Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Getting Green Wrong
Monday, December 30, 2019
Decarbonizing: Running the Numbers and Economic Modeling
When I wrote “if anyone has actually run the numbers, I haven't seen their work” I was thinking “built an economic model of the transformation required to move the world away from fossil fuels.” It seems to me direly important that we do so.
Wednesday, December 25, 2019
Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, and the Zeitgeist
I’ve come down from the upper class
to mend your rotten ways
All the major media firms, old and new, support Trump
The support ranges from lukewarm (MSNBC) to full-throated (Fox), but they all support him. Facebook allows any lie to distributed to any identifiable group for a price. Twitter refuses to ban white supremacists because its software has trouble telling the difference between white supremacists and Republicans.
How the devil are we supposed to win this election? It may be possible; we won in 2018, we might, I suppose, win in 2020. But it's going to be work.
Sunday, December 15, 2019
Taxes in Washington State
Washington state gas taxes are higher than the national average, but that's 10¢ a gallon. There's 8 states higher and our climate is pretty hard on roads. (Source: http://www.gaspricewatch.com/web_gas_taxes.php.)
Here, here's a table of revenues from 2016: https://ofm.wa.gov/washington-data-research/statewide-data/washington-trends/revenue-expenditures-trends/state-local-government-revenue-sources. The biggest chunk are the sales and the B&O tax, the next largest is the property tax. That's over 50%. All the other taxes are less than 10%.
Here's a pie chart of expenditures: https://ofm.wa.gov/washington-data-research/statewide-data/washington-trends/revenue-expenditures-trends/state-local-government-expenditures-function. Highways are7%. Local roads aren't even a separate category; I think they fall in the 9.2% “other” wedge.
We know where the money goes and it isn't being wasted. This isn't New Jersey.
And look, I get that you hate paying high car tabs. You know something? So do I. When my family was broke, the sales and B+O taxes hurt a lot and car tabs were a rotten cherry on top. But we have to pay somehow or we have no roads, we have no schools, we have no … Washington is not a poor state. It's a very rich one. And yet we cannot agree to fund infrastructure and education.
Saturday, December 14, 2019
Bullying and Character Assassination, Corbyn and Sanders.
The Republicans would have dug up his 1972 alternative press essay on sexuality and gender roles and spun it as rapey. They'd have dragged out his support for the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and said he was a Communist and a traitor. They'd have dog-whistled the white supremacists, painting Sanders as a race traitor, and spun up the anti-semitism, all the while claiming he was a bad Jew and a traitor to Israel. They'd have told the African-Americans he was racist, and told the white folk he was too soft on African-American criminals. They'd have leaned on his atheism.Consider this on Corbyn's defeat, just now written:
They said he was a Communist and a traitor. They dog-whistled the white supremacists, painting him as a race traitor, and spun up the antisemitism, all the while claiming he was a bad Jew and a traitor to Israel. They told the Muslims he was Islamophobic, and told the non-Muslims he was soft on terrorism. They leaned on his atheism.We need to think carefully about our response to bullying and character assassination. Sanders, I think, is exceptionally vulnerable to these attacks, but none of the non-fascist US Presidential candidates are immune.
Character Assassination and Bullying: On the vote in the UK
- Character assassination works. Jeremy Corbyn is not a racist antisemite. Boris Johnson is. Corbyn lost votes because of well-publicized lies; Johnson did not.
- Bullies are popular, even among the people they are bullying.
Time to change our strategies. We need to fight bullying and character assassination, and that will be the subject of at least one more post.
And, 100 years after the failure of the Second International to unify against World War I, nationalism still trumps class consciousness. Many people don't vote for bread and butter, even when they're starving.
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Pelosi, impeachment, trade agreements
Some of us are blaming Pelosi for the problems of her caucus.
Just how deep does the rot run on the Democratic side?
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
Democratic Nomination Shambles
The Democratic Party's Presidential nomination process is a shambles. And a shout-out to the Supreme Court Justices who made sure that the only way to become a Presidential candidate is to buy your way in.
Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Bemused Observations on Washington State Initiative 976
City departments of transportation: we cannot afford to repair and expand our streets.
Transit agencies: we can't afford to run buses, let alone actually build the rail system we need.
State legislature: let us allow the cities and transit agencies to add taxes to car tabs.
Small minority of Washington state voters in an off-year: car tabs are too expensive. we must limit them.
Self: I think we need to change our motto to "The Evergreen Pothole State” and the state song to “The Tim Eyman Memorial Bridge.”
Sunday, November 17, 2019
Bitter Environmental Croaks: Things We Cannot Say
The environmental movement went overboard in its opposition to nuclear power. We failed to compare its risks to expanding fossil fuel usage, and the world is worse off as a result.
We have too many people partly because of patriarchy, because too much of the world treats women as brood mares.
It seems to this old bird that our ruling class, or whatever you want to call it, has decided to settle our environmental problems the good old-fashioned way – via the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Penalties for storming a House hearing in a classified space
Interfering with testimony, 18 U.S.C. 1512:
(d) Whoever intentionally harasses another person and thereby hinders, delays, prevents, or dissuades any person from: (1) attending or testifying in an official proceeding […] or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 3 years, or both.Breaching a classified space, 18 U.S.C. 793:
(a) Whoever, for the purpose of obtaining information respecting the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation, goes upon, enters, flies over, or otherwise obtains information concerning any […] place connected with the national defense […] Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.Reprimand, censure, or expel, U.S. Const. art. I, §5, cl. 2:
Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.
Republicans Storm Impeachment Inquiry Hearing In Stunt
This was a meeting of the House Intelligence Committee, which is leading the impeachment investigation, to take classified testimony from Laura Cooper, the United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia.
This has to be a crime. Does anyone know what the possible penalties are? Can a majority of the House remove these members?
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Who would have thought that foreign governments would be the biggest beneficiaries of Citizens United? There's Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and the gods only know who else. Thank you, Roberts Court.— Raven Onthill (@RavenOnthill) October 22, 2019
Could we hand Trump over to a Kurdish court for justice?— Raven Onthill (@RavenOnthill) October 22, 2019
Monday, October 21, 2019
Short Croaks for This Morning
There are few things in modern conservative politics that cannot be explained, in whole or in part, as expressions of threatened masculinity.— Raven Onthill (@RavenOnthill) October 21, 2019
"We are making enemies faster than we can kill them."— Raven Onthill (@RavenOnthill) October 21, 2019
Scoop: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has privately recommended several potential hires to Pete Buttigieg’s campaign, a rare example of direct political involvement from one most powerful tech executives, @tylerpager reports. https://t.co/wpE9ejb1YJ— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) October 21, 2019
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Treason: The Clean Up
A Congress of Cowards
Monday, October 14, 2019
To my Democratic Congressional Delegation On the Withdrawal of US Troops from Kurdish-occupied Syria
Sunday, October 13, 2019
Hunting Mythical Beasts
A few months ago, I wrote about student loan forgiveness, and I commented that let's not even talk about forgiveness; let's talk about a dignified bankruptcy, because if we can't get that – and we can't, those options were steadily taken away – we can't get loan forgiveness. So now I'm thinking about reducing carbon output. We have all these grandiose schemes, and we still have not been able to kill the huge tax breaks given to fossil fuel drillers. Yes, we need to do more. But if we can't do at least that, how can we even hope to do more?
There's something wrong with our whole policy-making process. We focus on complex ideas which are ever so difficult to do, and simple small ideas, yet if we can't pass the small ideas we don't even need to worry about the big ones – they've going nowhere. There's nothing complex about "allow graduates drowning in debt a dignified bankruptcy." There's nothing complex about "stop supporting fossil fuel extraction and refining, it's changing the climate." Yet we can't pass either of them.
Maybe if we can win on the small things, we can win on the big ones.
Are Bad Cops Serial Killers?
