Puzzling Inconsistency of the President Towards Retro Technology

Last night during the debate, President Obama countered one of Mitt Romney’s criticisms of him by saying

“Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed,” Obama said, after Gov. Mitt Romney jabbed the president for, he said, overseeing a Navy that is smaller than at any time since 1917.

We would be remiss if we did not note in passing the President’s curious approach, on a planet with 70% water cover, of placing modern ships in the same category – “Obsolete” – as bayonets.
But my main question is to request clarification about the standards by which to distinguish good retro technology from bad. The President looks down at bayonets and horses as obsolete but is a strong proponent of a centuries old technology for generating energy.
Can someone please supply the criteria by which bayonets are bad but windmills are wonderful?

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Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

Things do change, for instance Gen. George Patton was the last “Master of the Sword” in the U.S. Army. But, we do still issue bayonets,if I am not mistaken it is the Model M9.
Although our navy is smaller, I wonder if it is playing with numbers. For instance in 1917 the fleet was still coal powered. I wonder how many “tenders” were required to keep it under steam.
I couldn’t help but wonder if Mr. O was attempting to appear “peaceful” by reducing the military. In fact, because of technological advances, we can project power as never before. Our diffculty is “boots on the ground” to control territory.
Why are windmills good? Well, because they are “green” of course.

ANTHONY
ANTHONY
9 years ago

“I couldn’t help but wonder if Mr. O was attempting to appear “peaceful” by reducing the military”
Yes Warrington peaceful as in Libya. The ambassador there was raped and then killed. It was a peaceful attack that was started because of a movie. This is the era of Hussein the destroyer. He has come in peace to destroy the US and it’s image abroad. He’s doing a very good job and just needs 4 more years to complete the mission.

Patrick
Patrick
9 years ago

Along the same lines, Bob Schieffer asked where the next great threat to the United States lies. Zero mention of cyber terrorism. If a country wants to shoot or bomb Americans, they can do a little bit of damage. it’ll be a blip on the timeline for a week or so and it’s very quick to “fix”. If a country or group wanted to really harm the country, they could shut down large parts of our resources and make sure they stay down for long periods of time. Imagine if the east coast were to have no electricity for weeks, in the middle of winter. Imagine if the water supplies were contaminated due to mixing with sewage. What if the sewage pumps were turned off or reversed on mass scale. If food distribution networks were broken. And one that maybe many would like to see anyway, if banking records were permanently destroyed.
The next big threats aren’t physical. But that’s how the president still sees them.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

More “science!” LOL.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

btw, since I apparently need to spell this out over here. The President was making the point that preparing for the wars of the early 20th century made about as much sense as beefing up for the wars of the 19th century.

Max D
Max D
9 years ago

Russ:
Let me spell this out for you, Romney’s point was the Navy says they need more ships and President Joe Cocky’s response was we don’t need more bayonets and horses. That’s what his whole campaign has been about, dodging issues, providing no plan, and criticizing Romney’s. May I remind you just last week, on national TV, he was asked who denied the request for extra security in Benghazi before the attacks and why. He never answered the question in typical empty suit form and fashion. The President is all smoke and mirrors.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkRdOh5bdUo

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

Max, I’m not trying to defend the President’s foreign policy or Romney’s lack there of. Just pointing out what nonsense this diary is. I actually thought this about summed it up for me…
“Obama sort of perfectly defined the way things are on US foreign policy: Romney would do what Obama does, just louder”
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) October 23, 2012
fwiw, a modern wind turbine is hardly the same technology as the windmills of old. Like saying the technology in an F-22 is basically just the same thing the Wright brothers flew at Kittyhawk. Perhaps Monique has a novel definition of “technology” as well.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

While I can’t argue against a smaller military, I found the president’s response to be rude and a gross oversimplification. On energy, wind power is a grossly inefficient progressive fantasy. We should absolutely expand nuclear power.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

“On energy, wind power is a grossly inefficient progressive fantasy. We should absolutely expand nuclear power.”
What a ridiculous comment. Say, what’s an insurance policy cost for a nuclear reactor? Which private firms offer them in the US?
“Nuclear Power: Still Not Viable without Subsidies”
http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/nuclear_power_and_global_warming/nuclear-power-subsidies-report.html

Government subsidies to the nuclear power industry over the past fifty years have been so large in proportion to the value of the energy produced that in some cases it would have cost taxpayers less to simply buy kilowatts on the open market and give them away, according to a February 2011 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists

Talk about fantasy!

