Joe Biden and Champ

I wish Joe Biden would get over himself and stop musing about a Presidential run.  He is not a contender.  Biden’s intent?  I’d guess it’s nothing more than a distraction from the strong showing by Bernie Sanders.  Bernie is the nightmare of Democratic leadership, precisely because he’s the most compelling candidate for democratic voters (small “d”), people interested in preservation, revival, of our democracy.

Biden sure isn’t what I’d look for in a candidate.  A recent post on Politico, How a Young Joe Biden Turned Liberals Against Integration, brings to light Biden’s efforts to preserve segregation.  That should be enough to take him off anyone’s potential Presidential candidate list.

Alan Muller, Green Delaware, has had to deal with Biden for a long time now, and has a lot of insight into Biden’s character based on Biden’s record and actions.  One story I’ve heard often is of a group opposing the Iraq war meeting with Biden in his office, and of Biden’s absolute and nasty dismissal of them and their concerns (expletives deleted for this PG-13 post).

Racial issues have been a struggle for Delaware, and Biden provides an example of white resistance to integration.  Delaware was a slave state.  Though it bills itself “The First State,” and though  Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution, it was also the first state outside the Confederacy to reject the 14th Amendment, in 1867, and Delaware was very slow to ratify the 14th Amendment — it held off until 1901, 33 years after it was approved by enough states to be added to the Constitution.

Here’s an example of Biden’s “leadership,” a reminder of Biden’s efforts as a U.S. Senator to maintain segregation:

How a Young Joe Biden Turned Liberals Against Integration

From the article, the bottom line:

Then, as a court-ordered integration plan loomed over Wilmington, Delaware, in 1974, Biden’s constituents transformed their resistance to busing into an organized—and angry—opposition. So Biden transformed, too. That year, Joe Biden morphed into a leading anti-busing crusader—all the while continuing to insist that he supported the goal of school desegregation, he only opposed busing as the means to achieve that end.

This stance, which many of Biden’s liberal and moderate colleagues also held, was clever but disingenuous. It enabled Biden to choose votes over principles, while acting as if he was not doing so.

The article is off, though, in its statements of the mechanism of busing, claiming that it was white parents afraid of busing their white children into black schools.  “White parents trembled with rage as they envisioned scenarios in which their children would be bused into African-American neighborhoods.”  Though white parents did indeed have this fear, the plans were not to bus white children, the plans were to “integrate” the white schools, and to desegregate the black schools, by moving black students to the white schools — that’s what they did not want to see happen.  Busing was most often a burden on the black students, transported to white schools, as white parents, school board and local elected officials did a George Wallace and blocked the doors.  This focus on “dilution” was evident in the court ordered Minneapolis arrangement, which was based on a bizarre definition of segregation, which in Minneapolis was that a school 35% black was “segregated,” but a school that was 100% white was not (note that in an failed effort to avoid a lawsuit, but in my experience a very educationally successful effort, Minneapolis formed the Central H.S. “Magnet School” to draw white students in from other schools to dilute the student population.)
How was Biden, and how were all the other Senators, able to couch their opposition to integration, their efforts to preserve segregation, as opposition to “busing.”  Yes, it is disingenuous, but that’s too nice a word.  Same goes for the term “neighborhood school” a thinly-veiled cry for continuation of segregation — after all, the neighborhoods are segregated.  The framing goes directly back to George Wallace and his development of the language of racism and hate that continues today (I’ve just finished reading “The Politics of Rage,” a must read to see the roots of today’s euphemisms — it’s nothing new.).  I’m glad Politico brought this to light.

Texas Voter ID law remanded

August 5th, 2015


Here’s today’s 5th Circuit decision, remanding the Texas voter ID law.  It’s pretty convoluted:

Texas_Voter ID_14-41127-CV0

What really bothers me is the vacuous claims of “voter fraud” as justification for these restrictions on voting.  Show me the cases!  We’ve got that one case of voter fraud orchestrated by “Jake” (who was acquitted!), but let’s hear about the convictions, I think it’s something like 85 since 2004 or some such.

Here are posts on Legalectric about the Coates case:

WaltPalmerWorld Record Archery Rhino-M

There’s a piece in The Atlantic about the “my outrage is better than your outrage” or “my outrage is more legitimate than your outrage” challenge going around, and folks, get real, who cares?  People are posting outrage, and then getting worked up about challenges like “what about #(your favorite cause hashtag here)” and reacting defensively about challenges to their outrage de jour.  So what?  Why take objections personally?  Why object to a challenge, rather than think about it?  Why would you regard a challenge to your thoughts as a restriction to your speech?  It’s a conversation, and it’s a conversation that needs to be had.  It a trigger to thinking about whatever we’re ranting about.

