The Watering Hole; Friday August 22 2014; “Superior Inferiority”

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About a dozen years back (plus or minus one or two), and after watching the Dubya Bush administration make one mess after the other, I decided to sum up my impressions of the clearly failing human experience via a poem — a Shakespearean-style sonnet, to be exact. It turned out thus:

Paradox of Humankind:

Superior Inferiority

Brash vanity ordains that Mankind be
Superior to all other life on Earth,
And curious source of this Mythology
Derives from Bible’s unintended mirth.
Thus bold is he who advocates the case
Of Genesis errant, where metaphor,
As whimsical devise, cannot replace
Realities which each confirm the Core
Of Life: that every living form appeals
To Duty greater than itself alone.
A single moment’s intellect reveals
One Truth, as if inscribed in tempered stone:
Each bird and beast, each flowered weed, each tree
Expounds on Man’s Inferiority!

My conclusion was obvious: humans are absolutely and positively INFERIOR to every other life form that exists, probably even to such brilliances as light and the empty space it illuminates. In any case, every now and then “the course of human events” causes me to reflect once again, then to explore the thesis of “Superior Inferiority” that inevitably seems to define the human species. 

Following is the latest exploration. The large photos are my own; the small ones are captures, over the years, from various internet sites and are, far as I know, unattributed. Still, comparison does seem to tell a tale, to support said thesis. Am I wrong? Y’all be the judge.

* * * *

Natural Black Fly on Natural White Flower:

Fly in White Rose 433Unnatural White Whatever on Natural Black Void?

Or
Unnatural White Void on Natural Black Whatever?

Bitch BcConnell

Natural Black on Natural Green!!

Shadow 361

Tan and Black on a Yellow Background?

Herr Doctor Carson and Dubya

How about Tan on a Black and Yellow Background?

Bug on Sunflower 353

Next up, the Natural Void: Solar, anyone?

I’ll tell you how the Sun rose / A Ribbon at a time
(Emily Dickinson)

 

Sunrise 455

Lawmakers, Homeowners Fight Rules Saying Solar Is Too Ugly To Install

Solar 2 ugly 2 install

Rooftop Solar is Ugly?? 

NO WAY!! Rooftops Themselves are Ugly!!

Solar Solar Solar!

Sunrise 473

Maybe it’s Frogs that are Ugly?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nah. Frogs are NOT Ugly, esp. when compared to their Human Counterpoints, e.g. ex-POTUSes.

PROOF!

Der FingerOK, that’s enough. Hell with it. Humans are clearly superior at being inferior to everything else in the Universe.

The Prosecution Rests.

 

OPEN THREAD

 

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 11th, 2014: Caption Contests!

When I saw the first photo on TP last week, I thought “That just begs for a caption contest.” The photo is of Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel, and is credited to McDaniel for Senate. McDaniel allegedly hired a pastor to hold a press conference and state that he (the pastor) had been paid by Thad Cochran’s campaign to get black Democrats to vote in their Republican Senate primary:

MS State Senator Chris McDaniel

MS State Senator Chris McDaniel

Next, from an article by Neil Cavuto on Fox Business, in which Cavuto surprisingly says:

“…cross them once, go off-script with them once, pose one different question or surprise confrontation just once – and they go nuts, and I mean really nuts. It’s actually disturbing.”

Chris Christie and Rand Paul have a lot going for themselves. They’re political originals in almost all respects, save their uncanny lack of self-awareness. It just seems odd for gentlemen who demand respect, they have a devil of a time “showing” respect. Their rage is as consuming as it risks being self-immolating. No slight is too small, no diss too dizzy, no criticism too silly, that each doesn’t get silly, and childish, and boorish in kind. Not kind. Not right. Not big. Not…presidential.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie


Rand Paul with wings and sword

Rand Paul with wings and sword

And another two-fer, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul:

Ted Cruz and Rand Paul

Ted Cruz and Rand Paul

Here’s a fun shot of ‘Russian Strongman’ Vladimir Putin:

Vladimir Putin and unknown woman

Vladimir Putin and unknown woman

What is Tucker Carlson dreaming about when he fell asleep on Fox & Fiends Friends?:

Tucker Carlson goes nappy-byes.

Tucker Carlson goes nappy-byes.

Last, here’s a shot of Lindsey Graham (fundraising at a place called River Rat Brewery.) Lindsey, on Fox News yesterday, sounded the alarm about terrorists attacking the U.S. He then swooned, clutching his pearls, saying “Someone fetch me mah smelling salts!”

Lindsey Graham drinking and fundraising

Lindsey Graham drinking and fundraising

And just for fun (if you aren’t having any yet), here’s a gif that I ran across while choosing a photo for Lindsey Graham:

What's Lindsey Graham thinking about now?