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

Patrick:
“The next big threats aren’t physical. But that’s how the president still sees them.”
While the military does not regard the “Zone of the Interior” to be inviolate (in terms of conquest and invasion), it is regarded as unlikely. First there is the question of a “staging area”. Usually the most likely is thought to be Mexico. This has been attempted before. the Japanese attempted to secure “bases” in Baja. The “Zimmermann Telegram” where the Germans made overtures to place troops in Mexico was the efficient cause of our entry into WWI. Revelations since the end of the “Cold War” suggest that the Russians never really considered attempting to occupy a country full of patriots with Jeeps and guns.
Still, with current weapons “large massed armies” are simply “large targets”.
It is far more likely that potential enemies, such as China or Russia, would attempt to sap our strength and resolve through foreign wars. I wonder who really supports the Taliban and al-qaeda.
The mention of cyber attacks is not to be dismissed.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

Just thinking about my post above. I guess that even I never thought of the NRA as a “Deterrent”.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Russ – We have over a hundred nuclear plants in the U.S. already and they work well. Many European countries rely on nuclear power and use it successfully. It’s not a fantasy – it’s proven. It’s the most environmentally friendly and efficient source of power on planet earth. Every discussion I’ve had with progressives on the subject has ended in being spammed with progressive websites based on cranks, scaremongering, and junk science – the same things you complain about here, so don’t pretend like your RIFuture gang is always on the right side of science. Most of them oppose nuclear power for insanely stupid reasons if you ever bother to survey them.
Wind power requires even larger subsidies and the machines are so inefficient and require so much maintenance it’s barely worth building the things. Wind is the ultimate progressive feel-good project – it’s a joke to everyone I know in the engineering community. Nuclear power is one of the few things it makes sense for government to involve itself in. Why we need government flushing money down the wind toilet is a mystery.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

“We have over a hundred nuclear plants in the U.S. already and they work well.”
I didn’t question if they worked. I questioned whehter they could exist without taxpayer backed liability limits…
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price%E2%80%93Anderson_Nuclear_Industries_Indemnity_Act
Which wind turbines require that?

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

“Well said. Any energy source that requires artificially high prices, government mandates and taxpayer funding (whether tax credits or outright grants) is a complete non-starter.”
You mean like oil, gas, coal, and nuclear?
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2011/0309/Budget-hawks-Does-US-need-to-give-gas-and-oil-companies-41-billion-a-year
These discussions are hilarious.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

Kind of a puzzling inconsistency, isn’t it? Decades of subidies for “retro-fuel” and not a peep. But a fraction of that for renewables and suddenly some on the right find religion. Frankly one has to wonder is this really isn’t reactionary anti-environmentalism.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Russ – Nobody, or at least few, here support general subsidies to industry. Public investment in private companies or industries is bad economics, especially for bogus technologies such as wind and solar which will never be efficient enough in most cases to make economic sense. Nuclear is a special case because of the fundamentally different nature of nuclear accident risks. I don’t think it’s ludicrous or unlibertarian to suggest that government can play a role regulating there or assuming some of the liability. Nuclear technology is so much more efficient and environmental than these alternatives that it makes sense to direct our resources there instead of to these progressive feel-good pipe dreams. It also stands to reason that if we stop subsidizing other forms of energy production, nuclear will need less government involvement to compete.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

“Nobody, or at least few, here support general subsidies to industry.”
I’m sure that’s true of the few actual libertarians on the blog. But the AR contributors only care about subsidies when they promote environmental over corporate concerns. It’s not fiscal conservatism so much as reactionary anti-environmentalism that fuels their ire.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

