What Do Donald Trump, The Sightline Institute, Sierra Club of Washington and Columbia River Keeper Have in Common?

like_trumpThey All Want You to Ignore Recent Studies on Climate Change…

An important new study on Climate Change was released last week by multiple agencies of the Federal Government. The study concludes, again, that the world’s temperatures are rising and that human activity is a significant cause. 

So, did President Donald Trump embrace the science? The newly released study?

Nope. 

“I don’t believe it.” was all he said. He placed his uninformed opinion above the competent researchers that produced the report. 

This nonsense only happens on the Right, right? Wrong. Here in Washington State, environmental activists are doing the same thing.

Two weeks ago, an independent and thorough study was released that shows building a proposed methanol plant in Kalama, Washington will reduce Global Greenhouse Gases by as much as is produced by 89% of all private cars on Washington State Roads.

The response from The Sightline Institute, Sierra Club Washington and The Columbia River keepers? 

“Ignore the study!” (See here, for one example)

Wow. We on the Left can be as daft as the Right.

Some Background…

In September 2016, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement was released for a Methanol Production Plant proposed to be built in Kalama. The report made claims that building the plant would have net-positive effects on Global Greenhouse Gases (GHG). Specifically, that by building this plant & shipping methanol to China, that methanol would replace coal in Chinese production processes, resulting in a significant reduction of GHG. Or said more succinctly, using methanol for producing products in China is significantly cleaner than the coal that China currently uses.

More Research!!!

Activists, however, were not satisfied that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement provided enough research into the overall affects of building the plant. 

Specifically, opponents, including Sightline Institute and Columbia River Keepers, wanted the State to consider not only the impacts of building the plant within Washington State, they wanted a more thorough study on both the upstream (the GHG that is produced in fracking the natural gas that the Kalama Plant would use) and the downstream (the GHG produced in transporting and burning the methanol in China).

Fair enough. I agree with them! We need to understand the entire lifecycle of the projects we build. 

To that end, the Shoreline Hearings Board put the project permits on hold, and in May of this year, Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning (that name!) ordered exactly that, saying that the environmental review was inadequate & that a full lifecycle analysis had to be done.

Chop! Chop!

Behold! A Study!

So what happened? Well…as the Hearings Board, the Judge (Warning!), and environmentalists asked, a study WAS done. And not a small study, but a comprehensive cradle-to-grave lifecycle analysis of the entire project. 

In other words, the opponents got exactly what they asked for…and guess what? The study answered and refuted not some, but most of their concerns.

The study concluded not only that building the plant would reduce the Global Greenhouse Gases by a little…it would reduce them by a lot! 

Building the methanol plant at Kalama, according to the commissioned study, will reduce GHG by 11.5 million metric tons per year. That’s just a number…so how much is 11.5 million metric tons? It’s the equivalent of removing 89% of all privately owned cars from Washington State Roads.

Think how much work we do to try to improve transportation…and then realize that in one act, we could remove 89% of the negative impact of those cars. Now.

Environmentalists Are Satisfied! Right? Right?

The critics raised serious and important questions that needed to be answered. And they won! They forced the independent study! And the most important questions they were asking have now been answered.

You’d expect them to be satisfied, to move from being skeptics to supporters, right? After all, this project represents the single-largest reduction of GHG that Washington State will have ever undertaken. That’s a win! Right?

In my 25 years in political activism, I’ve learned one important truth: activists are rarely happy.

Many are so identified with their opposition to a thing that they can’t recognize when they’ve won an important battle. And that’s what has happened here. Sightline, The Sierra Club and the Columbia River Keepers won an important battle. And they’re still not happy.

Trump Wants Coal. Environmentalists Want Coal Too?

Trump has been busy trying to prop-up and revive the coal industry. And here again, we find a parallel with Sightline, Sierra Club and Columbia River Keepers.

These enviros are screaming “Fracked Gas!” as though they are telling you the whole story. They are not. Their complaints are short-sighted and disingenuous. Why? Because “fracked gas!” is only one side of the equation. The other side? Dirtier Coal.

By opposing the plant in Kalama, these environmentalists are propping up the coal industry in China. They are arguing that instead of taking this opportunity to displace coal, we should maintain the status quo. Do nothing. Allow China to simply proceed as normal. In other words, burn more and more coal.

The methanol produced in Kalama will replace a much dirtier fuel. So while we can all agree that fracked natural gas and fossil fuels are not a long-term solution to climate change, we should also be able to agree that taking strong steps to reduce the dirtiest sources of pollution should be a top priority. The methanol plant at Kalama does exactly that. In a big way.

