Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ethanol Gas and Electric Powered Vehicles Worse for Environment than Gas Powered



Uh-oh. Oregon's ethanol mandate (ORS 646.913) and maybe a third of its electric car use cause worse environmental damage than conventional gas powered cars. So says a new study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Electricity produced by coal is worse for the environment than conventional gasoline. Turns out a third of Oregon's electricity is produced by coal.

Oregon Department of Energy graphic
Worse, turns out the ethanol mandate requiring 10% ethanol (E10) in all* gas sold in Oregon passed in 2007 (HB 2010, Section 18) actually harms the environment more than regular gas. This was bipartisan stupidity. In the Oregon House and Senate votes only 7 Oregon legislators voted against it. But, for the record, all 7 of those were Republicans:
Sens. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, Roger Beyer, R-Molalla, Larry George, R-Hillsboro
Reps. Linda Flores, R-Clackamas, Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, Susan Morgan, R-Myrtle Creek, Wayne Scott, R-Oregon City
Also, for the record, two better known Oregon Democrat figures voted for increased ethanol pollution. They are now U.S. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader.

All Oregon Democrats and most Oregon Republicans just listen to whatever they are told especially by environmental groups. No careful investigation or waiting for the science, just do what feels good at the time. The people and the environment pay for that shallowness.
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*SB 1079, Section 4 passed in 2008 fixed a big problem by allowing vehicles which don't run well on E10 like aircraft, antique vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, racing vehicles, snowmobiles, tools, and watercraft exemption from the E10 requirement.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Free Digital Versions of U.S. Supreme Court Decisions (1991 to 2008)

You can get a free digital copy of the bound Supreme Court decisions from 1991 to 2008 at:

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/boundvolumes.aspx

Opinions from 1937 to 1975 (a text file in all caps--ugh!--but it's free) can be found here:

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/bulkdata/SCD


Oregon Democrats Vote to Shut the Government Down

Tonight all of Oregon's Democratic U.S. Representatives voted "no" on H.R. 83 which was a vote to not fund the U.S. Government.
The House on Thursday approved a $1.1 trillion bill funding most of the government through September despite an outcry from Democrats and significant defections in both parties.
By a vote of 219-206, the House sent the bill to the Senate, where a similar debate may break out between liberal Democrats and the White House.
The vote split Democratic leaders, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) opposing the bill and criticizing the White House, but Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) backing it. Fifty-seven Democrats voted for the bill, while 139 opposed it.
The House also voted by unanimous consent on a two-day continuing resolution that would expire on Saturday. This is meant to keep the government funded and give the Senate cushion to consider the "cromnibus" package.
, , ,
Democrats objected to changes to the Wall Street reform bill that were included in the 1,600-page bill, and many were unswayed by a last-ditch White House lobbying push that included a visit to the conference by White House chief of staff Denis McDonough.
. . .
Conservative Republicans, meanwhile, opposed the bill for not doing more to curtail President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. While 162 Republicans voted for the bill, 67 rejected it.
For much of the afternoon and evening, the bill looked to be at death's door as a government shutdown loomed at midnight.
[emphasis added]
Oregon Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader all voted with Republican conservatives Reps. Michelle Bachmann (MN), Marsha Blackburn (TN) and Tom Cotton (AR) (soon to be Senator Cotton) to not fund the government starting tomorrow if certain changes were not made in the spending bill.

Strange how things can change for some people in the space of year. In 2014 all these seven U.S. Representatives think a partial government shutdown is the lesser of two evils.

In 2013 the Republicans thought the issues were worth a partial shutdown, but Oregon Democrats could only speak of the misery and suffering caused by partial government shutdown.

Bachmann - "How can I in good conscience not continue fighting to protect these families from Obamacare’s disastrous consequences?

"I was proud to vote for two separate bills that fully fund the entire government, except for Obamacare. And I’m glad we were able, at the very least, to agree that our men and women in the military should continue to receive their pay.

Blackburn - “Just as we have watched support for the President’s health care law crumble under a mass of broken promises, we are now seeing our government and it’s people suffer as a result of his failure to work with us. House Republicans remain committed to ending this government shutdown and fighting to protect the American people from Obamacare. It’s time for the Senate and President Obama to join us so we can find a workable solution that achieves fairness for all.”

Cotton - "I regret that Senate Democrats would rather keep their special Obamacare exemption than keep the government open.  Their decision will cause needless hardship for many Arkansans, including dedicated public servants."

Oregon's Democratic U.S. Representatives on the suffering caused by a partial government shutdown in 2013:

Blumenauer - "It is difficult to tell exactly what the effects will be, since the last shutdown ended in 1996, but we know that millions of families across the country will suffer."

Bonamici - “Today the House leadership forced a government shutdown in an attempt to block or delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I am deeply disappointed. It is a reckless path that will hurt our economy and cast a shadow of instability and uncertainty over the country."

DeFazio - “This government shutdown will deny countless essential government services to Americans, send hundreds of thousands of federal employees home without pay, and further erode the reputation of the U.S. government.”

Schrader - "I hope that this bill serves as a wake up call to my colleagues that it is inappropriate to shut down the federal government and threaten the livelihoods of millions of Americans for the sake of political posturing. There are bipartisan solutions to every problem. I suggest my colleagues join me in working to find them or put their paychecks on the line.”

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Reed College #1 in US in Increased Reported Sexual Assaults on Campus; Willamette University #10

Oregon colleges are leading the nation in something, but it's not a good race to the top. Reed College leads the nation in colleges with the largest increase in the rate of reported sexual assaults. Willamette University comes in at #10. From the Washington Post:


The two Oregon colleges' records are slightly better in actual rate of reported sexual assaults. Reed College drops to #3 and Willamette University to #15.


