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February 08, 2008

Comments

while i think what Shuster said was INCREDIBLY dumb, this is whole "outrage" thing is so completely manufactured it first makes me laugh, then sigh.

like you mentioned above about "today's youth", the phrase "pimped out" has moved from just being about prostitutes to being more of an all-encompassing reference to selling yourself or someone else (or even a thing) out. but of course Clinton is playing the "oh poor me" card, and itll work for a while.

hell, i'm more shocked little or no comment seems to have been made over something Matthews said on Tuesday night.

when Eugene Robinson said that HRC's campaign was going ok after NH and only ran into trouble after Bill Clinton "inserted himself in the process" Matthews said something to the effect of "there's always trouble after Bill Clinton inserts himself in something" causing panelist Dee Dee Meyers to cover her ears and probably wishing she was anywhere else at that moment.

1/ I think the add is awfull. Boring, slow and not funny. I doubt the targetgroup will respond much better.

2/ I find the 'weight' of the pimp-comment hard to judge, but have read in several places that Shuster is probabely sacrificed instaed of Matthews.

3/ Ann also referred to Obama as “the least dangerous Hussein” I know and said that she might vote for McCain if he chooses Romney as a VP.

4/ Yeah, the bio-ethenol findings were pretty bad. Trouble with hybrid cars is that they can't tow - which means we can't choose one. Zo I'm currently reading up on what to choose when our current car needs to be replaced; diesel or gas?

5/ In the Netherlands they polled about which things would be acceptable for a Dutch premier. I blogged about the weird results (in Dutch, but with nice graph).

Female is acceptable for 93%, single is acceptable for 90%, atheist for 87, homosexual for 78, black for 75, jewish for 53, jonger than 35 for 43%, visiting prostitutes for 34%, very christian 33%, muslim 27%, previous harddrugs usage 26% whilst being older than 70 would only be acceptable for 19% of the Dutch. McCain would be toast ;)

"On the one hand, Schuster's comment was repellent. It also made very little sense"

How is it any different -- other than that she's a Clinton, of course -- from the Romney kids campaigning non-stop?

(Did they ever get the dog off the car roof, and into the campaign? I didn't follow closely.)

I'm seeing cable tv, as of a few weeks ago, for the first time since a few months in late 2002, but mainly since around 1992 or so.

It's a very strange place, but I digress. The personalities, particularly of cable tv news, are known previously only to me from what people write about them, and from transcripts.

Chris Matthews, with a show on network tv for many years, is one of the few I'm familiar with, and long contemptuous of.

But I saw a hint of how he was regarded when Tom Brokaw was interviewed by Jon Stewart yesterday, and Stewart was making fun of Matthews (far too gently), and Brokaw made comments about being "the hall monitor," and getting Matthews to calm down, but also about how Matthews had studied politics all his life, was such an expert, etc., and you could hear that NBC/MS-NBC has a very serious longterm investment in the guy as one of their Key Political Analysts; I think it's clear they won't do anything serious about Matthews until absolutely forced to.

And then he'd just be whitewashed and on the air again in under a year, a la Don Imus (I toldja so!, I toldja so!), anyway.

I think Shuster probably just made a dumb mistake; he wanted to say that Chelsea was pimpin' HRC, in the vernacular sense of promoting, but instead suggested that mother was pimping out daughter, something altogether nastier. when old dudes attempt youthful idiom, hilarity ensues!

and on the context of the old attempting youthful...something, that video. yes, indeed, it is bad. (i like those candles burning in the background: had me thinking soft-core porn or maybe Stevie Nicks video....) but at least they cast HRC in a clean-cut white musical context. imagine if they'd tried some multiracial funk collective shit?

"Can she just go away, please?"

Not so long as people keep blogging about her.

=/

I'm not copacetic with all the others, including "muslim 27%,", but I have a personal bias in being particular sorry to see this: "jewish for 53."

Damn. Now I'm never going to be Dutch Prime Minister. And I was getting so close, what with my advancing political career.

But seriously, in this day and age, well, all I can say is I wish people would stop telling me that antisemitism just isn't any kind of problem any more in Western societies.

dutchmarbel,

Jewish for 53%? I find that stunning and not really believable.

hilzoy,

I'm with you on the ad.

While your criticisms of Matthews are well taken, I don't see why giving him a pass means MSNBC has to give Shuster a pass also. I think he's getting off easy. Suppose he had said, in 2004, that Bush was pimping out Laura because she made some campaign appearances on his behalf. I think his career would be over.

Speaking as a professional ad man and one who is no stranger to political campaigns, I'd say this ad is perfect, really truly just spot on, if 14-year olds could vote.

I'm a little too old to really judge the video, but I have a feeling a lot of the age group it is meant for would see it as condescending. I think it also shows just how worried they are about the youth vote supporting Obama.

Concerning the Dutch poll, I agree with Gary and Bernard and would hope that the Jewish percentage, and in fact most of the percentages were much higher.

But then, I would imagine that for many of the categories in the US the response would be lower.

I do think Shuster's "punishment" was appropriate, and I think it is sometimes inappropriate to try to mitigate how one person is treated based on how somebody else is treated.

Matthews is a jerk and really has something in for the Clintons. I have to wonder what they did to him in the past. But actually, I think his jekiness is probably actually helping Clinton garner some sympathy.

Coulter no longer even deserves to be quoted. Ignoring her is the best thing anybody can do.

Re ethanol, sometimes the cure can be worse than the disease. That's why there has to more effort to finding more alternatives ASAP.

Well, being 23, I suppose I'm more-or-less in the target demographic and am therefore obliged to respond. :)

Having watched the ad, the word that comes to mind is pathetic. Nothing says "I'm cool" quite like transparently pandering and failing miserably to pull it off.

And by-the-by, Hillary, I don't believe anyone says "shred" unless they're feeling retro.

As for the "pimped out" comment, it's a testament to linguistic drift that it took me a while to figure out what the comment meant. I took to mean, as Webster might put it, "dressed in the ostentatious manner of a pimp." This is, I believe, the usual usage among people of my generation.

Re: Alternatives to corn-based ethanol -

Today's Science Friday on NPR's Talk of the Nation was all about alternatives, and the show was full of details about microbe- and algae-activated fuels that can be produced at, and sent through the same infrastructure used by the oil companies, and at much less cost to the environment than corn-based ethanol.

I'm sure the podcast is available.

Comments on the post and other random thoughts:

(1) didn't watch.

(2) the "pimped out" comment was directed at Chelsea, of whom most Americans have forgotten about over the past 7 years and thus still think of as a child (i.e., the 12 year old hilzoy references in the post). The comment was, therefore, out of bounds in those people's minds, hence the suspension. Matthews' comments, OTOH, were directed at Hillary, who presumably as a member of the "world's greatest deliberative body™", is able to defend herself.

(3) I read somewhere today that no one is buying Coulter's latest book, good.

(4) I have to vehemently disagree. As a family farmer™ myself,* subsidies for ethanol are the greatest thing since crop crotation payments. Pretty soon, I can retire by selling my land to a rich doctor in Des Moines.**

(5) A few notes based upon recent travels:

(a) In the Cambodian genocide museum, there are depictions of various torture methods used by the Khmer Rouge. One of these depicts waterboarding (a picture of which Andrew Sullivan has posted on his site more than once). The other depictions are of things aptly summed up by Marsellus Wallace as "a pair of pliers and a blow torch", and there is no distinction for waterboarding as merely a "enhanced interrogation technique." Clearly the Khmer Rouge needed better lawyers.

(b) The war remnants museum in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City, if you prefer), contains pictures of American soldiers posing with a severed head of their adversary, and pictures of bodies being pushed out of American helicopters (supposedly published in the Chicago Sun-Times or Tribune). To the victors go the propaganda spoils, I suppose.

(c) Having a Cambodian tour guide tell you that the Khmer Rouge moved her to a forced labor camp at age seven makes one pay more attention to her (forutnately she was the best guide on the whole trip and thus worth paying attention to in the absence of this fact.).

