consultants are sandburs

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A new year prediction - the Senate recount.

I predict that if the recount result is that Franken wins by one or more votes he will have no problem with the Senate seating him, unless there is a GOP filibuster.

I predict that the Senate in such a situation would not feel itself to be bound by any judicial interpretations of how it should exercise discretionary constitutional powers of the legislative branch.

Although less certain, I predict there will be snow in the Twin Cities metro area sometime in the New Year.

Beyond that, I am not going any further out on a limb.

Whether Nasser Kazeminy gives either of the Coleman spouses anything at any time in the future, that is simply too uncertain for me to touch.

Vikings against Eagles, I expect the game will be finished without homeland security problems, but I would not go so far as to predict that, or bet that way. Does that restraint in predictions make me a conservative, or only a conservative predictor?

Monday, December 29, 2008

I swear I can see Sarah Palin's visage, in among the flames - - -

I like images. This image. Thanks, this rant.

A response to a comment.

Europeans are smart.

That's true in general, and especially posted, for this anonymous person.

(Not you, Riley, the other comment.)

Wishing a healthy and prosperous new year, to this person, and all.

Europeans are smart even if you don't like Lederhosen.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ramsey's best trim $35,000 from the earlier proposed multi-million dollar levy.

Since September, Ramsey city staff and council have worked to bring down its proposed 2009 levy by $35,000.

In 2009, the city will levy $9,519,086 rather than the $9,554,086 proposed in September.

Tammy Sakry reports. Read her entire article. Does Ramsey need a City Administrator and an Assistant City Administrator? Planners and then atop that a planning consultant? A paid lobbyist? Shouldn't the developers and land speculators, Kuraks, Hunts, whoever, pay for their mischief, and fund their facilitators, the planning staff? There is no public benefit from planners and planning. It is a special interest service. Paid for by all taxpayers. Anyone can put sand in a machine. We do not need to pay specialists.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Not capital equipment, consumables. That means another eight-figure contract down the road. Fat city.

And may they shoot early and often.

BizJ reports:

Friday, December 5, 2008
ATK gets $87M deal to supply ammo to Afghans
Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal - by Sam Black Staff Writer

Alliant Techsystems Inc. announced today that it received an $87 million contract to supply various types of ammunition to the Afghan National Security Forces.

The contract was awarded by the U.S. Army Sustainment Command in Rock Island, Ill.

Eden Prairie-based ATK (NYSE: ATK) will manage the supply chain and provide the U.S. allies in Afghanistan with “non-standard small, medium, large caliber ammunition and rockets,” according to a press release.

ATK will use various international manufacturers and distributors to fulfill the contract.

“This award validates our pursuit of new international growth opportunities that are transforming ATK into a world class integrator of global defense systems,” said Mark DeYoung, President of ATK’s Armament Systems division.

It's jobs.

No napalm for them to smell in the morning. There's no Afghan Air Force to drop any.

More on Strib's death rattles - Kersten, Nick Coleman and cartoonist Steve Sack being "exited" - business, except for real estate value, going broke.

Newspapers are dying, Strib is part of that, and MinnPost has reported what Strib was doing but not even reporting about itself.

On the way out of existence, Strib looks to merit the Calvin position in this cartoon [where I'd earlier thought to assign the Calvin positioin to Met Council's planners and its Comp Plan staff in particular, or to planners in general as a class, but I'll dedicate the rerun to Strib - click to enlarge].

For detail, and comments, MinnPost has two items, one by Brauer, reporting; the other by Black, opinion.

Please have a look. Eric Black's viewpoint is what convinced me to dedicate the Calvin rerun to Strib. He might think that a bit snotty of me since I have no reporting experience and I am sure he has that proverbial "host of memories" of better times for freedom of the press and press prosperity in Minnesota. It would not be inappropriate for him to view things that way.

But, shouldn't Strib online have told us what they were doing?

My first hint was a blunt uber-right wing save KK email scream.

It seems somehow wrong to have to learn via MinnPost reporting what Strib did (but felt unwilling to tell people of in their own outlet).

Reticence that way bothers me. It seems to be a signature failure of leadership character, on the way toward the final shoals.

I don't know copyright status nuances, but for Calvin-and-Hobbs fans, this archive, online.

Also, Brauer of MinnPost heard some uber-right distress over KK, as he reports. I read the comments to the three MinnPost linked things, two Brauers and a Black. Is there any future for print media: The wire service feeds are online, there is NY Times and WaPo online, Google News, etc. I like Strib online because even when repackaging wire feeds, they glean. MinnPost has the Glean, and MPR Polinaut gleans. I like the Strib online, and PiPress, but it's got a nuisance habit of popping up that blithering SIGN-IN screen that is as bad as flashing ads. Speaking of which, FireFox with Adblock and script blocking is not helping the local paper online outlets, since selling ads is important cash flow. But it is such a bonus to remove that stuff.

Is it just me, or is there a strong trend toward the video blurb - the Adobe Flash player syndrome, and is that good with me in a minority of wanting things to read and not talk to me, or am I representative of a large audience bloc that's unresponsive to Web news becoming more and more like TV?

There is plenty opinion on the blogs, while the "news" outlets editorialize over what they feature and bury, or don't cover at all. (Some MinnPost comments suggested that Strib pre-election imposed a moritorium on political column prosyltzing, and if anyone has detail, please leave a comment here. I can see pros and cons to that, but as long as clear opinion is identified as such, why silence it?) But it is all editorial, and those talking about "the liberal Strib" are about ten or more years out of sync.

_________FURTHER UPDATE__________
I left out the item that retriggered my attention on Strib events, the Business Journal painting its bleak picture of the Strib's future, while cross referencing Brauer, which I googled since BJ did not give a Brauer link. BizJ did link over to its earlier "death rattle" story, here.

It's sitting on a nice piece of real estate, still, regardless of what the bean counters do to the press part of the package.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Invasion of the Iron Ranger Mentality. Click the image to enlarge and read.

And they left behind taconite tailings.

For the ET, mesothelioma, and a road to nowhere worthwhile.

My first job here had to do with poison ivy. Then a better-paying position opened up at the Marijuana Project, and I moved to that.

Stringing holiday lights?

NY Times interviews the government's main man in Mississippi, Mahmoud A. Elsohly, who grows marijuana for research purposes. This excerpt:

At this laboratory, which began in 1968, we often investigate marijuana’s chemistry. We also have a farm where we grow cannabis for federally approved researchers. Our material is employed in clinical studies around the country, to see if the active ingredient in this plant is useful for pain, nausea, glaucoma, for AIDS patients and so on. For these tests, researchers need standardized material for cigarettes or THC pills. We grow the cannabis as contractors for the National Institute on Drug Abuse — NIDA. And the only researchers who can get our material are those with special permits.

Most of the illicit material in the 1960s came from Mexico. So, in collaboration with the D.E.A. and the Mexican government, we acquired those seeds. Later, we acquired others from Colombia, Thailand, Jamaica, India, Pakistan and places in the Middle East. That permitted us to study chemical and botanical differences. By 1976, we were growing about 96 different varieties.

When researchers are performing clinical tests, they must have standardized material that will be the same every time. And it must be safe. You certainly wouldn’t want to give a sick person something sprayed with pesticide or angel dust, substances we’ve detected in some illicit marijuana.

