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View Diary: [ED] My detailed dissection of Robert F. Kennedy Jr 's misguided Op-Ed on Nantucket Wind in the NYT (390 comments)

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  •  Maybe A Fair Point ... (none)
    ... on the comments. I haven't been here too long, but I can tell you that I've already (without reading the rules) taken care not to simply give high ratings to people I agree with and low ones to people I disagree with. Some of the people who agreed with you, for example, got "3" ratings from me.

    I gave your comments so many "1" ratings because I think your trashing of RFK Jr. was beyond reason. Even if you didn't have a blatant conflict of interest it would have been beyond reason, but with your conflict your comments were just egregious.

    Funny thing is that, on the underlying issue, I mostly agree with you. I lived in Boston for 11 years and got out to the Cape fairly often, including Nantucket. I believe their objection to the windfarm is primarily richy-rich NIMBYism, too. But four things bother me a lot about your essay and then your subsequent behavior in the comments thread:

    Not disclosing your interest. This is a very big deal with me. See, there are plenty of things that cross ideological lines, and one of them is integrity. It's a bedrock thing as far as I'm concerned. I like to think I can smell a lie before I can see it, but in the case of your posting I wasn't aware of your interest. So, when I found out, I was (and still am) pissed about it. I just hate being taken advantage of, and I don't give a flying fuck whether the advantage-taker is someone I agree with.

    The broadside on RFK Jr. Even though I share your basic position, i.e., that the opposition to the wind farm is essentially the whining of the wine-and-cheese set, RFK Jr. strikes me as someone who's been on the right side of enough things to merit better treatment than you gave him -- especially in light of your financial interest. What you did was the kind of shit that rightwingnuts pull all the time: Taking a business dispute and turning into a slashing personal attack. That's out of bounds in my book. In fact, it's sleazy.

    The cheesiness of it all. From Boston, I still remember how I laughed when Howie Carr, the right-wing guy from The Boston Herald described The Boston Globe as a bunch of "Kennedy loafer-lickers on Morrisey Blvd." It was a stylish insult, all the more so because it rang so true. I say this by way of telling you that I am absolutely no admirer of that family. But RFK Jr. strikes me as a guy who's been paying some dues and has been taking some care not to be an arrogant prick like so many of the others in that family. So when you hung all that garbage around his neck, it made me give you a string of "1" ratings.

    Your hypocrisy. Come on, Jerome, given the tone of your comments just who are you to suggest to others that they have a rational discussion about the whole thing? This reminds me of the dictim of tyrants everywhere, from Stalin on down to Rumsfeld and the people who carried out his orders in the American torture chambers: First you drive them crazy, then you call them crazy. Sorry, guy, but do you really think I fell off the turnip truck yesterday?

    Ya fucked up. Do the right thing and utter the three most underused words in the English language: I was wrong. Then move on, resolving to do better next time.

    •  Thanks for your long response (none)
      I am sorry I did not mention explicitly in this diary that I finance the wind sector. Will you believe that it was not intentional and that, writing so often on the topic here, I assumed (obviously wrongly) that it was common knowledge and I relied on the fact that it is disclosed in some of the linked texts?

      In any case, I apologise to you if you felt mislead in this.

      As to RFK, I don't see where in my diary you see a personal attack. My text is purely on the merits (or not) of the arguments, and it details the lies, the deception and the bad faith arguments in that NYT editorial. The fact that he is a well know environmentalist makes it all worse as it gives more credibility to these really bad arguments. He did not say, like other commenter here, "this is a really special, beautiful place, we should not spoil it", he came with supposedly objective arguments - false ones. So all the words in the title are objectively true, including "sell out" as he betrays the cause of greenery for what appears to be very narrow selfish interests.

      As to my hypocrisy? I have seen very few actual arguments in the thread against what I wrote. The beauty has come up a few times, and there was a comment about the shipping channels in bad weather. That's it.

      I am taking the time to respond to you despite all the troll ratings you gave me (and make no mistake, "1" ratings are extremely aggressive signals over here; even "3" are seen as slight insults by many, so you might really want to be careful with these in view of the practice on this site, or you'll end up in flame wars really quickly), so why should others be blocked by my forceful arguments? I have insulted no one in the thread.

      In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
      Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

      by Jerome a Paris on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 11:19:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good Points (none)
        And the "4" rating for your comment wasn't by way of an olive branch, it was because it was well done.

        Now to some specifics. I'm going to give more thought to comment ratings. I have to say, at the level of first reaction, that if people get pissed at a "3" then I'd have to call it a personal problem. There is too much grade inflation in America. If I were a college professor the students would hate me for giving out so many C grades.

