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This morning Lynn and I were talking to Eddie at Psychobabble. Eddie is seemingly the last remaining coffeehouse intellectual/political/activist/radical/beatnik on the planet. He buys all his clothes at Goodwill, hangs out all day in a coffeehouse, and occasionally works as a sound guy in Hollywood.

We were talking about politics and Ralph Nader's candidacy (Nader is doing well enough in California to be considered a threat to Gore).

Eddie said, "Man, Gore is one of those people who I could vote for if he was a Republican. As a Republican, he'd be a ray of hope. As a Democrat, he's disgusting."

I asked him if he were going to protest at the Convention on Figueroa next month? He said, "Are you not? Who's side are you on, anyway?"

This all might have converted me to Nader, whom the ironically liberal/mostly status quo media are just blasting these days.

jeanpaulsartre
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This all might have converted me to Nader, whom the ironically liberal/mostly status quo media are just blasting these days.

The ONLY chance Nader has is if he can convince someone to include him in the debates, IMO.

It's not really because the average American watches the debate. It's simply because getting on the same stage as the others lends him credibility as a candidate, instead of being some "fringe third party candidate."

What strikes me is how similar the 2000 Presidential race is to the 1998 gubernatorial in Minnesota. If that statement doesn't get your attention, nothing will.

Here in Minnesota a few years ago, we had a governor at the end of his term. (No term limits here; he simply decided not to run again.) Arne Carlson wasn't as scandal-ridden as Bill Clinton, but his popularity was high.

Running for the Dems was Skip Humphrey. A "career politician" who had a long standing family tradition of public service. He was coming off a decent stint as state Attorney General. He was boring, uncharismatic, and tagged with being a lifer. Very much like Al Gore is perceived.

Running for the Reps was St. Paul mayor Norm Coleman. Much more personable. People weren't sure how much they could trust him, though, since he switched parties a few years ago. Everyone then saw it as naked ambition. He was also a career pol, who came off warmer than Humphrey, but people weren't sure whether he was really ready to be in charge. A Dubya analogy.

So what happened? Voter apathy was at an all-time high. The "damned-if-ya-do, damned-if-ya-don't" attitude was prevalent here.

Along comes this goofy former pro-rasslin' radio talk show DJ. He isn't the brightest bulb in the pack, but hey, at least he is making things interesting. Gee, cute little booth at the state fair--lots of people there, ya know.

For the longest time, Jesse was nothing but a joke. He fought like crazy to get included in the debates. He was ignored for a while, but finally, the barbs of "what are you afraid of?" thrown at the big boys sunk in. Jesse got his stage.

Jesse was fabulous in the debates. His greatest gift was his refusal to listen to the other two spew lines. He digged at them with lines about being "career politicians living off the public trough" and basically refused to play the game.

The press loved this stuff. Of course, most people never saw the debates, but they didn't need to. The "Best of Jesse" sound bytes showed up on morning drive time radio, the nightly news, and the front page of the paper. Jesse started getting the buzz. He wasn't really saying anything different than he had before, but this time, he said them on stage, in front of a media crowd, and right to the face of his opponents. Simply being in the debates turned the tide, from my viewpoint.

All of a sudden, lots of people who were going to vote Dem or Rep simply because they deplored the candidate less than they deplored the rival Rep or Dem, suddenly turned to Jesse. "Can't be any worse than the other two" was a common theme.

His polls rose into the low teens. Suddenly, this rise justified his presence in the debates. The other two had hoped to be rid of him after the first, but Jesse's gaining popularity made it harder and harder to drop him. More sound bites made the news, and the snowball was rolling. And ya'll know how it ended up.

AlGore and Dubya are equally dry candidates. Watching those two debate will be a joke--lots of rhetoric will be spoken, no real point conveyed. A good, lively third party candidate in the debates would enrich the debates, as long as that person was willing to challenge the status quo. Nader, while not as purely charismatic as Jesse, still has a chance to pull that off. If he can get on the same stage, do well enough to get people talking about him, and get some press, he stands a chance. Not a guarantee, mind you, but a chance. But without the stage, his act will go unnoticed.

A few interesting side-topics regarding Jesse:
* Everyone wants to comment about how the only reason he won was because of young voters who voted for him just because they thought it was cool to have a pro wrestler running. Fact: He carried every age demographic below 65, and every income demographic below $100,000/year. (I'd cite a source, but I can't find a weblink. Old articles in the Mpls. StarTribune could do it.)
* In my opinion, Jesse's greatest accomplishment as governor has gone unnoticed. The old system had the governor making all the decisions and had a bunch of figureheads heading the variouis offices/departments. Jesse basically acknowledged that he didn't have the knowledge to do this, so he named his department heads, gave them both the responsibility and the authority to run things themselves, and got out of their way. This is the big reason Jesse can go running around refereeing WCW matches and showing up on soap operas. He's shown just how unnecessary a governor really is.

