War, the Old-fashioned Way

I’m not sure what category to put this in, but I found this article on the war in Georgia by the “War Nerd” pretty fascinating on a couple levels.

First, it’s an interesting realpolitik-perspective summary of just what’s going on there, which — correct or not, I don’t know enough to say — is the sort of thing I’ve been wanting, since the reasons and timeline of that conflict have not at all been clear to me. Perhaps somebody else knows better, but his analysis at least has a ring of truthiness to it.

But second, apparently this War Nerd Guy — a military obsessive with an amoral, but well-informed sense of history, and a lame white-collar day job — is apparently a complete fabrication of some writer, who uses him to write about this stuff with a certain bent… sort of like “fake Steve Jobs”, who brings a certain fake-but-true perspective to Apple and its fandom. I find this fascinating because, well, if I ignore my more higher judgment about what I should be taking pleasure in, I know what he’s talking about: this is sort of the perfect adolescent armchair military enthusiast war, with clear-cut historical precedent and textbook military tactics. I’m not sure what that says about the writer (or me), but it’s worth a read anyway.

200 Responses to “War, the Old-fashioned Way”

  1. knarlyknight Says:

    sooo, this Gary Bretzer isn’t really a person, he’s just pretending to be, as in he is writing under a persona? :-)

  2. ymatt Says:

    Yes, that is what I understand.

  3. ymatt Says:

    Hah, oddly it seems that the comment system is blocking me for some usage of URLs in a comment, but in any case there’s more information on Gary Brecher on wikipedia that you can go look up. As the article describes, he’s treated as a real guy, but he doesn’t seem to have any verifiable past, so it’s likely he’s an invention.

  4. yian Says:

    hate to say it, but if my schoolbooks were written this way, i would have paid a lot more attention (and retained a lot more) on history as a subject.

    not that i agree or disagree with this gary brecher guy because i’m with jbc on the entire timeline, etc., but this guy makes events more been much more interesting.

  5. ymatt Says:

    Yeah, he’s a really good writer. I’m curious if he knows what he’s talking about, or if he’s just out to make a point.

  6. knarlyknight Says:

    Go back and look at some of Brecher’s old articles at the eXile site. A few dull ones but otherwise consistently good writing & solid analysis with no bull-shit. They stand the test of time too.

    After looking at Brecher’s wiki bio and then comparing Brecher and Dolan’s writing style I’m certain Brecher is actually John Dolan.

    Prof. Dolan seems to have the same knack for cutting through crap as Brecher too, as his wiki bio lists this:

    “A Million Pieces of Shit,” appearing in eXile May 29 2003. This was the first review to expose James Frey’s memoirs as fraudulent.

  7. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    That was a pretty entertaining read. Although the ‘war porn’ aspect was creepy the part where he was talking about those DOD paintings of theoretical engagements was funny for being dead on. I couldn’t really find anything of major fault in the analysis either, unless he’s totally wrong and this sparks another Cold War.

  8. shcb Says:

    This turning into another cold war is the most troubling aspect. If the Europeans had not blocked Georgia from entering into NATO this would not be happening, or at least we could pressure Russia with the threat of a coalition under article 5. But our NATO allies appeased Russia, who has been smarting after the loss of the cold war. This is their way of reclaiming some of their respect. They saw a weakness in their European neighbors (they didn’t have to look far) and now they have exploited it. Neville Chamberlin would be proud.

    On a side note did you see the video of the Georgian reporterete getting shot on live TV? I’m sure you can find it on Youtube, I saw it on Fox News but I know you guys can’t go there without turning your secret decoder ring. One tough cookie, it looks like she continued her report while they were dressing her wounds.

  9. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Well, its actually a complex situation. You have to look at what you want to get out of a relationship with Russia. On one hand, the former Warsaw Pact countries and the countries which were Soviet SSRs justifiably fear and hate the Russians. Most of those countries were subjegated on and off for centuries and understandably bear a grudge. Its supposedly a free world, so if those countries want to join the EU or NATO, they’re free to do so. At the same time NATO is an anti-Soviet and by extension anti-Russian organization. This isn’t unjustifiable either as the Russians have been an aggressive nation for their history.

    However it does pay to ask the question of what Russia will do when backed into a corner? Destroy pipelines? Cut of the supply of oil and gas to the EU countries they supply? Its worth considering. Its also really worth asking what kind of relationship that the EU and US want with Russia. We’ve really been pushing them with the missile defense system issue. They offered the use of some of their own radar stations in lieu of us building in the CR. Now I don’t take this seriously as a viable alternative. However, if the purpose of the shield is to protect Europe from ‘rogue nations’ (which is a whole other issue) then the use of Russian installations would be completely acceptable. We could have thrown them a bone here, while still strengthening local eastern European air defense.

    What hurts in this situation is the pervasive thought that, one we’re just going to classify a given country like Russia as an absolute enemy, without thinking if its even possible to turn them into a friend, and two, that speaking to an ‘enemy nation’ at all is appeasement. Looking at history, most of the American victories in the Cold War were the result of diplomatic and economic manuvering (Cuban Missile Crisis, fall of Berlin Wall) where most of the major failures (installing Shah of Iran, Vietnam) were the result of direct action.

    Right now there is a part of me that almost believes that there is an internal Russian plan to reignite the Cold War. If you think about it, while Georgia clearly screwed up here, the Russians provoked it. They were also waiting for it, no one can mobilize an invasion force overnight, they were ready and waiting. This move also seems to play directly into the hands of the anti-Russian groups in the West. Poland immediately signed the missile defense deal with the US and the head of NATO has proclaimed Georgia will certainly be admitted.

  10. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    At the same time, maybe those anti-Russia moves are things we can play back, we don’t have too many cards currently.

  11. knarlyknight Says:

    Of course Russia was ready for whatever transpired in that region, and will be ready for anything else there.

    Mobilizing 5000 troops is not a big deal in that part of the world, all it takes is advancing the front lines and filling in the gaps from behind. It’s not as if they had to mobilize a naval armada around half the world to invade Iraq or create and transport immense supply lines from scratch like the invasion of Afghanistan. Russia has home court advantage and you can’t blame them for that; you can blame the Georgians and their Israeli / US military advisors (estimates of 1000 in the country at the time) for taking direct belligerent action and expecting no reaction.

    Please tell me how the Russians “provoked” the Georgian attack. I understand that life was relatively peaceful in the ethnically diverse region of North and South Ossetia (not an easy thing to accomplish, “relatively peaceful means as stable as can be expected) prior to the Georgian bombings pre-invasion.

  12. enkidu Says:

    wwnj has no grasp of history – appeasement? get a clue

    sweet jesus when will you stop ingesting that hate radio garbage?

  13. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Well I’ll differ that having deploying the troops into Ossetia isn’t an instant mobilization, also having them ready to move into the other breakaway republic and having naval assets in place to me signals more than an ’emergency response.’ I suppose we can debate about that later.

    There is one thing I want to digress on here for a moment. How come whenever a topic comes up here someone has to bring ‘the thing they don’t like’ into it. Knarly, why are you even bringing up the time to mobilize to Iraq, it doesn’t have anything to do with this. Yes, it takes less time to move things overland then by the air and moving a whole naval battle group. That’s obvious. It’s also not worth mentioning at all in this case because it doesn’t have anything to do with the specifics I spoke of here. I never came down on the side of being pro-Iraq invasion. Furthermore, I’m not looking to establish a ‘right or wrong’ here. I’m a realpolitik guy, I was looking at what was done, why and were do we go from here. If you read what I said you’ll see that I’m essentially saying ‘everyone is fucking up.’ This is pretty much a microcosm of what makes it impossible to come up with any kind of logical solution to anything in the world. You’re going to go ‘Israel and America! Bad!’ because that’s part of your ideology and you cling to it like a fucking drowning man. Likewise shcb is going to appeasement for exactly the same reasons.

    I’ll digress further here for a moment and say one other thing. JAYSON isn’t a persona, I’m not here to take a stand for an ideological movement, nor am I here to call people stupid or ‘liberal or nut job.’ Its like watching a professional wrestling match here, I swear. I thought we could actually discuss the problem for once, but looks like I’m wrong about everything as usual. Back to the topic at hand…

    As for the Russian provocation, you don’t have to look very hard. Despite what South Ossetia had to say, it’s was part of Georgia, just like the Basque region is part of Spain and Quebec is part of Canada. The issuing if Russian passports to its population is totally questionable and was an excuse for something that would have been essentially a Georgian civil war. If we follow your logic on the matter then any of Russia’s Muslim neighbors could have had a ‘legal’ excuse for invading Russian to support Chechen seperatists.

  14. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Actually, thinking about it for another 5 minutes, that same logic pretty much justifies any military reaction to anything Israel has ever had.

  15. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    40 more minutes of thought. Provocation was the wrong word there. What I should have said is that the justification for the Russian invasion was clearly a set up. The Russian didn’t actually goad the Georgians into attacking, but the certainly positioned themselves in a manner to readily take advantage of the situation and invade. I guess they figured if we got away with in Iraq…

  16. shcb Says:

    You bring up a lot of good points Jason, I’ll respond tonight when I have more time. but let me deposit this thought; in reguards to the Russians, they aren’t completely our friends or our enemies right now, just opponents. this move pushes them more in the direction of enemy but neither of us want to go to war with each other so we won’t. This will be resolved with diplomatic methods over the next few years with the loss of several thousand lives but not hundreds of thousands. Had the Europeans listened to Bush chances are better even those few thousand lives would not have been lost. when I say appeasement I don’t mean we needed to use military force to stop Russia, this was a case where simply allowing a small country to do what it wanted, joining NATO, may have resulted in less lives lost. More later.

  17. shcb Says:

    now what does what we did in Iraq have to with the subject at hand? :-) Just kidding.

  18. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:


    I lookforward to reading it. That is one of the issues I’m thinking about. Its true that if Georgia had gotten into NATO Russia would not have invaded. I guess what I’m wondering is if they had been, would Russia have done something else and now that there for sure getting in, did Russia ‘play into our hands’ and if so, why?

  19. enkidu Says:

    well like McCain said “in the 21st century nations don’t invade other nations”

    errrrrr, my irony meter just overloaded and melted down

    Ossetia was made part of Georgia by – wait for it – Stalin.
    so basically wwnjs want to continue to prop up Stalin’s plan for Georgian territorial ambitions? I know we prop up the Georgian gov in a sort of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ arrangement. Democratically elected eh? Well what if the people of S Ossetia voted for independence or integration w Russia and the Georgians ignored this?

    What if the Georgians were shelling the S Ossetian capital? (incidentally killing a bunch of Russian peace keeping forces – 13 dead, and 150 wounded)
    sure as hell sounds like neither party is entirely right or wrong here… (ethnic cleansing is OK now?)

    The situation is very complex – check out the wiki article on Ossetia and check out that map of ethnolinguistic groups, tribal grudges go back centuries or millennia in this part of the world…

    I’m no expert on the history and polisci of the area, but we are playing a weaker hand due to gwb’s invasion of Iraq. Fact.

  20. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    An interesting things on the issue from the BBC World News I heard tonight.

    The BBC reporter was interviewing a Minister of the Russian Foreign Ministry. He asked if the votes of 70k people were enough to warrant succession, especially given the Russian precedent of fighting two wars with Chechnya. Score one for the War Nerd, his analysis was spot on there.

    Also Ossetia was part of the Democratic Republic of Georgia, which existed from 1918 to 1921 before the annexation of the territory and the formation of the Georgian SSR. Also looking at some old maps on wikipedia, looks like that territory was part of the Kingdom of Georgia going back to the middle ages.

    As for the rights of a people to secede democratically, that’s one of those things I’m pondering philosophically, on one hand it sounds good, on the other hand there doesn’t seem to be lot of precedent of it just working (realpolitik in action) and in the case of the USA vs. CSA I think history at least vindicates that one decision.

  21. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I’m tired. The Russian Foreign Minister responded with ‘A dangerous precedent was set with Kosovo.’ Its payback and Russian Imperial drive, of which there is a fair amount of documentation.

  22. shcb Says:

    …The Europeans didn’t wimp out totally because they are scared of the Russians, they are part of NATO and would be protected by the Big Dog (US) if Russia did something stupid like attack one of their countries. But the EU gets something like 40% of their oil from Russia. They don’t want to piss off the Russians any more than we want to piss off the Saudi’s, for the same reasons. But that won’t stop them from calling us imperialistic for protecting our supply in the mid east or us from calling them for protecting their supply. So Russia told or more likely inferred that the EU should block Georgia’s entering into NATO or lose its oil flow, Russia needs to sell its oil as much as the EU needs to buy it, but it’s still a threat. That sets the stage.

    You know how in a chess game sometimes you can see all the logical moves three or four into the future, and you see you will lose your bishop and you opponent will lose his knight, the other player sees the same progression, but any other move will result in losing your queen. So the two of you make all those moves even though both of you know you will lose something in the end. I think that is largely what happened here.

    What will happen next? I think the Russians will pull out shortly, few months at best. Russia will have made its point to the EU and Georgia will have been Finlandized. Kind of ham handed diplomacy, but the Russians are kind of famous for that sort of thing.

    Would Russia have done something else? Sure, as you said, they have a track record; they would have probably waited until one of the other little groups wanted to Join NATO and then came down on them even harder since precedence had been set.

    Did they play into our hand? I don’t think so. They lost a little of our trust, but they had very little to begin with, and really don’t care much what we think of them anyway, at least that is what I have found with Russians I have known personally, nice people, they just look out for number one and two, with two being Mother Russia. They gained much more than they lost. They aren’t the big kids on the block yet, but they are bigger, they have set an example to other rouge states and they have a bit of revenge. Not a bad day’s work.

    One last point, this whole thing of that land belonged to me before you took it ten (or a thousand) years ago. The land and the peoples in it belong to whoever has most recently conquered it. Period. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, Iraq owned it, when we kicked them out, we owned it, we gave it back to the Kuwaitis’, but for a brief time, we owned it. The Arabs picked the wrong side in WWII and we took some of their land and gave it to the Jews, if the Arabs take it back it will belong to the Arabs. I just don’t buy into this whole thing of that piece of land is mine because my forefathers lived there, well the folks that live there now had forefathers living there too. It’s not justification for war. If you want it, and you are strong enough to take it, do it, but call a spade a spade, you are conquering someone else’s land imperialistically. And no that’s not what America has done. We have always given the country back to the original owners after someone else imperialistically conquered it, (except for our own country :-) )

  23. knarlyknight Says:

    “There are some grey areas in war!” What a whiner that newscaster is.

    It’s a pathetic example of undermining your guests when they don’t cooperate with the carefully crafted story your news machine is trying to establish: www . youtube.com/watch?v=5idQm8YyJs4

    Yes, FOX News, it does get pretty grey when you squeeze your eyes shut.

  24. shcb Says:

    So which side have you taken Knarly. Let me guess, neither, you don’t know enough about it. You probably don’t watch Fox News enough to know the char actors. Smith’s show is billed more of a news show than the other three shows at night and runs in the traditional dinner time news slot. He does a fair job keeping it straight, but is pretty well known for interjecting his little comments like that one. He was on the ground at the Superdome after Katrina and was hugely critical of the president for not sending in the Army and was critical of the time it took after the fact, of course he gave no consideration to the fact that Bush couldn’t send in troops without the governor’s authorization. An approval he had to pry out of her on the tarmac in Air Force One, according to the mayor of New Orleans.

    So Shep has taken the side of the Georgians probably without giving it much thought other than they are the underdog.

    I thought it was kind of a stupid interview of the 24 hour fill it with something news cycle. The girl was in a café, a couple bombs went off, she spent the night in a basement, not hearing any more bombs, got on a plane and came home. “But let us give our political statements please”. Riveting TV.

  25. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Again, with War Nerd on this. There are no ‘good guys’ in this conflict.

  26. shcb Says:

    There may not be bad or good guys in this fight, but the Russians are showing some of their old tendencies, telling me the interlude away from communism may have just been to catch their breath. History and common sense tells us that this experiment with a merger of communism and capitalism in China will yield a victory for capitalism if left to it’s own devices. I think this exercise in Georgia tells us the Russians aren’t willing to leave it to it’s own devices in their neck of the woods. This again is evidence of people like Reagan being right, that communism has to always expand its territory to survive.

  27. ymatt Says:

    Russians throwing their weight around with little tolerance for regional break-aways *vastly* predates their recent dabbling with communism.

  28. shcb Says:

    Maybe that is one of the reasons they were so susceptible to the allure of communism.

  29. ymatt Says:

    Maybe it’s also why Reagan has nothing to do with this conversation.

  30. shcb Says:

    Sure he does, he had their number and knew how to control them, he even knew how to defeat them, without Reagan we would be talking about the land Russia was taking, not retaking. If we don’t remember the lessons he taught us, we will be talking about the new lands Russia is taking.

  31. ymatt Says:

    So we’re going to “defeat” Russia again by spending them into oblivion with a missile defense shield, right?

    That worked when Russia was crippled by the inefficient economies of communism, and their sole goal was to maintain an isolated military state. Nowadays, however, they are an emerging economic powerhouse, with an interest in becoming a center of gravity for political and economic power in eurasia, much as we are in much of the world. I don’t think “bring down this wall” is going to work when the only wall is the one we’re trying to build.

