The Joni Ernst Watch 3/30/2014

When it comes to Joni “Make ‘em squeal” Ernst  or Steve King it’s clown shoes all day, every day.  Recently, the conversation in Iowa has turned away from our homegrown whack-a-doos and focused on the nutcase circus that will be the Republican caucus.

Ted Cruz kicked things off and his start is auspicious at best.  First, there is the detailed Ted Cruz agenda which includes such humdingers as:

  • Repealing Obamacare, even though he is probably going to sign up for health insurance via the federal exchange that Obamacare created
  • A flat tax and eliminating the IRS, which is just red meat for his libertarian and conservative base
  • Opposing same sex marriage and abortion
  • Opposing any measure to conduct background checks on the purchase of firearms

He was apparently the alpha arrogant asshole in the land of people competing wholeheartedly to grab that trophy.

California Governor Jerry Brown considered Cruz unfit for public office, Ted got all pissed off about climate change instead.

But, wait, Ted Cruz is like Galileo.

Even better, Donald Trump is bringing his own brand of birther-ism to the fight.  Where is Orly Taitz?

This all happened in the first few gleaming hours of the Ted Cruz official candidacy period.  Just wait until people sharpen their knives for the eventual evisceration of a candidate described as being loathed by his own caucus.

Here is the kind of stuff we have to look forward to in a Ted Cruz candidacy as reported by Daily Kos:

  • “Net Neutrality”is Obamacare for the internet; the internet should not operate at the speed of government.
  • “You always have to be worried about something that is considered a so-called scientific theory that fits every scenario. Climate change, as they have defined it, can never be disproved, because whether it gets hotter or whether it gets colder, whatever happens, they’ll say, well, it’s changing, so it proves our theory.”
  • I will credit my father, he invented … green eggs and ham. He did it two ways. The easy way was he would put green food coloring in … But if you take spinach and mix it into the eggs, the eggs turn green … I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I am.
  • This is an administration that seems bound and determine to violate every single one of our bill of rights. I don’t know that they have yet violated the Third Amendment, but I expect them to start quartering soldiers in peoples’ homes soon.
  • If you look at other nations that have gone down the road towards gay marriage, that’s the next step of where it gets enforced. It gets enforced against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages, who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage, that has been defined elsewhere as hate speech, as inconsistent with the enlightened view of government.
  • “The world is on fire,” Cruz replied, turning to face the girl and her mother. “Yes! Your world is on fire!”
  • Twenty years from now if there is some obscure trivial pursuit question, I am confident I will be the answer.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.  In the case of Scott Walker’s administration in Wisconsin it looks like his deputy is right at lease once.

Friday Linkage 3/27/2015

Congressional Republicans are the best. In both the versions of the federal budget released by the House and Senate the signature achievement of the Obama administration—Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act—is repealed. However, taxes enacted by that law are used to help close budget holes even though the entire law is supposedly repealed. Gotta’ love the voodoo economics of Boehner and McConnell’s caucuses.

On to the links…

Industry Experts Believe In 70% Renewable Electricity By 2050—The climate might be out of time by then, but a growing consensus is pointing to a future where we no longer need to burn fossil fuels to meet our energy needs. Let’s accelerate this transition.

Costa Rica Has Gotten All Of Its Electricity From Renewables For 75 Days Straight—Heck, Costa Rica was 100% renewable for more than 2 months. Imagine that kind of power mix on a global scale. A lot of this success is based on hydropower being available—just ask drought stricken California how much hydropower can disappear—but it is amazing nonetheless.

North Carolina Solar Boosting North Carolina Economy—Renewable energy is good for local jobs. Period.

SunPower’s 379 MW Solar Power Plant (“Largest In The World”) Mostly Done, 6 Months Ahead Of Schedule—It feels like solar is really a snowball rolling downhill picking up size and speed. You can either be for the change or get run over by the change. Choose wisely.

