My Comments at the PNM Hearing

My Comments At The PNM Hearing by Peter Burrows elburropete@gmail.com – silvercityburro.com 5/20/17

Last Thursday, Public Service of New Mexico (PNM) held a public meeting to get input on the company’s tentative plans to eliminate the use of coal by 2031.  There were about 60 people there, but my guess is that at least half were PNM employees or people associated with PNM’s coal operations.

Of those locals who made public comments, only three, by my count, favored PNM continuing to use coal: Chamber of Commerce Director Scott Terry; the Mayor of Santa Clara, Richard Bauch; and myself. If you read Christine Steele’s coverage of the event in The Daily Press, you will see she covered comments by Terry and Bauch, but nothing on my comments.

Ms. Steele, whom I met a number of years ago when she worked at the Sun-News, probably thought what I had to say just wasn’t worth the cost of the newsprint. Sigh. Call me Pete Dangerfield.

She did cover remarks by Tom Manning, director of Citizens for Fair Rates and The Environment, to the effect that if PNM didn’t expense writing off the coal plants, then PNM’s customers “would see the savings in the transition from coal to renewables immediately,” to quote Ms. Steel‘s article.

I spoke after Manning, and by chance my comments addressed his assumption that renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels, with a request that PNM publish estimates of what it would cost to go 100% renewable.  This would require lots of energy storage and the cost would be huge.

Environmentalists claim, usually in good faith, that renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels, right now, sans any “social cost” of carbon. They are wrong. Look at your electricity bill. You will see you a “renewable energy rider” that increases your cost, not a “renewable energy credit” that reduces your cost.

The real-world cost of renewables is something PNM apparently doesn’t want to publicize.

I wonder: If I had introduced myself as the Founder and Chairman of “Citizens For Energy Justice,” would  Ms. Steele have given me a little print space?  Hmmmm.  (Donations to the above are NOT deductible. Libertarians don’t believe taxpayers should subsidize special interest groups.  Cash preferred :~)

Below is a draft of my comments:

Thank you, My name is Peter Burrows. I have been a PNM customer for 11 years. I have a couple of requests.

First,  I urge you to continue to use coal to the extent justified by quantifiable objective costs, not highly subjective costs such as the estimated costs of carbon externalities. I realize you are being implored to eliminate coal in order to save the world, but you should put this into context. The most recent Greenpeace/Sierra Club survey of global coal-fired utilities, “Boom and Bust 2017,” shows that if India and China build no more coal plants and only 20% of the coal-fired utilities in the planning stage in the rest of the world are actually built, by 2031 new coal generating capacity worldwide –NEW capacity–will still equal 434 times PNM’s San Juan/Four Corners generation (497MW + 265MW, and 126 times as much as both plants’ total combined capacity: 1,848 MW SJGS + 770MW FCPP) While NM’s environmentalists want to save the world from coal, it appears much of the rest of the world just doesn’t want to be saved.  Even Japan is adding over 21 gigawatts of coal power.

Secondly, the claim that renewables are cheaper than coal is just plain false. I don’t have time to go into the details on why “Levelized Cost Of Electricity (LCOE)” calculations are misleading other than to quote an MIT study from March of 2016: “ The LCOE —fails to capture the true cost of generation, and merely represents the cost of serving different parts of the load curve.” (Mapping The Economics of U.S. Coal Power and the Rise of Renewables- MIT March 2016.)

This means that solar generating costs at high-noon on a sunny day may be cheaper than coal, but in order to provide electricity at midnight, solar generation must be far greater than required at high-noon and the excess must be stored. This is very expensive.

PNM has been operating the 500KW Prosperity Energy Storage Project for a number of years now. It was once touted as “the nation’s first solar storage facility fully integrated into a utility’s power grid.” (Renewable Energy World, “New Mexico Utility Adding Wind, Solar and Geothermal to Its Power Mix, by Barry Cassell 3/2/15.)

I assume you have lots of cost data from this project and can provide us with an estimate of what our utility bills would be if PNM was 100% renewables-with-storage.  I suspect it would validate what Bill Gates said about the cost of going to all renewable electricity: “Beyond astronomical.”

And this is my second request: I would like you to publicize such cost estimates.  I would like to know what my bill would be if PNM generated electricity 100% from renewables. TYVM.

IF TIME:  Finally, PNM has a program called “Sky Blue” by which customers agree to have their bills increased to help pay for the extra cost of renewables.  Extra cost? Yes, indeed. Check your utility bills for the renewable energy rider. Participation in this program has been declining over the years, from 13,000 residents in 2011 to 3600 in 2013 to xxx today. (At the time, I had not heard back from PNM’s home office on the current number of Sky Blue customers. Within minutes of completing my comments, both a PNM representative in the audience and the home office called.  Both had the same number: 4068. Higher than I expected  but still far lower than 2011.)  This indicates demand for renewables is being driven by mandates and subsidies, not customers.

There are two things I would like PNM to do with this program. One, offer to publicize the names of participants if they agree. We want to celebrate such selfless visionaries, don’t we? Second, I’d like to see you offer a “NO Sky Blue” program where people, such as myself, can sign up to have our bills singled out for reductions of the renewable rider.  I realize most in this room think an old, evil global warming denier like myself should pay for my sins, but I, of course, only think it’s “electricity justice” if those who want renewables pay for them.  TYVM.

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Does the ACLU Condone Killing Homosexuals and Flogging Lesbians?

Does the ACLU Condone Killing Homosexuals and Flogging Lesbians?  Peter Burrows elburropete@gmail.com – silvercityburro.com 3/18/17

On Saturday, March 11, the ACLU had a national webcast to launch the organization’s “People Power” project. Our local chapter hosted about 55 people for the viewing.   Nationally, the ACLU estimated about 200,000 people had signed up to attend local meetings such as the one in Silver City.

Anybody who attended thinking they were going to receive instructions on how to make Molotov cocktails was disappointed.   The meeting was almost all about organizing citizens to pressure local officials, starting with sheriffs and police chiefs, to resist efforts by the federal government to deport illegal immigrants.