What's striking to me about this is how quick it was. The officer shot and killed the woman in less than four seconds of seeing her, showing that he had, at least, rehearsed the shooting. I wonder how many other people he has shot. Is this officer a serial killer? Is the same psychology at work? Have we ended up creating hiding places for serial killers in our police forces, the way some Christian churches have in their priesthood. Or…?
Anyone who actually knows anything about the psychological issue, I would appreciate comments.
Sunday, October 6, 2019
Prosecuting High-Level Traitors
Congress and the President have been winking at traitorous Republican leaders since Nixon, since President Johnson realized that Nixon and Kissinger had meddled in treaty negotiations with Vietnam to win the Presidency. Since that time we have had Iran-Contra, leaders pardoned by GHW Bush, the second Iraq war, conducted entirely on false premises, and now Trump, Russia, and the Ukraine.Here's the thing, America: Whistleblowers are great and all, but in the case of Donald Trump they are unnecessary. Congress does NOT require a whistleblower. Trump's twitter for the last 3 years is more than enough. All Congress needs to do is their job.
Our whole foreign policy mechanism has failed.
Liberals and the further left have been screaming about this for 30 years, and in all that time we have been told to keep quiet, that the leaders knew what they were doing. And now we have President Trump.
Too much power has been ceded to the Executive, especially the President. We have become the nation our founders never wanted us to be.
Friday, October 4, 2019
On the Electability of Joe Biden
“I'm not even sure he would. If it's old rich white guy vs old rich white guy, would people vote for Biden?” – Me, tweet.
Sunday, September 29, 2019
Considering Nancy Pelosi as Whip and Speaker
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Monday, September 23, 2019
The Spiritual Transformation of Environmental Consciousness and the Gaslighting of the Public
Saturday, September 21, 2019
In Which the House Democratic Coalition Begins to Tear Apart
Our leaders have abandoned us
Our religious leaders focus on the minutae of sexual behavior, or on nationalism, rather than on the vast crimes being committed worldwide.
Our political leaders vie to see how many people they can throw out of the too few lifeboats.
Sunday, September 15, 2019
Tweets: On the Election and General Political Attitudes
I'm not even sure [Biden would win.] If it's old rich white guy vs old rich white guy, would people vote for Biden? – link
We have suddenly had a great deal of reality weighed in on us on a very short period of time. Denial is the natural stubborn reaction. There is, unfortunately, no guarantee that acceptance will eventually follow. – link
Monday, September 9, 2019
Fascist Disaster Planning
2020. Look to 2020. The country will be a shambles by then, but with luck, organization, and leadership an opposition can win in 2020. We can try things in 2018, but by 2020 I hope we are ready.Well, we did try something in 2018 and it worked – the Democrats took back the House … and then starting slow-walking action against Trump and the Republicans.
The USA certainly is a shambles and I see no signs the opposition is going to be ready for the 2020 elections.
… and what will we do if Trump and the Republicans lose, yet refuse to leave office? What will we do about the outbreak of right-wing terrorism likely to follow the election, regardless of which side loses?
Saturday, September 7, 2019
The Cost of Clean Power
They are more expensive than wind and solar – variable renewable energy (VRE.) Good, fine. But VRE has its limits, and somewhere between 60% and 90% of grid power, and something more reliable is needed for the balance, either fossil energy, large-scale long-term storage, large-scale hydro, or nuclear. Right now, that something is fossil energy, derived from natural gas and coal, both environmental problems. Natural gas plants is what we currently building and we have to stop burning natural gas. Not only is it a fossil fuel, and therefore a contributor to carbon emissions, it is itself a potent greenhouse gas, though a less persistent one than CO₂.
So, a bit of qualitative economic modeling. While we are building the smart grid, everything is fine for a while. VRE is ramping up and fossil fuel plants are shutting down. But when we arrive the limit of VRE (60%? 90%?) we have to either keep the fossil fuel plants going, driving the warming of the world, turn out the lights (or life-support) somewhere, or find something else to fill in the gap. By that time it will be very late and the necessary work will be very expensive. It would be wiser to start investing and researching now.