  32. shcb Says:

    So then why would we want to defeat them again? They would seem to be moving in the right direction. We just need to keep them from making too many of these detours. For one thing Reagan wouldn’t have a forceful counterpart like Thatcher to help him. Times are different so strategies are different. Reagan had other successes in his fight against communism; he defeated the Russians in Afghanistan (Charlie Wilson’s War) in Grenada, Panama, and Latin America. I’m not sure how he would react to this situation since Georgia started it, but I would think he would be greatly pressuring NATO to admit other satellite nations to its ranks, something pretty concrete to let them know they are overstepping their bounds, or at least are getting close.

    I don’t know if he would be very successful since the political center has moved so far to the left in that area of the world. Thatcher was elected (sort of) I don’t think she would have much of a chance now given the political climate over there.

  33. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Russia has always been a land grabbing imperial nation. Like ymatt says, this significantly predates their Communist era. That being said I also think shcb is right and this period is them getting back on their feet.

    Putin has said he feels the dissolution of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical disaster in the 20th century. Numerous other Russian officials have also made statements to this effect, in fact there is a current effort to have Crimea ‘returned’ to Russia despite the Crimeans doing well as an autonomous Ukrainian state. I do think Russia is going to represent a threat to the freedom of the regions that regained their sovereignty after the dissolution of the USSR.

    I think if one really examines the historical perspective I think Soviet-style Communism was inherently flawed and those countries adopting it were fated to end up being forced to change or become North Korea. I do think Reagan had their number on a level and did successfully outmaneuver them internationally. The USA and USSR playing chess with the rest of the world ended up having a net negative effect in Africa, Asia and South America though. You also have to give Gorbachev credit as he was leading a great deal of reform in the USSR. If Reagan was pitted against a character like Stalin I don’t believe the Berlin Wall would have been torn down for instance.

    In regard to the current situation I think admitting Georgia and Ukraine to NATO would be a positive step. The Russian government seems to be heading toward some old fashioned totalitarian rule. This is going to make them more dangerous locally, but less globally as they lack an ideology to support. Long term I feel they need to be convinced that the road to regaining superpower status lies in world economic competition, which is working wonderfully for China.

  34. ymatt Says:

    Yeah, I’m with JAYSON. They’re backsliding to be sure, but it’s not towards a 60s-era insular communist state. Russians are seeing how profitable it is to do business with the West, but there’s still the political drive to keep the government’s fingers in everything, and play the heavyweight in the region. We’ve got to make sure that doesn’t get out of hand, but the more we partner with the Russians economically, the more they’re going to figure out that letting things go a little makes everybody richer, just like the Chinese.

  35. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    At the same time though, I think our missile shield plan should be removed as the ‘defense against rogue nations’ is kind of illogical. Even if some countries join NATO we could go a long way in moving our relationship with Russia away from antagonistic to competitive.

  36. ymatt Says:

    Oh, but I was going to mention that going out of our way to antagonizing them just makes things worse by triggering the whole national pride thing. The missile shield stuff, and our insistence on beating Russia up in the media about Georgia (even though it wasn’t important enough for us to actually do anything about it) just encourages them to throw their chests out even more, and solidifies power around guys like Putin who know how to play that game.

  37. ymatt Says:

    Haha, good timing on that post.

  38. Steve Says:

    I think Georgia absolutely should not be added to NATO. Would you be willing to go to war to protect them? I would not. They are not yet our allies, and their recent behavior makes me even less likely to want them as our allies.

    Let’s reserve NATO for those countries that really deserve it. Give Georgia a few decades and let them reapply.

  39. shcb Says:

    What would you guys ask for in return for our removal of the missile shield?

  40. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    While I find their actions personally distasteful I also feel that its how countries in that region (and elsewhere) handle territorial disputes. I also wouldn’t want to go to war to protect them, but that is sort of the point of a NATO membership, its the deterrent effect. I personally would be willing to let the go if it comes to it, but the German PM already announced their membership will come to pass. Whats really important is the Ukraine be allowed to join and quickly.

  41. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:


    Short term, they’re threatening to put bombers in Cuba now so that’d be the most immediate thing I’d be looking for.

    Longer term I’d be looking for them to either renounce claims on Crimea or cease supporting Iran.

  42. shcb Says:

    good answers, I wouldn’t give them much for the first item, but the second set sounds reasonable. but once we pull the missiles out of Europe do we put them back in if they start sending arms to Iran again?

  43. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I suppose you do then. Deal is a deal.

  44. shcb Says:

    So let’s think about this, you are going to remove a defensive weapon system that’s only threat to Russia is their ambitions. In return you are asking for a promise to not do what you admit comes naturally to them. Now we’ve moved tens of billions of dollars of hardware back across the ocean in return for the Russians not supporting Iran. You are betting that as soon as our defenses are across the ocean they won’t start supporting our enemies again and threaten the Europeans if they allow us to put the missile systems back into their countries, the Finlandization of the EU is complete.

    You guys evidentially aren’t very good at strategy games because Russia will take that deal in a heartbeat. There is absolutely no downside for them. Do you guys have a picture of Neville Chamberlain tacked to the ceiling over your bed?

  45. enkidu Says:

    blah blah right wing bs blah
    neville chamberlain… (snicker)

  46. knarlyknight Says:

    Russia said hundreds of civilians, many of them Russian citizens, were killed in the Georgian bombardment of South Ossetia during its offensive against the secessionist region. However, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili accused Russia of ethnic cleansing in its military response.

    Aid agencies have estimated there are about 80,000 internally displaced people who have fled the conflict zones and taken shelter in and around Tbilisi.

    Most of South Ossetia has been under the control of an internationally unrecognized separatist government since 1992. The region has close ties with Russia, and almost all of its 70,000 residents have Russian passports.

    Georgia is a nation of about 4.5 million people in the Caucasus region, bordered by Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Black Sea. It regained its independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

    Georgia is lucky the Russians stopped at Gori, there was nothing stopping them from rolling right through Georgia, making a hell of a mess, then withdrawing to a new iron curtain around s. ossetia.

  47. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    The missile defense shield makes zero sense. Its not going to protect anyone in Europe from jack shit. The concept of a ‘rogue nation’ attacking Europe with a ballistic missile is so ridiculous that the Russians are assuming directed against them and upsets the doctrine of deterrence that is currently in place. Going back to the War Nerd essay again, its important to realize what he said, the former USSR and NATO never got into a shooting war because everyone would lose. Again, the entirety of the Cold War defense was based on that concept of nuclear deterrence.

    So when I’m talking about pulling the shield I’m looking at it as removing a weapons system that isn’t going to do anything, averting another Cuban Missile Crisis type scenario, and getting a card to play with the Russians. They want to be treated like a big important country, if I throw them one bone in that direction I get a little cooperation on another issue perhaps. At the same time admitting Georgia and Ukraine to NATO and the EU their protection is secured.

    The ‘shield’ system’s European component is a big radar installation and some Patriot batteries. I can not build the station and just stash the Patriots in Germany or the UK for the time being. At the same time I can still stick with the part of the deal with Poland to strengthen their local air defense systems.

    Strategically if you want to go farther start talking to Cuba again. Open up relations and you can possibly accelerate market reforms there and Russia loses its toehold in the northern hemisphere.

    Never played a ton of strategy games, more of a tactical combat sim/mechanized combat sim guy.

    shcb, I’m trying to post here with a modicum of respect, but when you drag canned responses out like Chamberlin it lowers the credibility of the response. I’m not going to call anyone names, but the concept of any listening to what any other country wants and maybe working out a compromise isn’t appeasement. To say it is a just being strictly doctrinaire. I’m talking about securing Europe, shutting the Russians up and maybe getting a little help from them for once.

  48. shcb Says:

    I know, I was enjoying the civil discussion, but you guys are so naïve sometimes I get frustrated. I’ve been in business a good portion of my adult life and played the strategy game for real, where the deals you make not only affect the well being of the company but your ability to make the house payment next month, I’ve won and I’ve lost.

    We are coming at this from a position of strength, we have the cards, you never give that up. We can talk to them, just don’t sell the farm for a condo with a hot tub.

    If this missile system wasn’t going to do anything productive then the Russians wouldn’t be so upset over its deployment. We have it, they don’t. You see the problem here is it’s easier for them to renege than it is for us to respond to their breaking of a treaty. They will simply see this as a weakness, and rightly so. If your only move is one that puts your bishop in peril and you say “if you don’t take my bishop I won’t take your queen if the time comes” I’m going to laugh at you and take the bishop because you are not negotiating from a position of strength, why would I give you that? Without that bishop chances of capturing my queen are less, and if you renege on your promise I have lost my queen and you still have your bishop (that is probably going to be the piece that captured my queen).

    I agree with the War Nerd’s analysis usually, but not so much his conclusions. The concept of mutually assured destruction was result not a goal of the build up during the cold war. Both sides were vying for high card, with each side alternately trumping each other until there were no cards left in the deck. The purpose of SDI has always been a defensive system so we don’t have to retaliate. You mentioned earlier that there were no good guys in this war in Georgia, if we trade nukes with Russia, there will be no good guys their either. If we knock down an incoming missile without an in kind retaliation, there will be a good guy and a bad guy, that is the part the Russians hate.

    I agree with you about Cuba

  49. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I see some of our disagreement stems from a different view of the situation and how it should be approached.

    I’ll agree with you about the goal of the cold war, but where I differ is seeing nuclear deterrence as a better option than striving for the high card. The reason being is that the deck doesn’t really run out. In terms of a technological based arms race, we had superior tech to the Soviets the whole time but it didn’t ever stop them from trying to spend more and draw another card. The plan was never to spend them into oblivion, it just happened to work out really well when they decided to compete with us like that. Doing this with a capitalist based Russian Federation may not work as well in the long run.

    I’m sure the missile shield is actually pretty good in terms of technical function, but like I said the Russians are going ‘Who is this really aimed at defending against?’ Defensive weapon systems like this and SDI end up freaking them out and making them feel cornered because the US and NATO also retain all their offensive systems. Again while deterrence wasn’t the goal, it’s worked functionally extremely well. If Russian feels they can’t deter us then they get understandably upset. Being shielded from their missiles also can be read as we can attack with impunity. If they feel we’re characterizing them as enemies, you see their concern.

    In the general discussion of ‘what to do about the Russians’ I’m looking at an ideal of dying them their imperial ambitions while at the same time sending them a message that we do take them seriously, we’re not trying to make them an enemy. I don’t know if that’s actually possible, but it seems like the best course to go now. A lot of what I’m hearing in terms of intelligence analysis of their actions (quite a bit of this applies to Iran too) says that they’re doing what they’re doing in order to get the USA and the world to take them seriously as a real country.

    So from this perspective I feel that if we can throw these countries a bone, some of it being as simple as sitting down for talks again, for some it might be compromising on something. I think our big foreign policy failure is the perception that we’re going to do whatever the hell we want without even listening to anyone else in the world. Realistically we may be able to get away with this up to a point, but again I feel we’d have a lot more to gain if we even took the approach of at least engaging some of these problems diplomatically before we go do whatever we feel we need to.

  50. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Arg, I have little to do at work so I’m being more active on this thread but man, I need to do some proofreading, this is pretty horrendous. How about “denying the Russians”

  51. shcb Says:

    I on the other hand am very busy right now so I’m not going to answer completely here. I think we can do both, keep them cornered and yet promote them as a first world power. To paraphrase Steve I think we need a few decades of good history from them before we trust them. And we should in some way communicate that to them, quietly of course. I’m not against throwing them a bone publicly, say remove some of our offensive weapons, close bases that sort of thing. Give them something they can use as good publicity without weakening our strengths much, they know the game we’re playing. Then tell them, again quietly, if they really want to be part of the international community they need to act accordingly. After an appropriate time more tangible reforms will be allowed.

  52. enkidu Says:

    The missile shield or SDI or NMD is not a proven concept: in multiple tests it has considerable difficulty shooting down a single missile on a known trajectory. It might reduce the risk of a ‘rogue nation’ sending a single (or even a few) nuke tipped missiles because we might be able to shoot some of the attack down (and then we use a few of our 6000 fusion weapons to turn said country into glass, radioactive glass). There are very few anti-missile missiles in place… a handful in AK, a handful CA, a handful in DC.

    Last time I checked the russians have six thousand nukes, we have something like 6000 as well. SDI would fail catastrophically in a real war. The Patriot batteries didn’t shoot down most of their targets in GW1. Success rates vary from 0% to 97%. 10% to 40% seems generous.

    Putting our missile shield and early warning radars in eastern Europe (former SSRs) is a provocative, confrontational move. It gives the EU some measure of ‘defense’ against a small threat, but exacerbates the larger threats (former SSRs, China, proliferation).

    We should be dismantling these things, not ratcheting up the need for them.

  53. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Right, well functionality aside the threat they’re said to be there to defend against doesn’t seem realistic. I’m all for ditching that system in Europe.

  54. shcb Says:

    Anti aircraft guns weren’t very effective at the beginning of WWII either, then along came proximity fuses and radar guided sights, I’m glad we didn’t pull the guns off our ships because they were less than perfect. But again I ask, why is it confrontational if they don’t work?

  55. knarlyknight Says:

    shcb, that’s a good question. Think maybe the Russians are just pretending they’re confrontational (it makes for one more card for them to play) while in actuality they are just laughing at our over-confidence in the still flawed system?

    Are the Russians out of Georgia yet, or do they still have “honorable” work to do there killing people and blowing things up?

  56. enkidu Says:

    So you are OK provoking the Russians into a nookular war where we shoot down 10% to maybe 40% of the missiles (never mind decoys, bombers, nook artillery and other delivery methods).

    Considering how wrong most wwnj beliefs are, 10% right seems about par for you fellers.

    NMD is confrontational because it gives a false sense of security (ie we can nook them and they caint nook us!), when in fact it is a destabilizing technology. Sure we may get better at shooting down a missile with a missile, but until it is 100% effective, it does more harm than good. ymmv

    Oh wait, Saint Reagan was fer it. Sos its holy-like, see?

  57. shcb Says:


    I think the reason the missiles are “confrontational” is because they work better than anything the Russians have and will continue to work better and better until their weapons will be worse that useless and our nukes will still be effective. At that point we will be negotiating whatever we want from a point of complete superiority and they will have the nuclear capacity of Trinidad and Tobago, and that scares the crap out of them. We can debate whether that is a good thing or not, but that sounds like they are pretty darn effective.

  58. enkidu Says:



    make sure you scroll down to Success Rate vs Accuracy
    here is the money quote you are so valiantly trying to ignore:

    The U.S. Army claimed an initial success rate of 80% in Saudi Arabia and 50% in Israel. Those claims were eventually scaled back to 70% and 40%. However, when President George H. W. Bush traveled to Raytheon’s Patriot manufacturing plant in Andover, Massachusetts during the Gulf War, he declared, the “Patriot is 41 for 42: 42 Scuds engaged, 41 intercepted!”[8] The President’s claimed success rate was thus over 97% during the war.

    On April 7, 1992 Theodore Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Reuven Pedatzur of Tel Aviv University testified before a House Committee stating that, according to their independent analyses, the Patriot system had a success rate of below 10%, and perhaps even a zero success rate. In response to this testimony and other evidence, the staff of the House Government Operations Subcommittee on Legislation and National Security reported, “The Patriot missile system was not the spectacular success in the Persian Gulf War that the American public was led to believe. There is little evidence to prove that the Patriot hit more than a few Scud missiles launched by Iraq during the Gulf War, and there are some doubts about even these engagements. The public and the United States Congress were misled by definitive statements of success issued by administration and Raytheon representatives during and after the war.”

    But wwnjs are willing (eager!) to provoke the Russians over a missile shield that may be 0% effective (but 100% effective at giving wwnjs major wood).

  59. knarlyknight Says:


    Enk, you don’t understand their point. Think of all the lives saved if we can intercept even just one or two of the 6,000 warheads coming our way!!!

  60. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Talking just about the Patriot missile:

    I want to back up a little here. I don’t want to take sides but this is selective manipulation of the facts to beat up on someone’s point.

    I went and read the Patriot entry, then I read the rest of it. The version of the missile had had a less than impressive success rate is now over 16 years old and isn’t the version currently in service. The versions being currently fielded are 2 whole generations more advanced. I don’t think its fair to say the current gen is going to have the failure rate of the old.

    Talking about NMD:

    This isn’t the old SDI system with space lasers. As far as I can read this system uses the Patriot and Aegis systems. The issue is moving it into Europe.

    Talking about why the Russians are upset by it:

    I have my own theory about this, and then I have what I’ve heard from Russian sources, mostly on the BBC, I’ve also read some of what the Russian state news agency and some other Russian sources say about it.

    First thing they say is that its ‘aimed at them.’ I can assume they don’t believe us at all that its a defensive based system. I don’t know what to say about this at all. On one had from everything I’ve read about Patriot it’s just defensive, Aegis is super short range. There isn’t a lot of trust between the USA and Russian Federation, so fine, they don’t believe us.

    Second I’ve read some articles in the Russian state news agency that acknowledge it as a defense system but think its there to defend against Russia. Said article went on to state the Russians are working on undefeatable missiles.

