Thursday, December 13, 2018
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A Siegel


Bob McDonnell’s New Math Doesn’t Add Up

Virginia Republican legislative initiatives have earned the Commonwealth unpleasant nationwide (and global) attention in recent years.  Whether the abuse of public resources to undermine Virginia's academic reputation with anti-science legal shenanigans (2010 to present); the social, moral, and medical outrage of trying to require unnecessary ultrasounds on women seeking to execute their Constitutional right to control their own medical destinies (2012); or the anti-democratic efforts to redistrict (out-of-cycle) to manipulate the Commonwealth's Senate districts and to shift the Electoral College votes from Virginia to skew away from voters' intent, Virginia's GOP has provided lots of substantive reasons for intensely outraged attention to their anti-science, anti-constitutional rights, and anti-democratic tendencies.

These flashpoint issues have masked other serious issues. While the threat to the Electoral College and the legislation to redistrict the Commonwealth's Senate seats are capturing the majority of attention, Governor Bob McDonnell's very troubling and damaging transportation proposal is receiving minimal (if any) national attention.  

And, this matters.  

“Investigate the Gun at FreedomWorks”

Such is the print version title of my letter to the editor published in The Washington Post this morning.  Published prominently on the top page of the "Free for All" section, it appears online as Breaking the Law at FreedomWorks:

The Post's article about Dick Armey's armed coup at FreedomWorks ("Big donor steps in as tea party reels," front page, Dec. 26) provided a new angle on the term "office politics."

After reading about how Armey walked into the group's D.C. offices with "an aide holstering a handgun at his waist," I expected to see a discussion of how this was (or was not) a criminal action. This expectation went unfulfilled.

The Armey coup certainly suggests the possibility of a direct violation of D.C. law, which prohibits the public carrying of weapons. Simply put, one can have a licensed weapon in the home but very few (such as police or the FBI) have the right to carry a weapon.

Beyond a firearms violation, what about assault? Here's one common-law definition: "an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact." Illegally displaying a firearm while you force people out of their offices certainly would seem to fit the bill.

Less than two weeks after the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., the absence of discussion of the legal implications of carrying a weapon into the workplace is strikingly bizarre.

As one can't cover every subject in a LTE, there are many additional angles and issues to the "Armey Coup" (some raised after the fold) but there is one that should be a serious item for this community:  

Why is the 'progressive community', including members of Congress, not pushing hard for investigation of and, if warranted, legal action about the Armey Coup in downtown Washington?  

The Armey Coup

1.  involves (and potentially puts at risk) one of the main players in fostering the Tea-Hadist threat to American Democracy (and democracy);
2. provides a potential path for learning more about and shining light on 'hidden' (whether billionaire, Corporate, or otherwise) fiscal support for Tea-Hadists;
3. involves a(t least one) significant Republican operative who might be liable for criminal charges; and
4. is highly relevant to helping foster a more sensible national discussion about guns and the appropriate role(s) for weapons in society.

With this in mind, why the 'crickets'?

“More Fair, More Simple”: George Allen’s Grammatical and Philosophical Failures – Energy Edition

Virginia Republican Senate candidate George Allen evidently is enamored with the word "more". Listening to his debate with Governor Tim Kaine, George used the words "more fair" and "more simple" to describe his philosophical concepts behind tax codes that would lower the wealthiest income tax cuts.  While many use the "do I want to drink a beer with the candidate" question as influential for deciding what to do in the voting booth, one of my preferred short hand questions: "Would I want the person to teach my children?"  Simply put, my elementary school children would not get away with saying "more fair" and "more simple". In fact, while brushing her hair during the debate (as she wanted me to change the channel), my eight-year old daughter said "No. Doesn't he know that it is 'fairer' and 'simpler'?"  Cutting to the core: George Allen, not smarter than a third grader.

While George Allen's grammar might grate, his policy concepts and ideological are the real issues of concern.

When it comes to energy, George Allen's rhetorical flourishes during the debate might have captured the attention of the poorly informed and ingratiated him with his fossil fuel financial backers, but his truthiness-laden misdirections, misrepresentations and half-truths were in support of policies that -- if enacted -- would impoverish the Commonwealth of Virginia and endanger the Union's future.

To provide a path for understanding the shallowness and danger of George Allen's energy concepts, let's take the time to go through Allen's deceivingly named "Unleashing America's Plentiful Energy Resources and Creativity (American Energy Freedom Act)".

Cherry Blossoms: Another Global Warming Canary …

Pancake with Maple Syrup, PanciousCherry Blossoms at Tidal BasinAmid all the screaming signs about Global Warming's increasingly serious impact on the world around us and on human civilizations future prospects, the 'luxury' symbolic canaries in the coal mine always create mixed emotions.  Global Warming's threat to  skiing (and declining viable Winter Olympics locations), and to wine making and bourbon and beer and chocolate  and  maple syrup and ... production, etc ... Yes, these are tangible examples of how global warming impacts the world around us and impacts us.  On the other hand, compared to increasing natural disasters, devastating storms and droughts threatening vulnerable populations and disruptions to global agricultural production systems, these are "luxury" items that (in and of themselves) whose disruption does do not represent a fundamental threat to human civilization (no matter how important the maple syrup for your pancakes or that bourbon for warming up after a day on the slopes).  Yet, as we all know in our Madison Avenue dominated world, symbols matter and cherished symbols even more so.