But, don’t just take my word for it

Read the report!

Hey Enviros! We need a WIN! 

Click Image to Read the Port & County Sponsored DSEIS Report

Read the Port & County Sponsored DSEIS Report

…and it’s Right In Front of Us

Support The Kalama Methanol Plant. Reduce Global Greenhouse Gases by 11.5 Million Metric Tons per year.

Washington State Enviros continue to collect losses. Losing has become a habit.

Over the past three years, a State Carbon Tax has been defeated three times: Initiative 732 lost 60-40% in 2016. Governor Inslee, despite having a Democratically controlled Senate, couldn’t pass Senate Bill 6302 in 2017. And now, Initiative 1631 was soundly defeated 57-43% this month. Ouch.

In my 25 years working electoral politics in Washington State, I’ve learned an important lesson: Losing is NOT Winning. That may sound obvious, but many so-called environmental activists simply do not understand this. They’ll lose, year after year, and declare in some tortured way that the loss was actually a victory.

Let’s Remove 89% of the Cars from Washington Roads, beginning RIGHT NOW!

Fortunately, Washington’s Environmental Activists have the opportunity score a huge victory for the reduction of Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions. It’s ready for them to push over the top, and to declare an easy and significant victory. Oddly, however, they are opposed to this effort.

Northwest Innovation Works is close to receiving final approval to build a $2 billion Methanol Plant at the Port of Kalama in Cowlitz County. They just received a stunning report that was overseen by the Port of Kalama and Cowlitz County, the lead agencies for the State’s Environmental Review.

The Study outlines that by building the plant, global greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 11.5 Million Metric Tons per year.

How big a number is this? It is the equivalent of removing 89% of the cars on Washington’s roads. Right now. In the immediate future. 

Think of the effort we all go through to improve our transportation system, in designing and building and buying electric cars. In building bike lanes and encouraging broad adoption of cleaner commutes.

The Kalama Methanol Plant would represent the largest single-effort reduction of Greenhouse Gases in the History of Washington State. 

How does this work? How is building a Methanol plant going to reduce global emissions? The methanol will be produced using the tightly regulated natural gas coming from British Columbia. From there, it will be shipped to China, replacing a significant portion of Coal that is used to produce Methanol there. The offset will reduce global emissions by 11.5 million metric tons of CO2. 

That is a stunning number. And would represent the largest single-effort reduction of Greenhouse Gases in the History of Washington State. 

Environmentalists Can’t Get Out of Their Own Way

Yet…many of the leading environmental agencies and activists in Washington State can’t find their way to taking the win that’s right in front of them. The plant is opposed by the Sierra Club, Sightline Institute and the Colombia River Keepers. Their opposition makes little sense.

Primarily, they oppose the plant because they oppose the production of British Columbia Natural Gas. They use the word “fracked” to drum up their point, overlooking several key factors:

  1. The British Columbia Natural Gas Market is among the most tightly regulated markets in the world. 
  2. China’s Coal Production and Burning are among the least tightly regulated markets in the world. 
  3. If China doesn’t have a cheaper, cleaner source of fuels, they will continue to burn Coal.

Don’t Let the Good be the Enemy of the Perfect

So, instead of focusing on the staggering reduction of GHG available to us right now, many enviros prefer that China continue to burn coal. Loss after loss after loss. As I said before, it’s become an environmental habit.

Take the win. Let us all win. And let us move forward together.

Netflix, not Frank Underwood, is the Real Devil

net_underHouse of Cards is a dangerous and cheap exploitation of ignorance.
 
I’ve previously criticized journalists who mix fiction and non-fiction by using their persons to portray fictional journalists on TV.
 
But more than that, Netflix, its writers and producers, its executives and owners, cross a dangerous line when they mingle fiction with actual and current nonfiction issues.
 
For example, when they suggest that Frank Underwood is leaving to start a Foundation, to put himself where real power lies. When they mix in stories about Syria, chemical weapons, and Isis; stories which are current and which need real and nuanced understanding.
 
By playing loose with these real and present world issues, they are influencing the public with fantasy, not reality. It’s irresponsible, immoral.
 
Morality; does any care about that?
 
Frank Underwood at one point says “there is no justice, only conquest.” And Netflix is aiding that sentiment.
 
The most prescient danger we face is that people, even relatively well-informed people, can no longer distinguish between fact and fiction.
 
Netflix is playing that for laughs. For subscribers.
 
It’s deadly serious.