Take a look at your expressions of outrage and see what’s there.  Take a look at those you know expressing outrage and see what’s there.  What’s the range of depth and breadth?  What is important to you and yours?

And of course, it’s not binary.  We can care about a lot of things, and can care about many things at the same time.  Just look at people’s many posts to see what they care about!  Multiple issue syndrome?  Ask anyone with ADHD!  Most of the people I know of who are outraged about Cecil are outraged about many, many things, and express that outrage regularly.

I’d guess the reason for someone objecting to the “what about #(your favorite cause hashtag here)?”  and reacting defensively is that those issues raised are ones they’d rather not think about.  Oh well…  Maybe it’s time to get started, continue, or choose otherwise, but there’s no need to get defensive or competitive.

If the issue you’re writing about, if the position you’re advocating, can’t take some challenge, what does that say about your advocacy?  If someone else thinks you should be pushing something else, well, what does it matter what someone else thinks?  Do they make a good point?  Raise an issue you need to consider?  Is it something you should care about?  Maybe it’s something you should at least think about, and it might be a good time to dive in, a time to do some self-examination!  And hey, that’s just their opinion, just like you have your opinion!  That’s what free speech is all about.  Well, partially, because free speech is accompanied by responsibility, an obligation to speak the truth, to care and investigate the truth about what you’re saying, to express opinions with some basis, and to not toss around slanderous nonsense — check things out before you go off on a rant — and if you screw up, correct it, LOUDLY and WIDELY!  That’s pretty basic.  Think!  Speak up!  Stand up! 

From Cecil the Lion to Climate Change: A Perfect Storm of Outrage Oneupmanship

Instead, the people who hadn’t jumped on the Cecil-outrage bandwagon jumped on the superiority-outrage bandwagon. It’s a bandwagon of outrage one-upmanship, and it’s just as rewarding as the original outrage bandwagon.

The bottom line in that piece:

Many people are drawn to defend nature and underdogs (even when they are apex predators) and to hate wealthy, lying, violent dentists. But even more than that they are drawn to feeling superior and appearing wise, and being validated accordingly.

Methinks there’s a little more to it than that.

Here’s the piece that woke me up to this “rightness” thing going around — AAARGH, it’s so all about MEEEE!  From Michelle Krabill, who on many points it seems I agree with, but on this, nope, no way, no how:

Dammit! I care more (about the right things) than you do!

From the start…

It seems lately I am not allowed to care about anything without someone saying I care about the wrong thing or that I must also make it clear that I care about something else more.

Not allowed?  This from a blogger?  Someone with a very public platform accessible to all?  Do tell, how is your speech limited, how are you “not allowed?”  OH PUH-LEEEEZE…  $50 says that she’s been challenged.  And what she’s doing here is just what she objects to!   She’s objecting to other people’s statements and lack of boundaries, and yet the headline is the words “I care MORE” and “about the RIGHT things” and “than YOU,” making a moral/ethical judgment about others, comparative and outward focused. That’s not something someone can claim in relation to others with any validity. We only know ourselves, what we care about… we control what we do, and have every right and obligation to say it, to act on our moral compass, and to stand up for our right to do it. That headline, though, is the type of statement she’s objecting to from others.

Just do your homework, write about it, agitate and advocate.

Yet Krabill does end on the important point, though with question marks rather than declaratory statements:

What if instead, we mourn every death? Celebrate every act of courage? Call out every injustice? Recognize every act of altruism? What if we actually believed that humanity’s best qualities could multiply with use and worst qualities would necessarily and absolutely atrophy in the presence of love?

What kind of world would that be?

A better one I think.

Yes, I’d guess it would be a better world, though I sure don’t buy into the passive notion that “humanity’s worst qualities would necessarily and absolutely atrophy in the presence of love.”  Each of us here needs to be an active participant in this thing we call life.  “Humanity’s worst qualities” won’t just go away, that we can see in what history we know of, it takes a lot of concerted effort to overcome the ugly side of humanity.   And that’s our job…


My clients have a tendency to hang around like bad habits — once awake to utility schemes, they take a bite and won’t let go.  I’ve been blessed with an active bunch, and today I woke up to another example.  Nancy “BOOM!” Prehn is one of my faves, she lives on top of the only natural gas underground storage dome in Minnesota, under about 10 square miles north of Waseca.  She singlehandedly got an EAW on how the gas company was handling water.  At the time, they were releasing water from wells onto their fields, and it wasn’t helping the corn and beans any.  Turns out it wasn’t seriously polluted, and the gas company had to build a water treatment facility and storage tanks at each well to contain the water, and then suck it out, bring it over to HQ and run it through the treatment system before releasing it.

