they entered and in June of 2003 chose to remain in.

  12. The Dow is at 7850, and you're talking NATO expansion? WTF is wrong with you people.

  13. On a scale and scope that bears little to no relationship to the Bill Clinton's military adventure in Bosnia that Mr Cheney was critizing in 1991.

    Your postition, trish, if true, shows just how little value Mr Cheney and Company put on US lives and treasure.

    If your position is accurate, the politicians and Generals involved should all be cashiered. The politicos are gone, fired by the electorate. Let US hope that Mr Obama occompishes the same kind of house cleaning in the Pentagon.

  14. I recall you, trish, wanting to redefine words in the English language ...

    INSURGENT comes to mind. We were not to use that accurate description of the Iraqi insurgents. It would provide an accurate description of whom we were primarily fighting, early on in '03 and '04.

    Not aQ, but the Sunni Tribes of Anbar.

  15. The realignment of USF Europe has been underway for sometime, moving both CONUS and eastward. Replacement facilities, even bare bones, don't often produce themselves or come cheap. Where to put them is the question.

    And with the exception of those occupying Joint billets, what's in Europe deploys along with everyone else. (Ditto USF ROK.) At this point they're essentially garrisoned expeditionary forces.

  16. Addiction to power projection is hard to overcome, mat.

    There is no reason for the US to maintain a land Army in Korea. None at all.

  17. "INSURGENT comes to mind. We were not to use that accurate description of the Iraqi insurgents. It would provide an accurate description of whom we were primarily fighting, early on in '03 and '04."

    This brings up two issues. First, that of Executive Branch denial - as in, "Insurgency? What insurgency?" This continued well beyond the point of simply adding to the joke material available nightly to Leno and Letterman. Months were lost to a bizarre, and exceptionally deadly, Alfred E. Neuman play that took years to recover from.

    The second issue was a not insignificant one of terminology and its consequences. "Insurgents" in Afghanistan were "terrorists"; "terrorists" in Afghanistan were "insurgents." JSOC took a dim view of CENTCOM's language and visa versa. CENTCOM prevailed.

  18. Nation building in Afghanistan is a fools errand, taking Osama's head is not.

    Using bin Laden metaphoricly, to represent the current and past jihadi with operational reach into the United States on 9-11-01.

    There could be, as President-elect Obama is paraphrased as saying, a year ago, "40 to 50,000 hard core jihadi that have to die".

    Hope he gets on with it.
    Finds his General Grant, post haste.

  19. Because, it was not that hard to foresee the quagmire they entered and in June of 2003 chose to remain in.

    Thu Nov 20, 10:15:00 AM EST

    Hard enough that they didn't.

  20. Nation building in Afghanistan is a fools errand...

    - Rat

    Well, then, you better get ready, Rat. Because nation building in Afghanistan is, in part, what we're going to do.

  21. There are none so blind
    as those that will not see.

    That refuse to see the forest, for the trees.

  22. As to Afghanistan, there is little doubt that the US will expend blood and treasure in a fools errand, trish.

    But "Nation building", by the US military does not meet any of the Cheney prerequisites. 'Conservatives' should be opposed to "Nation building" because of that, alone.

    The objective should be to identify and kill those 40 to 50,000 jihadi and destroy the infrastructure that supports them.

    If we insist upon replicating the errors of our past performances, well then, that's what we'll do.

    If we use some nation building techniques, to tamp down on the local Afghan insurgents, while we prepare to kill the 50,000 jihadi, that could be tactically sound.

    If the real Mission is to establish a democratic Islamic republic in Afghanistan, one man one vote, through extended cycles, that's a fools game.

  23. Great t-shirt I saw on TV last week: No Worry Beforee.

  24. There is no reason for the US to maintain a land Army in Korea. None at all.

    I'm sure there be many military contractors and Washington corruptokrats that will disagree.

  25. If President-elect Obama's 'Civilian Action Corps' were to take on the Nation building, why then that could provide a path around the Cheney prerequisites for military operations.

    If Obama's Corps is used in a manner that extends US influence, with a civilian footprint rather than a military one. Then that would be something to see.
    A nation builder deployeed for each soldier or Marine there now.

    30 to 40,000 US troops and a like number of Civilian Corps workers.

    Perhaps they'd become civilian corpses, but the military could provide security overwatch to avoid that prospect.

  26. They have for at least twenty years, mat.
    When I was there, in the mid 80's, the ROK were fully capable of defending themselves.

    Completely capable, on the ground, at least.
    The was no need for US to be there, not to defend South Korea, anyway.