In 1975, while I was in my last year of graduate school in natural products chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, the Lord provided me with twin daughters. My graduate student stipend was already over, and my adviser said, “You need to quickly find a job.”

So he recommended me for a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Mississippi’s Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. My first job here had to do with poison ivy. Then a better-paying position opened up at the Marijuana Project, and I moved to that. I liked the research, and I got on well with my supervisor and mentor, Dr. Carlton Turner, who later became the director of drug abuse policy in the Reagan White House. So, this work, it just happened.

My daughters, when they were in grade school, the teachers would ask them, “What does your father do?” And they’d say, “He grows marijuana.” And the teachers’ eyes would grow wide. After a while, my daughters said: “He works at the University of Mississippi. He’s a professor.”

I had always imagined back in the days of the Patty Hurst - SLA situation, her reported fiancee, Steven Weed, should end up with a job like this. Not so, or if he's affiliated with Uncle Sam's pot farming the article did not say. Serendipity put him somewhere else, and now, who knows where? Hurst married a cop, that much is known. But Steven Weed, he had his fifteen minutes of derivative fame and for all I know he's at AIG and going to spas, working in Cincinnati as a tax attorney, or in Belize teaching diving.

To fuel further speculation, see here, here and here. That last one was like the others, from Google, and I have no idea if it's the same person. Any definitive info should be left in a comment.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tom Pritchard of Minnesota Family Council is reportedly very disrespectful toward single parents raising a family, and toward those families.

Randy Furst reported, Strib online Dec. 18, 2008, the Tom Pritchard attitude toward single parent families and toward children of unconventional marriages, such as our President-elect:

Tom Prichard, president of the Minnesota Family Council, says he expects a state bill for a referendum in 2009 or 2010 on a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. He says "the state's interest in marriage is primarily raising of children, and children need a mother and father." Without both, he says, families face crime and educational problems and psychological difficulties.

"I think some people have seen Obama's election as assuring an era of social liberalism or radicalism," he said. "I think people assume the mood has changed. I don't think so."

Yes, Pritchard was speaking in the context of the gay marriage question, yet it is often exactly in a situation where attention is primarily focused on one aspect of family diversity that a telling statement of rampant bigotry toward all measure of diversity is allowed out, inadvertently and with regular caution relaxed over the message being broadcast to all of the rest of us.

If you are a single parent raising a family, or a child in such a family, or an adult who grew up in such a situation, or in a close friendship with any such person(s), you and all such people should regard Tom Pritchard with the utmost disdain.

It apparently is how he regards you.

Pritchard looks inclined to stigmatize divorce and hence, as a corollary, to believe that clearly failed marriages (recall the problems of GOP politician Mark Olson in Sherburne County in what certainly is a troubled marriage if not a fully failed one) should be endured "for the sake of the children."

That is a discredited canard.

Pritchard presumably may cling to such a notion, even if one spouse is beating the other and the children.

He appears to feel that once a man and woman divorce hell will ensue.

If not pure hell breaking loose, certainly in context his litany of "crime, educational problems, and psychological difficulties" cannot be viewed otherwise than as a prophecy of some kind of disadvantageous doom. Crime is universally stigmatized, (with social penalty attached if convicted), while "problems" and "difficulties" are negatively loaded words and nothing but that.

That view that hell attaches to divorce and to divorced people trying to cope appears to be his subliminal message within a message, and I do not think much of it.

So, criminals, dunces and basket cases result whenever the Pritchard ideology is breached, that is how he says he feels about you and your associates if you are a part of or friendly toward any within the broad-brush disdain he has this time professed. He has shown his true colors. Crime he says, attaches to what to him clearly are second-class families, be they two-parent gay families, or single parent straight or gay situations. He lumps them together. He is bigoted toward them all.

Now, in fairness to the primary issue Pritchard faced when he let slip his gaff against far more people than he aimed to offend and stigmatize, Furst also reported dimensions of the primary issue, gay civil rights, as excerpted:

OutFront thinks the mood is ripe for winning support for same-sex marriage in Minnesota, but opponents say the group has misread the political winds.

Between 2004 and 2006, gay marriage opponents spearheaded the political conversation in Minnesota, pushing bills to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that marriage is a union of a man and a woman only. The bills never got out of the Legislature.

[italics added]. Before resuming the reporting, that "spearheaded" term deserves attention, see this analysis, and this Google.

Furst, of Strib, continues:

In 2009, supporters of same-sex marriage hope to take the offensive, with a bill by Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, to legalize it, a Senate hearing to discuss it, and a statewide educational campaign that they hope will help Minnesotans warm to the idea.

OutFront Minnesota, the state's largest group pressing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality, says same-sex marriage will become its top priority next year. To lead that effort, the group will announce today that Amy Johnson will become its new executive director, replacing Ann DeGroot, who left a year ago.

"It feels my entire professional career and my volunteer activism led to this job," Johnson said in an interview this week. "I think in working for marriage, we are working for full dignity and respect for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families. And on the way to doing that, we are going to engage the hearts and minds of Minnesotans."

While ramping up its efforts, OutFront Minnesota is hoping to ratchet down the potential for confrontation with assurances it does not envision passage of a bill next year. Instead, OutFront is embarking on a multiyear effort and plans to engage in grass-roots discussions where people can hear from gay and lesbian couples in their own communities and be won over to same-sex marriage as an equity issue.

Johnson, 46, a Minneapolis attorney who has built a reputation for championing the legal rights of same-sex couples, is past president of Minnesota NARAL, the abortion rights advocacy group, and past president of the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association. She is optimistic a same-sex-marriage bill will pass in Minnesota within three to five years.

"I think Minnesotans understand that if one community is discriminated against, we all suffer," she says.

If it is unclear whether Pritchard is politically motivated or merely hateful, others are clearer over being into gay bashing strictly for the political gain intended, Furst reporting:

Although most Republicans oppose gay and lesbian marriage, House minority leader Marty Seifert said that Democrats, who control both houses, could pass it but that it would almost certainly be vetoed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. But with DFL candidates for governor in the Legislature, he suspects they'll want to avoid a floor vote they'd have to defend later.

Decide for yourself whether those are the words of a good man.

It looks like plain playing politics to me.

To me, this GOP man in the other legislative chamber is equally scheming and unimpressive:

Opponents of gay and lesbian marriage say they welcome OutFront's campaign. "To John Marty and their proponents, I say bring it on," said state Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove. "I'd love to have that discussion in the next election." He said most Minnesotans oppose gay marriage.

Who else said "bring it on?" Do you recall? Do you recall what ensued? Crime [Abu Ghraib and torture of detainees], problems and difficulties, happened, with the "bring it on" mentality asking for it. The we-vs-them mentality, the dehumanization of "the enemy" and a too easy view that people are basically good and we need not worry allowing excess to fester below the radar in a situation where abuse was too easy, too available, and too immediately tolerated including the keepsake photo-taking.

Comfort and joy to all, for the holidy season and new year. Comfort and joy when you light up the tree, or whatever.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A scanned calendar photo - a reminder to not just endure a Minnesota Winter - but to enjoy a Minnesota Winter.

The absolute offensiveness of the term "death taxes."

