But the pulsed methods all face commercialization challenges on achieving rapid firing rates
You're not joking. You'd need 10 shots a second ; I liken it to developing the worlds most accurate and reliable machine gun, firing the worlds most expensive cryogenically cooled ammunition (while gold-plated uranium bullets are pretty expensive, the real kicker is the tritium, $30,000 a gram), into the heart of a machine that somehow combines a laser array several orders of magnitude more efficient than anything else we've ever developed AND the heat exchangers required to get the energy out somehow without anything getting in the way of the other stuff. NIF is a weapons research programme : the "energy" agenda is just a way to get it some extra support.
Yes, Lerner is a bit kooky. Kekule dreamed of snakes biting each others tails and discovered the molecular structure of benzene. If a working fusion reactor design comes from a weird and controversial idea about the origin of the universe, I'm fine with that. I hold out as much hope for the focus fusor as I do for ITER - ie, not a lot, but there is something there ; they get neutrons, and the size of their device means they can strip it down and refine it every few months, whereas ITER does not live up to it's name - a single prototype that takes 15 years is not "ITERative". At the very least they are learning stuff about plasma physics and doing it on a relative shoestring of a budget. If their reactor design can be realized as described, it's *very* elegant, doesn't require all those problems with tritium breeding solved, doesn't require a vast turbine array to make useful. It's a long shot but an attractive prize.
I think we'd both agree that for one of the most important challenges facing the human race, the total budget, manpower, and number of projects going on is pitiful.