It turns out one problem at Reed has been its privacy policy.
"A June 2010 article by InvestigateWest in The Oregonian disclosed that three students who reported rape to the college were discouraged from calling police, instead routed to the Judicial Board and a process that required such strict confidentiality one student was unsure she could tell her mother about it. The students said the process had the effect of cutting them off from support after reporting rape at Reed, and all interviewed reported being dissatisfied with the outcome."
But a bigger problem in college sexual assault cases is the lack of consequences for the perpetrator.
"The article was produced in collaboration with a national investigation into campus assault by the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C., which found that students deemed “responsible” for sexual assault on campuses across the nation often faced little or no consequence for their acts, while their victims╩╝ lives were frequently left in turmoil. Often, victims left school while the alleged attackers graduated, the Center’s and InvestigateWest’sinvestigation (sic) found."
The Washington Post gives a little glimmer of hope to the two Oregon schools:
"It’s possible that Gallaudet, Grinnell, and Reed are the most sexually violent campuses in the nation, but it’s more plausible that these campuses have cultivated an environment where survivors feel more comfortable speaking out."

Saturday, December 06, 2014

The Deadly Impact of Too Many Laws

Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter has a good piece on the problem with too many laws--including hundreds of thousands of administrative laws. He writes in the context of Eric Garner's death from a police choke hold.
"The problem is actually broader. It's not just cigarette tax laws that can lead to the death of those the police seek to arrest. It's every law. Libertarians argue that we have far too many laws, and the Garner case offers evidence that they're right. . . . Better [law enforcement] training won't lead to perfection. But fewer laws would mean fewer opportunities for official violence to get out of hand.
. . .
"In addition to [3000 crimes in federal law], [in Overcriminalization legal scholar Douglas Husak] writes, an astonishing 300,000 or more federal regulations may be enforceable through criminal punishment in the discretion of an administrative agency. Nobody knows the number for sure."
It is astonishing that there were a slew of police officers trying to arrest a man selling loose cigarettes in New York City. Just as it was to see a BLM swat team on Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch over a cattle grazing issue.

Carter sums up by saying he is not criticizing the cops who carry out the legislative will, but the unthinking legislators who add law upon law without thinking of the consequences.
"The criticism is of a political system that takes such bizarre delight in creating new crimes for the cops to enforce. It's unlikely that the New York legislature, in creating the crime of selling untaxed cigarettes, imagined that anyone would die for violating it. But a wise legislator would give the matter some thought before creating a crime. Officials who fail to take into account the obvious fact that the laws they're so eager to pass will be enforced at the point of a gun cannot fairly be described as public servants."
Willingness to pass myriads of laws on trivial offenses or give free rein to administrative agencies to make and enforce their own laws is not only destructive of civil and human rights, but of our system of a limited government with enumerated powers.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Samuel Johnson on the Vanity of Human Hopes

Samuel Johnson bust (in the National Portrait Gallery, London)
"No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes, than a publick library; for who can see the wall crowded on every side by mighty volumes, the works of laborious meditation, and accurate inquiry, now scarcely known but by the catalogue . . . ."*
(The Rambler, No. 106. SATURDAY, MARCH 23, 1751.)
Heh. Yes, public libraries are a monument to literary vanity which has ended in forgotten books and authors which predominate in the thousands of miles of public library shelving. (The Library of Congress has almost 130 million items on about 530 miles of shelves.)

I've been reading Samuel Johnson's essays in The Rambler. Some of the entries are interesting as sidelights (like Johnson's take on the proper scope and pitfalls of pastoral poetry). But, Johnson isn't famous for nothing. There's a surprising amount of wisdom vividly expressed. Like the quotation above.

Most of what he writes isn't surprising or new, for as Johnson says in Rambler, No. 2:
"What is new is opposed, because most are unwilling to be taught; and what is known is rejected, because it is not sufficiently considered that men more frequently require to be reminded than informed."
[emphasis added]
Johnson does a lot of great reminding. Which, when one comes to think of it, is what good blogging is about. Johnson published his Rambler opinion pieces twice a week.
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*rest of the quotation: "and preserved only to increase the pomp of learning, without considering how many hours have been wasted in vain endeavours, how often imagination has anticipated the praises of futurity, how many statues have risen to the eye of vanity, how many ideal converts have elevated zeal, how often wit has exulted in the eternal infamy of his antagonists, and dogmatism has delighted in the gradual advances of his authority, the immutability of his decrees, and the perpetuity of his power?"

Monday, November 24, 2014

Celebrating William F. Buckley, Jr.

on Firing Line 1971
Today would have been William F. Buckley, Jr.'s 89th birthday. He was a great man--not only because of his brilliance in political debate, thinking and writing, but because he was genuinely a kind, loving man. I was blessed to have his friendship for almost 40 years. He was unfailingly encouraging, generous and kind. Thank you, Lord, for giving us Bill Buckley.
"So during those moments when doubt will assail you, moments that will come as surely as the temptations of the flesh, I hope you will pause. I know, I know, at the most hectic moments of one's life it isn't easy--indeed, the argument can be made that neither is is seemly--to withdraw from the front line in order to consider the general situation philosophically. But what I hope you will consider, during these moments of doubt, is the essential professional point: Without organized force, and the threat of the use of it under certain circumstances, there is no freedom, anywhere. Without freedom, there is no true humanity."
(from "John Kerry's America" a commencement address at the United States Military Academy, West Point, N. Y., June 8, 1971 in Let Us Talk of Many Things)