Bernie Sanders’s message is more than media caricature portrays
We had a wide ranging discussion here on Atomic Insights after I posted an article titled Bernie Sanders is listening to the wrong people about energy. Quite a few of the comments led me to believe that the author has developed a slanted or one dimensional understanding of Bernie Sanders’s campaign message.
That distorted view might be part of the source of resistance to my theory that Sanders can grow to accept and advocate for accelerated advanced nuclear energy development as an effective tool for implementation of his visions for a future America. I have no illusions that an effort to persuade him to throw off his late 1960s vintage notions about nuclear energy will be easy or quickly accomplished.
However, if you pay close attention to the below clip, you might begin to understand why I think it’s an effort worth a considerable investment in time and resources.
Feel free to disagree and explain your disagreement civilly and with well-supported points.
After all, if you wanted shouting and aggressive argumentation, you could just turn on reality TV or the political equivalent thereof.
Atomic Insights is generously supported by its readers. If you want the thoughts expressed here to propagate, consider contributing.
I guess I didn’t watch closely enough to see any reason why Sanders would reconsider his position on nuclear energy. Perhaps the clip should have been extended so we could have heard communist Angela Davis’ remarks. There’s 10 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.
It’s funny to hear Sanders ranting about the Koch brothers (phony libertarians) while billionaire George Soros is funding not only his primary opponent Hillary Clinton but also Ted Cruz is lumped in with “other billionaires”. I think Bernie realizes that if in the remote chance he does get the nomination, he’ll need ole George’s shekels. Plus George bankrolls many causes that Bernie no doubt supports.
Rod, maybe you can point out what I missed.
@FermiAged are you forgetting the date today and that the esteemed author being referred to has a sense of humour?
Awesome, I forgot too. Bazinga
It was such an effective April Fool’s joke that I’m still not convinced it was not a joke.
Missed it to.
You also lose big time in my opinion when you start attacking private citizens like the Kochs . Private citizens who by the way provide good jobs to many people.
The Koch’s are very active in political causes even if they try to keep their involvement obscure. They are fair game for criticism. If they don’t like it, they can put their checkbooks away and limit their participation to the confines of the voting booth.
Don’t like it either way. Soros or Koch.
But in the “reasons I’m not voting for Bernie” category I think this is quite a ways down the list.
You really feel that way? That is, you can go after any private citizen simply because they provide financial support for a candidate? I guess a lot of us would be in the crosshairs, then. Some of us provide financial support to Atomic Insights. If nuclear falls even more out of favor than it is now, can people come after us for providing support for a supportive viewpoint on an unpopular issue? That would definitely have a chilling effect on participatory democracy. If you go after people for providing financial support, its isn’t too far a step to going after them for public expression, or written words, or maybe even how they vote in the so-called privacy of the voting booth.
Of course they can, because you are committing a clear micro-aggression. How dare you pull someone out of his, her, its (whatever) safe space!
Welcome to the twenty-first century — coming from a university or college near you!
Do you recall what Citizen’s United is about? It’s not about private citizens providing financial support to candidates. Heck, even my 90-year old mom provides financial support to candidates. (Provided those candidates are Bernie Sanders.) No. What Citizen’s United is about is the ability, granted by the Supreme Court of these United States when it overturned the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act in Citizen’s United vs FEC, for any individual to contribute unlimited amounts to dark money “unaffiliated” Political Action Committees, said PACs then free to spend such funds in just about any way they deem fit to support any candidate in any way they deem fit — not necessarily honestly — without any disclosure about who actually supplied that money.
Call it A Free Market in Political Speech.
Media messaging sways votes. Money buys media messaging. Money buys votes. More money buys more votes. There are restrictions to the number of votes any particular person can buy through an “affiliated” PAC — something like $5,000 worth. Not so with dark-money unaffiliated PACs.
And I want to know who is trying to buy my vote, and the votes of my fellow citizens.
George Soros? Tom Steyer? Hardly ideal. But at least they have the decency and guts to stand up and say who they are and who they are supporting and why.
I don’t need to support Bernie Sanders to oppose Citizen’s United and all it stands for. But I sure don’t hold it against him.
I was addressing poster FermiAged’s comment, which made no mention of Citizens United, but seemed to be targeted at private citizens making donations. It doesn’t seem right to me to go after private citizens simply because they choose to spend their money in a particular way in the political arena. And spare me the “Ummm”s and sarcastic question marks. AI has always been a site where people avoided personal slights, so we don’t need that kind of thing in here.
Point taken, and my apologies. However, Rod’s article is about Bernie Sanders, and an important part of Bernie Sanders is his opposition (shared by Hillary Clinton) to Citizen’s United. Which in turns goes to the heart, not of whether a person can or should support unpopular issues, anonymously or otherwise, but how much of their own and other people’s money they can spend to support them.
