Thursday, July 31, 2008

Green Energy?

I read a very interesting article recently in the German magazine Der Spiegel about Germany's struggle with what kind of energy generation to pursue going forward.

It included this stunning quote: "A typical coal-fired power plant (burning lignite) emits up to 1,150 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour of electricity produced. The most modern gas-driven facilities emit 400 grams for the same amount of electricity. And for nuclear power plants? That number is around 30 grams per kilowatt hour when the entire life-cycle of the plant is taken into account."

Read that again. It's astonishing. And it leaves you really no choice as to what to choose if you're serious about preventing CO2 emissions -- it's nuclear power, in a walk, over coal- or natural gas-powered plants.

Now, yes of course there's solar, there's wind, there's geothermal, but even in Germany which has pursued them far more fervently than we have here, those combined only add up to some 14% of their total energy generation, compared to not even 1% here.

Listen, I love solar power, I'd love to see it pursued aggressively here. But starting at such a low base it's going to take a while to be a really significant part of the energy picture. We have to admit that the practical effect of banning new nuclear power plants in this country has not led to more "green energy" -- what it has led to is more CO2-emitting coal- and natural gas-powered plants being built instead.

If this is a green victory, I don't think we can afford many more.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Political Geek Heaven

I very much admire the wildly different writing and world views of historian Victor Davis Hanson and of leftist turned fierce anti-jihadist Christopher Hitchens.

So this discussion was just catnip to me: Hitchens and Hanson discussing and properly discrediting Pat Buchan's new book alleging that it was big bad Winston Churchill who forced poor Adolf Hitler into war. Watch the whole thing here.

Obama vs. McCain

As promised last post, here's my breakdown of Obama vs. McCain:

1. Obama has no particular record of service to anyone but his own career. His stints as a community organizer, as a Illinois state Senator, and as a U.S. Senator have all been about one thing only -- getting Obama to the next level.

McCain, by contrast, has repeatedly shown a commitment to a cause greater than himself. Whether it's going back into combat and flying missions even after nearly dying in the U.S.S. Forrestal explosions of July 1967, or refusing early release from the Hanoi Hilton out of his sense of honor and duty to his fellow POWs, or criticizing Clinton on Kosovo in 1999 or Bush on Iraq from 2003 onward, for McCain his bottom line has been what's good for the country, even if it's not necessarily what's good for his career. He definitely will pull some political maneuvers as most politicians, but what differentiates him is this bottom line, which Obama simply has shown no evidence of having.

2. Obama checks off all the boxes with the constituent groups of the modern Democrats. If you're NARAL, check! He's your most consistent ally. If you're organized labor, check! He's against NAFTA, he's against the Central American Free Trade Accord (CAFTA), he's against the free trade deals with those dangerous powerhouses Peru (population: 28 million) and Colombia (population: 44 million) that will doom us all. And of course, on the biggest issue recently, he will absolutely positively END the war in Iraq, by pulling out ALL our troops in Iraq as quickly as possible, and not even an incipient genocide there will stop him. Because he has principles!

McCain has what I regard as a lot of features, but unfortunately many conservatives regard as bugs. He is willing to tick off arch-conservatives over and over again when he disagrees with them on matters of principle. The Gang of 14, McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy, the examples go on and on. Again we reach the bottom line that McCain will do as he thinks is right by the nation, and if it ticks off the extreme right of his party, oh well. The contrast with Obama's cowardly appeasing of every left-wing interest group there is could not be greater.

3. Arrogance: Obama has it, McCain doesn't. To hear not only his supporters but Obama himself tell it, Obama will save not merely the United States, but the world! The oceans will stop rising, the rest of the world will love us again, and we'll be able to withdraw from Iraq, send more troops to Afghanistan, and maybe just maybe invade our nuclear-armed "ally" Pakistan, and the impoverished Muslims who make up Al Qaeda's bitter base will love us because... well, he's Obama!

McCain's mantra seems to be, and I am putting words in his mouth I know, "I may mess up, in fact it's likely at some point I will, but I will NEVER give up! I would rather die first." And with McCain that's not just rhetoric, it is simply a reflection of the life he has lived.

There's more, there's lots more, but that's a good start.

McCain Democrat

As promised, more on my being a McCain Democrat these days.

Let me make this clear from the outset: I am not a disgruntled Hillary supporter! I honestly feel the one service Obama has rendered the nation is to stop the Clinton Restoration, thank God! No more Bushes, no more Clintons, that's my motto.

The problem I have generally with the Democrats and specifically with Obama, though, is how much both have moved to the left these days. Clinton and the folks around him won hard-fought gains by championing free trade via NAFTA, as well as by finally voting for welfare reform. The problem is that the current crop of Democrats dominant in the party regard all these Clintonian accomplishments as being unacceptable examples of right-wing deviance to be expunged.

Bill Clinton once campaigned to the right of George H.W. Bush in the 1992 campaign on foreign policy, criticizing him for being soft on the Russians and the Chinese and for being loath to use NATO to stop the depredations of the Bosnian Serbs. Currently, the Democrats haven't found a foreign foe we shouldn't be nicer or a conflict we shouldn't flee or avoid.