    I’ve said this before but I’ll reiterate. I don’t find the rogue state attacking Europe statement to be really believable. I think the Russians are thinking the same thing I am, and thus are upset.

    So I’m for removing it because I see it as completely unnecessary and will take away one of their ‘The West is against us.’ cards.

  61. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Correction about Aegis, I was thinking of the Aegis gun. The Aegis missile is long range.

  62. knarlyknight Says:


  63. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Hey, I’m trying.

  64. shcb Says:

    Aegis is a weapons system centered around Ticonderoga class cruisers, I think you are referring to Phalanx mounted guns, usually 20mm or 50cal for close in defense against missiles. But I’m nitpicking.

  65. enkidu Says:

    Refresh my memory, which Aegis system shot down that Iranian passenger airliner again? 290 civilian deaths wasn’t it? Ats quickrn sellin em cigarettes, by cracky!

    Does that count as a kill or does that subtract one from the success rate?

    Aegis is a type of missile cruiser (tho it is installed on many kinds of ships).
    Phalanx is the autocannon for close in defense (a 20mm gatling gun with an awesome rate of fire). Generally used for anti-ship missile defense.

  66. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Uh no, it didn’t shoot down an Iranian airliner. That was a essentially a human error. I suppose you could have looked that up too, but were trying to make some kind point or just be snarky?

    Yeah, I got Phalanx/Aegis thing backward.

  67. knarlyknight Says:

    I don’t recall reading any of this guy’s stuff before, but I will read the rest of this article since the opening is like a breath of fresh air compared to the hyperventilating rah rah rah for more weapons by the rwnj’s around here lately.

    It’s a novel way to take your own life. Just as Russia demonstrates what happens to former minions that annoy it, Poland agrees to host a US missile defence base. The Russians, as Poland expected, respond to this proposal by offering to turn the country into a parking lot. This proves that the missile defence system is necessary after all: it will stop the missiles Russia will now aim at Poland, the Czech Republic and the UK in response to, er, their involvement in the missile defence system.

    The American government insists that the interceptors, which will be stationed on the Baltic coast, have nothing to do with Russia: their purpose is to defend Europe and the US against the intercontinental ballistic missiles Iran and North Korea don’t possess. This is why they are being placed in Poland, which, as every geography student in Texas knows, shares a border with both rogue states.

    They permit us to look forward to a glowing future, in which missile defence, according to the Pentagon, will “protect our homeland … and our friends and allies from ballistic missile attack”; as long as the Russians wait until it’s working before they nuke us…

    and Jayson, in case you missed it: snark.

  68. shcb Says:

    You are exactly right Jason about this not the same system used in the first gulf war, the whole system had to be reprogrammed in a couple weeks because the Iraqi missiles flew faster than the Russian missiles they were patterned after, they had a 50% kill ratio not 10. Not bad for a revamped anti aircraft system in an era when the 486 was the killer processor. The Pentium was still a glint in Intel’s eyes.

    Let me get this straight, my credibility is questioned when I compare you all to Neville, but, you freely admit Russia has a long history of aggression, predating communism which is itself aggressive, they appear to have no intention of leaving Georgia soon (they are dear to my heart in the way they are thumbing their noses at the piss ant UN though). But you want to give into their wishes of removing a defensive weapons system because they don’t like it pointed in their direction, it offends their delicate sensibilities. If that isn’t appeasement I don’t know what is. But the rouge nation explanation is a ruse, we are pointing the damn things in their direction because we don’t trust them, for good reason.

  69. knarlyknight Says:


    Where to start, where to start. Obviously you don’t read Monbiot, or you would have a bit of a clue.

    You say Russia is not leaving Russia anytime soon. Well, you are wrong, Russia is leaving Georgia even as we speak. Yes, they are departing slowly, methodically, and carefully which is prudent and intelligent of them and if Bush and Mz. Rice think they should leave as quickly as their blitzkreig entry then that just shows the dumbness of Bush and Mz. Rice. The Russians are probably also making damn sure the Georgians won’t have the military or other infrastructure anytime soon that would allow them to launch another idiotic attack like their last incursion into Ossetia, and they are not leaving that part of what used to be Georgia that is comprised of some 70,000 people most of whom identify with Russia more than Georgia.

    Another item, you say: “it offends their delicate sensibilities”? If that’s what you fellers need to believe to belittle your perceived adversary to feed your nationalistic ego, so be it. Sadly, that is your loss but I doubt you uderstand that yet; still, deep inside you know that recent events suggest it is more likely that the Russians are barely able to contain their military leaders laughing at the Bush administration.

    Another item:
    what’s a “rouge nation” that you speak of, are you talking about a nation full of people who all wear facial make-up? Perhaps you meant “rogue”; that’s okay – Bush probably spells it the same way and I don’t expect much in the way of literacy standards here (we’ve determined long ago your reading comprehension is about Gr. 5)

    Another item: As for the “explanation is a ruse”, do you think that was a clever ploy by the Bush administration? Do you think it served any purpose at all except to deceive some dimwit Fox viewers and talk radio listeners for a while? Do you feel clever that you finally figured out that it was a ruse?

  70. knarlyknight Says:

    oops should be: you say that Russia is not leaving Georgia anytime soon.

  71. knarlyknight Says:


    It’s not the War Nerd, but the Exiledonline has updated it’s Georgia / Russia war coverage with a photo-essay of the conflict (the War Nerd would approve) and with a good article by Mark Ames, the War Nerd’s boss. Unfortunately the article might be above shcb’s comprehension level, so it’s understandable if he wishes to decline comment and have a little time out. http://www.exiledonline.com/south-ossetia-the-war-we-dont-know/

    Here’s a sample:

    At the root of this conflict is a clash of two twentieth-century guiding principles in international relations. Georgia, backed by the West, is claiming its right as a sovereign nation to control the territory within its borders, a guiding principle since World War II. The Ossetians are claiming their right to self-determination, a guiding principle since World War I.

    These two guiding concepts for international relations–national sovereignty and the right to self-determination–are locked in a zero-sum battle in Georgia. Sometimes, the West takes the side of national sovereignty, as it is in the current war; other times, it sides with self-determination and redrawing of national borders, such as with Kosovo.

  72. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Well from the point of view of the missile shield again,I’m looking at shcb’s point and I think he’s right if we’re going back to playing the old game of one upsmanship, which I think is now the wrong tack to take here. I’ve said repeatedly I think we need approach Russia like we do China. I still don’t see it as being too hard even if we admit a few more countries to NATO and they also join the EU. We don’t need to go back to the old days of weapons escalation and trying to shove assets everywhere in the world.

    Looking at the issue of NATO alliances and the former Soviet Block countries though, everyone has to understand that most of those countries are going to justifiably dislike and fear the Russians. If they had a good experience they wouldn’t have immediately rushed to join NATO and the EU.

    I read through the Monbiot article. I thought he had a few decent points but generally found his language condescending and shitty. Poland wasn’t the USSR’s lackey by choice, in that particular instance there is a country that has had it sovereignty erased by some form of Russian domination repeatedly. While I think the shield is a bad idea I can totally understand how Poland now wants to sign on and get the supplemental weapons package, because Russia has been a real historical threat to them. I can’t see how they’re committing suicide unless Monbiot supposes that the Russians are going to just decide they can get away with an attack on a NATO and EU member.

    With the same logic I’ve heard used that the USA invites trouble with heavy handed foreign policy, Russia just did the same damn thing. They haven’t done anything at all to try and earn the trust of the counties they occupied or forced Communism on. The CIS could have been a vehicle for economic competition with the EU but the Russians seem like they’d rather have back their 19th century empire. What sad is that neither Russia or the USA really seems interested in anything but old school antagonism.

    I still don’t understand how, after deterrence and NATO solidarity worked for decades and decades we all now feel that its totally invalid approach for defense.

  73. enkidu Says:

    So putting a provocative, poorly functioning anti-missile system at the borders of Russia is smart, while viewing this as a destabilizing, aggressive maneuver is appeasement?

    wwnjs, so wrong, so often, one wonders how the word ‘right’ was ever associated with these jingoistic nutjobs.

    So a system that can – maybe, on a good day – shoot down 40% of incoming missiles is considered ready for deployment to counter 6000 nuclear weapons? Forgive me if I take refuge in the cold certainties of mathematics, but your shield would let about 3600 missiles through. And the ruskies are working on ABM-proofing their existing missiles… and possibly starting new programs to counter the ‘missile shield’.

    jayson, my snarky point is that wwnj is always blaming the other guy for the aggression, the slaughter of innocents, the trampling of human dignity etc etc (generally dear wwnj doesn’t seek such lofty morals, he just sees it as us vs them, whoever the current them might be). It wasn’t human error, it was human wishful thinking, paranoid assumptions that led to the downing of that airliner. I did “look it up”, it was right there in the two wiki pages I linked to, that is what reminded me of it, of course.

    Excellent link btw knarls

  74. enkidu Says:

    just read jayson’s post and couldn’t agree more with that last paragraph

  75. knarlyknight Says:


    Interesting points. I would like to comment on your statement: “with the same logic I’ve heard used that he USA invites trouble with heavy handed foreign policy, Russia just did the same damn thing.

    Simply put, the “trouble” that the USA invited with heavy handed foreign policy just came home to roost precisely in the form of Russia’s decisive counterattack on Georgia in defence of the Ossetians.

    Were it not for the USA’s heavy handed foreign policy (that established a return to the archaic and chaotic might-makes-right reality in international relations) diplomacy could have unleashed a 1000 fold higher level of world condemnation of Russia’s unilateral actions (and possibly even defensive military assistance to your ally Georgia.)

    Unfortunately, any complaints against Russia by the US or its allies REEKS of the worst possible hypocrisy, and is after all nearly totally impotent because we all know America has more than it can handle with its heavy handed foreign policy in Iraq, Afghanistan and all the “little” fires occupying America’s heavy hands (e.g. Columbia.)

  76. shcb Says:

    Liberals offer an almost unlimited amount of entertainment. It is almost comical the knots you guys will tie yourselves into to appease anyone that threatens you. You probably heard that the Russians threatened to nuke Poland if it allowed the US to install a defensive system that would protect Poland for Russia nuking it. That on is fun to run around in your head.

    I still don’t understand how, after deterrence and NATO solidarity worked for decades and decades we all now feel that its totally invalid approach for defense.

    What the hell do you think we are doing!!! Do you think NATO was a debating society? They have guns, really big guns, pointed at Russia for decades and decades.

    Hours after the signing, Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned that Moscow’s response would go beyond diplomacy. The system to be based in Poland lacks “any target other than Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles,” it said in a statement, contending the U.S. system “will be broadened and modernized.”

    “In this case Russia will be forced to react, and not only through diplomatic” channels, it said without elaborating.

    Seems like I remember someone with a 5th grade reading comprehension saying they are afraid the system will be improved faster than they can keep up and their nukes will be obsolete and ours won’t, and that is what they are worried about.

  77. ymatt Says:

    Give peace a chance, shcb!!!! All we need is hope, and we can come together and make the world a better place. I like lattes and Jimmy Carter.

  78. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I guess I assumed that the huge nuclear and conventional arsenals that were actually securing the peace were still you know, securing the peace, since they haven’t been that significantly diminished.

    So again taking into consideration that I was talking about was being defended by a lot of offensive weapons no, I didn’t think NATO was a debating society.

    I assume that despite talking about the viability of nuclear deterrence repeatedly in this thread the whole, time you assumed that I don’t know what it is or how it works because I’m too young/inexperienced/met fewer Russians/fill in your favorite reason. Maybe I overhead it somewhere? I don’t want to self apply labels and I’ve been on record as saying I’m neither liberal or conservative as it applies to dogmatic ideology, I guess I feel special now because I’m the only ‘liberal’ to advocate peace through nuclear deterrence and acknowledge MAD as a viable means of preserving the peace. I should have a little statue or something…

    This is pretty illogical, this statement: “They have guns, really big guns, pointed at Russia for decades and decades.” Is actually backing up what I said, they have a lot of guns in place defending them already, so… we need the new thing again why?

  79. shcb Says:

    Jayson, I don’t care what label you place on yourself and my comments weren’t directed at you specifically, I used your quote, but everyone else agreed with you. You’re a smart kid, yes I may have more experience than you but that is only because I’m older, and my experiences are only anecdotal we both have the same information in regards to history and the big picture. At this point you probably fancy yourself an “independent” and that is fine, my 18 year old daughter registered as an independent, mostly to piss off her old man:-) but she also hasn’t made up her mind, that’s fine.

    In this case you are acting like a liberal so you get tossed in with them. Your logic is pointing you in one direction but your heart is pushing you 45 degrees to port, you have decided to follow your heart. Understand this is a common tactic of liberals, they say they are not against using force when it is necessary, just not in this case. I mean think about it, liberals say they are in favor of using the military for defensive purposes, not offensive ones. This is a totally defensive system, doesn’t have an offensive component to it. This system mitigates nuclear warfare without increasing nuclear stockpiles, that is a good thing whether you are a liberal or conservative right? It is about as benign as a weapons system can get, no danger of nasty spills, no mention of anything having a half-life. This would seem to be everything a liberal could want in military hardware, except for one thing, it’s making someone mad, and that someone is a threat. You see liberals aren’t in favor of using military force in all cases except the current one, whatever the current one might be, they are in favor of using force as long as it doesn’t upset anyone. But of course that is an impossibility, which is why we say liberals live in utopia.

  80. shcb Says:

    The reason this is a good thing is that in theory if the nukes can be knocked out of the sky with regularity they become obsolete. Just as big gunned battleships became obsolete. Sure they could lob a big bunch of explosives 20 miles, pretty dangerous piece of equipment, then came guided missiles that could deliver that same payload with pinpoint accuracy at a range of hundreds of miles, making the big ships useless. That is the potential of a defensive system like this. Does it make the ICBM’s less dangerous in and of themselves? No. Will it be able to stop 6000 targets? No. But this generation will have a better than 50-50 chance of stopping a few, which would be the assumed attack plan in the event of a nuclear strike. A few days ago someone said we or Israel might use a nuke on Iran for a targeted hit on their nuke capabilities, this would be seem to be similar to what Russia would use theirs for. Just enough to bring us to our knees. In that regard, this missile defense may be effective.

    But as early ship to ship missiles were less effective than current versions and battle ships were slowly retired as they got better, it is hoped that these systems will become more and more effective gradually rendering ICBM’s not worth the effort of maintaining. This will replace mutually assured destruction. Not to worry, something else will take it’s place, but at least this threat will be removed.

    Remember, the Cole was nearly destroyed by a couple rednecks in a rubber dingy, all the high tech crap on that boat and the only thing that could have saved it was gun invented by John Browning in 1917.

    Yes, we’re going to piss off the Russians, but to paraphrase a liberal bromide, if it saves only one city wouldn’t it be worth it?

  81. enkidu Says:

    On April 7, 1992 Theodore Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Reuven Pedatzur of Tel Aviv University testified before a House Committee stating that, according to their independent analyses, the Patriot system had a success rate of below 10%, and perhaps even a zero success rate.

    So you want to install a handful of anti-missile missiles and a bunch of Patriots a hundred miles from the Russian border. A missile ‘shield’ with a 0% to less than 10% success rate (OK, double that due to advances in tech – still close to zero and maybe 20%). On a good day, if the Russkies give us their launch times, trajectories and target list, I was being generous and ascribing a 40% success rate. Which you weasel into “better than 50-50”.

    This is a needless poke in the eye. It solidifies Putin’s grip on power when we should be pressuring them with other sticks and carrots. Oh wait, w looked into Putin’s eyes and read his soul. This is what passes for diplomacy in wwnjworld.

    Interesting how violence is your first best answer to every problem.

    MAD worked for 60 odd years and works today. Ronny Raygun’s son of star wars is a welfare state solution to a real world problem. As one article someone here linked to put it, we’ve thrown a few hundred billion dollars at a problem that could be solved with $50 worth of diplomacy. Isn’t Rice’s forte supposed to be Russia? Boy she sure has played this one perfectly! (/ snark)

  82. shcb Says:

    Well, the MIT prof is playing fast and loose with statistics. He offered not analysis of the missile launches in Saudi Arabia for instance. The hit ratio was about 50% of intercepts to destroyed targets. They typically fired 3 to 4 missiles for each volley which is one of the ways Postol drags his numbers down, but so what, that is kind of the idea of most weapons dating back to a line of archers. If you also ignore Saudi Arabia where success rates were higher and fewer missiles were used per volley, bingo, 0 to 10%.

  83. knarlyknight Says:

    As usual, shcb baits with strawman arguments against “liberal” positions, when the real position Enk and I are taking is neither liberal nor conservative but rather is an anti-stupid stance.

    The real concerns are that the missile defence shield is an absolutely horrendous waste of money (e.g. given that countermeasures to the shield can be developed at a fraction of the sheild’s cost) and that it is virtually useless in a real battle situation yet it seduces wwnj’s and military commanders with the illusions that it provides at least some level of defence. That is a recipe for potentially huge strategic mistakes.

