rjm's blog

Our Dred Scott

Last year I wrote about eerie parallels between the pre-Civil War period and present day events.

Of course, one of the major events that set the stage for the war was the case of Dred Scott v. Sanford, which was decided in March of 1857.   In that case, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney ruled that all blacks, slave and free, were not and could not ever become citizens of the United States.

It was a case about the buying and selling of people and of people's labor. 

Abolitionists rose up in fury, but Frederick Douglass said, "my hopes were never brighter than now"—because he knew that the injustice of taking the fruits of one's labor, to regulate every aspect of a person's life, could not stand.

Just as that decision increased the tensions between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the country, the ObamaCare decision today will only fan the smoldering division between the progressive and Constitutional factions we have today.

As I wrote a year ago, this is a time to write in your diaries.  Historians will look back at this time with wonder -- how could we let it all happen again?

Ron Paul at Cornell

Ron Paul spoke to the faithful (and the curious) at Lynah Rink on the Cornell Campus tonight.  A capacity crowd of students, plus a lot of people who clearly traveled a ways, came to shake the rafters with cheers of "President Paul" and "End The Fed".

Anyone who has watched the Republican primary debates had already heard the talking points in Paul's stump speech.

He railed against attacks on privacy, laws which regulate the internet, the Patriot Act, and government by executive order.  He particularly highlighted the Defense Authorization Act, and the recent Obama executive order which extended its authority to seize key parts of the U.S. economy not only in wartime, but, now, in peacetime as well.  He mentioned sound money, and the calls of "End the Fed" rang out again.  

"Hey, that's a good idea," he joked.  But he went on to say that the current financial system would collapse on it's own, citing the power of the laws of economics.

He refered to the recent Secret Service scandal, reminding the crowd that he did not accept Secret Service protection.

It got mighty hot in Lynah without ice on the floor.  As the temperature went up, some of the merely curious, and those with young children went in search of some air.  But most stayed to the end.

Paul spoke passionately about private property.  He reminded the crowd that societies with the worst records of spoiling the environment have been the ones with the most socialism.  Where the concept of private property is elevated, and others -- including the govenment -- can't mess with your stuff, the problems of pollution are less a problem.

He spoke briefly on foreign policy.  Saying "staying out of other people's business" got big applause. He left young people with a warning:  he predicted if things go on the way they are, there would be a collapse of confidence in the currency, in law and order, and in the government.  Paul noted that the Department of Homeland Security has been buying guns and millions of bullets.  "Who do you think they are going to shoot with all those bullets?" he asked.

As usual, Paul ended with a note of optimism:  It doesn't need to end that way.  You can be the future, the voice of liberty. It only takes a small group of people to change things.  Go out and win the revolution.


IntermissionTime to catch our breath and get some popcorn before Act II.

According to the Ithaca Journal, Judge Phillip Rumsey found that a clause in the New York oil and gas law does not prohibit municipalities from banning gas drilling or using zoning laws to prohibit it.

Thomas West, attorney for Denver-based Anschutz Corp., which has sued the town over it's ban, said his client will decide on whether to appeal within 30 days.

"It's a legal decision that should be wide open in the appellate courts, and we still remain confident in our positions," West said in a phone interview. "We certainly believe that if this case goes up to the Appellate Division, that the appellate courts will, we think, find some of the legal arguments we've put forth to be persuasive."

I hope the line isn't too long at the concession stand.  Or at the exit.

Text of the decision (pdf)

App Watch

lng app


Now available, the CNG Finder App for iPhone and... some other phone.

CNG Finder lets you find the closest CNG fueling station for your LNG vehicle, compare prices (lots less per mile than gasoline and diesel) and more.

But, woah, they're not really very close...

Gosh, just think, if they were closer, maybe TCAT could convert their buses to run on natural gas and be easier on the environment while saving enough money to pay their drivers.

Untll those green pins get a lttle closer we can admire that soot rising from the TCAT buses... well, except when the drivers are all out sick.