Interesting to see this today…
“The Trouble With Rust-Bucket Reactors”
http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/10/25/the-trouble-with-rust-bucket-reactors/

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

I don’t know about that, Russ. I think you’re a little quick to condemn. I’m not a fan of the “silence is deafening” argument the RIFuture/union gang likes to use on slow news days, and I prefer to allow people to explain themselves (although I often can’t get a word out of progressives, such as when I ask them what separates a “good” EDC loan from a “bad” one, and I’m still waiting for John Speck or Brian Hull to write that follow-up piece on their support of 38 Studios. Bob Plain promised he’d ask them – oh well).
Just because an issue is not someone’s focus doesn’t mean that they don’t care about it. For example, I don’t talk about sugar quotas and farm subsidies here much, but I think they’re a waste and destructive to the competitive environment. Green energy grants and subsidies are a hot issue right now and the amount of money being doled out under “stimulus” programs is so massive that it’s understandably a focus here. Blogs have to lean where the momentum is.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

“what separates a ‘good’ EDC loan from a ‘bad’ one…”
If there was a sure formula, we’d all just open up our own VC shop. I think I might say due dilligence, which was clearly lacking in the 38 Studios deal. btw, I did write about that althought the post is no longer up. Here’s a quote:
Angus Davis (founder of the Providence start-up Swipely):
“Since all Mass. VCs passed on [the 38 Studios] deal, I guess it’s a great idea for RI taxpayer, right? Meanwhile, state cut Slater VC fund. Dumb.”
“Just because an issue is not someone’s focus doesn’t mean that they don’t care about it.”
I could believe that if they simply ignored the issue. There’s lots of stuff I never write about, but they write about wind all the time (and at least once about ethanol – I did try to see if I was mistaken about this). It’s only if the funding is intended to have an environmental impact.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

“If there was a sure formula, we’d all just open up our own VC shop.”
I’m not asking for a sure formula. I’m asking progressives to articulate specific reasons why they disapprove of the 38 Studios loan ex post. All I’ve gotten so far is a bunch of “Carcieri-Republicans whaarrgarble” so far from the RIFuture gang, or in some cases “the loan was too big,” which isn’t a principled argument against it since it’s functionally equivalent to a large number of smaller loans. I think the “EDC didnt’ do its due diligence” response is an obvious but extremely inadequate and short-sighted view of the problem. To use a Deming-eque example you may be fond of, it’s like saying the large number of defects in product line C is because Operator C didn’t catch them all. I see a much broader issue with this type of attempted central economic planning and public-private financial relationships. Progressives are apparently content to point fingers at specific people and then leave it at that while forging ahead with all the same institutional elements in place. I think that’s destructive.

Max D
Max D
9 years ago

“Kind of a puzzling inconsistency, isn’t it? Decades of subidies for “retro-fuel” and not a peep.”
It’s very troubling that all Russ and his ilk can do is create straw man fallacies to make excuses for their failing progressive agenda.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

“I’m asking progressives to articulate specific reasons why they disapprove of the 38 Studios loan ex post.”
The major objection of progressives like me was that you could fund hundreds of startups for that amount of money. That’s what progressives (and many in the IT/digital media space) were saying at the time. Meanwhile to governor and the GA actually cut funding for those types of loans. As Angus so succinctly said, “dumb.”
The so called support you keep mentioning was written after the deal was done from folks who didn’t even write for RIF back then.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

“It’s very troubling that all Russ and his ilk can do is create straw man fallacies to make excuses for their failing progressive agenda.”
My agenda? I don’t see anything so progressive about Obama’s energy policy except in contrast to the extreme right wing’s head in the sand strategy for dealing with warming. You guys crack me up.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

