Robert Gibbs’ Twitter Account: Lost Opportunities


Robert Gibbs twn Screen shot 2010-02-16 at 10.45.10 AM.png
Jim Pinkerton sent a clip from White House spokesman Robert Gibb’s Twitter Account to me today stating:

Imagine how the political climate would look today if Obama had spent the last year announcing these kinds of projects.

Couldn’t agree more.

— Steve Clemons


26 comments on “Robert Gibbs’ Twitter Account: Lost Opportunities

  1. Enrique T says:

    I can agree to the comments posted above, you really have to approach this matter on a different angle.


  2. jim kartek says:

    I think there’s much more in the way of alternative energy is not getting a promotion. Why China is leading in the construction of solar panels rather than a regional production and distribution sector in the U.S.?


  3. Ross Sharp (Brisbane, Australia) says:

    Dan Kervick – Awesome rant.
    On the same subject of those imbeciles you speak of, former Giuliani speechwriter John Avlon was interviewed on Australian ABC radio yesterday and had some interesting things to say on the subject of wingnuts.
    There’s a podcast available as well as the transcript.


  4. David says:

    Damned interesting “rant,” Dan. Makes considerable sense to me.
    You’re a fellow Floridian, WigWag. Yeah, loved the nuclear power rate increase, scrapping of that plant. I’m Florida Power, or as it is now called since it belongs to a North Carolina company, Progress Energy. Think that nuke is still in the works, but will check.
    Could support nuke energy research and the building of a small, new generation nuke plant, although none of the problems of the past have been addressed, and I fear s.s.,d.d. (different decade). We went active with huge, primitive reactors and the sham that nuke waste problem would solve itself. And we built the damned things in the worst possible places. Build a state of the art national grid, and then build a prototype reactor somewhere that it is not a threat to urban populations.
    Far too many of my fellow southerners, of course, believe it can’t hurt them, so long as they are in their four-wheel drive bad boy trucks and protected by the god who looks over the aggressively ignorant (which most certainly does not describe all southerners in pick-up trucks).
    When I was in junior high school, we were taught that nuclear power would generate such cheap electricity that there would be no need to meter its usage.
    And pork is a minor problem, kind of like eating a slice of bacon for breakfast will not make or break a daily diet. Eating bacon all day long will. And corruption is secondary. Misguided ideology and subservience to corporate special interests are the problems.


  5. DonS says:

    Don’t blame the technology, Nadine. Projects must be planned well and the services viable. Pork is pork. Nothing new there.


  6. MarkL says:

    I don’t have anything against nuclear power, in principle, but plants are expensive, take a long time to construct and have short life spans.
    Nuclear plants also require huge amounts of water for cooling, which would be a problem in some regions.


  7. WigWag says:

    “Whether nuclear power is the right option or not, I hardly think that government subsidies of important energy and infrastructure solutions is analogous to government subsidies of entertainment in the form of football stadiums. The Romans should be reproached for spending so much money on blood sports and coliseums, but not for building aqueducts and roads all over Europe.” (Dan Kervick)
    True enough, Dan.
    But we are still talking about socializing risk (the risk that construction bonds guaranteed by the United States government will not be repaid) and privatizing profit.
    It’s precisely what the government did with the banks in the recent financial crisis.
    Now you could make the argument that investor owned electric utilities operate in a highly regulated environment. But we used to think that the financial industry was “regulated” too. That obviously didn’t work out to well.
    And given the deregulation of the electricity generation business, I can’t help but wonder whether the whole thing will turn into an enormous boondoggle.
    But thanks to Obama, I guess we are about to find out.


  8. Dan Kervick says:

    I was in college in Boston from 1977-81, when the Seabrook protests were going on, WigWag. I didn’t follow the debates closely, but it was an omnipresent news story and cultural phenomenon in New England. I was briefly interested in the issue of nuclear power during the late 80’s, and used to know something about the various technical issues surrounding accidents, waste disposal, etc. Unfortuantely, I have forgotten much of what I used to know. I would still prefer that we didn’t have to rely on nuclear power for our energy needs. But we are running out of options given the decadent and ineffective system of governance in this country.
    Looking at it through hindsight, the Clamshell Alliance was only a partial success. They were trying to prevent the construction of the plant, but only (indirectly) prevented the construction of the second reactor. They succeeded in bankrupting PSNH, of course, and were also part of a national movement that succeeded in bringing more citizen input to bear on major construction decisions.
    The problem of the production, storage, transmission and efficient use of energy is a global and national problem calling for design and resource allocation solutions implemented on very large scales. Addressing the problem in the most rational and cost-effective way, with due attention to safety and environmental preservation and repair, will require a substantial degree of national and international coordination and networked governance. It is not the sort of problem toward which we can muddle our way to a solution as the result of local entrepreneurs responding to individual consumer energy needs, any more than we can expect a rational system of roads and transportation systems to emerge from the crazy quilt of neighborhood solutions to local transportation challenges.
    I take it for granted that the necessary projects cannot get done without substantial government subsidies, legislative directives and big-footing. So be it. We desperately need another era of “big government”. My hope is that in this new era of activist governance we find a way to network citizens into active, deliberative and informed participation in the work of self-governance in such a way that the expanded governmental power serves the common good, even as it clears away the dead wood of vested economic interests, parasitical profiteering and obsolete institutions.
    Whether nuclear power is the right option or not, I hardly think that government subsidies of important energy and infrastructure solutions is analogous to government subsidies of entertainment in the form of football stadiums. The Romans should be reproached for spending so much money on blood sports and coliseums, but not for building aqueducts and roads all over Europe.


