Sunday, October 31, 2010

The GOP's Loss of Interest in the Environment

Over at the Guardian, I write that the Republican Party has lost almost all interest in the environment:
One of the most distressing developments of this most distressing political season is the almost complete abandonment of interest in the environment by the Republican party. Opposition to action on climate change – particularly, the once-obscure market mechanism called cap-and-trade – has become one of the principle tenets of the Tea Party movement.
It is worth remembering that Christine O'Donnell's defeat of Mike Castle is in part punishment for his vote for Waxman-Markey. O'Donnell herself is rather poorly informed on these issues:
O'Donnell's views on the environment, which are almost as wacky as her views on mice with human brains, fit neatly within the new normal for the Republican party. She has railed against cap-and-trade, calling it a new energy tax, and instead, calls for more drilling, though she does oppose oil rigs off of Delaware's beaches. Two years ago, O'Donnell offered the startling assertion that "only 1% of the oil pollution in the sea is the result of oil drilling, while 63% is the result of natural seepage on the ocean floor."
The Tea Party movement's anti-environment stance is not as spontaneous as you think:
The Tea Party may look like a grassroots movement, and the antipathy to environmental protection fits well with its libertarian philosophy (if "hell no" can be considered a philosophy), but the corporations behind the movement – including BP – are funnelling big bucks to support the GOP's most outspoken climate sceptics.
Any Republicans in Congress who may be inclined to act on climate change will be running scared that the climate denial crowd will be coming for them next.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Urquhart Campaign Tries to Resurrect the John Carney/DelaWind Story

John Carney’s opponents have tried to make a scandal out of his involvement in DelaWind, a venture that has sought to build wind towers for Bluewater Wind and other wind power projects along the east coast. Last year, DelaWind sought financing from the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) and the federal government.

I have previously dealt with the criticism last year here and here. I will repeat just two points from my previous posts on the topic. First, John Carney left DelaWind early this year, and would not have personally benefited from the support requested for the venture. Second, I still can’t see why anyone would object to an effort to bring several hundred manufacturing jobs to Delaware.

Carney’s antagonists have made much of an e-mail from a DEDO staffer that reads in part, “compensation in the amount of $1.45 million is booked under capital expenditures, and it’s not reflected whatsoever in operating expenses.” The e-mail concludes that the request “would have equated to a nice pay for those involved.” The relevant documents have been posted on a website,, which includes a link to the Glen Urquhart campaign.

I have checked out the documents, including the spreadsheet presented to DEDO by DelaWind. Keep in mind that I have an MBA in finance and have prepared similar proposals, including detailed financials, for clients.

I’ve read the financials, and just don’t agree with the suggestion in the e-mail that the numbers are out of line. The way I read the financials, the $1.45 million would cover the costs of up to 143 employees, including 50 construction jobs, during a one-year construction phase. These totals don’t strike me as inappropriate for creating a major manufacturing facility.

As for the specific point of the booking of compensation under construction instead of operating expenses, the enterprise is divided into two companies: DelaWind, which would build the facility, and the Windtower Manufacturing Company, which would use the facility to build the towers for Bluewater Wind. It strikes me as a perfectly plausible division of labor.

The Delawind proposal was withdrawn after Amer Industrial Technologies pulled out of the project, though efforts to bring wind power staging and manufacturing jobs to Delaware continue.

In summary, I don’t see anything obviously improper in the proposal. Despite the protestations of the Urquhart campaign, I can't find any evidence that John Carney has done anything improper at all. What I do see is someone who believes in the economic potential of wind power, and was trying to bring jobs to Delaware. I have no doubt that John Carney will continue to try to bring wind power jobs to Delaware when he becomes a member of Congress.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

O'Donnell and Urquhart Won't Even Talk with Environmentalists

Last week, I wrote that the Sierra Club endorsed John Carney. While it hasn’t been formally announced, the Sierra Club has endorsed Chris Coons as well.

The process reveals plenty about the divide between the parties when it comes to the environment. Chris Coons and John Carney earned their endorsements, which are decided by national and local leaders of the organization. As a member of the Sierra Club Delaware Chapter’s leadership (I’m vice chair of the executive committee), I proudly voted to support them. But I am profoundly disappointed that their opponents never even bothered to return a questionnaire, despite repeated phone calls and e-mails asking for a response. In fact the only Republican candidate to represent Delaware in Congress who did fill out a questionnaire was Mike Castle.