The “other people’s money” part is central, as if the anonymous “person” monetarily supporting that issue — popular or not — is in fact a corporation or union, then that “person” e.g. the corporate CEO and/or board either through the company itself or via his or their own high salaries — is in fact speaking for employees, stockholders, or due-paying union members without their knowledge or consent. And that’s the sort of “protected personal speech” — the dark money sort — that McCain-Feingold sought to limit.
You are of course, free to disagree, anonymously if you choose.
That is, you can go after any private citizen simply because they provide financial support for a candidate?
I think FermiAged said “They are fair game for criticism.” He did not say “go after.”
People have the right to support candidates and causes, just like they have the protected right to express themselves in other ways. Neither of those rights intrudes upon the rights of others to disagree with their candidates and causes or the right to criticize the thoughts and actions of others.
I’m concerned about the continued influence on our energy choices from another group of brothers who inherited an oil fortune. The Rockefeller brothers (John D.’s grandchildren) and their associates funded a great deal of antinuclear activity, including some effectively promoted, slanted “science” that still inhibits progress. Only one of those five brothers remain alive today, and I think he is close to 100 years old.
I have not read all of the legal documents associated with Citizens United, only what has been offered in the popular media. I understand the conflict inherent in the political system wherein groups of people (corporations) are viewed the same as individuals. Some of the legal reasoning, as much as I have read, seemed tortured at best, but the courts have done that before. I also understand the concern about the corrosive effect of big money donations to the political process. Trouble is, who draws the line and how do they do it. My concern is with targeting private citizen donors for “criticism” simply because they choose to exercise their choice in a way that others may disagree with and therefore take unfair action against on that basis.
In theory, criticism is not the same as “going after”, but I have seen some pretty vicious “criticism” thrown about against persons and groups with the goal not of offering a logical and/or factual basis of an alternate view or opinion, but simply to marginalize, ostracize, and denigrate the person or group. Saul Alinsky and his followers were notorious for that, although they are not alone in its practice or approval. It is a small step from valid, logical, dispassionate criticism to vindictive, personal, scurrilous attacks dressed up as criticism. And I don’t think it behooves us to criticize others for choosing to spend their money in a legal manner, even if we disagree with their choice(s).
Criticism isn’t the same as attacking.
People who have increased the size of the already enormous “natural resource” fortunes they inherited by accident of birth are not necessarily as admirable as those who added to the world’s prosperity through invention of new products and services or ways to deliver those to a larger base of customers.
Receiving an inheritance is irrelevant as far as admirability goes
You don’t choose your parents
Admirability is based on your actions
I just don’t see how increasing the size of a natural resources fortune that was handed to you qualifies as an admirable action.
So you don’t plan on willing your estate to your kids.
The Koch brothers epitomize the kind of influence peddling entities that are destroying our political process. Policies, and politicians are simply bought. It is a problem across the board, and with both sides of the aisle. Soros, Adelson, the Koch brothers……these players put their own interests, and the interests of their global cronies, above the interests of our nation. Until we remove our leaders from the deep pockets of those such as the Kochs, this nation will continue its downward slide.
I guess I didn’t watch closely enough to see any reason why Sanders would reconsider his position on nuclear energy.
I think you might have read the following in a way that is understandable, but is not the way I intended.
I have no illusions that an effort to persuade him to throw off his late 1960s vintage notions about nuclear energy will be easy or quickly accomplished.
However, if you pay close attention to the below clip, you might begin to understand why I think it’s an effort worth a considerable investment in time and resources.
I also don’t see anything in the clip that specifically gives me any hints that he might be willing to reconsider. What I see in the clip are numerous reasons why his election would be good for what currently ails the United States of America.
My judgement about the benefits of having him succeed is what makes me believe that it’s a worthwhile investment of my time and resources to work on finding a way to convince him that nuclear energy is a valuable tool.
For those of you who were speculating, this belief is sincere and has nothing to do with today’s date.
Citizens United was the correct decision
Corporations unions chamber of commerce NEI or any group of folks with a common interest should be able to band together and fund a political cause.
Just because you firm a group doesn’t mean your free speech rights vanish
Do you agree with the part about funding causes anonymously?
Rod – If the “cause” is simply to express one’s opinion on a political matter — and not to endorse a particular candidate or party — I should remind you that the Federalist Papers were published using the pseudonym “Publius.” That is, they were published anonymously. (BTW, the “Anti-Federalist papers” were published the same way — using pseudonyms — and we’re still not absolutely sure of who wrote some of them.)