  27. But "Nation building", by the US military does not meet any of the Cheney prerequisites. 'Conservatives' should be opposed to "Nation building" because of that, alone.

    - Rat

    Gosh, Rat, we do it here in Colombia. I'm assuming Cheney doesn't oppose that. We've been doing it in pockets in Afghanistan as well for the better part of a decade. Getting to where we are in Colombia - that's the hard part, and Afghanistan started that much further behind. Like...without a functioning government. Making a merely dysfunctional one appear ideal.

    Nation building is simply a part of COIN, among other things. If you DON'T do it, you will never flip those towns and villages outside your capital that bring you so much grief.

  28. The was no need for US to be there, not to defend South Korea, anyway.

    Well, maybe Saakashvili can provide a his backers a war in S Korea. A cold war, a fake war, there's plenty to pick from the menu.

  29. Staying in Iraq wasn't about "nation-building." It was all about staying between Iran, and Saudi/Iraqi/Kuwaiti/Abu Dhabi oil.

  30. But that is tactical, trish, not related to why it matters, strategicly.

    If the core of the operational jihadists are killed, then who rules the out towns of Afghanistan makes no difference. We could leave.

    Let the local warlords lord over them, as they have for thousands of years. Since Alexander, at least.

    If the real opjective is not the decapitation of radical jihadi, then social engineering in Afghanistan will fair no better than social engineering we've attempted in Washington DC or New Orleans.
    Worse, in fact, guarenteed.

  31. If that is so rufus, it was poorly done.

    As the need has not changed, but the ability of US politicos to continue it, that has evaporated.
    In the face of the rejection of the deployment by the US electorate.

  32. "Insurgents" in Afghanistan were "terrorists"; "terrorists" in Afghanistan were "insurgents."

    Typo. Rather, "terrorists" in Iraq were "insurgents."

    The guys from Qatar and Iraq would come to Afghanistan and use "insurgents" and the guys in Afghanistan would look at one another thinking, "WTF?"

  33. Gosh, trish, the US Military should not be "Nation building".

    That is not a military mission, it shoould not be. The results in Iraq speak volumes to that. As discussed an earlier thread some 95% of Iraqi infrastructure is Nationalized.
    As it had been under Saddam.

    If a US Civilian Corps had been "Rebuilding Iraq" instead of the military, that non-democratic solution, to maintain the socialized economy, could have been addressed. The Iraqi economy privatized, over a six year program, starting in 2003.

    The military has proven incapable of nation building, they should not be doing it, but handing off that mission to an enhanced civilian operation.

  34. I though you spent a couple of years saying decapitation was fruitless, Rat. Imagine my defensiveness.

    But you have to have both direct action and civil/economic development. More or less in tandem.

    Remember when Yon called Afghanistan a big game preserve for SOF?

    He was right on the money.

  35. "That is not a military mission"

    Says who?

  36. Speaking of
    WTF is wrong with these people:

    Big Three CEOs Flew Private Jets to Plead for Public Funds
    Auto Industry Close to Bankruptcy But They Get Pricey Perk

    November 19, 2008—

    The CEOs of the big three automakers flew to the nation's capital yesterday in private luxurious jets to make their case to Washington that the auto industry is running out of cash and needs $25 billion in taxpayer money to avoid bankruptcy.

    The CEOs of GM, Ford and Chrysler may have told Congress that they will likely go out of business without a bailout yet that has not stopped them from traveling in style, not even First Class is good enough.

    All three CEOs - Rick Wagoner of GM, Alan Mulally of Ford, and Robert Nardelli of Chrysler - exercised their perks Tuesday by flying in corporate jets to DC. Wagoner flew in GM's $36 million luxury aircraft to tell members of Congress that the company is burning through cash, asking for $10-12 billion for GM alone.

    "We want to continue the vital role we've played for Americans for the past 100 years, but we can't do it alone," Wagoner told the Senate Banking Committee.

    While Wagoner testified, his G4 private jet was parked at Dulles airport. It is just one of a fleet of luxury jets owned by GM that continues to ferry executives around the world despite the company's dire financial straits.

    "This is a slap in the face of taxpayers," said Tom Schatz, President of Citizens Against Government Waste. "To come to Washington on a corporate jet, and asking for a hand out is outrageous."

    Wagoner's private jet trip to Washington cost his ailing company an estimated $20,000 roundtrip. In comparison, seats on Northwest Airlines flight 2364 from Detroit to Washington were going online for $288 coach and $837 first class.

