The Nuclear Option

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

With Republicans in firm control of the House, Democratic influence diminished in the Senate, and interest being expressed from the White House, a political opportunity may exist for proponents of expanding nuclear power in the United States.

In 2003 MIT published an interdisciplinary report on the future of nuclear power. You can read the report summary and link to the full report here. The report was the result of a joint study between researchers at MIT and Harvard with political input from a bipartisan advisory panel. The report was updated in 2009. That update can be found by linking to it through the link provided above. The original 2003 report concluded:

“The nuclear option should be retained precisely because it is an important carbon-free source of power.”

That base assumption is reinforced by the 2009 update to the report. The update notes the increased interest in plug-in vehicles which adds to the need for carbon-free sources of electricity generation. In the year since the update, plug-in vehicles have moved from being an item of interest to an available commodity. As of the 2009 report, 44 new nuclear plants were under construction worldwide. None in the United States.

The original report predicted that, by 2020, 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions would come from fossil fuel based electricity generation. The 2009 update reports that carbon-free generation of electricity, including and especially nuclear, is lagging behind the predictions of just six years earlier in its original report.

Nuclear power cannot be discussed without reference to the concerns and criticisms that accompany the topic. Some of those concerns are emotionally based. Some are substantive. Those issues fall roughly into four categories: cost, safety, security and waste disposal. The safety issue can be subdivided to include environmental and health concerns. It is the conclusion of the MIT studies that the objections can be overcome through technological advances that are now largely in place. Critics disagree. The 2009 report recommends pursuit of nuclear power generation in the United States in concert with other non-carbon options.

With an ever growing need for additional energy to maintain global economic competitiveness and secure an affluent lifestyle moving into the future, the time has come for national discourse on the subject of nuclear power. Emotionalism needs to be discarded in favor of technological questions and answers. Bias, for or against, should be replaced by serious inquiry. Reality checks need to be in place. Arguments for conservation or agrarian lifestyles are notably unproductive given the general acceptance of affluence as representative of the “American Dream” in a broad cultural context.

That national discourse needs to recognize two critical truths. First, carbon based electricity generation has not become cleaner in recent years, anticipated technologies to accomplish that goal have not been achieved, and future energy generation needs to be based on environmentally conscientious principles. Second, from both a technological and quantitative perspective, other carbon-free options like wind, solar, and thermal are not prepared to take up the slack in the short to mid term future, meaning the next 20 to 50 years.

With the future in the balance, partisan obstructionism and wishful thinking should take a back seat to practical problem solving. Nuclear power may well be a practical solution that the American public and its political representatives need to consider.


The Moderate Voice

Iran Sanctions Won’t Work Without Credible Military Option Says Bibi to Biden

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Met met with the SCHMOTUS, Joe Biden yesterday to tell him its time to get serious about Iran. The “diplomacy” and sanctions are simply not working to stem Iran’s nuclear program.

Israel has publicly supported Obama’s outreach effort, but after two years has seen it bring nothing but the further empowerment of Iranian President Ahmedinejad who is getting credit throughout the radical Islamist world for staring down “the great Satan”

The only way to ensure that Iran will not go nuclear is to create a credible threat of military action against it if it doesn’t cease its race for a nuclear weapon,” one of the sources said Netanyahu told Biden.

“The economic sanctions are making it difficult for Iran, but there is no sign that the Ayatollah regime plans to stop its nuclear program because of them.”

While even under the Presidency of Barack Obama the United States has declared “all options are on the table to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the President’s constant displays of weakness to the forces of terror make the President’s threats a bit unbelievable.

Netanyahu is not necessarily calling for an immediate attack but he is saying without a credible, believable military option there is little chance of sanctions working.

The two men met on the sidelines of the General Assembly in New Orleans, an annual event sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America.

Netanyahu words mark a sharp escalation from his past statements on Iran, which have focused more on the need for diplomatic measures such as harsh economic sanctions, rather than military deterrence.

On Monday, the prime minister is expected to continue to raise the issue of Iran, both when he addresses the GA and when he meets with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York later in the day.

Striking a conciliatory pose, Iran on Sunday proposed that a new round of international talks on its nuclear program to be held in Turkey, but did not set a timetable for such talks.

In his meeting with Biden, Netanyahu insisted that although economic sanctions have made it difficult for Teheran, there is no sign that they have caused the ayatollahs’ regime to halt its nuclear program.