The United States has a long tradition of not limiting Free Speech, especially political speech, even when the author of that speech is unknown. I would hate to see this tradition end simply because one political party or candidate finds it to be particularly inconvenient at this point in time.
Yes, restricting speech benefits incumbents i.e. Those in power now
Anonymity protects individuals from retribution
We’ve already seen the IRS target political speech
Please do not use symbolic media events like the reviews of a few non-profit organization applications to attempt to justify a position that appears to have no limits or nuances.
As far as I am concerned, one of the biggest challenges our country faces is the absurdly large segment of the economy that escapes taxation by declaring its purpose to be charitable, religious or educational.
So Lois Lerner resigned and claimed the fifth because of a symbolic media event?
You buy that?
Lots of hard drive failures in the IRS also when information was requested
Or maybe this is your April fools
Absolutely. The whole scenario was a media and political showcase that distracted many people from events of real importance like our rather horrifying actions that have continued in the Middle East since at least 2003.
The government IT failures that really concern me are things like the loss of access control for the OPM database that contained all of the information about my personal life — and the personal lives of about 20 million other former security clearance background check applicants AND their families — that anyone could want to know.
So Lerner resigns claims the fifth retires and the DOJ does nothing
Nothing smells to you
The media didn’t make her resign or take the fifth
If it was all a fabrication why take the fifth
The whole hullabaloo was uninteresting to me once I heard the complaint.
The 5th amendment of the US Constitution is just as important as any of the other ten amendments that make up the bill of rights. Taking the fifth is not an admission of guilt.
Resignation from a stressful is not a big sacrifice. I’ve done it several times, even from jobs in which I wasn’t yet eligible to retire.
Pleading the fifth means you cannot answer the question because it may incriminate you
Key word is incriminate. It’s pretty specific. If there is nothing wrong there is no reason for the fifth.
So why did she resign? Do you remember the leak?
Probably not since it was just a hullabaloo
Your responses are definitely symbolic
So your theory is that the Republicans staged this as a distraction to the Middle East
Please expand on that
Jim – No, the key word is “may.”
If you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent. I strongly recommend that you take it (and this right is available to you even before you are actually arrested) until you have spoken to a lawyer — even if you are absolutely positive that you have done nothing wrong.
Pleading the Fifth certainly looks bad, but it is no guarantee that someone has done something wrong. That still needs to be determined through a trial involving other evidence.
Which has nothing to do with the fifth
You don’t have to talk to the police
But if supeonaed you have to answer in court
You can’t be be silent
That would’ be contempt
Pleading the fifth means you can’t answer a question because if you do you will incriminate yourself
It does mean you’ve done something wrong
It just means it’s up to the state to prove it
You don’t have to incriminate yourself
I’m astonished I have to explain this
I’m astonished that you have no understanding that the Miranda Rights made so famous on TV cop shows are directly descended from the Fifth Amendment.
Interrogation, whether by police or legislators, is often a fishing expedition designed to ask enough questions and get enough responses to find something that can be prosecuted. The framers of the Constitution recognized the power of governments to compel people to say things that could result in conviction even if those things turned out to be false.
Taking the Fifth is not an admission of guilt; it is a recognition that silence is a proper defense against excessive state power to manipulate outcomes.
Jim – Being subpoenaed just means that you’ve been summoned to speak in court. It does not mean that you have been summoned to an inquisition.
Pleading the fifth is not an admission that you have done something wrong or that you even think that you have done something wrong. Taking Fifth Amendment privileges is possible and advisable even if you reasonably suspect there’s a possibility that any part of the testimony given could have criminal legal repercussions for yourself — even if you firmly believe that you have done nothing wrong. This could be even for something that is tangential to the main purpose of the testimony, as long as you reasonably believe that it will come up.
It is not difficult at all to imagine a situation in which this might be the case. Just because some criminals plead the fifth, that does not mean that everyone who uses the fifth amendment to avoid testimony or interrogation is a criminal.
It seems Doyle has the same depth of understanding about our legal processes as he has about free speech.
Why should free speech be limited and of what benefit is a nuanced position?
I think there is some abuse of nonprofit status I agree
I think the biggest abusers are large hospitals and health systems. The local church not so much
To tout Citizens United as a free speech issue is so remarkably removed from reality that it could only be so touted by someone completely and utterly ignorant of what a nation TRULY RUN BY THE PEOPLE looks like.
That comment was dangerously close to tripping my unpredictable delete button. Please refrain from shouting and from calling others ignorant. You might also want to tone down the adjectives.
“We’ve already seen the IRS target political speech”
What you have actually “seen” is right wing media, in league with right wing politicians, make an accusation. Those such as yourself, that present dubious indictments as actual convictions are the target audience for political propaganda. They love ya.
