Daily Archives: September 18, 2015

They paved (a tiny bit of) paradise and put up solar panels

VTDigger’s Friday feed is infected with a bit of uncharacteristic headline fearmongering.


The story concerns a presentation to the Legislature’s Solar Siting Task Force by Asa Hopkins of the Public Service Department. And by “HIGH SPACE DEMANDS,” it means Hopkins’ estimate of between 8,000 and 13,000 acres of solar panels statewide. That’s assuming we are to meet our legally-mandated goal of 90% renewable energy by the year 2050.

Wow. That sounds like a lot of land.

Is it?

Not really. The state of Vermont has almost 6,000,000 acres. A conscientious reporter (or editor) might have thought to include that fact.

So, if you take the upper end of the estimate, solar panels would cover two-tenths of one percent of Vermont. (A conscientious headline writer might have asked whether “HIGH SPACE DEMANDS” is an accurate characterization.)

You know what? I’d take that, if it means getting 90% of our energy from local, renewable sources.

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Vermont Republicans: Not buying the snake oil

This week, the Castleton Polling Institute released a presidential poll of Vermont voters. The number that made headlines: Just as many Republican voters favor Bernie Sanders as any Republican candidate.

The actual result: Bernie’s in a three-way tie with Donald Trump and Ben Carson among Republicans, at a measly 12%. (It’s also worth noting that Hillary Clinton gets 4% support among VT Republicans.)

That’s interesting. But to me, there are two more notable takeaways from the poll.

First, Vermont’s Republican electorate remains splintered and undecided. The fact that no candidate got more than 12% is awfully telling. The real winner is “Not Sure,” with 28%. In other words, Vermont Republicans are thoroughly underwhelmed by what they’ve seen so far. I mean, 16% of them are backing a Democrat, for goodness sakes. That’s almost half who can’t settle on a Republican candidate.

Second, the state’s Republican electorate is relatively immune to the blandishments of snake-oil salespeople.

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Further Adventures in Broadening the Base

Protip: When a political operative posts something on Front Porch Forum, every FPF member in that town will see it. And sometimes, one of them will send it on to me.

Case in point: This FPF message from Ron Lawrence, chair of the Essex Republicans.

Get Involved with the Essex Republicans
In recent days, it’s been out of vogue to stand for “less government” and “personal responsibility”; but jobs are leaving Vermont, and our children are leaving with them. The rest of us are left holding the bag for a very expensive government. These things are not an accident. They are the result of decisions we make and the people we elect.
The Essex Republicans are the official town committee for the Republican Party. We have current initiatives in three main areas: Community, Communication, and Candidates.
In our Community, we seek to establish programs that help us to better connect with each other, to appreciate our own unique history, and to uphold the values that history has taught us. In the area of Communications, we are developing new ways of sharing those values. One such value is the civil discussion of issues. This takes practice. It also takes the development of new venues and media to allow that discussion to happen in a safe and civil way. Finally, we are actively recruiting and supporting candidates. Running for office is an enormous, personal commitment. The Essex Republicans are working to ensure that we have good candidates, and that our candidates do not have to go it alone.
There is more to the Essex Republicans than you may know. We are holding our bi-annual caucus on September 21st, 7 p.m. at the Essex Center Grange. This is our biannual reorganization meeting and your chance to become a member. You need not be a member to get involved, but membership gives you a vote in committee decisions.
By contrast, the politics of “caring” haven’t worked out like many have hoped. People are beginning to sense that change is needed. If you want to be part of that change, then I urge you to join us at our caucus on September 21st.
Ron Lawrence,
Essex Republicans chair

I sense a touch of “white conservative persecution mania” in that first sentence. Does he feel like an oppressed minority because his party is in a perpetual minority position, and its only apparent path to victory is to turn away from the hard-right base and moderate its message?

Aww, too bad.

But the sentence that really caught my attention is the one near the end. I’ve rendered the line in boldface.

By “the politics of ‘caring,'” I presume he means liberalism. We’ve been fighting the War on Poverty for 50 years and we’ve still got poor people, so it’s time to give up. Something like that.

So yeah, by all means, let’s try “the politics of ‘not giving a f*ck'” instead. It worked so well in the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.