Entries Tagged 'General' ↓
December 14th, 2011 — Collapse, Economy, General, Peak Oil
Ron Paul stands for a lot of things that I think are nutty, like his untried libertarian utopian ideas. Under normal circumstances, I would never consider urging my American neighbours to vote for a libertarian.
These are not normal circumstances.
The US has reached a point of political-economic crisis – you cannot separate the two – and as a result the responses are limited and non-ideal. In a crisis you must take decisive action or events may overwhelm you – they may anyway, as a crisis is by definition somewhere between bordering on chaos and all-out anarchy.
At this point, the urgent need is to neutralize the power of corporations and the rich over the US government or nothing else will matter. Yes, climate change, peak oil, the current depression, and so on are all serious crises. The sad fact is that they all exist to the extent they do largely because of corruption in the United States government.
Until this corruption is rooted out, there is little chance of serious action on climate, on oil dependency, or of the US and world economy recovering. If you disagree with me, please show me what President Obama has done that will make a real difference with these crises.
You can trade an Obama for a Romney/Gingrich/whoever and things will get worse faster, but either way the crises we face will not be addressed.
Ron Paul has some scary ideas and libertarianism is untried utopian lunacy, but because of the extent of the corruption in the US government, he’s the only candidate who has a chance of stopping the American slide – and they’re going to drag a lot of us with them – into a police-state plutarchy.
I don’t say this lightly; electing Ron Paul is potentially a dangerous step but far less dangerous than hoping for change from Obama or any of the other Republican candidates. Ron Paul is anti-empire, anti-police-state, and pro-Constitution, which Americans desperately need to remember matters before it’s too late.
May 1st, 2011 — Canada, General
OBL has been reported dead. This leads me to three possibilities:
- He really is recently deceased, meaning prior rumours were wrong. If so, points 2 and 3 hold for the US/World generally and Canada specifically.
- US: There goes a big part of the justification for being in Afghanistan. Americans are sick of being at war, no matter what Bill O’Reilly and the CEO of Halliburton want to think. This is the perfect opportuinty for Mr. Obama to say Afghanistan should become a UN peacekeeping mission – of which the US is not a part - or simply to annouce a timetable for withdrawal. Either way, everyone is relieved. If the Afghanis really do not want to be dominated by the Taliban, then they need to prepare to stand up and destroy them. As the uprisings in the Middle East have shown, only if the people unite against an oppressor can they have a chance to be free.
- Canada – There goes a large part of Stephen Harper’s fear-based agenda. Not that the whole thing was based on fear of OBL and Al-Queada by a long shot, but OBL was the foundation upon which the War on Terror was built. Canadians are sick of this war and would like to go back to peacekeeping. The only fella tha’s likely to do that is Jack Layton. The official death of OBL can only hurt Harper and boost the NDP. The timing could not be worse for Harper.
- The fourth possibility is this: It is possible that previous reports of Mr. Bin Laden’s death were correct, and it is just now being officially reported by the United States. If so, points 2 and 3 still stand. The only danger is that Americans somehow discover that Mr. OBL had been dead for some time and their government knew it.
UPDATE: While I have no reason to doubt the official U.S. version, it is awfully convenient that bin Laden was buried at sea.
March 21st, 2011 — Canada, General
In the event of an election, poll results point to the Conservatives either maintaining their minority or even sliding into a majority, despite the recent scandals. Given that, combined with the desire of the opposition to pull down the Harper Government™, the Liberals would be further ahead to seek either the leadership of a minority government or another attempt at a coalition.
Here are the issues:
- The Conservatives find themselves mired in a serious of scandals, and, for an historic first, actually in contempt of Parliament.
- Given #1, the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc will look mighty duplicitous themselves if they don’t vote “non-confidence” in the Harper Government. (Note that this applies even if these parties use some trickery, such as having some MPs get ‘strategic flu’ and not show up to vote in a confidence motion.)
- However, the polls show that if an election is called, at worst the Conservatives will win enough seats to form another minority, and might even get enough to form a majority.
Option A: A Liberal Minority
Given this, what are the Liberals and others to do? An election is a big risk for the Liberals. A much better bet would be to ask the Governor General to form a minority government supported by the NDP and Bloc. This gives the Liberals a chance to show they are, at worst, no worse than the Conservatives at governing.
The NDP would likely get more out of the Liberals than they will out of the Conservatives. Mr. Ignatieff would get a chance to show his stuff. The new minority government could immediately gain some goodwill by cancelling some of the more odious Conservative ideas, such as building more prisons when the crime rate is declining, cancelling the long-form census, or muzzling government scientists.