It was over attempting to block a negative movie about Hillary
Yep no free speech there
@ Jim Doyle
Citizens United was not about Hillary Clinton. It was, initially, about Citizens United — a dark-money unaffiliated PAC — airing a negative attack movie about Hillary Clinton within the 60-day limit before a federal election clearly prohibited by the McCain-Feingold Act.
Citizens United challenged the constitutionality of that 60-day limit.
In probably the most sweeping legislation-from-the-bench in modern history (see, I can do it too) the Supreme Court tossed not just the 60-day limit, but gutted much of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Finance Act along with it. From Wikipedia’s article, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act was written to (among other things) address:
* The increased role of soft money in campaign financing, by prohibiting national political party committees from raising or spending any funds not subject to federal limits, even for state and local races or issue discussion.
* The proliferation of issue advocacy ads, by defining as “electioneering communications” broadcast ads that name a federal candidate within 30 days of a primary or caucus or 60 days of a general election, and prohibiting any such ad paid for by a corporation (including non-profit issue organizations such as Right to Life or the Environmental Defense Fund) or paid for by an unincorporated entity using any corporate or union general treasury funds. The decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission overturns this provision, but not the ban on foreign corporations or foreign nationals in decisions regarding political spending.
“In March 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Citizens United regarding whether or not a political documentary (about Hillary Clinton) could be considered a political ad. In January 2010, the Supreme Court struck sections of McCain-Feingold down which limited activity of corporations, saying, “If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.” Specifically, Citizens United struck down campaign financing laws related to corporations and unions; law previously banned the broadcast, cable or satellite transmission of “electioneering communications” paid for by corporations in the 30 days before a presidential primary and in the 60 days before the general election. The ruling did not, as commonly thought, change the amount of money corporations and unions can contribute to campaigns. The minority said the court was making a mistake treating the voices of corporations as similar to those of people.”
Citizens United was not about a person’s free speech or a person’s right to verbally attack Hillary Clinton within bounds of libel law, which is mostly meaningless for public figures. Hillary is a big girl and can take care of herself. Citizens United was about personhood — what constitutes a person for the purposes of political speech. It is not as simple a question as perhaps it might be. But McCain-Feingold passed with very strong bipartisan support:
“McCain’s 2000 campaign for president and a series of scandals (including the Enron scandal) brought the issue of campaign finance to the fore of public consciousness in 2001. McCain and Feingold pushed the bill in the Senate, while Chris Shays (R-CT) and Marty Meehan (D-MA) led the effort to pass the bill in the House. In just the second successful use of the discharge petition since the 1980s, a mixture of Democrats and Republicans defied Speaker Dennis Hastert and passed a campaign finance reform bill. The House approved the bill on 240-189 vote, sending the bill to the Senate. The bill passed the Senate in a 60-40 vote, the bare minimum required to overcome the filibuster. Throughout the Congressional battle on the bill, President Bush declined to take a strong position, but Bush signed the law in March 2002 after it cleared both houses of Congress.”
These are selected excerpts, the above-linked Wikipedia article is well worth reading.
Actually, it was about airing the movie on “on-demand cable” less than 30 days before the first primaries.
Nonsense, Ed. True, neither the case nor the decision was about libel law, but the decision was entirely about free speech. Instead of Wikipedia or whatever other websites you got this stuff from, why don’t you try reading the decision itself sometime? If you did, you would see how many times “free speech,” the “chilling of speech,” and First Amendment protections are discussed.
For example, the court dismissed Citizens United’s (CU’s) attempt to get around the act’s restrictions through narrow arguments bordering on technicalities, such as the number of people who would hypothetically have seen the film. The court wrote:
“As the foregoing analysis confirms, the Court cannot resolve this case on a narrower ground without chilling political speech, speech that is central to the meaning and purpose of the First Amendment.”
The court decided that it had to go further because of the First Amendment.
No. That is entirely false. The concept that corporations have the right to freedom of speech, including political speech, had been well established long before the CU decision. As Justice Kennedy wrote:
“The Court has recognized that First Amendment protection extends to corporations.”
He then goes on to cite about 20 decisions to support this statement, finishing with,
“… political speech does not lose First Amendment protection ‘simply because its source is a corporation.'”
At its essence, Citizens United merely recognizes that Americans do not lose their right to free speech simply because they have chosen to come together into a group. Justice Kennedy notes that
“If §441b applied to individuals, no one would believe that it is merely a time, place, or manner restriction on speech. Its purpose and effect are to silence entities whose voices the Government deems to be suspect.”
In another part of the decision, he says,
“If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech. If the antidistortion rationale were to be accepted, however, it would permit Government to ban political speech simply because the speaker is an association that has taken on the corporate form.”