In short, when it comes to the environment, Christine O’Donnell and Glen Urquhart don’t even want to talk about it. You may remember that
they both blew off a long-scheduled forum sponsored by most of Delaware’s environmental organizations.

This is in sharp contrast with our current congressional delegation, who have made themselves and their staff available to environmental leaders. If O’Donnell and Urquhart don’t bother to respond to environmental leaders in the campaign, one can only assume that they would ignore environmental issues if they were elected.

With Christine O’Donnell and Glen Urquhart at the top of the ticket, the Republican Party of Delaware has abandoned its historical interest in the environment. Russ Peterson who was elected governor as a Republican, and served as an environmental advisor to Richard Nixon, switched parties in 1996. Former Congressman Tom Evans, who is now an preservation advocate in Florida, was among
the Republicans who endorsed Chris Coons yesterday.

Urquhart today published
an op-ed in the News Journal that repeated the conservative campaign of misinformation on the economics of renewable energy. He claimed (without citing sources) that climate action would cost families $1,769 a year, 2.3 million jobs, a doubling of utility rates and $7-a-gallon gasoline.

Urquhart sounds like the opponents of wind power who wildly inflated the costs and dismissed the benefits of the Bluewater Wind proposal. He also repeated the rather thin accusation that John Carney improperly tried to get government funding for an enterprise to build the towers for the Bluewater Wind project. I refuted the criticism
here and here, and applauded Carney for trying to bring wind power jobs to Delaware.

In his op-ed, Urquhart cites dubious and unsourced statistics about the economic costs of renewable energy, but when presented with the opportunity to weigh in on a tangible business plan, he preferred to attack his opponent and ignored the prospect of real, blue collar jobs at stake.

And speaking of spurious statistics, there is
this startling assertion from Christine O’Donnell two years ago:
But only 1 percent of the oil pollution in the sea is the result of oil drilling, while 63 percent is the result of natural seepage on the ocean floor.
If Glen Urquhart and Christine O’Donnell wanted to, they could sit down and have a genuine conversation, and perhaps be put at ease about their misinformed objections to environmental protection. But they don't seem to even care, which is another reason why we should send Chris Coons and John Carney to Washington.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Forty Years of Doonesbury

Doonesbury opened for business forty years ago today by introducing B.D. to his roommate and title character, Mike Doonesbury:
Over the years, B.D. provided some of the comic strip's best moments, from his unexpected friendship with Phred the V.C. terrorist who loved Cole Porter, to losing his leg (and his helmet) in Iraq:

Garry Trudeau is on my short list of great American humorists. Like his peers, Russell Baker and Calvin Trillin, he can skewer public figures and lay bare the absurdities of modern culture with a surprisingly gentle touch. While Trudeau clearly never liked the Vietnam War, or most of America's military misadventures that followed, he showed deep empathy for America's warriors. His storylines on the travails of those in active service and wounded veterans are priceless.

has some great features on the anniversary, including a rare interview with Trudeau, the strip's 200 best moments (and they're all good) and a fascinating piece on the art of Doonesbury.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Delaware Politics Turned Upside Down

As a measure of how Christine O'Donnell has turned the world of Delaware politics topsy turvy, Ron Williams just wrote something nice about Chris Coons:
I have to give Chris Coons lots of credit for approaching this race with O'Donnell in a professional and dignified manner. Although I wouldn't blame him if he one of these days just loses it with her idiotic responses in their debates.
Folks talk about the enthusiasm gap and O'Donnell's strength downstate, but the flip side is her profound weakness upstate. I have finally seen an O'Donnell sign in my zip code (19806), compared to several hundred for Coons, and still not as many as Castle signs still standing. One home a couple of blocks from here just put up a Castle sign in the last week.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

O'Donnell, Urquhart and the Separation of Church and State

Glen Urquhart might prefer it if Christine O'Donnell simply avoided the subject of the separation of church and state. As I write in the Huffington Post today, O'Donnell's discussion of the First Amendment didn't help the man just below her on the GOP ticket:
Pressed by her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons, Christine O'Donnell yesterday questioned whether the First Amendment to the Constitution established the separation of church and state. The law school audience gasped.