(d) The Cu Chi-tunnels should be visited just for the opportunity to fire the weapon of your choice (M-16, M-60, AK-47, etc.). They are also worth visiting as a reminder of what people will do to defend their country/land/neighbors against foreign invaders imperialists agressors liberators.

(e) The Temples of Angkor are unbelievable. Of all the ruins I've been lucky enough to visit, these are far and away the most impressive (better than the Coliseum and other ruins in Rome, the Parthenon and other ruins in Athens, the various Mayan ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula, Machu Picchu, and Stonehenge, among others (not including the pyramids in Egypt that I have not had a chance to see, which may be Angkor's only rival)). As an indication of scale only, Angkor Wat is surrounded by a 1.5K by 1.3K rectangular moat. Big enough, but the moat is 90 meters wide all the way around - all carved out of the ground in the 14-15th century. Just mindblowing.

All that said, it's still good to be back in the United Soviet Socialist Republic States.

*Not that I have any idea how to farm, that's what the hired help is for.

**AKA, dad.

I think I qualify as today's youth and that is not compelling at all. To be fair I also don't like MTV or droll little sketches so I don't know whether I'm really their target audience. I'd say her advertising staff is definitely out of touch, this is the classic 'old person trying to be hip and failing miserably' schtick, and I don't know anyone over 15 years old who'd see it as anything different.
You're in the clear there. But unfortunately, reading point 2 you may be a little antiquated after all. I don't think anyone of my generation would see Schusters remark as vile or repellent. They'd just understand it to be slang and move on. I can be rather oblivious to the subtleties implicit in certain language, so perhaps I'm just missing something. As it is, the worst I can blame him for is expressing himself poorly, I don't see anything controversial.

Offtopic: Sup marbel. Dutch people representing! I like the way that poll was phrased. 'Percentage of respondents that would find the following description of a new prime minister acceptable.' I wouldn't really be happy with any of those terms describing a prime minister.
"How would you describe the PM?"
-"Female."

I wonder why John McCain's campaign didn't come up with this ad for him.

Several days ago, long before Pimpgate erupted, I read that Chelsea Clinton was calling Super delegates to ask for their support. I was immediately struck that it was odd that they chose her, as a non obvious political figure, to twist those arms. As a layman, it seemed to me that a call from Chelsea asking for their support is something entirely different than Mark Penn making that same call. There is a certain transparency in a call from Mark Penn (or similar), but with Chelsea, the calculus is very different.

As someone who has been paying way too much attention to this election, I have been aware that the super delegates will be THE important story of this election and will very likely decide who is the nominee. So when I saw that Chelsea was calling them, it sent up a red flag.

When I saw Shuster last night, that is EXACTLY (in my brain) what he was getting at when he poorly worded his now infamous phrase. Watch the video you posted. He really hits the super delegate point.

I won't get into a long defense of Shuster's comments other than to say that I think his skepticism is correct: Why is Chelsea twisting those arms? That is the fair question that he was inelegantly trying to ask last night.

Fortunately for the Clinton campaign, they took that ball and ran with it. Shuster was the blocking back who opened up the hole to run through.

People my age don't use "pimped out" so casually and found the remark extremely offensive. Many older women have been told all their lives by condescending men that offensive statements really aren't offensive; it is just that they are overreacting. They have had enough.

If you read blogs written mostly by women, you would know that hundreds of people were outraged, bombarded MSNBC with email, phone calls, and faxes. And they managed to hold them accountable, which seems a victory for all Democrats.

If Obama wants to appeal to increasingly infuriated older women, he should express outrage about the vicious misogyny directed at Clinton once in a while. When Obama supporters mock"manufactured outrage" and smirk about the "oh poor me card," more women decide to vote for Clinton. They also stop reading and commenting on blogs they used to think were progressive.

Redstocking, I agree fully with your first statement and somewhat with your comment that Obama could be more forceful in decrying some of the statements.

At the same time he has frequently stated that gender should not be an issue in this campaign, and has never amde it even a side issue in any of his statements.

In regards to supporters, both camps have supporters who have crossed the line at times, sometimes even supporters who are officially part of the campaign.

When the comments. come from outside the campaign staff itself, it is very hard for either candidate to rebuke each and every one.

OTOH, and I may be wrong, I don't remember Obama ever alluding to his race as an obvious way to garner support. Whereas Clinton has referred to gender in that manner.

Look, I will vote for either of them. I happen to think that Clinton would be a good President. However, I happen to think that Obama would be a much better candidate. And I can say without any hesitation that that statement is not in any way, shape or form grounded in her gender.

I saw that Hillary video earlier and thought it was put together by a misguided fan of hers. It was pretty embarassing.

Now it appears that she paid good money for that misguided botch? No wonder she burned through her coffers so quickly.

Whatever you think of that Obama video "Yes We Can" by Will.I.Am, it's being sought out, viewed and independently downloaded millions of times (I really doubt And it didn't cost Obama's campaign a penny.

Hillary's "shred" video:
Added: January 30, 2008
Views: 186,857

Barack's "Yes we can" video:
Added: February 02, 2008
Views: 2,636,540

(Note that, for both videos, that's just the viewings at their main YouTube page posting. )

With all due respect, redstocking, it's also a question of idiom: this isn't necessarily about men casually referring to young women as whores, unless you feel that sense #1 was intended.
(#1 "pimp out" [archaic]: to employ as a streetwalker)
Now, maybe it was--sense #2, while more current, due, as another commenter says, to linguistic drift, makes no sense in context.
(#2 "pimped out"=dressed or accessorized ostentatiously)
Which is why I still think sense #3 is the most likely intended one
(#3 "pimp" (verb, trans)=to advertise, promote)
Chelsea, I suspect, was being (rather incoherently) accused of overly aggressive promotion of HRC (as swarty says)--still an arguably sexist contention, but not quite the same thing as accusing her of prostituting her daughter!

I don't thinkthat it should be acceptable for a perwon who is speaking ano what claims to abe a respectable outlet to us the phrase pimping. It isn't professional.. Sloppy slangy degrading language degrades the professin of journalism.

Also I am not aware of this inciddet being caharacterized as a faux outrage incident by obama supporters. The diary on this incident on Daily Kos is written by an Obama supporter, for example. I think Hillary is a lousy candidtaeand would be as much of a compromiser and collarborator as president as she was as senator, but I am outraged over this.

I admit I did think the second tearing up incident was a bit much.

If Obama wants to appeal to increasingly infuriated older women, he should express outrage about the vicious misogyny directed at Clinton once in a while.

I think you meant to say "when Obama wants to appeal to Redstocking". I don't believe that you speak on behalf of all older women in the US, increasingly infuriated or otherwise. Certainly, some older women that I know have no desire to see him express such outrage.

When Obama supporters mock"manufactured outrage" and smirk about the "oh poor me card," more women decide to vote for Clinton. They also stop reading and commenting on blogs they used to think were progressive.

Let me see if I have this straight. You're complaining about one single comment on this thread, even though the majority of comments are openly hostile to NBC's misogyny. You then use that one comment (which was written by someone I have not read before and is thus unlikely to be a regular around here) to tar the entire OW community, even though most commenters here were critical of the misogyny and hilzoy was quite explicit in her criticism.

I don't think that is very fair of you. Getting only a handful of dissents is as close as any community on the internet can ever get to true consensus.

Also, I find the passive aggressive tone of "they also stop reading..." unhelpful. Who is they? Are you threatening to stop reading and commenting on this blog unless every single commenter agrees with you on this issue?

Redstocking spends more time threatening to leave various blogs than I think is likely to be productive. Redstocking, you may want to tinker with the phrasing. There are ways of saying "that disgusts me" that preserve a bit more focus.

As for the pimping comment, I'm delighted to see someone get in trouble for it, and I'm not much worried right at the moment about the fact that others are doing worse. Start where one can, work from there. It's not that people like Matthews don't deserve grief too, and more of it, for the bile they spew, but if it's feasible at the moment to make Shuster face some music, hey, it's a start. I'd like to all this hip use of slang based on prostitution go away; every bit along the way is improvement.