If a "death tax" were ever to be imposed, it likely would have to be a flat tax. In the grand scheme, your life-death situation is no more valuable than mine, so if they tax "death" it should be a flat tax.

However, what ARE taxed are estates at the time of death, a property tax; and inheritance, a tax on the privilege of being allowed to take custody and control and to assume the right to exclude others over property of one who has died.

There is no inherent right to kinship succession.

The state allows it, a form of favoritism if there ever was one, and in return charges for itself a share of the bounty it allows to go certain ways to favored persons, from those whose actual and direct control has passed. You don't drive the Chevy after you've croaked, so why, inherently, should you have any say over who does?

A power to control something tangible or intangible after your capacity to defend and use the asset, by designating who after you cease to exist can control it, is a quite artificial thing. It is a dead hand having power.

Allowing a fight for dominion after death of an owner, or forfeiture in total to the state to be sold to the highest bidder, an exchange-based surrogate for fighting, are inherently more equitable things than saying a no-longer existing person can still call shots via something as intangible in actuality, as a "will" outlasting a life.

If absolute and unwavering escheat to the state at death, and sale with proceeds going to the common good, are not inherently more equitable, at least they arguably are so. What counter arguments beyond custom can YOU offer to the contrary? Locke thought about this a bit. King Lear thought he'd figured an alternative as did Hamlet's uncle.

Flat tax proposals - Is this a proper rejoinder?

The next time you encounter someone advocating "a flat tax" a response is, "I will go along with a flat tax on your shareholdings, business capital, bond holdings, and bank accounts as long as you leave alone the graduated tax upon income and renounce the idea that capital gains income differs somehow from what's gained by the sweat of labor." After all, real property taxes are flat taxes, and are taxes on accumulated wealth, so why not likewise tax other accumulations of wealth; with tangible and intangible wealth treated alike? It would be a consistent system. Taxing real estate but not shareholdings seems to draw an artificial distinction, or am I wrong. Especially apart from the family home, rental real estate is taxed while bond portfolios are not. Each is held for the income stream it produces. They tax the income from a patent but not the patent itself. Is it only a question of ease of valuation, or is more at play? Taxing income from a blast furnace is done, but there is some offset allowed for "depreciation" of the blast furnace. As you age, your ability to labor lessens; so shouldn't a laborer depreciate his days on earth, limited just as is the useful age of the blast furnace? You tell me the answer. I only pose the question. An aging working person is as tangible as a working blast furnace, and blast furnace depreciation is not individualized but on some scheduled useful lifetime basis, just as life expectancy is a projected average. But intangibility, such as a book copyright is separate from and more hypothetical than the working person, the working blast furnace.

Here is wishing a happy holiday and prosperous new year to LeRoy Schaffer, ongoing St. Francis city council member.

After the tongue-cluckers got their special election because of spiteful feelings, LeRoy Schaffer, target of a municipal recall effort, prevailed among special election voters.

My experience has been that special election voters are the more dedicated and informed members of the electorate, the ones who can think and read and care, and that results of special elections are more valid than general election outcomes.

That is a personal anecdotal impression, and readers are invited to carp to the contrary in comments.

From all I saw nothing in the recall effort went to the heart of Mr. Schaffer's capability and job performance as a council member, where he often was a minority voice against a majority will, but the City Attorney got a court order saying the election would be held because the St. Francis city charter preempted state law on malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance standards so that witch hunting in St. Francis was okay. I have emailed the St. Francis City Administrator for a copy of the Judge's opinion, to see what reasoning prevailed, but I still await a response.

So the special election was held, Schaffer prevailing 344 vs. 300, a vote closer than I expected to see. I thought sanity would dictate a ten-to-one majority against the tongue-cluckers.

Strib online Dec. 16, reports:

The vote total is fewer than the 10 percent of registered voters who signed a petition to hold the recall election. City Clerk Barb Held said road conditions and long commutes might have factored into the low turnout.

Amy Lazere, a member of the committee the [sic] initiated the recall, credited Schaffer's victory to an aggressive campaign that she said was girded by lies and misrepresentations.

"I'm ready to puke that the city of St. Francis is on his side," she said.

I do not know Mr. Schaffer, but I know his friend Chester Graham, who is a quite decent person concerned with wanting good government over bad, with wanting ordinary people to see their rights recognized in court, and in general concerned with fair and just as better standards to live under than our too prevalent "Golden Rule" version, the one having the men with the gold making the rules.

My hope would be, given Strib reporting, that Mr. Schaffer would circulate a petition requiring Amy Lazere to show up at the next city hall meeting and puke, as she said she was ready to do. Presumably the St. Francis City Attorney might get a court order barring a special election of the puking issue as outside of both the St. Francis Charter and State law, but it just seems something that under the totality of circumstances ought to be pursued. Ms. Amy simply deserves it.

While I have seen coarse conflict of interest tolerated in one of St. Francis' neighboring cities, the offenders not being targeted for recall, and I have seen ineptness at the council table that to me was nonfeasance or so bad as to be misfeasance, there was toleration of that also.

In St. Francis, (and would YOU like to live there), charges against Council member Schaffer were reported by Strib as:

He has been under fire since a year ago, when he was accused of making inappropriate sexual remarks to a younger woman at a social event. He was censured by the City Council for that incident.

The recall group also accused Schaffer, 69, of spreading false information to residents, and of acting erratically and without city backing.

A police call to report a crew of Spanish-speaking roofers, and an outburst at a television reporter over the summer, led detractors to call him an embarrassment. Supporters called Schaffer a patriot, a straight talker who refuses to march in step with the council.

To me, going to an election over such non-job related things (for a municipal council member's job) as Strib mentions, is giving tongue-clucking too much procedural sway against personal freedom to live free of the neighbors' collective harassment; we after all have eliminated ducking stools in this nation; and I confess to having been far more embarrassed, personally, by seeing large-bloc land owners calling the shots in the neighboring town, if "embarrassment" is to be the measure of whether one should be allowed to stay on a city council.

Don't YOU find conflict of interest to be culpably worse and more troubling a public job-related council member performance worry than what LeRoy Schaffer did, on his own time, in his own perhaps awkward way?

I do.

Again, the special election vs. general election dimension is an interesting one, Strib stating:

The recall group had hoped to schedule the recall for Election Day; almost 300 of their 807 signatures had to be tossed because only previously registered voters were eligible to sign the petition. They needed 741, or 10 percent of the city's voters. They reached their goal 10 days later, after the Election Day deadline.

In the meantime, committee member Jeff Sandoval narrowly won a council seat, beating out incumbent Ray Jones by three votes. Schaffer filed a lawsuit against the city to try to stop the vote. He tried to take a restraining order against the recall group, the mayor and City Council members.

Sandoval said he was disappointed by the outcome and worried about the prospect of having to work with Schaffer on the council.

"One side of it will be very difficult," he said. "It will be very difficult to work with him because I don't believe he has any credibility. The other side of it is I have to do what's best for this city, and that means having to work with him."

It seems to me that Jeff Sandoval and Amy Lazere have made public spectacles of themselves, in a very offensive way and in a way democracy allows despite its offensiveness (thus showing one inadequacy in democracy), and it also seems that after failing in their attempt at making LeRoy Schaffer's days harder than they should be, these two should apologize to the people of St. Francis for their own conduct instead of continuing to feel themselves special.