Friday, September 6, 2019
What We Now Are Building Instead of Nuclear Plants
Friday, August 30, 2019
Genocidal Acts in Kashmir
BBC reports, “Security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir have been accused of carrying out beatings and torture in the wake of the government's decision to strip the region of its autonomy.”
France 24 reports: “A magistrate speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity said at least 4,000 people were arrested and held under the Public Safety Act (PSA), a controversial law that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial.”
Guardian Kashmir page.
Added 9/1: in the Indian province of Assam, some 1.9 million people have been declared non-citizens, though their families have lived there for generations. The Indian government is building 10 giant concentration camps to hold them.
To the Indian defenders of their current government: if there is nothing wrong, and the Indian government wants the world to see there is nothing wrong, they need only restore normal communications and travel to Kashmir. As it is, it seems that India is concealing genocidal acts, if not outright genocide. Discouragingly, it appears that having the experience of colonization does not prevent a people from itself become colonizers.
Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Trump, Granting Wishes
Saturday, August 24, 2019
Brief Note: Why is the USA so bad at recycling?
If we are to prosper in the future, this has to change.
Brief Note: Plastics in an Age without Fossil Fuels
My initial notes for this series of posts were written while I was sitting in campsite. I was looking around at a tent and a screen house and various other things that make modern recreational camping possible and realizing that almost all of them are made of petroleum byproducts, all the synthetic textiles, all the plastics that make up the various containers. The main thing that wasn't is the little stove – which uses fossil fuel, it's a propane stove. If we stop using fossil fuels what are we going to replace these materials with?
The answer seems to be, plant-based products. In principle, with enough energy and engineering, any chemical, including any plastic, can be made from any other chemical which contains the right elements, any usable “feedstock” in the language of chemical engineering. In practice, some feedstocks are more suitable than others for particular products. Since the energy for producing plastics from fossil fuels itself comes from the petroleum used to produce the plastics, there is going to a significant increase in the demand for energy to the process. To some extent, this perhaps can be mitigated by using embodied solar energy in appropriately-chosen plants, but this is going to take time to work out.
So there is going to be a generation where we rebuild our base of knowledge and products. Time to get started.
Brief Note: the Costs of Supplementing Green Electricity
University of Michigan's Center for Sustainable Systems Grid Energy Storage Fact Sheet
Stanford's Energy's Grid Scale Storage page.
Brief note: restarting research into nuclear energy
The Green New Deal: Running the Numbers
The Technical Issues
The Political Issues
The credibility of environmentalism
Monday, July 22, 2019
Democratic Leadership, Courage, ACORN, The Squad, Al Franken
But this is not about Franken. I went on to consider the bipartisan defunding of ACORN, the low-income voter registration group, based entirely on forged video evidence from conservative activists. And then I went on to consider the treatment of “The Squad” – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.; and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., who Trump told to return to where they came from. It took effort to get the House Democratic leadership to support them, despite Trump’s outrageous racist remarks.
When there are attacks on liberal Democrats, the Democratic Congressional leadership can be depended on to fold. Democrats of vision, courage, and ability are discouraged and, often, forced out. The result has been Congressional Democratic Caucuses filled with people who are at best very cautious and at worst weak and cowardly. And now that we need bold action from Congress, there is now almost no-one in the Congressional Democratic Caucuses to undertake it.
Monday, July 15, 2019
Pelosi Opened the Gates to Trump
AOC tweeted, "Members of Congress have a duty to respond to the President’s explicit attack today.
Then, on Sunday, July 14, he tweets "Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." – The Hill
Shaun King (The Intercept) tweets:
It’s 1:43AM here in NYC and I’ve been studying white supremacist message boards for 4+ hours tonight. THEY ARE BUZZING WITH EXCITEMENT over the openly bigoted attacks from Trump against 4 women of color today. I literally have not seen them this excited since Charlottesville.As AOC says, their lives are in danger.
That was a foolish move on the part of Speaker Pelosi. May it energize young voters.