Radio station WDEL, which sponsored the debate, has the entire event on video.

Her gaffe immediately brought to mind Urquhart's similar assertion linking the separation of church and state to Adolf Hitler. Last April, Urquhart claimed that Thomas Jefferson never used the phrase, but Hitler had, adding, "The next time your liberal friends talk about separation of church and state, ask them why they're Nazis."

Tea party candidates sometimes refer to themselves as "constitutional conservatives," but they seem to trip over themselves when laying out their views on some of the document's most basic provisions.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sierra Club Endorses John Carney for Congress

John Carney yesterday announced that he has received the Sierra Club's endorsement in the election for Congress. WDEL reports that Carney spoke of the economic potential of developing wind power:
"We have an opportunity in our state to build the turbines, fabricate the steel towers and underwater structures. It's a billion-dollar project. There are projects in New Jersey and Maryland."
Carney's interest in wind power is well known; he played a pivotal role in working out a deal to get the Bluewater Wind project through the General Assembly in 2008.

The Sierra Club sent questionnaires to the candidates for Congress months ago. Glen Urquhart, Carney's opponent, did not even bother to fill out the questionnaire, despite repeated phone calls and e-mails to his campaign. Even with his opponent a no-show, the Delaware Chapter didn't give him the endorsement by default, but debated his record and his response to the questionnaire.

This was not the first time Urquhart has chosen to ignore environmental issues. Earlier this month, he and Christine O'Donnell blew off a long-scheduled forum on environmental issues.

I have talked with John Carney on environmental issues many times, and enthusiastically supported the decision to endorse him—a decision made even easier by Urquhart's failure to respond. But I find it distressing that Glen Urquhart doesn't even want to take part in a meaningful discussion of environmental issues. Couldn't he at least take the time to talk about it?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Benoit Mandelbrot

Benoit Mandelbrot, whose magical creations gripped the imagination, has died at the age of 85. The famed Mandelbrot set demonstrated how a simple, recursive formula can create endless complexity.
The New York Times obituary includes the oft told story of how he first conceived of fractals:
Dr. Mandelbrot traced his work on fractals to a question he first encountered as a young researcher: how long is the coast of Britain? The answer, he was surprised to discover, depends on how closely one looks. On a map an island may appear smooth, but zooming in will reveal jagged edges that add up to a longer coast. Zooming in further will reveal even more coastline.

“Here is a question, a staple of grade-school geometry that, if you think about it, is impossible,” Dr. Mandelbrot told The New York Times earlier this year in an interview. “The length of the coastline, in a sense, is infinite.”

In the 1950s, Dr. Mandelbrot proposed a simple but radical way to quantify the crookedness of such an object by assigning it a “fractal dimension,” an insight that has proved useful well beyond the field of cartography.

Over nearly seven decades, working with dozens of scientists, Dr. Mandelbrot contributed to the fields of geology, medicine, cosmology and engineering. He used the geometry of fractals to explain how galaxies cluster, how wheat prices change over time and how mammalian brains fold as they grow, among other phenomena.
The most famous images of fractals are computer generated. But it was a sculptor friend, Rick Rothrock, who first sparked my interest in how fractals can describe the natural world.

In his 2004 book,
The (mis)Behavior of Markets, Mandelbrot applied his techniques to finance. He criticized the use of differential equations that assume continuous change in prices. (Think back on your calculus class and the invention of infinitesimals.) The famous Black-Scholes equation is a powerful tool, but its assumption that prices move continuously proved fatal when Long-Term Capital Management hired the brain trust behind the equation. LTCM famously built a fortune and lost it in a financial storm that the equations said should almost never happen.

Mandelbrot had a restless imagination, and would move from subject to subject:
Instead of rigorously proving his insights in each field, he said he preferred to “stimulate the field by making bold and crazy conjectures” — and then move on before his claims had been verified. This habit earned him some skepticism in mathematical circles.

“He doesn’t spend months or years proving what he has observed,” said Heinz-Otto Peitgen, a professor of mathematics and biomedical sciences at the University of Bremen. And for that, he said, Dr. Mandelbrot “has received quite a bit of criticism.”