I think looking for problematic and outright stupid conduct for this pair should begin by looking in a mirror.

For further detail, here is questioning of a letter to the editor Schaffer wrote (LTEs being a protected First Amendment thing when last I looked).

Here is reporting of the judicial dispute over whether there would be a special election, the reporting on which I base the charter-vs-state-law characterization, and referencing the judicial opinion I requested a copy of from St. Francis officials.

Here is another First Amendment loving blogger calling Schaffer "folk hero."

Here is the google search that got the UPDATE items.

KSTP has the most detailed coverage, this item being the source of the photo of Shaffer, and linking to other Shaffer related KSTP material, with more reported on the Hispanic roofers incident, and on Jeff Sandoval:

In June, Schaffer called the St. Francis Police Department to investigate what he thought were illegal immigrants working on a home in his neighborhood.

Schaffer told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that he's not a racist. He does admit he called police to report suspicious behavior by Spanish-speaking roofers working on a home.

According to the police report, Schaffer stated that he was "certain that they were illegal aliens because they didn't speak English."

When 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS talked to Schaffer about the incident, he insisted the police call wasn’t racially charged.

"We got rid of slavery and somehow economically we survived. We got rid of all that nice cheap labor in the south and they adapted," Schaffer said.

Residents told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the calls for Schaffer’s resignation are not because of his actions, but because of what he said.

"Right now I’m embarrassed to even be on the city council or even be a resident of St. Francis," said fellow Councilmember Tim Brown.

Brown said this isn’t the first time he’s heard Schaffer make racially charged comments. He said Schaffer called Hispanics ‘wetbacks’ during his 2006 campaign.

"Even if I wasn’t half-Mexican, most people don’t think that I am and I hear this and I do not care for it. Never have and I never will," said St. Francis Planning Commissioner Jeff Sandoval.

He and four others collected the 700 necessary signatures needed for a recall vote.

"You can have opinions, but your opinions have to be very carefully worded. You have to be careful about what you say and how you say things," Sandoval said.

KSTP has posted the 911 call transcript showing Schaffer from his home seeking a check on status of non-English speaking roofing workers at a neighboring address.

Judge for yourself, is political correctness nannyism vs. free speech norms cause to want to remove a city council member from a city council seat? Was Schaffer wrong to question city land dealings in a LTE? Who are these people who caused there to be a special election and what kind of America do they want? Is it the America you want? Should citizens in their private capacity seeing something triggering suspicions be hesitant in calling and asking authorities to check out a situation? Should one feel intimidated over political correctness in phoning 911? Is questionable judgment and speech apart from sitting at the council table and acting in an official capacity a suitable cause for having a recall effort? What are the limits of community vs. individual, or individuals vs. other individuals, in terms of attaining official actions? What is freedom to mean, in actual situations, beyond platitudes and abstractions? What consequences should attach to how "freedom" is exercised or curtailed or channeled?

_________FURTHER UPDATE_________
Try it this way, our love of the First Amendment, and the sentence, "You can have opinions, but your opinions have to be very carefully worded."

How do you judge the juxtaposition of those two things? Compatible or incompatible? Think what you want but talk politically correct or be silenced OR hunted down with torches and pitchforks? Is it that, a conflict beyond resolution, or simply stressing that it is best to be polite and well mannered, whatever point you wish to make? But if impolite, what are proper consequences and what are overreaching consequences? What protections do you accord unpopular views, since popular views generally do not need protection because the weight of numbers alone protects things held to be popular?

Flag-burning and gay marriage have been exploited by some for political advantage, due to unpopularity vs. feelings of wanting a society that imposes less restraint against freedoms and against imbalanced civil rights. I believe the Federalist arguments recognized the strong and numerous could protect themselves, and the term "tyranny of the majority" was a focus Madison and others deemed important to consider.

Saying, "You can have opinions, but your opinions have to be very carefully worded;" Is that AMERICA? Is that your view of give and take?

On the other hand, was it not a positive thing to have the son of a white woman from Kansas and a black Kenyan elected president without bigoted words bandied about publicly during the election process? There are nuances to the questions.

________FURTHER UPDATE__________
The online bio of Judge Barry Sullivan, the one denying Schaffer's effort to restrain the recall effort, is here. A Pawlenty appointee.

Online docket history for Schaffer's case against St. Francis should be accessible from here, or there is an online image I posted here.

Please post a comment or email if you have difficulty with any link.

Reporting (e.g., PiPress, here) has identified Schaffer's lawyer as Alan Jontz, and an Alan Jontz has been subject to disciplinary action in the past but I cannot say it is the same person or not, see, here and here. Chester Graham, mentioned earlier, also has been subject to disciplinary action, and some people may weigh that as a factor to consider. I do not put much weight into such things, especially with Graham, who I have met personally and spoken to at the Anoka County Law Library. I have never met Schaffer nor Judge Sullivan, nor any other person named in the docketed matter. People who do not defy authority and test boundaries seldom become "test cases" as Schaffer was. Rosa Parks broke the law, sitting wrongly in a southern bus. Lunch counter sit-ns were unlawful, and law enforcement acted locally to keep southern dining areas segregated. We must keep a perspective.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The double whammy - more Madoff - Haaretz reports.

Online, Dec. 19, 2008, with the Chanukah days starting at sundown, and the holiday being the Israeli and Jewish winter period for things other than bad news --- we learn that beyond direct swindle losses, Haaretz reports that other than for the lawyers, there may be yet more downside rather than gain for those whom Madoff touched:

Hundreds of Israelis who invested their money in the funds managed by Bernard Madoff and won't have nice returns to look forward to anymore, may soon be required to report to the Israel Tax Authority on where they got their money from.

The trustee appointed by the court in New York to protect the investors' money, Irving Picard, will likely reveal the complete list of investors in Madoff's funds, as well as the amounts they put in over the years, and the Israeli taxman may take a serious interest in the information.

Madoff is the Wall Street investment manager who recently admitted to a years-long Ponzi scheme fraud scam totaling some $50 billion.

The entry ticket to Madoff's investment fund was a minimum of $1 million, as well as complete control over the investments. Madoff's wide net of connections in Israel and worldwide Jewish communities drew quite a number of Israeli investors. Many of them saw Madoff as not only a way to earn a nice return on their money, but also as a way to avoid the income tax authority's watchful eye.

A number of quite worried clients have shown up at the doors of the best-known Israeli law firms specializing in tax law in the past few days asking for an urgent consultation. The fears that Picard will reveal the names and amounts, or be forced to reveal them as the result of a lawsuit, has caused the large number of requests.

"Already at this stage it is possible to say that large sums of money reached Madoff's funds from Swiss banks and various tax havens," said Dr. Avi Nov, a lawyer specializing in tax planning. "Usually the money there is not money that the owners are interested in reporting to the authorities.

"Here there was an excellent linkup of sophisticated investors who knew how to avoid paying taxes in Israel, and funds specializing in hiding their true purposes. Private investors in Israel always spoke about Madoff's returns. European banks recommended investing with him and when they heard the success stories, they asked to increase their investment," said Nov.

Read the eitire story from the link, especially if you've been more naughty than nice about sneaky cash-related things and this report sounds any personal alarm bells. The report seems to indirectly say that sporting the taxman is as much an Israeli national sport as it is reported to be in many parts of Europe - but not North America, of course, where self reporting honesty is a national pride, for us.