        Me, average? I'm paying $35,000 a year to go here and I'm just average?

        Yes, Biff, I'm afraid you're average. Now grow up and study harder next time.

        On RFK Jr., you have a point in that your original posting really wasn't as full of attacks as I made it out to be. But you did talk about "the Kennedy family," which in these parts carries a shitload of baggage. RFJ Jr. can be right or wrong on his own lonesome; hanging the "family" around his neck calls up imagery that is unassociated with the dispute at hand.

        I'm also uncomfortable with the accusation of "lies," etc. in your subsequent comments, especially when you've got a financial stake in the industry. If I were in your shoes, Jerome, I'd have been a lot more cicumspect about this. The broadside moral attack is very much overdone in general, and I find it especially unappealing when it's launched by someone with a financial stake in the issue.

        When you accuse someone of lying, you are actually accusing them of two misdeeds: Repeating a falsehood, and intentionally doing so. The latter not only requires some assessment of motives and/or state of mind, but it eliminates an allowance for honest (if flawed) differences of perception.

        RFK Jr.'s op-ed struck me as a flawed argument but one whose essential good faith I don't question at this point. He sees it differently than you do; some of his "evidence" is thin, but I don't think he was just making it up. If you wanted to question his good faith, a far better way to go about it would be to detail his (or maybe even the Kennedy family's) interest, financial or otherwise.

        If you were to do that, you'd have needed a certain amount of finesse and style given your own interest in the matter. A lighter touch, if you will. For a businessman who is in the business of financing wind farms to simply assert -- without so much as a peep in the diary about his own interest here -- that this putative representative of "the Kennedy family" is a lying NIMBY isn't enough, and in fact opens you to the counter-charges I and others have laid at your feet.

        Beyond that, in the subsequent comments I think you mischaracterized RFK Jr.'s article. I'm not going to commit your error and say you were "lying" when you did so. Instead, I'll say what I actually believe, which is that you were swept up in the passion of the argument. Either way, in my opinion it was not accurate to write, as you did, that RFK Jr. had not framed his argument in terms of the specialness of Cape Cod. He did that, and he made the other arguments about light and birds, etc., that I tend to agree with you are badly flawed.

        Now, when I lived in Boston I went out to Nantucket twice. Beautiful place, Nantucket. A little precious, as in the shops that sell stuffed toys for $300. But I'm in favor of the shopkeepers. If they can convince someone to pay that, and to pay I don't know how many thousands for those cheesy Nantucket baskets that are supposedly so hoo-hah great, well all that does is make me sleep better to know that the wealthy are just as stupid as anyone else when it comes to spending too much money on useless shit.

        As for windmills offshore, as beautiful as Nantucket is I don't think that a bunch of windmills will ruin it. I say they ought to pitch in like everyone else ought to pitch in. That's really my bottom line. But I'm not sure that it's necessary for a windfarm financier to hide under a rock, using a liberal website to launch a scorched-earth campaign against "the Kennedy family" and their lying NIMBYism, while simultaneously turning around and appealing for rationality in the debate.

        See, that's where my own background in Washington and on Wall Street (where I never financed a windfarm, but did finance other stuff) comes in. I've heard all kinds of rationalizations. The more heated they are, the more you know that it's all about the money. A sense of smell is one of the most important assets you can have.

        •  All fair points (none)
          On the rating thing, you're right, but the fact of the matter is that the practise on this site is as it is, and you will get grief if you give out "3"s too much. Sad, but a reality...

          As to my post, i guess that there have been 3 things that turned off people: the inflammatory title, the reference to the Kennedy family, and the "lying" comments.

          • the title: I argued for it near the top of the thread, but I understand that it can annoy people. people telling me that I cannot call for peaceful dialogue after that haved a point, I suppose. But I don't have access to the NYT.

          • the "Kennedy family" thing. I got annoyed when I saw the article the same day that said that a law would go through congress that would basically have as sole purpose to kill that project. It sounded like a job by Edward Kennedy, and that made two family members actively fighting that project the same day in the NYT. They are two of the most visible members of what is a large family, and that sounded like a coordinated attack. Thus that broadside.

          • the lying. There are things that are a matter of perception and presentation, and cannot be called lying, but the arguments about noise, about the comparison to the price of gas-fired power plants, and about lights hiding the stars come pretty damn close to being wilful lies, while several others, including on the subsidies, the impact on tourism and the impact on fishermen are very deceitful.