“But if we talk about impact inside mathematics, and applications in the sciences,” Professor Peitgen said, “he is one of the most important figures of the last 50 years.”
His insights have helped lead scientists to tackle phenomena that don't neatly fit into classical mathematical models. We don't necessarily have models for how things behave beyond the boundaries, but we at least have a better sense of where those boundaries are.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Google To Invest in the Transmission Backbone

This is big news for offshore wind. The New York Times reports that Google has stepped up to invest in a transmission backbone to connect offshore wind power to the congested east coast grid:
Google and Good Energies, an investment firm specializing in renewable energy, have each agreed to take 37.5 percent of the equity portion of the project. They are likely to bring in additional investors, which would reduce their stakes.

If they hold on to their stakes, that would come to an initial investment of about $200 million apiece in the first phase of construction alone, said Robert L. Mitchell, the chief executive of Trans-Elect, the Maryland-based transmission-line company that proposed the venture.
It would be a big project:
The system’s backbone cable, with a capacity of 6,000 megawatts, equal to the output of five large nuclear reactors, would run in shallow trenches on the seabed in federal waters 15 to 20 miles offshore, from northern New Jersey to Norfolk, Va. The notion would be to harvest energy from turbines in an area where the wind is strong but the hulking towers would barely be visible.
Governor Jack Markell and University of Delaware professor Willett Kempton (who is quoted in the article) have both been talking up the value of a transmission backbone, which would smooth out the variability of individual wind farms, making them more efficient.

Hurdles to building offshore wind off the east coast include transmission, financing, permitting and building a supply chain:

So far only one offshore wind project, Bluewater Wind off Delaware, has sought permission to build in federal waters. The company is seeking federal loan guarantees to build 293 to 450 megawatts of capacity, but the timing of construction remains uncertain.

Executives with that project said the Atlantic backbone was an interesting idea, in part because it would foster development of a supply chain for the specialized parts needed for offshore wind.
Google runs one of the most energy intensive technologies on the planet:
A recent report by Gartner, the industry analysts, said the global IT industry generated as much greenhouse gas as the world’s airlines - about 2% of global CO2 emissions. “Data centres are among the most energy-intensive facilities imaginable,” said Evan Mills, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Banks of servers storing billions of web pages require power.
So Google's interest in promoting the development and transmission of abundant clean energy is a matter of corporate interest and corporate citizenship.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Senator Says Nobel Economics Winner Not Qualified to Serve on the Fed

Peter A. Diamond, Dale T. Mortensen and Christopher A. Pissarides were awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics today for their work on the inefficiencies of labor markets. The announcement notes Professor Diamond's work on the effect of search costs—the costs of matching sellers and buyers—on labor markets:
In a renowned article from 1971, Peter Diamond examined how prices are formed on a market where buyers look for the best possible price and sellers simultaneously set their best price while taking buyers’ search behavior into account. Even small search costs turned out to generate a radically different outcome compared to the classical competitive equilibrium.
Because employment markets have considerable search costs, they do not behave perfectly efficiently, as our current predicament illustrates.
In the classical model of competition, the unregulated market outcome is both unique and efficient. But in a world with search costs, there can sometimes be several possible market outcomes. This was shown by Peter Diamond, who also pointed out that only one of these outcomes can be the best. This, in turn, implies that there is reason for governments to try and find ways of inducing the economy to move towards the best outcome.
Professor Diamond can't even get a vote on his nomination to the Federal Reserve. As the New York Times reports, one senator doesn't think Professor Diamond is qualified:
In August, Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama, asserted that Professor Diamond did not have enough experience for the position, saying, “I do not believe that the current environment of uncertainty would benefit from policy decisions made by board members who are learning on the job.”