There appears to be a fundamental difference in how people seem to approach Ms Clinton, both on progressive blogs and on television. The default assumption seems to be that whatever she does, it is out of some ulterior (and impure) motive, while whatever her opponents do always get a positive spin put on them. The comment just above by swarty is a perfect illustration. It really seems like she is given the benefit of malice, and her opponents, the benefit of the doubt. I dont know why this is, but I guess it is an unattractive combination of misogyny and buying into the republican frames of the Clintons.

PS: John Miller, I certainly agree that there are legitimate and important differences between Ms Clinton and Mr Obama, which are reason enough to vote for either of them. This blog has outlined some of them quite well in the past. However, a lot of the attacks on her, especially by people who support her opponents are not based on any such reasons. I strongly believe that the republicans did an excellent job of smearing her and her husband in the 90's, so much so that many democrats have bought into their framing of her and her character. Add to this, she faces barely hidden misogyny in the media and among many people.
Also, it is true probably that Sen. Obama has ever directly alluded to his race as a means to garner support, however it seems that blatant racial targeting is much more unacceptable than blatant misogyny especially in most of mainstream media. If Shuster had made a racially loaded remark instead, he would have lost his job a lot earlier, and not just been suspended. In this regard, Sen. Obama's campaign did use race successfully and with justice, in response to Mr. Clinton's remarks during the South Carolina primary.

sildan and mithi: thanks. I thought of saying that I believed "shreds" to be at least a decade out of date, but then I thought: who knows? It might have somehow come back. I also thought that the style of music was out of date, but had the same worry.

A truly lame ad.

As for ethanol, let's specify that it's corn-based ethanol. I just got back from Brazil where I rode in a lot of flex fuel cars using cane-based ethanol and it certainly seems to be working fine. The only down side I could see is that it's increased the cost of cachaça, which may actually be a good thing.

You know, I think I'd be more apt to vote for Chelsea than Hillary. I mean, if the "Bill as co-President" argument that the Clinton campaign keeps making is true, then it shouldn't technically make a difference, right? And Chelsea, at least, actually seems like a nice person.

They also stop reading and commenting on blogs they used to think were progressive.

Except to passive-aggressively return every once in a while to complain, of course.

Except to passive-aggressively return every once in a while to complain, of course.

I'd complain more on your blog, but I'd actually kind of like to see you write Teen Titans, and I don't understand Canadian law at all.

As a 20-year old college student, I have to agree with your conclusion, Hilzoy. The ad reminds me of videos they showed us in high school featuring "hip", "totally cool" teens listening to rap music on their iPods (all the kids have those now, right?) while disparaging drug use and unprotected sex.

The phrase "the blogs were going crazy," in this context is cringe-worthy. They're trying too hard.

Obama's "Yes We Can" video is a good example of something that actually IS appealing.

but I'd actually kind of like to see you write Teen Titans

Or Legion of Superheroes, whatever. But this is proof -- if comics were worth reading anymore, I would, and I wouldn't make this mistake...

I'll write Teen Titans myself, I guess. First thing, Robin gets recast as a girl. I bet no one's thought of that before. Man, that'll throw people for a loop.

biofuel is a screwball idea - its destined to kill hundreds of millions via raising the cost of the products of arable land / fertile ocean (I expect considerably more than global warming itself) - whilst sending the planet to hell in a hand basket as per the article.

I think we need an open thread just to document the pointless, bizarre anti-Hillary sexism everywhere. I found this to be breathtaking. From Peggy Noonan:

Deep down journalists think she's a political Rasputin who will not be dispatched. Prince Yusupov served him cupcakes laced with cyanide, emptied a revolver, clubbed him, tied him up and threw him in a frozen river. When he floated to the surface they found he'd tried to claw his way from under the ice. That is how reporters see Hillary.

And that is a grim and over-the-top analogy, which I must withdraw. What I really mean is they see her as the Glenn Close character in "Fatal Attraction": "I won't be ignored, Dan!"

Fatal Attraction? Come on.

You know, in the era of shows like "Pimp My Ride", I think in some ways the sexism here is deeper. It's just directed at HRC herself rather than as an attack on her daughter, which is why it's not as outrageous.

From the transcripts of Cheney's top-secret energy meetings:

Cheney: Biofuel is a screwball brilliant idea — its destined to kill hundreds of millions via raising the cost of the products of arable land / fertile ocean — I expect considerably more than global warming itself — whilst sending the planet to hell in a hand basket!

"As for ethanol, let's specify that it's corn-based ethanol. I just got back from Brazil where I rode in a lot of flex fuel cars using cane-based ethanol and it certainly seems to be working fine. The only down side I could see is that it's increased the cost of cachaça, which may actually be a good thing."

I'm not sure I follow you, Randy: the primary objection, at least in this current wave of stories, to ethanol is the carbon increase; does cane-based ethanol have fewer carbon costs?

I was at a lecture a number of years ago where the lecturer explained that the earth was being stretched beyond it's replacement capacity in terms of producing food in many areas - such as fish. While the earth currently produces enough food for everyone it isn't by a hell of a lot - and the economic system distributes the supply of food in particular ways from food sources and to various populations.

Some time after that I started to hear people talk about biofuel so I asked myself - how much land would hey need to convert to biofuel to displace fuel - well as far as I could tell - "all of it" - increasing over the years to "much more than all of it". And it doesn't need to be that bad - if food prices go up by a few cents there is almost certainly some guy out there who will be pushed from "on the edge" to "starving" - it is happening under our eyes right now - but in the long run we are not talking just a few cents we are talking huge increases.

There is talk of using algae and so forth but none of that really gets around the fundamental problem.

So what happens when a bit less food is produced and a bit more bio fuel? yeah food prices go up and energy prices go down. And what happens if food prices go up and energy prices go down?

Worse yet - what happens when countries starve?

BTW I don't propose ignoring global warming I propose taking serious action against it - but I refuse to be wrong just because it puts me on the other side of hte fence to cheney. If Cherey agrees with me then I guess even a broken clock is right twice a day.

The article made mention of corn-based ethanol primarily. It is remarkably less efficient for creating fuel. Cane based fuel has been used in Brazil for 33 years. Much of what is used is bagasse, the waste material from the cane after it is crushed. In order to create the alcohol from corn, the corn starch first must be converted to sugar, ethanol from cane does not need this step.

The article linked to above does not mention ethanol from cane. Ethanol from cane is much more efficient than from corn.

The article linked to above does not mention ethanol from cane. Ethanol from cane is much more efficient than from corn.

If we're discussing biofuel in the U.S., this is a distinction without a difference. To put it bluntly, we're not going to be using any non-corn-based ethanol anytime soon, if ever. We might as well just assume corn-based ethanol so we can realistically compare it against other energy alternatives rather than simply muddying the waters of the debate.

To put it bluntly, we're not going to be using any non-corn-based ethanol anytime soon, if ever.

If they got rid of the 54 cent per gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol it might get used here. I'm not holding my breath, however.

A few thoughts on the ad (I am turning 26 in 2 months, male, and politically active, so I I think I'm in the target demographic. I also taught and coached HSers and still keep in touch with a lot of them, so I have a read on that age group too)

1-It's really pathetically bad. Insultingly so, actually. That's been the case with Clinton's appeals multiple times, where I look at the fruits of her "flawless" campaign's efforts and think, "really? You expect to win my vote with that?" The transparency of the "Obama is the black candidate now" ploy comes to mind as another example of this.

2-We're constantly told that "the youth" doesn't vote. And in this election, multiple times, young voters have come out in droves, matching or out-pacing seniors. And they're breaking heavily for Obama. I think this video (when compared to, say, Yes, We Can) is a good demonstration that the "problem" with the youth vote, to the extent that there is one, has more to do with most politicians being completely clueless about what appeals to anyone under the age of 35 than anything else. Obama's campaign and specifically the man himself gets it, and as such they respond to him like just about any other "interest group" would: send him money, volunteer their time, organize, and vote. The reason people under-35 haven't voted in large numbers in the past probably has more to do with appeals like the "Shred" video than with any problem endemic to those age groups.

