09 October 2011

A Massive Dose of Good Sense?

Yes, massive good sense. Perhaps that’s what we’ve got going on here today. Perhaps not. Do you agree? Wonderful. Do you disagree? Fine with me.

The sounds of silence –

I’ve had some comments to the effect “Where the hell is a new post?” In response thereto (Jeez, I love lawyer-speak, I sound like an idiot), I would say “Here it is,” and “Vishnu on a rotisserie, get off my case, I’ve been busy.” Indeed, I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately, but the great majority of it has been for work. Discussions of a case with legal authorities submitted to a court are called “briefs.” Briefs are not, well, brief. Over the years, I have developed a bit of a prose-centered style in writing legal briefs. Most places, that works. Or at least it’s what’s expected from me. But the West Virginia Supreme Court has recently adopted new rules which greatly formalize the appeal process and the United States Supreme Court always has had very formal rules, and I’ve had to write stuff for both places.

Diamonds and pearls in the dairy section -- Attention shoppers. There are no diamonds nor oysters containing pearls in our conveniently located dairy coolers. What we have there consists of dairy products. The milk is clearly marked as to fat content. The containers are conveniently and obviously sized so that you may quickly see the difference amongst one quart, half-gallon and gallon container. You will find nothing of greater value than a gallon of milk there. The labels are not great art and do not require extended examination to appreciate them. We recommend that you know what you’re looking for and what quantity you want, that you walk to the dairy case, you pick it up, put it in your basket, and then move the hell along so that others may do likewise. Thank you for your attention.

All my rowdy friends – Country music crooner Hank Williams, Jr., showed up on the Fox News last week to give us his particular political opinions. Hank Williams, Jr., is not particularly rule-bound in his musical offerings. His rhymes don’t exactly rhyme, the cadence or meter or whatever the hell you want to call it isn’t real smooth.

To the best of my knowledge, he has no particular education or study in politics other than the various places that rednecks go to get their opinions. (That’s not a pejorative – I enjoy going to some of the same places.)

As is the case with several country music singers, some of his work has been expressly patriotic. I for one particularly like his “America Will Survive” done right after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The line “No more Yankees, no more Rebels” is the first recognition in country music that the damn Civil War is over.

But asking him for political opinions has only the same value as asking any other quasi-informed citizen. In responding off-the-cuff to a question, he compared the much vaunted golf game between the president and the speaker to Hitler and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu playing a round.

Okay – references to Hitler are greatly overdone. If you want to say somebody’s bad, comparing them to Hitler is the ultimate verbal extreme, although it has become so common that is really rather silly. However, for uttering the name on television, Williams was inundated with criticism over what a nasty, insensitive jerk he is. Mind you, for all I know he is an insensitive jerk and sometimes that’s the appropriate response to certain stimuli. But the Hitler thing was just a blowsy comment and those objecting are having a great time because now they can enjoy being victims.

The Anti-Defamation League broke out in sweats, demanded that ESPN dump Junior’s music from Monday Night Football and maybe hang ol’ Hank from a gibbet. Jeez, guys, have a Coke and a smile and shut the hell up – Williams is an ignorant cretin, and you guys are well-educated cretins. I’ll take the former every time.

The sissies at ESPN did dump Hank’s music.

The Obama effect – President Obama will be nominated by the Democratic party for another four year term. Nothing reasonably foreseeable is going to stop that. The results of the election likely will turn on how big a whack job the Republicans nominate and who turns out their base best on election day. Well, that’s Politics 101.

Obama and the Great Republican Hope likely will visit West Virginia during the campaign only enough to say they have hit all 50 states. If the Great Republican Hope avoids getting caught with dead people in his/her bed, our five electoral votes are going with the Republicans.

My fellow Democrats, you can like it, you can dislike it and think it’s horrible to acknowledge it, I just don’t care. Reality is a bitch. This is reality. Where this becomes a big local problem is in the state and local races.

You can be sure that every Republican candidate for every office including the petty stuff will be calling their Democratic opponents friends of Obama, followers of Obama, lovers of Obamacare, blah blah blah. Now, in effect, Pres. Obama has the weakest following of any president or presidential candidate of the Democratic Party in any campaign I’ve been involved in since 1972.

The problem for state and local candidates is not whether they’re going to buddy up to Obama. Trust me, they are not. The issue is going to be whether they have the nerve and the guts to expressly separate themselves from him. And that’s not political opportunism, every new plan coming from Washington creates a “You got to be kidding me” response in West Virginia. The latest dead-on-arrival $447 billion jobs package is an example of trendy and unrealistic leadership.

