Electric Power Generation v. Commercial Fishing

On August 26, 2022, Fox News (Jesse Watters Primetime) produced and broadcast over public airwaves an attack piece on offshore wind farms. It alleges that Democrats have conspired against the private commercial fishing industry to decimate historic fishing grounds; deprive them and nearby port communities of their legacy commercial activities; and potentially destroy entire regional economies.

Background:  

Wind is one of the cleanest energy sources available, and some scientists insist the U.S. is sitting next to a gold mine. A study published in 2009, “Global potential for wind-generated electricity” (PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America) firmly established wind power as the most effective and efficient means to generate sufficient electrical power to meet both present and future needs.[1]

A subsequent study conducted in 2017[2] found that wind speeds over the oceans could allow offshore turbines to generate far more energy than land-based wind farms – with the North Atlantic, in particular, theoretically able to provide enough energy for all of human civilization.

In tapping into wind as an energy source, the U.S. has lagged behind the U.K. and Europe for decades. Two of the largest offshore wind farms in the world are the London Array and the Netherlands’ Gemini wind farm.

The U.S. is beginning to catch up. The first offshore wind farm in the U.S. began generating electricity in late 2016. It consists of five, 6-MW (megawatt) Haliade-X turbines supplied by GE Renewable Energy linked through a submarine transmission cable into the New England grid.  Located about 3 miles off the coast of Block Island, RI, this wind farm will generate enough electricity to power 5,000 homes on the island and to meet around 90 percent of its total electricity demand. [3]

The Current Domestic Situation:  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management was created in 2011, and it is poised to review at least 16 offshore wind plans for potential approval in the next three years, up from two total approvals since the agency was created.

The Biden administration apparently has ambitious plans to open up vast swaths of coastline in order to generate 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. Energy companies are stepping up: Six leases off the New Jersey and New York coasts sold for $4.3 Billion in February 2022, the most lucrative wind lease sale in U.S. history.

Among other cases, Oregon officials are asking BOEM to delay a planned lease sale next year over concerns about its potential impacts on commercial fishing.

The commercial fishing industry has real and legitimate concerns which need to be investigated and addressed, honestly and thoroughly.

Interim Conclusion:  This is a very complex issue which needs input from cool heads; full transparency; and no further publicly broadcast emotional diatribes.  Like most issues today, we need to allow real experts to develop and distribute a solid strategy which achieves optimum current and future outcomes for our society as a whole.


[1] This 2009 study was supported by National Science Foundation Grant ATM-0635548; the authors represent an international multidisciplinary team of scholars.

[2] “Geophysical potential for wind energy over the open oceans”; Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford, CA 94305.

[3] Block Island Wind Farm has a peak capacity of 30 MW (megawatts) and is expected to produce around 125,000 MWh (megawatt-hours) of electricity annually.



First Amendment Rights

June 26, 2022

Hey, SCOTUS!

You just imposed the religious will of a small group of Fundamentalist Christians onto our entire nation.

Did you not know the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that everyone in the United States has the right to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all?

The Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) was established in 1789 by Article Three of the U.S. Constitution, and defined in the Judiciary Act of 1789.

There are no explicit requirements in the U.S. Constitution for a person to be nominated to become a Supreme Court justice. No age, education, job experience, or citizenship rules exist. There is no requirement in the Constitution for a Supreme Court justice to have a law degree.

Supreme Court justices are nominated by the sitting President, and confirmed by the sitting Senate for a life appointment to the court.

None of this has been a concern to the viability of our nation until now.

SCOTUS 2022

We’ve recently witnessed some absolutely surreal SCOTUS decisions.

On 6/23, they gave permission for anyone and everyone to ‘pack heat’: Open season on concealed carry.

Then on 6/24, a majority of our Supreme Court judges eliminated what most of us believed was a Constitutional right to obtain an abortion, casting aside 49 years of precedent that began with Roe v. Wade.

The vote to overturn Roe v. Wade was 5-4, on a decision written by Justice Samuel Alito.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett joined Alito’s opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts did not join the opinion. He agreed with the majority that the Mississippi abortion restriction at issue in the case should be upheld, but in a separate opinion, he argued that the court should not have overturned the Roe v. Wade decision.

This decision employed fully twisted logic claiming the Roe decision was wrong ‘because the U.S. Constitution makes no specific mention of abortion rights.’

That’s not surprising. Back at the end of the 18th century — when we had just 13 states and the only people who had voting rights were White Men who were land owners — the Constitution also made no mention of television, airline travel or record-high gasoline prices.