While a comeuppance of this kind might not be wholly unjust, and that term, "tax planning," can be overly elastic for some people, it is quite unfortunate that many charities, foundations, and scholarship funding outlets have been stung by this fraud. The general level of community suffering in hard times seems to have a multiplier effect as dominoes fall; not a good thing for anyone except apparently the lawyers and the taxman. What would George Harrison say?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

St. Charles Streetcar in snow.

Not a normal thing, photo from Dec. 11, 2008, Time.

Gingrich for sale. Vin Weber for sale. Freddie Mac paid. Surprisingly, Freddie held scrutiny at a distance.

Strib carrying an AP feed earlier this month.

Internal Freddie Mac budget records show $11.7 million was paid to 52 outside lobbyists and consultants in 2006. Power brokers such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were recruited with six-figure contracts. Freddie Mac paid the following amounts to the firms of former Republican lawmakers or ex-GOP staffers in 2006:

_Sen. Alfonse D'Amato of New York, at Park Strategies, $240,000.

_Rep. Vin Weber of Minnesota, at Clark & Weinstock, $360,297.

_Rep. Susan Molinari of New York, at Washington Group, $300,062.

_Susan Hirschmann at Williams & Jensen, former chief of staff to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, $240,790.

Freddie Mac's chairman and chief executive, Dick Syron, and McLoughlin, senior vice president for external relations, used Clark and Weinstock extensively, Weber said in an e-mail Friday.

"I personally met with the CEO several times and with Hollis and his team regularly," Weber said in the e-mail. "Clark and Weinstock worked effectively and intensely for Freddie Mac under Dick Syron and Hollis McLoughlin."

The tactics worked — for a time. Freddie Mac was able to operate with a relatively free hand until the housing bubble ultimately burst in 2007.

Now Freddie Mac and its sister company, Fannie Mae, are in financial collapse and under government control. Congress is investigating how it all happened. Lawmakers have planned a hearing Tuesday.

The records obtained by the AP reflect growing concern within Freddie Mac over a chorus of criticism from Republicans worried that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae had grown too big. The two companies owned or guaranteed over $5 trillion in mortgages.

The Bush administration and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan were sounding the alarm about the potential threat to the nation's financial health if the fortunes of the two mammoth companies turned sour. They did eventually, when they took on $1 trillion worth of subprime mortgages and when their traditional guarantee business deteriorated. Commercial banks regarded Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae as competitors and were anxious to pick up business that would result from scaling back the two companies.

Pushing back, Freddie Mac enlisted prominent conservatives, including Gingrich and former Justice Department official Viet Dinh, paying each $300,000 in 2006, according to internal records.

Gingrich talked and wrote about what he saw as the benefits of the Freddie Mac business model.

More on Gingrich, this link and here; this Google.

Paul Weyrich death.

I have a Google Alert set for "Council for National Policy" and it produced today this link (source of the image). I find one of the comments interesting:

hoosier says:
December 19, 2008, at 11:17 pm
My question is, for any journalists reading, how could Weyrich oppose Tower for being drunk in public, but have worked with Coors at Heritage? I mean, if his only opposition to Tower was moral, rather than substantive, how did he reconcile taking money from a man who’s fortune is built on intoxication? Now of course, not every beer drinker drinks to intoxication, but to oppose someone who, presumably, is otherwise qualified for SecDef in large part because of intoxication, and yet to have built a foundation with a beer heir, it just seems a little funny. Did he have other objections to Tower, but decided that the moral angle was best for public consumption? Did Tower only drink whiskey, or maybe Budweiser, so it was ok to work with Coors? Is being a drunk one thing, but being a drunk and a womanizer something else entirely? How did Weyrich reconcile these seeming contradictions?

Not that I weep over any scorn for John Tower, but it is an interesting point. Didn't Christ drive hypocrites and dissemblers out of someplace, or do I misremember something long ago endured at my parents' demand, then dismissed?

There is this general Google, then this Google News.

Gary Bauer weighs in. I may be a cynic, but I somehow envision Bauer's major concern being to get Wyrich's mailing list. Not that such a concern would be unseemly, the man will no longer need it after all. Political loyalties show. I have never pretended to understand or like that wing of the human race, but I find it interesting the eulogies are from the "Market Watch" site. Perhaps I read too much into that. I do wonder what "New Power (and power lunches)" will follow this passing. Wikipedia's Weyrich entry has been updated to include his death. The reaper is grim, nobody should doubt or downplay that reality, but I was more troubled when (s)he got Walter Payton then by this. And I respect the Sourcewatch entry more than the present eulogies. Walter Peyton never had a Sourcewatch page, but different camps probably view each man as a role model. Adrian Peterson remains, as does Gary Bauer, one from each camp. I have more regard for good running backs than for disruptive right-wingers. Choose your own role model, if you want one at all.

Within days, Slinging Sammy Baugh and Mark Felt also died. Compared to Weyrich they will be more universally missed except by the Nixonians in Felt's case.

Friday, December 19, 2008

There were three parties in the election. Three parties should say what is to be done with absentee ballots, to have a fair outcome.

If this Court ruling is to stand as precedent, it is strange and an insult to voters to not include the third party in the State, the third party on the Senate ballot, to have input on any absentee recount - they have a stake in assuring it will be a fair process, and should not be excluded simply because their vote numbers were insufficient to provide a stake in the recount outcome. Procedure fair to the IP must be assured or the result simply would be unjust.

Strib linked to the Court's opinion, here. Per this excerpt, Strib reported:

The Minnesota Supreme Court said improperly rejected absentee ballots must be counted by the state Canvassing Board, something Coleman tried to prevent. But they won't be counted immediately, and Coleman and Franken must agree on which ones are tallied.

The court ruled against Coleman's attempt to block the Canvassing Board from counting any improperly rejected absentee ballots, but said such ballots can be counted only when both campaigns and local officials agree they have been improperly excluded.

In doing so, it ordered the campaigns of Coleman and Franken, along with Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and local canvassing boards, to establish a process for jointly identifying mistakenly rejected absentee ballots. The court said they should then be added to the tally.

[...] the requirement that candidates agree on which absentee ballots were improperly rejected could throw a new curve ball into the process and even prevent legitimate votes from being counted.

"The order does not guarantee that the candidates and their political parties will agree on any rejected ballot," said Associate Justice Alan Page in a stinging dissent. "Instead, the court's order will arbitrarily disqualify enfranchised voters on the whim of the candidates and political parties."

David Schultz, a Hamline University professor specializing in election law, agreed.

"This is really out of character with Minnesota law to now suddenly give campaigns a veto over the counting," he said, calling it a "weird proviso that basically says everybody has to make nice and cooperate on this one."

Schultz said Coleman is more vulnerable to rejected absentee ballots from St. Louis County and elsewhere where Franken did well in the election. Officials in Hennepin County have tallied 336 absentee ballots that they agreed were improperly rejected.

The court opinion, signed by Associate Justice Helen Meyer, said that county canvassing boards lack authority under state law to count improperly rejected absentee ballots, but that correcting the error should not have to wait for court action, as the Coleman campaign contended.

Meyer ordered the counties and candidates to report accepted absentee ballots to the state Canvassing Board by Dec. 31.

