Tag Archives: Iowa

Friday Linkage 6/16/2017

What will the mass shooting in Alexandria, VA this week lead to?  My guess is that Republicans will push for less stringent gun laws—although it is hard to see how much less stringent our non-existent gun laws could become—and a crackdown on political speech that is counter to their aims.  Do not believe me?  In the first few moments after the shooter was identified there were Republican operatives calling for the rhetoric regarding Donald Trump and his policies to be toned down.

WTF?  This is the single person responsible for more coarseness in our political discourse over the last eighteen months than anyone else and we are supposed to suddenly simmer down because of a completely unrelated incident?  Can’t stop, won’t quit.

On to the links…

These Five Charts Show the Seismic Shifts Happening in Global Energy—If there is anything that you can do to accelerate any of these trends do it.  Do it today.

In Trump Country, Renewable Energy Is Thriving—I live in “Trump country” as much as it pains me to say it and I still cringe every time I see someone sporting a bumper sticker, shirt, or freaking red hat.  However, renewable energy is a very big deal in this red state and it is a similar story in a lot of other red states.

When You’ve Lost Iowa: Wind-Loving Heartland State Says “Buh-Bye, Coal”—What allegiance to coal does a state like Iowa have?  We do not mine or produce any coal, so every dollar we spend on coal for power is a dollar that is leaving our state.  On the other hand we have a lot of wind and those dollars can stay home.

Coal Can’t Compete on its Own—Remove the subsidies and preferential policies makes coal an even bigger loser than it already is in today’s marketplace.  Now, supposed free market Republicans will never actually allow the free market to work when it comes to their beloved fossil fuels.

This is How Big Oil will Die—Imagine I could replace an essential machine in your house with over 2000 moving parts and filled with flammable or toxic fluids.  Imagine that the replacement machine would have 20 moving parts and no flammable or toxic liquids.  Oh, and it is cheaper to operate on a per mile basis.

Renewables Provide More than Half UK Electricity for First Time—So, during mid-day renewables were knocking out over 50% of the U.K.’s electricity needs.  Who says that we cannot deploy more wind and solar?

Three Nations Plan 500% Increase in Global Offshore Wind—That is a big increase.  Once the basic technologies are even more mature and cost effective the adoption rates will soar.  What would happen if the people working in offshore oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico were deployed to develop offshore wind?

A Quarter Of EU’s Electricity Demand Could Be Met By Offshore Wind At €54/MWh—The future may be out to sea.

Chevrolet Bolt Will Hit Remaining Dealer Lots in August—It’s going to be available nationwide a month or so earlier than forecast.  Here is to hoping that sales follow availability.

Resistance to Last-Ditch Antibiotic has Spread Farther than Anticipated—This health crisis is happening because we demand cheap meat.  There is no other reason to feed farm animals huge amounts of antibiotics which breeds antibiotic resistant bacteria.  We are literally staring into the precipice of going back to the dark ages in terms of fighting infections.

Trump Wants to Cut EPA’s Scientific Research in Half—Of course the ignorant buffoon wants to cut research staff.  These are people who spend their careers trying to actually discover answers to hard questions rather than watching Fox News constantly.

In Praise of ‘Scruffy Hospitality’—We just need to put the smartphones away and stop posting everything to Instagram or Facebook.  We need to get back to enjoying the analog moments of life.

Friday Linkage 6/9/2017

Do you remember when we all woke up on November 9th wondering how bad things could get?  If you thought the first week of the Trump presidency in January was bad, it just kept getting worse.  If you thought “covfefe” was the nadir, it is going to keep getting worse.  We are witness to the single most incompetent president in the history of the United States.

On to the links…

Kansas Republicans End the State’s Failed Tax Reform Experiment—Normally I do not spend a lot of effort on taxes or tax policy.  This is important because it drives a dagger right through the heart of the Republican mantra that tax cuts pay for themselves.  It is over with and the tea party lost.  In Kansas of all places.  I expect Sam Brownback to quickly take a position within the Trump administration now that he realizes Kansas is not his personal playground of Ayn Rand fantasies.

Iowa’s Push Toward Renewable Energy not Likely to Change with Paris Climate Accord Decision—Iowa could be doing more, but the state already gets more than 35% of its electricity from the wind with plans to get north of 40% in the next two years as planned wind farms come online.  We can keep moving forward despite what the flaccid cantaloupe in Washington D.C. decides to do when he eats some beautiful chocolate cake and fires up his Twitter account.