President Obama had nominated Professor Diamond in April for a position on the Fed board, where he would serve under the economist’s former student and now chairman Ben S. Bernanke. But in August, under an obscure procedural rule, the Senate sent Mr. Diamond’s nomination back to the White House before starting its summer recess.
You read that correctly. Even though the current Fed chairman was a student under Professor Diamond, Senator Shelby says he would be "learning on the job." There is no mismatch between Professor Diamond's qualifications and the expertise needed at the Fed to reduce unemployment. The fact that one senator can block his nomination on a whim is shameful.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Chad Tolman on the Science of Climate Change

Dr. Chad Tolman has a well written piece on the science of climate change in the News Journal today. Read it and learn:
Addressing global warming must be made a priority
by Chad Tolman

Jeff Montgomery had a great front-page article titled "The truth about cap and trade" on Sept. 22. Unfortunately, as someone said, "Truth is the first casualty of war."

After spending more than 20 years studying, speaking, and writing about energy and climate change, let me tell you the truth as I see it.

The vast majority (more than 97 percent in a recent study) of climate scientists agree with the consensus position of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that: 1) the Earth's global average surface temperature is increasing; 2) the primary cause is increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases -- especially carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas); and 3) continuing to release carbon dioxide will cause increasing damage to human health and welfare, as well as the extinction of many of the Earth's plant and animal species.

Delaware is especially vulnerable to sea level rise, which is accelerating, and is caused by the expansion of water as oceans warm and the melting of glaciers on land. Current estimates are that sea level could rise by as much as 5 feet by 2100, but could be much more than that -- threatening our port of Wilmington, coastal towns, power plants, refinery, wastewater-treatment plants, homes, businesses, roads, beaches and wetlands.

Studies of Earth's climate history show that sea levels have risen as fast as 5 meters (17 feet) in a century during past periods of rapid warming. Given enough time -- for the oceans to fully warm, the ice to melt as much as it's going to, and vegetation to shift -- sea level during the past 40 million years has changed by 20 meters per degree C (37 feet per degree F).

So far the global average temperature since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution has increased about 1.5 degrees F, with most of the increase in the last 30 years; 2010 will likely be the hottest in recorded history. We already have too much waste from fossil fuels in the atmosphere (about 390 parts per million ofcarbon dioxide). Jim Hansen, a leading U.S. climate scientist at NASA and Columbia University, has urged that we reduce carbon dioxide to 350 ppm or less if we are to minimize the risk of serious damage.

Sunday will be an international day of climate awareness and action in over 150 countries. Here in Delaware we will be planting 350 trees in a project co-sponsored by the Sierra Club, the League of Women Voters, the Delaware Nature Society, the interdenominational Coalition for Climate Change Study and Action, The Nature Conservancy, and the Delaware Center for Horticulture (DCH). Learn more about the planting at: We will also be holding a workshop at DCH on the afternoon of Oct. 10. For details see: delaware-climate-workshop.

Unfortunately for Delaware, two of our candidates for Congress -- Glen Urquhart and Christine O'Donnell -- have not only said NO to cap and trade, a system that has successfully reduced sulfur emissions from power plants, they also seem blissfully unaware of the threat to Delaware posed by climate change -- especially sea level rise, and the huge financial losses that will come with a failure to respond.

Nicholas Stern, a British economist, has published an extensive study of the economics of climate change, and concluded that responding in a timely way will cost annually between 2 percent and 3 percent of world GDP (for the U.S., that's about half of the military budget); delaying could cost 20 percent of world GDP each year. Do we make the transition to a clean and sustainable energy economy now, or do we leave a mess for our children and grandchildren?

Anyone wanting to understand why we need a green revolution and how it can renew America should read Thomas Friedman's book, "Hot, Flat and Crowded, Release 2.0" (2009).
For more climate science, read Chad's blog, Climate Change News.

Friday, October 08, 2010

O'Donnell and Urquhart Duck Environmental Debate

Republicans Christine O'Donnell and Glen Urquhart don't even want to talk about the environment. Jeff Montgomery of the News Journal explains:
A sharp green line divides the environmental stands of Democratic and Republican candidates for Delaware's open seats in Congress.

Voters have been denied a chance, however, to see that divide.

The state's only public, nonpartisan congressional candidate forum on environmental issues was scuttled this week when Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell -- who hammered primary opponent Mike Castle for his vote on cap-and-trade pollution controls -- did not reply to repeated invitations to participate.