She instructed local officials and candidates to agree on which improperly rejected ballots should be reported to the board.

Meyer said the Canvassing Board cannot certify the final results of the recount until it gets the tally of absentee ballots acceptable to the parties, or a statement that they did not reach agreement.

She warned lawyers for the campaigns against bringing frivolous objections to counting improperly rejected ballots.

Associate Justice Paul Anderson, like Page, also dissented over the decision to enjoin county canvassing boards from correcting errors without the consent of the candidates.

He cited the case of two people who were rejected for lack of registration when in fact both were registered.

"I am perplexed by [the Coleman campaign's] position that county canvassing boards do not have the ability to review and correct obvious errors in the counting and recording of absentee ballots," Anderson wrote.

While the reporting jumped between nose-count news, and the impact of the opinion, it did highlight dissent views in the decision. If a precedent on absentee counting conventions and nuances is to be established, it cannot be a two-party fest when there is a viable third Minnesota party now, and perhaps more parties for our future.

Give the IP a seat on the canvassing board, or some other say equal to the DFL and GOP, on how votes are to be fairly processed, or else keep ALL parties out of it.

But do NOT further favor two-party political dominance by strengthening that dominance solely because each of the two has a stake in the present dispute; while we all have a stake in vote handling in the future.

I am disappointed that none of the dissenting opinions specifically introduced this aspect of fairness into Court thinking. It seemed a point inherent but unstated in Justice Page's dissent, where he wrote in part [bracketed text added for explanatory purposes, though not in the original]:

Josef Stalin is alleged to have once said, "I consider it completely unimportant who ... will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this - who will count the votes, and how."

Today the court gives credence to that proposition by preventing at least some number of validly cast votes from being included in the final canvass of the election for Minnesota's United States Senate seat currently held by Senator Norm Coleman. As a result, these Minnesota citizens who cast their votes for Senator Coleman and Al Franken, as well as in other election contests on the ballot, will be disenfranchised.

[...] But "foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," and therein lies the rub. The court's ruling denies county canvassing boards which have reached the decision - that an absentee ballot was rejected in obvious error - the ability to correct those errors unless the [two-party] candidates agree. The court's order may seek the peaceful [two party] way out by asking the [contesting] campaigns to agree on improperly rejected ballots. But the order does not guarantee that the candidates and their political parties will agree on any rejected ballot. Instead, the court's order will arbitrarily disqualify enfranchised voters on the whim of the [two contesting] candidates and [the two dominant] political parties without the benefit of the legislatively authorized procedures in section 204C.39.

It is a perverse result, indeed, for [two of the State's three] political parties and their candidates to determine whether a voter's absentee ballot was properly or improperly rejected [... and] the court has abdicated its role as the defender of the fundamental right to vote. Instead it has made the [two dominant] candidates and their parties the gatekeepers- even though they are likely to be more concerned with their own election prospects than with protecting the absentee voter's right to vote.

Justice Page was most vexed over unfairness to a set of voters, the absentees, and to each one of them; but while he did not directly look beyond that to unfairness to the third party, his preeminent focus upon fairness, however, implicitly includes attention to being fair to the third party and its members and those who might in the future support and vote for it. This court consideration does not only impact the present two-party dispute, it impacts more.

KK, watch out for the doorknob on the way out, and know that MFC will likely have a job available.

I subscribe to Minnesota Family Council's e-newsletter, since I find their perspective on events and ideas to be informative, in a sense. There is this, in today's email:

You may have learned that the Star Tribune is eliminating the position of Katherine Kersten as a twice weekly metro columnist for the paper. Kersten was the one thoughtful, conservative voice at the Star Tribune which is one of the most liberal newspapers in the country. The loss of her voice is a loss for conservative Star Tribune readers and the broader community. (I realize many of you may not read the newspaper, but for middle of the road people she provided a voice of reason.)

MFC, an organization that has such love and respect surely has a job opening, or can make one for someone they regard so highly. That would be a match made in Heavan -- their place, or so they appear to indicate. For me, it improves quality of a paper that has slipped so very far that any improvement merits mention.

Here are some links, but how long they stay live links I cannot say: here, here, and here.

Lady, don't bother seeking any job on the Frankin Senate staff.

More -- a trifecta of Kersten fear-and-loathing mongering, as Zach's link, above, describes it: here, here, and here. Am I unduly skeptical, in inferring things such as a lobbying effort afoot in advance of even Strib public notice of something; with the politics of it looking fairly distasteful?

All I could find about Kersten being downsized was what I read from that gentleman, Mr. Pritchard, of MFC in his e-mailing. On checking the Strib online, all I found via a site-specific Google of "Kersten" were hits to her what I call "writing" and this. If she truly is being bounced, she's taken her crying towel to factions that should offer her alternate employment rather than trying to fire up community discord over a newspaper's betterment. Perhaps the paper can outsource her - have someone in India read a few of her pieces of work, and then imitate it for a third the cost. It would not be hard to do.

CAPE WIND: More Info, via an opening screenshot from Christian Science Monitor coverage.

The item is here. It is two pages of reporting and opinion from about a year and a half ago. The online item includes detail on opposition positions to the offshore windfarm held by Mitt Romney and by Ted Kennedy. Read the entire article, please, but check the intro now by clicking the screenshot to enlarge and read it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bernie, Tom and Charles [aka Carlo].

I had swapped the mugshot of Charles Ponzi on the sidebar for mine, when I put up an earlier post.

The mugshot is from the Wikipedia entry, for Ponzi, and the opening image above is for his investment opportunity vehicle, taking advantage of prepaid postage arrangements, when mail is exchanged internationally.

You can get detail from the links - here is the executive summary; while in Boston, Ponzi noticed, after time in jail in Canada before ending up in Boston, that he received mail from Italy with a postal-reply-coupon he could exchange for US stamps allowing him to mail a prepaid return -AND- that the US stamps were worth more, money-wise in US currency, than the prepaid coupon price in Italy, in Italian currency.

His approach was to arbitrage the difference, in volume, and to make a profit.

This lured investors, just as Madoff was arbitraging the spread between bid and ask pricing for shares traded via NASDEQ, a spread which was becomming ever narrower via SEC requiring first trading in sixteenths instead of eights of a dollar, and then in pennies; and Petters was arbitraging warehouse goods [allegedly with a gap between cost and sale return, but in his case the goods never existed, it was a fraud from the start and not an arbitrage situation that worked small-scale or shrunk from profitable to unprofitable, as with Ponzi and Madoff].

With Madoff and Ponzi, arbitrage "profits" ended up being insufficient to pay costs, and each survived by taking in new investment money and paying off any lesser volume of withdrawing investors from the pool; regardless of the pool not growing from any profit making but growing only from more investor money entering than departing.

In each situation, a day of reckoning occurred, just as banks lending out more than they can cover will, in a bank run, lead to a failure. How much banks can leverage things is a Fed policy matter, and we recently have seen how the Fed will intervene in what it believes to be in the best interest of its owners - banks, for the Fed is NOT owned by taxpayers. It is a bankers' bank. Banks own it. Bankers regulate themselves.