California Is The First State To Get More Than 5 Percent Of Its Power From Large Solar Projects—Combine utility scale solar with distributed or rooftop solar and you have a winning combination for the renewable energy future.

For Every New Coal Plant Being Built, Two Are Being Cancelled—The story would be a lot more dire for coal if China could kick its addiction to the black rock. In Europe the ratio of halted, shelved, or cancelled to completed coal projects is a healthy 7:1.

Utility Company To Buy Coal Plant Just To Shut It Down—Coal is dying and when private companies are taking these kind of actions you know that no matter how much Mitch McConnell babbles about a “war on coal” the time of King Coal has passed.. Good riddance.

Energy Giant Enel Plans Coal Phaseout—Let the floodgates open and begin the epic decline of coal.

The Biggest Source Of U.S. Carbon Emissions Is Coal Extracted From Public Lands—Maybe now is the time to really declare a “war on coal” and stop the extraction of coal on public lands in the U.S. If you want to dig up coal and fry the climate…fine, do it on private land. See how well that plan works out.

Climate Change: China Official Warns of ‘Huge Impact’—China is in trouble in a changing climate. A country with a long history of famines this is a huge admission.

Back from the Brink: Success Stories of the U.S. Endangered Species Act—The Endangered Species Act is a punching bag for right wing blowhards to criticize decisions made in the defense of spotted owls or snail darters. Rarely, if ever, do these same blowhards take a moment to consider the success of the legislation.

Sea Turtles Test Urban Waters In Southern California ‘Jacuzzi’—Just an interesting little story that reminds me of Electric Beach on Oahu.

New Report Shows That The Most Popular Weed-Killer In The U.S. Probably Causes Cancer—It just makes me seethe when I see people buying jugs of RoundUp to kill weeds in their yards. Nothing like putting a nasty chemical in your yard just to kill a plant you have deemed undesirable. Never mind the whole might cause cancer thing.

Road Salt is Polluting our Rivers—Every winter I wonder about the salt and crud laden runoff from snow covered roads polluting waterways. It looks like my hunch was correct. Maybe everyone should just give crews time to clear the roads before jumping out to drive on the white stuff.

Depaving Cities, Undamming Rivers—Here’s How We’re Undoing the Damage—If we are going to have a livable planet we are going to have to not just preserve what we can but also rehabilitate what we have damaged.

Maryland Has A Plan To Turn Chicken Poop Into Energy-We should eat less factory farmed chicken and other meat, but what is raised produces a lot of poop. We should use that by-product to do something useful like generate electricity. 200,000 tons per year is a drop in the bucket, but it’s a start.

Ten Tips to Save You 25,000 Gallons of Water—World Water Day was this week and here is an infographic to get you thinking about conserving water, our most precious resource:


Bicycles are the True Emergency Transportation

Over vacation I read Ronald C. Rossbottom’s When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944, which is a great read for anyone with an interest in World War II and the experience under occupation.

The dependence of the population of Paris on bicycles during the occupation was what really stood out to me. Go figure, since I am a big proponent of bicycles and am amazed how little attention this resilient transportation method gets during disasters.

One of the first major adjustments for the people of Paris was that private automobiles were stolen by the German occupation authority. Buses were converted to wood gas and the Metro service was curtailed for various reasons—security, increasingly intermittent electricity, etc. Bicycles filled the mobility void.

Despite being used in activities to harass the occupation authority “there was no way to forbid them, or Paris would have ceased to function.” [Page 113]

As the war continued and the European continent under German occupation was increasingly isolated supplies of rubber and metal necessary to maintain bicycles became scarce. The loss of a bicycle through disrepair or theft was devastating to the average Parisian who depended on the quaint transportation method to travel to work and procure food.

If history is prologue, not to say we are under the immediate threat of occupation from a hostile government, then we need to consider the value of the bicycle as a tool for emergency preparation.

Is that Salsa Safe to Eat?