Trump’s Answer to Paying for U.S.-Mexico Border Wall: Install Solar Panels—I thought Mexico was going to pay for it?  This is what happens when you cannot tell the difference between reality, parody, and satire.  Nothing is funny and everything is horrific.

California Plan for 100% Renewable Energy by 2045 Clears Key Hurdle—Leadership will come from states and cities.

Coal Bows to Natural Gas, as Consumption Falls to Lowest since 1984—Lowest level since 1984.  Not because of the Clean Power Plan.  Not because of Barack Obama.  Because of cheap natural gas.  Try saving coal from cheap natural gas el Trumpo.

The War On Coal Is Over—This is not coming from Treehugger or Grist.org.  This is coming from a website dedicated to following the fossil fuels markets.

India, Once a Coal Goliath, Is Fast Turning Green—Good luck exporting coal to India.

What Pittsburghers Know About the Environment That Trump Still Needs to Learn—Trump is ignorant of so many things.  When he claims to represent the people of Pittsburgh as opposed to Paris he is really saying that he is in the White House to line his pockets.  Every decision he makes needs to be seen through the lens of how it lines his or his family’s pockets with filthy lucre.

11 Ways to Build a Paris Climate Change Accord—Again, leadership will not come from above.  We need to create our own Paris climate agreement and execute on our own goals.

Colorado Blazes Low-Emissions, High-Employment Energy Pathway—Deploying clean energy means lots of jobs.  Jobs installing solar panels, maintaining wind turbines, building the infrastructure necessary to handle distributed power sources, and so on and so forth.  Why can’t people like Donald Trump and his Republican cronies see the potential?  Oh right, fossil fuel dollars flow through their veins.

Company Behind DAPL Used Paramilitary Security to Track Activists—How soon before these companies are conducting their own raids to target activists “in support” of law enforcement?  Your rights are under assault by the corporate class in a way never before in American history.  Is anyone paying attention?

Walmart’s ‘Ah Ha’ Moment on Climate Change—Walmart has zero credibility in my eyes, but when outlets like CNBC are reporting on the corporation’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions something is happening.  Can’t sell cheap shit from China if everyone is too busy bailing out their homes because of climate change.

The Truth About Meal-Kit Freezer Packs—Can someone finally kill the whole meal kit idea?  The kits are not less expensive than buying stuff locally unless you compare one scallion to a bunch.  The kits are an environmental disaster with all the packaging and transportation costs.  Now we discover the freezer packs are little plastic bags of death.  Just learn to use a knife, shop at the grocery store, and really cook.

“Pink Slime” or Lean Finely Textured Beef? Food Defamation Trial Set to Begin—This has all the hallmarks of the McLibel case from long ago when a trial brought out all sorts of evidence that condemned the defendants but destroyed the credibility of McDonald’s relative to its food quality.  My whole defense would be, “The product coming out of the machine is pink, right?  The product coming out of the machine resembles a gelatinous blob, right?  Thus pink slime your honor.  Defense rests.”

Being Healthy Isn’t a Contest, So Stop Trying to Win It—If you are vegetarian, you need to vegan.  If you are working out, you need to be doing HIIT.  If you aren’t into yoga and juice cleanses you are just not doing enough.  Stop people.

Thinking about Household Electricity Consumption

As I dither about installing a solar photovoltaic system on my home I also spend a lot of time thinking about electricity consumption in general.

When I first contacted a few solar installers in my area—who have all been very responsive which is a sharp difference from other home service providers lately—all of the systems were sized far in excess of my needs.  I have written before about my household electricity consumption and it remains something that baffles me well into 2017.

The twelve month rolling average electricity consumption of my household is approximately 400 kWh.  It has been stable within 20 kWh of this number for about three years.  What does that number mean in comparison to the average U.S. and Iowa household?

According to the Energy Information Administration the average U.S. and Iowa households consume approximately 900 kWh and 847 kWh per month respectively.  What the hell are people doing with all of this electricity?

It is not as if I live in a small house without the use of many electric appliances.  We have a large-ish French door refrigerator, chest freezer in the basement, electric dryer, and an electric range.  When I lived in a house with a gas range, gas dryer, and no deep freeze the monthly average was below 200 kWh over the course of three years.

We use the air conditioning in the summer, although it is rarely icy like in some houses.  We cook at home all the time using the electric range and small appliances like my beloved Instant Pot.  There are two elementary school aged children in the house so we run through a lot of clothes that often times use the electric dryer.  Sure we turn off lights in rooms, have LEDs in all but a few fixtures, do not watch very much television, and generally exist in a somewhat analog entertainment world (e.g. books that are actually printed on paper occupy many an end table spot).

