No Fly Zone? Really?

March 17, 2011

Get Ready For These...

Gaddafi and his craziness would have been ‘great’ mass-media news by itself, now he has to compete with the buzz from Japan – but it doesn’t cloud the irony of the UN resolution for enforcing a no fly zone.  Let me make a series of  points and then a series of comments and you can draw your own conclusions. 

To give away the punch-line, this is an ‘easy’ win where we can do ‘what is right’ without real repercussion, loss of life, or long-term fallout since everyone knows that Gaddafi is a whack-o.  Oh yeah, we’ll still get our oil tanker from the Saudis as well.

POINTS

1) A no fly zone means not only not letting the bad-guys fly around, but blowing up airfields and anti-aircraft batteries to protect the fighter planes that are flying the combat air patrols (CAP) to support the no fly zone.  That means air to ground offensive strikes.

2) France, Italy, and the UK are eager to directly support and engage in an enforcement campaign.

3) As of yet there has been little discussion about the U.S.’s direct involvement except to say that we have a seat at the table and are certainly part of the NATO planning.

4) Gaddafi, a self-agrandized despot of  a looney-toon, openly threatened hostilities now and in the future in the Mediterranean if the world imposed a no-fly zone on Libya.

5) The world has been deafeningly silent on protests in Bahrain and Yemen due to needed cooperation from the non-democratic despots there.

6) We had similar actions under Bill Clinton in Bosnia with air patrols and cruise missile strikes.

7)  Fighter pilot types would love nothing better than to have a no-fly zone.

COMMENTS

1) No one has a better military or equipment to wage an air war than the U.S.  We have tomahawk missiles, F-22s, B-2s, SEAD mission F-16CJs, and the experience with all this hardware in actual wars.  I find it hilarious that the French think they are up to the task and they probably want as little help as possible from the USofA.

2) We had a no-fly zone over Iraq as well for a very long time.  We got very little support the second time the US kicked Saddam’s ass because nations like France did not feel we were justified in intervention.  Why the change in heart?  Because Libya isn’t that far from France maybe?  Because this one is ‘easy’?  Both?  Its far more complicated that simple solidarity with the Libyan rebels – there are legitimately beleaguered revolutionaries all over the world that are ignored every day.  Why are the Libyans so different and special?

3) The world loves to hate the US, but when push comes to shove, we are the only ones with the hardware, know-how, and force projection capability to do the job right.  Why?  We are America.  We are too good to the rest of the world and we go unthanked for it, but god-forbid if we don’t kick someone’s ass when everyone thinks it should be.  The media doesn’t know it yet, but our NATO brethren desperately need our know-how and hardware.  We spend a lot of treasure and spill a lot of blood so that others don’t have to – largely because they don’t need to fight any more because we too willingly go do it for them as the world’s defacto policeman.  Now our allies and the ‘good guys’ of the world have grudgingly grown dependent upon our strength and just dominance.  This is what you get, responsibility to protect France get again – for at least the 3rd time now. (I especially enjoyed that one by they way)  What other nation has been the ’empire’ of the world and done it so benevolently?

4) This no-fly zone could be a slippery slope.  All it takes is one flight of Libyan migs to execute a reprisal attack against a French cruise-liner in the Mediterranean.  That  then greatly ups the ante for NATO to ask itself if it is going to live up to its charter and say that an attack on one is an attack on all.  Gaddafi is a crazy-man.  You’re wrong if you think he lacks the stones to do something like that.  Thomas Jefferson warned against foreign wars of entanglement for exact scenarios like the fictitious one above.  Look up the cause of WWI; a web of alliances is how it started and America had to eventually get drug in via alliances to end the damn thing too. 

5) We want Libya’s oil, but the country doesn’t make Saudi Arabia amounts of it.  Also, Gaddafi is unsavory and crazy.  The pro-democracy demonstrators in the other Arab countries are just as right and just in their cause, but the situation in those countries are much more complicated.  We NEED the autocratic ruler’s  support there because of their oil (Saudi Arabia being the clearest example). Our dependency on foreign oil is why we waste so many lives and $$ in that part of the world in the first place.  They know it and that is what protects them and keeps them loosely aligned with the West even though they don’t like us and refuse to move beyond a 10th century mentality in how they rule or look at the world.