As a native of the Washington area, the Cherry Blossoms are perhaps the quintessential universal symbol of nature's  beauty.  While those around the Tidal Basin are "the" trees for the Cherry Blossom festival, there are numerous communities with large numbers of these trees and it is hard to be a resident without having some connection -- year in and year out -- with this blossoming sign of spring, even if one doesn't deal battle the tourist hordes to see the Washington Monument framed by blossoms. (Note, the photo above from GHBrett wonderfully captures the framing using a tree that I am almost certain that I have known for decades and have likely taken 20 photos over the years of various visitors/tourists/family members.)

WashPost continues truthiness jihad against EVs

The Washington Post editorial board has waged a campaign against electrification of the nation's transportation system Whack A Mole Fever(especially cars), often using true facts in a fashion that creates untruthful truthiness.  Whacking such moles is, well, exhausting since it is easier to spin truthiness than to be truthful. Charles Lane's OPED celebrating a temporary closure of the Chevy Volt line provides multiple examples of truthiness-laden editoralizing.

Following guidance from The Debunking Handbook, following the fold are a few truths with examples of how Lane misleads Washington Post readers.

Compare Apples to Apples

Any auto buyer knows that a BMW delivers a different vehicle -- with a different price tag -- than the typical KIA, a Lamborghini isn't a Fiat, a ...  When shopping for cars, amid the myriad of different options, a buyer will try to compare same to same.

EV-opponents all too often slip in a comparison that violates this rule when they are seeking paths to dismiss the value of hybrids (HEVs), plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), and all-electric vehicles (EVs).  Thus, in today's OPED, Charles Lane compares the Chevy Volt to the Chevy Cruze.  Simply put, these two are not in the same league.

New EPA rules better than you think …or Administration claims

Yesterday, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson went to a children's hospital to announce the new regulations to control boiler emissions that will address 40-year old gaps in the Clean Air Act. As Jackson and commentators have noted, these regulations will save thousands of lives and have an economic value easily nine times greater than the costs to implement them. An 800 percent return on investment should look pretty good to any of us.  As David Roberts so accurately put it:
The Mercury Rules Announced Today Are a Bona-Fide Big Deal
Examining the discussion of the new regulations suggests a question: has the Environmental Protection Agency and all the advocates for action gotten the value calculation wrong?

While Meteor Blades at Daily Kos commented Three cheers for the Obama administration's new mercury and acid emissions rules, do we have good reason to belt out loudly with a fourth cheer?

Based on an initial look, the answer seems to be yes.

Solyndra’s DC Showcase … at The Solar Decathlon

While Assembly team with the complete Living Light house members of Congress are raising h-ll about the Solyndra bankruptcy along with many who are forgetting that they once touted Solyndra as the future, just a little distance away, Solandra technology is powering an absolutely gorgeous home available for public visit for the coming two weeks.

This house, the University of Tennessee's Living Light, is part of one of the nation's most important (and sadly too little discussed) intercollegiate competitions is about to open in Washington, DC: the biennial Solar Decathlon. Opening to the public 23 September, the Decathlon brings together 19 university teams from around the globe to compete across ten categories (thus, "decathlon"). After having reviewed all the Solar Decathlon entries, this post will look more closely at Living Light.

Living Light is a very high-quality efficiency house whose There she blows! Living Light has arrived!form is inspired by the cantilever barns of southern Appalachia. In terms of actual living space, this is one of the smallest (if not smallest homes) because of the team's intent: they will take Living Light on a tour throughout Tennessee, showing the reality of the promise of solar technology.  Thus, this is designed to be easily transported (with the direct living space transported on one truck and additional transport for elements like decks and spare solar tubes. Along with more solar electricity capacity than required to meet the house's actual needs (and thus power production that will help boost competitive positioning re electricity production), this design element helped push up the unit's price.

My White House is Solar Cool. Mr. President, why isn’t yours?

Sometimes, your kids tell you great things.
We have the coolest house on the street.

We're cool -- according to the kids.  

Certainly isn't the non-existent slide for the pool that isn't there.  

Our lack of a huge media room and the glaring absence of a gym didn't contribute.  

And, while I've always thought it cool that we live on the white house of the street, that isn't it either.  

My fourth-grader son explained to me why it's cool:

Because we know where our electricity comes from.
Last fall, facing a bit of pressure (mainly from about the absence of solar from the White House roof since the Reagan Administration took off the panels President Carter put it, the Administration promised that the White House would have solar panels up on the roof "before the end of spring".

As of today, 15 June 2011, the White House still doesn't have solar panels on it.

The clock is ticking as even with climate disruption messing up our seasons, spring still ends 20 June ...  

Republicans Plan to Kill The Canaries in The Coal Mines

"We think what we can be is the canary in the coal mine," Republican Representative Darryl Issa told reporters.

Congressman Issa's words are prophetic -- evidently he and his colleagues consider themselves to be the 'canaries in the coal mine' since they are taking steps with the newly introduced Continuing Resolution to kill off as many canaries in the coal mine to protect Americans from environmental, safety, and other risks.  For example, the proposal includes a 22 percent reduction in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, massive cuts in basic science research, budgets slashing seeking to essentially eliminate U.S. government research on climate change, ... a true anti-science syndrome agenda.

Innovation Exiled: Interior Sends Solar Decathlon Packing

Innovation. It's the new buzzword. Haven't you heard.  It's the rage.  Ten times ... The President used the word "innovation" ten times in the State of the Union speech.
The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.  None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be or where the new jobs will come from.  Thirty years ago, we couldn't know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution.  What we can do -- what America does better than anyone else -- is spark the creativity and imagination of our people.  We're the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook.  In America, innovation doesn't just change our lives.  It is how we make our living.

You'd think that every member of the Administration would be doing everything -- EVERYTHING -- possible to enable this critical innovation.

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