    After the hearing, Wagoner declined to answer questions about his travel.

    Ford CEO Mulally's corporate jet is a perk included for both he and his wife as part of his employment contract along with a $28 million salary last year. Mulally actually lives in Seattle, not Detroit. The company jet takes him home and back on weekends.

    Plants Closed, Company Jets Stay

    Mulally made his case Tuesday before the committee saying he's cut expenses, laid-off workers and closed 17 plants.

    "We have also reduced our work force by 51,000 employees in the past three years," Mulally said.

    Yet Ford continues to operate a fleet of eight private jets for its executives. Just Tuesday, one jet was taking Ford brass to Los Angeles, another on a trip to Nebraska, and of course Mulally needed to fly to Washington to testify. He did not address questions following the hearing.

    "Now's not the time to do that sort of thing," said John McElroy of the television program "Autoline Detroit."

    "Now's the time to be humble and show that you're sharing equally in the sacrifice," McElroy said.

    GM and Ford say that it is a corporate decision to have their CEOs fly on private jets and that is non-negotiable, even as the companies say they are running out of cash.

    Private jet travel is perhaps the greatest perk of all for CEOs, who say it allows them to travel more efficiently and safely, even in a recession.

    AIG, despite the $150 billion bailout, still operates a fleet of corporate jets. The company says it has put two out of its seven jets up for sale and is reviewing the use of others. Though there are no such plans by GM or Ford.

    "It appears that the senior management of the automakers simply don't get it," said Schatz.

  37. With all due respect, trish, I do agree that "nation building" is and has been a large part of the Military mission, especially in Iraq but I'm not sure they are an organization that is particularly well suited for that task. The majority of training is not centered on 'how to nation build' is it? Is there any in basic?

  38. With all due respect, ash, I agree.

    Nation building is not in most cases primarily a military task. And in Afghanistan, the greatest challenge is bringing in the non Gov infrastructure capability - a tall order. Special Operations had/has its own resources for that, but you require something obviously more comprehensive.

    I think the very term has become something like a bucket of chum for any number of angry and/or exploitive constituencies.

    Not that there's anything wrong with that.

    If you like chum.

  39. Me, I'd just like to locate a good burger.


  41. And a frosty glass of unsweetened iced tea.

  42. 2164th,

    I just managed to clear an hour's time and I watched that Nial Ferguson interview. Well worth the hour!! Thanks so much for bringing it to my attention!

  43. I guess if you're ever going to be a hero, and get rich, now is the time. Let it sell off for the first hour, or so, tomorrow; and back up the truck. It may not get to my 6970 target, but 7400 is close enough. Good Luck, this might be the money-making opportunity of a lifetime.

    DON'T use Margin.

  44. Then again there may be some more selling pressure coming up for the next month as the tax year comes to a close. If you've got any capital gains to erase plenty of losses to negate the tax exposure (can you reach back a few years in the States? - you can in Canada).

  45. Yeah, you can. Hell, Ash, I guess it "Could" go to 5, or 4; but, I really think we're about there.

    We'll see. Don't spend the Rent Money. :)

  46. hehehe, it shore seems like gamblin'

    "Merrill Lynch's chief investment strategist Richard Bernstein published a report Thursday that started with the logic that “history shows well that, contrary to popular belief, being late relative to a market bottom is usually a preferable strategy to being early. The worst performance tends to come right before the financial market's bottom.”

    “Rather than trying to pinpoint a market bottom index level or picking a specific point in time when the market might bottom, we think investors should follow a reliable set of indicators and invest according to those indicators,” said the veteran Merrill strategist. “Our indicators are improving, but have not given an 'all clear' signal."

  47. Yeah, there's that theory, too.

  48. Percent change in last year:

    Garmin: -77.3%
    Darden Restaurants: -56.6%
    Black & Decker: -53.4%

    But past year dividend growth > 10%

    Improving Dividends

  49. Garmin looks like a good buy - beaten down 77%, p/e 5 with a 4% dividend yield...

  50. However, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the alliance would support efforts by former communist nations to join the military alliance regardless of opposition from Russia. He added that NATO was not prepared to sacrifice the alliance's enlargement for good relations with Russia.

    He also backed calls for an independent inquiry into the Russia-Georgia conflict. ‘I support those that want an independent inquiry into what happened exactly.

    But independently of who fired the first shots, the use of force by Russia was disproportionate and the subsequent recognition of parts of Georgian territory cannot in any possibility be considered legal,' he said.