What’s Lindsey Graham thinking about now?

Enjoy!

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole; Friday August 8 2014; “Hunters’ RIGHTS”??? You gotta be kidding!!

I received a letter yesterday from Defenders of Wildlife and thought perhaps those here who have sympathy for all higher animals ‘out there’ might take a moment to read it, maybe even to follow the embedded link and tell the BLM to do the right thing (for once) and deny the ridiculous request by A “hunters’ rights” organization [which] has formally requested a federal permit to hold a multi-year predator-killing derby in Idaho — on national public lands!

The letter continues:

If approved, this will be the second competitive wolf-killing competition held in Idaho – and no predator will be safe!

If you care about wolves and other predators as much as I do, please help by telling the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at the Department of the Interior to deny the request to conduct this organized killing spree.

As if the competitive targeting of wolves was not bad enough, this proposed derby would sweep all predators in Idaho into its gun sights, rewarding the killing of coyotes, skunks and even weasels.

Last year’s wolf and coyote-killing derby included prizes for killing the most coyotes and killing the largest wolf. This is not hunting; this is simply mass-killing for fun based upon hatred and fear.

Defenders is adamantly opposed to this sort of competitive killing derby and the dangerous and unethical precedent that it sets. Please stand with us and call on the BLM to immediately deny this outrageous request!

If you think it can’t get worse, consider this: The proposed event would take place every winter for five years when wolves and other wildlife are most vulnerable out foraging for food in the snow and extreme cold.

This proposal sets us back to the barbaric 19th century approach to predators when their value to the environment was not understood. These are exactly the kinds of extermination era tactics that drove wolves to the brink in the first place! This is not modern wildlife management, and it has no place in civil society.

Please demand that the BLM stop this unconscionable killing contest in its tracks!

Thank you for taking immediate action.

Sincerely,

(Defenders of Wildlife)

As Mark Twain once observed, “If man could be crossed with a wolf it would improve man, but deteriorate the wolf.” (Actually, I took the liberty to substitute the word “wolf” for “cat”, but the point remains).

Personally, I find it impossible to believe, much less imagine, that IDIOTS such as those who apparently claim to be parcel to some sort of “hunters’ rights” organization even exist, much less could ever exercise any sway over an organization that’s supposedly dedicated, at least in part, to preservation of wild lands. But yes, they’re clearly ‘out there’ doing all they can to destroy everything but their own miserable selves. Gotta wonder: where the hell do ‘they’ come from? And why? And if their interest is in “predator-killing” why bother with wildlife? Why not just kill each other and make the world a FAR better place in result?

Grrrrrr.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 4th, 2014: Peculiar Podiatric Political “Humor”

At our office, the content of our ‘Sales’ emailbox is usually comprised of orders, queries, requests for catalogs, etc. Occasionally we still get offers for misspelled Cialis, Viagra, etc., as well as the internet version of the letter from a Nigerian prince. Once in a while, for reasons beyond my comprehension, we get anti-government rants from a group called (I believe) The American Land Rights Association. But last week we got a very unusual (and pretty weird) political email. Here it is in its entirety:

From: Martin Marks [mailto:drfootsie@cox.net]
Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:01 AM
To: drfootsie@drfootsie.org
Subject: PODIATRY to POLITICAL CARTOONING

Hi: PLEASE SHARE

Taxed Enough Already
Tired of CORRUPTION
ABOLISH IRS

We AIM to PLEASE ……….

GRID LOCK – gov’t waste

If you like your ……..

ILL Eagle - The  Barak Stops Here 01

While none of these made any sense or fell into the category of “humor” such as we understand it, the editor of the Virginia News Source (which touts itself as “Tidewater Virginia’s ONLY source of reality based news. We are professional muckrakers, politically incorrect, and equal opportunity offenders”) absolutely loves them. Here’s an excerpt (I recreated the misspellings, etc.) from the editor’s July 25th blurb about Dr. Footsie:

“I love ‘whack jobs and I connected with him and stuck up a a great relationship nstantly. My kind of person. Of sound mind. Off-beat humorous.

Dr. Footsie has enough of a whacky outlook, and the creative, artistic ability to articulate the wrongs of the world in a delightfully humorous way. That’s not to say that his cartoons aren’t biting. They are. They are effective. In one upcoming cartoon, he depicts Obama in a cartoon entitled “a black eye on America”, combining all that wrong about Obama’s failed presidency. Subtle meanings are hidden throughout his work.”

Well, they certainly fit in with the crap on the Virginia News Source website. They are NOT, however, either “delightful”, nor “subtle”, nor “humorous”, at least in MY opinion. Don’t quit your day job, “Dr. Footsie.”