    Even if the system performed at a higher than expected success rate, the nuclear fallout from the missiles that got through (whether 100 nuclear explosions or 5000 explosions in Europe) would leave the residents of the “saved” cities – and much of the rest of the world too – wishing they had died quickly in the initial explosions than suffer through a lifetime of nuclear winter, genetic deformities, pestilence and starvation.

    Nice future you’re setting up there for your kids, shcb.

  84. shcb Says:

    I thought the real concern is it is provoking the Russians, are you changing the priority of your concerns?

    So then why are the Russians so against it? If it is so clear to you guys how useless it is don’t you think their experts would know it and want us to build something so silly and spend all our money and time on it?

    There is no strawman here, I’m calling Postol a liar, straight up.

  85. enkidu Says:

    an independent analysis says the system is a crock, therefor they must be liars.
    I would say it was a system that is more theater than operational. Constantly poking the Ruskies in the eye is not a foreign policy.

    Theodore Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Reuven Pedatzur of Tel Aviv University

    I suppose that guy from Tel Aviv is a damn commie too!

  86. knarlyknight Says:

    Despite their protestations, we can’t be sure whether the Russians are truly against the system or are secretly in hysterics laughing at how much faith Americans like you put into such an incredibly expensive fantasy about defence.

    What is clear is that the Russians are playing a better game of poker right now than the morons in your administration.

  87. shcb Says:

    It’s not a crock because of who he is, it’s just a crock. You take the number of missiles fired, the number of Scuds that hit the ground and the number that didn’t and use division to get a percentage. There is a reasonable alignment of those numbers and an unreasonable one. One of the discrepancies is, we called it a success if the warhead didn’t hit the ground, the Israelis called it unsuccessful if the fuel tank wasn’t destroyed and caused damage on the ground, both of those are reasonable and as long as those limitations are disclosed you can compare them.

    If it takes 4 missile volleys to get a 50% kill rate and your objective is to use fewer missiles the number 4 is important. If your objective is to see how many Scud targets are saved then the number 4 is irrelevant as long as you don’t run out of missiles. For the purpose of this discussion the number of missiles is less relevant than targets saved. Postol manipulated the numbers to best support his cause and then fudged some when that wasn’t enough, just like the number of civilians killed in Iraq. Seems to be a pattern developing here.

  88. enkidu Says:

    T. Postol, worked at the Pentagon as Science Advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations, later went on to help study methods of basing the MX missile… doesn’t sound like some hippy to me.

    here is his actual statement before the House



    damn you are an ignorant wwnj

    credible evidence exists that says the Patriot is 0% effective… zero
    maybe 10% and perhaps as much as 40% if you want to be generous (personally, I don’t count destroying the fuel tank if the nuke still wipes out a city… maybe you’d count that as a hit)

    Oh and I googled Reuven Pedatzur

    Dr. Reuven Pedatzur is a senior lecturer at the Strategic Studies Program, Tel Aviv University. RP received his Ph.D. in 1992 from the Department of Political Science, Tel Aviv University. He is the Director of the Galili Center for Strategy and National Security. He serves as a fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force reserves as well as a Defense Analyst for the Ha’aretz daily newspaper.

    So unless your definition of dirty fucking hippy is an Israeli Air Force reserve pilot… or a guy who used to be the science advisor to CNO at the Pentagon…

    your bullshit grows more tiresome and ridiculous by the day, but please keep clinging to your boomstick and hate radio… the 21st century will pass you and your ignorant ilk by. None too soon.

    buh bye!

  89. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Well, first I don’t fancy myself an independent, I’ve actually been registered as one for 13 years. You don’t need the quotes, being politically independent is actually a real functioning choice. It doesn’t mean you haven’t made up your mind. Nor are you required to make a wholehearted, but binary choice in adopting a political ideology. It’s a sad fact that we only have two functioning parties in America and voting ends up meaning going all in. It’s also really sad to look at it in those terms.

    Looking at missile defense as replacement for MAD might be viable, but that wouldn’t come to pass unless everyone had the same type of system and was 100% sure it would work.You’d have to have the same certainty as we currently do to achieve something like mutual assured defense. I can’t even hazard a guess to what the timeline for that would be. Also that could happen without this particular installation being constructed at this particular point in time, I’m not saying that we have to abandon the idea.

    Going back to Russia.. Way earlier in this thread, shcb said he though the Russians weren’t entirely an enemy or an ally now. So looking at that, we’ve actually got some leeway in how we treat them. And maybe a chance to push them in a direction we like. Regardless of whether the shield works or not, the Russians are taking it’s deployment as a hostile action. Just like our refusal to have a NATO-Russia Council meeting about Georgia. Even if we had already made up our minds and were intractable, sitting down with them wouldn’t have hurt at all. Your statement about Russia zipping a nuke into Poland doesn’t make sense. For one Poland is a NATO member which means NATO would be obligated to retaliate, its adequately defended by an existing treaty and hardware. For two, there wasn’t anything they wanted to blow up there until we put it there.

    So, Russia taking this as ‘The USA is treating us like an enemy.’ and now we’ve got the threat of bombers in Cuba. No one is really talking about this, but you can bet people will be going apeshit if they touch down in Havana. The Russians aren’t a neighbor that’s offended because they don’t like the pink flamengos on our lawn, they’re upset at what they view as the opening stage of the resumption of hostilities. No one is saying ‘Oh no, we shouldn’t upset the Russians because upsetting people is bad and we don’t believe in it!’ What’s being is asked is ‘Why is it necessary to upset these guys again?’

    If I am to understand this correctly, doing _anything_ other than exactly what you want to do and disregarding every party, that is to say even _listening_ to what anyone else has to say, is appeasement?

  90. knarlyknight Says:

    Jayson I think you missed the immense irony of your last paragraph. Shcb thinks of others on this site as adversaries, and you are right that to him *even _listening_* is the verbotten taboo of appeasement. There really is no hope of getting through to him by playing nice, because to him that is simply “appeasement” and an opportunity to gleefully anticipate for a while longer where to plunge his sick and twisted dagger.

    Enk and Jon Stewart have got it right, mocking the wwnj’s idiotic and paranoid views are far more effective in bringing truths to light.

  91. shcb Says:


    It really doesn’t bother me if you mock me, it’s sort of waste of time, but it’s your time to waste.


    You can belong to whatever party you want, but we are set up as a two party system. My sense is that the majority of people that either belong to the Independent party or fancy themselves independent voters vote primarily for the Democratic candidate when they vote for one of the two major parties, judging from your comments I would say you vote 80 to 90 percent for the D’s. I’ll take the 20% of the time you vote for an R and give you a big thank you, at the margins you help elect a few Republicans.

    I use the word appeasement advisedly, you yourself have said the Russians are talking about reacquiring lands they lost after the breakup of the Soviet Union. And yet you want to give them whatever they want in the hopes they won’t do something you don’t want them to do, invade a few countries. When you are coming from a position of strength, that is appeasement.

    Give the thief your watch and wallet and maybe we won’t have to fight even though I have a gun and he has a knife. That’s appeasement. If the guy was admiring your watch and asked if he can buy it then we’re negotiating, then we’re talking. If you have the knife and he has the gun you may have no choice but to appease him. In this case we have the gun, we are asking the Russians to put away the knife and then we can talk about them buying our watch or us buying theirs. But why would we put away our gun?

  92. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Ok then, I see we just have a different view on the situation on a few items.

    I view the situation as we both have guns pointed at each other, not that the US/NATO now has a huge advantage. That’s just a difference in how we’re reading the situation. Going back to my some of my earlier posts, I’m also not in favor of just pulling it, I wanted something in return. Maybe the specifics of what I though we should get weren’t appealing enough, but someone else could decide the specifics there.

    I’m not sure what my actual voting spread is. I think it gets more even as you look more toward local/state elections. I tend to be more concerned with policy issues than social ones. Midwestern Dems tend to be a lot more centrist than the coastal Dems too. I try to vote based on the candidate, not the party though.

  93. shcb Says:

    Voting for the party and not the person really only applies to national and state elections. The coalitions at the local level just aren’t as large and powerful. There are exceptions of course and the larger the city the less true that generalization is. I too will cross over and vote for the person in local elections. I think voters on the coast are just more liberal than folks in the middle so Dems on the coasts are more to the left making Dems in the middle of the country more centrist. Republicans on the coast are also more liberal making R’s in the middle of the country seem more to the right. Just a thought.

  94. ymatt Says:

    Just for the record, I want to take this opportunity to ask a question:

    Can you define what exactly “liberal” and “conservative” mean, philosophically? (You cannot use the names of political parties or politicians in your definitions.)

    You throw the terms around a lot and mostly it seems like it’s just as synonyms for the political parties, but I have trouble justifying that with any sort of objective definition that I’m familiar with for the terms. I’m being honest here, I’m curious.

  95. shcb Says:

    I would be happy to.

    I use conservative/Republican, liberal/Democrat interchangeably because the political landscape has evolved (or devolved) to the point that for the most part they are, at least at the legislative level. The electorate has evolved too, but to a much lesser degree. The only Senator I would consider a Scoop Jackson Democrat is Leiberman, and he is technically an independent. There are only maybe 6 or 8 Republicans that can be counted on to cross party lines and only maybe 3 of those would be considered Rockefeller Republicans. I hate using the same word sentence after sentence so I mix it up a bit. It’s more a matter of style than anything else. That is also why I use Dems, D’s, libs and such. I do try and be specific if the situation is specific. If I were comparing Olympia Snow to Leiberman for instance.

    Conservatives believe in smaller government, less intrusive government, relatively lower taxes. They believe in allowing the players in the free market to fail or succeed. They believe corporations are a necessary vehicle of organizing a group of people to do what they can to succeed where they individually can’t, not a faceless monster. They believe in a strong military and have little tolerance for giving someone, country or individual very many chances once they have failed.

    Liberals believe in more government regulation of corporations and individuals. They are less likely to allow someone to fail. They tend to be more collectivist, less inclined to individual rights, this goes back to not allowing people to fail (read socialized medicine). They believe almost any crisis can be resolved with diplomacy and violence should only be used as a last resort. They believe human nature can be perfected and there is good in almost everyone. Quite frankly, they are just nicer people than conservatives.

    Probably the biggest difference is conservatives believe in equal opportunity and liberals believe in equal outcome. If two runners race, the conservatives only care they start and end at the same place and start at the same time. When the race is run, they congratulate the winner and scorn the looser. Liberals will run the race over and over constantly handicapping the last winner until there is a tie.

    That of course is a generalization, no individual probably fits either mold perfectly. But that is what generalizations are.

  96. knarlyknight Says:


    That was a good description, I do have quibbles with it but not substantive (e.g. Dems are not necessarily nicer people.)

    However, where I am confused is that your description of conservative/Republicans does not match the reality of what we’ve seen from this adminstration. Huge corporate bailouts, intervention in markets, increases to the size federal government, to name but a few. There has been no consistency in sticking to conservative values; some say they have strayed very far from traditional conservative values.

  97. NorthernLite Says:

    Hey guys, sorry to butt in here as I can see you are having a very good and civil discussion, but I want to play a game!

    We will play it on the most recent Lies.com post about McCain’s clothes so you guys can keep discussing the issue on this thread.

    The VP guessing game! Let’s all make our picks and see who guess’s right!

  98. shcb Says:


    That is why conservatives haven’t been totally happy with Bush, we also aren’t real fond of his stance on illegal aliens. Personally I approved of his handling of post 911 enough to overlook the issues you astutely observe, now I have to have dental work after all the gritting of teeth.

    We will probably be even less happy with McCain, he starts off in the negative with McCain Feingold. He just happens to be the most elect able of the fellows that tossed their hats in the ring. But conservative/Republicans will find astronomically more things wrong with Obama’s policies.

    If elected you guys will find things you don’t like about Obama, but not as many as you would have if Hillary had been elected. It’s a sliding scale.

    By the way, there wasn’t a Republican candidate that made me say “wow!” this year, I would have been holding my nose in the booth whoever was nominated.

  99. ymatt Says:

    I *do* have problems with your definitions and your application of them. In fact I’m having trouble deciding where to start. At the very least, your description of “liberalism” in general has very little to do with my outlook on the world, so I’ll thank you to stop using it as a term to refer to me, even collectively.

    I believe strongly in individual liberty and responsibility. I believe government’s primary economic responsibility is only leveling the playing field not meddling in the outcome. Similarly, I believe in equality of opportunity and access, but I know that in the end success is primarily a matter of personal choice and hard work. And I believe in the “walk softly…” brand of foreign policy.

    In fact the area in which I consider myself to be “liberal” is with respect to social issues. My understanding of conservatism was that it believes in striving to maintain current social norms, as in things like gay marriage, or drug policy. This is where I veer strongly away, believing (I think consistently) that individuals should have the right to make their personal choices without restraint as long as they do not directly harm anyone else.

    Although there are differences, I’ve always thought of my philosophy as closest to libertarianism. I think there are many like me, as evidenced by the surprising support for Ron Paul. I always thought it was funny how the media could never fit Ron Paul into their narrative — is he conservative? sometimes, very much. But then he often votes against the Republican party line — how can that be??

    Certainly there are issues where I am more liberal than you, but I think those are the exception. Most of the arguments here are over substantive policy differences of opinion, which do not fall along what I believe to be the straight conservative/liberal spectrum. For example, I remember when (not so long ago), conservatism was strongly non-interventionist. I agree with that, but Republicans seem to have broken with that philosophy. Same with economic policy, as Knarly pointed out.

    My point here is that if Republican and Democratic stances on issues lined up with liberal/conservative philosophy with some historical precedent, then you would be justified in using the terms synonymously. They don’t. If your definitions lined up with my beliefs (and those of others here who contribute substantively like jayson, ethan, steve, etc.), then I could understand your use of the term to apply to us. They don’t. And if your definitions alone had some precedent beyond the last few years, then at least we could have a discussion about the places in which the parties’ and our philosophies diverged. But they don’t.

    All you put forth there are this year’s Republican talking points using loaded language. There’s no rational discussion that can come from that, so once more I’m done.

  100. shcb Says:

    Maybe you should change parties :-)

    Libertarianism is sort of around the back of the conservative/ liberal continuum. Imagine a Miss America crown, with the girl’s nose as the center of the electorate. The bulk of the population is in that big front area where all the diamonds reside, they are kind of in the middle, to either side are the liberals and the conservatives, around the back is where the libertarians and the anarchists reside, they are close in their beliefs but don’t quite touch. On individual items we all cross over, I’m not in favor of gay marriage but I am tolerant of gays, I’m in favor of legalized drugs, prostitution, and opening trade with Cuba, so I’m not over our bathing beauty’s ear, closer to her right eyebrow. I’m not a lockstep conservative, just as you’re not a lockstep liberal, but we are generally to the left and right.

    Here is an example of how the definition of liberal and conservative don’t wash with conservatives cling to the old and liberals embrace the new; school vouchers, conservatives want to try something new because they see our kids not performing as well as in the past (and they are anti union) Liberals want to hold on to the old ways of government controlled schools. Factions control parties more that ideology, of course those factions have ideology. In the case of my school example, the last bastion of union labor is government employees, and teachers are the largest sub faction of that group. Maintaining union control of the educational industry is more important than the ideology of teaching kids, even though teaching kids is an important idiology to the majority of the individuals that make up that faction, the teachers.

  101. ymatt Says:

    I’m not sure that I’ve really perceived the debate about education to be along those lines, but I think the teacher’s union is generally an impediment to progress. I’m in favor of creating a competitive educational marketplace, although this is one of those (relatively few) areas where the market does not self-incentivize: the goal is an educated public, but good schools and teachers do not reap the rewards of providing a good education (and vouchers often really only incentivize in the short-term I think).

    In fact i wanted to give one other example on a topic we’ve discussed before where I’m really far from your views, but I don’t see it as a liberal/conservative thing (even though it’s clearly a democratic/republican thing): health care. In my mind, ensuring equal access to health care is a level playing field thing, not an equal outcome thing, which feels right in line with traditional conservatism. I started out that argument asserting that I unfortunately didn’t see a better way to ensure a truly level playing field than government-provided health care because again this is one of the few places where the industry does not self-incentivize. Insurance companies optimize for profits, which in this case means optimizing for care for the healthy and affluent. But in the course of that discussion jayson, I believe, convinced me that we could get a better result by setting required minimum levels of care that would be government-funded by any insurance company who wants to be in the business — no government control, just government oversight and ensuring that all Americans can be healthy enough to compete (to put it in economic terms).

    That seems like a very conservative solution to the problem, but Republicans seem to believe firmly that health should be a completely unregulated market, which to me sounds not like conservatism as much as it does corporatism. I think corporations are a natural and beneficial construct of human society and a healthy free market, but you have to make sure that they can’t cheat by setting the rules in their favor, and here Republicans (on health care) and Democrats (on, well, a lot of stuff) both seem to have forgotten the goal isn’t equality of outcome (all companies are successful), it’s equality of opportunity (all companies can compete in a fair, free market).

  102. shcb Says:

    A quick note on how vouchers (or any non union method) could bring incentives to education. Educators pride themselves as professional (as they should) but are paid as production workers. Better teachers can’t be paid more than worse teachers, and good teachers often become administrators to escape these bounds and then the Peter Principle takes over. This could be remedied with the current system if it weren’t for the incestuous strangle hold the unions have over education. All you have to do is pay good teachers more and fire the truly bad teachers. Vouchers are simply the most direct way to legislate breaking up the union. All schools taking government money would essentially become private, and all private schools would become public (if they take the vouchers).

