Category Archives: Washington DC

Trump, escucha! Estamos en la lucha!

In my long(ish) life I’ve been to a few actions and demonstrations, the matters at hand ranging from the desire for a new stop sign to a plastic bag ban to the plea for reproductive rights for everyone.

Today’s immigrant demonstration was particularly pithy, what with the young man who wondered why his mother sacrificed everything in Central America to take her family to the US, and found out it was to evacuate him, her son who she knew was gay long before he did, to safer ground; the trans woman employed at a  prominent local university without citizenship status; and the undocumented women with children here legally, one at her hip, at imminent risk of a shredded family. All have everything — everything — to lose, by the stroke of a pen from the man in whose front yard they spoke.

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Exelon ok if you like teeing up; for the environment, not so much

 

I’m a greenie (to candidates, “an environmental voter”).  I wondered who would be in favor of the pending sale of Pepco, the power distribution company that sends bills to homes and businesses in the mid-Atlantic, including my house in Washington, DC, to Exelon, a bigger Chicago-based power producer, and significantly, owner of a bunch of shop-worn nuclear reactors.  Pepco no longer owns power generators, but instead purchases power from suppliers — coal-, wind-, and solar-generated — and resells it.  (How power gets into those little wires on the poles I leave to others to explain.)  This is about the only good thing about Pepco — because it no longer operates those messy power plants, it has come around, gradually, to liking the cute solar panels on the roofs of local customers, and is OK with just charging for the wires.  We have solar panels on our roof, much diminishing our electrical draw, so I refer to the Pepco bills as just their little charge for staying friends.

So I attended two of the local Public Service Commission hearings about the looming sale to see who would find the behemoth remote company with 20th century holdings superior to one that is smaller, local, and has at least a kite in the renewal-energy wind.

Here’s who likes Exelon:  a suspiciously large number of testifiers for the merger essentially admitted to some level of being bought off.  They were contractors of one kind or another, beneficiaries of some charitable contribution, or organizations who thought they put on good conferences.  Here’s where I squirmed in my chair (and perhaps, maybe, let out an audible noise):  golf tournaments.  That’s right.  At least three proponents — and I did not by a long shot hear all of the testimony — really, really think Exelon is an awesome corporate citizen because of the golf tournaments it has sponsored.

That’s like choosing a dentist who doesn’t fix your teeth but who gives out nice calendars. You can pick another dentist, but it’s still hard for most households to go off-grid, so it’s important to worry more about the product you are actually paying for, and stop ignoring the significant damage done to the environment.

As one testifier said, “We need better than Pepco, but Exelon’s not it.” I recommend the full story about aging nuclear plants seeking bailouts, from which this came, in Daily Kos today.

“To improve its overall balance sheet, Exelon is also trying to take over the mid-Atlantic electricity distribution utility Pepco, a proposal that has engendered substantial opposition in Washington, DC, Maryland and Delaware. DC, for example, has a stated policy of becoming the greenest city in the country with the goal of being 50% renewable powered by 2030–a goal Pepco’s pro-renewable policies support. For its part, Exelon owns the dubious distinction of being the only utility ever thrown out of the American Wind Energy Association for its vociferous anti-renewable policies. A new analysis of the proposed deal by the independent Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis recommended that the Washington PSC reject the merger.”

The Washington, DC, Public Service Commission has bean-counters, I hope, who are logging the relatively bogus examples of corporate citizenship against matters of true value.

just need to fill up the punch bowl

Whew. Holiday decorating nearly done.

First we retrieve the yule branch from the basement.  It meets many of the criteria of our lives — minimalist, pretty cheap, “green,” a bit crafty.

It has a back story.  In life, this magnolia branch started out as part of a Casey Trees planting (I should say the mighty Casey Trees!) in the triangle park on our street.  Despite our attention and watering, it died.  When the poor dead soul finally fell over and started to migrate into the street from natural forces, we picked it up, trimmed it a bit, and William went at it with white paint.

yule branch

Then I find among our office supplies the Colorformesque sticky gel tree, and arrange its parts on the bathroom door.

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All that’s left is filling the punch bowl.

Happy holidays.  Find some good news somewhere around you.