All of this isn't a perfect analogy to the presidential race, but the underpinnings are there. It is also a simplistic summary of Why Jesse Won. But, I'll be interested to see if a lively candidate can get enough respect to be put on the same stage as Al and George.

--WP
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Eddie is seemingly the last remaining coffeehouse intellectual/political/activist/radical/beatnik on the planet.

You must be kidding. You've just described at least 15% of the population of Ann Arbor.

Mitten
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Pup, I knew Jesse Ventura and Ralph is no Jesse Ventura...
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"Pup, I knew Jesse Ventura and Ralph is no Jesse Ventura... "

You WRESTLED him, maybe. But you didn't KNOW him.
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What strikes me is how similar the 2000 Presidential race is to the 1998 gubernatorial in Minnesota. If that statement doesn't get your attention, nothing will.

Minnesota has some interesting politics. I moved here from Florida via Colorado and was amazed. From the leftest of leftists (Paul Wellstone) to milquetoast Republicans (Rod Grams, Gil Gutnecht(???), take your pick) to Jesse. What a state for entertaining politicians.

I do agree that neither Gore nor W merits a vote, but I'm not sure the Humphrey, Coleman analogy quite holds. Only one of them got everything from his daddy. I think that Gore and W are a lot more alike and that's the frustration that most voters have. There's probably a limited number of voters who can relate to having their life handed to them by their family.

I don't know if I'd choose Nader. Currently looking for an interesting write-in candidate. Any suggestions?

John (who forgot not to discuss politics this once)
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I don't know if I'd choose Nader. Currently looking for an interesting write-in candidate. Any suggestions?

John (who forgot not to discuss politics this once)



Jello Biafra for President
(also in the Green Party)

http://www.angelfire.com/punk/jello2000/


Fooelle
forgive me if this is a repeat
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To wonderPup,

hello,

I have some questions about Ballard Power. I wondered if you could either answer or refer me to a source.

Specifically,

1. How do they now, or plan to in the future, obtain the hydrogen and oxygen for the fuel cells? (Doesn't the engery expended in obtaining these fuels exceed the useful engery the fuel cells produce?)

2. Ballard's press releases cite the "zero emission" benefit. Does this mean there is a "zero emission" factor at the site of use? Is there a pollution factor in the obtaining of the fuel at another site? How does the total operation of the current fuel cell system compare (in pollution) to fuel production and operation of internal combustion engines, diesel or gas?

Any information would be appreciated.

Also, from an investment point of view: How does Ballard make sense when they don't appear to have any commerical products in the pipeline for a number of years?
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I have some questions about Ballard Power. I wondered if you could either answer or refer me to a source.

Well, this is a whole new spin for this thread, but I'll give some quick answers.

First of all, check out the BLDP board:
http://boards.fool.com/messages.asp?id=1070008002315001

Start by reading the FAQ:
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?id=1070008001420000

That should be enough to keep you busy for a while.

1. How do they now, or plan to in the future, obtain the hydrogen and oxygen for the fuel cells? (Doesn't the engery expended in obtaining these fuels exceed the useful engery the fuel cells produce?)

Just like gasoline needs to be refined and produced today, so will other fuels for fuel cells. Just as with gasoline, energy will be spent to prepare the fuel. The same advantage holds: the fuel will then be storable and transportable. There are many plans out there for producing hydrogen (from water, from fossil fuels, from biomass). The FAQ covers this pretty well.

2. Ballard's press releases cite the "zero emission" benefit. Does this mean there is a "zero emission" factor at the site of use? Is there a pollution factor in the obtaining of the fuel at another site? How does the total operation of the current fuel cell system compare (in pollution) to fuel production and operation of internal combustion engines, diesel or gas?

The BLDP annual report covers a lot of this. If pure hyrdogen is used, there will be zero pollutants at the site of use. If methanol, there will be some, but drastically less than an ICE. The pollution from fuel preparation will depend on how the fuel is produced. (The FAQ also touches on this.) Solar and wind are popular choices to power the fuel production, in order to keep the process as green as possible.

Also, from an investment point of view: How does Ballard make sense when they don't appear to have any commerical products in the pipeline for a number of years?

First of all, there is no doubt that BLDP, or any other fuel cell stock, is a high risk investment. There are many many barriers in the way, and substantial ones at that. On the other hand, there are many many benefits in return, and substantial ones. Your questions are good, and are along the correct lines for someone interested in BLDP. Read the FAQ and a lot of them will be answered.

That said, they do actually have commercial products in the pipeline soon. In 2001, they plan to go to market in a partnership with Coleman, to sell portable generators. In 2002, they'll sell bus cells, and in 2003, car cells. These goals are listed in the annual report. BLDP has a fine history of meeting its goals, so I find them trustworthy right now.

I also consider them a long-term play. I "LTBH" some stocks with a target of 2-5 years. BLDP I have a target of over 10 years. If there is a big payout, it will likely take a long time to be realized. But the upside is worth the risk, in my personal situation.

Good luck, and have fun over at the Ballard board.

--WP


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