“The major objection of progressives like me was that you could fund hundreds of startups for that amount of money.” So why was funding one huge investment that the “experts” on the EDC assured us was a sure thing to bring jobs and tax revenue to the state a mistake while gambling the same amount of money on hundreds of extremely high-risk smaller investments would have been a great idea? The vast majority of those smaller loans would have failed anyway. I’m sorry, but this isn’t a principled argument against the 38 Studios loan. It’s just an arbitrary objection to the amount that doesn’t get into any of the fundamental institutional problems that allowed such a bad bet to be made. Are you really saying that you would rather invest $100 in 10 startups with an estimated 10% success rate than $1000 with an estimated 90% success rate? Now you can claim the estimates from the EDC were bad, and I agree with that, but you have no suggestions to correct that problem besides putting “better” (more progressive) people in, which won’t work because all the same perverse incentives are in place. Capco Steel, to name one example of many, is another failed EDC loan that I’m sure progressives such as yourself would have supported but have no principled argument against. What you and the RIFuture gang miss is that this type of central economic planning is fundamentally flawed and inefficient and can have no outcome but what occurred, regardless of whether you are masking the extent of the damage through many smaller loans. “The so called support you keep mentioning was written after the deal was done from folks who didn’t even write for RIF back then.” Qualify all you want, but John Speck and Brian Hull were RIFuture… Read more »

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

“So why was funding one huge investment that the ‘experts’ on the EDC assured us was a sure thing to bring jobs and tax revenue to the state a mistake while gambling the same amount of money on hundreds of extremely high-risk smaller investments would have been a great idea?”
Some startups, some don’t. That’s the whole idea of diversifying a portfolio.
“Are you really saying that you would rather invest $100 in 10 startups with an estimated 10% success rate than $1000 with an estimated 90% success rate?”
You think 38 Studios was 90% assured of success?
As for Capco Steel, you’re right. I don’t have any objection on principle to small loans for existing businesses to upgrade equipment provided their financials are sound and there’s likely a benefit to the local economy.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

“Some startups, some don’t. That’s the whole idea of diversifying a portfolio.”
Russ, I don’t even know where to start with this statement. The analogy fails on multiple levels. As a starting point, this isn’t a private investment portfolio. It’s a public loan program specifically for companies that have been deemed bad bets by the private market and can’t get private funding. They’re not even in the same galaxy from an investment perspective. Few of the traditional reasons for diversifying a private portfolio are relevant here. The purpose of the program is to accelerate the development of companies and create jobs. There is no principled reason for opposing a large-company investment over multiple smaller ones if the researchers are telling you that the larger company has a great likelihood of success. There is nothing inherently wrong with big gambles or small gambles. The real issue here is why this gamble looked attractive to the EDC but turned out to be terrible. In other words, why was there such a disparity between what the EDC believed and the reality?
You and your progressive gang are content to blame specific people (Carcieri, Stokes, etc.) and then forge forward with all the same incentives and institutions in place and keep making loans. Exactly what your personal hero Deming condemns from a quality perspective. What you don’t answer is how simply making the loans smaller in amount will resolve what is clearly an engrained problem with the board itself.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

I’m just not buying the whole “there’s no possible way to invest capital in the public interest” line of bull that’s popular with the fringe-right these days. If we want to review the process the EDC followed that’s fine by me. Perhaps a look at Slater Technology Fund’s process would be a good idea…
http://www.slaterfund.com/about/investment-strategy/
btw, Deming thought most problems were caused by management (“The problem is at the top; management is the problem”). Don’t assume he’d disagree with the idea that Carcieri was at fault.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Every poll, forum, and comments section I’ve seen indicates that the vast majority of Rhode Islanders want these public-private loans stopped and the EDC shut down, so I think it’s a stretch to say that only the “fringe right” is making that recommendation. Literally the only people I’ve ever met who support the EDC are progressives.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

This should give some pause…
“Saudi Arabia reveals plans to be powered entirely by renewable energy”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/oct/19/saudi-arabia-renewable-energy-oil
Meanwhile another report on how renewables are the least expensive…
http://www.dw.de/calculating-the-true-cost-of-electricity/a-16235063

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