It makes me question the urgency to install a solar photovoltaic system.  Yes, such a system would divorce me from the somewhat dirty grid in Iowa where even though a large percentage of our electricity is wind derived much of the rest comes from coal.  However, would I be better off investing that capital in something else that might have more of an impact ecologically speaking?

Furthermore, if I am living a modern life at half of the juice—so to speak—of the average household in my state doesn’t that mean we have a lot of room to become more efficient without really sacrificing anything in terms of modernity?  Just some random—kind of like the Tweeter in Chief going off in the morning—thoughts for a Monday afternoon.

Running Rod Has Got to Go

The past week or so has made it abundantly clear that “Running” Rod Blum has got to go.

First, Rod Blum voted to pass the House’s American Health Care Act.  It is bad enough that he voted for a bill which will lead to tens of millions of people in the United States being denied affordable health insurance.  It is even worse that he basically said he voted for the bill even though he disagreed with the process and the content.  Rod Blum is such a shill for Paul Ryan and Donald Trump that even when he knows a bill is bad for Iowans he will still vote for its passage.

Make no mistake, the AHCA is horrible for Iowa.  The AHCA slashes hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid in order to fund tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.  Rod Blum could care less about the approximately 680,000 people in Iowa that Medicaid serves. [1]

Furthermore, the cuts in Medicaid and the changes to our nation’s health care system proposed in the AHCA are just the first step in Paul Ryan’s master plan to gut our safety net.   Paul Ryan has is eyes on Medicare and Social Security as ways to pay for his vision of tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.  [2]  The game plan is to cut taxes to such a degree as to precipitate a budget crisis.  As the party of fiscal discipline the Republicans will demand “shared sacrifice,” which is right wing speak for screwing anyone no capable of paying membership fees at Mar a Lago, that will come in the form of draconian cuts to Medicare and Social Security.  Rod Blum has proven that he is little more than a toady for Paul Ryan so he has got to go.

Second, Rod Blum finally decided to hold some town hall meetings and it did not go so well for him.  Instead of actually answering people’s questions he regurgitated bland politician speak carefully calibrated to not say anything of importance.

Third, Rod Blum refuses to answer questions about why he is unwilling to answer questions from Iowans that he does not represent yet he is more than willing to accept money from organizations that are not in his district.  In a show of complete political farce Blum stormed out of an interview with KCRG’s Josh Scheinblum when asked that exact question. [3]  It was made even more farcical by the presence of school children brought to the interview by Blum as some sort of junior human shield.

Rod Blum has shown that he does not represent his district, he is a shill for his Republican boss from Janesville, and that he is incapable of answering questions about the way he conducts his political business without getting all huffy.

I do not know who will eventually run in opposition to Rod Blum in 2018, but short of the literal Prince of Darkness I am voting for the person.  Running Rod Blum has got to go.

 

References
  1. http://dhs.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/15-6_Improve_Health_Status.pdf
  2. https://thinkprogress.org/paul-ryans-next-move-is-an-attempt-to-privatize-medicare-a96eb9ac0a23
  3. http://www.kcrg.com/content/news/Blum-walks-out-of-exclusive-interview-with-TV9-421676713.html

Rod Blum’s Terrible, No Good Couple of Days in the Cedar Valley

Rod Blum is having a terrible time here in the Cedar Valley the past couple of days.  Hot on the heels of his miserable performance in an interview with my new hero Josh Scheinblum where he stormed off after being asked a question about campaign contributions, the congressman for the 1st district held town halls in Cedar Rapids and Cedar Falls.  Things went about as well as anyone could have hoped.

In Cedar Rapids the crowd was primed to ask lots of questions about health care and ask they did.  You can see the highlights of the town hall here. The gist of things is that people are unhappy that Rod Blum voted for a health care overhaul that was pushed through congress without a score by the CBO, without any substantial hearings, and without any substantial public comment.

Remember, Paul Ryan—the beady eyed leader of this gang—criticized the passage of the Affordable Care Act for all the same reasons even though that process took a year.  I guess that Republicans were just all too giddy to screw people over.  Just look at the happiness in Jason Chaffetz’s face as he comes back from surgery on a pre-existing condition to gut your health care:

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His heart is racing with the possibility that now is the time he gets to put his big boy pants on and really screw over some little people.  Gotta’ get more tax cuts for the millionaires and billionaires who make the Republicans go.

