Tag Archives: Koch Brothers

Friday Linkage 2/24/2017

November 9th was a day of some serious despair, but I see a lot of potential in the awakening of a progressive spirit and an exposure of the right wing’s anti-people agenda.  Yes, it will be a lot of work to make any kind of meaningful change given the dynamics of elections in the U.S.  Yes, Donald Trump is a dumpster fire in human form that happens to inhabit the Oval Office.  However, there has been a spark that has ignited a liberal fire like no other time in recent memory.

On to the links…

U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Lowest Since 1994—A lot of this decline has to do with the replacement of coal with natural gas in the electrical generation sector and a recession that dampened demand across a whole host of industries.  Nonetheless, the data is compelling:

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The Future of Solar Power Technology is Bright—No matter what the political environment looks like in the future, the potential of solar is very real.

Record Wind & Solar Keep The Lights On In NSW As Coal & Gas Went Missing—Renewable energy can make the grid more reliable.  This should put the argument about intermittency to bed.

Wind Technician Jobs Growing, in Iowa and Nationally—The sooner that everyone realizes that there are more people working in renewable energy jobs, like wind turbine technicians, the sooner that we can get past the narrative of coal jobs being the only energy jobs that matter.

Drilling Experts Explain why Trump Can’t Bring Back Oilfield Jobs—The jobs will not be coming back because like coal before it automation and market changes are driving the need for actual human labor down.

University of Iowa Announces it will be Coal-Free by 2025—Each power generating facility or consumer that goes coal-free is another brick in the wall in eliminating coal from our energy infrastructure.  Yes, it will take a long time.  Yes, it is inevitable if we keep up the pressure.

Petcoke Piles Gone, but Another Dangerous Pollutant Discovered in the Air—If you think that there is no place for the EPA it is likely that you do not live in a community affected by this kind of pollution.  Low income communities are at the mercy of polluters because they do not have the political clout of the Koch brothers.

Which Ski Run Is Better for the Planet?—Ski hills go out of business.  What comes after is hard to imagine as you spend your days sliding.  However, the way we develop ski runs can make a major difference for the next stage of the land’s lifecycle.

Almost Every Packaged Food Comes from These Two Companies—The merger between Kraft Heinz and Unilever may have died, but this should give you some sense as to how consolidated the center aisles of the grocery store have become.

Olive Oil Shortage Looms as Prices and Demand Rise—Climate change has come for our coffee, chocolate, and hops.  Now olive oil is the crosshairs.  When will the larger populace realize that the impacts of climate change is here.

Fifth of World’s Food Lost to Over-Eating and Waste—Food insecurity is not a question of production it is a question of distribution, availability, and affordability.  It is a god damned shame that we live in a world where a significant portion of the world’s population is overweight while a similarly large portion of the world’s population is food insecure.

Make Republicans Own Killing Medicare

Yesterday I published a post about Paul Ryan’s desire to kill Medicare as we know it.  I believe that this is the first battle where we need to make Republicans own their legislative agenda.  This morning I sent the following letter to my Representative and Senators:

November 16, 2016

The Honorable [Name of Your Congressional Member]

[Address in Congress]

Dear [Mr./Mrs. Last Name of Your Congressional Member]

I am writing concerning the possibility of changes to the Medicare program under a Republican controlled Congress.

Recently, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has said that changes to Medicare are forthcoming because of probably repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  In the past the changes to Medicare suggested in many of Speaker Ryan’s published legislative agendas, including “A Better Way” which was available on the speaker’s website as of the writing of this letter, would entail the essential destruction of a program that provides the single most important safety net for this nation’s seniors.

Providing a voucher or premium support is an essentially useless legislative sleight of hand that will leave many seniors without any health coverage and for the lucky few who are able to purchase coverage in the private marketplace their policies will provide substantially lower benefits.

If and when the Affordable Care Act is repealed by a Republican Congressional majority and signed by a President Trump the ability of insurance companies to deny someone coverage based on a pre-existing condition and impose lifetime caps on coverage will be allowed.  What senior can say that they have no pre-existing conditions which would deny them coverage?  What senior looking at potentially more than twenty years of retirement can say that they will likely not meet coverage caps?

Furthermore, one of the great rallying cries in opposition to the passage of the Affordable Care Act was that it would fundamentally change Medicare.  It is ironic that now we are facing a legislative agenda that is more hostile to the idea of Medicare as we know it than any version of the Affordable Care act could ever have been.