3-This is, IMO, also a sign of the coming Clinton loss. Mark Schmitt accurately gets the overall dynamic here: we have the classic insurgent/establishment contest going on, only for the first time, the insurgent has a legit shot at winning. As the establishment candidate, Hillary started as the default option for just about everyone, and Obama's early surge in the polls reflected his ability to consolidate the two groups most likely to be looking for alternatives to the familiar old political hand: young voters and higher-educated, well-off voters. That's the classic base of any insurgency. Obama's goals, from there on out, where to poach away Hillary's base, while Hillary's goals were to portray Obama as unable to bear the Democratic standard (naive/inexperienced/unelectable/not vetted/insubstantial/just a talker). She just had to protect herself from defections. She's largely failed at that task. First, she lost the African-American vote, big time. She's also ceded a ton of ground for 35-50 voters, women, union and working class voters in the mid-west and west. She's started to see Obama's numbers rise with hispanic voters (44% in Arizona)...this is a problem. The longer the race goes on, the more time he has to continually add to his base by poaching away her voters, bit-by-bit. And he's gotten far enough now where he could probably hold his current base and end up with a slim delegate lead in the end. Now her job is two-fold: she not only has to protect her flanks, she also has to start peeling away some of his base. So that means lame-o appeals to the youth like the video above. Or maybe she could dress-up her policy lists by saying yes we can! That sounds sexy! Or she could pepper her new stump speech with mentions of "optimism" and "vision" (while not really offering it).

It's so transparent that, again, it's insulting. Which brings me to another point: Hillary is really bad at campaigning, as far as I can tell. Sure, given 100% name recognition, built-in high favorables throughout the party and being spotted a 30-point lead, and enormous institutional support, she can win some states. And she's real good at taking the knives out during a debate. But is she actually any good at offering voters some affirmative argument for why she should be their President? As far as I can tell, no. If she was, she would've never lost so much ground to Obama. His task was so much harder than hers: He had to introduce himself to voters, make them like him, make them trust him, and make them believe that it's imperative they choose him over the candidate everyone assumed would be their nominee and was otherwise happy with. All she had to do was offer a compelling reason why everyone was right at the outset that she was the right candidate. And she hasn't been able to do that! Further evidence, I think, that its no guarantee she will be able to hold any theoretic lead she has by simply having a "D" next to her name the day a general election fight begins.

At least we (hopefully) won't have but one more month of this. She's officially adopting the Rudy G strategy of riding out a string of losses in small states before the big states vote later on...hopefully its as successful for her as it was for him, and we can move on to Obama v McCain.

Kris said:
"The comment just above by swarty is a perfect illustration. It really seems like she is given the benefit of malice, and her opponents, the benefit of the doubt. I dont know why this is, but I guess it is an unattractive combination of misogyny and buying into the republican frames of the Clintons."

I'm sorry but that comment can not go unanswered. The reaction today of the Clinton campaign was a political reaction. That is not to say that Shuster's remarks were not wrong. Just because I describe a reaction as political does not mean that it is pejorative, and therefore misogynistic. The campaigns make political decisions all the time. Sometimes they dovetail. Their outrage today has to be taken in context with a host of competing interests. The debate challenge had begun to lose steam and MSNBC was signed up for one in Ohio, added to Shuster's idiotic remark, were all figured into the decision to crank up the outrage. I did not and will not defend the pimp remark.

This is what political campaigns do. They try to dominate the news cycle as one of the tools of winning our hearts and minds. The Clinton campaign knows exactly what it is doing here. That is not being mean. That is a fact and if I was a Clinton supporter I would take today's news cycle as a good one. Again that does not mean that the Shuster remark is some happy byproduct of the news cycle. But they took that awful remark and made it an issue to benefit their campaign.

Obama's campaign has done exactly the same thing as well. Because I chose to highlight the Clinton team's decision today does not qualify me as a misogynist. Be very careful at how you throw that charge around. There is nothing in what I have written that can be seen in that light.

yes sugar is the only one that passes the criteria from the article - but even that depends on context. Ethanol from sugar cane works in Brazil because they have an equatorial year-round growing season. You'd have to waste a lot of energy to grow a plant in an unnatural environment. then again if the subsidy was big enough someone would do it.

I'm starting to think Obama will take the election - the gap is opening up in the head to heads - and the super deligates surely want to actually win the election - and as much as I argued before that Hilary might still go ok in an election there is a point at which the polls show a gap too big for her to make up and it looks like they might be heading in that direction.

That together with Obama probably winning the next round or two and Clinton may be the one in the weak position when they sit down to pressure one of them to quit.

Still maybe others here know the odds better than me.

I'm in the target audience (18), and I can confirm that the ad fails miserably. Hillary's 'band members' were annoying. It was almost like watching VH1--washed up has-been band members talking about the glory days, blissfully unaware that no one but them cares and the rest of the world has moved on. The ad doesn't use its time effectively either. It spends too much time trying to make Hillary seem cool and not enough time trying to change my mind about not voting for her.

And yes, hilzoy, shred is seriously out of date.

On the other hand, I though the Obama video was pretty well done, and interesting to watch if nothing else.

As a member of the "target demographic," I actually thought that video was mildly funny, but badly paced (it could have been 30 seconds, not a minute), which is kind of clutch for humor. I'm also not sure how much of the humor was intentional. . .the idea of making an intentionally kind of bad video so that it'll go viral would not be new to the Hilary campaign.

Also, some people still say "shred." They are, however, only hardcore metalheads (and some crossover thrash/punk kids) who didn't notice that the 80s are over. It's also sometimes used semi-ironically (what isn't?). While it is theoretically possible that Hilary employs a thrash fan, it's highly unlikely. Most of them don't vote.

And, as I said before, removing a 54 cent per gallon tariff might make importing it here more feasible.

"That together with Obama probably winning the next round or two and Clinton may be the one in the weak position when they sit down to pressure one of them to quit.

Still maybe others here know the odds better than me."

No one's sitting down about anything before Texas and Ohio.

Note also the Time poll I just posted about.

If they got rid of the 54 cent per gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol it might get used here. I'm not holding my breath, however.
Yeah, it's unfortunate, but with the farm lobby manning that particular gate, the ethanol-source issue is a foregone conclusion. Once we're using ethanol, trying to craft a policy that distinguishes between corn and cane is at least three steps too technical to ever get any traction.

1. There's just way too much money in it, and it's all on one side.

2. The policy debate is over "stuff that burns" and "renewable energy" -- once you accept "stuff that burns," the game is already over.

We can't even get a decent discussion of clean coal technology, let alone different sources of ethanol.

Trying to explain the difference to the electorate without putting them to sleep is a fool's errand. Even if you had enough political capital to do it, given the payoff, you'd get better dividends working toward other potential energy sources.

3. There's too many other angles to demagogue. Before you even get to square one on explaining the difference, the farm lobby will hit you with "why should we buy foreign ethanol!? Aren't we supposed to be reducing our foreign energy dependence!? Liek OMG!!"

4. Corn ethanol subsidies dovetail too closely with farm subsidies in general.

The bottom line is that we grow a lot of corn in the U.S. -- too much of it, in fact -- and so in the end, corn-based ethanol is just too damn easy for legislators. It lets them feed the agricultural-subsidy beast while selling a "green," "alternative energy" policy. We're already wasting that money in the first place; even holding the line here would be an accomplishment.

STOP GIVING COULTER WHAT SHE WANTS

I've yet to read some of the comments, but isn't it pretty much established that the Clintons were offering their daughter as a date during the Nevada Caucuses?

STOP GIVING COULTER WHAT SHE WANTS

Too many... potential jokes... must consider posting rules... agh... snark overload

Alan's 12:05 is pretty damn vile.