And then, on the following day, June 24, 2022, “in a concurring opinion that raised concerns the justices might roll back other rights, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas urged the court to reconsider past rulings protecting the right to contraception, legalizing gay marriage nationwide, and invalidating state laws banning gay sex.”

Yet, Justice Thomas made no mention of a revisit to the controversial Loving v. Virginia decision?

Clarence Thomas has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a Genuine Sanctimonious Prick.

Only Franz Kafka could do this story justice.

A recent post by Mark Sumner on Daily Kos both caught my eye and stopped me in my tracks.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2022/6/17/2104655/-Donald-Trump-operates-on-One-Simple-Trick

I’m retired, so I have plenty of time to read, reflect and think about things. I try not to let the intensity of the moment get to me. I’ve found it’s better for me to stop, think and express my feelings in words. It may not change anything, but it does soothe me and help keep my blood pressure under control.

Here is my reaction to Mark Sumner’s excellent observations:

It seems that Trump has much in common with each of the historic figures (below).

They represent a rare but dangerous sub-species: Charismatic leaders who lack any social conscience, and are further devoid of the ability to empathize and identify with others on a genuine personal level.

In classic terms, these folks are narcissistic psychopaths, and most satisfy some of their urges by torturing and/or killing others. They are high-functioning individuals each of whom developed a rich repertoire of very effective coping mechanisms which allowed them to ‘fool some of the people all the time’.

Where Trump deviates from the rest of these folks is that he just isn’t very smart.

He refuses to read, study and listen to experts which limits his ability to develop a deep understanding of the world around him, thus leaving him incapable of originating, advancing and executing a productive and original strategy.

Trump is evil but shallow; he acts entirely on impulse. He treats his closest advisors like cannon fodder. Throughout his long career of grifting, pillaging and piracy, he never saw a bridge he wouldn’t burn.

I believe if Trump does live another 5 years, he will experience a precipitous fall from grace dwarfing even the saga of Bernie Madoff.

However the future unfolds, Trump will most certainly join this list of very bad actors for all of eternity:

Adolf Hitler; Joseph Stalin; Vlad the Impaler; Pol Pot; Heinrich Himmler; Saddam Hussein; Idi Amin; Josef Mengle; Ivan the Terrible; Genghis Kahn; Ayatollah Khomeini; Vladimir Putin; David Koresh; Charles Manson; Jim Jones. And the list goes on…

Dozens of polls and studies reveal general agreement among American adults which favors sensible gun control reform legislation, incorporating a variety of strategies such as:  (a) increased funding for mental health services; (b) universal background checks; (c) a national ‘red flag’ law; (d) training and/or licensing requirements; (e) more consistent rules across state lines.

Each and all of these would likely contribute toward reducing senseless gun violence. Yet, the Root Cause of our present dilemma seems to center around one specific type of firearm, often called “AR-15 style”.

These are high-capacity military-style weapons which can be fired semi-automatically and/or have the capability of being easily transformed into a rapid fire weapon. There is no legitimate purpose for these weapons in a civil society, and the ultimate goal to remove this Root Cause from the equation ought to be a total and complete ban on the civilian purchase, sale or possession of such weapons.

The next critical variable is ammunition. There is no logical or defensible reason to support civilian sale, possession or use of military grade ammunition categorized as: hollow point; full metal jacket; armor piercing; green tip; black tip; or any other sort of ammo which is not used by regular gun owners for target shooting or which is appropriate for legitimate hunting purposes.

As painful as it might seem to Wayne LaPierre, Jason Ouimet and others at the NRA, these AR-15 style weapons and military grade ammunition seem to continually and disproportionally fall into the hands of a few people who have really bad agendas.

If we eliminate the very weapons and ammunition which seem to attract the interest of folks with bad agendas, we will be making some real progress.

Please listen carefully, NRA.

The great majority of us don’t want to take guns away from our neighbors; we don’t harbor animosity toward responsible gun owners; and we often are gun owners and NRA members ourselves.

We do believe there is a balance – a sensible equilibrium — which respects, supports and honors the American tradition for people to keep and bear arms in a manner consistent with a civilized 21st century society.  

Let’s work together to find that balance.

The Supreme Court of the United States is currently embroiled in one of the most divisive cases of the 21st century.

I offer some comments to them.

REF:    Docket No. 19-1392:  Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Honorable Justices:

I’m a retired man of European ancestry who has enjoyed a great life in America. I was raised in a family which celebrated equal rights among women and men; valued the importance of education; encouraged everyone to work to their potential; and gave our neighbors an opportunity to live their lives to the fullest.