6)  True to form, the West picks and chooses its battles.  Today, Libya is a worthy while Darfur is not.  Yesterday Bosnia was, but Somalia was not (and today you hear about the consequences of those actions in the news – pirates).  These guys could very well be thinking that this is a mini-Desert Shield type operation.  Of the lot looking at this no-fly zone, the US is the only player that has the ability and will to go it alone –  right or wrong.  You see that both in our introduction and pull-out of Somalia and our mounting successes in the new Iraq.  You saw it in defeat in Vietnam and the barest margin of victory in Korea.  All but the First Gulf War show that victory is never easy coalition or not.

7) Fighter pilots get to justify their existence and over-inflated egos if they shoot down some ancient Mig 19s using their AIM-9 air to air missiles from 20 miles away.  That’s not war, that’s  shooting fish in a barrel.

Don’t think that victory of this despot will be as easy as it could appear.  If Gaddafi is going down, he won’t go without a fight – he’s already shown that these past 2 weeks.  If anyone would have the audacity to lob a russian missile at Sicily, sink a french passenger liner, or attack an American cargo ship – it would be Colonel Gaddafi; certainly more so than Slobodon Milosevic or even Saddam Hussein himself.

Those men were evil, this guy is both evil and deranged.

– G.S.


Fear and Stupidity

March 17, 2011
…and we dropped dozens like this…(that doesn’t even count the Ruskies!)

   Forgive me if I seem a bit short, but is anyone TIRED of the fear-mongering they see on TV about the nuclear reactor problems in Japan?  I mean, c’mon there is a terrible humanitarian crisis going on with the earthquake and the tsunami BEFORE we even talk about the leaky nuclear reactors.  The true human toll and the real loss of life and property – those are the REAL STORY – and it is over-shadowed by the silent, invisible killer that give you cancer.

– RADIATION!!!! – bum, bum, bummmm!!!!!
Really, don’t you feel like sheep listening to the talking heads find yet another retired nuclear expert and stoke the fears that the Japanese are under-stating the problem.  I’m not saying its right, but OF COURSE THEY ARE, its government.  Do you really think they will tell people the whole truth – just imagine how panicky the Japanese would be then…and they’re a disciplined people!    You a$%holes on TV with your dumbed-down  24/7  news media coverage just lap up the mystique of a danger people can’t see and make a fever pitch WITHOUT full disclosure from the Japanese authorities.   
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Its all a game of fear and consumption – but this time the consumption is replaced with knee-jerk stupidity.  They want to get you afraid so that you’ll buy your bottled water and iodine tablets and buy into the story that nuclear technology is unsafe and dangerous.  They are quick to look at Chernobyl, TMI, and now the crisis in Japan; but they forget all the tangible and 99.99% safe benefits of nuclear power.  I mean this was an earthquake.  YOU CAN’T PREVENT AN EARTHQUAKE!  Its a good excuse for things to break! 
  All this angle does is to get the lowest common denominator of our society all panicy about a slight bump in background radiation that may or may not happen from 5,000 miles away.      Yes, that is how far California is from Japan.  Its a long damned way.  Get over it.  I don’t see how this makes for good TV and ‘good’ news when they repeat the same crap over and over; it is innane.
Beside the raw damage and loss of life and human misery that the tsunami caused, the worst part of this is we are now hearing how governments – national (Germany) and local governments in the U.S. are questioning nuclear power.  You’re kidding me.  This is a freak accident – literally an act of nature.  You can’t stop earthquakes – so you have to just deal with the fact they’re going to happen.  Do you really want your energy prices to be higher, have rolling brown-outs, support big oil, and move away from carbonless green energy by deep sixing all the proposed NEW nuclear facilities this country desperately needs?  And those are just a few!  We haven’t built one reactor in 30 years because of irrational fear.  We really are going to let a bunch of dumb politicians that buy into the news media hype derail progress with so much tangible upside and the most minsicule risk of downside?  Yes, it may be a small risk with a terrible consequence should it happen, but will we let fear get in the way of one of the few things that I think this administration has right?  Further now that its known what happens at a nuke plant at a level 9.0 earthquake/tsnuami strike, we can create safety systems for the new reactors we should be building.  Cut the red tape, the brainless politicians, the equally innane pundits, and the lack of knowledge of what nuclear power can do for this once great nation.  We’ll have real progress,  infrastructure investment, cheaper energy costs, less carbon emission, thousands upon thousands of high paying unexportable American jobs, and all the services and manufacturing to support them.  Why wouldn’t you go nuclear?
You wouldn’t because of fear, mass-media consumption, and now…stupidity.  How am I not surprised…  I’ve already told you we’re past the tipping point, this is just another example from a different angle.  Where did our logic and reason go?
– G.S.