Got Gas System.jpg

Nancy has a way of being ahead of the curve, and when she starts digging, look out.  Now she’s working on tax credits for those with utility infrastructure on their land, like a natural gas dome!  It’s needed for gas and oil pipelines too!

Here’s what she found today, from the 1979 legislative session, check Article 2, Section 20, a tax credit for landowners living under transmission lines — how did I not know this?

Chapter 303 HF1495

And it’s still law today:

Minn. Stat. 273.42

How much is this tax credit?  Well, it’s complicated… and there’s a ceiling, see the statute for specifics:

The amount of credit for which the property qualifies shall not exceed 20 percent of the total gross tax on the parcel prior to deduction of the state paid agricultural credit…

It was enacted during the last transmission build-out, circa 1979, and has been changed many times over the years:


(2012-3) 1925 c 306 s 3; 1949 c 554 s 3; 1978 c 658 s 4; 1979 c 303 art 2 s 20; 1980 c 607 art 10 s 3; 1Sp1981 c 1 art 2 s 15; 1982 c 523 art 16 s 1; 1Sp1985 c 14 art 4 s 70; 1Sp1986 c 1 art 4 s 24; 1987 c 268 art 6 s 35; 1Sp1989 c 1 art 2 s 11; 1990 c 604 art 3 s 22; 1Sp2001 c 5 art 3 s 44; 2003 c 127 art 5 s 21; 2014 c 275 art 1 s 90

Note this one that changed it from any “high voltage transmission line” as defined by then PPSA  116C.52, Subd. 3, to a high voltage transmission line “with a capacity of 200 kilovolts or more”
which also happened in the Buy the Farm statute:

2003 c 127 art 5 s 21

Bottom line — it’s good people affected by transmission get a tax credit for their burden, but it’s bad that it’s not assessed to the ones that took that easement.  It should be assessed to utilities/energy companies, the ones causing it and benefiting from it, not the rest of us taxpayers who have to make up the difference for local governments who need the tax revenues.

TO DO:  We need to make this tax credit applicable to all energy infrastructure (Note I said “energy” and not “utility” because there’s a lot of infrastructure being built that is NOT utility. but oil companies, and those “transmission only” private purpose companies.) and to assess the entity that burdened the property for the amount of that tax credit.

They published my LTE in the Alaska Highway News:


Your coverage of the RCMP shooting of James McIntyre has been thorough in this general dearth of information.

I’ve spent the last 20 years advocating against utility infrastructure in the U.S., and the killing of McIntyre by RCMP is horrifying.  

A big part of my schtick is to stand at the door (not inside where I’d be “interfering”) and enthusiastically greet everyone, hand them a flyer about how to participate, and direct them to the meeting.  Had I been at that open house, I’d be the one they found at the door.  Had they told me to leave, I’d have argued and resisted, as always, ramping up if they pushed.

In my experience, utilities have now and then requested police presence, and when I see it, I let the organizers know it’s offensive and off putting, chilling public participation.  People have a right to speak out against a project, and they have a right to be angry!  I talk to the officers too, find out if I can who wanted them there, and let them know it’s inhibiting and threatening to the public.  I figure they just add me to their list of people to watch.  But this atmosphere of blind fear is not acceptable.  Don’t Canadians have a right to free speech?  Civil disobedience is an appropriate response.  Civil disobedience is NOT a death sentence with law enforcement as judge, jury and executioner.

People are being steam-rolled by utility infrastructure projects such as dams, transmission lines, and pipelines, and no one wants to hear about it.  They want opposition to just go away.  People are losing their land, communities are deeply affected, and those affected are not compensated sufficiently to make it acceptable — and money is not the answer to everything!  

Is the Site C project worth the impacts?  Is generating electricity and profiting from it sufficient reason to inflict these impacts, including this death?  Maybe BC Hydro should think again.

—Carol A. Overland, Utility Regulatory Attorney, Minnesota