Posted by: sweeneyblog | October 3, 2014

Friday Odds and Ends: Echoes, Directors, and Ericksen’s Woman Problem

Hello Loyal Readers,

It is fall, the air turns crisp, we break out our nice sweaters and attack ads fill the air. Autumn is by far my favorite season – and let’s get it rolling with another Odds and Ends.

Joel Connelly, Seattle P-I

Joel Connelly, venerable reporter with the Seattle P-I, also attended the Tea Party forum on Wednesday and filed his own report a few hours after I did. He hit the same themes; a smarmy Ericksen contrasting with a low-key Fleetwood and the dynamic energy of Satpal Sidhu and Joy Monjure. Check out his piece, it is worth reading.

The City of Bellingham has almost selected a new planning director. Yesterday, the City held an meet-and-greet for the public, and let’s be honest, the building industry, to meet the three finalists for the position. John Servais attended and wrote a great piece about the candidates for the position and who showed up.

Finally, there is an attack ad airing on television criticizing Sen. Doug Ericksen for his views on a woman’s right to choose. I’m trying to find a copy of that so I can air it here on the blog but it is worth remembering this is not the first time Ericksen’s extreme views on women has come up. In 2011, when Ericksen was running for County Executive, he got asked at the Bill Mize forum about his record on so called “women’s issues” and his response was testy, to say the least. Shane Roth, local video enthusiast captured the audio and turned it into a humorous video below:

Personally, I have lobbied Sen. Ericksen on behalf of Planned Parenthood and found him to be dismissive of concerns over birth control and comprehensive sex education. I also know that Whatcom County, despite its conservative bent, is pro-choice so it will be interesting to see if Ericksen’s retrograde views on these issues will be enough to sink him.

Finally, to the person who shouted at me from their car, “I love the Political Junkie” yesterday while I was walking to lunch, I simply have this response:

Mainly, I was happy that they weren’t hurling rotten fruit from their car as they drove past. Enjoy the fall everyone



  1. Just listened to Ericksen’s “testy” response to the question, “How will your strong anti-Gay, anti-Choice, anti-Women’s Health voting record inform your Health Decisions as County Executive”? Does this strike anyone as a fair question?
    This is one of those staged “gotcha” questions, complete with booing and catcalls from the assembled audience. Ericksen’s response was civil, by any measure. And since when are a candidate’s positions on these issues particularly relevant to the day to day duties of Whatcom County Executive?

    • I think Riley’s point was to highlight that Senator Ericksen’s views on birth control and access to abortion are once again in play in his campaign. He speculates, with the usual bias that readers should expect from him, as to whether it will make a difference. . .as perhaps it did in Ericksen’s run for executive.

      As to whether the question has relevance to the county executive job, the county does have a health department and I wouldn’t want him running that department, albeit from an executive position, if he had a “strong anti-Gay, anti-Choice, anti-Women’s Health voting record”, It’s a relevant question. He could have disagreed with the question’s assumptions and then explained how he would not let his strongly held beliefs get in the way of Whatcom’s health care mission.

    • Tim’s answer is exactly right.
      If you bristle at the context and semantics of a question instead of answering it directly outright,
      it only supports the views of those who see you an idiot without the skills to function in politics.
      Ironically, Ericksen lost his executive race to a guy that probably holds exactly the same views on those issues because he simply wasn’t convincing as any kind of suitable executive material.

  2. Mainly, I was happy that they weren’t hurling rotten fruit from their car as they drove past. I make note of that.

    Was that you standing out in from of the Home Skillet last Sunday-a local bastion of conservatism

  3. A couple of zingers from Vincent Buys in Connelly’s PI article :

    “He believes creation of a coal port at Cherry Point would mean ‘a cleaner energy source for a lot of Third World countries.’ ”

    “Every business in Whatcom County is represented by an industry association,” said Buys.

    The sub-bituminous coal from the Powder River Basin (which would be shipped from Cherry Point) produces 214.3 million pounds CO2 per million BTU’s, while the figure for natural gas is 117.0 and diesel fuel is 161.3. You can find other fuels at:

    I didn’t really know how clueless Vincent Buys really is until now. He has a reputation as a “good guy” who just happens to be a conservative. Hah! Not only is he clueless on basic science but he assumes that small-businesses have a level playing field with corporations. No one represents me. The USDA doesn’t, nor the Chamber of Commerce, nor the Farm Bureau. They all represent big ag and oppose regulations that would make my life easier.

    • As a contractor and builder,
      the only business organization that ‘represents’ me doesn’t at all in any way shape or form and actually,
      with their embarrassing felonious behavior stealing from member’s L&I refunds,
      I’m not sure who or what they stand for.
      But why oh why don’t Democrats listen to what their GOP opponents say and then jump all over it factually?
      The examples of really stupid statements from Conservatives are many and one should be able and ready to state facts without being mean or enraging the Tea Party Hostess.