The New Manhattan Project – Part II

December 30, 2010

 

…continued from Part I, here.

Energy Independence

Fusion power has so much potential that we could have so much energy that  there would be no strain on the system’s supply to have electric car docking stations at every person’s house and place of work   They’re already paid for with the stimulus money ‘free’ of cost to the tax-payer.  How many people could you put to work over the coures of 10 years with that project in a country as large and developed as ours?  Gas stations would be paired (and eventually replaced) with rapid battery swap shops that take your cars standardized old battery that is drained and give you a freshly charged one.  Going back to the shah in Oman…100% of the money in your pocket is paying for your power from American sources because we invented the economy that the money all goes to. 

     100% of the money also means we are not dependent upon the shah for his oil anymore.  We don’t need him – we can run our economy on our own energy sources.   American sources mean dollars back into your community.  By not having to worry about a supply of oil, we are free to let the Middle East fight itself instead of us once again.  No more wars of foreign involvement.  Our soldiers aren’t there spilling their blood, we aren’t spending our treasure on waging war, and the radicals there get what they want by not having the US in their lands.  I say let them descend into a 9th century level of barbarism again.  Tell them we don’t need their oil and so they get what they want – the US to leave…and we would.  It’s not that easy though, I’m not naive liberal.  Realistically, that wouldn’t be good enough for the jihadists; they would still blame us for our past involvement and try to send more terrorists our way.  That is a solvable problem though, but not for today.  

  Carbon Reducing Green Energy

Lastly, we can reinvent our country all while being green.  Fusion power doesn’t emit hydrocarbons – like fission reactors, you’re not burning anything.  Fusion power emissions are energy and water.  That’s it.  There is no radioactive waste with a half-life of 20,000  years that you have to dispose of.  Guess where you get the fuel for nuclear power reactors?  Salt water.  Yes, the fuel deuterium comes from ‘heavy water’ commonly found in sea water.  You mix that with tritium (which is merely a hydrogen atom with two protons in it) and a whole lot of energy and the two atoms ‘fuse’ together to make even more energy, a helium atom, and a neutron.  That’s it.

The Problem and Reality
  The only reason that fusion is so hard is that like the sun, the process is extremely hot.  So hot that the plasma produced can melt anything.  The only way to contain it is to basically make an electromagnetic shield of energy around the reaction.  It’s similar to shields in Star Trek, but instead of keeping energy from a  weapon out, it keeps energy from the reaction in and thus prevents the plasma from melting the reactor chamber.

   Our current reactors take more energy to power up and run than the process makes.  Improving the technology takes research and eureka moments.  You get that with the best minds working together, being excited about their work and pulling long hours over the concentrated effort of 5-10 years, not the snail’s pace of 100 years like the current proposed rate of progress.  Talk about a pathetic, flacid approach.  Real research with the best of minds means that the money has to be there to spend. 