This sort of Federalism is something I wholeheartedly support.  In this case, I think the ACLU’s goal is profoundly wrong, but the tactic is one I would expect the NRA to emulate if, for example, the federal government ordered all our guns to be confiscated.

In such a case, I would hope the NRA would conduct their campaign without all the demagoguery the ACLU dished out.  President Trump, you see, has a “hate agenda” aimed at immigrants, people of color and Muslims, especially Muslims. One of the speakers even said Trump had issued a Muslim ban, which is an outright lie. Trump may have said he’d like to do that in his campaign, but the recent Presidential ban on people from certain Muslim-controlled countries was obviously not a ban on all Muslims.

No matter. Such lies get the folks all fired-up with righteous indignation and feelings of moral superiority. Besides, who gives a damn about facts? One of the speakers even called for demonstrations of support at Mosques.

How ironic.  Do these “civil liberties” people know that by demonstrating in support of Islam, they are also supporting Islamic law, sharia law?  Sharia law, which is sacred law, cannot be separated from Islam, and sharia law is not compatible with civil liberties as we know them.  Period.

I used to think that learning about Islam would suffice to turn around the thinking of the PC crowd.  Now, I’m not so sure.   Yes, the facts about Islam persuade some people to change their opinion about Islam, but many others show disbelief, even hostility toward the “Islamophobe” presenting the facts.  This is very puzzling. Islam has been preaching its message of hate for 1400 years.  Straight up, no chaser.

Here’s a quick lesson on Islam.
1. The Koran is the forever, infallible word of God.
2. Shari law is based on commands in the Koran and, by extension, the commands of Muhammad because —
3. The Koran frequently orders Muslims to obey Muhammad, meaning anything Muhammad said or did has Allah’s approval.

Much of sharia law is based on Muhammad’s life and sayings, which are not found in the Koran but in the voluminous “gospels” of Islam, called the Hadith, and the biographies of Muhammad.   What Muhammad did in addition to what he said also effects sharia law, but we’re going to just examine a couple of things he said.

If you are interested, you can go on Amazon.com and purchase the definitive book of Sunni sharia law, Reliance of the Traveller (R of T), which frequently quotes Muhammad.  To repeat, since Allah directs Muslims to obey Muhammad, what Muhammad said is therefore Allah’s command.

Most of the people I know, when it comes to the LGBT community, are live-and-let-live types.  I even support Gay marriage.  If you’re somebody like me, or especially, someone in the LGBT community, you will not want Islam to enjoy First Amendment protection.  Why?  Look at this “sacred law” in R of T, section p17.3, page 665:

“The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:  “Kill the one who sodomizes and the one who lets it be done to him.”

If you are supportive of Muslims immigrating to this country AND being allowed to freely practice their religion as protected by the First Amendment, you are saying Muslims have a religious right, a command from their God, to kill homosexuals. We have laws against that, but they are manmade laws. The devout Muslim feels no obligation to obey those laws. He must obey Allah’s laws.

Remember the Pulse night club massacre last June?  A Muslim killed 49 people at the gay night club and a month later the FBI issued a statement saying they had no evidence the Muslim targeted the club because it was gay.  NO EVIDENCE!?!?  OMG.

R of T p17.3 has this further quote by Muhammad:  “Lesbianism by women is adultery between them.”

The punishment for this is something I’m a little confused about. As I read it, if a lesbian is married, which in the context of Islam could only be to a man, she is guilty of adultery and is stoned to death. (See R of T o12.2 and o4.17.) If not, she is “scourged one hundred stripes” to be administered as described in o12.5, i.e. with neither a new nor worn-out whip, and sitting down. (Men are scourged standing up.)

Perhaps the ACLU can get their lawyers to look into this and make a determination as to what exactly the punishment for lesbians should be. After all, if we are to be a multicultural society that welcomes immigrants of all religions because “that’s who we are,” details like this have to be worked out.  It would also be nice, I know, to ban guns because we don’t want homosexuals to defend themselves against people exercising their religious rights.  That might be a hate crime.

Sarcasm aside, the ACLU should not be protesting a Trump ban on Muslims that wasn’t a ban on Muslims, but instead be protesting precisely because it WASN’T a ban on Muslims.

Personally, I would welcome all Muslims seeking religious asylum FROM THEIR OWN RELIGION. You see, the penalty for apostasy in Islam is death. Muhammad said: “Whoever leaves his religion of Islam, kill him.”  Unfortunately, “apostasy” has grown to mean all sorts of transgressions, some quite minor, that are defined as “leaving the religion.”  Don’t pray on time?  Argue about the Koran?  Question what Muhammad said? Bye, bye.

The list is long.

I recently read a Pew poll taken in England that showed nine percent of the Muslims living there STRONGLY OPPOSED the imposition of shari law in England.  These are brave people who deserve our support.  There must be millions of decent people trapped in Muslim societies who want to escape that medieval madness. Those Muslims we should help.

That same Pew poll showed almost two-thirds of the Muslims DID want sharia law to be the law of England. Those Muslims can stay home.  Ooops! I speak only for myself. Maybe the ACLU wants those sharia Muslims to immigrate here, build mosques, and practice their beliefs. If that‘s the case, isn’t the ACLU tacitly accepting that homosexuals be killed and lesbians whipped? Shame on them.

Ladies and gentlemen, this nonsense about Islam being protected by the First Amendment has got to stop. Common sense has long dictated that First Amendment rights do not protect criminality. As famously noted, you do not have the right to falsely scream “fire”‘ in a crowded theater, nor do Mormons have the right to practice polygamy, nor do Muslims have the right to kill homosexuals, not in this country, not in any country.

For that matter, neither Muslims nor ANYBODY ELSE has the right to stop me from criticizing their abominable religion.  That’s my First Amendment right.  Hmmmm. I wonder:  Will the ACLU defend my First Amendment right or accuse me of hate speech?

Crony Socialism, From Santa Fe to Silver City

Crony Socialism, from Santa Fe to Silver City 1/19/17 by Peter Burrows, elburropete@gmail.com , silvercityburro.com

Everybody is against crony capitalism but crony socialism doesn’t get much attention, probably because it’s a relatively new term or maybe because it‘s so ubiquitous we don‘t notice it. Crony socialism is the government sponsoring and/or favoring government controlled enterprises and their employees, and it is hugely more expensive than crony capitalism.