Rural TCAT Service

There is no rural TCAT service today, Thursday 11/10, as several TCAT bus operators have called in sick.

This includes (at least) routes 40, 41, 43, 52 and 53 serving parts of Dryden.  Hmmm.  

More at South of 5 and 20.

Tale of Two Towns


Election districts 4, 8, and 9 in blue

In the Town of Dryden, Sumner, Lavine and Solomon were elected by a progressive, anti-fracking machine in the south-west corner of Dryden.  There, in election districts 4, 8 and 9, which are closest to Cornell and Ithaca, the Dems polled at a rate of 4 or 5 to 1, giving the Dems a roughly 60%/40% overall win over their Republican rivals.  

In the rest of the town (unshaded at right), the difference between the supervisor candidates was just 3 votes, Republicans Jim Drew and Deb Shigley outpaced the strident anti-fracking candidate, Linda Lavine, and Solomon's margin was just 9 votes.

Ironically, the blue districts of the town are those less likely to be of interest to the gas industry because of dense development, surface topology, stream setbacks and underground geology.

Going forward, we'll keep and eye on how the FUD (fear, uncertantity, doubt) campaign plays against accumulating, actual drilling experience.  And we'll watch how the new board deals with ongoing fiscal issues.  Will the blue machine hang together? Stay tuned.

Bubble Watch

We're keeping an eye on the education bubble that keeps Tompkins County afloat.  From the WSJ:

Mr. Schwartz, 18 years old, was accepted at Cornell University but enrolled instead at City University of New York's Macaulay Honors College, which is free.

Mr. Schwartz says his family could have afforded Cornell's tuition, with help from scholarships and loans. But he wants to be a doctor and thinks medical school, which could easily cost upward of $45,000 a year for a private institution, is a more important investment. It wasn't "worth it to spend $50,000-plus a year for a bachelor's degree," he says.

Read it all.   

Election Day

OK, peeps, listen up.  I know you're working somewhere, but it's really nice out.  

You need an excuse to step out for at bit, so head to the polls and cast your vote. 

And do a friend a favor and cover for them while they do the same.

Day in Court

Today was the day that oral arguments were heard in Tompkins Country Supreme Court in the matter of Anschutz v. Town of Dryden.

There is a lot of paperwork one could read through, some of it kind of interesting.  

A bunch of parties including Earthjustice and the Town of Ulysses sent in proposed amicus filings, but since they were "untimely", that is submitted at the last minute and off the point, the judge declined to accept them.    Barbara Lifton filed a proposed amicus brief... not sure if that was accepted.

It was interesting that Mahlon Perkins, attorney for Dryden, filed a motion against allowing the Dryden Resources Awareness Coalition to intervene in the case.  DRAC is apparently helping Perkins anyway; if they were a party, then Perkins seemed to worry that others not aligned to his postion might also be able to be parties.

Earthjustice was filing for collection of other organizations: National Resources Defense Council, Brewery Ommegang, Theodore Gordon Flyfishers, Riverkeeper, Catskill Mountkeeper.  I guess I'll be retiring my Ommegang t-shirt.

Perkins filed a "Supplemental Memorandum of Law" yesterday which the West Law Firm representing Anschutz noted "mirrors almost verbatum" the filing by Ulysses... I guess Mahlon figured his position was weak and tried to sneak some cribbed noted in under the wire.  It wasn't clear to my quick browsing what became of that.

There's a lot of case law to absorb here.  My memory of serving on a Board of Zoning Appeals and Town Board in a previous life is that towns can't just outright ban legal activities. (Didn't Mahlon himself tell me that?) As this case advances throught the system, it's sure to be affected by politics and pragmatism: in an era when the state is getting desparate for income and energy, bans are unlikely.  If there is a political "settlement" to all of this, we're really arguing over the terms.

More when I hear from someone who knows more... everyone is working today.

Dryden Kitteh Advisory Team (DKAT)

Visual Pollution

That will sure be a lot of visual pollution when that fracking rig comes down in a few weeks. 

Well, you might count the glint off of the new tractor that may be in the field...

h/t Tom


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