Ethanol is nothing but moonshine and a racket. Moonshine goes for between $20 and $40 per gallon because it is expensive to produce. Probably the biggest process cost is energy (I know a few things about distilling alcohol).

Here is an ethanol factory equipment manufacturer’s process diagram:

http://www.icminc.com/ethanol/production_process/diagram/

Energy in #1: Farmer growing corn (combine, trucks, crop-dusters, etc., etc.);
Energy in #2: Move corn (trains and trucks);
Energy in #3: Mill corn;
Energy in #4: Add corn to water and boil it;
Energy in #5: Generate steam to distill mash;
Energy in #6: Distribute/dispose of products and waste;

I've heard that it takes 2-3 gallons of gasoline to produce one gallon of ethanol. That makes sense to me. It equates to energy being around a third of the cost of the finished product in an energy-intensive process.

The green-collar salesmen at the manufacturer talk about ‘reclaiming’ CO2 (“Energy In” = “CO2 Production”). That is BS. The energy required to separate and liquefy CO2 exhaust would probably double again CO2 production. We can debate the global warming falsehoods some other day, but from the standpoint of energy independence, ethanol is moving backwards.

And it is really hurting those people around the world who actually know what ‘food insecurity’ means. Corn prices have tripled.

The answer is nuclear power.

Again, when talking about corn, I agree. It should not be used for ethanol.

On the ad- I thought it was a stupid parody from The Daily Show or something. But if that's really from the Clinton campaign, they've made a tragic error. Not only is that not cool, it might actually turn young people right off. She ought to recall that thing and get her money back from the "consultants" who thought that up.

On the Shuster thing- I thought it was only Republicans who whipped up fake outrage over stupid remarks. Please, let's all pretend we're furious and maybe people will vote for "our girl" Hillary because some respected journalist slipped up and used an inappropriate phrase on a live TV show that is supposed to be controversial. (This was Tucker's show where it happened.)

Also, on Shuster, I think MSNBC was freaking out because they had just set up an exclusive debate for Ohio or something with Hillary & Barack. Once this happened, her campaign turned up the fake outrage, bitched out all the exec's at NBC and threatened to pull out of the debate which could be very lucrative for NBC. It's a shame because Matthews and Tucker have this kind of thing coming, not Shuster. David Shuster is great - and while his apology was scripted for him, I am sure he actually meant it.

And it is really hurting those people around the world who actually know what ‘food insecurity’ means. Corn prices have tripled.

This is kind of a strawman argument. We wouldn't be selling that corn anyway -- depressing supply and raising prices is kind of the whole point of U.S. agricultural policy.

At any rate, none of what you said leads to this non sequitur:

The answer is nuclear power.

(...unsubsidized nuclear power is real cheap. Uh huh.)

Again, when talking about corn, I agree. It should not be used for ethanol.

Sure, but the point is: political realities dictate that we're never going to get ethanol from any other source -- or at least not before we get other, more efficient energy sources -- so, while there is a meaningful distinction between different sources of ethanol, for the purposes of U.S. alternative-energy policy, it's completely academic.

swarty,
I'm sorry if I imputed misogyny to you specifically. That was not my intention. However, your previous comment attempts to excuse Shuster by terming his comments to be "inelegant phrasing". Given the pattern of attacks on Ms. Clinton, I think the remarks were inexcusable, and I took exception to your attempt at a defense. I did not mean to impute any other motives to your comment and I apologize if my remarks earlier gave this impression. I hope this clarifies things.

"That together with Obama probably winning the next round or two and Clinton may be the one in the weak position when they sit down to pressure one of them to quit.

Still maybe others here know the odds better than me."

No one's sitting down about anything before Texas and Ohio.


~Gary Farber

Again, Hillary is now the Democrats' Rudy. The above outlined plan isn't a winning strategy. She's gonna need at least Maine, probably also a Virginia or Wisconsin, before March 4th. She can't go 0-fer and expect to be competitive down the line, especially with SUSA showing her losing her edges among older voters, women, and hispanics in Maryland and Virginia (see here and here). She can't hold him off forever, especially in the midst of loss-after-loss-after-loss. And she certainly isn't going to eat into his base with videos like "Shred" or facile Bill mea culpas about race-baiting.

"If they got rid of the 54 cent per gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol it might get used here. I'm not holding my breath, however."

Yep. To change this, though, we wouldn't have to just dislodge Iowa from the primary process; we'd have to apportion Senate seats by population. Sigh.

In my dreams...

Yep. To change this, though, we wouldn't have to just dislodge Iowa from the primary process; we'd have to apportion Senate seats by population. Sigh.

As per usual, hilzoy says in one sentence what takes me 3 posts and 4+ bullet points...

Sigh.

Nuclear power is cheap, available domestically in abundance, and gives off no emissions. You just mine Uranium, do a little enrichment, form it into fuel rods, add some control rods and, voila!; a sustainable domestic power source (and no CO2 if you care about that). With advances in electric cars, there is the real promise to get the oil noose off of our necks.

Chernobyl was an old Soviet design where, if the core’s temperature got hotter, it gave off more heat (thus the KaBoom). When our reactors get hot, they shut themselves down. The process is simple and safe.

Even with burden of 2008-style regulation, nuclear power is competitive with other forms of energy on a cost basis. When recess ends and we come to the conclusion that we need energy, nuclear power will be the low-cost option.

Adam,

Meanwhile, as countries like Brazil - which is energy independent by the way - continue to press forward with successful plans for alternative fuels, our foolishly consistent hobgoblin infested small minds will continue to subsidize farmers to grow corn for ethanol and we will be the only ones using it while simultaneously patting ourselves on the back for our self-proclaimed wisdom and efficiency.

Bill,

Not a word about to do with the waste from nuclear reactors.

Yep. To change this, though, we wouldn't have to just dislodge Iowa from the primary process; we'd have to apportion Senate seats by population. Sigh.

In my dreams...

Hilzoy,

What is also maddening about is that we will probably be the only ones using corn for ethanol, which means that it's unlikely that anyone will challenge these subsidies for corn-based ethanol in the WTO, as Brazil did successfully with cotton subsidies.

That's a highly oversimplified take on the nuclear power issue. The fact that the safety issues have been -- arguably -- overstated doesn't implicate the fact that nuclear power has been heavily subsidized and still incurs substantial plant maintenance costs no matter how you slice it.

The bottom line is that nuclear power is a mature technology, but it's still more expensive over the long term than wind or hydroelectric power, and there's no way to get a really good evaluation of the costs to the U.S. because of the political environment and the fact that the industry's been subsidized to high heaven since its inception. Wind and solar, just to name the other big kids on the block, haven't benefited from significant subsidies and aren't even close to mature technologies yet -- i.e., there's a lot of upside.

Asserting that nuclear power is the best non-hydrocarbon energy option because most of its opponents emphasize the wrong parts of the debate isn't a substantive point in favor of nuclear power. It's just demagoguery going the other direction. It means that people tend to freak out when you say "Chernobyl" (unsurprisingly), and nothing more (except maybe that the potential downside to nuclear power, no matter how remote the risk of an accident, does exist and is significant at whatever-sigma) -- and it certainly doesn't say anything about real-world cost.

To clarify my previous comment from ages ago, I want to state that I didn't intend it to be flippant. Rather the opposite: how could casual references to prostitution be good? I don't use such language myself, but I hear other people use it so frequently that it takes me a minute for the actual meaning to click. That's a pretty sad state of affairs.

Not a word about to do with the waste from nuclear reactors.

That can be dealt with if done right, and with breeder reactors can be significantly mitigated. --It's a huge recurring cost, but I've found it's best to avoid the subject with pro-nuclear-power wonks, or they just write you off as a hippie. :)

Meanwhile, as countries like Brazil - which is energy independent by the way - continue to press forward with successful plans for alternative fuels, our foolishly consistent hobgoblin infested small minds will continue to subsidize farmers to grow corn for ethanol and we will be the only ones using it while simultaneously patting ourselves on the back for our self-proclaimed wisdom and efficiency.