The Conservatives could hardly oppose the idea because they’ve been in a minority position for four years now and, as they keep telling us, Canadians don’t want an election. Well, they probably would oppose the idea of a Liberal minority strenuously, no doubt referring to it as a coalition of socialists and separatists, but that’s a dangerous route to take if they’re not actually a coalition. I suspect that the majority of Canadians – and remember that a majority of Canadians did not vote for the Conservatives – would be quite willing to let the Liberals have a go. So the more vile the Conservatives’ rhetoric about a Liberal minority, the more it is likely to hurt themselves.
As an added plus for the Liberals, Mr. Harper ends up back as the Leader of the Opposition, and there’s a good chance he would quit. As he was the glue that held the Conservative-Reform-Alliance Party (CRAP) together, there is also a good chance that that coalition would fracture. Several very high profile Conservative MPs have already quit (Strahl, Prentice, Day, Cummins), and it’s hard to imagine the party being returned to the opposition and losing Mr. Harper’s iron hand not resulting in further losses and likely a split.
Option B: Coalition Redux
Having said all this, there seems no need of a coalition, but that would depend upon the NDP. They might want to force an election in the hopes of gaining a few seats, although would end up widely loathed if the election ended up in a Conservative majority. However, given the Liberals weak position in the polls, the NDP might want to force the Liberals into a coalition in which the NDP gets a few cabinet posts and some key legislation pushed through.
The Conservatives could be counted on to return to hysterics about socialist/separatist coalitions, and unfortunately too many Canadians are gullible enough to fall for that. However, once the coalition is actually formed and working, what would – what could - the Conservatives do about it? In reality, not much except stamp their feet and cry that the sky is falling. Give the coalition six months of governing, and those hysterical objections would likely come to be seen as just that, further discrediting the Conservatives.
All this said, what will actually happen is anybody’s guess. There is no guarantee that any of the parties mentioned will do what is best for Canada.
March 18th, 2011 — General, Peak Oil
Following the multiple partial meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, I find it mind-boggling how quickly the pro-nuclear shills are out claiming that a) nuclear is safe, really, and b) it’s our only hope for a future energy source that is sufficient to meet our needs and not destroy the planet via climate change.
Both are utterly bogus, but you can’t tell the shills that; they are fanatics on a par with the climate change deniers. They believe what they want to believe, and that’s that.
a) Nuclear power is NOT safe
Sorry, lads, but it just isn’t and to maintain that in the face of what has happened and is happening in Japan is just nuts. Numerous dolts are trying to claim that nuclear power is perfectly safe, but that can be disproved with a simple Google search, so I must conclude that people who say this are wilfully dense or are paid shills.
As to the safety record of nuclear power generally, it’s really quite poor. Again, numerous pro-nukers want to say the risk of accident is minuscule. Again, not true. It’s easy enough to get a rough calculation of the odds of disaster: Divide the number of nuclear plants on the planet by the number of major disasters:
According to this site, there were 442 plants as of January 2011. According to Wikipedia, there have been at least 18 serious accidents, so the odds of a serious accident are 18/442 = 4%, or 1 in 25.
Those are terrible odds, and that’s not counting the countless smaller leaks that are routinely covered up by the nuclear industry.
(Note: This is being generous. In reality, the odds are worse because most of these accidents happened when there were fewer nuclear reactors on the planet. And the argument that newer reactors is safer is debatable techno-optimism, given the recent meltdowns in Japan.)
The shills often then retreat to the position that nuclear is safer than coal, but this is hardly difficult and not-at-all comforting. We simply have to stop buying into the idea that we have no choice but to trade off the greater evil for the lesser.
b) It’s nuclear or collapse!!!!
This is simply scaremongering by the shills to prevent us thinking sensibly about other options, like heaven forbid, conservation. Or passive solar combined with geothermal storage. Or storing excess wind/solar/wave/tidal/whatever in molten salts, pumped hydro, hydrogen, and whatever else we come up with, none of which risk making large areas of one’s country, and perhaps a few neighbouring ones, uninhabitable by humans for the next 100,000 years or so.
The fact is, we have non-nuclear options and we need to start exploring them. There may well be a further economic collapse as the price of oil increases, but building hundreds more nuclear plants everywhere is a highly risky ‘solution.’ There are better ways to go.
And by-the-way, Japan’s wind turbines survived the earthquake and tsunami.
UPDATE: An interesting article, from the Toronto Sun, of all places. It contains this gem:
The potential power, energy and financial returns were calculated for the indirect subsidy that is currently provided to the U.S. nuclear industry in the form of liability caps, with providing the same level of indirect subsidy to the solar photovoltaic manufacturing industry in the form of loan guarantees. The startling results show even if just this one relatively minor subsidy was diverted from nuclear power generation into large-scale solar manufacturing, it would result in both more installed power and more energy produced by mid-century. Such a policy would increase the cumulative solar industry over the 500 TW-hrs mark in just 10 years and by the end of the study the cumulative electricity output of solar amounts to an additional 48,600 TW-hrs worth more than $5 trillion over the nuclear case.