This trend has been ongoing since the 2000 election. I think it's what cost Gore the clean victory he should have had. Instead of acting as the inheritor of a successful economy and a reasonably successful foreign policy, given that we'd stopped the Serbs belatedly in Bosnia and quickly in Kosovo, he acted as though things were bad, as though the people were oppressed by the powerful, and that he suddenly was going to be a champion of the people after 8 years as Vice President of the United States. I voted for Gore in 2000, but he was a dreary candidate, a most unhappy warrior.

Kerry and Edwards took it further to the left in 2004, although for the most part they kept their Bush Derangement Syndrome that had infected the Democratic base in check. Still, Kerry was unconvincing in his efforts to portray himself as a more effective warrior against Al Qaeda than George W. Bush, and I think that was the crux upon which the election turned.

And now Barack Obama has taken the Democrats further left than they've been since the time of George McGovern, and we all know how well that turned out!

Also, I worked early and often against Bush in 2000, happily championing McCain against him that year. I can proudly say I've voted against Bush three times! Once in the 2000 primaries, where I registered as a Republican just long enough to vote for McCain, then in the general elections in 2000 and 2004. I was hoping for a difficult choice between Gore and McCain that year, but alas 'twas not to be.

So that's where I've been politically, the next one will be where I am now.

Monday, July 28, 2008

World View, reader's digest version

So now that we've gotten the basic introductions out of the way, I wanted to talk briefly about my world view, some of my influences, and so on.

One of the biggest influences on my thinking these last few years has been Thomas P.M. Barnett, who is a grand strategist and a fellow Democrat.

I am sure I will not do sufficient justice to his ideas here, but Dr. Barnett believes that the current strategic challenge facing the United States is what he calls "the Non-Integrating Gap," or more simply, the Gap.

The developed world of the United States, Western Europe, Japan, South Korea is what he calls the Core -- and it is simply the well-integrated world of globalization.

New Core countries are China, India, Russia and Brazil, among others. Whether they stay in the Core or fall back into the Gap makes ALL the difference between whether a majority of humanity lives in increasingly better conditions, or slips back into the old world wherein two-thirds of humanity lived in desperate conditions.

The moral and strategic challenge for the Core, then, not merely the U.S., is to "SHRINK the Gap." (emphasis mine) And that just might require, not merely economic shrinkage of the Gap, but employing what Dr. Barnett calls the Leviathan to take down bad actors in the Gap.

The Leviathan is, for lack of any alternatives, the U.S. military. And its most recent Gap-shrinking exercise was taking down the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq.

And that's where we get to the parting of the ways currently underway in the Democratic Party. The vast majority of the party are following Saint Obama to the far left, and those like Senator Lieberman who think sometimes the United States should use its military might to take down the bad guys are being purged from the party.

I know I am wildly oversimplifying, but those are the battle lines as I see it. And I just can't side with the Obama / / Cindy Sheehan / Michael Moore faction that seems increadingly dominant in the Democratic Party.

For the record, this is not because I'm a disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporter. I'm no such thing -- about the only positive thing I can say about Obama as a candidate is that he at least put an end, hopefully permanent, to any thought of a Clinton Restoration. I voted for Bill twice in the 1990s, happily, but I cringe at the thought of the uber-Nixonian Hillary as President.

So that makes me -- oh God no, don't make me say it! -- a McCain Democrat.

More on that in my next post, as soon as I can.

And Here We Go!

I've been ranting to my hapless friends a long time about politics, and I think in the interest of their sanity if not mine it's time to start doing it in text. My friends, you're more than welcome to read if you like, but I understand if you don't!

Before I go further, a brief introduction of the who, what, when, where and why of me:

Who: Thunderheart will do as a name for me for now, as I'm conflicted about baring my name in a blog, so this decision may or not be re-visited. I'm a lifelong Democrat, have been voting for Presidents since 1984 and have never yet had cause to vote for a Republican for President.

What: Despite the above, I cannot pretend I am a typical Democrat any longer. Yes, I'm a social liberal, but on many issues I'm to the right of the increasingly ultra-left Democratic Party. On free trade, on military spending, and especially on the war against the Sunni Muslim extremists who make up Al Qaeda, and their cousins on the Shi'ite side who rule Iran presently.

When: From July 2008 onward!

Where: I'm a US citizen born and raised, but part of what informs who and what I am is that I am a child of an immigrant mother, who came to this country in the early 1960s from what was then West Germany. Also, on my father's side, his parents both immigrated to the United States from pre-Nazi Germany. Mom and Dad met happily enough in New York City, courted and fell in love, and the eventual result (along with my sister, who came along some 3 1/2 years and 9 days later, but who's counting?) is typing the words you're currently reading. Oh, if you want to see the picturesque castle ruins overlooking my mother's home town, go here.

Why: See aforementioned note about the preservation of sanity of my friends, if not myself. More seriously, it's because I think the party I love, the Democrats, and the liberal tradition they represent has gone badly astray. These thoughts are NOT making me popular with friends or family, but there we are.