In Seattle a health club firm was selling lifetime memberships in health clubs at various locations for a downpayment and monthly charges, and the nature of business, corporate existence, the firm's pricing, and bankruptcy law being what they all are, when the new membership rate of increase fell to where costs exceeded periodic fee income plus a dwindling downpayment cash flow the firm folded - and all of the members found that what they'd bought was a membership for the lifetime of the corporation, not for their personal lifetimes as they were led to expect.

It is something like a chain letter. A saturation point is hit, or a downturn, and the pool of cash on hand is insufficient in a Ponzi program, (or forwarding a chain letter fails to produce cash flow from each new recipient to where more is paid out than recouped). So, bottom line is, the Fed polices a Ponzi scheme in the sense that fractional reserves are required to be held in the vaults, not 100 cents to cover every dollar deposited. The money can be leveraged, but not over-leveraged (the optimum rate being a judgment call), and if everyone makes payments on time -AND- there's no run by depositors to cash out, all is well.

I have wondered, should there be formed a Ponzi anti-defamation league? Everyone says, "Ponzi scheme." Always the linked words. Never, "Ponzi promotion," "Ponzi approach," "Ponzi structured investment opportunity," or "Ponzi arbitrage proposal," always instead it is "scheme."

Given how bankers operate without a general usage being to talk of "banking schemes," it seem Ponzi arguably was as much "imprudent" as a crook and that the anti-defamation proposal has ideological merit.

Had the margin that Ponzi cleared on each coupon been greater, and the spread between the money FX rate market and the postal rate market stable so that as Ponzi first proposed, coupons could be bought in one market, exchanged for stamps, and the stamps sold in another market where the imbalance allowed a profit sufficient to cover agent commissions and all other costs, then Ponzi would not have been a schemer, but instead a businessman and role model, as he was viewed, for a while.

Figure all of that out for yourself. Invest wisely.

Finally, does anyone have any idea where that coupon designer drew inspiration from, in designing the product? Imitation is flattery. And the coupon designer did not have to lie on his back on scaffolding doing a fresco. I have wondered if the original item also was the origin of the saying about the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing, at least before the magic moment. Probably not.

Cape Wind. Blowing in the wind with James Oberstar and the Mineral Management Service. Is the question technological and environmental, or political?

For an opening general overview report, Oberstar seeking a present delay, see here and here (source of the opening photo). Wikipedia has a "Cape Wind" entry, saying [without all links included],

The Cape Wind Project is a $900 million proposed offshore wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod in Massachusetts (41°32′31″N 70°19′16″W) proposed by a private developer, Cape Wind Associates. If the project moves forward on schedule, it will become one of the first offshore wind energy projects in the United States. The footprint for the proposed project covers 24 square miles, 13.8 miles from the island town of Nantucket. The project envisions 130 horizontal-axis wind turbines, each having a hub height of 440 feet — higher than the Statue of Liberty, which stands at 305 feet. The blade diameter is 364 feet. The turbines would be sited between 4-11 miles offshore depending on the shoreline. At peak generation, the turbines will generate 420 megawatts of renewable electricity. This is enough to meet the needs of 420,000 homes.

From the Wikipedia page, now when map coordinates are given, you can get locale stuff as for Cape Wind, with this image being from Google Maps/Images, showing the proposed site off Cape Cod:

The Europeans are pioneers in offshore wind farm planning and implementation, follow this Google for background. The idea is the offshore wind is steady, terrain and building effects are non-existant, and the size of wind turbines are less constrained offshore because neighborhood noise is not an impediment to maximizing economies of scale. But then, how is the power brought onshore to the grid, used for electrolysis in a hydrogen economy, or what other details attach as complications?

We know the Cape Wind people say they feel it is worth investing something short of a billion bucks to give it a try, despite opposition; with their website screenshot below showing this (click to enlarge and read):

But, lo and behold, politics plays a hand, and our Oberstar reportedly might be a surrogate player for Massachusetts opponents of Cape Wind. Plus, this is the regulatory power, and its shortcomings gaining media attention (this Google, and reporting) might or might not have been brought to a public focus from the east coast, even when hearing or reading "Minerals Management" makes us think of the Rockies, the Iron Range, and tailings waste problems everywhere that mining interests hold sway.

So, opponents reportedly include Ted Kennedy and Mitt Romney, while propaganda in favor of the project is on the project site [source of the below screen shot image - click the image to enlarge and read it]:

Change in the wind -- Time to OK Nantucket Sound project -- Saturday, December 06, 2008
...Cape Wind will not be a panacea for the region’s energy needs, but it could provide up to 170 megawatts of power annually, or 75 percent of the electricity needs of Cape Cod and the Islands. Whether it proves to be an economic success for its developers remains to be seen, but our nation — and New England, in particular — is in desperate need of innovative, low-carbon, environmentally friendly means of generating power for this and coming generations.
It’s time to let Cape Wind proceed.
Note: Click here to read this Worcester Telegram & Gazette Editorial

College forum extols virtues of 'going green'-- Friday, December 05, 2008
It’s not always easy going green, but Cape Codders are more than willing to try. It’s just a matter of figuring out the best ways to do so. Ferreting out answers to that dilemma, and others, was the focus of a special green energy forum held Dec. 2 in the Lyndon P. Lorusso Applied Technology Building at Cape Cod Community College. Hosted by 4Cs president Kathy Schatzberg and facilitated by Richard Lawrence, coordinator of clean energy at the college, the event featured local green energy panelists and an update on state efforts from Ian Bowles, secretary of the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
...Chris Powicki, president of the Cape and Islands Renewable Energy Collaborative (, discussed the group’s new CIGoGreen initiative, which includes a regional energy action plan...Powicki also told the standing-room-only crowd that it’s time to move forward with “The Project Not to be Named,” i.e. Cape Wind.“Locally it has to move forward,” he said. “We can’t just put our heads in the sand.” In Powicki’s opinion it’s time for Cape Cod residents to determine how they will leverage the project when it gets built, as opposed to “if.”
Bowles, serving as keynote speaker of the event, seemed to agree with Powicki. “Massachusetts is long on talking about renewable power,” he said. “We’ve allowed ourselves to be in a position where we haven’t done the building we need to do.”
Note: Click here to read this article in the Barnstable Patriot

In Our Backyard, Please -- Friday, December 05, 2008
Traditional Cape Cod views are inching closer to a little exterior remodeling. The Cape Cod Wind Farm Project, which has been paralyzed in a heated debate between numerous advocates and a few notable protesters, is soon to win the added support of the Bush administration. With this increase in federal backing, the project has reached the point at which talk must end and action must start. Given that the project has been proven to provide a substantial amount of energy with limited environmental impact, the proposal put forth by Cape Wind, the company that would build this wind farm in Nantucket Sound, should be approved quickly.
Note: Click here to read this Harvard Crimson Editorial

Kennedy family, caught in a NIMBY squeeze?

A different Wikipedia entry [again w/o links] says:

Hyannis Port is a small residential village and affluent summer community on Hyannis Harbor 2.3 km to the south-southwest of Hyannis. Central location: 41°37′56″N 70°18′11″W. It has a small U.S. Post Office (zip code 02647) next door to a small seasonal convenience store, The News Shop and Gallery. It is the location of the Kennedy Compound and other Kennedy family residences and is included in the National Register of Historic Places. It has one of the premier golf courses on Cape Cod, the Hyannisport Club, and is also home to the West Beach Club, the Hyannis Port Yacht Club, and the Hyannis Marina.