Do you support changes to Medicare?

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

You should do the same and continue to do so until you hear a response from your Congressional members. I am going to send letters to their offices in Washington D.C. and at home.  I am going to send e-mails every day.

Send it via the U.S. Postal Service.  Send it via e-mail.  Send it via a god damned singing telegram for all that I care, but make sure that Congress understands that we will not stand for a dystopian America where our social safety net is gutted to satisfy the desires of the Koch Brothers and Grover Norquist.

Friday Linkage 5/8/2015

I know that the people in California do not want to hear this, but eastern Iowa is a little sick of rain right now. It has stormed almost every day for the past week and the ground is the consistency of a soaked sponge. The forecast, unfortunately, calls for another week of similar showers and it means that most outdoor projects are going to get delayed another week. Ugh.

On to the links…

Why the Koch Brothers’ War against Clean Energy is Still Failing—You would think for a couple of supposedly astute business people—who got a nice helping hand by inheriting some level of wealth from their parents—the Koch brothers do not seem to get a good return on their investment in trying to fight progress. Of course, trying to fight progress is never a good idea in the long term because reactionary elements tend to die out leaving you alone as a flag bearer of outdated ideas.

MidAmerican Energy Plans $900 Million Wind Expansion in Iowa—That is almost a billion dollars and the news kind of flew under the radar. Including this investment MidAmerican Energy will have nearly 4,000 megawatts of wind power in Iowa with a total investment of almost $7 billion dollars. When the projects are completed the utility may be able to serve 57 percent of its total retail load with wind.

100% Renewable Electricity Goal Passed By Hawaiian Legislature—Hawaii should be 100% renewable considering the prices ratepayers are paying, the danger of bringing in fuel on tankers, and the state’s abundant renewable resource potential. Maybe politicians have finally listened.

95% Renewable Power-Mix Cheaper Than Nuclear And Gas—In a nutshell, at current costs with a decent share of renewables deployed the cost to deploy a nearly 100% renewable grid will cost nothing more to the consumer. The clean power revolution is already at the tipping point. We just need to apply some more pressure and leverage.

The New Normal? Renewables, Efficiency, And “Too Much Electricity”—Overgen might be something we need to get used to in the future and it speaks to the need for energy storage. Widely deployed energy storage, be it in the form of EVs or wall mounted batteries, can serve to level out the disparity between generation and demand of electricity.

Refrigeration Battery is a Cool Idea for Saving Energy at the Supermarket—I remember these ice systems being the rage a few years ago and I remember seeing one in action at New Belgium Brewery’s facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. Now, as time of day pricing becomes more prevalent these systems may start to proliferate.

Western Towns Hard-Hit by Climate Change Unite, Target Coal for Funds—There is a movement afoot at the grass roots level to adapt to the threat of climate change. National politicians will not see it because they are beholden to small number of primary voters and big ticket donors, but when reliably conservative western towns start making a ruckus they will have lost the war.

Hundreds of Lapsed Permits Found on Forest Service Land—Basically, private companies are not paying for what they are taking from the public trust. Criminals.

Bill Would Roll Back Public Lands Protections In The Name Of National Security—When will the insanity of the border protection industrial complex stop? Building more walls and radio towers and roads will not stop people trying to flee truly horrible situations in their own countries. Maybe if we put some of those resources into trying to make these countries better places there would not be such an exodus. Just saying.

Central Valley’s Growing Concern: Crops Raised with Oil Field Water—Would you like some heavy metals and other chemicals with your salad mix? Didn’t think so.

EPA Faces Struggle to Regulate Formaldehyde—Can’t we all just agree that formaldehyde is nasty stuff. People who lived in FEMA trailers know this. People who bought cheap laminate flooring from China at Lumber Liquidators know this. And kids in biology class know this.

The World’s First Self-Driving Semi-Truck Hits the Road—Imagine the increased efficiency of trucks that could drive at non-peak hours in a very consistent manner safely. Awesome. It would also be awesome if this technology were in consumer cars and I could just zone out during the stretch of interstate from North Platte, Nebraska until Denver. I-76 must die.

UPS to Experiment with Renewable Biogas in 400 Vehicles—Some places call it “poo” gas, but biogas derived from rotting organic material can be a drop in replacement from gas from fossil fuel sources. You can actually tap the landfill. How cool is that?