The Measure of a Market

Here’s my answer: a well functioning market will distribute wealth (or income) in the pattern of a bell curve.

18402695_10155201378451678_1092038054711139476_nMarkets are artificial constructs. The only way to build a productive market is to determine the desired outcome and adjust market regulation along the way.

The problem in the United States is that we’ve placed all value in the fantasy of a “free” market. There are two problems here:

  1. There is no such thing as a free market; all markets are constructs.
  2. The solution can never be pre-determined. Values have to be determined and outcomes measured against those values.

We have no idea what a successful market should look like. I’ve asked the following question of several economists and mostly received blank stares: “How do you know if a market is working?” It usually then moves to a discussion of jobs and unemployment numbers. But jobs aren’t the desired product of an economy, the desired product is wealth or income. Jobs can be artificially inflated: cut all jobs in half and you’ve just doubled employment.

The answer to the question (is the market working?) should be the core value of any economy. That seemingly few Americans even understand the question, let alone have a coherent answer, is a problem.

Here’s my answer: a well functioning market will distribute wealth (or income) in the pattern of a bell curve.

Is the market working? Simply overlay the graph of current wealth distribution (b) with a bell curve (a), and you get a visual representation of how well the market is functioning.

The degree to which the actual curve and the bell curve differ shows you exactly how off the market is; or said differently: B is a result of a poorly constructed market. B is NOT the result of harder working wealthy people.

I first developed these ideas here: Makers and Takers

The Bible is the Original Fake News Site

The Buried Lede: “This will be unpopular: The Bible and the Koran and the like are the original “fake news” sources.”

biblefakenewsFew would have predicted that the internet, open access to information, might lead to the demise of humanity.

“Facts” are extremely complex things; to understand that is to begin to think about philosophy and theories of mind.

The vast majority of advances in knowledge are going to tech. And tech can only build tools, it can’t navigate ethics and meaning and justice.

And despite what the tech focused world says, or the religious focused world, there can be expertise in things like ethics, meaning and justice. In law and economics and statecraft. Those things can be studied, understood, improved.

We’ve assumed that religion would fill that role; but religion is dead, it isn’t growing. And the very inability we have to point out errors in religion, the rewards we give out to bad thinking by labeling it a “Right” has, in my estimation, set the foundation for a world where “facts” can be anything you choose.

And lest I pick solely on religion, the same holds true in any communally reinforced grouping of ideas. Progressivism, Conservatism, Socialism, Energy Healers, Reiki, etc.

If the very foundations of existence can’t be questioned, if we must accept as valid all beliefs, if we are unwilling to point out bad thinking in the core beliefs of individuals, is it any surprise that we now have a population, Right, Left and Center, who are woefully unskilled at detecting bullshit? Both from others, but more importantly from self?

This will be unpopular: the Bible and the Koran and the like are the original “fake news” sources. But we don’t call it out, and therefore, the vast majority of humanity’s foundation of knowledge is based in fake news.

So, tech built the internet which disseminates vast quantities of information, but humanity doesn’t yet understand the foundational issues of knowledge. Opinion isn’t knowledge. Belief isn’t knowledge. But information is now in the hands of everyone, and everyone believes they are right, that they have knowledge. But knowledge, facts, truth…these are complex topics.

The idea that knowledge acquisition isn’t considered a skill, that it’s simply thought of as the discovery of new information, freely available to any and all, and that the opinions of any and all have merit, has brought natural human division to new depths. We now have burger flippers and hairstylists and Lawyers who think they are experts in global trade and economics and politics and race-relations, and they are driving the world. Into a ditch.

The internet brings this all together in a mirror image of the primordial soup from which we arose, into which we now descend.

Rise of Berniecrats, Death of Democrats, Ergo, Death of America

IMG_7276The Democratic Party is being severely weakened, and will be unable to mount any serious challenge to the Trump wing of the US.

Bernie Sanders and his supporters will prove to be the worst thing to happen to the Left in decades. And his followers, who have very little understanding of realpolitik, do not have anywhere near enough support to implement their flawed ideology; but they have enough to hamstring the unity needed to disrupt any serious effort push back on the Right.

Right now, the DNC, which has much less power than Berniecrats have been lead to believe, have created a “Unity” committee, which will be formed with Clinton appointing 9 members, and Bernie Sanders appointing 7 members.

Think about this: Bernie Sanders still refuses to identify as and commit to being a Democrat, and yet he’s being given huge power to shape the party. And the Berniecrats, who haven’t won any political race of any significance, fancy themselves as experts on how to take back the Country.