Laws are not allowed to curtail the First Amendment simply because they are popular.
I know when under testimony it’s always best to plead the fifth even if you’ve done nothing wrong
I’m afraid I must agree with Brian Mays here. When under testimony it’s always best to have direct eye contact with your lawyer and get his nod before answering. If he gives it, then answer truthfully. If he objects to the question — which is why the contact — listen for the judge to rule whether the question is allowable.
Anything you say under testimony must be truthful. What you don’t say does not.
But before testimony, before trial, before sworn depositions, when the police or prosecutor’s office comes around for a “fiendly chat”, unless you are witness to a possible crime committed by someone completely unrelated, Brian is right — do not say anything except in the presence of a lawyer. You have no clue what the agenda of these folks is. Justice may or may not be part of it. And they are professionals at hiding it if it ain’t.
In the court of public opinion, the Fifth Amendment is there to protect you from crimes you committed.
Before the Courts and the Constitution, it is there to protect you from crimes you did not.
I’m not a lawyer. Non of us here are. But should anyone have any questions about this, please consult a defense attorney. It may keep you from needing one.
I’m not a lawyer. Non of us here are.
Not true. I’m aware of at least a half a dozen attorneys that frequent this site. At least one of them comments regularly.
Thanks Rod, and my apologies. I’ll stand by my rant until corrected by one of them.
I think that it’s always safe to give “legal” advice consisting solely of “talk to a lawyer before doing anything else.”
Rod- We are clearly a politically diverse group – I lean left, and clearly many here lean right – but we all (ok most of us) want something better when it comes to US energy policy. I admire your willingness to wade into the political arena, because it obviously lights up everybody’s amygdilas…
I am not as sanguine as you about the possibility of Bernie evolving his position on nuclear power. I agree that he seems intellectually curious and solution-oriented enough to get there…in a vacuum. But if elected I suspect he’d feel beholden to the dead-ender-green activist ignoramuses, and would not be willing to act in a way that offended them. As you say, he listens to the wrong people. I doubt that will change.
Pretty good summary. Bernie Sanders will be 75 years old in September. That is a long time and someone that age is pretty much set in their ways (a generalization, I know, but it is often true). Ever since leaving Brooklyn and moving to Vermont, Bernie has done politics and little else, starting with mayor of Burlington, then the US House, and then the Senate, 35 years in total. Bernie Sanders didn’t get where he is today by being pro-nuclear. He felt no remorse or regret about throwing the VY employees out in the cold when it suited his political aspirations. When push comes to shove, Bernie is going to dance with who brung him.
” We are talking about the real issues and we are telling the truth: – Bernie Sanders
Well – If this is true. The facts point to using nuclear power as a solution to global warming The top dog experts on global warming tell us that this is the truth.
I’ll betcha that if Eugene V. Debs was still around he would go for nukes. Nukes are for the betterment of mankind.
I’d really like to see the campaign for Bernie give a response to Mr. Adams. Can they stoop to this level? It might give some votes from the cheese head state.
Addendum to my comment above. Just more general facts in a link.
When it comes to presidential candidates the burden of irrelevance is carried by all. A great many ‘issues’ brought up in campaigns are non-issues. I look at the Office of the President and what has been shown to be within its purview and influence, and chuck the rest. This clears the field. For example, Trump would never get his ‘wall’ because Congress would never fund it. So forget about the ‘wall’, we’re talking about enforcing laws on the books. The candidates’ sexcapades hold less than zero interest. No candidate’s stand on Roe vs. Wade matters in the slightest, as Obama’s Supreme Court nominee is likely to be confirmed. And a few other angles but my point is, once you lose the noise the choice is simpler than it seems.
I place Energy and Sanity very high on my list of criteria. As Obama has demonstrated in his machinations of federal subsidy and the EPA, the President has a very direct influence on the energy mix — and by extension, the part of our deteriorating economy that most threatens domestic manufacture and consumer utility costs.
No single thing — not even war or the mere ‘threat’ of nuclear war — has threatened our modern American industrial society as deeply and as seriously as this thirty years’ push to marginalize and destroy nuclear energy while promoting intermittent energy sources. Nothing.
Imagine a hypothetical time-line since 1979 (Three Mile Island) with no fear and hysteria… in which the accident had a rational response similar one in all previous ages, lessons learned quickly and (in this example) commercial nuclear power continued with an abundance of applied research and development, full investor confidence, and an active renaissance of ideas that had been shelved unfairly such as Weinberg’s LFTR. In short, things of estimable value the US could export to the world, things that reduced personal and corporate cost of living for everyone in the USA and changed the game. Before the Keynsian economists outsourced manufacturing, before we began to purchase fish from China and gave away our rods and reels. By now we’d have plenty of carbon-neutral base load, a more resilient grid, and real electric cars, not these abominations that run on coal and natural gas inefficiently converted to electricity.