Sanctions have affected the regime but have not persuaded Teheran to drop its pursuit of nuclear weapons, Netanyahu said.

“The only time that Iran stopped its nuclear program was in 2003, and that was when they believed that there was a real chance of an American military strike against them,” Netanyahu told Biden, according to diplomatic sources.

“Paradoxically, only a real military threat against Iran can prevent the need to activate a real military force,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu warned SCHMOTUS Biden that Iran is toying with the international community

“Iran is attempting to mislead the West and there are worrying signs that the international community is captivated by this mirage.”

Iran has been misleading the West especially President Obama for almost two years now, But this president seems willing to have the patience to see Nuclear Weapons hit the Jewish State.




YID With LID

DeMint announces bill to strip NPR of federal funding; Update: Cantor adds option to YouCut

October 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Inevitable.


This was inevitable, in more ways than one.  Jim DeMint has announced that he will introduce a bill to strip all funding from NPR and PBS: Conservative Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina today announced plans to introduce legislation stripping federal funding from National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service. The move comes [...]

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Hot Air » Top Picks

Paladino: Homosexuality is not ‘valid or successful option’

October 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

New York (CNN) - New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino has said that homosexuality is not “an equally valid or successful option” compared to heterosexuality.

Paladino said he doesn’t want children “to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option … it isn’t.” He made the remarks Sunday to an Orthodox Jewish group.

A prepared version of his remarks, obtained by CNN from New York affiliate NY1, contained two lines that Paladino did not actually deliver. Those lines said, “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual. That is not how God created us.” Paladino emphasized in a statement on Sunday night that he did not include those lines when he delivered his remarks.

FULL STORY


CNN Political Ticker

Was the Public Option Off the Table?: Today’s Q for O’s WH — 10/6/10

October 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

In his new book, “Getting It Done: How Obama and Congress Finally Broke the Stalemate To Make Way for Health Care Reform,” former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-SD, wrote that as of July 2009, hospitals and Democrats operated under the “working assumption” that the legislation “would contain no public health plan,” which would have reimbursed hospitals at a lower rate than private insurers.”



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Political Punch

Daschle: Public Option ‘Taken Off The Table’ In July Due To ‘Understanding People Had With Hospitals’

October 5, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

GettingITDoneCoverFormer Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD)’s new book Getting It Done: How Obama and Congress Finally Broke the Stalemate To Make Way for Health Care Reform comes out next week, but this morning he spoke to me about some of the concessions the administration made to pass reform and the shortcomings in the Affordable Care Act.

In his book, Daschle reveals that after the Senate Finance Committee and the White House convinced hospitals to to accept $ 155 billion in payment reductions over ten years on July 8, the hospitals and Democrats operated under two “working assumptions.” “One was that the Senate would aim for health coverage of at least 94 percent of Americans,” Daschle writes. “The other was that it would contain no public health plan,” which would have reimbursed hospitals at a lower rate than private insurers.

I asked Daschle if the White House had taken the option off the table in July 2009 and if all future efforts to resuscitate the provision were destined to fail:

DASCHLE: I don’t think it was taken off the table completely. It was taken off the table as a result of the understanding that people had with the hospital association, with the insurance (AHIP), and others. I mean I think that part of the whole effort was based on a premise. That premise was, you had to have the stakeholders in the room and at the table. Lessons learned in past efforts is that without the stakeholders’ active support rather than active opposition, it’s almost impossible to get this job done. They wanted to keep those stakeholders in the room and this was the price some thought they had to pay. Now, it’s debatable about whether all of these assertions and promises are accurate, but that was the calculation. I think there is probably a good deal of truth to it. You look at past efforts and the doctors and the hospitals, and the insurance companies all opposed health care reform. This time, in various degrees of enthusiasm, they supported it. And if I had to point out some of the key differences between then and now, it would be the most important examples of the difference.

Despite being “taken off the table” as a result of the “understanding,” the White House continued to publicly deny claims that it was backing away from the provision even as it tried to focus on other aspects of the bill. “Nothing has changed,” said Linda Douglass, then communications director for the White House Office of Health Reform in August of 2009 and many times thereafter. “The president has always said that what is essential is that health insurance reform must lower costs, ensure that there are affordable options for all Americans and it must increase choice and competition in the health insurance market. He believes the public option is the best way to achieve those goals.”