  9. nadine says:

    DonS, public transit only creates public benefits if it is useful and used. Examples of light rail cars running with almost no riders because the whole thing was sited for political payoffs are many. Nobody is going to ride the 80 line Crist just got because you need a car at both ends and can drive the 80 miles just as quick.


  10. Outraged American says:

    Mossad stealing Identities for its hit squads yet again. Israel is
    her own worst enemy.
    Britons whose identities were stolen by Mossad hit squad
    Terror of innocent Britons named as assassins:
    Read more:
    Israel needs to be relocated on Saturn or Ur-Anus. Then the
    most she could do was attack a passing asteroid, or the universe
    in general as is her wont.


  11. WigWag says:

    “The nuclear plant that people are more worried about now is the Vermont Yankee plant which is on the Connecticut River just over the border, and appears to be leaking low levels of tritium into the ground water.” (Dan Kervick)
    According to Wikipedia, “tritium is dangerous if inhaled or ingested. If combined with oxygen in tritiated water molecules and absorbed through pores in the skin it leads to cell damage and increased chance of cancer.”
    But don’t worry, Dan, tritium only has a half-life of 12 years.
    And to think you can build a nuclear plant for only $6-8 billion; that’s a bargain in anyone’s book; especially if you can get the taxpayer to underwrite the cost.
    More than anything else, it reminds me NFL owners who get taxpayers to pay to build their new stadiums.
    Constructions costs are paid by the taxpayers and by fans who buy tickets. Of course, we know where the profits go.
    Yep, Jim Pinkerton and Steve Clemons are right; Obama should have thought of this months ago.


  12. DonS says:

    Nadine, public transit, light rail or otherwise, rarely makes a profit. It never can in competition with the car. It is a public service, with public benefits. It requires public subsidy, often for operating costs.
    It’s the same stupid argument against health care. American just don’t deserve public benefits improving the quality of life. Profit is all that matters.