Doing the Scott Walker Dance

Scott Walker is perfecting a new dance. When asked a question about the President of the United States, e.g. is he a Christian, the governor deflects. In essence, he is sending out the code words of the extreme right that signal he believes to some degree that the president is secretly a Kenyan-born Muslim out to destroy America. Never mind producing any evidence. That is Orly Taitz’s or Donald Trump’s or Joe Arpaio’s job.

The governor got caught in what he will claim is a “gotcha” question. However, when you spend time associating with people who make these outlandish claims—the president is Kenyan, the president is Muslim, the president hates America, etc.—it stands to reason that you should at least clarify where you stand. Especially since you are spending time in Iowa like you are a viable candidate for national office.

The tactic is to take offense at the nature of the question without ever addressing the substance of the question. A right winger wins on two fronts. First, he or she has blasted the mainstream media and that is always a winning strategy despite the fact that the mouthpiece of the right win is Fox News which is the mainstream media. Second, he or she never has to actually make a statement of belief so that person can always go back to the whack jobs and say, “I never said the president wasn’t a secret Kenyan!”

Taken to the extreme it results in a silly rhetorical dance. It’s Wednesday, I am bored, so let’s play the Scott Walker Dance Game:

Do you believe that Governor Scott Walker is a Minnesota Vikings fan? I do not know that the governor is not a Vikings fan, but we have never had a conversation as to the degree to which he is loyal to everything Packers related.

Do you believe that Governor Scott Walker is a fan of Justin Bieber? I do not know with certainty that the governor is or is not a Belieber, but Wisconsin is close enough to Canada to make it possible that he also likes Nickelback.

Do you believe that Governor Scott Walker is a Satanist? I have never had a conversation with the governor about his beliefs in the power of the dark lord.

Do you believe that Governor Scott Walker is a zombie? While I have never seen the governor on an episode of the Walking Dead I have not had a conversation with him about his current state of decomposition.

Do you believe that Governor Scott Walker is a pandering stooge and tool of the Koch brothers? Well…yes.

I could do this for hours.

Friday Linkage 11/7/2014

A few days after the mid-term election is a good time to sit back and reflect on what really happened. Mediocre candidates, running away from the president’s signature law, and a lot of money equaled a bad day for Democrats. Remember, however, that Republicans are now in the tricky spot of getting what they wanted. Now they have to govern with a presidential election looming and a seemingly strong opposition candidate already anointed in Hillary Clinton. Sometimes, I just love politics.

On to the links…

The Koch 130—Do you want to know how the Koch Brothers are influencing parts of your life? Run down this list and see what groups they fund interact with your interests. My guess is that there are several.

What It’s Like To Be Detained And Prosecuted Under Ag-Gag Law—With Republican victories across the U.S. in statehouses and governor’s mansions expect ag-gag laws to pop up in other states. Chilling speech, while unconstitutional, is a great way to stop dissent.

Peak Water: United States Water Use Drops to Lowest Level in 40 Years—I read through these charts and was just amazed at what it was telling me.

Public Opposition has Cost Tar Sands Industry $17 Billion—If you do not think that the public opposition to tar sands and other dirty fuels has had any effect than you have not been watching. This is costing those companies billions of dollars. Now is the time to turn up the heat.

Ethiopia “Regreens” Degraded Land; Plans to Restore 15m More Hectares by 2030—If we want to reverse the worst effects of climate change we need to restore degraded land to a more hospitable state. If Ethiopia can do it—a country whose very name is evocative for anyone who grew up in the 1980s—than other countries can make it work as well.

Brazil Solar Power Auction May Spur $1 Billion in Investment—Every day seems to bring another story of a developing or emerging economy having a huge auction for solar or wind power development. This time it is Brazil.

Wiki-Solar Claims Global Utility-Scale PV Capacity Passed 30 GW—This is just about the march of progress of solar.

Denmark Announces Plan to Wean Itself Off Coal Within 10 Years—Granted, Denmark is small but its progressive policies are sort of like a laboratory for the rest of Europe and eventually those ideas seep across the Atlantic Ocean into America.

A Look inside Sweden’s Recycling-Obsessed, Garbage-Powered Cities—I do not know if garbage incineration is the answer to the problem of landfills, but it is an answer and it seems to be working for Sweden. Could you imagine if the U.S. had to import garbage?