Daschle also said that he was disappointed that the law did not include greater specificity about ways to control health care spending and reform the delivery system. “I’m concerned that we are going to do potentially not achieve all that we might have achieved had we been more specific,” he said. “We lay out a very clear 10-year schedule, with great specificity about how insurance reform is going to work…[but] we don’t do that nearly as much with cost-containment and with delivery reforms.” “I think we could have put into the legislation specific targets and actions that would be required have to do with unnecessary care, in terms of primary care, transparency and even a more ambitious and delineated schedule for HIT, moving away from fee-for-service.”

Asked about the future of health reform, Daschle said he was “reasonably confident” that the government would prevail in the state legal challenges to the individual mandate, although admitted that “given the unpredictability of the Supreme Court as well as other appeals courts, it’s not as much of a closed case as I think as it should be.” He also expressed concern that newly elected Republican governors would refuse to implement the law, but said he had “two sources of general confidence building” about the GOP promise to defund the law, should they regain control of the House.

“A lot of what we did in health care reform has more of an entitlement than a discretionary funding base. So as an entitlement, they would really have to change the law rather than simply not fund in order for it to be effected. The entitlement sections of the legislation are going to be fairly immune from defunding,” Daschle predicted. He also added that approval will likely increase as different benefits become available.

Daschle’s book, published by St. Martin’s Press, comes out next Tuesday, October 12th. To read more of my interview with Daschle, including his response to whether or not Obama advocated for progressive ideas, click here.

Whether Congress over-learned the lessons of Bill Clinton’s failure and relied too heavily on Congress to write the health care bill:

DASCHLE: I think so, it would have been better if we moved more quickly. Although, I have to say, this legislation [moved] more quickly than Social Security or Medicare and so it’s almost surprising in that regard.

On the absence of malpractice reform:

DASCHLE: I’m actually not surprised, I’m disappointed that we’ve failed to go further on some of these issues. I think the President is a realist, he’s a pragmatist, he needed to ensure that we could bring a bill, maybe not with everything he/we wanted across the line. I think he felt it would be hard to hold Democratic caucuses together moving a bill that went further. Ultimately, I’m confident that it’s going to happen….it was probably a bridge too far in this legislative effort.

During the transition, Daschle hosted a series of videos asking Americans to submit their own solutions and stories to the health care crisis. I asked him why the administration abandoned its grassroots outreach efforts as reform progressed:

DASCHLE: I don’t think it stopped….I don’t know if we were successful as many would have hoped in sustaining a visibility level and engaging people as much as we did initially…But your point is well taken. Visibility dropped off and in part it’s because we were overwhelmed by the degree of grassroots opposition on the other side.

On President Obama not strongly advocating on behalf of progressive priorities like the public option. Could Obama have done more to fight for these ideas?

DASCHLE: I think so. I think that there were times when we let the ball drop some. But I think the President from the very beginning wanted to take as much of a realistic approach as possible….At the end of the day, he got what he wanted the first comprehensive piece of health legislation ever to be passed, and under very very difficult circumstances….So it’s hard to argue with his logic even though many of us wish we could have seen more.

Wonk Room

When Did Being A Slut Become The Morally Superior Option?

September 28, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Being easy is well, easy. Being cheap and easy is even easier. And evidently, the new moral imperative is to not have any morals and be proud of it.

Meanwhile, there are some crazy younguns like Steven Crowder who value abstinence as a positive life choice. From Steven’s Fox editorial this week:

The idea of abstinence has become somewhat of a punchline in this country. From the myth of unrealistic “abstinence only” education, to the media’s constant portrayal (and mockery) of young, nerdy, out of touch Christians riddled with chastity pendants, the message on abstinence being pumped through pop-culture is clear; If you’re abstinent it’s either because A) you’re ugly or B) you’re a loser. In my case, it was often both.

Maybe it’s just the lack of fun-factor, or maybe it started with harlotry being misused as a fulcrum for women’s liberation, but if you so much as suggest to someone that abstinence might be beneficial, you’ll often find yourself vilified as a judgmental jackass faster than Bill Maher can throw up his dainty hands.

Sure, Michelle Obama can run around the country and condemn little fatties for inhaling Little Debbies, but if you try and apply that same helpful, healthful concept to sex, it’s seen as pushy and/or prudish.