For example, politicians and public unions have colluded to pay government workers much more than comparable workers in the private sector, especially when retirement benefits are included. In fact, some states and municipalities will soon be declaring, or attempting to declare, bankruptcy in order to rewrite employment contracts for public workers that simply cannot be paid.

Perhaps the most common, everyday example of crony socialism is public education, especially K-12. Any attempt to introduce school choice, particularly involving vouchers, is met with fierce resistance from politicians and educators. Gotta keep those unionized teachers on the job and payin’ dues.

In the world of tangibles, government owned Amtrak has for years been the poster child for wasteful crony socialism. If you Google “Amtrak” you’ll find the railroad has been operating in the red for 40 years, posting a $307 million operating loss in fiscal 2015, which doesn‘t include depreciation or any cost of capital. I cite Amtrak because New Mexico has its own socialized railroad, the Rail Runner.

Like Amtrak, the Rail Runner has supporters on both sides of the aisle. Politicians in the Santa Fe/Albuquerque area like the Rail Runner because they have constituents who use it, many of whom I suspect are state workers who live in Albuquerque and work in Santa Fe.

The Rail Runner FY 2016 revenues of $26.8 million included $8.7 million in Federal grants, $13 million from a four-county .125 GRT, and only $3 million from fares. The NMDOT web site claims a Rail Runner rider going between downtown Albuquerque and downtown Santa Fe saves $1,210 A MONTH instead of driving. That’s over $14,500 per year! No wonder so many riders like the Rail Runner. (Round trip, Albuquerque-Sana Fe: $10.)

The web site says the Rail Runner receives “$0 from State Funds,” which is not quite the whole truth. You see, “operating” results by accounting definition do not include interest on debt, which cost the NMDOT $18.35 million in FY 2016. (The NMDOT, as we all know, gets its money from the Tooth Fairy. There was also a debt payment of $6.8 million the Tooth Fairy picked up.) The bottom line is that for commuters to each save $14,500 a year, taxpayers, somewhere, shelled out over $40 million, before debt payments.

Here in Grant County our version of the Rail Runner is Corre Caminos, hereafter “CC,” the bus service that has been operating since 2001. I wasn’t around in 2001, so maybe somebody can tell me if there were any taxis operating in the city back then. There aren’t any now.

FY 2017 funding for CC of $1,100,000 is estimated to be about sixty percent from Federal grants funneled through the NM Department of Transportation, a little over ten percent from fares, and about thirty percent from Silver City, Deming and the counties of Grant and Luna.

In 2016, Silver City spent $75,000 to support CC, and Grant County $80,000, according to CC manager Kim Dominguez. The per capita cost for residents of Silver City, population 10,500, was therefore about $7.15, and Grant County, population 29,500, had a per capita cost of $2.70.

The combined cost for us Silver City folks was about $10 apiece. That’s less than a buck a month in local taxes and some might say it’s a small price to pay for the entertainment of screaming at a CC bus carrying only one passenger. (If you live in Silver City and haven’t seen that wonderful example of your tax dollars at work, you are not paying attention.) This ignores, of course, the Federal Government subsidy which the aforementioned Tooth Fairy pays.

Defenders of CC cite the reduction in DWI tickets thanks to CC being on call to take drinkers home, and that’s a good thing, a very good thing. The same thing could be achieved at far less cost if the city or county paid a taxi company the fare resulting from a bartender-issued drunk driver voucher, or something like that. Ditto for people who can’t afford to pay cab fare, and I think private charities should be in charge of both efforts.

The bottom line, if all that government subsidy CC money were given to proven entrepreneurs, e.g. the Silver City folks who run Little Toad Creek or W&N Enterprises, I bet they’d do a better job and even make a profit, probably a BIG profit.

Profit? PROFIT!?!? OMG! You Progressives out there are probably breaking your fingers in your haste to get to another web site. I expect to see indignant letters to the editor critical of allowing anyone to post an article with the “P” word where children might see it. Calm down. CC will never be turned over to private operators, which is too bad. It would sure save us some tax dollars.

Another Grant County enterprise that will be unveiled in the next few months is the newly refurbished Grant County Convention Center. In August of 2015, the Grant County Commissioners approved spending $2.4 million on the project, and Commission President Bret Kasten said he’d be keeping close tabs on the work because the Convention Center was “my baby.” I’m sure you’ll agree that “my baby” is not the same thing as “my money.”

Commissioner Gabe Ramos seconded Kasten’s vow to follow this project closely, saying they would be watching it “like hawks,” which is very comforting to know. (Those guys sitting in the back of pickup trucks in the Convention Center parking lot, binoculars trained on the Convention building? Yep, Gabe and Bret.)

One of the nominal REPUBLICANS running for Grant County Commissioner in the recent election approved of spending tax dollars on the Center, saying, “If we build it, they will come.” Econ 101 from The Field of Dreams, or maybe from the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, who famously said, “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.”

No, the world will not beat a path up 180 or across 152 unless somebody goes out and sells the convention center as the place to go, in spite of Silver City’s isolation. I hope the Convention Center is a success, but I suspect that any success will come at the expense of local businesses also looking for convention customers, e.g. The Murray Hotel, or the Flame Convention Center. .

Wouldn’t it be nice if the politicians who propose a government enterprise be compelled to pony up their own money if the idea failed? A few years ago I explored the idea of requiring politicians to purchase a surety bond to indemnify taxpayers if their “babies” came a cropper. I talked to a banker and an insurance executive about this brilliant concept. Both thought the idea was, as a practical matter, really, really stupid. Sigh.

I guess the best we can do is vote such politicians out of office, although the next batch will assuredly go down the same path. Power, especially with OPM, is very corrupting. At the very least, we should name such projects after their sponsor, e.g. The Bill Richardson Spaceport, or The Brett Kasten Convention Center. I think success, or failure, deserves to be recognized, don’t you?

ATTENTION EARTHLINGS: BURN COAL OR DIE!!!