Glen Urquhart, Republican candidate for the House, separately declined to attend, citing other commitments. Both Democratic candidates had accepted the invitation.
I also am aware that neither O'Donnell nor Urquhart bothered to return a questionnaire to one of the country's largest and oldest environmental organizations. However, I can't share the name of the organization just yet.

I'm used to disagreement on environmental issues; after all, politics is the business of working out contentious issues. What I'm not so used to is candidates who don't even want to discuss the issue.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Offshore Wind: What's Taking So Long?

News Journal reporter Aaron Nathans has a rundown of the obstacles to erecting wind turbines off the east coast. It's a thorough review of the economic and regulatory challenges facing the industry:
To address the cost issue, the offshore wind industry, which meets this week in Atlantic City for its annual convention, is looking to Washington for help.

They're asking Congress to extend tax credits currently available and make them apply long-term. Recent year-to-year extensions provide little assurance to investors who can't depend on the tax credits being around five or 10 years out.

Wind industry officials also want Congress to enact legislation internalizing the full costs of fossil fuel-generated electricity by accounting for carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. So far, the leading proposal -- for a system capping carbon emissions and establishing a market for trading carbon emission credits -- has failed to overcome opposition contending it would raise electricity costs and contribute to unemployment in coal-producing areas.
I don't think we will see much progress on energy policy in Congress in the next term, though we hopefully will see the tax credit extended. As for those who complain that renewable energy can't work without subsidies, it's worth remembering that the fossil fuel industry has been gifted with far more government support than "traditional" renewable sources like wind or solar energy.

While Congress may be deadlocked for the next two years, regulators aren't moving that much faster:
All drilling projects three miles or more out in the Atlantic will be subject to lengthy reviews by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement. Developers estimate it could take 7 to 9 years to get a permit -- two years longer than the average now for an oil-drilling platform. Approval for wind farm construction requires 10 federal permits, seven state ones and numerous local approvals.
A reliable government program for support of offshore wind will be essential for developing the supply chain, which will be a multi-billion dollar business. Delaware would like to capture as much of that as possible. But developing the business opportunities will depend on decisions that happen in Washington and up and down the east coast.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Is Christine O'Donnell Just Dabbling in Delaware Politics?

Think Progress has the latest video bomb from Bill Maher, which features Christine O'Donnell in 1999 talking about her search for spiritual fulfillment:
I was dabbling in witchcraft. I’ve dabbled in Buddhism. I would have become a Hare Krishna but I didn’t want to become a vegetarian. And that is honestly the reason why — because I’m Italian, I love meatballs.
Which brought to mind this snippet of dialog from Woody Allen in the film Manhattan:
My first wife was a kindergarten teacher, you know. She got into drugs and she moved to San Francisco. Went into est, became a Moonie. She's with the William Morris Agency now.
The William Morris Agency was a leading advertising firm of the day.

Even though the film was released twenty years before O'Donnell's description of her dabbling in witchcraft and Buddhism, both point to a spiritual rootlessness in American life.

This makes me wonder why it is that O'Donnell settled in Delaware. She came here to take a job with a conservative think tank (which she sued for discrimination), and stayed to become a perennial candidate. She was on her way to being an asterisk in Delaware's political history, when she shocked Delaware and the country by defeating Mike Castle.

Since then, she hasn't engaged in the kind of retail politics Delawareans have come to expect. The News Journal reports that she has hardly been seen in Delaware:
"We are being manipulated by people outside of this state. This isn't about Delaware anymore," said [GOP operative Don] Mell, a Castle supporter. "We're the platform. We're the stage. We've been sucked up into a national fight and all we are at the end of the day is potential collateral damage."
The New York Times, which has also noticed how O'Donnell has "cloistered herself" recently, seems as puzzled by the O'Donnell phenomenon as we are:
In some ways, Ms. O’Donnell is a case study in how a relative unknown can ride a curiosity factor, media wave and a political movement to overnight celebrity.
Those who aren't caught up in the fervor of the Tea Party are left to conclude that Delaware is just a set for her, just as Bill Maher provided a stage in the 1990s. Hopefully O'Donnell will ride her notoriety to a bigger stage, and we can get back to the less exciting business of local politics and self government. The Delaware GOP will be left to clean up the collateral damage, and the rest of us will wonder whether the retail politics we know and love will ever be the same.