    I bring this up because I think it dovetails into health care a bit. The libertarian way to pay for either education or health care would be to trade chickens for the services, the guy with the most chicken reads better and lives longer. Conservatives understand that society is better served if everyone has a certain level of health care and education so we are not against the funding of education to a certain level. The idea of course is that the doctor that saves your life in your seventies may have been too poor to even get through grade school without government funding. We just feel that if we want to send our kids to a better school since we worked harder than someone else we should be able to apply that portion of our lifetime of taxes to our kids education and supplement that money, not pay it twice.

    I can see that working with your (Jayson’s?) health care plan. The sticky part comes in how do you do it? If a portion of my taxes go to pay for everyone’s health care, mine included, and I pay extra for better care, I want better care. So do we artificially make someone else’s worse? That seems harsh. 12 bed wards with 1 student nurse and an intern versus private rooms with fresh roses every day?

    Bottom line is I think you could sell that much socialized health care to conservatives, grudgingly, if you worked out the details. We seem to have embraced that much socialism in education.

  103. ymatt Says:

    Excellent! That was a reasonable substantive response, and addressed my point in ways that didn’t require classifying it as liberal or conservative (and as an aside, I even agreed with your reservation about the health plan). We can do that for other topics too, even ones where I disagree deeply with you — you just have to be willing to think about what I’m talking about, not assuming I’m coming from the perspective of winning a point for any particular philosophy or party; I assure you I’m not.

  104. shcb Says:

    Thank you and you too, I just left out the next logical step which would be medical savings accounts, something you were rather cool to in our last discussion of medical care. You require a very soft sell or you shut down. That is the kind of sell you would have to do with conservatives to close the deal on socialized medicine, that’s the wrong term but good enough for here. One other thing about selling to conservatives, go all the way with something they can live with, we are a suspicious lot when you try and sneak up on us and incrementalize change, give us the bottom line. Good discussion.

  105. shcb Says:

    An example of conservative vs liberal ideals. There is a radio ad running, not sure if it is local or national that complains that McCain voted against (not sure if they say voted) forcing oil companies to spend their profits on renewable resources. Would you guys be in favor of that?

    On a different subject, government bureaucracy at work:


  106. ymatt Says:

    That’s not liberal/conservative either, that’s just dumb campaign posturing. And yes, I think that all the stuff about forcing oil companies to fund renewables or taxing their “windfall” profits and such is stupid. Oil companies operate like any other company: they optimize for profitability. Right now, oil is an exceptionally valuable thing and — wonder of wonders — oil companies make a lot of money selling it!

    The problem isn’t with the companies, it’s with the way we allow access to shared resources. If a resource is infinite (or nearly so), then the market will reward the company that can most efficiently harvest/use it and pass along the results. These resources include petroleum, our air, and our water. Some resources cost something to retrieve (like oil), and some are essentially free (like air pollution).

    As civilization has gotten to planetary scale, these resources are no longer effectively infinite, but we still treat them as if they were. I like ideas that create an open market for shared resources (rather than unlimited, or worse, privileged access), such that companies also have to optimize how much they really need to use them, and how much they are really worth (while allowing companies that can use them more profitably or efficiently to compete more effectively). This can be done with scaled taxation, credit trading, or various other schemes depending on the realities of how the resources is used (and how valuable it is to our society).

    Jared Diamond’s book “Collapse” does a really good job explaining how free market can work both poorly and well for utilization of shared resources, depending how the rules are tuned. Sometimes systems can emerge on their own, such as the Forest Stewardship Council which creates a certification of companies who forest sustainably to allow them to be more profitable by so doing. Sometimes the barriers of entry to get these systems started are high enough that the government should step in to bootstrap the process. But the last thing you want to do is punish a company simply for being successful.

  107. shcb Says:

    Ok, so Matt is on the conservative side of the ad, but on the liberal side of free markets when it comes to certain things, oil being one of them. I’m on the conservative side of government intrusion into the oil industry, look at Mexico (and Venezuela) if you want evidence of government screwing up an oil industry. I’ll bet NL is on the liberal side of the ad, Jayson and Knarly will agree with Matt, Steve is always difficult to read.

    Color me skeptical on the book you suggest, my guess is there is a lot of fascisms in his plan. “you are making $100 dollars now, do what government says and you will make $110 even if we have to subsidize you, don’t do what we say and you lose your license”

  108. ymatt Says:

    Oh okay, so “conservative” means “agrees with shcb” and “liberal” is the opposite.

    I’m not sure how you could claim my position to be objectively “conservative”, and you’re wrong about the book.

    With respect to my opinion on the oil industry, are you suggesting that if I don’t support completely unregulated industry then I’m a liberal? I’m not suggesting anything to punish the industry for being successful, and I’m not suggesting any level of government control. I’m merely suggesting that unless we *want* to run our oil resources out as quickly as possible, then we should introduce some feedback into the market such that the oil companies don’t optimize their business and profits based on doing just that. I just want to avoid a condition where the sudden collapse of the resources gives insufficient time for industry to naturally develop other fuel sources. I think that’s about as conservative as you can get short of being an economic libertarian.

    And on Diamond’s book, he is hated by under-informed zealots on both sides of the argument; he’s either “conspiring with the enemy” when he works with oil companies, as he has in the past, or he’s a “rabid environmentalist” when he suggests that short-term profits occasionally run counter to the public good. His suggestions are often similar to the forestry example I give above, which in fact has *no* government component — it’s the perfect free-market solution to a problem. But he does point out places where there is no incentive short-term enough to drive business decisions naturally, such as with strip-mining companies who buy land cheap, mine it rapidly with no regard to pollution, and leave the necessary clean-up to government superfunds (often incurring more costs than the profits of the company). Usually a group of miners serially start and bankrupt such companies, each time making huge personal profit while avoiding legal responsibility for the mess their companies have made. Surely that’s not the sort of free market you prefer — in my mind, that’s taking advantage of a flaw in the market.

    The bulk of the book is spent going through his considerable research into past civilizations that have collapsed suddenly, and many of these were due to sudden depletion of resources because the parties doing the harvesting had no short-term incentive to do otherwise. He also gives examples of societies that introduce some feedback into their system (in a variety of ways) such that precious resources are treated appropriately. He is very cautious (even conservative you might say) about how these lessons are applied (and in fact their applicability) to the modern world. It’s worth reading just for the historical content, even if you don’t read the last couple chapters that deal more with modern contexts.

  109. knarlyknight Says:

    Background to the fallout of the behind the scenes workings relating Georgia to Syrian offensive military capabilities: http://www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/WTARC/2008/eu_russia0447_08_20.asp

  110. shcb Says:

    I’m not totally against regulations and I don’t believe in laissez-faire economics. I am still a little suspicious when you use words like “feedback”. I’ll give you a local example of what I think you are talking about. A law was passed, oh ten years ago or so that farmers had to put back into the aquifers the water they take out. I don’t know the technology, but I heard a group of farmers discussing it at a party in our back yard, so it must be fairly common technology since these guys farm in three different states. They were talking about a type of pond so I assume the farmer has to give up an acre or two of his land and build a pond, I’m also guessing they dig a well and pump the runoff from the rains and over irrigation back into the ground. Farmers in Colorado had ten years to complete these tasks and everyone had to do the same thing so it was fair, some of the farmers of course didn’t want to spend the tens of thousands of dollars it took and when the grace period was up the state seized their wells until they completed the work.

    This goes against my gut reaction to the role of government in business, but I can live with it. If this is what he is talking about, I’ll give the book a chance when I get some spare time, maybe later winter. Is it a book you can kind of skim through large sections. I think I would be less interested in the history part. Well written history is incredibly interesting, but poorly written it bores the hell out of me.

  111. ymatt Says:

    I understand your suspicion about words like feedback, but at least give me credit for being an engineer, not a politician. :)

    And actually, yeah, that example you give is exactly the sort of thing Diamond talks about; here’s a group of individuals that are (rightfully) acting in their own self interest, but will eventually all suffer if the aquifer runs out. Even if they realize this, there’s a disincentive to any single individual building the “pond” you describe, because it’s expensive and will put him at a competitive disadvantage. Ideally maybe one of the farmers might point this out, gather a coalition of all the farmers, and have the ponds built cooperatively, but it would be easy for a small group of selfish individuals to ruin the scheme for everybody else. It’s an unusual circumstance where perhaps only government can ensure that individual, free-market action doesn’t have catastrophic results for the group.

    The forestry example I gave before is an interesting counterexample from the book, where the free market *did* find a way. This sustainability body was formed by individuals, certifies entire sustainable forestry supply chains (at the expense of companies looking for the certification), and provides a “mark” that lumber sellers can use to advertise the fact. This way, a public that is aware of the damage unsustainable forestry can do (and in fact how easy it is to take the few extra steps to do it sustainably) can reward companies displaying the mark by paying slightly higher prices. Free-market at work! There’s something similar for fisheries now.

    So yeah, I think the book might be worth your time. I can’t guarantee the history will be riveting for you since he does sort of go into the (necessary) minutia about how the Anasazi built their cities or what sorts of meat the Vikings liked or what vegetables the Easter Islanders were able to grow. But I found it pretty fascinating seeing how these vanished civilizations went.

  112. shcb Says:

    I think forestry has been the one industry that does a good job of regulating itself. I think this is due in large part to their product. Minerals are hidden, so no one really knows what’s down there and crops grow so quickly it is easy to forget there are long term consequences. Both of these illusions are transparent in the forest. This sort of legislation is tricky, on one side you have the corporate interests that don’t want to spend the money, and on the other you have the other special interests that sometimes are less than honest. An anti smoking group trying to regulate the tobacco farmers out of business by needlessly regulating say a pesticide or other farming technique that is indigenous to that industry would be an example off the top of my head. I guess it’s up to us to elect the right legislatures. Legislators? I guess it could be either :-)

  113. ymatt Says:

    Yup. Fishing is the same way — over-fish an area and boats start coming back with less fish in the nets, it’s pretty obvious. The same will go for oil as more fields start drying up, but unfortunately I think the gradient of fall-off will be a lot steeper for oil than fish, since we don’t have that many alternatives and oil is non-renewable. That’s why it’s an exceptional case.

    But anyway, once we actually discuss these things I’m not a liberal nutjob, am I? Certainly we disagree to a greater or lesser extent on issues, but it’s because we have different priorities or reads of the problem to be solved, not because we apply conservative or liberal ideology of any sort to the issue — I’m not even sure how I’d do that if I were to try. That’s usually the way things are between reasonable people I find, and it’s a lot more productive to discuss them that way rather than throwing inapplicable generalizations around.

  114. enkidu Says:

    I think Guns, Germs and Steel would be more to wwnjs liking: it describes one theory as to why western civilization was ascendant, despite many cultures having risen (and fallen) over the millennia.

    Try amazon or wiki for a skimmable synopsis of the two books.

    Of course, by making this observation and suggestion he’ll do exactly the opposite.

  115. shcb Says:


    I agree, I’ve always know, maybe I haven’t said it enough, that you take a more reasonable stand (from my viewpoint) on economic issues, and I always enjoy chatting with you. I’m off to lunch and have a lot to do today, here is something I had in the wings from this weekend, it’s more directed at Enky so don’t take it too personal, it’s a little outdated now.

    You have to remember I am alone here against 6 or 8 other guys, and an occasional girl. When you make a comment to me, you are making it to me; I on the other hand am opening myself up to several people. You require reasoned, moderated responses or you shut down. A predator like Enky sees that as a weakness and pounces. If I respond to him in manner fitting his asinine remarks you read those remarks and shut down. It’s a delicate balance I have to maintain and sometimes, many times, the lines on the graph simply don’t cross, you read the next ten juvenile back and forth comments and are glad you weren’t in the middle of it. Unfortunately I lost the chance to engage in a spirited, adult discussion, oh well. I have to defend myself and tailor my remarks to each of your special needs while still maintaining my own core beliefs, and somehow inject a little humor from time to time, you don’t have that burden. Now I could go blog on a right wing site and agree with everyone else, but what fun is that?

  116. NorthernLite Says:

    You’re right, shcb, I would be on the liberal side of the ad.

    But I would like to explain why.

    Because the resources are under our country (not Exxon’s or Shell’s country), therefore every one of us should benefit from the wealth they generate. I think of a poor kid growing up right now whose grandfather fought and died in WWII, giving oil companies of today the opportunity the make billions because of his sacrifice.

    It doesn’t necessarily have to be windfall taxes or forcing oil companies to spend their enormous profits to invest in alternatives. I am more in favour of high (really, really high) royalties that should be paid to the state allowing the government to disperse it equally (by way of social programs and investments) so all citizens benefit from the wealth underneath them, not just a handful.

    I know, that’s sounds extremely liberal to you. But hey, that’s me and that’s what I believe!

  117. enkidu Says:

    really, I’m a predator?
    geez, I recommended Diamond’s other book that you might actually enjoy… what exactly is so awful about that? And judging by your post my last line was spot on.

    usually I just wing by here for a bit of mockery, but since you are dredging up old posts or whatever, lets make sure you know exactly who you fellas are debating with (in his own words).

    on John Edwards infidelity (never mind John Sydney McBush’s)

    seeing the look on the Washington Press’ face as he fell backward with blood trickling down his nose, the hatchet handle vibrating in the air would be priceless. that felt good, been one of those days

    Compared to lefty and TV (or say… Sgt Slaughter) shcb is closer to the middle, but still far out on the continuum of conservatism: the easy violence, the dismissive RvsL binary thinking, the whole sad sick ball of anger and hatred of anything other than their own blinkered partisanship. I’ve been a IND voter my entire life, but the Rs have so lost their way that I can’t see voting for their hideous platform of hatred and smears any time soon.

    OK so recommend a book on John McCain for me, I am almost done w The Audacity of Hope and Bhutto’s book and I would like to read something Sydney wrote.

  118. shcb Says:


    that’s why I like talking to you, you give me the other side, you do realize those really high royalties are just going to be passed on to the customer, and the people who can least afford high gas prices are the people you are trying to help don’t you?

  119. shcb Says:


    yeah, I think you are a preditor you tend to grasp at any weakness and exploit it, that isn’t a bad thing in a lot of cases, I kind of enjoy it, but I have a hard time trying to balance the severity of my comments when I am talking to you and Matt at the same time.

    I don’t know of any book about McCain, I really don’t like him so I wouldn’t read anything about him unless it happened to be included in something else I was interested in.

  120. ymatt Says:

    Yeah, that’s why I banned both shcb and enki when I was doing that. My advice to you, shcb, is just to ignore him.

  121. ymatt Says:

    And to NL’s comment:

    Because the resources are under our country (not Exxon’s or Shell’s country), therefore every one of us should benefit from the wealth they generate.

    I’m not sure how that follows. It’s not as if foreign companies are coming in, pumping our oil for free, and going home to sell it cheap. It’s no different than any other natural resource we have: it generates wealth for americans or american companies through a combination of sales, access, and jobs created.

    I’m not sure what the problem is you’re trying to solve, and as shcb says, taxation is only going to lead to higher prices anyway so it’s a poor solution to whatever that problem is (unless you just want to generate government revenue at the expense of the public).

    If the problem is that gas is too expensive, then you probably want to reduce taxes, encourage lowered consumption, and make sure you don’t get into any supply-threatening wars. If the problem is that oil companies are going to profitably sell the supply down too quickly, then I suggest some investment in other power sources and some stringent efficiency standards. If you think oil lobbyists are paying lawmakers to tweak laws in their favor, then I suggest we enact some dramatic anti-lobbyist legislation. I support a certain amount of all three of the above. But if you think the problem is just that oil companies are making too much money, I guess I don’t see that in isolation as a “problem”.

  122. shcb Says:

    I try and ignore Enky’s nonsense and respond to this good comments (and he does have some) but there is always that dreaded gray area…

    Quick update from ground zero. Anarchist arrest rate so far, 2, they were arrested because they would not give the cops their names. When the judge asked one of the guys how he plead he said not guilty because he hadn’t said anything at all. So the judge said he couldn’t make him give his name but he couldn’t set bail without a name… the kid gave his name. It’s still early but it looks like there may not be many protestors show up.

  123. NorthernLite Says:

    shcb, I do realize that, and it’s unfortunate.

    That’s probably why I would (if I were in a position of power) tell these companies if you expect to make record-breaking profits and harm our environment and still pass unnecessary costs onto our citizens, you might as well pack up your gear and leave our country. Someone will do it for slightly less profit. Hey, free market props! :).

    Failing that, I would nationalize our energy program (lol, I can hear you screaming).

    I also appreciate your views too, as sometimes they make me consider other ideas. And that helps me grow as a person, even if I don’t end up subscribing to them. ‘Cause at least I have thought about them and that puts me in a better position to discuss them in the future.

  124. NorthernLite Says:

    I understand what you’re saying matt, and don’t get me wrong, I’m big on conservation.

    I actually favour these current high gas prices because they are stimulating investments in alternatives and encouraging more conservation. But I feel for the less fortunate.