Remember the platform committee? Bernie put Cornell West on that committee; he who promptly endorsed Jill Stein after the effort.

The Berniecrats are toxic, ill informed, and frankly, immoral (go research their treatment of Delores Huerta in the Nevada primary caucus to deflate any notion of the movement’s moral superiority). The net result of this is that they will only have enough power to kill the Democratic Party; not enough to kill Trump.

And that has the potential to kill America.

The Best Propaganda…

sunsky-and-flowersThe best propaganda of all is that believed to be true by the perpetrator.

Guns Don’t Kill People, Statistics Do

PrintThe primary reason given for gun ownership is protection. That is one valid potential use for a gun. But that is not the only way that a gun can be used. Here are common uses for a gun:

  1. Protection
  2. Intentional self-harm
  3. Accidental self-harm
  4. Intentional other-harm
  5. Accidental other-harm

On this list, protection is statistically the least likely. Uses 2-5 are much more common than is protection. So, when a gun is introduced into a home, it is significantly more likely to be used for unintended reasons than for the intended reason.

That would be true in a home of one person. Now let’s multiply the above list by the number of people who have proximity to that gun:

  1. Self
  2. Family Members
  3. Visitors to the home
  4. Thieves

None of us can predict future circumstances or know of future mental states. None of us can predict the potential for mental illness (either permanent or temporary) either in ourself or in those with proximity to the gun.

Gun x Unintended Uses x Others x Unknown Future = Danger

Take the statistically more likely uses for the gun (2-5) and multiply that by the number of people proximity to that gun, and multiply that again by the unknown future mental state of any of those with proximity, and you begin to understand why a gun in the home is significantly more likely to be used in a manner that is not intended.

Homes with a gun are more dangerous than homes without a gun.

News Should Look Like News

Marguerite Higgins

Marguerite Higgins

I want my Newscasters to be grisled and bruised. I want their shirts to be crumpled and their cuffs frayed.

I’m weary of the coiffed, polished and pressed. The tailored suits and the long lashes.

News shouldn’t look like fashion. It should look like news.

Trolling & The Star Spangled Banner

bwflagA common definition of trolling on the internet is injecting red herrings into an online discussion or debate in order to distract from the prior conversation. It’s an attempt to adds noise to the debate so as to disrupt it.
 
Asserting that taking a knee at a football game is disrespectful of Veterans is trolling. It’s the assertion of a red herring into an important discussion. It’s meant to distract from, not participate in, the conversation.
 
Veterans don’t fight for the flag, or a song, or the pledge of allegiance. Veterans fight for people. For citizens. For equal protection under the law. To conclude otherwise is to suggest the flag is more important than the rights & people it represents.
 
We don’t serve the flag; the flag serves us.

Trump The Cuban Missile Crisis

mushroom-cloud-photography-11892-www-wallconvertNOTE: While there is a humorous tone to this post, I take the issue quite seriously. Trump is simply not fit to be POTUS. This is an attempt to envision the Cuban Missile Crisis under a Trump Presidency.


Day 1

President Trump learns on Twitter that Cuba has nuclear weapons.

Trump Tweets: “Putin and Cuba are so COOL; they’re like bullies. Big respect for that. Looking forward to meeting him soon!”


Day 2

President Trump convenes his top advisors, Chris Christie, Trey Gowdy, Ivanka Trump and Michelle Bachman to discuss his concerns. The meeting lasts 20 minutes.

Trump Tweets: “We’re going to CRUSH Cuba. BIG League. They won’t know what hit them. And then we’ll take the Island. Hey…new HOTEL?” Read more

An Open Letter to Conflicted Republicans…

Donald J. Trump Campaigns In MiamiDear Republican Friends…

I get that many of you are conflicted. I understand that you dislike the policies of the democratic party, and think that Hillary would take us down a path opposite where you think we should go. I’m being honest; I can sense the gut wrench of your decision, and don’t envy it.

If Donald Trump is elected President of the United States, the dignity of the office would be forever tarnished. The dignity of the United States would be forever tarnished.

Trump is not a viable option to lead this country. He’s quite simply the worst candidate ever to be presented for the office. Most of you know this. I don’t need to recount the why’s of it. A GOP candidate who has been rejected by every past living GOP president, who has been called a con man by your last presidential nominee. You don’t have to take my word, just listen to members of your own party.

Let’s be honest…

Trump is not a republican. You can have no faith in what he says; you cannot rely on him to enact conservative policies. He’s simply all over the board. You know this.