ATTENTION EARTHLINGS: BURN COAL OR DIE!!! By Peter Burrows 2/11/17 elburropete@gmail.com silvercityburro.com

Occasionally in life, circumstances align in such a way as to make even an atheist say,  “Hmmmm. Looks like the Hand of God at work.”

Such an epiphany will bless any disinterested soul who views Patrick Moore’s 40 minute speech, “Should We Celebrate Carbon Dioxide?” available on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0Z5FdwWw_c.  The speech was delivered October 14, 2015, to a meeting of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a London-based think tank. You can also find a transcript at http://www.thegwpf.org/patrick-moore-should-we-celebrate-carbon-dioxide/.

It’s a remarkable speech with an absolutely stunning, irrefutable conclusion: We shouldn’t be limiting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, WE SHOULD BE INCREASING THEM.  In fact, had not humans begun adding CO2 to the atmosphere by burning hydrocarbon fuels, all life on earth could have ended in less than two million years, which geologically speaking, is damn near right now. As Moore says, “– if the Earth were 24 hours old we were at 38 seconds to midnight when we reversed the trend toward the End Times.”

As I will explain, this was the second time in the history of the world that something stepped in to reverse a cataclysmic decline in atmospheric CO2.  First, a little bit about Moore.  While getting his PhD in ecology in 1971, he joined a group of environmental activists that became Greenpeace, now one of the largest environmental organizations in the world. In the mid 1980s he found himself the only Greenpeace director with a formal science education, and being a man of principle, he resigned when the organization began to ignore science in favor of whatever the emotional “cause du jour” was. (My interpretation, accurate though.)

Moore’s comments on CO2 and climate reveal that over the past 540 million years there has been no positive correlation of temperatures to CO2 levels and a couple of glaring examples of inverse correlation.  A similar conclusion can be reached looking at only the last 120 years.   The importance of CO2 is not in its influence on climate, which is negligible, but its importance to life itself.

The accepted estimate of CO2 levels in the atmosphere at the beginning of the industrial revolution some 200 years ago is 280 parts per million, ppm, or about one-quarter of one percent of the atmosphere. This was not much above the 180 ppm that occurred during the peak of the last ice age about 18,000 years ago, which Moore says was, “ –extremely likely the lowest level CO2 has been in the history of the earth. This is only 30 ppm above the level that plants begin to die.”

Plants begin to DIE? Yep. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is an essential plant food. No CO2 equals no plants equals no life. Period.  Even at today’s 400 ppm, plants are relatively starved for CO2 and need, Moore says, an optimum level of 2000 ppm.

Moore shows that the last 150 million years have seen a steady drawdown of CO2 in the atmosphere, on average 37,000 tons per year, as declining volcanic activity has meant volcanic emissions of CO2 have not been enough to replace the CO2 consumed by, and removed forever from the atmosphere by —shellfish!

About 500 million years ago, soft-bodied sea creatures began to evolve the ability to capture CO2, combine it with calcium, and form a shell. As trillions of these creatures of many, many forms would die and settle, they formed huge deposits of carbonaceous sediments. The white cliffs of Dover are perhaps the best known example.

The carbon that has been removed from the atmosphere by these critters is astounding.  The amount of carbon on the surface of the earth is estimated as follows: 850 billion tons in the atmosphere, 2,000 billion tons in plants and soil, 5,000 to 10,000 billion tons in fossil fuels, and 38,000 billion tons dissolved in the oceans.   The total, rounded up to the max, is about 50,000 billion tons.  The amount tied up in fossilized sea shells, a.k.a. carbonaceous rock?  100,000,000 billion tons, or about 2000 times the rest of the earth’s surface combined.

Carbonaceous sedimentation and rock formation is ongoing today, and only the introduction of man-made CO2 has reversed the inevitable extinction of life on earth.  As Moore, says, “It is ironic that life itself, by devising a protective suit of armour, determined its own eventual demise by continuously removing CO2 from the atmosphere.”  But, “Thank God,” as even an atheist might say. along came coal-burning man to save the day.

Coal itself is the second great irony in the history of CO2 on earth. The formation of coal, like carbonaceous rock, could have wiped out life on earth as it sucked up CO2 by the billions of tons with no end in sight. The coal story begins some 400 million years ago when plants evolved to produce lignin which combined with cellulose equals —  Voila! — TREES.  There was a problem though. As Moore puts it:

“As vast forests spread across the land, living biomass increased by orders of magnitude, pulling down carbon as CO2 from the atmosphere to make wood.  Lignin is very difficult to break down and no decomposer  species possessed the enzymes to digest it. Trees died atop one another until they were 100 meters or more in depth.  This was the making of the great coal beds around the world as this huge store of sequestered carbon continued to build for 90 million years.  Then, fortunately for the future of life, white rot fungi evolved to produce the enzymes that can digest lignin and coincident with that, the coal-making era came to an end.

“There was no guarantee that fungi or any other decomposer species would develop the complex of enzymes required to digest lignin.  If they had not, CO2, which had already been drawn down for the first time in Earth’s history to levels similar to today‘s, would have continued to decline as trees continued to grow and die. That is until CO2 approached the threshold of 150 ppm below which plants first begin to starve —-. This was only the first time that there was a distinct possibility that life would come close to extinguishing itself due to a shortage of CO2, which is essential for life on earth.”

The second time, of course, is the carbonaceous rock formation that is continuing today.  Thanks to the evolution of a wood eating fungi which conveniently took 90 million years to evolve, we humans now have huge amounts of coal to burn, both to generate the elixir of modernity, electricity, and to save the world again from too little CO2. A win-win.

Think of that: It took 90 million years for that fungus to show up.  I suppose if it had taken “only” nine million years we wouldn’t have very much coal today. On the other hand, if it had never shown up, life would have probably come to an end on earth and WE would never have shown up. Hand of God?  You decide.

In the meantime, global warming “deniers” have scientific proof  that the CO2 climate-change crowd is not just wrong, but totally, completely, 180 degrees wrong.  The whole climate change industry is built on the assumption that we must reduce CO2 emissions when just the opposite is true. Billions of dollars are being wasted on renewable subsidies and carbon regulations, while environmental elitists would deny cheap electricity  for billions, all done in the pursuit of a suicidal goal.