          As to the disclosure of my job, the more I think of it, the more I am annoyed that I did not do it, because it's a very real point. All I can say is that it was a good faith oversight, but it was an oversight.

          In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
          Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

          by Jerome a Paris on Sun Dec 18, 2005 at 03:09:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  "Lies" (none)
            First off, you don't know whether they're willful. To me, they came across as typical of someone who threw everything but the kitchen sink into his op-ed piece. That's common enough in political discourse to rise above the You lied! charge unless you can truly nail it, which frankly I don't think you did. This doesn't mean I agree with JFK Jr. on those things, but rather that I don't think he was out-of-bounds.

            Secondly, when you've got your own financial interest involved, I think there's an obligation to be more circumpsect in your tone than you might otherwise be. I realize that this is probably a tougher standard than most people would apply, but it just drives me nuts when I see commercial arguments turned into moral crusades. Republicans are masters at it and they make me want to puke, but Democrats certainly aren't immune.

            The other thing I noticed is someone else's posting about the possibility of wave turbines. Maybe in this case it's a better idea. Now, Jerome, take a step away from your role as a wind farm financier and see if you can offer some useful commentary on that particular option.

            •  I disagree on this (none)
              • If the 3 examples I gave are not lies, they display such ignorance about the topic that I don't konw which is worse, frankly;

              • about my "financial interest". I have no "financial interest". I work in Europe, on European projects, and am not involved in American projects, so there is no chance that I would work on such a project in any capacity. I have zero commercial reason to write about this project. More generally, as a financier on wind project, I have no desire for any criticism of any project, or any drawback of a project, to be swept under the rug, because over 15 years it might pop up again, blow up in our faces and compromise a project's ability to repay its debt (you know, that "due diligence" thingy). As a financier for the thermal power and oil&gas sectors as well, I might even be considered as hostile to the wind sector. So I am happy with any tough standard to be applied, but it has to take these things into account as well. And did Kennedy actually disclose that he has a house in that area? Did he disclose any financial interests he may have in any of the businesses that he mentions may be adversely affected by that windfarm? And have you disclosed any interests that might make your current comments anything but a genuine crusade for the betterment of the Democrats?

              • as to other options, check my diaries. I have written quite a bit about energy, not just wind. Check also Chris Kulczycki's diaries, he wrote on wave technology not long ago and I provided him some of the information for that.

              In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
              Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

              by Jerome a Paris on Sun Dec 18, 2005 at 10:59:54 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Response (none)
                If you finance wind farms then you've got an interest, even if you don't have a direct interest in the Cape Cod project. I don't think Kennedy needs to disclose whether or not he has a house there, but if he has a financial interest in stopping the project then, yes, in my opinion he was just as obligated to disclose it as you were.
        •  Actually (none)

          But I'm not sure that it's necessary for a windfarm financier to hide under a rock, using a liberal website to launch a scorched-earth campaign against "the Kennedy family" and their lying NIMBYism, while simultaneously turning around and appealing for rationality in the debate.

          I read this again and think that actually, you are make some pretty damn serious accusations. I am not "hiding under a rock". With due respect, I am probably as well known on dKos as Kennedy is on Cape Cod, and all my writing is public record and easily accessible on the site. I write here every day, a lot of it on energy issues, and am pretty much acknoweldged as (one of) the energy expert(s) on the site. So no, I am using the site for a "hit and run", I have a reputation here and it speaks for me. The fact that you are not familiar with it does not mean that it does not exist.


          See, that's where my own background in Washington and on Wall Street (where I never financed a windfarm, but did finance other stuff) comes in. I've heard all kinds of rationalizations. The more heated they are, the more you know that it's all about the money. A sense of smell is one of the most important assets you can have.

          Rationalisations? It's all about the money? This is a pretty direct slur, which you'd better back up with some facts if you want to be taken seriously by me again. Otherwise, I'll think that you are just doing a "hit and run" on me. I'm out of this thread.

          In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
          Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

          by Jerome a Paris on Sun Dec 18, 2005 at 11:10:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Response (none)
            "Hiding under a rock" is figurative language for not disclosing your interest. I know, I know ... only the bad guys hide under rocks. Right? As for my not having been "familiar" with your "reputation," I think I've already covered that issue in prior writing.

            As for my comment about it being "all about the money," that's my observation over the years. I think about Clinton's impeachment trial, when Sen. Pryor made what I thought was the simplest, most astute and most devastating set of comments. This isn't a verbatim quote but it's pretty close: When they say it's not about the money, it's about the money. And when they say it's not about the sex, it's about the sex.

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