I sympathize with the sentiment that Bernie Sanders is somehow fungible in his position on nuclear energy and would be open to reason, which in part reflects the noblest attribute of good people, to try and negotiate a way through confusing times. But let me say this, good people: it will not work. Wishful thinking. We have gone past the time where a little open debate here or there will matter. Sanders has drawn the fervent anti-nukes away from Hillary and even the GOP by his decisive remarks, that support is currency to him, and he would cherish it more than any industry overture. He will never tell Vermont that it was a bad idea to close Yankee. He honestly believes that windmills and solar panels could power America.
And so… Bernie Sanders fails on both Energy and Sanity. There is no wiggle room where Sanity is concerned. And sad to say, his anti-nuke followers comprise some two succeeding generations whose ‘sanity’ is also in question. We need to find a way to work around these people, not with them. There is no conciliatory remedy for this phenomenon. These people must be actively opposed and openly ridiculed when they step in the way.
I’ll close with an excerpt from remarks I made recently on Slashdot. Anything on raising children (ironically) also applies to choosing Presidential candidates,
“It is no longer enough to just raise children without an irrational fear of nuclear energy. They must become aware at a young age that there is a silent war on and they must, in order to ensure the continued survival of modern civilization, begin to oppose and publicly ridicule those who exhibit this fear. This may range from a gentle instruction and chiding of those who express misgivings honestly and openly, to a direct and aggressive attack on the greatest sources of danger in our time — those who deliberately cloak their anti-nuclear sentiment in Byzantine ways that serve to derail debate and parry the subject to other ‘alternative’ approaches. In other words, this is an existential threat.”
My view of the situation is that a large chunk of Bernie’s fervent followers have open minds about the use of nuclear energy as a tool for fighting climate change and improving human prosperity.
The fervent antinukes are, in my experience, even more concentrated in the grayer parts of the population that nuclear energy professionals. I’ve talked to numerous people in the 18-35 age group in the past few months. That group includes a high portion of people who like the messages that Bernie is delivering. They also like the messages that I am providing about nuclear energy. They see it as a way to avoid fatalism and despair about climate change and about their future economic freedoms like driving cars, operating pleasure craft, living in spacious homes, enjoying backyard swimming pools, making cool products with their 3D printers, building ever more sophisticated apps dependent on massive databases, traveling the world, etc.
Those who believe in reducing their personal consumption to fit within the capabilities of the wind and sun are few and far between. Bernie was in a bubble in Vermont; he has decided to leave that bubble. The messages that worked there will not work if he wants to achieve his current goals. I have chosen to believe that he wants to achieve what he says he wants to achieve and that his drive for mission accomplishment will enable him to listen to someone offering powerful tools. It’s April and time is short, but it’s not too late.
There is one thought that really excites me; there are few evangelists more passionate and more effective than those who are converted from a formerly held position. Ex-smokers, ex-drinkers, and even ex-fundamental Christians are examples to consider.
Thanks kindly, you give me hope for the young. That is exactly what they need, the type of outreach you are providing. What has really been missing these days has naught to do with nuclear energy specifically… it is exposure to people such as yourself who cherish modern infrastructure and are prepared to explain how it works and how awesome it is.
Consider the modern poisons to which they have been exposed. From a quaint but earnest style of narration in those mid-20th century documentaries heralding the ‘triumphs of man’, emphasis on infrastructure has faded into the background. Today for every documentary that explains how things work there are a dozen on dreamland tech that is decades away from practical use, which is nice, but in order to hold attention they tend to mislead the viewer into thinking these things are ‘just around the corner’ and we can afford to wait. A whole gigawatt-century of reliable nuclear electricity under the belt is scarcely worth mentioning as we are off again to re-play the final minutes and hours of Chernobyl and Fukushima, and it’s time to show the Trinity blast again and hear that Oppenheimer quote even he’d be sick of hearing by now. Then there’s the intermittent source scam taken in by young and old alike, whole hours where they show wind turbines that won’t last 10 years, solar panels that require armies to clean, filling and emptying the Great Lakes for energy storage, and leave out the simple math that would expose the whole idea as ludicrous. They never do the math. No one does.
Then there is the carbon/CO2 bit. No matter the actual risk — the modern documentary has taken it upon itself to saddle the young with guilt for everything we have achieved to provide a comfortable existence free of hunger and disease. It’s so over the top as to be obscene. Nothing is a work in progress any more, a problem to solve, a secret to unlock. We’ve done bad things and we just have to stop. The only way out is to make do with less.