    Ties With Russia

  51. It was reassuring to hear the thoughtful and inspiring speech from the White House this afternoon. These may be tough times but at least we know the President gets it.

  52. Your welcome Ash.

    T, your link, is astounding.

  53. ...and speaking of assholes what are the Europeans waiting for when it comes to interest rate reductions?

  54. Interesting interview with Robert Novak over at Townhall. I always like Novak and his partner Rowland Evans. He answers a question about George Bush and compares him to some other Presidents:

    "Q: How would you rate George Bush's presidency?

    A: Poor. I have said that the presidency is a leadership role; it's not an administrative job. You can't run the country -- it's too complicated. A leader's role is to lead this diverse, cranky, difficult country and get the people moving in the same direction. George Bush has totally failed at that.

    While I believe Roosevelt was overall a terrible president and prolonged the Depression by his policies, he was an excellent leader. People were down on the country, down on themselves, down on the government, and he picked them up.

    Reagan was a great leader. I think Kennedy was terribly overrated, but he was a good leader. I don't think George Bush even comprehends the demands of leadership. I went to see him when he was governor of Texas. I should have gotten a warning at the time. He expressed such contempt for Washington. If I were smarter, I would have seen huge trouble ahead from somebody who has that many negative feelings about the job.

    The only president in my time I give a passing grade to is Reagan. I thought Nixon was the worst -- a vicious little man. He never should have been president. The one I have the hardest time giving a grade to is Clinton. Did he have talent? Absolutely -- he was a very accomplished man. But what did he do? I don't think he accomplished anything. I think he was very good on the Cold War. But he seemed to be a man with limited horizons and ambitions."

  55. Plame closed with the message urging young people toward a career in public service despite what had happened to her.

    "I would urge any and all young people toward a career in public service. We need all hands on deck right now," Plame said.

    "There are too many things that need to be fixed, I know it sounds corny but it is true: you are working for something bigger than yourself."

    Tells Her Story

  56. In today's mail.

    For Rufus, et al:

    Register with the Oilgae Newsletter and get to know the latest -

    Mississippi catfish farms to Australia's outback...biofuels on the move.

  57. Interesting link, Sam. Isn't SMU where W's libary is goin' in?

    Looks like Val needs some spendin' money for new outfits if she has to leave the wine and cheese crowd in Taos to hit the lecture circuit.

    What a bitch.

    I hope W has the backbone to pardon Scooter on his way out.

  58. Governor Deval Patrick announced today that clean technology company Lilliputian Systems of Wilmington will expand its factory and add more than 100 new jobs in the coming months.


    Lilliputian’s “USB Mobile Power System” could help users of consumer electronic products realize a 600 percent efficiency improvement over traditional wall chargers, drastically affecting how we power mobile phones, video games, digital cameras, Bluetooth headsets or virtually any product that utilizes a USB port. Additionally, the product will create a recyclable solution that drastically reduces landfill waste associated with other battery alternatives.

    Further, the USB Mobile Power System can be powered by a variety of clean fuels including butane or biofuels when available.

    Adding 100 Jobs

  59. Not sure where his library's going, Linear.

  60. The Dow is at 7850, and you're talking NATO expansion? WTF is wrong with you people.

    Just a small point to blunt your rant, mat. Every comment I've seen here criticizes NATO expansion. Don't let it spoil your day, though.

  61. This comment has been removed by the author.

  62. Just a small point to blunt your rant, mat. Every comment I've seen here criticizes NATO expansion. Don't let it spoil your day, though.

    There must a balance in the universe, cause the Washington corruptokrats sure don't have any.

  63. Weeks after Russia invaded the neighboring Republic of Georgia in August, newly chosen vice presidential candidate Joe Biden sat down with a shaken delegation from the small, democratic U.S. ally in a meeting that left Vice Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze in the odd position of fighting back tears.


    Though they may agree on policy, the Georgia meeting also could hint at differing interpersonal approaches from the gregarious Biden and the more reserved Obama, who expressed his support for Georgia during a separate August meeting with the same delegation but cautioned that he was still a candidate and couldn't speak for the U.S. government.


    Foreign leaders such as Baramidze, viewing the U.S. election through their own prism, see Obama's global popularity as helpful to their own interests. A U.S. administration supported not only by its own people but also by the European Union is important to his country, he said.

    Reshaping Role

  64. Google exec Dan W. Reicher is being considered for energy secretary.

  65. VP Cheney and his 1991 prerequisites for military action, that's who says so, trish.

    He who was voicing the 'conservative' position.