    • I would be interested in the figures for coal being imported by China from other countries. I think that is what Vince was getting at.

      Natural gas and diesel fuel were not part of this discussion.

      Are you for exporting natural gas (liquified) and diesel to China to help solve the problem?

  4. We all waiting for “your” FACTS. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

  5. Wayne – Coal is the dirtiest of fuels. Saying that exporting coal from Cherry Point gives them access to a “cleaner” fuel is clueless and a blatant lie. Coal has an EROI of around 50:1 so there is more energy available. However, it is SO dirty even China is decreasing their coal use in favor of other fuels, which have a smaller EROI (natural gas about 10:1 and oil now about 30:1).

    So-called “Third World” countries are using wood, kerosene, diesel and gas; all of which have lower EROI’s but are cleaner fuels than coal. In other words, “Third World” countries already have cleaner fuels than coal.

    I do not support exporting natural gas or diesel fuel to anybody. As you know, I support keeping more and more fossil fuels in the ground. I also support a decline rate in fossil fuel use in the US of 5-10% per year.

    • Not going to happen-“For power generation, there are alternatives to fossil fuels,” says Barry Jones, a general manager of the Global CCS Institute. (The institute, an Australia-based association of international governments and energy companies, helped me make contacts in China but provided no financial assistance or editorial supervision.) “But for some industrial processes, there are no alternatives.” Examples include steel and cement, essential building blocks for all modern societies. Most steel is smelted in large blast furnaces. The furnaces require coke, a solid fuel made by burning coal in a low-oxygen environment. Not only an energy source, coke literally supports the iron ore in the furnace and participates in the chemical reactions that transform pig iron into steel. According to Vaclav Smil, an energy researcher and prolific author on the subject, producing a ton of steel requires almost half a ton of coke. Coal is also the primary fuel for cement manufacturers. “In theory, coal could be replaced,” Jones says. “But that would involve rebuilding every cement plant in the world.”

      Coal can be scrubbed or gasified to eliminate most of the problem.

    • Researchers have discovered a stunning new process that takes the energy from coal without burning it — and removes virtually all of the pollution.

      The clean coal technique was developed by scientists at The Ohio State University, with just $5 million in funding from the federal government, and took 15 years to achieve.

      “We’ve been working on this for more than a decade,” Liang-Shih Fan, a chemical engineer and director of OSU’s Clean Coal Research Laboratory. “We found a way to release the heat from coal without burning.”

      The process removes 99 percent of the pollution from coal, which some scientists link to global warming. Coal-burning power plants produced about one-third of the nation’s carbon dioxide total in 2010, or about 2.3 billion metric tons, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

  6. “Clean coal” was highlighted in a fluff piece by James Fallows in The Atlantic, December 2010. It soon became known as the “Fallows Falacy.” Not only would clean coal require massive amounts of infrastructure to deal with new sources of CO2, it is defeated by the “point of flame” argument. In a nutshell, the further you get from the point of flame, the less energy you have left over. This is why electric cars have a higher carbon footprint than our 12-year-old Honda Accord. This can be measured in actual fuel used to power the engine, as well as a much lower embedded energy.

    If coal gas (aka clean coal) was so cheap and easy, Hitler would have been able to continue the war in western Europe without invading Russia.

  7. Hilter was on the verge of fully converting to synthetic gasoline.

    “The solution adopted by Nazi Germany was to manufacture synthetic gasoline from its plentiful domestic coal supplies. It was the hydrogenation process of producing synthetic gasoline and iso-octane properties in gasoline that enabled Germany to go to war in 1940 and this hydrogenation process was developed and financed by the Standard Oil laboratories in the United States in partnership with I.G. Farben….. “Source: Standard Oil Fuels World War 2

    So it is an interesting factoid that synthetic fuels utilizing Nazi technology from the 1930s is still being used.

    But the larger point is that if there was 1930s technology that was efficient and sufficient enough to fuel the massive German war machine with synthetic gas and oil, we are likely capable of utilizing our advanced technology to move past our dependence on oil (biotic or abiotic).

  8. Wayne – You are forgetting about embedded energy, as well as the very cheap price of the gasoline and diesel available in the world’s markets in the 1930’s. Spindle Top reduced the world price tremendously, as well as the worldwide Depression. Hitler had enough to run Germany without expansion, but not enough to expand. Liebensraum required seizing the Baku oil fields, not just the Sudetenland. Because he couldn’t get Baku, he was doomed. Of course he could have pulled in his horns and retreated to former German borders and lived on schnitzel for the rest of his life, but he was clueless too.

    A comparable situation now is all the oil jockeys moving to North Dakota in their pickemup trucks and using infrastructure built on 30:1 EROI oil from Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. Then they produce Bakken tight oil that has an EROI of 5:1. This is a downward spiral.

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