Watch the speech. Tell your friends to watch it.  Maybe, maybe, you can even get an environmentalist to watch it.

Crony Capitalism, from Santa Fe to Silver City

Crony capitalism is when the government favors private industry with subsidies or non-cash help such as import quotas, tariffs, etc. It is not something confined to Washington, D.C., where examples abound, some quite outrageous. Who, for example, do you think is the biggest beneficiary of the subsidies given to windmill operators? None other than mega-billionaire Warren Buffet, longtime Democrat.

Piker stuff compared New Mexico’s Spaceport America, perhaps the dumbest crony capitalist deal of all time. You’re thinking, “What do you mean Burro? The Spaceport was ‘only’ $250 million or so. How is that so bad compared to, for example, the solar panel company Solyndra that cost U.S. taxpayers over $500 million?”

Solyndra? Ha! Chump change on a per capita basis. At $125 for every New Mexican, a national boondoggle comparable to the Spaceport would be $40 billion. Add in the fact of New Mexico’s relative poverty, and I bet a comparable D.C. boondoggle would be over $50 billion.

The Spaceport saga started back in 2004 when Democrat Governor Bill Richardson met with British multi-billionaire Richard Branson and agreed to build a spaceport, at New Mexico’s expense, so billionaire Branson could play Buck Rogers and have a place from which to launch “space tourists” into suborbital flight. Flights were supposed to start as early as 2009, with hundreds of thousands of tourist gawkers coming to inundate us with their money.

In addition to the hundreds if not thousands of jobs that the Spaceport would create, New Mexico’s grade-schoolers and high-schoolers would be inspired to take science classes, study math, and learn how to use slide rules. (OK, I made that last one up.) When a government spending proposal has as one of its justifications that it will be good for our children, you can be sure — YOU CAN BE SURE — that it doesn’t make economic sense.

Now it’s 2017 and nothing has happened and nothing will ever happen. Branson’s test spaceship crashed on Oct. 31, 2014, from an altitude of 70,000 feet, delaying indefinitely a commercial launch. Note that 70,000 feet is only about 25 percent of the target altitude of 60 miles. Also, the 66-year-old Branson almost killed himself recently in a high speed bicycle crash.

This brings up an embarrassing detail: The contract between New Mexico and Branson’s company, Virgin Galactic, has no clauses that protect New Mexico from adverse events. An example of such a clause: If Richard Branson were to suffer an untimely death prior to the commencement of commercial operations, New Mexico would receive the proceeds of a “key man” insurance policy of $200 million, or something like that. Another example: If commercial flights did not start before 2015, New Mexico could demand payment for the cost of the Spaceport, in full, from Virgin Galactic.

I will hazard an unscientific guess that ninety-nine percent of private sector entrepreneurs would include such clauses, and ninety-nine percent of government sector “entrepreneurs” wouldn’t have a clue.

Why, why, would a poor state like New Mexico agree to build a $200+ million facility for a foreign multi-billionaire? One answer is that it is easy to be a visionary with other peoples’ money, when you have NO PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY if the project fails.

Governor Richardson had nothing to lose by building the Spaceport. It was a “heads he wins, tails we lose” proposition. If the Spaceport lived up to expectations, Richardson would be remembered as a great, visionary governor. If the Spaceport became a huge failure, as it is in fact becoming, that would be a long way down the road and it’s the taxpayers who’d get stiffed. Big Bill? Who’s he?

The really big bill is the one we taxpayers are footing. The very least we should demand in return is that the white elephant be renamed. “Spaceport America” is pretentious, risible, and embarrassing. Somebody should suggest to Governor Martinez that she issue an executive order renaming it ” The Bill Richardson Spaceport.” Maybe she can’t do that, but it would be interesting to see what response she would get if she tried.

In fairness, Democrat Richardson had plenty of Republicans backing the Spaceport. Republican Dianne Hamilton, longtime State Representative for District 38, was one of them. Also, then-Chairman of the Dona Ana County Republican Party, Sid Goddard, wrote a long letter to the Sun-News urging Dona Ana voters to vote for an additional tax to help build the spaceport. Bernie Sanders could have written it.

More recently, at a meeting discussing the state’s budget shortfall, I suggested to Republican State Representative John Zimmerman, District 39, that the state consider selling the spaceport, or even giving it away. Oh, no. The spaceport needed “only” a million dollars of support this year. Silly me. Only a million. I notice Zimmerman lost his reelection bid.

Here in Silver City, we’re no better than the state pols. Back in 2011 a “quality of life” bond was passed that approved, amongst other projects, a half million dollars to build a clubhouse out at the golf course, sold as a necessity to attract people who deemed a nice golf course essential to their life styles, e.g. retirees and WNMU executives.

Well, the clubhouse was finished just as the private group leasing the course threw in the towel. Thankfully, Western New Mexico University stepped in to run the course so that now the losses are spread over the entire state, not just Silver City.

In 2013, Grant County proposed a quality of life bond, totaling $10 million, which as I recall, included over $2 million to build a multiplex theater and then lease it to a private operator. This idea was strongly supported by a couple of prominent Republicans and at least one outspoken business owner.

My Progressive friend Lynda Aiman-Smith wrote an excellent analysis of Deming’s experience with a similar project that turned into a huge white elephant, supported to this day with taxpayer dollars. Her conclusion: “The Deming Starmax multiplex is a case example of terrible judgment and terrible use of taxpayer money.” She strongly recommended against such a project in Grant County and also recommended a NO vote on the bond.

Think about it. If a multiplex movie theater made economic sense here in Silver City, investors wouldn’t need to have public financing. THEY WOULD USE THEIR OWN MONEY. Too many elected officials think that THEY can and should use the public’s money to make such investments because private investors obviously lack the necessary “vision.” Investment geniuses aren’t born, you see, they’re elected.

There is hope: The bond referendum lost two-to-one.