    By it's very conceptual basis, Nation building does not meet those prerequisites for military action.

  66. Juggling those search results may just pay off, for somebody.

  67. NYT:

    Dan W. Reicher

    As he prepares to take office, President-elect Barack Obama is relying on a small team of advisers who will lead his transition operation and help choose the members of a new Obama administration. Following is part of a series of profiles of potential members of the administration.

    Name: Dan W. Reicher

    Being considered for: Energy secretary

    Would bring to the job: Strong environmental credentials and extensive experience in four crucial areas: nuclear power, nuclear weapons cleanup, renewable energy and energy efficiency. After years of work as an environmental advocate and for the Clinton administration, Mr. Reicher is now director of climate change and energy initiatives at Google.

    Is linked to Mr. Obama by: His work on the steering committee “Clean Tech for Obama,” a group that raised about $2 million for the Obama campaign. Mr. Reicher also advised the campaign on energy issues and appeared as a surrogate in debates on energy issues.

    In his own words: “Gee, that was easy.” (Describing a lesson he learned at 7 years old, when he persuaded a company to discontinue production of a parka with a hood lined with the fur of a wolverine that was endangered.)

    Used to work as: Co-founder of New Energy Capital Corp., a private equity fund specializing in clean energy. Was assistant attorney general for environmental protection in Massachusetts, and a legal assistant in the hazardous waste section of the Justice Department. From 1985 to 1992, he was a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, and filed suits to compel the department’s nuclear weapons complex to comply with environmental laws. After that, he served in the Clinton administration as a special assistant to Energy Secretary Hazel R. O’Leary, and eventually as assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

    Carries as baggage: He would represent culture shock for the Energy Department. As a committed environmentalist first, he would have a different outlook than his predecessors in the department, which has always focused on the manufacture of nuclear weapons and on compromise with corporations in the energy business. He is a strong proponent of energy efficiency, while the Energy Department’s core constituencies are energy producers.

    Résumé includes: Born June 30, 1956, in Syracuse, where he grew up. ... holds a B.A. in Biology from Dartmouth and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. ... studied at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ... took six months off after college to be part of the first expedition to kayak the entire 1,888-miles of the Rio Grande, sponsored by National Geographic. ... later was part of the first group on record to kayak the Yangtze River in China. ... married to Carole Parker, an environmental consultant. ... they have three children.

  68. The company's view is that consumers won't buy cars from a bankrupt auto maker. GM is concerned that if it were even to take steps in that direction, such as hiring bankruptcy counsel, the move would leak and unnerve potential GM customers.

    GM Between Rock and Hard Place

    Seems they are worried about losing potential customers---or, are they just saying that to Congress?

  69. Names being floated:


    Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

    Former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig.

    Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., critic of Iraq war, retiring from Senate.

    Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., member of Senate Armed Services Committee.



    Timothy Geithner, president of Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

    Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

    Lawrence Summers, former treasury secretary and one-time Harvard University president.



    Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-NY, former first lady and onetime rival of Obama's for the Democratic presidential nomination.

    Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., former U.N. ambassador and energy secretary.

    Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., 2004 presidential nominee.

    Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., critic of Iraq war, retiring from Senate.

    Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

    Admin Jobs

  70. Thomas Friedman on The Daily Show:

    Thomas Friedman argues that the U.S. needs to invest heavily in clean-energy technology to be competitive economically.

  71. Thomas Friedman argues that the U.S. needs to invest heavily in clean-energy technology to be competitive economically.

    Nuclear is the cleanest around, except for hydro, which is maxed out for all practical purposes. It will be doa if Reicher is installed at DOE.

    Green used to be my favorite color. Now it conjures up bile.

  72. Fellow on C2C said a couple weeks ago it would go to 7500 in a couple weeks, and it did. But he didn't say that was the bottom, wouldn't commit to what the bottom might be.

    However, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the alliance would support efforts by former communist nations to join the military alliance regardless of opposition from Russia.

    To me it's hard not to support that point of view, at least rhetorically. Nothing will come of it, I think.

    Sam, did you catch that tune by Maria McCool?

  73. The water above Madden Bridge on the Twelve Mile leg of Lake Hartwell in Pickens County “is down to a few inches. That is inches, not feet,” said Clemson resident and concerned citizen Doug Massingill, who is urging others to contact their federal, state and local officials on the issue.

    Discharge from Hartwell, which flows through Thurmond and on to the coast, “should have been reduced a long time ago,” Massingill said.