I’ve spent time on forums where the obviously-young are the most persistent trolls and drop one-liner Fukushima snipes that resemble jokes… in response to anything positive about nuclear energy longer than a paragraph. No real context and seldom any follow through, pretty robot-like. The geriatric anti-nukes are there too and their tactic is even more lazy, pasting the same fluff from enenews dot com about ocean plumes of death and Arne Gunderson fear-scenarios where everything is inexplicably on fire and melting, from years ago that (of course) never came to pass. Some don’t even realize that Fukushima 4’s fuel transfer is complete and if you point it out you get a response without… comprehension, and you know they’ll paste it somewhere else, again.
But I have to say… in the past year I’ve seen an increase of pro-nuclear sentiment, at times even a positive tide. More shout-downs of insipid remarks, more engagement. What ever you’re doing… it’s working. Good news! Things may be getting worse at a slower rate.
“Every time mankind has been able to access a new source of energy it has led to profound societal implications. Human beings had slaves for thousands and thousands of years, and when we learned how to make carbon our slave instead of other human beings, we started to learn how to be civilized people. Thorium has a million times the energy density of a cabon-hydrogen bond. What could that mean for human civilization? Because we’re not going to run out of this stuff. We will never run out. It is simply too common.”
~Kirk Sorensen, Thorium Remix
@HocusLocus April 1, 2016 at 10:29 PM
“Imagine a hypothetical time-line since 1979 (Three Mile Island) with no fear and hysteria… in which the accident had a rational response….”
If you want to change the course of history today, you have to acknowledge the historical problem from the past, with the truth, with the same level of national press coverage that caused the problem. This has never been done, which leads me to believe the people in a position to do so have a reason to not want to do so.
The truth is TMI2 is actually 2 different events. One is the Industrial Accident which caused the loss of the plant asset, but no measurable harm to the health or safety of the public. The other is the public perception of that Industrial Accident caused by the National Media Event. The Media Event is what created all the “fear and hysteria”, and greatly influenced a negative attitude about nuclear power that still hangs on today.
What is more powerful than “The world has never known a day quite like today… as it faces the possibility of a nuclear nightmare.” (In prime time, by the “most trusted news source in America”) One hundred thousand people ran for their lives. What caused it? NRC “expert’s” blunders being fed to the press as truth.
Who’s response was irrational? Is there a common denominator here? Why is the NASA response to the Apollo 13 event considered a monumental success story of man’s ability to solve an unanticipated messy problem in real time, while the TMI2 Industrial Accident is considered a dismal failure by the “Nuclear Industry”? The bottom line outcomes of both events are not really that different. Faced with a messy problem in both events, both teams carefully worked though the problems to a successful outcome.
The difference is the fear factor. In the TMI2 event who caused and escalated the fear?
Though your question wasn’t directed at me, the answer is the relatively clueless Nuclear Regulatory Commission that had been stripped of its technical expertise and left with only its legalistic compliance arm by the destruction of the Atomic Energy Commission.
The decision to split up the AEC and send the technical folks adrift into the ERDA and later the DOE was led by – you guessed it – the president whose political base centered in the southern California oil and natural gas fields.
That’s Richard M. Nixon, for those of you who might have forgotten who was President during the era when the AEC and the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy were systematically discredited and an administration reorganization plan dating to before the initial 1968 election was implemented.
The actual commissioners in office during TMI included two that later became professional antinuclear activists, Peter Bradford and Victor Gilinsky. Both of those gentlemen had expressed their distrust of the industry long before being appointed to office and have pursued their careers in opposition until the present time.
Your comparison of TMI to Apollo 13 is some powerful mojo — I’ll ponder that and try to build it into an essay some day. It is almost like the first few moments of the ‘fight or flight’ instinct. Both A13 and TMI were mission fails but stellar engineering successes. Astronauts returned safely, containment held. But while the public stood behind NASA’s decision to ‘fight’ and return to space and the moon… they ‘fled’ from TMI.
I believe what helped to push TMI over the edge into a full-fear media event was that movie, great movie! — China Syndrome. Riveting, terrifying and retroactively prescient, It had opened twelve days earlier and was still playing in theaters. I’d love to see the film’s box office take down to the day for this time period but no luck so far. Eric Snider wrote a piece recalling how the actors strove to minimize the connection and refrain from comment in order not to appear to be capitalizing on the disaster… with the notable exception of Jane Fonda, who launched into full-offensive against nuclear energy and rode that wave. I explore the general historical timeline of US nuclear fear in this brief essay.