An Infidel’s Guide To The Koran, a 26 minute speech

Speech, part one, 26 -28 minutes   revised  12/30/16

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you about Islam. Is it really a religion of peace?  In just the last month (Nov 2016) Islamic terrorists worldwide killed 2008 people in 231 attacks in 29 countries, which included 27 suicide bombers, and last month was not exceptional. Since the 9-11 attack on the twin towers in NYC over 15 years ago there have been  ______ acts of terror by Muslims around the globe, almost two thousand a year.  You can update these numbers on the web site, religion of peace.com.

We hear very little about these terrorist attacks  unless they occur on our soil, and since 9-11 there have been 44 deadly terrorist attacks in which 139  Americans died. When such attacks have occurred, the political response has been to run to the nearest Mosque and tell the Muslims how peaceful, they, the Muslims are. For example:
*President George Bush less than a week after the 9/11 attack addressed the  Islamic Center in Washington D.C. and said “Islam is peace.“
*Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addressed the Council on Foreign Relations in November of 2015 and said, “Let’s be clear: Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing to do with terrorism.”  This was less than a week after Muslim terrorists killed 138 people in Paris.
*Three weeks after Hillary’s comments, director of homeland security Jeh Johnson, addressed a mosque in Northern Virginia and declared, “anyone who does not understand” that Muslims want peace, “does not understand Islam.”  This was less than a week after two Muslims killed 14 people in San Bernardino.
* and I don’t have time to list President Obama’s statements defending Islam.

In my opinion, our political leaders couldn’t be more mistaken, and I am not alone.  Let me quote the best-known Muslim cleric of the 20th Century, that beatific, sweet old man, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s supreme leader after the fall of the Shah.  He said: “Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam councils against war.  (They) are witless.  Islam says: kill all the unbelievers — he goes on to say there are hundreds of verses in the Koran and sayings of Muhammad, quote:  “urging Muslims to value war and to fight!”

While the Ayatollah said that both the Koran and Muhammad urge Muslims to wage war, we only have time for a brief look at the Koran, but that will more than prove the Ayatollah’s point.

There are a couple of things you have to know about the Koran. First, the Koran is NOT like the Bible.  The Bible has only a few words considered directly from God, directly, not indirectly as is most of the Bible, and those words are the Ten Commandments, revealed through Moses.  The Koran is the opposite, almost every word in the Koran is the word of God revealed through Muhammad. The few words that AREN’T from God make up the very short first chapter, only a few sentences long, called al-fatihah, The Opening, and it’s a prayer recited 17 times a day by devout Muslims.  The rest of the Koran is God’s response to that prayer.

The fact that virtually every word in the Koran is the word of God has profound implications.  In Islam, to disagree with something in the Koran is to disagree with God, to be an apostate. Only God can disagree with God, something I’ll get to in a minute.

I use two Korans and the one I’ve found most helpful is one recommended by Robert Spencer, who has written extensively on Islam. It‘s a 20th Century translation by the Pakistani scholar Sayyid Mawdudi, who died in 1979.  It has many explanatory footnotes clarifying the meaning of many verses. This is very important because it helps us understand the Koran and from the perspective of a 20th Century Muslim. Since the Mawdudi Koran is a translation from Arabic to Urdu and then Urdu to English, I have a second Koran which is straight Arabic to English, published in 1999, translated by two scholars living in Medina, the birthplace of Islam.  It’s published out of Riyad, the capital of Saudi Arabia, with accompanying Arabic text, and it’s also extensively footnoted –very scholastic.  If you are interested, it’s referred to as the Al-Hilali translation.
Since I’ve found no discrepancies between the two and since Mawdudi is far more readable, that’s the one I’d recommend. I purchased both through Amazon.com.

The author of the FORWARD to this translation, an educated and devout Pakistani Muslim, gives us non-Muslims an insight into how Muslims view the Koran, and by extension, their religion. Here’s what he wrote, and I’m paraphrasing a bit:  The Koran is the foundation and mainstay of Islamic faith—. The uniqueness of the Koran lies in its being the Final Revelation. ——. It was God’s will that (his) final revelation should be preserved in its entirety exactly as it had been communicated to the prophet (Muhammad) —. All this was essential since this last Book was meant to serve as a BEACON LIGHT FOR THE GUIDANCE OF ALL HUMANITY TILL THE END OF TIME.” (Repeat) —

He goes on to write “The Koran, uncreated Word of God though it doubtlessly is—” meaning he believes the Koran is without question the word of God that has existed forever.  God just reached over and picked it up and said to the angel Gabriel, Gabe, take this down to my messenger Muhammad and reveal it to him, which occurred one revelation at a time for the next 23 years of Muhammad‘s life.

Implicit in all this is that the Koran is God’s infallible word and GOD’S WORD MUST BE OBEYED!!

Now, the second thing you must know about the Koran, is that the revelations or verses in the Koran that were dictated to Muhammad are God’s words for the guidance of humanity till the end of time unless they aren’t  God’s words for the guidance of humanity till the end of time. Now, you’re probably thinking I put a little something extra in my coffee this morning, but no, let me explain.

Muhammad began his missionary work in Mecca, where he first heard voices and saw apparitions.  His wife  convinced him he was hearing the word of God from the angel Gabriel.  Muhammad preached in Mecca for 12 years with little success and much hostility from the Meccans who were quite happy with their polytheistic religions.  Muhammad fled Mecca to avoid assassination, and he and his followers, some 80 to 150, settled in Medina, over a hundred miles away, where he soon became undisputed ruler.  After 12 years in Mecca, he had gained at most 150 followers; after ten years in Medina, he had conquered all of Arabia and his armies were on the march, east and west and didn‘t have a major defeat until 732 AD, 100 years after Muhammad‘s death.

The journey to Medina is called the hijrah, and marks the beginning of the religion of Islam as both a political and religious force, a theocratic ideology.  In Medina, Muhammad built his first Mosque where his sermons attracted Jewish rabbis from the surrounding Jewish settlements.  The rabbis didn’t believe Muhammad’s claim to be God’s prophet and they asked a most embarrassing question: Why would Muhammad’s “revelations” from God occasionally contradict earlier revelations?