Royalty will have its way.

So if NIMBY affects local royalty, and raises hackles, we can presume -- and, for comparison purposes here is the same satellite regional image, showing where Hyannis Port lies relative to the proposed offshore wind farm, make of it what you will:

Also, millions are alleged to have been spent in opposition to this "clean, friendly, tree-hugging" energy proposal, and comment2 to the one online report opines:

Look further into this ploy by the anti-wind-farm group. Who is spending huge amounts of money to delay and prevent this development? It's Big Oil, Big Coal, doing whatever they can to stop the development of clean renewable energy. Shame on them!

Oberstar's letter comes at the request of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a group backed and fronted by Bill Koch, CEO of Oxbow. Oxbow's primary businesses are the mining and marketing of energy and commodities such as coal, petroleum coke, oil production, and composite pipe manufacturing. The Alliance's central mission is to stop Cape Wind, no matter what it takes, and has spent well over $15 million dollars, primarily on lawsuits, lobbying efforts and deliberate public relations campaigns promoting fear mongering and misinformation.

I don't know that I see the situation that way. That simply.

To me, this entire thing smells of a set-up --- circles within circles --- dirty energy using NIMBY-feeling exposure against clean energy proposals and in its favor, and it would not surprise me if oil and coal interests are on both sides of this fray, behind the proposal to inspire NIMBY emotion, (and possibly without any real good faith intent to actually sink big bucks into making the thing a reality rather than an issue), with the same pack of folks then behind the opposition Alliance in order to publicize the NIMBY-fraught situation.

It would not be a first, for an environmental situation to be astroturfed around town as if grassroot, aimed to split-up the good guys and to benefit dark forces.

Oberstar does represent taconite mining interests in the Arrowhead-Mesabi region, that Boston-area Alliance has its mining ties, and the upshot of all this is the Kennedy family put into the awkward position of opposing green-friendly stuff, on a NIMBY appearing basis.

That politics is at play is easier to see than whose politics are influenced which way by which special interest. It's worth keeping a view on how things enfold, even though it is not directly Minnesota-local news.

The ultra-GOP Koch family out of Wichita, Kansas, runs the one refinery there is in the Twin Cities. The "Bill Koch" of "Oxbow" mentioned in the one quote above, was born in Wichita. If any reader knows whether kinship exists binding the local refinery people with that "Alliance" in the Boston area, please post a comment.

Intel and batteries -- Green technology will need utility scale battery/storage for when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow.

Now power grid management balances in near real time the supply and demand, without overloading any particular component line in the grid. At least that is so in the best of worlds where there are no blackouts and storm effects are minimized and quichly fixed.

Storage, batteries of utility scale are one technology, the other is for electric vehicles or hybrids, and for RFID and other devices.

Intel's Andy Grove is reported to have said it's a future direction his firm should pursue.

For more, a general Google, and a Google News search return multiple hits.

I would not bet against Intel or against Grove's judgment.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Picture of the Day.

From here, for Cheney.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Aljazeerah, English language version, reports - shoes.

Screenshot, from here - click to enlarge:

In Crawford, we pitch horseshoes ... but it doesn't mean we don't like you, it's a good-ol'-boy thing, in Crawford.

If I wrote this up without links, nobody would believe me. They'd likely believe the feelings and display of contempt part, but not the entire story, as Strib reports it, see also, here, here, here, here and here.

In honor of Bernie and Tom, a blog reconfiguration.

Bernie and Tom have livened up the dismal science in their own related ways. Pics are Bernie first, then Tom. In honor of the pair I have made a blog design change, for a time at least, beyond the headline color and playing with the font.

Credits: Bernie pic, here, Tom pic from here, Charles [Carlo] pic from Wikipedia (readers in the comment section might give the full Wikipedia link, for others).

Climb a mountain. Ask a guru. Etc.

See, here, here, here, and here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

HEALTHCARE REFORM: "Our growing costs are unsustainable," he said, "and the plight of the uninsured is unconscionable."

Click to enlarge the opening screenshot, and link here, to read the entire International Herald Tribune story.

With world population to exceed 9 billion by 2050 — three times 1960's level — slowing population is needed for climate protection.

Google News linked to this AP report [photos added]:

Population growth contributes to emissions growth
By MICHAEL CASEY – 2 days ago

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — Few doubt the world's booming population contributes to rising carbon emissions.

But as a U.N. climate conference in Poznan, Poland considers how to reduce heat-trapping, greenhouse gases, the talk is all about setting emissions targets and funding renewable energy projects. Stabilizing population is not even on the table.

"Population is the unmentioned elephant in the living room when it comes to climate change," said Bill Ryerson, president and founder of the Vermont-based Population Media Center.

U.N. officials contend that pushing policies on population growth could undermine already difficult negotiations that are fraught with finger pointing between rich and poor nations over who is to blame for global warming.

The developing world would oppose introducing population into the mix on the grounds that it would hold them accountable for a problem they blame on the West. The Vatican along with Catholic and Muslim countries, meanwhile, are opposed over fears population policies would increase support for abortion and birth control.

"A lot of people say population pressure is a major driving force behind the increase in emissions, and that's absolutely true," the U.N.'s top climate official Yvo de Boer said. "But to then say 'OK, that means that we need to have a population policy that reduces emissions,' takes you onto shaky ground morally."

With the world's population expected to reach more than 9 billion by 2050 — three times what it was in 1960 — researchers argue that slowing population would make it easier to solve the climate crisis.

Understanding the role population plays, they contend, would also allow countries to develop policies to reduce their carbon footprint as well as protect citizens from the rising seas and worsening storms associated with global warming.

"If we don't address the population issue and population continues to grow the way it is, ... we will fail to solve the climate crisis," Ryerson said.

Brian O'Neill, a population expert with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said there is substantial evidence showing a strong correlation between a country's economic growth and its emissions.

"Slowing population growth as best we know now will substantially reduce emissions and it will make society better able to cope with climate change and it will improve the well being of people more broadly," O'Neill said.

O'Neill and others also said it's not only the sheer numbers of people that mattered. He and his colleagues released findings this year that found urbanization in China and India could result in increased emissions of as much as 70 percent by 2100 while aging in the United States could contribute to as much as a 40 percent decline. Smaller household sizes also have led to increased emissions.

However, other researchers argue using population policies to address climate change is shortsighted and would lead to coercive family planning policies like the one-child policy in China.

"The countries that have relatively high population growth like Africa tend to have the smallest carbon footprint," said Betsy Hartmann, director of the population and development program at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. "It really doesn't make sense to think that reducing family size is going to reduce global warming. Family sizes are already coming down."

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said addressing population growth must also consider a country's consumption rates — a reference to the fact that India's per capita emissions are a 15th that of the United States and China's one-sixth.

He didn't expect climate negotiators to take up the issue of population in Poznan or next year in Copenhagen, Denmark.

"It is for country to decide how to limit growth whether you reduce consumption levels, use more renewable energy," Pachauri said. "It's really a national decision. It is very difficult to provide for something like this in a multilateral agreement."

Even if it doesn't come up in Poznan, the Worldwatch Institute's Robert Engelman said policies to slow population growth will eventually find their way into the climate toolbox for many countries.