    My problem – and maybe this is because Canada has the 2nd largest oil deposit on earth – is that there is enormous wealth under our country and not very many of us are benefiting from it. And the people who are, are benefiting BIGTIME. You are correct about the jobs being generated and other spin-off. But those jobs are gone when the oil is gone. All we are left with is dirty air (from extracting the oil from the sand) depleted fresh water reserves (it takes 3 barrels of water to produce 1 barrel of oil) and many other environmental problems. Then the company leaves after having made literally hundreds of billions.

    I admit I probably don’t know the proper balance, but I really feel that the current system is not fair to the vast majority of citizens, or the environment.

  125. ymatt Says:

    I’m still not seeing this argument that “there is enormous wealth under our country and not very many of us are benefitting from it”. Do you expect the oil companies who drilled, pumped, and transporter the oil to hand their profits back to the public? What about your logging industry — do you resent companies who cut and ship your lumber for making a profit?

    What I’m trying to say here is that you need to identify a real problem before you talk about solutions. Pollution, monopolies, lobbyists, tax loopholes, supply assurance, those can be real problems, and each hopefully have reasonable solutions. But taxes are always the bluntest instrument, and the easiest to evade — and in this case, I don’t think there’s particularly a problem with the oil companies themselves. So you apply taxes, prices go up, oil companies go about their business like they did yesterday, and you’ve done nothing about anything of the possible problems.

  126. knarlyknight Says:

    ymatt, NL – I think the basis of your not seeing eye to eye here is that you have not discussed the basic issue. That is, who owns the resources in a country?

    ymatt seems to assume that the company owns them outright, or has already bought and paid for them; NL is operating under the basic assumption that the resources belong to the people and companies get to bid for the priveledge of harvesting / extracting. That difference is logical given the basic difference in land ownership: in Canada when you buy property the minerals (and wildlife wandering through) belongs to the Crown; in the USA I understand the resource rights are normally included in the land purchase price.

  127. knarlyknight Says:

    What I find interesting is the difference things that governments / corporations do with the resource revenues and how that affects people. If we take an example like oil and natural gas, and look at jurisdictions with relatively stable fiscal regimes that have remained in place over longer periods of time (i.e. decades) we could learn some good lessons from the results.

    I’ve not seen any research on that but there must be lots of good conclusive studies (well as conclusive as possible given all the other variables) from respected universities about how radical difference s in the direction of revenues streams affect the people living under different regimes. I’m talking about differences like: (a) Kuwait (and Alaska to a lesser extent) sharing petroleum royalties directly with their citizens to the extent that virtually no Kuwaiti does any “real” work; (b) Canadian provinces injecting the cash flow into general government revenues to be pissed away (except Alberta’s Heritage fund); (c) Libya and IranCo (?) directing revenues to subsidize health, university, & national bank lending; (d) the Saudi’s keeping most of the revenues flowing to the ruliing monarch’s family; (e) the USA structuring most revenue to flow to shareholders with workers being fairly well paid; (f) Soviet Union – Russia using the revenues for god only know what (Afghanistan quagmire, weapons, and ?) and paying their oilfield workers poorly; (g) China’s nationalistic approach – they’re exporting their oilfield expertise now, but how has their industry and petroleum revenues benefitted their people overall?

  128. knarlyknight Says:

    OT – Anyone seen Tropic Thunder? What did you think, did anyone find it offensive? I found it generally quite funny and would give it about 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

  129. ymatt Says:

    Interesting perspective… I’ll have to think about that some.

  130. ymatt Says:

    Pahah, yeah that is pretty off-topic. I have not seen it, but I want to.

  131. knarlyknight Says:

    Think about it as long as you like, I’m not one to argue over it as I’m not willing to do the necessary research to get at an intelligent postiion.

    But I will take a minute to take the Bush approach (i.e. lazy-man analysis) of telling ya’ll what my gut tells me. My gut says the Kuwaiti’s went way too far in creating basically a nation of spoiled rich kids (but having never been there and never meeting a Kuwaiti I’m ready to be corrected there); and my gut says that the best approach might be along NL lines where corporations pay hefty royalties (yes which are passed on to consumers) but those royalties are used by government to reduce or eliminate income and sales taxes rather than on giveaways or social programs (although some level of free or subsidized advanced education has an appeal too.) I have problems with the US system, which sounds fine in theory but which tends to reward those with money to invest/risk and the rest (i.e. the vast majority of people) are for all practical purposes not welcome to a meaningful part of the wealth.

  132. knarlyknight Says:

    On second thought it is only fair that I give Tropic Thunder at least 4 out of 5 based simply on the laugh intensity elicited from me in a few gags alone.

  133. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I’m lagging behind, but I was really more interested in the foreign policy discussion. I’ll make some general comments about economic reform and whatnot later. I think you guys are wrong about teacher’s unions. I may be too close to the issue, but my parents were high school teachers for 35 years, but I’ll throw out one quick thought there. It’s unrealistic to treat education as a performance based ‘manufacturing’ style process. As a teacher you have no controls or guarantee’s over the quality of the ‘raw material’ coming in. I look at unions as a very positive force for quality of life for the worker and hope to see a resurgence.

    For the other matter I see being discussed. I don’t want to seem like I’m coming off as a partisan hack, here to gang up on anyone, or just being a jerk. I have a pretty quick temper, but I’m way more interested in rational discourse and subjecting my thoughts to scrutiny.

    I’ve heard some recent military analysis that the Russian military is weaker than they want the west to believe. I’m not sure what this means long term though. Most analysts I’m listening to on BBC World News believe that despite the current tension that relations will normalize. According to them Russia’s economy is entirely based on energy sales to eastern Europe (weapon exports not making up that much of it really) and the that they ultimately need Europe to buy their oil.

  134. shcb Says:

    Wow, this is an embarrassment of riches; I want to respond to Jayson but not until later. You guys have discussed so much I am just going to throw out some notes I made earlier this afternoon for the most part.

    As Matt said the first thing we need to do is define and prioritize the objectives, I would think the first thing we would want to do is address the environment and sustainability of the oil supply until an alternative form of energy can be developed. If government needs to be involved the simplest thing to do is just regulate output, it works with the fishing and forestry industries (keeping on topic boys, learn from the master)(there is no conceit in my family, I got it all). Every time money passes through government, or any entity for that matter, a little gets skimmed off the top. Passing it back and forth through the treasury like a shoe lace just leaves less for research or more for taxpayers to pony up. If you need money to pay for more technology, raise taxes or cut spending somewhere, it’s that simple, but raise taxes across the board if you need to. The worst place to increase costs is at a place where everyone knows the price of the goods to the penny and needs those goods on a weekly basis, if not more. All raising taxes on fuel will do is get you unelected.

    Now this isn’t my preferred method of solving this problem, but if government intervention is required, at least mitigate the inherent inefficiencies. I understand this doesn’t punish the oil industry but punishing them is cutting off your nose to spite your face. This also doesn’t include the concept of fungibility but that would make what I said moot so we’ll just ignore basic economics for now.

    So what technology do we need to invest in? Nuclear, do you realize France makes 75% of their electricity from nuclear and they have stored all the waste over the last 25 years under a floor the size of a high school gymnasium? How is this possible Rick you ask? They recycle the stuff, we have a mountain devoted to the waste when 95% of it can be broken down by a fairly simple chemical reaction to nothing more radioactive than the uranium it originated from. Four of the 5 remaining percent can be used for things like medical treatments. Only about 1% needs to be disposed of. We have a mountain of this junk and we import radioactive material for medical purposes. Now this won’t help with oil since we don’t use oil for electrical generation but it may make your electric cars more practical.

    You can throw in wind, please do, Vestas is building a plant in Brighton to build the windmill blades, it is supposed to employ 1300, great news for us. Vestas is a Danish company, Denmark is the world’s leader in wind power, they produce 20% of their electricity from wind, guess how many windmills they installed in Denmark last year. None. They have reached the limit (probably exceeded it).

  135. ymatt Says:

    I gotta say, I agree with you top to bottom, shcb.

  136. shcb Says:

    Let me add, this doesn’t mean we should give up on fusion, super conductivity, or any other next generation source of power, but it’s going to take a while, decades if not centuries for some of these power sources to be practice, we need to use what we have wisely.

  137. NorthernLite Says:

    Thanks knarls, I think you pretty much captured my and ymatt’s positions.

    ymatt, I’m not advocating that “oil companies give all their profits back to the public” . That’s silly. I know I’m extremely liberal but come on…

    But maybe instead of them making $25 billion every four months they make oh say, $23 billion every four months (aww) and the host country gets a little extra to offset environmental/infrastructure costs, and maybe even invest a little bit into social programs such as health/day care. I would never punish companies for being profitable, but I do expect companies to pay their share and be responsible, especially when it come to the damage they do to the environment while making enormous sums of dough. Obviously they’re not doing it themselves, so I would legislate it.

    That’s all I’m saying in a nutshell.

    And I’m not sure what’s with Americans always thinking that costs from higher royalties/taxes will always get passed onto the consumer. That’s not necessarily true. Our province of Newfoundland has signed a really sweet offshore energy deal where they’ll be collecting the highest royalties in N. America. Their Premier is Conservative. They have some of the lowest energy prices in North America. Everyone is benefiting (oil companies, public, government). Win, win, win.

  138. shcb Says:

    but I think they are paying their fair share, from what I heard, Exon/Mobile paid more in taxes last year than the lower 50% of Americans. I haven’t looked into that statement enough to see how the numbers were manipulated but even if it is close that is a huge number. Also even with “record profits” the oil companies are only making about 9% profit, which is nice but not extravigant. What is Google’s margin? Birkshire Hathaway’s?

  139. NorthernLite Says:

    Yeah, but Google doesn’t damage the environment and compel the government to absorb huge infrstructure investments. Try to keep apples and apples here.

  140. enkidu Says:

    It is nice that shcb is all about being reasonable in this thread… and do ignore my mockery if it pleases you (I don’t insist that you make a joke out of wwnj foreign policy, nor is anyone required to watch the Daily Show – whose mockery is both far more funny and biting than my efforts). Maybe he thinks by suddenly switching to reason and engagement he’ll nab another vote for MvBush (note that knarls and NL are canadian, so…)

    For my part I will continue to answer wwnj lies and foolishness with satire and mockery (last time I checked it wasn’t a violation of the lies.com ‘manifesto’ or EULA)

    Unless you want to censor my posts again yMom/spork ol pal.

  141. shcb Says:

    The argument to that of course is that everyone benefits from whatever mess an industry like the petroleum companies produce as long as the mess isn’t excessive. Sewage treatment plants aren’t as clean and pretty as a high rise insurance building, but we need them both. The guy driving his car to work at Google needs that mess as much as the truck driver. I’m not sure what infrastructure the government pays for to the benefit of the oil industry exclusively. Sure there are roads to transport oil, and ports. There probably are some items, but I wouldn’t think the oil industry gets more perks than others. It is an essential commodity that has to be moved from one place to another. And it would seem if Google is paying a lower percentage of taxes than the oil industry the oil industry is already being charged for the added expense to government.

  142. knarlyknight Says:

    “ymom” LOL forgopt about that. Enk, I sense you miss the former hostility. Worry not, the animosity will return soon enough of its own accord.

    SHCB, As enticing as Nooklyur power might be for your leanings toward solutions that favour mega-corporations, mega-danger, mega-government involvement and mega-costs for future mega-results (including big profits to owners of the mega-corporation), NOOKLYUR power has another big disadvantage that you are over-looking. Overlooking even though you attribute the same disadvantage to the incremental growth of less costly and environmentally friendly energy sources. Face it, nuclear power plants are “mammoth” projects with lead times from inception to power generation of at least ten years.

    The way cost curves for alternative vs. nuclear energy have been trending, any decision now to embark on NOOKLYUR power will appear about as stoopid (i.e. un-enlightened) as your decision to that resulted in spending a trillion dollars to look for non-existent WMD’s in a desert on the other side of the world.

  143. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I read an article about the French nuclear system in American Heritage Invention and Technology. I think it’s a great system and could be the model for any nation that wants to implement wide-scale use of fusion reactors as a power source. One of the key features of the article was comparing the USA and French approaches to nuclear power. It’s worth noting that one of the main keys to success for the French was based on French socialism and government control and regulation of power. According to this article, the French have three styles of plant, they build one of these models based on the power requirements for a specific region. This assures quality of construction and operation. If we were go this direction in the states I think we’d have to adopt more strict requirements, something like the mil-spec for the construction of new reactors.

    So Russia recognizes the independence of the breakaway republics today…

  144. knarlyknight Says:

    And the answer to your insane position that everyone benefits from corporate cost saving that results in environmental messes is to ask how many Google employees have kids with asthma due to smog and how dramatically their quality of life is affected as a direct result of that, and to point to the pathetic lack of progress of your Superfunds in dealing with environmental neglect by mining, petroleum, chemical and other industries that have by the way, done quite well for their shareholders.

  145. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    knarly, we’re going to have to do something to bridge the gap between where we are with power and where we need to be. Most alternative power technologies are too immature to replace our current old school ones. Sad fact, but that’s where we are.

  146. shcb Says:

    One of the issues with wind for instance is the wind blows in the middle of the county and we use the most power on the coasts. we would have to rebuild our transmission lines to handle the super high voltage required to transmit the power long distances without significant loss. In the future this may not be a problem, or if we figure a way to store large amounts of energy it could be used more locally, but Jayson is correct, we need to bridge the gap. if it takes 10 years to build a plant we best get started, don’t you think?

  147. shcb Says:

    Have you seen the size of these windmills? I don’t think the Druckers in Hootersville are putting these things up, it is either big government or big utilities. (usually one in the same)

  148. knarlyknight Says:

    Jayson & shcb,
    With all due respect, your comments are about ten years out of date. Please try to keep up with the times. I have posted a couple of links earlier from Wired Mag. and from MIT dealing with spectacular advances in energy storage, solar, cheap catalysts for hydrogen, etc. and those are just the tip of the iceberg for what is comming into production. More later.

  149. ymatt Says:

    Er, if you’re setting your energy policy based on what’s in Wired magazine, you’re going to be pretty disappointed. There are many promising ideas, but if it’s promising idea for major power generation right now, it’s many years or billions of dollars away (or both) from useful application. We need a short-term plan (efficiency, conservation), a mid-term plan (begin deploying nuclear/wind/hydro/solar), and a long-term plan (evaluate and fund the most promising of the stuff in Wired).

  150. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Missed the links, if it’s the Wired mag article about solar power in Barcelona, I read it. I took away from that solar is becoming a reality for regions where its sunny 90% of the time, again that’s great, but it doesn’t help you and I a ton. If that wasn’t it, would you mind reposting those? I’d like to read them.

  151. knarlyknight Says:

    Thanks yMom, but no I am not basing energy policy on Wired Mag. so don’t worry about me getting disappointed. Besides, I am a big boy now. Also, please remember that no matter how patronizing you may be towards me sometimes – and I realize I do not say this nearly enough – I still love you.

    Nooklyur seems like something based on the model of a previous century for generation and delivery of electricity, which itself grew out of the industrial revolution’s reliance on hydro and big centralized coal fired plants. We still have the transmission infrastructure and it makes sense to use what we have, but that does not mean we have to use it the same way. The wires going into your house or office building do not have to carry electricity in only one direction. Given the opportunity to sell electricity back to the grid, people will enlist all available options (e.g. roof-top or the new solar-electric window blind powerhouses for office building, small wind turbines, micro-hydro devices and a million other options) to sell electricity back to the municipal (hence regional and hence national) power grid.

    I also realize that you guys like Nooklyur because it is something that requires a high level of government regulation and requires the expertise of big corporations and that fits well with the comfort you Americans place in having government and big corporations look after how you live. I understand how Americans feel a great sense of security from big centralized structures ever since 911 and now lean heavily towards those kinds of structures rather than relying on the common sense and ingenuity of individuals. Seriously though, and for crying out loud, would you rather pay billions (actually trillions) of dollars to mega corps so they can build Nooklyur plants from which you can buy your electricity, or would you rather invest that money into the abundant sources of energy available to people in every community? Come on you should give people a little more credit than you are doing now.

    Here’s a silly thought – I climb a staircase in my house about 20 times a day. What if I had a little platform I could ride down that was braked by a mini-generator that would convert my kinetic energy to electricity and send it back into the grid? That might get me about 20 cents worth of electricity a day, multiply that by the number of people in a family household and maybe a contraption like that would pay for itself in a few years, and it’d be fun too. But I can’t think like that and install a bunch of energy generating devices like solar etc. because I don’t have a means to sell to my grid or otherwise recoup the savings on my own electric bill. Extend that “silly” thought further: do you have anything like that contraption on the hills in San Francisco? (Maybe the trolleys regenerate electricity but I doubt it: people have been focused on how to energy to make it easier to get up the hills using energy rather than on how to generate electricity when going down.) Maybe the time to do so is now.

    Rather than looking at Nooklyur as the magic bullet, or blessed basket into which we have to throw all our precious eggs, let’s get creative and work together for a change.