Allah, ever quick to come to the aid of Muhammad, sent down a new revelation that saved the day, and it’s the most important revelation in the Koran, verse 106 in chapter two, called the abrogation verse, to abrogate meaning to annul, cancel, supersede. Let me read it: “For whatever verse We might abrogate or consign to oblivion, We bring a better one or the like of it. Are you not aware that Allah is all-powerful?“  Let me read you the translator’s footnote, Mawdudi’s footnote, to this ‘revelation:’  “This is in response to a doubt which the Jews tried to implant in the minds of Muslims. Why, they asked if earlier scriptures/verses were from God, had they been replaced by new ones in the Koran?”  The bottom line is that the all-knowing God of Islam would occasionally CHANGE HIS MIND, and who are you to say He can’t? As I mentioned earlier, only Allah can disagree with Allah.

This means, and this is very, very important, the second thing you should know about the Koran is that the chronology of “Allah’s” revelations determines their legitimacy.  Islamic defenders frequently quote the Koran out of chronological context, probably the most well known out-of-context revelation is 2:256: “There is no compulsion in religion.”  If a Muslim or anybody comes up with that one, be sympathetic. Oh, you poor dear, as my grandmother would have said, don’t you know that Allah changed his mind about that?  That nonsense about no compulsion doesn’t count anymore, it‘s been abrogated.

Furthermore, knowledge of abrogating and abrogated verses has been of fundamental importance in Islamic theology since the beginning of Islam. Sharia law — Islamic law –requires Islamic judges to know which verses abrogate which verses and Sharia law cautions the layman from discussing the Koran without knowledge of abrogation, as doing so could be considered an apostasy, the punishment for which is not excommunication, oh no, no: it’s death.  The bottom line: The chronology of the verses is all important which is the second thing you should know about the Koran.

The third thing you have to know is that THE KORAN IS NOT IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. After the very short chapter one, the opening prayer, it is pretty much longest chapter to shortest. The very long chapter two is the 87th chapter chronologically. Fortunately, the chronology of the chapters is no secret and a quick Internet search puts all 114 chapters in their chronological sequence, as determined by Islamic scholars over the centuries.

So, to avoid wasting your time reading verses that may have been annulled later on, I suggest you read the Koran chronologically backwards, starting with the last chapter of revelations, chapter 110. Chapter 110 was the last of the 114 chapters, chapter 96 the first.   Confusing, no? Let me first read you the footnote to chapter 110 (Page 977): According to reliable traditions, this was the last chapter (sura) of the Qur’an that was revealed some three months before the Prophet’s demise.

Sura 110 Al-Nasr (Help)  “When the help comes from Allah and victory (is granted) and you see people entering Allah’s religion in multitudes, then extol the praise of your Lord and pray to Him for forgiveness. For He indeed is ever disposed to accept repentance.” That’s it. Now, if you’re like me, you probably didn’t find much in there that we could call a “beacon light for the guidance of humanity for all time.” So, you ask, what is the next to the last chapter of revelations? So glad you asked.

The next to last is Chapter nine, (Al-Taw bah (Repentance)) the most  important chapter in the Koran, some 28 pages of UNABROGATED commands from Allah, the final revelations of the final revelation,  Perhaps the most well-known revelation in chapter nine is the Verse of the Sword, 9:5, which one Muslim scholar has estimated abrogated 124 earlier revelations, including that no compulsion one, so why waste your time reading them? Let me read it 9:5:  “–when the sacred months expire (there are four holy months of the year in which Muslims are forbidden to initiate war) slay the Pagans wherever you find them, — seize them–beleaguer them and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war — “ unless, of course, the pagans become Muslims.

Now you’re probably thinking, “I’m no pagan, I’m Jewish” or “I’m Christian.” Sorry. There’s another verse in chapter nine, Verse 9:29 that says, “Fight against those do not believe in Allah—even if they are people of the book, until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves utterly subdued.”  “People of the Book” means Jews and Christians; the jizya is the tax Jews and Christians pay to live in peace in Muslim ruled countries.  Here’s the illuminating footnote from Mawdudi: The purpose for which Muslims ARE REQUIRED TO FIGHT is not–to compel unbelievers into embracing Islam –but to end the rule of unbelievers–The authority to rule should only be vested in those who follow the True Faith” i.e. only Muslims should have political power. That’s the word of God, the beacon light for humanity forever. Out damn Democrats and Republicans!

OK. So far, in chapter nine God has laid down the forever law to slay or convert Pagans, slay, convert or give Jews and Christian the added option to essentially become slaves, and you’re thinking, “That about does it.”  Nope. One more group of errant sinners to go.  Verse 9:123 says, “Believers! Fight against the unbelievers who live around you –.” these being, as explained in the footnotes, “hypocrites” who are further defined as those who claim to be Muslims but are not.  As a practical matter, this means kill those Muslims you have theological differences with or those Muslims deemed insufficiently devout.  You want to know why Muslims are killing Muslims around the world today? That‘s why. Islamic law, Sharia, even prescribes death for those Muslims who forget to pray at the correct time. (Reliance of the Traveler F1.4) Recently Swiss authorities closed a mosque in Zurich after the imam called for the death of those Muslims lax in their attendance.  They closed the mosque! Gosh. I guess there’s no freedom of religion in Switzerland. I wonder what it will take to close a mosque in America?

So, Muslims fight pagans, Christians, Jews and other Muslims, and this is not optional.  Sticking with chapter nine, Verse 9:38  commands believers to “March forth in the cause of  Allah. Do you prefer the worldly life to the Hereafter?” In other words, go die for Allah.  And verse 9:39 continues, “If you do not march forth, Allah will chastise you grievously. —.” Then verse 9:41 commands “march forth whether light or heavy (in your armaments) and strive in the way of Allah with your belongings and your LIVES.”  And the purpose of all this marchin’ around?  Verse 9:33 explains: (Allah) has sent his Messenger with the guidance and the True Religion that He may make it prevail over all religions, howsoever those who associate others with Allah in his Divinity might detest it.”  In other words, the God of Islam has commanded Muslims to fight until Islam rules the world.
Period. Whether non-Muslims like it or not.