    Initially a decision was expected from the Corps Nov. 1, but more time was needed to meet federal requirements to consult with state historic preservation and Native American officials.

    South Carolina Lakes

  74. We've got the nuclear technology right on the shelf, but, we'll shoot ourselves in the foot. The Chinese, French, Japanese, all laughing at us.

  75. No, I forgot, Bob. Just a few bars at work.

  76. But then nuclear energy will not power a single car on the road today.

    Energy is not fungible.

  77. Who Was This Guy Trying To Vote For?

    Looks like he was trying to vote for Coleman, to me. He clearly wasn't trying to vote for either of the other two.

  78. Nuclear energy could power lots of electric cars if we ever get them built. But, they aren't on the road today. They could be though by the time we powered up with nuclear energy.

  79. We had this conversation already. Nuclear power is an economic fraud. The only reason nuclear plants got built was to produce nuclear bombs.

  80. We did, but that doesn't explain why Japan and Franch are using nuclear power, neither of which is much into the nuclear bomb making business.

    Is there any conversation we haven't had?:)

  81. But, bob, your friend mat tells us, repeatedly, that electric car battery charging will not be a strain on the existing grid.

    So there is no need for nuclear power plants to generate electricity for battery driven cars.

    Energy is not and will not become fungible. The 250 million vehicles on the road today, which will be with us for the next twenty years, do not and will not run on electricity. Nuclear power is a strawman, not a green solution.

  82. The French certainly are in the nuclear weapons business, bob.
    Have been since the DeGaulle was in power.

    As for the Japanese, they want the capability at their finger tips, which is right where it is at, for them.

  83. On 30 May 1958 Gen. Charles de Gaulle was charged with forming a new government and became President of the Council of Ministers the next day. The nuclear weapons program now had the enthusiastic backing of a forceful leader; and after his election as the first President of the French Republic, known as the Fifth Republic, on 21 December 1958 he now held a newly created powerful executive office. It was under de Gaulle's leadership that France's independent force de frappe (strike force) came into being.

    In a Defence Council meeting on 17 June 1958 de Gaulle authorized a nuclear test to be held early the next year. The site chosen was the Reganne oasis 700 km south of Colomb Bechar in the Sahara Desert of Algeria; the operation was commanded by Gen Aillert. The first French nuclear test, code-named Gerboise Bleue, was detonated at 0704 GMT on 13 February 1960 at Reggane in Algeria (00.04 deg W, 26.19 deg N) atop a 105 m tower. This device, a prototype for the AN-11 warhead deployed three years later, used plutonium and had a notably high yield of 60-70 kt. No other nuclear power has ever detonated such a powerful device as its first test.

    France continued to use the Reggane site for the next three atmospheric tests. The last of these, on 25 April 1961, was really a low yield "scuttle" of the test device to prevent it from falling into the hands of mutineers during the "Revolt of the Generals", set in motion three days earlier by General Maurice Challe. These atmospheric test brought severe condemnation from other African nations, so all subsequent tests in Algeria shifted to underground testing at In Ecker in the Hoggar of southern Algeria, about 150 km north of Tamanrassett. In Ecker is in the mountainous area of Tan Afela and was chosen for the availability of rock strata for testing. The facility created for testing there was called the Oasis Military Test Center.

    Once again, bob, your lack of historical background is showing, go read a book, or something, will you?

  84. But, bob, your friend mat tells us, repeatedly, that electric car battery charging will not be a strain on the existing grid.

    I'm your friend too, dRat. :)
    Anyway, dirty coal plants need to be replaced with green renewable energy.

  85. Sure they built some nukes, and Japan does want them at their fingertips. But the fact is nuclear energy lights of most of France, and a good part of Europe too. I do recall Charles de Gaulle and the French nuclear tests in the Pacific, Rat. And I'm sure the Japanese could put together nuclear weapons 'pronto' if they wanted to do so. But, the fact remains nuclear energy lights up whole cities, whole countries. And, like Linear says, it's the cleanest there is, other than hydro, which is maxed out everywhere.

  86. SHANGHAI, China - Physicist Shi Zhengrong spent the 1990s in an Australian lab studying solar power, a field he picked by chance. He expected to devote his life to science.

    Still, Shi saw signs of a blossoming industry as Germany, Japan and other countries invested in cleaner power. Excited by a trip home that showed him China's rapid development, he startled friends by abruptly moving his wife and two Australian-born sons to his homeland in 2001 to launch a solar equipment company.