He followed up this mind-bending controversial blog post with a visit to Red Eye, the bawdy middle-of-the-night Fox show (highly recommended, by the way). Here is the video clip from Fox. Is Abstinence Actually Awesome?:

If you can’t watch it, or don’t have the time, first, I’ll relay the tone of the Professional Comedienne (she made sure to emphasize her professional credibility and length of time in the job as she condescended to Steven-calling him a part-time, Christian comedian; she barely contained her contempt) Amy Schumer. She sneered. A lot. Steven was so taken aback by her invective, at one point, he said, “That seems awfully personal.” It was personal for her.

Why? Because she was offended that he would use kinder words for her than she used for herself. Her words? Monogamous Slut. His word? Floozy. Amy also noted that she’s had “two Bakers Dozen” worth of men, she sleeps with a guy on the first date and she’s proud of it. “I don’t like using sex as a bargaining chip”, she declared. She made this statement ignoring her own trade of services by having sex on the first date. She just values her service less. But she is making a bargain and exchanging a service.

After all the insults, Amy finally got down to her real issue,”I just don’t know any happy married people.” The implication? No one is happily married anyway, why embrace behavior that might, but does not guarantee, a happy marriage?

She quotes anecdotal evidence, while Steven tries to share facts. She won’t have it.

My point isn’t to pick on Amy Schumer. I don’t know the woman. Her reasoning, though, is representative of many. The problem, from their point of view, isn’t the failure to live up to ideals. The problem is that anyone has ideals. Worse, it’s offensive that people with ideals — which include treasuring virginity or abstinence to build trust — actually have the nerve to talk about those ideals. They accuse the idealists of peddling a false hope and false product, because they, themselves have had trouble maintaining a relationship. And if they can’t figure it out, no one can.

The self-described slut’s desire for those valuing abstinence? Shut up, you’re young. Also, it doesn’t matter anyway. In addition, you’re stupid and inexperienced. And, don’t confuse me with the facts.

How far we’ve fallen. Christine O’Donnell has been ridiculed similarly for her 1980s beliefs about masturbation, which have, ostensibly, mellowed with time. But even still, is her stance that off? Even liberals acknowledge the damage that porn and masturbation can do to creating real intimacy in relationships.

The subtext of the Liberalization-Of-Sex-Is-Awesome philosophy is that happy relationships don’t exist anyway, get laid while you can, and no matter what, “don’t judge me.” What a cynical, miserable position to take. It’s also factually incorrect. Marriage wins against single and there’s plenty of evidence for that position (see also Steven’s post). Monogamy wins against infidelity. Abstinence wins against promiscuity. They are ideals worth encouraging and upholding even if fulfilling them is challenging; even if perfection is never achieved (and it never will be).

A patient once told me that now, he would prefer health over sex. Of course, he’s middle-aged and far wiser, and will live forever with the herpes outbreaks he still suffers. He is not alone. One in four, 25% for the math challenged, have herpes. Twice as many young adults ages 20 - 29 have herpes than did 20 years ago. This is a recurring tragedy for the sufferer and his partner-a consistent, unrelenting reminder of promiscuity that cannot be undone.

To have someone promote sluttiness as the morally superior position is absurd. Steven Crowder demonstrates courage, and a heck of a lot more wisdom, than many serial monogamists or cheap prostitutes-even the smug ones with ten more years of life experience who are “real” comedians.

The downside to abstinence? Missing momentary fun. The upside to abstinence? A disease free, trust-building platform for the potential (since there are no guarantees in life) of a much happier, healthier relationship and life.

Abstinence isn’t the cheap and easy choice, but it sure is the smarter one.

Cross-posted at RedState.com

Liberty Pundits Blog

“Separation of religion and state is not an option for Muslims because it requires us to abandon Allah’s decree for that of a man”

September 4, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

We’re forced to accept it without question, on pain of charges of “Islamophobia”: Islam is just like Christianity and Judaism in its ability to fit without difficulty into the Western societal framework of non-establishment of religion.

However, Sharia is an all-encompassing program for every aspect of life, including the governance of the state. In “Separation Of Church And State” at Islaam.com, Dr. Ja`far Sheikh Idris argues that the separation of religion and state is un-Islamic. And so once again, in the same words as I did before, I offer the invitation to Muslim “moderates”: show where Dr. Ja`far Sheikh Idris is wrong on Islamic grounds. The world wants to see you refute the version of Islam of the “extremists.” The “extremists,” after all, aren’t getting their ideas from me, but from the likes of Dr. Ja`far Sheikh Idris. So instead of spending all your time trying to prove me wrong, why not spend some time trying to prove them wrong — if, that is, you really oppose what they’re doing? Go ahead. We’re watching, and waiting.