One might go to the “More” tab at the top of this page, select “Archives”, then punch “TMI” into the search bar…
Come on guys…you are really wondering why people don’t see TMI as analagous to Apollo XIII?
The ‘risk’ of Apollo XIII was that 3 people would die in space. At no point in that drama did any of the billions following along feel one bit of personal risk. If Apollo XIII had threatened to crash back to Earth and (through some unknown mechanism) spread death and destruction over a good chunk of the Eastern Seaboard,the mob would have demanded the immediate shuttering of the space program.
I would assert that the public accepts a high level of ‘risk’ (to others) when it comes to space flight and exploration. They are NOT willing to accept a high level of risk when it comes to electricity generation.
Hocus – go back and listen to the Atomic Show episode Rod did with Peter Sandman (of ‘managing outrage’ fame)…part of his research says: you don’t get anywhere with peoples’ perceptions if you don’t admit to your own failures. And you can’t cure irrationality by bludgeoning people with stats and facts. Your description/prescription (nuclear industry performed great! media made it into a mess!) sounds a little too much like ‘blame everyone else for our problems’. and that doesn’t seem productive to me.
Hope may spring eternal within the human breast, but sometimes the heart attack takes place nonetheless.
Looks like Bernie is putting votes over an obvious reality. Clean safe power for New York is getting a black eye.
To toss away a budding technology that could help solve some of the world’s greatest problems makes me think of him as a candidate from the middle ages. Maybe he will go after electricity next. We can all sit around by the soft glow of candles and breathe incense.
Too bad – I like some of his ideas.
I am coming into this discussion late but here goes —-
I am happy that !Jeb! dropped out of the race. I detest hereditary candidates. I detest Hillary Clinton as much as I detest !Jeb!
I don’t like Cruz.
I was against the Iraq War from the beginning going back to 2004-2007. Trump is absolutely correct in his position against the Iraq War.
Sanders was against the Iraq War also.
I believe that the only way to reach Bernie Sanders on the nuclear energy issue is to school him on the lives of the pioneer nuclear scientists, most of whom were anti-monarchists (Marie Curie) or anti-fascists (a huge roster including Einstein, Fermi, Szilard, Meitner etc.). This requires a bunch of re-reading of history that happened prior to 1950.
Unfortunately I am afraid that there is too much support behind the anti-nuclear interests of the “cultural left” (sometimes called “cultural Marxists”) that sprang from the 1960s New Left.
If Sanders were to open his heart and mind to nuclear energy, I would be delighted.
Still on the fence.
Sen. Sanders has to work harder on the energy issue to pull me away from my currently marginal support of Mr. Trump.
Ruth, I am not a Marxist, but I regard non-linienist, non-Stalinists Marxist as prp-science humanists who are not ideologically opposed to Nuclear Power. The anti-nuclear power “left” follows the Roman Catholic distributionist tradition, and thus should be viewed as a reactionary conservitive movement that wants to destroy industrial and post industrial civilization, and return to the soil and small business, without trade. Nuclear power is required if we are to have a carbon free, industrial or post industrial civilization. Wind and solar will produce energy poverty, and the Greens know it.
I looked up the RC distributionism (distributism) thing, and the only thing in common with the anti-nuclear Left is E.P. Schumacher of “small is beautiful” fame.
RC distributism seems to have much more to do with the sort of nominal guild small commerce that one sees in Central America and northern South America, and in Hispanic neighborhoods in the US, than with movements like the German Greens or US antinukes.
I personally believe that Latin American countries do MUCH better with large numbers of small family-run businesses than they do either under socialist (Chavez in Venezuela) or foreign corporate (globalist) domination. I am aware of the historical connection between the Catholic Church, the guild system, and the favorable mindset toward small family-owned businesses.
The people in these countries believe that everyone has a right to earn a living. (I do too). In fact, that is why street vending is permitted. A guy hopping on a bus to sell candy or gum can be a little bit annoying, but people realize that he’s unemployed and is just trying to make it between jobs.
This, however, is off-topic here, because the countries I am talking about (Ecuador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Peru, Colombia etc.) don’t have nuclear energy except in medical and hospital applications. Well, yeah I guess they have K-40 in bananas and NORM in rocks and soil…. 🙂
Recent Comments from our Readers
The Clinton Nuclear Plant also in Illinois was shutdown essentially for almost 2 years before it was taken over by…
Good Podcast – Very informative One thing that was not discussed is how to deal with a particular fear that…
Renewables people are masters in marketing. Unreliable intermittent generators whose output is all over the place, and usually badly correlated…
Looking at their lineup, Westinghouse seems bound and determined to keep Gen IV in its “place” which is apparently the…
So they are developing a scaled down version of the AP1000, which is a scaled up version of the AP600,…