You know the tyranny of the sell by date, right? You find a jar of peanut butter, salsa, frosting, etc. in the back of the pantry where it languished for several months or more and the magic date printed in barely legible writing has passed. Into the garbage, right?

Well, if you were a college student who did not subsidize a lavish lifestyle with student loans you are too familiar with eating something “past its date” and wondering the next morning if gastrointestinal distress is going to be your companion for the weekend. Does ramen ever really go bad?

EatByDate is you new handy resource to tell you how much past that expiration date the food in your pantry can be without posing a risk your stomach’s health. Remember, most of the dates on food are “sell by” or “best by” dates, which do not necessarily correlate to a date at which the food is no longer safe to eat. A lot of these dates are figured by the manufacturer for various reasons not related to food safety. Just because that bag of Doritos is stale does not mean that those Doritos are unsafe to consume.

For example, take peanut butter. In my house we buy peanut butter at a warehouse store because my two children sometimes go on binges where peanut butter seems like the only menu item. However, children’s taste buds are fickle and that second jar in a monster size two pack sits for a little bit too long or we somehow doubled up buying peanut butter. If you enter peanut butter into the search tool and clock on the first result a chart like this appears:

EatByDate Peanut Butter

A lot of other information is contained on the page relating to telling if the particular food item in question has spoiled and how long an ingredient can be in a recipe before going rogue.

This seems like a tool for the cost conscious among us, but it is also an important eco-tool considering just how much food we waste in the western world. Estimates vary, but in the middle of the spectrum it is estimated that between a quarter to a third of food is wasted. When you think about the estimates for the increased in food production required to feed a growing human population this inefficiency cannot be ignored.

The Joni Ernst Watch 3/23/2014

Vacation can screw with your mind. You spend a week or more just out of touch. No phones, no tablets, no RSS feeds eating hours of your time…then, BAM, your back in the real world on a Monday morning wondering when the crazy parade started. Oh wait, when it comes to Joni “Make ‘em squeal” Ernst or Steve King it’s clown shoes all day, every day.

Speaking of making ‘em squeal, the USDA has proposed guidelines which would suggest the limiting of red meat as part of a healthy diet. Granted, most sane people know that eating a lot of red meat is a prescription for an unhealthy diet and an equally unhealthy planet but those same people do not get lots of campaign contributions from big agriculture companies. Joni Ernst and some other senators are having a hissy fit about sensible recommendations to limit meat consumption.

Ted Cruz is first out of the gate in the race for the GOP’s nomination to attempt to become President of the United States. Just imagine for a moment the level of smugness that would occur if President Ted Cruz—shudder—was giving the State of the Union speech…truly scary. Anyway, here are some things you need to know about the senator from Texas who was actually born in Canada:

I am sure that as the weeks roll into summer and the caravans of candidates cross the state of Iowa in search of Republican voters who care about these candidates there will be many juicy nuggets to speak about. Until then, adieu.

The Joni Ernst Watch 3/16/2014

I may be on vacation, but I did not want to leave you without your weekly dose of Joni “Make ‘em squeal” Ernst or some of the other whack jobs who cross the great state of Iowa in search of Oval Office dreams.  Or in the case of Steve King, just straight up crazy talk.

The letter 47 U.S. Senators—all Republicans in an amazing coincidence—signed warning Iran that any deal made with the Obama administration was only good so long as he was president was bad enough. It’s even worse that both senators from Iowa—Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst—signed the letter. Nothing like 100% participation. Imagine if Democrats had done something similar during the second Bush presidency. I think I can still hear Fox News going through the roof on that hypothetical scenario. For Republicans executive privilege is a concept only extended to white males who toe their party line. Everyone else is imperial.

Actions have consequences and that is something that Joni Ernst might find out. Apparently, there is a little known law called the Logan Act which prohibits U.S. citizens from conducting foreign policy without explicit authorization from the government. Somehow I imagine the 47 Republicans who signed the letter screaming like Judge Dredd…we are the law!