Back to our embattled congressman Rod Blum.  Things went even worse for Blum in Cedar Falls.  Seeking to placate the crowd he told them how he did not agree with the process of passing the bill before knowing the costs.  Instead of voting against the bill, which a single vote from any Republican would have killed the passage, he vote for the bill.  Nothing shows how resistant you are to something like voting for its passage.

Rod Blum does not represent the first district of Iowa.  Hell, he does not represent the state of Iowa or any of our interests.  He represents Rod Blum and the people who pay to keep him in Washington D.C.  Who is that?  Outside groups like American Action Network spent big to keep him in office.  Who is the American Action Network?  It’s a dark money front founded by Norm Coleman, the former Republican senator from Minnesota who lost to Al Franken.

Rod Blum is a No Talent Clown

No he is not Michael Bolton.  Not Michael Bolton the computer programmer.  You know, the other Michael Bolton.  I digress.

Rod Blum is apparently a think skinned, no talent clown who happens to represent the 1st district of Iowa.  During an interview, which he requested, KCRG’s Josh Scheinblum wasted no time and had zero chill for Blum’s bullshit.  Check out the full exchange here.

With a group of school children watching Rod Blum got to question two before going all “boom, outta here.”  The question that got him was about his willingness to accept donations from out of his district while claiming to not represent anyone outside of his district.  These are some real tough questions Rod.  The problem, as many Iowans in the district see it now, is that Rod Blum represents moneyed interests with names like Adelson and Koch.  We will never know because the groups that give Rod Blum his campaign cash do not have to disclose their donors.

Things did not get any better for Rod during his scheduled town hall in Dubuque when he was asked to defend his slavish adherence to the Trump-Ryan agenda.

How do people think things are going to go in Cedar Rapids tonight?  The suspense is terrible, I hope it will last!

Friday Linkage 4/28/2017

Did you see the details of Donald Trump’s tax “reform” plan?  Okay, details were sparse because it read like an objectivist’s children’s book on tax reform.  Taxes…bad!  Corporations…good!  If you want to know how this story plays out look at Kansas.  Maybe that is not the comparison that Trump and the Hucksters would like you to make, but it is the most apt corollary.

On to the links…

Is Wind Power Saving Rural Iowa or Wrecking It?—Most people I know who live in rural Iowa are wind power proponents.  Lease payments have allowed people to continue to maintain farms in lean years when crop prices fall.  However, there are those who consider the turbines a blight.  I think that the important question to ask is what these communities would look like without wind power.  There was nothing else that was going to fill the economic void.

Windblown: MidAmerican Zeroes in on 100% Renewable Energy—Iowa, as a whole, may get nearly 37% of its electricity from the wind but utility MidAmerican, owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, is closing in on getting 100% of its juice from the wind.  That seems like something worth celebrating.

Going Green Shouldn’t be this Hard—No one is saying we need to whole hog embrace a hair shirt lifestyle cold turkey.  Incremental improvement across a broad swath of areas is the key to lasting and meaningful change.

How Republicans Came to Embrace Anti-Environmentalism—I think it all comes down to cash.  People like the Kochs, flush with fossil fuel cash, were willing to lavish it on politicians who defended their oily interests.

Outdoor Recreation Industry, Seeing Role to Protect Public Lands, Boasts $887 Billion Impact—There is a downside to exploiting public lands for mineral gain.  The opportunity cost is a loss of sustainable recreation dollars.

Can We Fight Climate Change with Trees and Grass?—We are going to need all the tools we can get in the coming decades.

New Orleans — “Biking Boomtown” — Doubled Rate Of Bicycle Commuters In 10 Years—New Orleans does not leap to the front of mind when thinking about bicycling hot spots.  However, mild winters and a flat topography do make for a favorable location.  Why can’t more communities put some effort into bicycling as transportation like New Orleans?

Dodging Rubble is One Thing — in Mosul, Cyclists Contend with Mortars and Gunfire Too—If you complain about the problems on your commute just think about living in Mosul, Iraq.  First world problems, man.

Milkweed by the Masses: Nebraska Eyes New Habitat Goal for Monarchs, Other Pollinators—Iowa has seen great success with introducing pollinator friendly milkweed patches and it now looks like Nebraska, normally a fairly reactionary environmental state, is getting in on the action.

Does Saturated Fat Clog Your Arteries? Controversial Paper Says ‘No’—No one is saying binge on bacon, but maybe we can finally retire the old Ancel Keys’ wisdom about fats being the root cause of our dietary ills.