Finally, still in chapter nine, verse 111 is the verse of the bargain: “–Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their belongings and in return has promised they shall have Paradise. They fight in the way of Allah and slay and are slain. Such is the promise He has made—. Rejoice, then, in the bargain you have made with Him.”

Let me summarize: (1) The Koran is Allah’s revelations — the word of God — to guide humanity forever but (2) Allah would occasionally change his mind, which makes knowing the chronology of the verses crucial for understanding Islam.  (3) The Koran is not in chronological order, so don’t waste your time reading it. (4) Chapter nine is virtually the last chapter of revelations, is therefore none are abrogated, and is the most important chapter.  Nine is about 95% of what you need to know about the Koran.

There are a few other verses that are especially important in understanding how Allah directs Muslims to treat women and non-Muslims, but nine is the one that proves the Ayatollah Khomeini was right:  Muslims are commanded by their God to kill, convert or enslave infidels and hypocrites until the world is ruled by Islam and sharia law which will then bring the “peace” Muslims claim to seek.  In return for slaying and being slain to bring this about, devout Muslims will live in Paradise forever.  That’s Islam in a nutshell. It is not peaceful, it is not tolerant. Muslims make no secret of this and haven’t for 1400 years

I realize this is contrary to what virtually all our politicians have been saying about Islam for years.  Well, they are wrong, the Ayatollah was right.  Look at the evidence: Muslims are murdering people around the world, not because they are “radicals” who are “perverting” the religion of Islam, but because they are devout Muslims, obeying Allah’s commands in the Koran.

I am very encouraged that our new administration is reversing the suicidal political correctness that has ruled the last two administrations.  My wish is that the term “radical Islam” will someday –soon– be recognized as the redundancy it is. I’m afraid however, that before that happens there will be hundreds if not thousands of Americans murdered by devout Muslims we have allowed to immigrate here.

Remember, Muslims are commanded to march forth, whether armed lightly or heavily, to kill the infidels.  Grab a knife and head to the mall; drive a truck through a crowd; shoot em’ up at an office party, whatever; and off to paradise you go.  The press and the politicians are always in search of motives and terrorist links when an act of terror occurs but terrorists don’t need to be directed by ISIS or al-Queda, although they may be. All Muslim terrorists are guided by their religion, and do we want such a religion to be protected by the First Amendment? I think not.   TYVM—–

Jill Stein: Agent Provocateur

Jill Stein: Agent Provocateur  by Peter Burrows 12/17/16

I was told months ago by a number of my confidential sources, and I have hundreds of them, that Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was a clandestine Trump operative.  I scoffed at such an absurdity, but it’s looking more and more like they were right and I was wrong.

Just look at the evidence. First, if all the Stein voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin had voted for Hillary Clinton, Old Bubba would be now be First Gentleman in Waiting.  Secondly, even though she had no chance of winning, Stein asked for a recount in those three states.  This was a devastatingly subversive move.

Had the recounts been allowed to proceed, evidence of Democratic Party/Clinton Campaign voting irregularities in Michigan and Pennsylvania would have surfaced like a dead carp.  Wisconsin, where the recount was completed, actually gave Trump an extra 131 votes. Nothing suspicious from the heavily Democratic Milwaukee County, which a cynic would say reflects the clean-up efforts of the battle-hardened Scott Walker team.

Michigan, however, is a different story.  Detroit’s Wayne County is a Democratic stronghold and always goes big for the Democrat candidate. This election was no different, but the Wayne County total was just not enough to prevent a Trump victory.  They tried.  And that’s where Jill baby’s Trumpian hand is showing.

She complained that Michigan had both election irregularities and laws making it difficult to verify election results. Sure enough, the Huffington Post reported that “about 60 percent of precincts in Detroit” couldn’t do a recount because there was a discrepancy between the number of registered voters and the number of ballots counted by the optical scanners.  “An obscure provision of Michigan law prevents a recount in those circumstances.”

I don’t know what that “obscure provision” is, but it sounds like it protects people who steal votes, probably Detroit Republicans.  Sure.

The Detroit News reported that Michigan’s recount problems “were the worst in Detroit, where discrepancies meant officials couldn’t recount votes in 392 precincts, or nearly 60 percent, and two-thirds of those precincts had too many votes.”  The Huffington Post also wrote, “A Detroit election official reported that 87 of the city’s optical scanners broke on Election Day, which may have led to the over-or-under-counting of ballots.”

Optical scanners can break? Of course they can!  All at once, too, and by the dozens!! Detroit’s problems, you see, are due to mechanical failures, not human error or — GASP! —  fraudulent vote counting.  And “under-counting” ??  I wonder if that means Hillary was supposed to get 150% of the registered voters but only got 110%, or something like that.

We’ll probably never know. A judge found Jill Stein didn’t have standing as an aggrieved party and halted the Michigan recount.  Mission accomplished, though.

Pennsylvania has tougher recount standards and a recount was never started there, which is too bad.  It would have been interesting to see how 2016 compared to 2012.  In the 2012 election, 59 voting precincts in the Philadelphia region went 100% for Obama, not even one vote for Romney. The virtual impossibility of this pales in comparison to the chutzpah the Democratic Party machine showed in reporting such incredulous results.  (Chutzpah is Yiddish slang for gall, brazenness, or as I prefer, “balls.”)

So, thanks to Jill Stein, the integrity of our voting system has been called into question in a way that exposes the Democrats as the biggest vote thieves in America, and, oh, the hypocrisy! If the Republicans were engaged in such shenanigans, the Democrats and their media slaves would be going crazy, and rightly so.

Instead, what we hear today are complaints about how the Russians — the Russians!!– are endangering the integrity of our elections by allegedly hacking into Democratic email accounts and publicizing them. Seems to me that, if so, the Russians were just adding transparency to our election process, and transparency is something Democrats say they are especially big on.

Of course, the “transparency” revealed a little bit of the Democratic Party’s dirty laundry, and that is blamed for Trump getting too many suburban and rural votes to be overcome by inner-city vote theft.  As Hugh Hewitt’s book title says, “If It’s Not Close, They Can’t Cheat.” Actually, Hugh, they can but they can’t cheat ENOUGH.

Thank you, Jill Stein! I hope you find happiness in President Trump’s administration.