  13. WigWag says:

    Actually, Dan, if my memory serves me well, there were actually two reactors planned for the Seabrook site; the first reactor went on-line in 1990 ten years late and billions over budget. The second reactor was never completed largely because of massive demonstrations that took place against constructing the plant. I lived in Worcester, Massachusetts briefly in the early 1970s and I remember well the demonstrations against Seabrook II carried out by the “Clam Shell Alliance.” Thousands occupied the site including quite a few friends of mine. Almost 1500 were arrested. Most of those arrested refused to give their names or accept bail; the town of Seabrook was forced to drop the charges to prevent bankrupting itself through the costs of providing each demonstrator with a trial.
    The overwhelming cost of constructing the second reactor forced the utility building Seabrook, Public Service Company of New Hampshire into Chapter 11; New Hampshire taxpayers and ratepayers ended up footing the bill.
    What happened with Seabrook was not unprecedented. In New York, the Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO) rammed the construction of the Shoreham nuclear reactor down the throats of residents of Suffolk County, New York. The reactor was actually built and finished at a cost of $6 billion ($2.5 billion over budget) but LILCO was never able to create a viable evacuation plan in case of an accident (its only 60 miles from New York City). The plant never produced one kilowatt of electricity. Before going on-line it was shuttered and then decommissioned and torn down at a cost of an additional $1 billion. The utility that built it, LILCO was forced into bankruptcy; as in New Hampshire, New York taxpayers and ratepayers ended up paying the bill for a plant that they never wanted in the first place.
    In the case of the Shoreham reactor, Long Island actually held a referendum on whether it should be built. Long Islanders voted against construction by a wide margin but the New York State Court of Appeals decided that the vote could not be used to prevent construction of the plant. The Court decided that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission preempted state control over nuclear power.
    This history is why it is impossible for utilities who want to construct nuclear power plants today to obtain private financing. There is literally no private financing available because lenders know that these plants are extraordinarily expensive to build and not as cheap to operate as they once were. That’s why loan guarantees from the federal government are necessary; without the loan guarantees, the plants literally can’t be financed. The nuclear power industry is crony capitalism at its worst.
    While today’s nuclear plants are undoubtedly a lot safer than the plants that leaked radiation at Three Mile Island or poisoned a significant portion of the Ukraine, the clean-up costs associated with a nuclear accident are enormous. There is not a private insurer anywhere in the world willing to insure against this risk without reinsurance being provided by the United States government; the whole thing stinks to high heaven.
    In Florida where I live, the nuclear industry was able to pull a particularly egregious scam. Thanks to our Republican led legislature and the republicans appointed to our Public Service Commission, our electric utility was able to push through a rate increase in anticipation of the construction of a nuclear plant. The idea was that the plant would be so expensive that ratepayers should pay increased rates for 5-10 years to partially finance the construction of the plant years before construction was actually scheduled to begin. For the past several years, Florida ratepayers have been paying into a special fund designed to finance Florida Power and Light’s nuclear ambitions.
    The problem is that after all these years, Florida’s electric needs are now going down not up. As a result of the real-estate bust, both businesses and people are leaving the State. Instead of being one of the fastest growing states in the nation, Florida is now hemorrhaging residents. A new nuclear plant is now no longer needed and plans for the plant are being scrapped. Of course, FPL is fighting tooth and nail not to give back the money ratepayers paid into the fund for the nuclear power plant. Want to take a guess what our Public Service Commission is going to decide?
    I find it very entertaining how Republicans pretend to support the free market until federal subsidies are needed to support one of their pet projects.
    Nuclear power is simply not economically viable unless private utilities are allowed to stick it to Americans twice; first as taxpayers and then as ratepayers.
    Capitalism sure is grand, isn’t it?


  14. nadine says:

    Light Rail is usually a boondoggle. Politicians love it because it’s federal funds and jobs up front, so who wants to bother asking whether the line will ever pay even its operating costs down the line, never mind making a profit? Most of them don’t. The 80 mile line in Tampa that Crist just got certainly won’t.


  15. Dan Kervick says:

    WigWag, the Seabrook plant has been fully operational since 1990, the year I moved to the state. The nuclear plant that people are more worried about now is the Vermont Yankee plant which is on the Connecticut River just over the border, and appears to be leaking low levels of tritium into the ground water.
    I support the expansion of nuclear power and applaud the construction project, although I consider it a somewhat disappointing next best option, forced on us by decades of federal government failure to mobilize, organize and fund the kind of national research, development and production effort we needed on new energy technologies, efficiency research and national infrastructure overhaul.
    I also consider it to be one of the failures of the last generation of Americans that so much of our best scientific and mathematical talent has been sucked up into such vital projects as figuring out how to animate a Visigoth in the act of decapitating an ogre and raping a maiden, and devising ever more clever and complex ways of selling financial instruments on top of financial instruments on top of financial instruments, so that all the bright and parasitical wise guys can get a piece of Ponzi action as we auction of bits and pieces of the country; scam dumb ordinary suckers into parting with every last bit of their rapidly disappearing wealth; and short-sell the entire country down into hell.
    The typical consumer mindset is not characterized by such attitudes as, “I want a 15-year, delayed-gratification, savings-intensive plan to find and develop new energy technologies, and I want it NOW.” So if your *whole economy* is built on these shoddy narcissistic foundations, and organized around the principles of entrepreneurial need-stimulation and desire-gratification, radically decentralized capital investment and zero national planning, you just don’t get a sound and coherent national economy, where at least someone is interested in the long-term view, and has the power to enact and hold us to it. Instead you get a sort of Animal House economy where there is a party in every room, where life is a binge, and where the party boys run their inheritance down into the ground.
    That’s what you get when the moral fabric of an entire society is unwound by decades of commercial and individual indulgence and extreme libertarian, laissez faire, personal liberation ideologies of the right and left; when you decide a nation’s economic fundamentals and vital infrastructure should be left entirely to the whims of individual lust and private economic exploitation – an economy which increasingly takes as its model the relationship of pimp to John.
    If the previous generations of Americans had been captivated by the same radical libertarian philosophies that infect the current generation of dumbed-down, pseudo-educated, addicted and desperately lost imbeciles that make up much of the American public, we would never have built most of our dams, or our highways, or our schools. On the other hand, we might have a pretty good national system of McWhorehouse entertainment centers, where people could go to get hand jobs with their video games; take black tar heroin, Oxycontin and crystal meth to their heart’s content; overstimulate their nerve endings with endless supplies of ephemeral and stupid pop music; run up their credit card debt mindlessly; and complain about the government – at least during the down time when they were not working in mindless and disorganized fashion for crappier wages under the overpaid racketeer-pimps who run the economy and own that flea market and camp medicine show known as the US Congress. Oh, wait a minute. That’s what we DO have already.
    Forgive the rant. But what with Ron Paul and Murray Rothbard-style libertarians on one side, Chomskyian “libertarian socialists” and anarchists on another side, corporation-loving and Wall-Street loving haters of strong government on a third side, and mainstream Democratic Third Way neoliberals on a fourth side, I sometimes fell like I’m the last believer in strong and energetic government left in America.


