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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

March 12, 2008



"I want to assure you - just like I assure military families and the troops - the politics of 2008 is not going to enter into my calculation, it is the peace of years to come that will enter into my calculation,"
-Bush to the National Religious Broadcasters

Did you ever wonder if this guy thinks he can make promises even from beyond the grave? If he is true to his words here, it would be the very first time that politics didn't enter into President Bush's calculation ever. Perhaps I should say Dick Cheney's calculation instead.

"They're not coming home based upon defeat, or based upon opinion polls, or based upon focus groups, or based upon politics, they're coming home because we're successful," he said, to thunderous applause."

And if left to you, they wouldn't be coming home at all. At least if John McCain were president they would be coming home - in the year 2108!

"The gains in Iraq are tenuous, they're reversible, and they're fragile and there is much more work to be done. This enemy is resilient,"
-And Bush again

And so the real agenda shines through. Perhaps President Bush is thinking (or someone is thinking for him) about the future. It's just too bad he isn't thinking about the future of the young men and women who are serving in Iraq today. It's quite possible that President Bush has a different agenda than the one which keeps his military contractor "base of haves and have mores" in the money. Perhaps he is pushing to keep the troops fighting his war in Iraq (one that he built all with his little own hands) and keep them there forever (indefinitely - forever - same thing to him) because he knows that a Democrat in the White House will eventually end his war. And if you're thinking along those lines, and Iraq ends up in a worse way than it is today (as hard as that is to imagine), Bush gets to come forward and tell us all "I told you so" even though it was he who screwed it up in the first place. I can hear the echoes now from his Crawford, Texas ranch:

"If only they'd listened. I told 'em 'Don't do it - Don't bring 'em home.' But they just didn't listen... Now watch me cut this switch grass."

And, since we're imagining the worst, think of who would be waiting in the wings to pick up the pieces should Iraq fail. Brother Jeb Bush.

It doesn't matter that Bush 43 messed up our nation, and the world, worse than any other president in recent memory. it won't matter that he put us and our great-great grandchildren in debt up to our eyeball; he wont care that less Americans are working, as a percentage of the population, when he leaves office than when he took office (by a large margin); the only thing he'll care and talk about is a war that he was "this close" to winning.

And he'll tell us all that only "Bush 45" could help us now.

Scary, isn't it?

"I strongly believe the surge is working and so do the Iraqis,"

"Stay the Course" isn't just a catch-phrase which President Bush uses, but it's his, and those pulling his strings, plan for the future. When the new (hopefully) Democratic Congress, Senate and President don't see it his way, all "heck" is gonna break loose. And if it does, he'll stand up tall and proud and tell us all that if they'd just listen to him everything would be getting better each and every day, no matter how bad he made it during his tenure in office.

Forget what he did and how he did it. That was yesterday and, somehow, it just doesn't count.

-Noah Greenberg

The Future of Energy

On Thursday, March 6, 2008, I attended a seminar on solar and wind power at the Atlantic City Utilities Agency clean energy plant. It’s a small plant: 7.0 MW of wind and 0.5 MW of solar, it provides about 1% of New Jersey’s power. On the way back I drove into the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Ocean County, NJ, to look around and to get a visceral feel for the place.

There are armed guards outside the nuclear reactor. There are watchtowers, presumably with armed sentries. They really don’t want people looking around, “getting a feel for the place”. They looked me over, looked at my driver's license, searched my car – looked in the trunk, looked under the hood, looked in the front seat, the back seat, under the car, and then escorted me out of the complex. I felt like Arlo Guthrie in “Alice’s Restaurant”.

There are no armed guards at the clean energy plant. There are wind turbines, photovoltaics, and operators. The operators are happy to talk to people, they show you how much power the plant is generating, and tell you how the plant works. They tell you how people love to park under the solar arrays - keeps the snow and ice off the car in winter, keeps the cars cool in summer.

As I see it, electricity is raw power. The various energy alternative technologies to generate that power offer choices about the society in which we live. On the one hand: polluting fuel based technologies of the past - nuclear, coal, oil, natural gas. On the other: renewable and sustainable clean energy technologies of the future - solar, wind, geothermal, hydro. And in the middle, what Amory Lovins, of the Rocky Mountain Institute, calls “Negawatts” – conservation, using less power to do more.

The fuel based technologies are expensive and polluting. Nuclear needs government subsidies, special legislation that eliminates insurance, and its own a special bureaucracy, the NRC, that is charged with managing the industry so it operates in a safe manner. (Altho when the NRC fires whistleblowers and ignores public opinion, it seems that it is more “Nuclear Rubberstamping Commissars” than Nuclear Regulatory Commission.)

The fuel free technologies are inherently clean – no fuel, no greenhouse gases, no toxic wastes, no radioactive wastes, no mercury, no oil spills, no coal mining disasters, no fuel to buy from people like Achmadinejad in Iran, Chavez in Venezuela, or Putin in Russia. They are elegant; we don’t need evacuation plans just in case of a catastrophic failure. They are not terrorist targets, so we don’t need armed guards outside wind farms or solar arrays.

I see it as a matter of time.

-Larry Furman

In response to, "It’s been a fantastic week for Sen. Hillary Clinton, a terrible week for Sen. Barack Obama and a complicated week for Democrats who want to re-take the White House," Eddie Konczal writes:

Ironic that this email comes out the day Obama wins Mississippi - and finds out that he won Texas' caucus last Tuesday, and along with them, a majority of Texas' delegates. This griping about Senator Obama has become quite tiresome.

And in response to, "Clinton swept last Tuesday’s major primaries, winning Ohio by 250,000 votes, Texas by 140,000 votes," Dorothy Schwartz writes:

Well guess what happened in Texas -- Obama may actually have more delegates than Clinton! So I wouldn't say Clinton "swept" Texas's primary/caucus.

In response to, "In fact, among the only sinners were the Education and health industry (+30,000), which include those health care insurance companies who are raking in our middle class dollars ," Robert Scardapane writes:

I assume you meant "winners" and not "sinners". With the way prices in both education and health care are hyper-inflating, it makes sense that they would be hiring more employees. The good news is that more people are working in those sectors; the bad news is that customer prices are off the dial.

Darn spell checker. -NG

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-Noah Greenberg