    Jayson – here’s a good round-up of the new technology. Remember, any one taken in isolation can be dismissed as relatively insignificant compared to the 500 megawatts provided by a mammoth Nooklyur plant but that is a false comparison, and extremely narrow minded thinking worthy only in the company of wwnj’s. Our thinking needs to be on a holistic level, combining individual and corporate measures to generate from “traditional” alternative energy (e.g. geothermal, wave, tidal, wind, solar, mechanical, hydro, etc.) on a scale almost equivalent to the $ billions in real investment that would be required for the other policy options being proposed that are based on old-school solutions (e.g. copying what the French did with nuclyur power plants.)

    insert h t t p : / / before this link and take out the spaces betwee nthe W’s: w w w .alternative-energy-news.info/technology/inventions/



  152. knarlyknight Says:

    Thanks yMom, but no I am not basing energy policy on Wired Mag. so don’t worry about me getting disappointed. Besides, I am a big boy now. Also, please remember that no matter how patronizing you may be towards me sometimes – and I realize I do not say this nearly enough – I still love you.

    Nooklyur seems like something based on the model of a previous century for generation and delivery of electricity, which itself grew out of the industrial revolution’s reliance on hydro and big centralized coal fired plants. We still have the transmission infrastructure and it makes sense to use what we have, but that does not mean we have to use it the same way. The wires going into your house or office building do not have to carry electricity in only one direction. Given the opportunity to sell electricity back to the grid, people will enlist all available options (e.g. roof-top or the new solar-electric window blind powerhouses for office building, small wind turbines, micro-hydro devices and a million other options) to sell electricity back to the municipal (hence regional and hence national) power grid.

    I also realize that you guys like Nooklyur because it is something that requires a high level of government regulation and requires the expertise of big corporations and that fits well with the comfort you Americans place in having government and big corporations look after how you live. I understand how Americans feel a great sense of security from big centralized structures ever since 911 and now lean heavily towards those kinds of structures rather than relying on the common sense and ingenuity of individuals. Seriously though, and for crying out loud, would you rather pay billions (actually trillions) of dollars to mega corps so they can build Nooklyur plants from which you can buy your electricity, or would you rather invest that money into the abundant sources of energy available to people in every community? Come on you should give people a little more credit than you are doing now.

    Here’s a silly thought – I climb a staircase in my house about 20 times a day. What if I had a little platform I could ride down that was braked by a mini-generator that would convert my kinetic energy to electricity and send it back into the grid? That might get me about 20 cents worth of electricity a day, multiply that by the number of people in a family household and maybe a contraption like that would pay for itself in a few years, and it’d be fun too. But I can’t think like that and install a bunch of energy generating devices like solar etc. because I don’t have a means to sell to my grid or otherwise recoup the savings on my own electric bill. Extend that “silly” thought further: do you have anything like that contraption on the hills in San Francisco? (Maybe the trolleys regenerate electricity but I doubt it: people have been focused on how to energy to make it easier to get up the hills using energy rather than on how to generate electricity when going down.) Maybe the time to do so is now.

    Rather than looking at Nooklyur as the magic bullet, or blessed basket into which we have to throw all our precious eggs, let’s get creative and work together for a change.

    Jayson – I’ll give you a link to a good round-up of the new technology. Remember, any one taken in isolation can be dismissed as relatively insignificant compared to the 500 megawatts provided by a mammoth Nooklyur plant but that is a false comparison, and extremely narrow minded thinking worthy only in the company of wwnj’s. Our thinking needs to be on a holistic level, combining individual and corporate measures to generate from “traditional” alternative energy (e.g. geothermal, wave, tidal, wind, solar, mechanical, hydro, etc.) on a scale almost equivalent to the $ billions in real investment that would be required for the other policy options being proposed that are based on old-school solutions (e.g. copying what the French did with nuclyur power plants.)

  153. knarlyknight Says:

    here www . alternative-energy-news.info/technology/inventions/

  154. knarlyknight Says:

    the links are not getting through so try W3 DOT alternative-energy-news DOT info/technology/inventions/ for starters, and also W3 DOT popularmechanics DOT com/greenliving And also W3 DOT BIOSOLAR DOT com

  155. ymatt Says:

    There’s nothing a yMom wants more than to be loved.

  156. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I’ll read the links.

    I’m going to digress here for a moment though having just read though your big post on nuclear power.

    I realize reading on another post that knarlyknight is a persona, but I’m going to chuck out a few tips for you. We’ve been getting along here for the most part of this post, however after reading your thing about nuclear power I’m deeply deeply insulted. Again I don’t know if that’s persona in effect, but here are some tips:

    Spelling things funny because you don’t like them isn’t actually insulting to the people that are for them, it’s just weird.

    Speculative psychology almost never works. American’s don’t want a large structure because we’re insecure after 9/11. That reads to me much in the same way saying ‘Canadians have a huge chip on their collective shoulder because they Canada is America’s hat.’ You don’t believe it, but its insulting to hear it. Your statement about the psychology of America isn’t really relevant to the discussion and weakens your argument because it weakens your credibility as a speaker.

    Criticism from an outsider is always difficult to handle. Pointing the finger at us in the States and going ‘You Americans…’ is automatically antagonistic and is going to put people into thinking of each other in us vs. them terms. I would guess that you either really don’t want that, or you’re just extremely bitter vs. Americans based on the fact that 51% of us have sort of set what you feel is a bad tone for the last 8 years.

    Again, the advocacy of nuclear power is based mostly on looking for a non-petroleum/low carbon solution. I asked for links because I want to have the data you feel is relevant to the conversation. I do agree that we’re going to need a hybridized approach to phase in alternative sources but the problem I’ve faced in regard to the energy conversation is that its politicized and both sides give totally diverging timelines for any implementation.

    What I’ve seen from my own reading is that as we stand today natural power (geothermal, wind, solar) isn’t going to be enough at the current technology levels, renewable fuels like ethanol are actually almost a worse idea than burning oil and that we need some kind of serious breakthrough, an actual new form of power. The advocacy of nuclear on my part stems from it being a low carbon emitter, available, capable of meeting electrical demands and thus being a good stopgap. I’ll google that stuff up later and maybe I’ll come back having changed my tune.

  157. knarlyknight Says:


    A sincere thank you for that last post, I found it quite helpful. Really. I’ll take your suggestions, as you chucked them out there, to heart. I think this is the only place I’ve ever used “nooklyur” and it was not meant to be insulting but rather to highlight the fact that the nuclear option seems like rather a knee-jerk “solution” you’d expect to come from the kind of people who might spell it that way. Nevertheless, that’s a rather obscure and pointless explanation and it’s best for me to just cease and desist.

    I’m sorry for insulting you, and ever the moreso for it being “deeply, deeply”. Yet I’ll chuck out a suggestion for you too: grow a thicker skin. That is in no way meant to take away from my apology or expression of being sorry; just chucking it out there for you.

    The links I provided were given in haste, perhaps I could do a better job of compiling a more compelling / comprehensive set of links to support the basic premise (i.e. the investment required to bring sufficient nuclear energy on-stream would be better spent on “incentivising” development of EXISTING new technological breakthroughs and creating a holistic widespread web of energy power inputs rather than centralized power plants.

    The staircase generators example might have been more effective if it as applied to three story brownstone walkups in Brooklyn or Queens instead of a single family dwelling.

    Out of time, but I’d also like to address speculative psychology as I think you missed the point. However, the fact that you seemed to have missed the point actually makes your criticism against the use of speculative psychology all the stronger, so again maybe it’s better I just cease and desist.

  158. shcb Says:

    I just don’t know what is about people that they can’t understand the electrical grid just a little bit. I was having this conversation with a gal at work just last week, she is fifty, getting her masters and runs our customer service department, not a dummy by any stretch. She was giving the same arguments, that we can use wind and solar, that when you are producing more than you need you are putting power into the grid, then when you need more than you produce you take it out of the grid. She even has a brother that uses a fuel cell, he is still hooked to the grid though because there are times when he runs out of power. I explained to her what I have explained here many times, that if everyone needs power when no one is producing an on demand source must be used. She understood, even repeated it back to me, then she glazed over and said, “all you want is more NUCLEAR” in Knarly’s pronunciation. I just don’t understand it. I don’t want nuclear, I’m happy with coal, but if we need something different to “save the planet” use a proven technology until something better comes along.

  159. NorthernLite Says:

    Do you think America is incapable of meeting this challenge?

  160. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I don’t have to grow a thicker skin, you could opt not be insulting.

    On the whole Canadians seem to love to criticize the States, despite reaping a lot of benefits from being our neighbor.

    Everyone who disagrees with me has a low IQ.

    There, back to the standard lies.com conversational tone. Resume discussion.

  161. ymatt Says:

    That’s right, you don’t have to take anything from caNADian anglo-francish socio-fascists!

    I’m not very good at this.

  162. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Me either. Not enough practice. Spent too much time trying to not insult people, hard to reverse course.

  163. shcb Says:


    This isn’t about facing a challenge, we’re not sending someone to the moon for national pride, this is a practical matter. There simply are some physics involved here. Nothing more difficult than Ohm’s law and the fact we can’t store electricity for anything more than a flashlight. The technology Knarly wants to use where individuals make their own power certainly isn’t new, I remember going into an old abandoned farm house in Kansas as a lad and finding row after row of glass batteries in a cellar, I asked my mother about it later and she said before the REA installed wires to farms they had windmills and batteries, when the wind didn’t blow for more than a day or two you didn’t have electricity. But that only happened ever month or two, and rarely lasted more than a few days. You had to take all the food out of the refrigerator and take it down to the ice house a mile away, but that was a small price to pay for not having gas lights, flip a switch and a light comes on, amazing. This was a hundred years ago (the technology, not my mom, I’m old but not that old). Technology is better now, you might get 3 or 4 days if all you run is the refrigerator and the lights in the room you happen to be in at the time, (slight exaggeration, poetic license and all) but eventually the same physics problem will pop up. Even if the storage problem can be solved in the next decades you still have the fact that solar energy, whether it is in the form of wind or direct sun light isn’t nearly as concentrated as the solar energy in fossil fuels so it takes a lot more of it.

    So the question becomes what is the most practical road to take, and of course to answer that you first have to answer where do we want to go. if you are looking for cheap electricity the you gotta go with coal. If your destination is clean electricity then the short/medium term answer is nuclear, if your objective is clean electricity without nuclear, at this particular time your answer is wind/solar with blackouts from time to time. Let’s face it, hospitals and businesses that can’t have interruptions firing up thousands of diesel generators during these blackouts won’t hurt air quality.

  164. shcb Says:

    Jayson, Matt they’re hard to just ignore aren’t they? :-)

  165. NorthernLite Says:

    lol, what do you mean it’s not about facing a challenge? In your own post you say we need to figure out how to store large amounts of electricity. Challenge, yes?

    It’s very sad to see that the spirit of American innovation has been destroyed over the past several years. Such a defeatist attitude these days.

  166. shcb Says:

    It would have been more efficient to invent the airplane instead of spending all that time and money building railroads in the 1800’s, Da Vinci had conceived the basics hundreds of years before, we knew aluminum existed and someone probably figured you could put those two things together to make a plane, but we didn’t know how to make aluminum anywhere but a laboratory because the induction oven hadn’t been invented and cast iron wasn’t light enough, and the turbine needed titanium, and jet fuel … you can’t force innovation past a certain point. On my desk is a bonze plaque that says “all progress begins with an idea” but you have to have the idea. In the meantime cattle, people, and stuff needed to moved across the plains so we built railroads.

  167. NorthernLite Says:

    You’re comparing the technology and resources, both human and financial, of today to that of the 1800’s?

    Yikes. I’m starting to see why America is falling in love with a fresh, young leader.

    You desperately need one!

  168. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    America is up to the challenge. The problem isn’t going to have any kind of quick fix though.

    I read through knarly’s links, I feel more optimistic but they’re also talking about powering all of Europe with solar by 2050, for example. I guess this strikes me as a political issue again. Like what can we get in 10 years, nuclear power or total environmental energy conversion. shcb is right though, we don’t have the power storage tech. Unless you can power your house with solar from the Mojave desert or something, its not ready for prime time.

  169. enkidu Says:

    so shcb’s solution is: its too hard, things are going great right now, no need to change… perhaps I should point out that peak energy demand is during daylight hours? We aren’t going to be getting rid of all the coal plants if we make an investment in solar, wind, biodeisel etc. Even looking 5 to 10 years down the road, the alternative energy ideas floated on today’s market will simply blunt or replace some oil, our main strategic deficit right now.

    We need to stop buying so much oil from the middle east. Giving even more grants of free or nearly free access to environmentally sensitive areas for oil drilling isn’t a great answer – tho I think we could probably drill in ANWR and the outer shelf using newer drilling tech with fewer disasters. Fewer, not none.

    The next boom is green tech/clean energy. We should be leading the world in green tech, selling these products and ideas to the Chinese, but with two failed oilmen shilling for their buddies the Saudis, we’ve become ever more dependent on crude oil from this volatile region. There were no WMDs in Iraq, and the whole thing was a failed geopolitical gamble: what if we had spent that 3 trillion or so on alternative energy? That would have been leadership. Instead we got yet another stinkin war.

    Yes, we desperately need a new direction in this country. I don’t think Obama is the messiah or without flaw (heck look at his FISA capitulation), but he is promising real change from the failed bush/mccain direction. A good start. A better direction for all Americans (actually all human beings).

  170. shcb Says:

    What I am saying is we can multitask, when we decided to go from steam locomotives to diesel/electric did the aircraft industry stop innovating? We can develop future energy while we use today’s, in fact we really have no choice.

    I don’t know where NL got the idea I was comparing the technologies of then and now, I’m saying the process of developing new products hasn’t changed, we don’t have a crystal ball to tell us what invention is going to work and which isn’t. If we did we could have bypassed that silly cloth wrapped wood frame airplane phase. Funny thing is the magic goo that holds thousands of gigawatts of electricity in a vessel the size of a swimming pool will probably be a petroleum product…. Invented by a chemical company…. Owned by Shell Oil

  171. shcb Says:


    then what is Obama going to do with those 100,000 new ground troops he has promised?

  172. enkidu Says:

    I haven’t heard him say that, please provide a reference (other than wwnj links)
    a quick google revealed nothing substantial – show me a quote

    And personally I think we may need another 100k to replace the wounded and worn out from Bush’s Folly. If he didn’t call for strengthening our military you would declare him weak and an appeaser n such (see your earlier posts in this thread).

    And btw, in case you haven’t noticed, we have indeed changed how we think up, develop and refine new tech: there are these things called computers and CAD/CAM and robotics (and possibly nano-whatever soon enough) have changed the way we make stuff in fundamental ways. And you think oil companies are eager to have their product replaced? wow… just… wow

  173. shcb Says:

    Our predecessors had the resources they had, we have the resources we have and those that follow us will work with what they have to work with but nothing is going to happen until there is an idea that is possible because other ideas have been developed.

    Here is the link you requested.

    Fighting a resurgent Taliban. Targeting al Qaeda. Persevering in the deserts and cities of Iraq. Training foreign militaries. Delivering humanitarian relief. In this young century, our military has answered when called, even as that call has come too often. Through their commitment, their capability, and their courage they have done us all proud.

    But we need to ease the burden on our troops, while meeting the challenges of the 21st century. That’s why I will call on a new generation of Americans to join our military, and complete the effort to increase our ground forces by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines.


    remember he was surrounded by an Army base, an Air Force base and the Air Force Academy when he said this. He was in a friendly venue, a small island of liberalism, an outpost of Boulder with the Fallwell headquarters to the south and Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame to the north.

    The oil companies would love to have the magic juice, someone is going to make money off the stuff, and their product will be replaced to a certain degree, why would they not want in on that action? Early auto manufacturers were buggy builders, blacksmiths turned into welders, people that made typewriters now make computers…

  174. knarlyknight Says:


    Yes the oil industry will want in on the action and may well take part in the development of new energy supplies, but proclaiming such a thing is really just another example of your narrow minded thinking.

    The bigger picture, that Enk intuitively knows, is that, unlike in your blacksmith example, the oil industry has relatively huge sunk capital costs. So the oil industry has a demonstrated vested interest in delaying adoption of new energy technologies to maximize the returns from those investments.

    The oil industry’s capital infrastructure almost certainly can’t be retooled for new energy industry.

    Typewriter makers now make computers eh? Well, I suppose some former Algerian oilfield workers will be able to re-adjust solar arrays to maximize their tans, but what’s your point?

    Have you seen the documentary movie “Who killed the Electric Car?” I haven’t, but I bet it would open some wwnj eyes to the real issues concerning energy development (and it’s suppression over the past 50 years.)

  175. knarlyknight Says:

    Those on this site who keep repeating that there is no efficient way to store solar power when the sun goes down are simply parroting oil industry backed Republicans who were mindlessly reading their old 2007 talking point memos.

    I’ve described and you’ve seen the links already. Perhaps those people will do better at understanding a very short video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GV0NS6of6rc

  176. knarlyknight Says:

    Then there are other, existing electrical energy storage technologies that are being dramatically improved recently, like superconductive magnetic energy storage, and which is breaking through the cost efficiency barriers, …

    i.e. shcb – if MIT’s household solar storage systems are not practically expandable to industrial size units (think of the Hindenburg), then the industrial swimming pool sized power storage devices you speculate about are more likely to be eight foot long modules utilizing SMES or UMES systems. Wisconsin utilities are already using an earlier storage system using old SMES technology (i.e. it requires significantly lower operating temperatures – hence it is less practical – than the temperatures required by what’s been accomplished more recently) to handle sudden/short term power peak requirements.