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole; Thursday July 24 2014; Soliloquy

Dictionary.com defines soliloquy as an utterance or discourse by a person who is talking to himself or herself or is disregardful of or oblivious to any hearers present. I guess I have a quibble with the word “person” in the sense that there are a lot of other voices ‘out there’ in the natural world that are a whole lot more worth a listen than is your average ‘person’! William Cullen Bryant, in his poem Thanatopsis, put it quite well when he wrote,

“To him who, in the love of Nature, holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language …”

Lord Byron wrote of his enlightening “interviews” with nature:

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods –
There is a rapture on the lonely shore –
There is society where none intrudes –
By the deep sea and music in its roar –
I love not man the less but nature more –
From those our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before –
To mingle with the universe and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot conceal.

Edmund Burke apparently agreed and, in the process, pretty much summed the issue’s essence with poetic brevity:

“Never, no never, did nature say one thing and wisdom say another.”

I couldn’t agree more, especially these days where the list of chattering fools is endless and never-ending, where “wisdom” has become a condition that’s largely alien to the human species. So each day of late, beginning at first light, my goal has been “To mingle with the universe and feel / What I can ne’er express, yet cannot conceal.” The photos below are ‘messages’ received in just the last week; since a picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words, I’ll let the natural world do all most of the ‘talking.’

Foggy Sunrise

Sunrise on a Foggy Morning

Sunflower, backlit

Sunflower, backlit

Water bird; Cormorant?

Water bird; Cormorant?

Reflections

Reflections

Garden Geranium

Garden Geranium

Those five photos represent, of course, only a tiny handful of the Voices ‘out there’ — voices that speak their soliloquy to each and all who dare listen. Unfortunately, the vast majority of human passers-by appear to be stone deaf to anything other than their own typical conversational dregs even as they’re blind to the beauties that surround them. And far too often, they’re also destructive as well, and clearly unaware of Henry David Thoreau’s thesis that “Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.”

Case in point — a roadside thistle in full bloom, duly knocked over and trampled by person or persons unknown.

Thistle photo pair

Why? “Cuz them’s noxious weeds.” 

 To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.
William Wordsworth
from Lines Written in Early Spring

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, July 23, 2104: BREAKING GNUS: OBAMA CAVES AGAIN!

Tweeter calls in another Zoo Exclusive

Tweeter calls in another Zoo Exclusive

Ok, we get it. Republicans voted some 50+ times to undo ObamaCare. Major Corporations insisted Obama give them extra time to implement ObamaCare and he caved to their wishes. Now, Republicans, led by none other than Mr. Orange Himself, John Boehner, are suing Obama for caving in to their constituents.

And – shock – Obama caves once more! We here at The Zoo learned that President Obama and John Boehner have stipulated to an agreement that will be filed in Court shortly, and fully enforceable, whereby Obama will rescind his granting of additional time for Big Businesses to fully enforce ObamaCare.

Ironically, this means that Boehner’s suit will succeed, and the Republican donors who asked for more time to implement ObamaCare will lose, and have to incur costs for implementing ObamaCare right before the 2014 elections.

D’OH PEN
THREAD

The Watering Hole, Tuesday July 22, 2014 – Special Report

The first person I ever knew who had AIDS was a professor of Special Education at Temple University. He died a few months after being assigned to the facility where I was working. He was too weak to teach in the classroom anymore.This was in 1981, when the epidemic was just being discovered. Here we are, 33 years later and perhaps we have now found a cure. Fingers crossed.

Health: Temple University Researchers Successfully Eliminate HIV Virus In Human Cells

Open thread.

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 21st, 2014: Floriduh vs Kitties

I was going to write about yesterday’s ThinkProgress thread about a fundraiser for Florida Governor Rick Scott. The story combines just about everything we liberals abhor: wealthy private-prison CEO; $10,000/plate fundraiser; private-prison abuses and fraud; immigrant detention; privatization of prison system healthcare (under Rick Scott?!); and so on, with big money and greed being the leitmotif. But it just got me too angry, so here’s some photos of some of our past furry friends. If I’ve posted a lot of these before, please humor me.

Stubby Plant

Stubby Plant

Tippy with Velveteen Rabbit

Tippy with Velveteen Rabbit

Lissa Grooms Her Ears (Amelia in lower left, photo of 20-something Wayne in upper right)

Lissa Grooms Her Ears (Amelia in lower left, photo of 20-something Wayne in upper right)

Earnest squeezes behind Pip

Earnest squeezes behind Pip

Becca prepares to leap.

Becca prepares to leap.