    Four years later, Shi's confidence paid off when his Suntech Power Holdings Ltd. went public on the New York Stock Exchange and investors snapped up shares, turning him into a billionaire. Last year, Shi ranked No. 7 on the Forbes magazine list of China's richest tycoons, with a $1.4 billion fortune.

    Today, he has traded his research smock for blue business suits, a CEO's 63rd-floor corner office and a role advising the Chinese government on renewable energy policy.

    "We believed the share price would go up, but not so quickly," said Shi, a 43-year-old with a boyish face, chuckling at what he says was a rise marked by lucky breaks and timing. "I never thought I would be a rich guy."

    Shi is the leader of an emerging group of Chinese entrepreneurs who are striking it rich by meeting fast-growing demand in China and abroad for cleaner power.

  87. "Dirty" coal plants need to be retro fitted with scubbers and they'll be "clean" as a whistle.

    With an abundent fuel source and low costs. When those coal plants reach the end of their economic life, they can be replaced with the wind farms that should be built in the Dakotas.

  88. "Dirty" coal plants need to be retro fitted with scubbers and they'll be "clean" as a whistle.

    If you'll do some reading on this, you'll find out what total bs this is.

  89. Clean, I'll grant you, but economical, not all that much, really.

    We do have the Palo Verde plant, here. The facility is on 4,000 acres (16 km²) of land and consists of three Combustion Engineering pressurized water reactors, each with an original capacity of 1.27 gigawatts electrical, current (2007) maximum capacity of 1.24 gigawatts electrical,[3] and typical operating capacity 70%–95% of this. The plant is a major source of power for Phoenix and Southern California, capable of serving about 4 million people. The plant provides about 35% of the electricity generated in Arizona each year. The plant was fully operational by 1988, taking twelve years to build and costing $5.9 billion,[4] eventually employing 2,386 people.[5] The plant employs 2,055 full-time on-site workers.

    It supplies electricity at a production cost (including fuel, maintenance and operation) of 1.33 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour.[5] This is cheaper than coal (2.26 cents/kWh) or natural gas (4.54 cents/kWh) in the region at the same time (2002), but more expensive than hydro (0.63 cents/kWh). Assuming a 60-year plant life and 5% long-term cost of capital, the depreciation and capital costs not included in the previous marginal cost for Palo Verde are approximately another 1.4 cents per kilowatt-hour. In 2002, the wholesale value of the electricity produced was 2.5 cents/kWh. By 2007, the wholesale value of electricity at the Palo Verde hub was 6.33 cents/kWh.[6] Nuclear power generators are very profitable when fossil fuel prices are high.

    Due to its location in the Arizona desert, Palo Verde is the only nuclear generating facility in the world that is not located adjacent to a large body of water. Instead, it uses treated sewage from several nearby municipalities to meet its cooling water needs, recycling 20 billion US gallons (76,000,000 m³) of wastewater each year. At the nuclear plant site, the wastewater is further treated and stored in an 80 acre (324,000 m²) reservoir for use in the plant's cooling towers.

    Twelve years, to build it out and, if it really was economical then

    The site was granted a construction permit for two additional units in the late 1970s, however these units were cancelled in the mid-1980s for economical risk reasons.

    That passage from wiki would not have been written.

  90. Mini E Electric at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show:

  91. If you'll do some reading on this, you'll find out what total bs this is.

    Got a link that doesn't lead to

    Rat's right re clean coal potential, but South Dakota wind? I'm not sold there.

    Anyhow, just drill for oil and mine methane hydrates in ANWR. NOW! Plenty of energy available to tide us over without driving down the economy with green fantasies until a practical mix is evolved. The market should evolve that mix, but the market seems AWOL.

  92. The Mini-E will take you from downtown LA at 95 mph for about 156 miles, at which point you'll be in the middle of the Mojave Desert on your trip to Las Vegas. Just hitchhike the rest of the way.

  93. So 1.24 GW for $5.9Bn 1988 dollars, plus the cost of 2,055 full-time on-site workers. And that doesn't take into account the waste disposal and storage costs. Now, compare that to solar, which from my reading costs about a billion 2008 dollar for 500MW.

  94. Got a link that doesn't lead to

    Itchy fingers, cowboy? :)

  95. Just hitchhike the rest of the way.

    November 20, 2008 1:20 PM PST
    Better Place plans $1 billion electric car network for Bay Area

    Posted by Elsa Wenzel

    Better Place aims by 2012 to bring a $1 billion electric-car infrastructure system to the California Bay Area, whose leaders unveiled policies Thursday to fast-track the adoption of electric cars.