 My Vision

Unlike a devalued dollar and papered-over banking problems, fusion power is a solution for the ages.  What is a half a trillion dollars to the hundreds of trillions of dollars that near limitless energy is worth?  The world is not running out of sea water anytime soon and with limitless energy, things are far more possible.  First, we stop heating up the planet.  Global warming is real.  It may come from a hotter sun too, but throwing an extra wool blanket around the plant from more carbon dioxide than plants can take in doesn’t help.  Secondly, energy intensive processes like reverse osmosis water purification can desalinate and purify salt water or poisoned water.  So much of the world’s suffering comes from having a poor water supply.  You could now do grandiose civil engineering projects like fueling california’s agriculture industry from reverse-osmosed sea water that is pumped to the farmland.  The energy from fusion power could drive the massive pumps and purifiers that you would need.  You could even take the idea a step further and slowly terraform deserts and make them arable again – combating their slow spread.  Other things even more grandiose are possible.    Remember how hydrogen is the key ingredient, well it is also the most abundant element in the universe and floats freely around the vacuum of space.  Space ships, space travel, space colonies, and asteroid mining and the inherent resources there, are all far more possible because you have now have an efficient engine to power your spacecraft and a ready source of fuel to power it.

Yes, my ideas for the future may be grandiose, but with near limitless energy, it is possible.  All it takes is leadership and vision.  I wish we had more of it.

The Bottom Line

You can’t do something like this on the cheap.  Its going to cost hundreds of billions to do it on the scale and pace of breakthrough I’m talking about, both in infrastructure development and technology.  Politicians can spend the same amount of money bailing out banks, printing fiat currency, and generally kicking the can of economic collapse down the road, but they can’t do what I propose.  Its all because special interests in DC and Congress’ general lack of vision prevents it from actually being the body politic it needs to be.  There are too  many politicians and not enough statesmen; we need less power grubbing and more visionary leadership.   

This is our silver bullet, but we’ve got to fire it or its of no use.

– G.S.


The New Manhattan Project

December 22, 2010

Worship Me! I Am The Solution To All of Your Woes.

  I have hinted at this post in the past and now it’s here.  This is my non-scientific stab at:

 – The Next ‘American Innovation’

–  American Reinvestment

– Effective Stimulus

– High-Paying, Sustainable Job Creation 

– Energy Independence

– National Security

–  and A Carbon Reducing, Green Energy Source

     The caption says it all.  Fusion power – the source of energy for the suns and thermonuclear weapons is the answer.  Name one thing, only one thing that can realistically accomplish all of the above bullet points and I’ll eat my hat.  Lets get started.  There may be overlap as some pertinent factors can be shared.

  The Next ‘American Innovation’

     This country has maintained its greatness because it has an edge.  The ideas and entrepreneurship that are part of our identity have given rise to our modern world and the standard of living that we so enjoy.  Since the industrial revolution and throughout the 20th Century, this country’s economy is generally propelled by some sort of new innovation.  It might be something great like Carnegie and his telegraph and steel empire, or it could be something as terrible and destructive as the First and Second World Wars.  All three examples drove American innovation forward and provided new technologies, industries, jobs, and money for this country’s citizens.  Why not use this technology and its benefits today – providing that next needed industry.  We could corner the market and benefit as we spread the technology to the world instead of dragging the development process out for the next 50 years.  I am serious.   The development of the most promising reactors take decades with further designs behind them.  The pace and the money are a pittance.  My one source said it was a total of about a billion dollars a year.  Yes, that is a lot of money, but not for a country that builds a plane that cost $1.2 billion back in the early 90’s and doesn’t blink to spend $20 billion on foreign aid a year and $787 billion to bail out Wall Street. 

American Reinvestment

    This technology would be an investment in America because we have to spend the money here to make the technology and integrate it into our economy and lives.   This case alone should be enough when I say that with a serious committment and expenditure of dollars, we can not only keep that money in our nation’s collective pocket, but spend more on power grids, power plants, turbines, electric cars, cement, and training.  This doesn’t even begin to account for all of the other supportive roles that put people to work while making something that is real and actually is a return on investment.  Real product you say?  Return on investment…that sounds like manufacturing!?! 