From “Separation Of Church And State” by Dr. Ja`far Sheikh Idris at Islaam.com (thanks to Axel):

[...] So how are Muslims to approach the modern trend of separation of religion and state? The basic belief in Islam is that the Qur’an is one hundred percent the word of Allah, and the Sunna was also as a result of the guidance of Allah to the Prophet sallallahu allayhe wasalam. Islam cannot be separated from the state because it guides us through every detail of running the state and our lives. Muslims have no choice but to reject secularism for it excludes the law of Allah.

Supporters of the secular state argue that the values of one religion cannot be imposed on members of different religions that are present in our countries. However, whether the non-Muslims in a state are few or many, secularism is not the answer. The non-Muslims in Muslim states will either be secularists themselves, in favour of abandoning the laws of Islam in the state, or will be devoted followers of their own religion, who wish that the state follow the rules of that religion. So in either case, a compromise cannot be made in accordance with the Islamic point of view. What needs to be pointed out is that under the law of Islam, other religions are not prohibited. At the same time, people are provided with doctrines for legislation and running of state that will protect people of all faiths living in the state.

Secularists in the West will agree with this, then they will point out that under Islamic law, people are not all equal. No non-Muslim, for example, could become the president. Well, in response to that fact, in turn, secularism is no different. No Muslim could become president in a secular regime, for in order to pledge loyalty to the constitution, a Muslim would have to abandon part of his belief and embrace the belief of secularism — which is practically another religion. For Muslims, the word ‘religion’ does not only refer to a collection of beliefs and rituals, it refers to a way of life which includes all values, behaviours, and details of living.

Secularism cannot be a solution for countries with a Muslim majority or even a sizeable minority, for it requires people to replace their God-given beliefs with an entirely different set of man-made beliefs. Separation of religion and state is not an option for Muslims because is [sic] requires us to abandon Allah’s decree for that of a man.

Jihad Watch

Side Effects: College Students May Lose Health Care Option Under Obamacare

August 25, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 
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Health care isn’t something most students worry about. Government stats show about 80 percent of college students are covered under a parents’ plan. For them, Obamacare may mean they can keep the insurance they already have for a few years beyond college, but it won’t affect the coverage they carry during school.

But what about kids without parental coverage? The new law’s requirement that insurance cover children up to age 26 won’t make any difference for them.

Currently, college students without coverage can enroll in low-cost student health plans offered through universities. These plans may include limits to keep costs down, but are often designed around to complement university health services to provide comprehensive coverage. Affordability is further achieved by rating student health plans on a campus-wide basis rather than according to the whole individual market. id="more-41711">

Seven percent of students currently receive coverage from their school, but that could change under Obamacare, a concern that the American Council on Education expressed in a href="http://www.acenet.edu/AM/Template.cfm?Section=LettersGovt&CONTENTID=37793&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm">recent letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

“The application of several provisions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), including certain insurance market reforms and the individual mandate, could make it impossible for colleges and universities to continue to offer student health plans,” the Council warns.

As the new law currently stands, it’s unclear whether student health plans would meet federal requirements to qualify as minimum essential coverage. If they don’t, students would have to find coverage elsewhere or pay the individual mandate in addition to the premiums of their student health plan.

Though the law includes a rule that institutes of higher education will not be prohibited from offering student insurance plans, the Council explains that problems arise because, “Short-term limited duration insurance, including many student health plans, does not qualify as either group health insurance coverage or individual health insurance coverage under the existing Public Health Service Act (PHSA) definitions. As a result, a student with comprehensive SHP coverage would not satisfy the minimum essential coverage requirement due to a definitional technicality.”

Schools may also find that some provisions of Obamacare might forbid them from offering coverage solely to their student populations, rather than the individual market at large.

Critics of student health pans, who see these low-cost options as inadequate, would prefer to apply Obamacare’s rules to student coverage. But, href="http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2010/August/19/college-health-plans-reform-law.aspx">as Julie Appleby writes for Kaiser Health News, colleges fear that “requiring them to meet even some of the new rules could drive up premiums.”

Removing affordable options would likely discourage many students from carrying insurance altogether—yet another example of how Obamacare, which was supposed to improve insurance coverage, may end up making it worse.

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

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