  16. sdemetri says:

    It’s bipartisanship, POA…
    Drilling offshore, likewise… Hell, the fishery ain’t so great off New
    England anymore anyway…


  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Yeah, the piece of shit is hinting at opening offshore sites to drilling, too.
    Ever been in an earthquake over a 7.0??? Imagine an eight, or a nine. A nuclear facility is going to survive that intact? Horseshit.
    We don’t need no more nuclear plants, just like we don’t need no more nuclear waste.
    Besides, most of the hardware to build one will undoubtedly come from China. Now there’s a nightmare waiting to happen.
    Is there anyone on this site that hasn’t figured out, by now, that Obama is an asshole????


  18. DonS says:

    Light rail is a boondoggle? I spent five years in the policy shop of the federal transit administration in the first years of its existence. Transit has always had to fight for subsidy. It’s opponent? The multi-faceted planning disaster created by the automobile.
    No sale.


  19. Linda says:

    Well, I just first wrote to my Congressman John Lewis and told him what I think of Obama who finally is coming to Savannah first week in March. I won’t waste my fuel going down there to protest this. BTW, they probably are lying about how much foreign oil this will save because most of GA Power’s plants use coal.
    After millions were wasted on Yucca Mountain, we still have no solution about what to do with all the nuclear waste from these plants.
    About the only thing positive I could say was that I liked John Lewis’ photo in current issue of New Yorker–actually a wonderful spread on civil rights era leaders.


  20. nadine says:

    DonS, I thought you like infrastructure projects? They all take years. Nuclear power plants are infrastructure. Unlike the various other boondoggles that have been funded this last year, e.g. light rail, etc, a nuclear power plant will actually be economically productive once it is built.


  21. DonS says:

    Wigwag, if I read you correctly, right on!
    Nadine, you’re a big nuclear fan are you?
    Seems to me there are so much more in the way of alternative energy that is not getting promoted. Why should China be leading in solar panel construction instead of it being a regional production/distribution industry in the US?
    Hard to get very enthused about nuclear plants — which take years to get constructed and on line — as a really bright idea. Obama doesn’t seem to miss an opportunity to miss and opportunity.


  22. Chris says:

    Yea, but if Afghanistan goes bad and I almost guarantee it will the Repugs will be all over him like flies on shit.


  23. nadine says:

    No, Chris, the Republicans won’t oppose this.
    You didn’t see the Republicans oppose Obama on Afghanistan, did you?
    On those few occasions when Obama has supported something the Republicans like, they haven’t opposed him out of pure partisanship.


  24. Chris says:

    Obama could advocate and push for anything and I mean anything and the Repugs would oppose it. Isn’t that obvious. He could actually “kiss” all their asses on national TV and they would say he did not do it in a conservative way whatever that means. I truly believe that they would rather see this country go down the shit-hole then for the Democratic party succeed in righting all their fuck-ups over the last 30 years.


  25. nadine says:

    “Imagine how the political climate would look today if Obama had spent the last year announcing these kinds of projects.”
    Absolutely. Building nuclear plants would provide construction jobs and be part of a real energy policy, not just “green jobs” solar/windmill boondoggles as far as the eye can see.
    However, Obama will have to tackle his base’s aversion to large construction of any kind, which goes double for nuclear plants. Will Obama write an executive order to override the kind of environmental lawsuits that are designed to ensure that nothing ever gets built and only the lawyers benefit?


  26. WigWag says:

    Oh thank goodness!
    Finally President Obama has given his base something they can cheer about. He wants to provide billions in loan guarantees (not to mention subsidized insurance against nuclear accidents)to private utilities planning to build nuclear power plants.
    If only Obama had spent the last year announcing these kinds of projects everything would have been just keen.
    Oy Vey!
    ps: Calling Dan Kervick. Do you leave near Seabrook? I’m sure everyone in New Hampshire will be rallying to have that power plant you guys turned down in the 1970s up and running as soon as possible.
    The progressive community in New Hampshire must be thanking their luck stars that Obama is our President.


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