Friday, July 12, 2019
Pelosi Widens the Split in the House Democratic Caucus or, We're So Scrod
The official House Democrats account is using @AOC’s words about Pelosi and targeting her chief of staff? I’ve never seen anything like this. – Yashar Ali on Twitter
This reminds me of how LBJ broke Humphrey, back in the 1950s. LBJ arranged a series of legislative defeats for Humphrey and, over time, Humphrey just folded. What AOC will do, under relentless attack from the leader of the House Democratic caucus, I do not know. I don't think she will fold. But, if this continues, this will break the caucus, and quite possibly keep young voters and people of color home in the 2020 elections, leading to Democratic losses.
If Trump Wins in 2020…
- Militarize the Southern border. In this case, it is likely the southern border of the USA will be turned into a killing field.
- Seat more radical-right judges, and perhaps more rapists, on the Federal bench.
- Go to war, perhaps in Iran.
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Two and a Half Parties: Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party's Dilemma
Why don’t the House Democrats impeach Donald Trump? Why didn’t they oppose the blank check supplemental appropriations bill (S.811, H.R.2157) for Homeland Security and its concentration camps? Why aren’t the Democrats doing, well, anything?
We know about the appropriations bill, because Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told us. “Because the Problem Solvers Caucus said, ‘We have enough votes to kill the House amendments.’ And they held. These 40 members led by Representative Gottheimer that worked with Republicans to say we’re going to pass the McConnell bill and so they handed over the Democratic Party.” (Link.)
There’s a lot of blaming of the Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. I think this is misdirected, and this is why:
Over time, as the Republicans have become more fascist, the Democratic right has become the refuge for conservatives who are not full-on fascists. The United States now has two-and-a-half parties: the Republican Party, which is fascist, the right of the Democratic Party, which is conservative, and the left of the Democratic Party, which is liberal and sometimes socialist. As I wrote nearly 10 years ago, the two wings of the Democratic Party exist in an uneasy alliance. Pelosi is having difficulty holding her coalition together. Should the Democrats initiate impeachment proceedings, the Problem Solvers Caucus would likely prevent the House from actually impeaching Trump, and then where would the party be? In this light, Pelosi’s blast directed at the four Democratic Representatives who voted against the supplemental funding bill becomes understandable; she is frustrated that she cannot maintain discipline within her caucus.
I am frustrated, too. I understand that inaction and working to defeat Trump in the next election seems to best thing which can be managed. I doubt any other Democratic Speaker could do better than Pelosi at reconciling the Party’s two wings in the House. At the same time, Democratic voters want to see bold action from the Party, and inaction appears as cowardice. Can a course to victory be charted?
Thursday, July 4, 2019
Dementia, President Trump, and History
The other day, Twitter commentator Tom Joseph (@TomJChicago) remarked Trump was demented and that this was being covered up by his medical examiners. @duty2warn, a group of psychological professionals, has make similar remarks but instead adds that Trump will never submit to a proper examination. Let us, for the purpose of argument grant the possibility that Trump is demented.
If so, then various Trump officials, as well as foreign heads of state, are taking advantage of this. It seems likely enough; Trump’s pronouncements on Putin and Kim Jong-Un do not seem the thoughts of a sensible person, and there is precedent for this in Ronald Reagan, who had memory lapses and public bouts of confusion. It is hard to be sure; dementia hides itself. In early stages the victim has good days and bad and remains competent at activities they are already skilled at, even though they will be bewildered and lost when they leave their area of competence.
If this is so, part of the reason Trump relies on family, and especially his daughter Ivanka, is likely that they have been covering for him for years, and so Ivanka putting herself forward at inappropriate times (most recently at the 2019 G-20 meeting) is a matter of her trying to cover for her father, similar to the way Nancy Reagan covered for her husband Ronald.