 

And it was going so well

I check Craigslist every now and then to see if anyone suitable might like to live in our guest room.  This guy was everything we’d love/put up with until paragraph 6.

Here’s the big one: I have a pet parakeet and therefore my housemate(s) would need to be bird-friendly! Peanut is the smartest, most friendly and sweet little bird I have ever met. He can be a little shy around new people but usually accepts any room/housemates into his “flock.” He doesn’t make much noise and he’s pretty low maintenance, but ideally his cage door would always be open. He could certainly stay in my bedroom most of the time, but I’d want to allow him to “stretch his wings” periodically. He’s hand tame and there’s never any problem putting him in the cage if I need to.

Uh, no thank you.

easing the way for bikes and pedestrians

This:

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becomes this:

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with this:my shovel

You can do it too.

photos by me at Irving St. NW 29 April 2014

 

living in a crafty world — glue-sticking together for reproductive rights

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Today at the Supreme Court the ruckus was all about whether that nasty Obamacare tromps on the rights of corporations (non-humans) to deny preventive health-care, specifically in the form of drugs and devices that prevent pregnancy, to employees (humans) who happen to work there. A better solution would be to uncouple health insurance completely from employment and move to universal health-care coverage as many other countries have, and as the Affordable Care Act begins to do. Until then, here we are, where under the cover of religion, a “boss” can play doctor.

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I happened to be with a “faith-based” group, singing liberation- and spiritual-type songs, and bearing signs suggesting that people — and corporations! — just mind their own business regarding the reproductive organs of others. We feel this way quite strongly, as a matter of intellectual conscience, which the Hobby Lobby craft store people must understand is at least as valid as strong feelings that come from the Bible, which does not mention IUDs at all, not even once.  As I walked past the long line of folks hoping to get inside to hear the opinion, two called out trying to shame me, but mostly the crowd gave the thumbs up and much more audible forms of support.

Here’s hope that Antonin Scalia will reread that thing he wrote about how it was ok to disallow use of peyote, because not every silly thing that people do can fall under the umbrella of protected religious behavior. People just gotta go with the program sometimes! Hunt down this story by searching with the words “Scalia” and “peyote,” and you will find many sources.

Links about today’s cases: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/03/19/3416214/religious-groups-birth-control-coverage/

It’s voting time again in the District — in Gray and green(back)

Although Tony Benn, the British politician who died earlier today, said a lot of things worth remembering, my personal favorite is his list of questions we should ask anyone in authority: “What power do you have?; Where did you get it?; In whose interests do you exercise it?; To whom are you accountable; and, How can we get rid of you?”

— D.D. Guttenplan in The Nation http://www.thenation.com/blog/178863/tony-benn-best-prime-minister-britain-never-had

If the quote above betrays me as a little down on this little civitas we’re operating here, it’s because where I live, here in Washington, DC, it’s time to vote, and it’s just not pretty.

Up for selection are the mayor, several council member seats and a couple of others that have no real value at all — “shadow” positions.*  The mayor we have is expected to be indicted any day now, following on that of the fellow who now says, why yes, he did in fact contribute illegal funds to his campaign in 2010, and to lots of others too. The mayor, named “Gray” (though we District residents would rather have this resolved in black and white, thanks) denies wrongdoing, and therefore, all knowledge of the daily machinations of his campaign.

We’re in a tough position here, where the crimes committed are the white-collar greenback money type.  You could argue that no one was materially hurt — no bridges were blocked (see Christie); no drugs ingested (see Barry); no citizens executed (see every elected official in Texas).

But our feelings and our sense of civic integrity have been hurt — again.

And despite the high dysfunctionality, a whole dais of contenders want the job for themselves.

Here’s another issue.  Because almost all the voters here are registered as Democrats, the primary is where all the action is, and this year — who decided this? — it falls on April 1. Between April and November, the Democratic victor would normally stand around waiting for the routine general election to become official-hyphen-elect, then primp for a January inauguration. This year, though, expect some busier times for the political writers.  There may be more accusations and indictments, candidates who get the silver or bronze (or don’t medal at all) in April may find spiffy new personalities to run as Independents in November, joined by a few fresh new/recycled faces for the general.

* If you live in DC, and are an established political philosopher who can explain to me a theoretical and rational reason for being bothered with this, bring it on.