I have lived in 3 states, and I’ve always thought that one of the great benefits to all who are residents of the United States is the breadth and depth of the 10th Amendment, which strives to ensure equal rights to all U.S. residents regardless of which state they were born in, or where they currently reside.

That said, I am extremely alarmed and disappointed by recent media reports which indicate a high potential for The Court to negate the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision (410 U.S. 113), in addition to reversing a subsequent and related decision from 1992 — Planned Parenthood v. Casey (505 U.S. 833).

A variety of research surveys over time have found that the majority of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. When religion has been included in the demographics of survey participants, the vast majority of white evangelical Protestants say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

The 1st amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Whenever people bring their personal religious beliefs or values into any public debate, they risk imposing illegal, unwanted or restrictive religious practices and beliefs on others who have been granted the Constitutional right to pursue their own — perhaps different — beliefs.

The great majority of published public opinions opposed to open unrestricted access to comprehensive reproductive health care over the past 4 decades — including both contraception and abortion — center on personal ethical, moral or religious issues, with the loudest voices opposing open access generally emanating from a small minority of predominantly college educated white evangelical Christians, an economically privileged cohort.

Restrictions imposed on open access to comprehensive reproductive health care services have disproportionate adverse economic impact on — and directly deprive basic human rights to — young women; low-income women; and women of color. These are socially and economically disadvantaged women, frequently members of a protected class.

The longitudinal negative social and economic impacts on women who are denied access to a voluntary abortion — and to the children who are born as a result — are often devastating. The spillover of these social and economic impacts into our larger society is chilling.

I urge you to reject the religious, ethical and moral arguments embedded into the Dobbs case, and to instead codify the right of all women residents of the U.S. to unfettered access to comprehensive reproductive health care, regardless of current residency; education; economic status; age; disability; religion; national origin; pregnancy; race/color; sex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

George Orwell was right.

January 30, 2022

If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.

The School Board in McMinn County, Tennessee recently announced a decision to ban author and creator Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus from their eighth-grade curriculum.

McMinn County, TN may be a poster child for the current divisiveness in America.

This rural county is home to just 54,000 residents and until very recently, was over 90% white.

As a whole, the State of Tennessee has been, and remains, predominantly Christian. About 81% of the population identifies as Christian, and 52% of Tennessee residents identify as Evangelical Protestants.

Plagued by the legacy of a mediocre public education system, poverty is rampant in McMinn County: Over 17% of residents live below the poverty line, including 24% of children (under 18) and 12% of seniors (65 and over).

The McMinn County School Board recent action helps to reinforce the notion that adults who themselves are products of a mediocre public education system are often incapable of making sound and fully informed decisions based on solid facts.  Or, we might say that these folks have been deprived of critical thinking skills due to the inadequacy of their public school system.

Over the past decade, we have witnessed an alarming increase in public displays of frustration, rebellion and even violence among adults who are constrained by the toxic combination of extreme religious ideologies and vulnerability to unreliable or false sources for (mis)information.

George Orwell was correct, and only WE can prevent the vociferous minority from subsuming the will of the majority.

The Dangerous Intersection of Evangelical Christianity with White Supremacy

White supremacy sometimes manifests as colorism, a persistent issue within India, Latin America, Africa and nearly every community of color. When a mother tells her children not to play out in the sun because their skin will get too dark, she is reinforcing the myth of white supremacy by encouraging proximity to whiteness via lighter skin.

The most dangerous combination seems to occur at the intersection of Fundamental (Evangelical) Christianity and White Supremacism – the belief that Caucasians are superior to all other races.

Fundamental/Evangelical Christianity states that ‘only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation’.

White Supremacists adhere to the aberrant beliefs that (a) Whites must have dominance over people of other backgrounds, especially where they may co-exist; and (b) White people are genetically superior to other people.

In a 2019 nationwide survey, 86% of white evangelical Protestants and 70% of both white mainline Protestants and white Catholics said that the “Confederate flag is more a symbol of Southern pride than of racism”; nearly two-thirds of white Christians overall said that killings of African-American men by the police are isolated incidents rather than part of a broader pattern of mistreatment; and more than 60% of white Christians disagreed with the statement that “generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class.”

The Southern Baptist Convention itself was organized prior to the Civil War in Georgia by Southern Baptists who were strongly opposed to the abolition of slavery. It delivered the invocation when Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as President of the Confederacy.

Today, the Southern Baptist Convention has a membership of over 16 Million, and is thought to be the second-largest Christian denomination in the U.S.

When I came of age in the late 1960’s in Buffalo, NY – a true northeast rustbelt city – we really didn’t have time for any of this nonsense, and I naively believed that our nation had progressed beyond the foolish notions of the Confederacy.