It’s Iowa in the spring before the caucuses that will end some hopes for the presidency and vault others into contention. At the moment, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker—two of the douchiest candidates this side of Paul Ryan—are the odds on favorites to win come winter. Granted, it’s early and these two are sure to insert their well shod feet into their mouths but is it a sad state of affairs when you look at Christ Christie and consider him a “reasonable” Republican?

Friday Linkage 3/13/2015

Things are going to be on hiatus for a while during my vacation, which begins about lunchtime today. Later.

On to the links…

Here’s What Gas Would Have To Cost To Account For Health And Environmental Impacts—If gasoline prices had to account for externalities it would cost an additional $3.80 per gallon. That would make a gallon of gas here in eastern Iowa cost ~$6.25. Seems about right.

The World Added 51,477 Megawatts of Wind Power in 2014—That total number represents a 44% increase over the prior year.

US Solar PV Installations Surpassed 6 GW In 2014—If you could not tell I have a hard jones for solar. It looks like the rest of the U.S. is catching on to my solar love.

Solar and Wind on Track to Dominate New U.S. Power Capacity in 2015—2014 was a good year, but 2015 may be even better. The climate change deniers and fossil fuel flunkies can harp about solar panels and wind turbines being for the hair shirt crowd…it does not matter. The market is speaking. I love that invisible hand.

US PV Installations Predicted To Pass 8 GW in 2015—Every time you see a headline the numbers for installations are bigger. It’s like a snowball rolling downhill and picking up some wicked speed.

Solar System Pricing Dropped By 9% In 2014—Almost a 10% drop in one year! Talk about bending the cost curve downward.

Solar As Cheap As Coal… Why Not Cheaper?—Balance of system costs and “soft” costs are keeping the price of solar systems higher than need be. If the cost curve for these other costs were matching the cost curve for panels solar systems would be way cheap.

Hawaii Ready for 100% Renewable Energy—I am a big Hawaii fan. If my family would allow it I would sell all of my stuff and move to the islands tomorrow. It’s also a great laboratory for what the future of renewable energy in the U.S. looks like. Now, if I could just find some of that Hawaiian Sun here on the mainland.

New York Just Showed Every Other State How to Do Solar Right—Public policy is not the most exciting topic to wade through, but small changes can have dramatic impacts on markets. Since most utilities are regulated as public concerns there is a great amount of influence that policy can have on their behavior.

You Can Now Invest In Solar Bonds Through Your Retirement Account—If you thought public policy was boring wait until you wade into the world of IRA options and plan construction. However, trillions of dollars are stashed in these funds so it is a huge potential source of funding for the solar industry if “solar bonds” can become a trusted investment grade vehicle.

Solar Power To Form 25% Of India’s Installed Power Capacity By 2022—India, a rapidly growing emerging economy, is doubling down on renewables, particularly solar, like a riverboat gambler with a hot hand.

Non-Fossil Fuel Sources Provide 25% of China’s Electricity—China’s air may be a mess and the country is still a totalitarian state, but they are trying.

Ghana Increases Levy On Petroleum Products To Fund Solar Power Projects—This is a wonderful piece of policy and something I wish the U.S. would adopt. Tax fossil fuels to fund the development of renewables. It would never happen here because of big money influence. You go Ghana.

Documents Detail Sugar Industry Efforts To Direct Medical Research—As if you needed more proof that the industrial giants behind sugar and process foods were manipulating health officials, doctors, and governments. Well, here you go.

Perennial Rice: In Search of a Greener, Hardier Staple Crop—Perennial rice seems like a great idea as it avoids the destructive process of planting, but critics point to lower yields. It’s an interesting scientific pursuit.

The True Energy Savings of Living Sustainably—I have not posted an infographic in a while and thought this one uses British pounds as a currency you can do the math to figure out what the savings would be: