Tag Archives: election

Friday Linkage 12/6/2019

I drive by the signs advertising Ronald Reagan’s childhood home frequently when traveling to the Chicagoland area.  It is just too delicious that the patron saint of government bashing’s house is going to be administered by the government.

Or maybe the problem is that people really do not care all that much about hypocrites like Ronald Reagan.

On to the links…

The Economics behind Planting Billions and Billions of Trees–To bastardize a saying of Michael Pollan’s, “Plant trees, on appropriate land, mostly native species.”  It is a simple action that really has no downside. If we focus on areas that have been logged, burned over, or denuded by other means it will reintroduce tree cover to appropriate lands.

The World’s Top 10 Carbon Dioxide Emitters–Take a look:

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The future of the Earth rests in the hands of China, the United States, and India.

This Energy Transition Is Different. Here’s Why–I applaud Andy Stone for pointing out that the key ingredient missing in the transition to a fossil free future is sufficient political will on the part of all politicians, but particularly those leaning with a conservative bent.  Our politics are bought and paid for by fossil fuels.

Spain Might Be The World’s Most Important Climate Test–How did we end up in an era where our political choices are being defined by progressives facing off against neo-fascists?

CO2-Eating Bacteria Made in the Lab Could Help Tackle Climate Change–Does this sound like the beginning to a young adult dystopian novel?

Let’s Implement a Luxury Carbon Tax, because not all Carbon is Created Equally–Let’s start with first class and business class airline flights.  Say $25 per ticket. All funds to be spent on reforestation.

Renewables are Not Making Electricity any More Expensive–Economics is a health of a thing.

Utilities Running Uneconomic Coal Plants Cost Consumers $3.5 Billion From 2015-2017–Coal is costing you money.

Average Battery Prices Fell To $156 Per kWh In 2019–Here is the key line: “this year the average EV battery pack prices decreased to around $156/kWh, which is some 87% less than it was in 2010 (over $1,100/kWh).”  In less than a decade’s time the average price has decreased almost 90%.

Are Electric Vehicles Really About To Plateau Oil Demand?–Plateaued oil demand is bad enough, but even a lower growth model will doom many higher cost oil plays in the short term.  EVs are part of the problem for oil demand, but just as important are tighter regulations on fossil fuel emissions in general.

Coal Power Becoming ‘Uninsurable’ as Firms Refuse Cover–If you cannot get insurance, you cannot operate.  I am sure that Donald Trump and his coal dust caked cronies will come up with a government backed reinsurance scheme to make sure that people like Bob Murray can profit from killing the planet.

Why Aren’t We Building a Traveling Wave Reactor in the U.S.?–Nuclear power always seems like it is an answer to our electricity problems until you account for all of the problems that nuclear power creates.  I am unwilling to hop on the traveling wave reactor bandwagon, but maybe Bill Gates is on to something. At least he is not spending his money on running for president.

Biofuels Could Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 96%–If nuclear seems like the holy grail of energy security, biofuels have to be the One True Cross of energy security.  At what point do we give up on the idea of liquid biofuels?

Agriculture is Part of the Climate Change Problem. Colorado Wants Farmers’ Soil to be Part of the Solution.–Improving soil health across grazing and other agricultural lands is probably one of the biggest “gains” we can make in the war against climate change.  Furthermore, increases in soil health and captured carbon will improve our ability to feed more people.

Chew On This: Farmers Are Using Food Waste To Make Electricity–Every kilowatt hour of electricity generated without the use of fossil fuels is a good thing.  Using a waste product to generate that electricity is like a double bonus.

DiGiorno and Stouffer’s Bring Plant-Based ‘Meat’ to Frozen Italian Food–If you do not think that plant based meat stand-ins are mainstream then how do you explain it being available in frozen pizza and lasagna?  Maybe it will be considered mainstream when there is a Jack’s frozen pizza with plant based pepperoni on sale for 4 for $10.

How Our Home Delivery Habit Reshaped the World–In an age of ubiquitous and pervasive shopping opportunities we need to radically rethink our relationship with consumerism.

Green Consumerism Is Part of the Problem–There is no such thing as “green consumerism.”  There is just “less bad consumerism.” Once we understand and internalize the reality that we cannot buy our way out of the problem of climate change, the sooner everyone will be better for it.

Iowa’s Election Post Mortem

Iowa did its part in providing a check on the Trumping of America by flipping two Republican held seats in the House of Representatives.

Abby Finkenauer defeated Rod Blum in the 1st district race.  The result was largely expected nationally and locally as Rod Blum was just about the worst caricature of Washington D.C. you could imagine.  I am no fan of Rod Blum and look forward to being represented by someone who is not as ethically challenged as Iowa’s Splenda version of Donald Trump.

A little less expected was Cindy Axne’s defeat of David Young in the 3rd district.  Polling was kind of all over the place—which has to be considered the new normal in U.S. politics—but Axne ended up winning by a comfortable margin.

The most surprising result of the night, in my opinion, was Kim Reynolds’ victory over Fred Hubbell.  The margin was not large–~33,000 votes—and if I add up the vote totals for the four house races the Democrats’ total was within less than 1,000 votes of Reynolds’ total.  So, there was some serious ticket splitting going on somewhere in Iowa.  It looks like we get a few more years of tax giveaways to multi-national corporations, health care privatization that costs more money, and budget shenanigans in the name of tax cuts for the wealthy.  Welcome to the Republican Party in 2018!

Iowa has become a messy state politically.  It was a harbinger of Barack Obama’s two victories, but it swung hard for Trump in 2016.  Now it appears as if the state is swinging back toward something resembling sanity.  It is my opinion that this bodes well for the election in 2020 as Iowa will be one of the states that is hotly contested despite its low number of electoral votes.  Combine that with the first in the nation caucus for presidential hopefuls and it adds up to an eventful two years ahead of the Hawkeye State.

Unfortunately, Iowa is still stuck with the stain on humanity that is Steve King.  The 4th district came within 8,000 votes of sending Steve King to the speaking circuit of white nationalists and neo-Nazis.  He won, but not by a lot, and I hope that the Democratic Party works hard over the next two years to build up both a candidate and ground game to unseat that racist clown.

Boosting the Local Economy

I cannot speak well of the results of the election in Iowa, but I can find a few grains of optimistic thought.

Iowa was not North Carolina where the race between incumbent Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis is estimated to have cost more than $110 million. That is right, more than $110 million was spent on a single Senate race in a mid-term election.

In Iowa it is estimated that almost $80 million was spent on the race between Bruce Braley and Joni “Make ‘em squeal” Ernst. Do you realize how much air time $80 million buys in the state of Iowa? It is an insane amount of money.

Consider that in 2012 the Republican candidates for President spent approximately $12.5 million prior to the January caucus.  More than six times that amount was spent on this single senate race in a mid-term election.  For anyone who does not think that outside group spending is polluting the political process I give you this single example.

While the result is disgusting at least that money was pumped into the local economy. Every four years when the crazy train that is the caucus rolls around everyone talks about how local media outlets love all the spending. Now it looks like every two years we might be seeing that kind of stimulus if outside spending continues to taint the political process.

Granted, this is probably just some trickle down or voodoo economics at work.

Post-Election Day Wrap Up

The post-mortem analysis of the 2014 mid-term election will continue for weeks and months, especially if expected recounts drag into December. The back of the envelope calculation is this: Republican candidates stomped to victory and now control the Senate and a number of critical governorships.

In Iowa we watched as Joni Ernst walked to an easy victory. Granted, Bruce Braley was about as dry white toast of a candidate that has ever walked the Earth. However, this is the person who made the signature slogan of her campaign “Make ‘em squeal Joni” in reference to an advertisement that alluded to hog castration.

Never mind that we re-elected imperial governor for life Terry Branstad to a record sixth term and he is making references to running again in 2018. The guy might actually be an animatronic dummy with an epic mustache instead of an actual human, but voters in Iowa might actually choose him over the baby Jesus.

Somehow Rick Scott, Scott Walker, and Sam Brownback won re-election. Brownback surprises me because he is literally running the state of Kansas into the ground. Maybe after another four years of his “leadership” the citizens of Kansas will finally puke all over themselves and elect someone who is not just holding water for the Koch Brothers.

Rick Scott is a clown, but Florida deserves him. Scott Walker is now the face of Wisconsin, for better or for worse, and the citizens of that state need to recognize the reality.

The guy who was in the most interesting position all night was Mitch McConnell. In some respects he was in a losing position no matter the outcome. He could have lost the actual election, but that appeared to be false hope for Democrats in the end. He could have ended up as minority leader again, but that outcome was pretty much dead in the water by 8 PM central standard time. Instead, he is going to be the majority leader in the Senate and he still may end up as a loser. This is a man who lacks any real charisma trying to lead a chamber full of upstarts positioning themselves for the presidential election forthcoming in 2016. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are going to be all over the place trying to make themselves look like the torch bearers for the Republicans. It’s going to be great.

What I think will be fascinating over the course of the next two years is what the Republican controlled Congress will try to achieve. For the past six years the party has acted as an opposition party out of power, disregarding the reality that it controlled the House, but now it is in the position to govern albeit with a Democratic president. My prediction is that if you thought the Newt Gingrich led Republicans overreached following the 1994 “Republican revolution” you have not seen crazy yet.

For the Democrats this election will probably come down to a discussion about money, but I think that is a false conclusion. Sure, there was a shit ton of money spent on ads but the problem for Democrats was uninspiring candidates. As 2016 comes into view and the field of presidential candidates coalesces, Democratic party leadership needs to find candidates who will be primed to take over a bucketful of vulnerable seats in an election that is almost guaranteed to be a big turnout for voters sympathetic to Democrats.

No one is asking me, but I am here to offer my opinions for free.

More Sh*t the Candidates Say in Iowa

Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for Senate, is the gift that keeps on giving. If you thought Michele Bachmann was a lot of fun then you are going to love Joni Ernst. I’ve already written about cutting the nuts of pigs as a qualification for Senate, but now Joni Ernst has taken it one step further in showing where her loyalties lie.

The candidate does not feel that there is a need for the federal government to set a floor on the wages that employers can pay their employees:

The minimum wage is a safety net. For the federal government to set the minimum wage for all 50 states is ridiculous. The standard of living in Iowa is different than it is in New York or California or Texas. One size does not fit all.

Well, that’s some flaccid logic. Here’s the deal Joni, employers would collude to pay the lowest possible wages. Don’t believe that employers would collude to depress wages? Shall we cite the recent examples of companies in Silicon Valley doing just that? Didn’t think we needed to go into the corrupt practices of American companies.

The real kicker came from a recent conference sponsored by everyone’s favorite billionaires the Koch Brothers—who are beginning to sound like the super villains from an episode of Scooby Doo. Some great journalists, most prominently Lauren Windsor, teased out information and transcripts from this closed door meeting of the GOP’s brain trust and money bags.

Joni Ernst stepped to the podium delivered this doozy:

The first time I was introduced to this group was a year ago, August, in New Mexico, and I was not known at that time. A little known state senator from a very rural part of Iowa, uh, known through my National Guard service and some circles in Iowa. But the exposure to this group and to this network and the opportunity to meet so many of you, that really started my trajectory.

In essence, Joni Ernst owes everything to the hard core right wing of the GOP and the money of the Koch Brothers. Any attempt to paint her candidacy as anything other than a referendum on what the radical right wants to do in America is misleading.

Just remember, Joni Ernst is not running to the dog catcher of Montgomery County. She is running to be one of two US Senators from the state of Iowa.

Sh*t the Candidates Say in Iowa

We’ve got some real winners running for Congress in Iowa this year. The crème de la crème is Rep. Steve King, Republican blowhard from the 4th Congressional district which covers a broad swath of northwestern Iowa, who says things like:

This is real. We have people that are mules, that are drug mules, that are hauling drugs across the border and you can tell by their physical characteristics what they’ve been doing for months, going through the desert with 75 pounds of drugs on their back and if those who advocate for the DREAM Act, if they choose to characterize this about valedictorians, I gave them a different image that we need to be thinking about because we just simply can’t be passing legislation looking only at one component of what would be millions of people.

Granted, that is the most classic line but there are too many to list. Just check out Right Wing Watch’s sampling of the best of Steve King.

However, Rep. King is not the only one getting in one the action. Joni Ernst, who is running for the soon-to-be vacated seat of Sen. Tom Harkin, has had some classic lines herself. Do you know how someone will be good at cutting through government waste? Let Joni Ernst tell you herself:

Hi, I’m Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork.

Somehow cutting the nuts off of a piglet qualifies someone to determine what government spending priorities are wasteful or not. Besides the metaphor of government waste being called pork for some reason I am missing the connection.

Somehow, Joni Ernst also thinks that President Obama has usurped power from the legislative branch and become a dictator:

They’re not speaking up against these actions. They’re not speaking out against the president when he oversteps his bounds, when he makes those appointments, when he’s appointing czars, when he is producing executive orders in a threat to a Congress that won’t do as he wishes. So he has become a dictator.

Wow, a President who has a hard time getting a simple budget through Congress, who cannot get judicial nominees confirmed, and who watches the lower chamber repeatedly pass repeals of his signature legislation is a dictator because he uses executive power in a way similar, but not as frequently, as the occupants of the office before him? Interesting, Joni, speak truth to power:

He is running amok. He is not following our Constitution, and unfortunately we have leaders who are not serving as leaders right now, they’re not defending the Constitution and they’re not defending you and me.

Really, in what way is he not following “our” Constitution? Did you even read past the Second Amendment? Then again after the horrible shooting incident at the University of California-Santa Barbara she said:

This unfortunate accident happened after the ad, but it does highlight that I want to get rid of, repeal, and replace Bruce Braley’s Obamacare and it also shows that I am a strong supporter of the second amendment. That is a fundamental right.

First off, when a whacko grabs a gun and kills 6 people it’s not an “unfortunate accident.” It’s murder. Plain and simple. But somehow relating the deaths of 6 people at the hands of a shooter to your desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act is stunning in its stupidity. There you have it, Joni Ernst for U.S. Senate because without Michele Bachmann we need some comic relief.

There are some real beauties from Rod Blum, running for the soon-to-be vacant 1st Congressional district seat occupied for Iowa Senate candidate Bruce Braley, about the EPA regulations costing upwards of $1.75 trillion dollars per year. Considering that the U.S GDP is estimated at ~$17 trillion this would mean that environmental regulations cost our economy nearly 10% of potential output. Wow, that seems pretty amazing and it’s probably untrue. Of course, he is also a climate change denier who uses a cover of Time Magazine from the 1970s as evidence that the scientific community is uncertain about the path of our climate.   That’s like using the cover of People Magazine as a proxy for why the U.S. Census is uncertain about its figures. Clown.

It seems that every year the candidates get increasingly more whack, but this is going to be nothing compared to the circus that will surround Iowa prior to the caucuses in 2016. From the summer of 2015 until what will undoubtedly be a cold January night in 2016 candidates will be crisscrossing the state trying to outdo each other in a vain attempt to curry favor with the small portion of the electorate that actually goes to the caucus. I might change my party affiliation to Republican just to get in on the show. Okay, maybe not.

Friday Linkage 11/16/2012

It’s good more than a week after the presidential election to wake up and realize all of the things that could have been different with a…shudder…President Mitt Romney.  Alas, that is something that we will have to confine to the parts of our soul where nightmares hide.  It’s the same place I have consigned Karl Rove to following his SuperPAC getting “monkey stomped.”

Rachel Maddow really lays it out for anyone who is interested.

On to the links…

Four African Girls Build Pee Powered Generator—This story has gotten a lot of run, but I love it nonetheless.  Maybe there is hope for us humans after all.

U.S. May be Top Oil Producer—If this is true than the “drill baby, drill” faction of the American public has to very excited.  Oh wait, those people never get their facts straight anyway.  Oh well, they pretty much got “monkey stomped” this past week so I will let it slide.

Pricing Carbon: Where We Are and Where We May be Going—The only way to systematically attack the problem of carbon contributing to global warming is to put a price on it, so that economic models can account for it.  Otherwise, it’s just an externality.

Post-Fossil Fuel Economy Already Emerging?—I do not know how much of this has to do with the recent recession or with an actual transition, but it’s an interesting idea nonetheless.

Algae Based Fuel on Sale in Bay Area—One step closer to powering my car on pond scum.  Scum baby, scum!

Voters Approve 81% of Conservation Ballot Initiatives—Speaking of getting “monkey stomped,” the people who hate the environment must really feel lonely in their Koch embrace because most people actually want to preserve the natural world and enjoy something pristine.  Imagine that?

Tackling Solar Costs from Every Angle—The real challenge facing the widespread adoption of residential or small scale commercial solar is the balance of system costs.  The price of solar panels themselves are no longer the impediment, but rather all the other stuff including permits that are required to start generating free electricity from the sun.

The Muddy Minnesota River Comes Back to Life—A real success story of the Clean Water Act and the action of state government has to be Minnesota’s efforts to clean up its river.  The story about the Minnesota River is the latest success story.  Skol!

How to Grow All Your Food on One Tenth of an Acre—This seems like a little bit too intensive, but maybe there are some lessons that can be applied to getting food out of all these suburban lots dotting the United States.

Industrial Scale Hog Farms Screw Farmers and Small Towns—Industrial hog farms or CAFOs are pretty much one of the worst things on the planet for everyone involved except for the big meat packers who love the system.  Everyone gets screwed.  Thankfully Linn County, where I live in Iowa, rejected the latest attempt to build a new CAFO in the county.