Well, yeah, we're idiots and our energy policy sucks. What else is new?

Nuclear power is cheap, available domestically in abundance, and gives off no emissions. You just mine Uranium, do a little enrichment, form it into fuel rods, add some control rods and, voila!; a sustainable domestic power source (and no CO2 if you care about that).

The number of things wrong with this sentence is simply staggering. For starters:

Uranium is present everywhere on earth, but there are relatively few places where the Uranium occurs in sufficient density so that ore extraction, processing and enrichment require less energy than you can generate from that ore in a reactor. In other words, most Uranium deposits cost more energy to mine than they can ever produce. That's why reciting random numbers about how plentiful Uranium is on earth is so deceptive.

Mining and enrichment are not environmentally happy processes. They involve pulverizing tons granite for every few kilograms of useful ore. The crushed granite has to be processed with truly horrific chemicals which release potent greenhouse gases as a byproduct. You're left with tons of lightly radioactive dross exposed on the landscape, leaking heavy metals into the water table.


Chernobyl was an old Soviet design where, if the core’s temperature got hotter, it gave off more heat (thus the KaBoom). When our reactors get hot, they shut themselves down. The process is simple and safe.

You're confused. While Chernobyl's design was flawed, modern pressurized water reactors in the US don't differ significantly from the designs used in Three Mile Island. There are a number of ways that US reactors can fail that will not lead to automatic shutdown. You may be thinking of pipe dream breeder reactor designs that have never been used in commercial power generation before; some of them come closer to this failsafe operation. However, it is highly unlikely that breeder reactors will enter commercial service in the near future; the technology is too flawed.

Randy Paul;

Bury it. People bring up technical opposition to burying spent waste in metal caskets at Yucca Mountain. The argument is that in a few thousand years the casket will crack or corrode, and the (metal) spent fuel rod will magically leak out of the crack and contaminate the water table.

These people seem to forget that WE USED TO BLOW UP VERY LARGE NUCLEAR WARHEADS IN THE SAME AREA.

Any theoretical leakage from casket-encased metal fuel rods would be negligible in comparison with the existing contamination. I’ve spent a few nights in Beatty, and the town folk still seem normal.

Bill,

I forgot to mention:

Nuclear power is not cheap. It is significantly more expensive than fossil fuels, and that is after continuing massive subsidies from the federal government. Absent those subsidies, it is uncertain whether you could even insure a nuclear plant in this country, let alone generate a profit from one.

Bury it. People bring up technical opposition to burying spent waste in metal caskets at Yucca Mountain. The argument is that in a few thousand years the casket will crack or corrode, and the (metal) spent fuel rod will magically leak out of the crack and contaminate the water table.

These people seem to forget that WE USED TO BLOW UP VERY LARGE NUCLEAR WARHEADS IN THE SAME AREA.

That's hardly a compelling argument for burying it. This is a major NIMBY issue also. In addition, given the government's piss-poor record on guarding chemical plants, ports, etc., I am not comfortable with broadening the spectrum of potential terrorist targets.

Finally, what Turbulence and Adam said regarding the costs.

Bruce, did the Clintons use Chelsea to campaign or did they not? Does that mean she's in any way associated with prostitution? Of course not.

The word 'pimp' has entered into our language whether you like it or not. I choose to interpret his words charitably.

I'd appreciate not being referred to as vile, if my words offended, I truly apologise.

Turbulence/ Randy Paul;

Chernobyl had a positive temperature coefficient of reactivity, which means that when the core gets hot, it gives off more heat. Boom.

Three Mile Island, as well as the modern designs that are waiting to be built, have a negative temperature coefficient of reactivity, which means that when the core gets hot, it shuts down.

If I recall correctly, Three Mile Island had a failure of the cooling system caused by operator error, and some contamination was released from overheated fuel. The reactor shut itself down. A small amount of airborne contamination was released from the containment to the air. Those people ‘exposed’ received less exposure than one would on a long-haul airplane flight. How many people were killed or seriously injured (0)? How about death and injury from coal each year? Three Mile Island was a failure of people, and the inherent fail-safe nature of domestic plants was demonstrated. It was a media event.

The statement that nuclear power is not cost-effective is false. Wyoming is full of Uranium. So is Ontario. The process is simple.

A quick review of history indicates that NIMBY and one dollar will buy you a double cheeseburger at McDonalds when the time comes.

Buying more ethanol from Brazil means more of Amazonia turning into sugar cane factory farms.

The statement that nuclear power is not cost-effective is false. Wyoming is full of Uranium. So is Ontario. The process is simple.

Honestly, that skirted the legitimate questions of subsidies or the process of extracting the uranium.

A quick review of history indicates that NIMBY and one dollar will buy you a double cheeseburger at McDonalds when the time comes.

An accurate review of history would have come across the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant.

I happened to be living near the Browns Ferry plant in Alabama when it caught fire when someone decided to use a candle to look for air leaks, damaging control cables for the reactor units. As long as humans operate nuclear plants there will always be human error. It's much too risky.

Buying more ethanol from Brazil means more of Amazonia turning into sugar cane factory farms.

Not likely. Amazonia has not been a good region to grow cane in the past. Indeed, Sao Paulo grows some 60% of the cane in Brazil and the Cerrado in the Center West region is more likely to be the location for expansion.

1. 'Extracting' the Uranium is easy. You dig it from the ground.
2. 'History' refers to those days preceding the Nurturing Age. 1989 doesn't count.

That's all for now. Good night.

Extracting the uranium from the ore as turbulence mentioned above. Surely you know it's not found in the earth as reactor-ready rods. It's not an easy process.

History' refers to those days preceding the Nurturing Age. 1989 doesn't count.

Talk about moving goal posts. Honestly, you're being disingenuous here. $6 billion dollars was spent on Shoreham and it never went on line.

You also have yet again ignored the question of subsidies for nukes. It's very hard to take your arguments seriously in light of this.

Good night.

"You may be thinking of pipe dream breeder reactor designs that have never been used in commercial power generation before; some of them come closer to this failsafe operation. However, it is highly unlikely that breeder reactors will enter commercial service in the near future; the technology is too flawed."

No, he was almost certainly thinking of pebble bed reactors.

For other views on how to deal with nuclear power: nuclear power in France.

Alan, there are no inevitabilities in language. People make choices about their usage. Bad usages don't have to be accepted just because they are common.

There appears to be a fundamental difference in how people seem to approach Ms Clinton, both on progressive blogs and on television. The default assumption seems to be that whatever she does, it is out of some ulterior (and impure) motive, while whatever her opponents do always get a positive spin put on them.

This is easy to explain. Clinton has cultivated the idea that she is a deep political player. She has cultivated the image of possessing ruthlessness and the willingness to employ sneaky or hyper-legalistic tactics. These aren't accidental--she is essentially campaigning on "Republicans are nasty, and only I am nasty enough to beat them." As such, when her campaign makes nasty comments or odd moves, people assume that it is part of her plan, rather than just an accident; even if it really is just an accident.

OK, time for a tirade.

First, let's sort a few things out here:

1. Bill is correct that it is possible to build modern nuclear plants that self-regulate, i.e., that shut down if you lose containment, rather than go critical.

2. Turbulence, however, is correct in that many of our current plants aren't this advanced, and the technology isn't proven or cheap.

3. Randy is correct in that fuel is not at all the relevant recurring cost to consider for nuclear plants, and the fact that Bill even made that argument suggests strongly that he's not all that well-informed about this topic to begin with.

The bottom line is that the safety issue is a red herring. Frankly, we don't have good information on the future costs of nuclear power, partially because of the fact that it's always been subsidized. But it's fairly clear that even if it's cost-effective, it's still really, really expensive.