    Yes it is.  We used to be really good at it.  This is just manufacturing a new energy economy.  Why send over $400 billion a year overseas when we can keep that money here while also reinvesting in America?

Effective Stimulus

    This stimulus comes in two parts.  The first is the one we are all too familiar with;  the one from the government.  It means we spend money we generally don’t have on something in the hopes we get a greater return than what we put in.  These days, government stimulus is considered a ‘win’ when it gets back the  money it put in.  Now here is the hard part…stuff like this always involves Congress approving, creating, and managing a program that would be what I call ‘The New Manhattan Project’.  Instead of making fission bombs, we are making fusion energy.  The scale is debatable, but if we can spend hundreds of billions of dollars time and time again on terrible and perversely incentivized stimulus, why can’t the government pony up say $500 billion ($50 billion a year for 10 years) to invent fusion power that gives us more energy than it takes, and also completely revamping our nation’s energy grid in preparation for the technology and as a way to repair it.  Yeah, if you didn’t know, our energy grid is far from smart – its crumbling in a lot of places. 

     The reality is that this government and that of the whole EU might invest $40 billion over the next 50 years.  Might.  They’ve only put up about $10 billion to get where they have so far.  BP has a claims fund twice that size for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  That is a paltry sum for a slow process that doesn’t have enough impetus behind it to create leap-frog breakthroughs.

High-Paying Job Creation & Sustainment

     The second part of the stimulus is that it directly equates to American jobs and careers.  No, this is not seasonal or temporary work for minimum wage but high-tech jobs that pay well and will not go away.  Linemen, mechanics, power plant workers, engineers, professors, surveyors, the list goes on – these are jobs that can’t be exported because that are manufacturing something that can’t be exported.  The power lines and the power plants aren’t going anywhere.  This investment in the American worker and American infrastructure is money put back into our own pockets.  It is spent by you and your family and also by the company you work for in goods and services.  Some of that money ends up in the hands of the cement factory owner across town, who then has to get his cement trucks serviced by a local truck garage that your neighbor works at.  Like in this example, the same $1 goes a lot further went it is spent multiple times in a community instead of lining the pocket of a shah in Oman.  Why take 65 cents or so of every dollar and give it to people over in the Middle East who we shouldn’t trust because they really don’t like us that much…but they are all to glad to take our money? 

… Part II is now complete and is here.


Spin Baby Spin

May 14, 2010

Yes, our energy future is on fire too

    Along with everyone else, I have watched the now infamous Deepwater Horizon oil well in the gulf spill thousands upon thousand of gallons a day into the Gulf of Mexico for the better part of a month.  Also like everyone else, I think it is a bloody mess.   Not only figuratively, but for the ecological damage, the economic damage, the wasted oil, the money spent trying to fix it, and the ensuing litigation that will certainly happen.

   I think the real shame in this though is the politicizing of this event.   It couldn’t have come at a worse time.  This is no doubt a disaster, but we do not need it to go beyond the unfortunate size and scope the slick has already made.  I am talking about the mostly pointless lampooning of the BP, Haliburton, and Transocean executives where the Congressional hearing devolves into finger pointing on both sides.  I am talking about discussions at all levels of the endangerment of the expansion of off shore drilling.  I AM TALKING ABOUT YET ANOTHER WAY THE BABY IS GETTING THROWN OUT WITH THE BATHWATER!!!

   It is absolutely preposterous and a knee-jerk reaction to say that we should not only curtail the proposed expansion of off-shore drilling, but ban off-shore drilling all-together.  I’ve seen the eco-friendlies out there holding up their signs AND THEY JUST DON’T GET IT.

– How much tax revenue does the oil industry provide?

– In this age of profligate government spending, how much tax revenue could the industry provide with an expansion to help offset some (not a lot, but some) of that spending?

– How many good-paying American jobs does the oil industry provide?

– How many more could it provide in this terrible economy with an expansion of drilling?