Trump is not a moral man. I understand that many of you consider yourselves moral voters. There simply is no case to be made that Trump will bring any dignity to the office of President. You know he does not represent nor does he live your values.

Trump is a dangerous man. He’s impulsive. Can we really trust him on matters of foreign policy and heading the military?

It’s not enough to not vote for Donald Trump. Donald Trump has to be defeated. That means someone else has to win. If you agree with me that Trump represents a dire threat to the Country, please use your vote not just to withhold by voting for a third-party candidate, but rather, use it to ensure that Trump loses. And that will require you to do what previously may have been unthinkable: Vote for Hillary Clinton.

We The People. We are still in this together.

Hey Millennials…

Bernie Sanders explains why it’s important that millennials support Hillary Clinton for President.

The Misinformation Age

boat-storm2This age may not be as good for humanity as is commonly assumed. We are in grave danger of being harmed by too much information.

Information, on its own, is neither good nor bad. Rather it is either valid or invalid.

Signal-to-noise ratio is a measure used in science that compares the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise. In communication theory, this indicates the amount of valid information (the signal) to the amount of invalid information (the noise).

Signal can’t be analyzed apart from noise. An increase in good signal does not automatically mean we are better informed; if there has been an even greater increase in bad noise, we are less informed.

The current presidential campaign is instructive. Turn on any news channel; by the end of the program, you will be left with more questions than answers. This is due to being given more noise than signal. And each day is increasing the noise, and thereby decreasing the signal.

Brandolini’s Law: The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it

News and journalism should increase signal & decrease noise. There can be no doubt news is now increasing noise. In fact, most journalism now revels in noise, because noise can create controversy, and controversy can increase viewers and readers.

It may be that humanity has not evolved in a way that allows us to process information as quickly as it is being presented. We have not been adequately educated to separate signal and noise.

The point is this: we are less informed today than we were yesterday. But, you may respond, what about all the new information we have received!?! It’s true; we’ve been blessed with unprecedented levels of good information in the recent past. But if in that same period we have been flooded with misinformation, the net result is a reduction in knowledge, not an increase. If there is more noise, there is simply less signal.

This is not a small problem. It may very well be the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced. And we are losing.

A Word Problem for Alt-Left Voters

Fortunately, it's not this hard!

Fortunately, it’s not this hard!

Billy, an Alt-Left voter, is trying to decide who to vote for in the upcoming Presidential Election.

  • Candidate Green and Billy share the same opinion 100% of the time.
  • Candidate Blue and Billy share the same opinion 75% of the time.
  • Candidate Orange and Billy share the same opinion 0% of the time.

Read more

A Trump IRS FOIA Request

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Internal Revenue Service. The focus of my request is for any documents which confirm that anyone with the last name “Trump” is currently being audited, whether or not such an audit is completed, and a list of names of IRS employees who are assigned to any audits relating to anyone with the last name Trump.  Read more

Judging Hillary: They Who Are Without Sin…

hillaryI became angry at a fellow Democrat this weekend…

She’s a solid Hillary Clinton supporter, never a doubt that she was going to vote for her. But over drinks, she said what we all hear over and over again about HRC: “She’s a liar, she’s power-hungry, she’s…” You know the list.
 
Dear Everybody…Here are some things about Hillary Clinton you have insufficient evidence for:
  • She’s dishonest
  • She’s really in it for the power
  • She doesn’t really care about the issues
  • She doesn’t really love Bill
  • She’s a cold, distant mother
  • She’s a cold, distant grandmother
  • She’s shrill
  • She’s really in it for the money
  • She’s in the pocket of Wall Street
  • She’s really a Republican
  • She’s really a Socialist
We are all free to hold to the “who would you rather have a beer with” trope. We are certainly free to make the judgements I list above. But if you judge Hillary Clinton without acknowledging the systemic and cultural sexism through which we judge her and the relentless nearly three decade campaign of deliberate misinformation that she’s been subjected to, well then…
  • Who’s being dishonest?
Has Hillary Clinton lied? Yes. After years of scrutinizing every charge that has been leveled at her (I know, I need a life), here’s the one thing she’s said that I think was a lie: the incident of “sniper fire” on her 1996 trip to Bosnia.
 
But rather than implicating her as a “liar” I marvel at how under such scrutiny, recorded in detail far greater than nearly any other human in history (maybe Princess Diana?), how little evidence there actually is for the primary narrative about her. Being honest with myself, I’ve lied and exaggerated stories. Even so, I value honesty and integrity, and would consider any judgement that labeled me “a liar” unfair.
“They who are without sin…”