Here are some of the things we do know:

1. The upkeep costs for any nuclear power plant are very high. Also, those costs are all recurring, and they generally scale as poorly as hydrocarbon power (that is, the incremental costs tend to increase with generating capacity; there is no economy of scale). Specifically:

a. The bottom line is that nuclear power technology is very complex -- it's not as simple as putting some coal in a furnace and running a turbine. Everything is expensive.

b. Nuclear plants require highly-trained, specialized personnel and lots of oversight. We don't even have decent staff as it is; training more is a long-term cost borne by the public, and the demand is inelastic, so the marginal cost of getting more nuclear engineers actually increases over time. The higher premium you place on safety, the worse this problem becomes.

c. There are significant ongoing repair and maintenance costs -- nuclear power generation involves a lot of delicate equipment that's often operating in extreme conditions and with enormously restrictive failsafe requirements.

d. The fuel ain't free. Nuclear fuel is relatively cheaper and more accessible than coal or oil, but the cost to obtain it is non-trivial no matter what, and it's not even a single order of magnitude better than hydrocarbons in terms of cost-per-watt, even if you don't include all the secondary costs; see "wind" link in previous post.

e. There are many, many ancillary costs associated with nuclear fuel even aside from supply. Even if it were possible to simply "bury" nuclear waste without worrying about leakage polluting the groundwater -- which it's not -- you can't avoid the costs of security and transportation, neither of which is trivial.

2. Those costs are already significant for our old, dangerous plant designs -- the new, fancy, safer plants Bill's discussing (the ones that don't exist yet) aren't cheaper in any of the above respects, even after we work the kinks out, which we haven't. In fact, the "better technology" ensures that the upkeep costs will be higher.

3. The historic record for nuclear power in straight dollar amounts simply sucks -- even aside from the subsidies, we've built a bunch them and they're still horrendously expensive. There's no evidence of any sort of economy of scale -- just the opposite, in fact.

4. The meltdown risk is not the issue, for or against. Again, no matter how much you reduce the risk of a meltdown, (a) it remains a downside unique to nuclear power that represents at least some potential cost, even proportioned for the risk, and (b) addressing the risk of a meltdown is not free -- in fact, it's very, very expensive. You can, in fact, take a lot of the "human error" out of the equation, but it takes a great deal of money to do so.

Nuclear-power advocates often assume that the meltdown issue is the only substantive objection to nuclear energy, which isn't even remotely the case. It's just a threshold issue -- you don't get to build a nuclear power plant if it might melt down; however, the fact that it won't melt down doesn't mean you should build the plant.

5. Nuclear energy is a mature technology; any further R&D gains we can wring out of it are incremental at best. Solar and wind power, just to take two examples, are not even close to mature; research dollars invested there represent potentially huge gains in efficiency.

6. Nuclear energy is not a growth market. Research in other technologies potentially leads to export profits, etc. No one is going to pay U.S. researchers because we can build better nuclear power plants. Inventing a super-efficient photoelectric cell, on the other hand...

7. The infrastructure investments necessary to move to nuclear power aren't reversible; once you build the plants, it's prohibitively expensive to take them apart again or choose a different path. If we go for solar or wind power first, on the other hand, our path isn't foreclosed. The opportunity costs here are enormous -- as in trillions of dollars enormous, over the lifetime of new plants.

8. None of the problems above apply to solar, wind, hydroelectric, etc. etc. etc. The recurring costs are lower in every respect and the economies of scale are better.

9. In addition to all of that, nuclear energy, like hydrocarbon-based energy, requires a centralized electrical grid, which has tons of its own built-in inefficiencies and costs. Solar power especially -- but potentially wind power and other technologies as well -- doesn't share these inefficiencies:

a. Long-distance electrical transmission is cheap, but again, the cost is non-trivial.

b. The ongoing upkeep costs of power transmission are significant. Maintaining those electrical poles costs a lot of money.

c. Long-distance power transmission isn't reliable, which is increasingly problematic. Local power sources means: fewer brownouts and blackouts; storms don't knock out your electricity; people don't die in hospitals during blackouts; a significantly smaller investment in the ridiculously expensive and inefficient backup power systems currently required at facilities where power is critical, like server farms, hospitals, banks, utilities, stock markets, television stations, etc. etc. etc. Keeping all those batteries charged is a waste.

d. The security risk of a centralized infrastructure is obvious and significant. The Northeast and California have already demonstrated that they don't even need help knocking out their own electricity; a local-power infrastructure makes all that a non-issue.

10. [Just to have a nice, round number.]

No, he was almost certainly thinking of pebble bed reactors.

I knew I forgot something! I was going to mention that -- a breeder reactor is a type of reactor that generates fissile material (and is essentially the basis for any argument that tries to class nuclear power as "renewable"). A pebble bed reactor is a modern reactor design that's more efficient than a classic light water reactor, and that -- in theory -- doesn't carry the risk of meltdown like a LWR does.

France does provide an empirical example suggesting that it is quite possible to run a country on nuclear power. Of course, Iceland provides an analogous example with regard to geothermal power. The question is still what the most efficient energy solution is for the United States.

Adam, this is an excellent comment. I'd add only two things:

1. Bill is correct that it is possible to build modern nuclear plants that self-regulate, i.e., that shut down if you lose containment, rather than go critical.

2. Turbulence, however, is correct in that many of our current plants aren't this advanced, and the technology isn't proven or cheap.

Um, I thought that there are currently ZERO production pebble bed reactors in operation. Considering how much simpler and safer the design is, it seems strange that we don't actually generate power with them...unless designing, building, and operating pebble bed reactors is more challenging than their proponents are willing to admit.


a. The bottom line is that nuclear power technology is very complex -- it's not as simple as putting some coal in a furnace and running a turbine. Everything is expensive.

b. Nuclear plants require highly-trained, specialized personnel and lots of oversight.

These points are often under appreciated. People such as Bill like to carp about how the TMI incident was caused by operator error, but that's simply not true. Yes, the operators made a number of mistakes. However, the system was designed in such a way that operators did not have information they needed to make control decisions in an emergency. During the TMI incident, operators were faced at several junctures with choices in which all alternatives had potential serious negative consequences with no clear rubric for choosing amongst them. Nobody thought the pressurized water reactor designs of the 1970s exhibited these design and operational flaws, and yet they did. The industry's persistent inability to think sensibly about how complex systems fail does not inspire confidence.

No, he was almost certainly thinking of pebble bed reactors.

For other views on how to deal with nuclear power: nuclear power in France.

Seb,

Thanks for the correction. I was indeed mistaken. On review though, I think Bill was completely lost: his phrasing implied operating commercial reactors that exist in the US today, and those are neither pebble bed nor fast breeder.


The French nuclear system is interesting, but also somewhat bizarre. It is completely government run and centrally managed with very little transparency. Consequently, in the past they have been caught hiding significant design and safety flaws from the public that greatly increased the likelihood of an adverse event. Given the American fetish for local control and hatred of bureaucracy, it is difficult to imagine reproducing anything like the French system in the US. On the other hand, it seems that competitive energy markets are unable to sustain a serious private nuclear power industry.

Um, I thought that there are currently ZERO production pebble bed reactors in operation.

Well, according to the Wikipedia article, China has that prototype HTR-10, which has been online since 2000, and the South African reactor is in "active development" -- who knows what that means. As far as I know, it depends on what your definition of a "production" reactor is, or maybe whether it's "in operation."

However, I'm not aware of any major operational hurdles to building new reactors; I think that the answer to the "why don't we see more?" question is simply that we haven't started any new reactors for a very long time, so even current projects are old designs. As far as I know, the (very few) reactor projects in active development in the U.S. were all abandoned a long time ago but -- in what was surely a shocking development -- restarted under the Bush Administration.

In retrospect, my last point should have been this:

10. Nuclear power just isn't an effective solution in our current timeframe. All else aside, the oil demand crunch and probably global warming are very serious problems that demand immediate attention.

Nuclear reactors take forever to build and bring online, and don't exactly have a favorable history as far as being completed on-schedule. Even if solar power, for example, is less cost-effective, it represents a sort of plug-and-play solution (no pun intended) to our current needs -- new investment has an immediate effect on demand pressures, which creates an immediate return and also potentially eases transitions for a lot of legacy technology.