Now I turn to history. King George III was said to be mad, with fits of mania, as early as the 1770s. Diagnosing a historical figure is difficult at best; physicians of King George’s period did not have a modern concept of illness, so that their diagnoses do not translate well into modern terms, and not only does mental illness often hide itself, but King George’s courtiers, friends, and family had excellent reasons to conceal his difficulties. Again, let us grant the likelihood. It is fairly high, with a modern study of his letters showing symptoms.
It seems likely, then, that the king’s mental illness contributed to the grievances of the founders of the United States. It is all rather mythic. The mental illness of a ruler contributed to the foundation of the United States and now the mental illness of a ruler may end the United States.
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
The Democratic Party, Splitting in Two
“Bipartisan” from Democrats means collaboration with fascists. Do not forget this.
Saturday, June 29, 2019
Iconography and Presidents
Let me suggest that not only the Trumpites who are dug in, but also the Berniebros and, yes, the Clintonsistas, too. People are making what ought to be simple fact-based questions (did Russian propaganda influence the election? what was the influence of the Clinton campaign over the DNC?) into identity-based beliefs, which cannot be touched.
Once identity becomes an issue in politics, we start to see behaviors analogous to family dynamics (perhaps these are actually the same.) Roles take precedence over actual behavior: “Dad” may be an abusive alcoholic, but he’s still Dad and deserves some sort of respect. So we have the precedence of image over the person’s actual behavior: Trump is making American great again, Hillary Clinton the great feminist hope, Bernard Sanders is some sort of saint and so on. Everyone is supposed to be the messiah.
What I find striking is the divergence between the image and the person. It is most evident with Trump, of course, many of whose followers still believe even as he works hard to elevate his ego and ruin their lives, but there is some of it in all the leaders. Hillary Clinton is indeed a feminist, but she is also a devout Methodist and conflicted on abortion and charity. (And the less said about her beliefs on foreign policy, the better.) Sanders plainly believes in his socialism, but he is more of a tough practical political survivor than a saint.
As analysts and commentators, we may pay attention to the person behind the curtain, as it were – we supposedly study these matters and pay attention to the actuality as well as iconography – but we have difficulty bringing these insights to a wider public.
Saturday, June 22, 2019
Getting Started: the Green New Deal
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Kristallnacht, US version
“DHS is planning to target families as part of stepped up effort to deport undocumented immigrants, a senior admin official told me, in response to Trump’s tweet last night. But the official said there are ‘not a lot of happy faces’ at DHS, as Trump revealed plans in the works.” – Jim Acosta, https://twitter.com/Acosta/status/1141001638565621761
@Adam L Silverman over at Balloon Juice comments: “We don’t have enough Customs & Border Patrol officers, we don’t have enough Immigration & Customs Enforcement officers, we don’t have enough US Customs and Immigration Services personnel.”
If some local police and paramilitaries join in, would that be enough? It sounds like DHS is working on an updated version of Kristallnacht. The one good thing I can see about this is that support for our immigrants is broader and deeper than that for Jews in Nazi Germany.
In related news, AOC called the concentration camps concentration camps on Twitter. Liz Cheney (!) wrote to disagree, objecting, “6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this.” The conservative never-Trumpers, Tom Nichols, Max Boot and the like, are Very Concerned.
“If, in the course of defending your political positions, you find yourself clarifying that you only support concentration camps, not death camps, I feel like maybe you ought take that as an occasion to rethink some things.” – David Roberts of Vox, https://twitter.com/drvox/status/1141057521945202688
While I was writing this in BJ comments, I got a spam call from the American Law Enforcement United Alliance (ALEUA), a dark money pro-police PAC. They are a project of something called “Security in America,” also a dark money pro-police anti-immigrant PAC.
Friday, June 14, 2019
The Erasure of the History of Collective Activism and Non-Violence in the USA
Thursday, May 30, 2019
Tweetety tweety tweet!
Friday, May 17, 2019
Political Courage, the House, W. Bush, and the Mueller Report
Sunday, May 12, 2019
Meanwhile, in the Marketplace
Also, a pro-tax tweet:
The USA has been on austerity budget since the 1990s. It hasn't made us richer, or even helped us get by.