– What knowledge/development/technology does oil exploration contribute to geology, the oceans, mining sciences to name a few?

– How much more dependent do you want to be on nations like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela for our oil – places that really don’t like us.  They already have too much control…do you want to tighten the noose further?

– And most importantly, how much will your gas and energy prices in general go up?

  I’m imploring the greenies out there and the Democrats who listen to them to hear me out.  Please, get with the program.  Even if you ride a bike and have a minimal carbon footprint, most of Americans USE oil and its price affects them.  They farm your organic produce with tractors and deliver it with trucks.  They drive to the the factories that make the goods you buy.  At worst, they still work at the docks and drive the trucks that get your imported goods to the market.  Oil is in most of the plastic that you use.  You can’t escape it and putting your head in the sand by saying we shouldn’t expand off-shore drilling is only making a bad problem worse.

     We are already too far behind the power curve when it comes to the energy policy in this country.  Do you remember the summer of 2008?  Do you remember what oil at $145 a barrell looked like at the pump in your area?  I weep for Californians.  Remember all of the news coverage?  Remember average Americans saying how they couldn’t afford to drive themselves to work anymore?  If you think those days will never come again, you are fooling yourself.  They are only to get worse because the planet isn’t making  any more oil and it is increasingly harder to get.  You are not seeing the bigger picture when you extoll the ills of off-shore drilling because of one unfortunate accident.  Yes, BP needs to clean it up.  Yes, there needs to be new shutoff valves and safety standards, but why is it so hard to look at the practicality of the matter.  Even our President  has seen the light!  Giving support to the expansion of off-shore drilling is one of the few things that Obama has done that I can agree with.

   Energy is something that everyone uses, but is not on our radar.  Mark my words, it is going to be a problem along with everything else on this site that I rail about.  To do anything but pursue every option is foolish.  We need to drill more, in the gulf and in ANWAR.  Lets do it safely and ecologically, but we need to do it.  We need the government to incentivize the development of renewable energy sources – solar, wind, second generation ethanol, biomass, whatever.  We need to put serious money towards developing future technologies like clean coal (we have so much of it), hydrogen cells, and fusion-powered reactors.  We are going to need all of this as our energy needs rise and environmental concerns rise.  These are difficult, but long term solutions that need to get worked on now versus being put off for later.  That mentality never gets anything done.

   Lastly, there is nuclear power.  We haven’t built a new reactor in this country in over 25 years!  Three Mile Island was over 30 years ago and we still haven’t gotten over it!  C’mon!!!  It is pathetic that the French are better at this than we are.  80% of their power comes from nuclear reactors.  It is green, safe, abundant, and will provide thousands of construction jobs and thousands of high-paying jobs to run the plant.  This solution has been staring us in the face for  a very long time, but a small minority has allowed further development to cripple construction through regulation and red tape.  Hell, I haven’t even began to talk about our decaying and inefficient power infrastructure and how we could make it smarter as well…

   We are heading for a cliff.  Our oil dependency is only part of our problem, but to make us even more dependent by stopping further off-shore drilling is ridiculous.  Deepwater Horizon is rare failure of over 4000 rigs in the gulf; and it will be the last of this magnitude.  Valves need to get fixed and oil needs to get cleaned up, but not at the eventual expense of our way of life.  It is our fault that we didn’t learn from the energy crisis in the 70’s and ween ourselves off of oil like the Brazilians…but we haven’t.  So, its all we got until we fix the problem.  This article has been intended to point out that larger picture because our energy needs are growing faster than our ability to cheaply supply it.  Yes, we have to worry about being green, but that is a bonus that can be incentivized.  It should not be a tax that the industries are only going to pass on to consumers.  We use oil and energy in general to support our standard of living – which is the best in the world.  People are not going to stop driving cars or give up their wide-screen HDTVs, so we need to look at our energy problems pragmatically and solve them.  Otherwise, we are on a collision course and we only have ourselves to blame by not holding our representatives accountable.

– G.S.