Even if nuclear power didn't have any of the problems it does, we can't build the plants any faster. That's pretty important right now.

Nuclear power is "cheap" if you ignore the direct subsidies, the cost of security to prvent terrorist attacks, the residual risk of accident or attack, the government cost to burry the waste, and lots of pther problems. But its a good cheap attack on better solutions!

imagine if that money was used to subsidize wind and solar, which are just obviously the future.

and the 'controversy' about the 'pimping' thing is exactly tailored to appeal to clinton's base, since old people are the most likely to not be cognizant of contemporary usage of the word.

john miller: Re ethanol, sometimes the cure can be worse than the disease. That's why there has to more effort to finding more alternatives ASAP.

Yup. Unintended consequences. Must.Resist.GW.comments…


Fatal Attraction? Come on.

What? You can’t see her boiling up bunny stew? I can…


And it is really hurting those people around the world who actually know what ‘food insecurity’ means. Corn prices have tripled.

Jeeze. A Bill comment I agree with. Don’t do that dude.


Hilzoy: we'd have to apportion Senate seats by population.

Not often I disagree with you, but let the cities run everything?

@Gary: I think they mean the religious jews, which means it beats bible-belt christianity and islam. People with Jewish parents are often not perceived as particularly Jewish unless they wear the religious attire. Though I might just not see a bias, I'm from Amsterdam. In our current climate I think I'd rather be orthodox jew than ortodox muslim though.

The energy alternatives are confusing for me. I've always been against nuclear energy, mainly because of the safety and waste-disposal issues. But things like this make me hesitate again. I do like research into alternative energy sources and support politicians who want to invest in it. How does Portugal fare with energy from the ocean? could Africa supply the EU with solar energy? What are the developments in windpower?


>>>You then use that one comment (which was written by someone I have not read before and is thus unlikely to be a regular around here) to tar the entire OW community<<<

i guess that's referring to me, since i was the first to comment and use the phrase "oh poor me."

i dont understand, really, redstocking's offense at this. to my eyes, it seems that whenever its convenient, Hillary plays up the "i'm just a girl" card, which is offensive to me and should really be offensive to women, since it makes a mockery of feminism.

my girlfriend had no problems with Hillary per se when all this started, but over time she moved to Obama because she was sickened by Hillary shamelessness. does she need to renounce her womanhood now?

it is long past due we had a woman president, just not this one.

Shuster's comment was stupid and vulgar, and he shouldn't have said it. but Hillary is now willing to debate on Fox when it's tactically advantageous for her to do so, and how much sleazy offensive stuff has been said about the Clintons there? and its David Shuster--who's been one of the toughest TV reporters out there on Bush--is the one who finally gets her outraged?

puh-lease.

Dutchmarbel: Late question about the survey you linked to. My Dutch is completely crap, being a triangulation between English and German, so I may have completely misunderstood, but it looked like the majority of people were saying that minority status (Turkish, Moroccan, Surinaman) was unacceptable. Does this mean immigrants from these places or anyone with ancestory from these places? Also, Antilles is acceptable to only 43%? The Antilles are part of the Netherlands. It'd be like an American saying that a president from Alaska would be unacceptable. (Or do I misunderstand the status of the Antilles? Maybe it'd be more like an American saying that a Puerto Rican would be unacceptable?) Either way it looks like you may have a racism problem going on in the Netherlands. And the over 70 problem strikes me as silly: the average life expectancy in the Netherlands is what 79? 80? Surely a 71 year old PM could be expected to live out his or her term. Yes, I know these same prejudices are at play in the US, but I expect more rationality from the Dutch.

"In our current climate I think I'd rather be orthodox jew than ortodox muslim though."

That's not precisely a comfort, it it?

"@Gary: I think they mean the religious jews, which means it beats bible-belt christianity and islam. People with Jewish parents are often not perceived as particularly Jewish unless they wear the religious attire. Though I might just not see a bias, I'm from Amsterdam."

Also, I'm wondering how to read your explanation -- which I appreciate, and obviously I'm not blaming you for the results -- as other than either:
a) About half the Dutch population has a bigoted and antisemitic stereotype of Jews as Orthodoz/Hasidic wearers of funny clothes, yarmulkes, and strange ways; and on top of that, they're so bigoted that they can't see beyond appearances to conceive that any individual Orthodoz Jew might otherwise have political beliefs identical to theirs; or:
b) Other.

Maybe you can help me with the Other possibility.

Because I'm not seeing how that explanation helps. How is it different from saying "well, they're thinking of the really dark-skinned people, rather than the light-skinned folks who look just like us, who are ok"?

"Orthodoz"? Is that a new sect, Gary?

Clearly, I should have made coffee.

Orthodox. Damn fingers hitting wrong keys twice, grumble, sassafrassafrassarassa.

To be honest, as a member of the 'youth demographic' (20 years old, male, somewhat politically active), I sort of view this post as two examples of the same situation.

The rock band video is ridiculous. My stupid friends aren't politically active, and even the stupidest of them can detect blatant pandering that is so obvious as to border on mockery.

Also, anybody who thinks Hillary could ever have the word 'shred' applied to her really needs to share whatever amazing drugs they're taking.

By the same token, as a member of my generation, being fired for saying that somebody is pimping something seems incredibly strange. I had to reread that comment several times - and then read the comments to see people explaining why it was offensive - before I even got it.

Now, perhaps my circle of friends is unusual, but I hear things like "yeah, but you're a whore for X product anyway!" where X product is something a friend is recommending. "Stop pimping out X product" is just as common. While I agree that because my friends and I use words in a fashion like this doesn't necessarily mean that prime time television should use the words in the same manner, I also think it's important to give people the benefit of the doubt before firing them.

In both cases, in my eyes, Hillary's campaign ends up looking like a stick in the mud. If her intention was to make youth voters like me think "wow, Hillary is hardcore and totally cool and knows what we're about!", she failed with the ad, and then failed again when she chose to make a big issue out of what was probably (in my eyes anyway), nothing more than a case of poorly used slang.

Perhaps Hillary benefitted from getting the pundit in question fired. She certainly scored no points with me though.

I thought the ad was terrific and inspiring, not only does it remind voters of her anti-establishment roots, it expertly plays up her cred with today's youth movement. I was on the fence before I saw this, but now I am definitely voting for.. oh never mind.

Gotta jet, gonna go shred on my axe. Hillary has been there, done that. Yadda, yadda, yadda. You go girl!

"Perhaps Hillary benefitted from getting the pundit in question fired."

Or perhaps not. This never happened.

My mistake. Gary is quite correct. Schuster is suspended for an undetermined amount of time, not fired. Thanks for the correction, Gary.

Open thread:

Has anyone heard from Rilkefan lately?

Late-night Adam has done the subject justice. If I may, I'd just add:

11. Thermal cycle power plants of any sort are due to get a whole lot more expensive, because we're running out of convenient cooling water supplies.

12. Nuclear power plants not only require more sophisticated and expensive operating talent, but the construction expertise is a whole lot more stringent than even a coal burner, let alone a wind turbine. You might be able to scrape up enough to build 1-2 plants a year, if you were lucky.

By the way, no link, but the last estimate I read put the SA pebble bed prototype up around $7000/kw investment. (Compared to a coal burner of $1500/kw). Nobody in their right mind will ever build a lot of those.

I'm not in the demographic Clinton was trying to reach in that video, but I can tell you she's developing quite a knack for insulting her alleged core demographic.

She's pre-emptively excusing expected losses in this week's caucuses on the grounds that her supporters are too busy working to take time off to caucus for her. The insinuation being that Obama's supporters are either trust fund pseudo-progressives or the unemployed.

Well, I have news for her. I went to Obama's rally yesterday, and I was surely NOT the only middle-aged white woman there, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only middle-aged white woman who holds down a full time job who supports Obama, who is somehow making time to caucus for Obama, and who is having more and more trouble being just pro-Obama rather than anti-Hillary.

I swear, the Clintons piss me off more every time they open their mouths.

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