Four decades later, Donald Trump and his loyal following of ultra-conservative Evangelical Christian voters truly surprised and shocked me, and many others.

Robert Jones, a graduate of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, may have said it best when he stated that Trump inspired White Christians, “not despite, but through appeals to white supremacy,” attracting them not because of economics or morality, “but rather that he evoked powerful fears about the loss of White Christian dominance.”

You can deny if you like, but denial doesn’t change reality.

This is the year 2022, and there is no turning back.

We are competing in a 21st Century World Economy, and it is high time for those of us who don’t have time for all of this foolish nonsense to call the bluff of the revisionist Confederate Civil War re-enactors.

Here in the U.S., we need to move on; come together; find common ground; join hands; and work side by side to strengthen our technology and innovation capabilities and return to a leadership role by influencing international economic, scientific, trade, and security institutions.

Alternatively, we could continue to allow petty and insignificant micro-inequities to distract and divide us domestically, which will encourage other nations to move aggressively to assert leadership and shape the direction of global rules and institutions.

The Florida bill which would severely impact the ability of women to make personal choices about their own reproductive health (known as HB5) passed its first House committee hearing on January 19, 2022, and it is now heading to new committees for further discussion.  (The companion bill in the Florida Senate is SB-146).  Among other things, the bill will place severe restrictions on women’s access to abortions in Florida.

Florida Representative Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) perhaps said it best, “This bill is terrible for all Floridians, particularly for those who are low-income, live in rural areas, or are people of color who have historically faced inequitable access to quality healthcare, or low-income people who cannot afford to travel out of state for a safe abortion. It is not the government’s place to interfere with one of the toughest decisions a person will ever make. That private decision is one of faith, healthcare, personal freedom, and protecting the emotional and physical future of women and their families. Tallahassee politicians should not be involved.”

Kudos to Rep. Driskell for speaking out clearly and eloquently on basic human rights.

Vice President Mike Pence toured a Border Patrol facility in McAllen, Texas on July 12, 2019 where he observed hundreds of men standing in crowded cages.

“The stench was horrendous,” White House pool reporter Josh Dawsey wrote of the brief visit to an outdoor portal at the McAllen Border Station.

Dawsey reported that nearly 400 men “..were housed in sweltering cages so crowded it would have been impossible for all of them to lie down. Some of the detainees shouted to reporters that they had been held 40 days or longer and complained that they were hungry.”

“This is tough stuff,” Pence said at a news conference later.  “I was not surprised by what I saw,” he said. “I knew we’d see a system that was overwhelmed.”

This, on the eve of a planned siege in communities around Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco where representatives from the Trump Gestapo are poised to raid neighborhoods where suspected undocumented immigrants may be living.  The raids are expected to start Sunday (July 14) and continue through July 18.

Instead of fixing the existing system that is already overwhelmed, Trump and his thugs have doubled down with Satan to intimidate and dehumanize our newest neighbors, and to create, nurture and perpetuate an atmosphere of fear among residents in these communities.

Separate parents from their children?  Only Satan would approve of that.

Trump’s claim that the ICE raids are targeted to ‘look for bad players’?  In a press conference on July 12, Trump said, “We’re really looking for criminals as much as we can. Trying to find the criminal population, which has been coming into this country the last 10 years.”

He touted his administration’s removal of members of the violent gang MS-13, claiming he’d deported them “by the thousands” and further stated that ‘we are also looking for people who came into our country not through a process, they just walked over a line. They have to leave.’

I’ve lived in the U.S. for many years, and I’ve experienced a great deal of good, bad and ugly.

This entire Trump administration charade centered on MS-13 as a justification for extreme immigration enforcement is the ugliest of ugly – it clearly is directly connected to Satan (a.k.a. Beelzebub; Mephistopheles; Lucifer; Prince of Darkness; Ash-Shaytan; Diablo; Devil), and it is clearly disconnected from facts or reality.

Trump – true to form – is scapegoating any and all people with connections to Central or South American as ‘Undesirables’ (or worse).

Pick your label:  There is no place in American ideology which supports rounding up a class of residents and subjecting them to subhuman treatment with no process of law.

Mike Pence, who was raised in a religious household and educated in parochial schools, has described himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order,” and as “a born-again, evangelical Catholic.”

If Pence is unwilling or unable to step forward to demand a stop to these Satanic atrocities and to organize a strategic fix to our existing immigration enforcement system which is already overwhelmed, then it is clear that he has sold his soul to Satan.

How very sad….