Global Wind Energy Market Rebounding, Set For “Unspectacular Growth”—I think unspectacular growth is a good thing for the wind energy business, so it can wean itself from the boom and bust cycles that have defined its business over the past decade or more.

For Cellulosic Ethanol Makers, The Road Ahead Is Still Uphill—I hold out hope for ethanol’s second generation. The first generation uses corn, which can also be used for food, and thus has the potential to drive up global food prices. Second generation biofuels are going to use non-foodstuffs.

Nissan Leaf Sets Another Monthly Sales Record, Chevy Volt Remains Steady—The thing to remember with these cars is that this is the first generation of both models. Sales never really take off until the second generation. Look at the Toyota Prius’ sales figures. In 2000, the first year the model was available in the U.S., it sold 5,600 units. The second generation vehicle sold 54,000 in the first year of its U.S. availability. Just saying.

Rick Berman Caught on Tape: Hear His 10 Tactics to Aid Dirty Energy Corps—If you thought the mid-term election and the period leading up to it were bad, get ready for this guy’s tactics to be on full display for the next two years in the run up to 2016.

Libertarians Sue White House Over Climate Change Video—I love libertarians and other right wingers who decry activist judges yet use the courts at every turn to advance their agenda or slow down someone else’s. Hypocrisy, it’s what makes the world go round.

Remove or Revive? Dakota County aims to Update Old Dams—The U.S. is covered in old dams that are either failing or no longer serving a useful purpose. Municipalities across the U.S. are going to facing the same decision as Dakota County over the next decade: what to do about old dams?

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.

Sh*t the Candidates Say in Iowa: Debate Edition

This past Sunday evening Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst debated each other. The result can only be described as expected.

Braley attacked Ernst for being a tool of the Koch brothers and being in league with Ted Cruz when it comes to shutting down the government. Ernst accused Braley of suing his neighbors over errant chickens. When it comes to substance Joni Ernst does not bother with the policy stuff, she just accuses the other guy of being a lawyer. Remember, in the Republican worldview lawyers and judges are evil unless they are rendering judgments like the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Hobby Lobby’s bogus religious exemption.

The real moment of clarity for voters in Iowa should have been when Ernst would not be put on record about the right amount for a minimum wage. She believes that it should be solely up to the states to decide what is the right minimum wage for their particular circumstance—something a state can already do if it wishes to be higher than the insufficient federal minimum wage. This is right wing code speak for not really supporting a minimum wage. Here it is in full:

“I do believe that is something that needs to be set by the states, because our Iowa cost of living is very low. Currently it is at $7.25 an hour, and I’m someone that worked the minimum wage way back when, when it was much lower. But the way we can combat this and do better for Iowa families is by growing our economy.”

Never mind the logical fallacy of comparing the absolute minimum wage from prior years to today’s minimum wage without factoring inflation. These people believe that those making $7.25 per hour are living high on the hog. In Iowa a worker would need to work at least 73 hours per week to afford the average two-bedroom apartment. Wow, that’s only a near doubling of an average 40 hour workweek. Maybe we can help Iowa families by not asking them to spend even more time away from their children and loved ones because they cannot afford to survive. Just saying.

Climate change is the other issue that is now being discussed in right wing code speak.  Ernst’s own words pretty much define the new line of reasoning:

“I do believe our climate is changing. But again, I’m not sure what the impact of man is upon that climate change.”

Acknowledge that every scientific fact points to a warming planet and subsequently weird climate, but simultaneously deny the link to human activities.  You know, because burning fossil fuels at insane rates has nothing to do with a changing planet.

But, the tried and true defense is to play dumb:

“I don’t know the science behind climate change. I can’t say one way or another what is the direct impact, whether it’s man-made or not.”

Yep, these are the people who feel qualified to speak on issues like EPA regulation.  On one hand they are too ignorant of the science to make an informed argument, but on the other hand they feel strongly that the regulatory environment is too extreme.

At least Ernst is on record as supporting a woman’s right to access to contraception saying, “I do believe in a woman’s right to contraception.” Granted, she will probably find a way to walk that back when she gets in front of evangelicals.

It could actually be worse because I could live in northeastern Wisconsin and be worried that Glenn Grothman might be my next U.S. Representative. Check out what he has to say.