    The Palo Alto, Calif., start-up will apply its unique business model, followed in Israel, Denmark, and Australia, of providing the public stations to charge vehicles and swap out leased batteries.

    Shai Agassi, Better Place founder and CEO, said he hopes to wrap up permitting in the Bay Area within the next year, roll out the infrastructure in 2010, and fine-tune its technology over the next several years as more electric cars come to market.

    "We need to stop the conversation of whether this is Detroit versus Silicon Valley, whether this is Michigan versus California, and we need to start talking about this as the next generation of the car," he said. "We hope that by the time we deploy, we'll see our friends from Renault and Nissan but also the three U.S. manufacturers developing cars that have a plug, and have the ability to drive around the city and charge as they go."

    Mayors Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, Chuck Reed of San Jose, and Ron Dellums of Oakland joined Agassi at San Francisco City Hall, promising to launch policies in December to support companies and consumers adopting electric cars. (The event was broadcast online via Webcast.)

    Among their plans are expedited permitting for car-charging outlets with incentives for businesses and garages installing them or providing battery-swapping. The mayors also pledged to standardize regulations across the region, working with clean-air and transit programs.

    "I believe the big game changer is electric vehicles and plug-in technology," said Newsom, explaining that transportation accounts for 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in California and exceeds 54 percent in San Francisco.

    Widespread usage of electric vehicles over two decades would save consumers $175 billion in fuel costs and bring a $120 billion boon for battery makers, according to early results of a study by the Venture Lab at the University of California at Berkeley.

    "Look what happened when we built ARPANET in 1979," said Robert Kennedy Jr., describing the rise of the personal computer. "The reason for that is we created the infrastructure that made it easy for manufacturers and consumers to take advantage of the technology." Kennedy is partner and senior adviser of VantagePoint Venture Partners, the biggest investor in Better Place.

    In statements, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi praised the electric vehicle announcements for the potential to boost the economy and reduce pollution.

  96. The market should evolve that mix, but the market seems AWOL.

    Maybe you should talk to them oil mafiosies and ask them why they haven't invested in new rigs and refineries?

  97. In 2002, the wholesale value of the electricity produced was 2.5 cents/kWh. By 2007, the wholesale value of electricity at the Palo Verde hub was 6.33 cents/kWh.

    The price at the hub is mixed power, right?

    For comparison my last PG&E bill quoted 5.60 cents/kwh for generation, but totalled 15.4 cents/kwh including distribution, transmission, and the green penalties imposed by CA which enable me to pay for the propaganda that PG&E spews under mandate from Sacramento.

    Assuming the 2002 Palo Verde generation cost at 2.5 cents/kwh is reasonably valid today, contrast that to the mixed price of 5.6 cents/kwh that I'm paying for the smug satisfaction of living in California where we have state mandated mixes of "green" and other colored power.

    Also, rat, your plant is using 1960s technology. So, we're talking apples vs oranges to some extent.

  98. Maybe you should talk to them oil mafiosies and ask them why they haven't invested in new rigs and refineries?

    Come on, mat. You know why. You're just playing the court jester.

  99. Come on, mat. You know why.

    Why? Their rigs are now 25 years on average, past their shelf life. What's holing them back? Plenty of shelf oil to be had. They just need to melt the rock down.

  100. Mayors Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, Chuck Reed of San Jose, and Ron Dellums of Oakland joined Agassi at San Francisco City Hall, promising to launch policies in December to support companies and consumers adopting electric cars.

    The usual suspects. Newsom, Dellums, along with Robert Kennedy, Jr. The same crowd that promote insanity like ripping out the Hetch-Hechy dam and power plant, as well as San Francisco's water supply.

    Where are they going to put all the spent batteries, mat?

    Which areas in California will be blacked out when the grid collapses from the load for the Bay Area commuters, mat?

  101. Where are they going to put all the spent batteries, mat?

    The space between your ears? :)

  102. LT,

    Your objections are nonsense. Really, they are. Batteries can be recycles. And the drain on the grid is less than that of plasma TVs. I don't hear anyone objecting to plasma TVs. So let's stop this nonsense. k?

  103. Just produce these batteries and the cars that are powered by them.

    That's the BS factor in the equation. Not the generating capacity, or lack of it, but the lack of cars that can be driven, while powered by electricity.

  104. Just produce these batteries and the cars that are powered by them.

    China is way ahead of you.

    g'nite, dRat.

  105. Nite, mat.

    Dream of screaming across the Mojave at 95 mph in your Mini-E.