We’re back to the days of Will Rogers: “I don’t belong to an organized political party – I’m a Democrat.”

Governing -- This past week, West Virginians elected the sort of incumbent acting governor as Governor for the 15 months remaining in the current term. In another eight months, there is yet another primary election.
This election cycle was unfortunate. The Titanic hitting an iceberg was a darn shame. The Apollo 13 flight could have been a bit smoother.

Gov. Tomblin won by one percent. Someone in his camp went babbling to the press that now they have a mandate. Great Caesar’s Ghoast, is anyone dumb enough to believe that?

2 ½ things bother me about the election. Number one is the heavy use of attack ads. Everybody talks about how little they like attack ads. So why are campaigns using them? Because they work. Because people respond to them. Everybody bitches about politicians buying elections. If there were not so many damn sellers in the market, the elections would not be for sale.

The one half is all the soft money that poured in. The best estimates are that the Republican Governors Association dumped in $3 million and the Democratic Governors Association ponied up $2 million. Of course, since that is soft money, those are at best estimates. But neither the Republican Governors Association nor the Democratic Governors Association really give a left-handed shit about West Virginia. It’s a head hunting expedition to put numbers on the board and control the financial destiny of our nation. And we the people are not the beneficiaries of their plans. Jesus in St. Louis, are we ever dumb.

And the other disturbing thing about the election is that it shows a great disunity in a state that has been fairly united in the past. The Governor absolutely murdered Bill Maloney, the Republican, in the counties south of Route 60. Maloney scored less drastic but still convincing wins in most of the counties north of there, and he swept the Eastern Panhandle. The Eastern Panhandle is the fastest growing area of West Virginia and in the future nobody who is going to win an election will be able to do so and also get buried by the other side over there.

Did we really need an industrial revolution? -- In the early 18th century, Britain had a problem. The society was fueled by wood. The population was growing and the need for fuel was growing. The need for fuel wood rose nearly to the level of the ability of the islands to grow and harvest wood. Anybody that does wildlife management knows what happens on those occasions – you get a sizable population die off.

And then the rock that burns, coal, took the place of wood. Methods of mining were developed which fed the fires with vast quantities of fuel.

Coal had so many advantages. First and foremost, there was a great deal of it. Second, the energy was highly concentrated. A pound of coal provided many times the heat energy of a pound of wood. On industrial scales, coal was easier to obtain, easier to transport and cheaper than wood. Finally, coal burns at temperatures much higher than wood, so it is suitable for more industrial purposes.

Part of the downside was immediately apparent. In the 18th and 19th centuries, coal was burned in open furnaces or furnaces with straight stacks. Coal burns dirty. There is a lot of particulate matter, soot, that comes from coal fire. As chemical tests were developed, scientists discovered that burning of coal was releasing sulfur, heavy metals and other products into the atmosphere, soil and watersheds.

More recently, the fact that coal liberates a lot of carbon that was bound up underground has become a concern.

But coal still fueled Industrial Revolution. Without coal, we would not have automobiles, steel, computers, petroleum products, or lots of other things, and the population would be a great deal smaller.

So does the United States need to transition away from coal? Yes, for that matter the whole world does. But those who say that we should fundamentally change the way we use it, curtail its use, make power from burning coal much more expensive, are using intentional ignorance to advance ideology.

Burning coal furnishes 50% of electrical power in the United States. Terminate the use of coal right now, and then you’re going to have to decide how to live with half as much electricity. Air conditioning would have to go. Our ancestors lived without it, we will just have to suck it up. Steel manufacturing will plummet and what is left of manufacturing on this continent will take significant reductions – what you think those factories run on?

There’s always somebody who says that the scientists have always figured something out, so they’ll figure something out this time.

Clean coal technology, let’s look at that. Not yet. Current clean coal technology means that you incur an expense and reduce the energy available in a quantity of coal in order to eliminate some combustion products. Every bit as much carbon is still going to be liberated.

And then there are those who say that we’re on the verge of fusion reactors. Yeah, right, just soon as we figure a way to contain something burning at 40,000,000°.

Hysterics doesn’t make people part of the solution. It just makes them an annoyance which adds to the problem.

Of all this and other stuff, more later.


1 comment:

Carolyn said...

I'd like to say no, what we're on is the verge of extinction, but I don't think I could get that lucky