  177. knarlyknight Says:

    Then there are plain old crazy ideas, and the best place to find those are at the Pentagon. Their suggestion will appeal to those who like big sexy projects like nuclear power plants. The Pentagon recommends embarking on space solar stations that would come onstream within about ten years, if we start now. And they would provide all the power the world needs within about 40 or 50 years! That might be a good idea (but please ask someone to make sure the ozone layer or other critical parts of our atmosphere don’t get fried in the process, the Pentagon has a habit of overlooking details like that):


    Recall, I am not espousing any one idea, there are a millions of these out there and it seems obvious that the solution we seek will comprise about 100,000 of these ideas networked together in continent or world-wide, flexible (rather than one way only) energy grids.

  178. enkidu Says:

    And what exactly is wrong with calling for increasing our military forces?
    Interesting where you decided to clip out your quote from Obama’s speech (did you read it all? doubt it. I read it and it reaffirms why I am voting for him – warts and all)

    I am running for President, right now, because of what Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now. This moment is too important to sit on the sidelines. Our country faces determined enemies abroad, and definitive challenges at home. But I have no doubt that in the face of these odds, people who love their country can change it. That is why I am running for President. That is why I’m determined to reach out – not just to Democrats, but to Independents and Republicans who want to move in a new direction. And that is why I won’t just ask for your vote as a candidate – I will ask for your service and your active citizenship when I am President of the United States.

    This will not be a call issued in one speech or one program – this will be a central cause of my presidency. We will ask Americans to serve. We will create new opportunities for Americans to serve. And we will direct that service to our most pressing national challenges.

    There is no challenge greater than the defense of our nation and our values. The men and women of our military – from Fort Carson to Peterson Air Force base, from the Air Force Academy to the ROTC students here on campus – have signed up at a time when our troops face an ever-increasing load.

    The text then picks up where you start it with “Fighting a resurgent Taliban.”

    In the larger context of the actual speech he is calling on Americans to serve their country (echoing JFK’s ‘ask not’ speech) and get engaged. He also called for AmeriCorps to be expanded from 75,000 to 250,000. Scary! I read all the ‘its white slavery! Obama wants to enslave us!’ stuff on right wing sites and I just have to laugh.
    After 9/11 w asked everyone to just keep shopping.

    Can we talk about tax policy next? Or is this war thread only devoted to energy issues now? This seems a pretty good synopsis of the two tax plans…


    You are either with us, or with the top 0.01% of Americans. ;-)

  179. shcb Says:

    I would love to see it, I’ll bet it is full of idiots (I have a cousin in California who is one of them) that have developed gidgets and gadgets that will revolutionize the world. They will say how their patents were bought up by the oil companies, or the car companies but won’t produce anything as simple as a patent number of their invention. In my cousin’s case he will go on for hours at how the thugs threatened him to not pursue his invention, so he never built one. When I checked into it I found he had “invented” a carburetor that boiled the gas and just used the vapors, these things have been around as long as cars have been around, I think Henry Ford had them on some of his cars, funny thing is the cars tend to burn to the waterline on a regular basis.

  180. shcb Says:

    I’m all for increasing the size of the military to finish the job in the mid east, I just didn’t think you guys would be and I hadn’t heard you talk about this speech. He also says he wants to pay college kids $40 and hour to volunteer. I’m all for that too for the next 4 years while my daughter is in college, then not so much. Hell, for $40 an hour I might just volunteer. Do you think “meeting the challenges of the 21st century” includes invading Iran with those 100,000 new recruits?

    I love it, he wants to force high school kids to “volunteer” and pay college kids at a rate of $80,000 a year to “volunteer” someone needs to buy him a dictionary.

  181. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:


    “Those on this site who keep repeating that there is no efficient way to store solar power when the sun goes down are simply parroting oil industry backed Republicans who were mindlessly reading their old 2007 talking point memos.”

    There’s no reason to this accusatory about everything, in fact its totally ridiculous. You level baseless accusations about anyone’s motivations for saying anything different. I don’t give a shit about the oil companies or the Republican party in the least. If I was wrong about power storage tech I was just wrong about storage tech.

    Nothing I say is an attack but you really feel the need to turn it into one. Agreeing or disagreeing on a point with anyone here doesn’t mean you automatically are taking a ‘side’ with them and are the enemy. So in order to make you feel better and fit into the lies community, you can take the following as an attack if you like:

    In typical narrow minded fashion, the ideologue has to brand anyone who disagrees with them as ‘the other’ and isn’t worthy of being listened to at all. Honestly you need to look at in the mirror and realize its people like you, condescending, narrow minded and trapped by their own ideology, that keep any kind of actual discussion from happening. This is you in a nutshell, knarly. The lwnj.

  182. enkidu Says:

    jayson – first look to the mote in your own eye, brother

    shcb, you are intentionally parroting wwnj talking points. A call to service can be paid or it can be entirely without pay. Since I volunteered for military service, was it wrong to ask for payment? I now volunteer at my sons’ school and don’t get paid for that. Maybe I should demand $40 an hour?

    The on-line dictionary I use renders this as the definition of the word “volunteer”
    1 a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking
    2 a person who performs a service willingly and without pay
    3 Military. a person who enters the service voluntarily rather than through conscription or draft, esp. for special or temporary service rather than as a member of the regular or permanent army

    11 to offer (oneself or one’s services) for some undertaking or purpose

  183. knarlyknight Says:

    Jayson, It seems like I’ve gotten under your skin (ewe, that’s gross!) It’s also rather droll, since my comments were aimed at shcb rather than you. That’s what you get for sitting in the enemy’s camp. “Enemy” is not used carelessly here. Something I learned from shcb and Leftbehind on previous threads, is that regardless of how you feel about these commentators (in my case it is good about shcb, ambivalent or negative towards Leftbehind, favourable towards Jayson – at least until you started to project your discomforts on to knarlyknight) … regardless how you feel about them they still can pretend for days on end to be all civil-like then, in the middle of a post the gloves come off and you suddenly realize that the last few days of posts never about rational discussion of ideas and policies at all but rather it was all just an extended dialogue so they could assess the few weak points or remaining uncertainties to be exploited so their inflated ego’s could score some partisan points for the Republican group they so closely identify with. So Jayson, Lies has been more of a battlefield than a playground, well maybe just a playground of the nasty sort.

    Back to your sitting in the “enemy’s camp.” Collateral damage is nasty, eh? You were right in a previous post that I have a hard time keeping separate those Americans who support Bush in his wars and other degradations of American ideals, and those who actively opposed his administration. Trouble is that of the 50% or so who voted against Bush, most have spent the following 8 years trying to APPEASE his administration rather than correct its abuses (e.g. torture.)

    And of course you wouldn’t simply “parrot oil industry backed Republicans who were mindlessing reading their old 2007 talking points memos,” it was just a coincidence that you and them are both in taking the same position about the same subject. Obviously. Maybe use more sunscreen, your skin is terribly thin.

    One thing I like about you Jayson is that no matter how off base my comments might be, I can trust you to bring the discussion back to a higher level. The question is whether you are still up to the challenge or r skin is starting to get too irritated to remain rational.

  184. knarlyknight Says:

    NL, Enk, have either of you noticed that no-one one this site has stood up to present anything resembling a rational argument in support of McCain’s plan to build 45 new nuclear reactors? http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/19/us/politics/19nuke.html

  185. knarlyknight Says:

    One reason for that is because they would not be able to counter the issues like the ones set out here: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/06/02/nuclear_power_price/

  186. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I get very irritated on the principle of things, so as you figured out, I’m more mad that something I said without going ‘I’m siding with so and so’ gets thrown into that context. I don’t go for the enemy camp stuff with this.

    I do strongly believe in civil dialog. I think that we have to listen to each other when discussing issues. I believe we have to be receptive to information without politicizing it or spinning it or we won’t actually be able to come up with any viable answers to anything. I’m actually interested in the topics at hand. The only weakness I’ll ever point out is when I think there is a weak argument, reason for an assertion or logic. At least that’s what I’m trying for.

  187. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    On this one having read up on the stuff knarly put out and what I basically have to say is I see the tech there and think we should throw the money to fast tracking it. We could probably hang out with what we have and I can see not building a ton of nuclear plants

    The other thing I have to say is that when this was a foreign policy discussion about Russia, Georgia and the like I had more of an informed opinion. Anyone have anything new there? I’m still following the issue pretty closely.

  188. knarlyknight Says:

    Jayson, I agree with your first post there about civil discussion and would like to give it another try (i.e. I’ll pretend that we’re all grown-ups here and also refrain from accusing people of grade 5 reading comprehension when the truth is closer to grade 9.) Maybe there is hope after all.

    fyi, I do not consider myself an idealogue, i.e. lwnj, as I often take pretty uncomfortable positions initially so it’s usually a relief to admit when I’m wrong and come back into the fold. That wasn’t always the case, during the second and most of the third decade of my life I believed most of what I read (mostly newspapers) and probably would have agreed with shcb on nearly every issue.

  189. knarlyknight Says:

    And as for building more nuclear plants, fill your boots. Just don’t build them upwind from Canada, and for your own sakes, try to avoid building any more in the vicinity of the San Andreas fault. One more helpful suggestion, and I’m just throwing it out there for your consideration (take it or leave it for all I care) but you might consider pulling that missile defence shield out of Poland and placing it around your existing and any future nuclear power plants to protect them from events that, according to Condi and the other clowns in charge of your security, were “unimaginable”: rogue elements in your government enabling unsophisticated hijackers to commandeer air planes and evade the most sophisticated air defence systems in the entire world to fly unarmed air liners into strategic targets. (Wow you guys were lucky the 911 targets were chosen for their political and iconic value rather than for their potential to cause fatalities.)

  190. shcb Says:

    It’s kind of nice to be off the side of the name calling for a change. It looks like we’re going to veer off the energy subject so let me toss out one more thing. Without boring you with the math it would take about 500 million of these super conductivity units to store the electricity to replace only the coal fired plants in the US for three days (7 million per hour) and coal makes about 50% of our electricity. This was using data from ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) for 2002.

    These are great breakthroughs, but a multi-ton unit that spins at the speed of jet engine in what I would assume is temperatures lower than the Antarctic isn’t exactly made for your backyard, and we would need almost 2 per every man woman and child to provide half our power for three days.(and this size unit is still a dream) But this is what I was talking about, this is one of those baby steps toward the goal. When they made the first aluminum from an induction oven and someone pounded out a tea cup from it, they new they had a major breakthrough. They had a new material, and a practical use for it, but they were a long way from producing the first 747.

  191. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I’m not calling for a topic change per se.

    For the energy issue what I was saying was that opposed to immediate deployment of the existing tech knarly pointed out, that it now seems to me that money would be better spent on working on that tech and getting it developed to a cost effective point.

    For the original topic of discussion, I’m just continuing for follow the events as they’re unfolding. General analysis I’m hearing says that neither Russia or the west has tons to gain, but both sides are distancing themselves further. I also keep hearing how the west doesn’t have a whole lot of cards to play with Russia. What do you think the west could or should do? What cards do we even have? How is this going to end? Any current thoughts? If not, you know, more energy or whatever.

  192. shcb Says:

    After all I’ve written about appeasement, I think this may be a case where all we can do is appease Russia with conditions. When neither side has much to gain, but one side, Russia in this case, has more to lose I think the best we can do is talk to them in backroom sessions and find out how we can help them extract themselves as victors with the Georgians getting the shaft, sorry Georgia. Then we strongly tell Russia, again away from cameras that we won’t tolerate them reacquiring old lands. We will look a little weak, people like me will scream bloody murder, and a diplomat will go home tonight knowing he made the best of a bad situation.

  193. shcb Says:

    This reminds me a little of the Falklin Islands

  194. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:


    As the situation gets more ridiculous…

  195. NorthernLite Says:

    Although I would like to think that wouldn’t happen, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised…

    Off to get my case of beer, watch the Blue Jays vs Rays and then watch Obama tear it up in mile-high stadium!

  196. knarlyknight Says:

    Jayson, thx. for the bbc link, their story does a good job of re-inforcing my perspective that the world leaders sometimes make as much sense as a couple bullies arguing over sandbox toys.
    As for your earlier questions about how’s it going to end, what the USA can do, etc. I think the bottom line is that Russia couldn’t care less what we do about it and it will end in whatever manner the victors want it to end. All the Georgians and Americans (& Israeli advisors) in Georgia can do at this point is prolong the pain by interfering with Russia’s attempts to create a “secure” situation, and I do mean “secure” from their perspective not ours and not from the perspective of hte Georgian aggressors.

  197. knarlyknight Says:

    In reference to your earlier post about energy development options.
    I appreciate your math to put the scales into perspective, so many “news” reports are completely lacking in that respect and most of us are ill-equipped or too lazy to do the calculations. Weird that seems to be the case in this so called computer / information age: we got more data but most of us seem to be stoopider or morans and can’t turn it into information that’s useful for anything more than arguing.

    Not to introduce more bickering, but rather just to question, the two things that bug me about your comments are (1) focusing on criticising (weaknesses in) the SMES technology and ignoring a basic premise that it is not one new technology we need to find salvation in (well eventually we may settle upon one) but rather it is the plethora of new (and radically re-engineered old) technologies, like the new MIT home solar storage system, which can network together to balance loads across the continent and among different users/producers; and (2) using 2002 data, as I thought the really big breakthroughs in the advancement of SMES technology were made since 2005 and especially the one earlier this year, i.e. nano-tech in SMES wire cables (2006) http://media.uow.edu.au/news/2006/1113a/index.html , and
    SMES’s developing role in more flexible (two way) power grids: http://www.leonardo-energy.org/drupal/node/279

    By the way, I am not arguing for SMES systems just saying it has tremendous potential that needs to be checked out further. Wiki has old info about it but one thing they point out is that the magnetism that surrounds these storage systems dwarfs the earth’s magnetism so a wide safety buffer zone may be required. That sounds ominous.

    Glad to see this thread drifting back to Georgia.

  198. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Thinking more on the Georgian issue.

    I think knarly and shcb are both right on this issue. The Georgian president seems more stupid in this as it drags on. It’s pretty clear that the Russians were lying in wait for this and I read in Time last week that we had warned Georgia not to do anything aggressive. I’m betting that he’s not looking too good for another term.

    With the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization not backing Russia on the issue at all (Like China was going to support the concept of recognizing breakaway republics…) Russia finds itself without a whole lot of friends in this issue and really didn’t have the alliances or economic partners that were comparable to NATO or the EU. Still knarly is right and they just do not care. There isn’t much we can do, as shcb said, the breakaways will join Russia, relations will be chilly but economic realities will keep oil flowing and the USA will supply aid to a now much geographically smaller Russia. I think both sides of the argument look weak now though. The NATO-EU contingent are unified but can’t actually do anything meaningful in terms of punitive action, Russia now stands alone and alienated.

    Already I’m hearing stories of Russian ethnic cleansing as the old and infirm Georgians still inside the breakaways are being unceremoniously driven from their homes. Humanitarian aid is probably the best anyone can do.

    For Russia requiring old territories, I have a slightly different take on this. There was a lot of commentary from Russian and Ukrainian diplomats on BBC today. For the instance of the Ukraine and Crimea, it seems that really a small minority of Ukrainians want to join NATO and its their president who is really pushing. So much for the concept of public servants. We’ve got to let these countries do what they want. Belarus wants to join with Russia, the Ukrainian people want diplomacy with Russia, Moldovans want the Russians off their lawn. The USA and EU should stand up for the countries that want to preserve their independence but taking a policy of just checking Russia no matter what it does is just going to breed a lot more problems.

  199. shcb Says:

    Hope you don’t mind my bouncing back and forth. My intention isn’t to belittle new technology, by definition that is where solutions come from. I was programming cnc machines to do calculations AutoCad couldn’t calculate in the mid 80’s. I only have a high school education and one college course of trig so I was at a disadvantage but I managed to program an HP calculator to do the math via substitution that the most advanced medium priced cad system of the day couldn’t do. I’m all for innovation. I was just pointing out the limitations.

    And really this SMES(?) isn’t meant to do the task we are discussing, it is meant to instantaneously supply large amounts of power to critical locations for the brief period of time between a loss of the primary power source and the backup generator taking over. But of course something we learn here may help us later. From what I understand one of the major road blocks to cold fusion is super conductivity.

    We return you now to the discussion of Georgia, already in progress.

    Ps, as far as the 2002 data, that is just what I came across easily, I knew it was somewhat out dated so I made sure I included the date, I should have been more clear.

  200. knarlyknight Says:

    And really, it seems you are clinging to old information when stating SMES isn’t meant to do the task we are discussing (which is solving our energy problems.) That statement is based on the wood frame and cloth SMES technology as known and utilized by power companies 5 years ago.

    Now we’re at the cusp of commercial multiprop aviation with SMES capable of balancing day and night demands. Let’s hope we get to the jumbo jet or concorde level SMES technology in the next 5 years.

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