Nog (N.O.G. = Not Orange Guy)

Nog (N.O.G. = Not Orange Guy)

Belz and Lissa play while Splatter watches.

Belz and Lissa play while Splatter watches.

Preston, Jack and Souphlee

Preston, Jack and Souphlee

There, at least I feel better…

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 14th, 2014: It’s SCHNEIDER-MAN!

Nope, not Wayne…it’s New York State’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman.

A.G. Schneiderman is the root’n-est, toot’n-est, doggone shoot’n-est Attorney General around these parts. And while he has been focusing mainly on Wall Street transgressions, Schneiderman was forced to issue a press release last week after the McCullen decision, in which the Supremes struck down the 35-foot buffer zone around Massachusetts’ women’s health clinics.

Apparently protesters at a Planned Parenthood in Rochester, New York, were a mite confused about that ruling, believing that the Supreme Court decision struck down ALL buffer zones. According to an article by Michael Virtanen of The Republic:

“The letter followed a protest last week outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in Rochester, where one demonstrator crossed a faded line on the sidewalk believing the Supreme Court decision applied everywhere, said Mary Jost. She is director of the Focus Pregnancy Help Center nearby and a longtime anti-abortion protester. Police were called, an officer talked with the woman and said she had to move back. That also prompted Rochester police to query the attorney general’s office and Jost to consult her own lawyer, who advised staying beyond the line that was subsequently painted bright orange, she said.

“We might take it to court in time,” Jost said.”

Yeah, sure, let us know how that works out for you.

A.G. Schneiderman’s press release (seen here in its entirety) said in part:

“I am committed to protecting the right of every patient in New York to full and safe access to reproductive health care services. We will not allow activists to use a narrowly targeted Supreme Court decision as an opportunity to create confusion about the critical protections here in New York. Not only do New York State’s clinic protection laws remain completely in place, I am committed to working with our partners in law enforcement to ensure they are fully enforced.”

Schneiderman, who was endorsed by Planned Parenthood for the post of Attorney General, insisted that the 15-foot buffer zone is still in effect in all 22 counties where it had been established in 2005. The Republic article also states that “He [A.G. Schneiderman] has also sent out investigators to ensure clinic access…”

Way to go, Schneiderman!

Just for fun, here’s President Obama turning down an offer that, I confess, I would not have refused.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

Dear John Boehner

Dear John Boehner:

You know how you get those little postcards in the mail sometimes telling you that you’re part of some class action lawsuit because you bought a malfunctioning Pez dispenser between 1995 and 2003 or something? You’re told if you want to be part of the lawsuit, you need not do anything. If you want to opt out of participating in the lawsuit, you must say so in writing.

So I am writing to tell you I’m opting out of the lawsuit you’re filing against President Obama.

This has nothing to do with the fact that on CNN tonight they showed you and some of your fellow Repubs mocking Obama while readying your lawsuit. I’ve grown accustomed to you folks acting like a bunch of spoiled brats each time you don’t get your own way about something. No, this is all about money. My money.

I can’t get a definite figure on how much you’re going to spend of taxpayer money for this. Whatever it is, it’s too much. You haven’t earned a cent of your pay for quite a few years now. So you’re going to sue the President for trying to earn his.
Pardon my denseness, but I’m somehow missing the logic in that.

You and your fellow Repubs spent $2.3 million worth of taxpayer money trying to defend the indefensible Defense of Marriage act. You did this even though poll after poll indicates that most Americans really don’t feel the need to stick their noses into someone else’s personal life. You and your fellow Repubs are spending an estimated $3.3 million on your most recent Benghazi investigation. Courtesy of the taxpayers of course. Once again, excuse me for my denseness, but I’m still not getting why you were silent when several thousand Americans were killed in the 9/11/2001 attacks–despite the fact that the Bush administration had received warnings that indicated such an attack was coming. And I’m also a bit befuddled about your silence when Bush took us into Iraq looking for non-existent WMDs. How many people died because of that little jaunt into fantasyland? If silence is golden, you and your fellow Repubs have a whole Ft. Knox worth of silence on that one.

So. I’m opting out of this lawsuit. When you get a ballpark figure on how much this latest exercise in ignorance will cost, please divide that amount by the number of taxpayers in the country and send me the refund I have coming. Also, I would like this in cash. No offense, but I don’t want to be left holding a worthless check when you’ve finally managed to bleed my country dry with all your “fiscal conservatism”.

I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next on your agenda. If I recall, Michele Obama was wearing a blue dress in that beautiful photo making the rounds a while back. Maybe you could sue her for discriminating against Repubs by not wearing a RED dress. Just a suggestion. I’m sure that, even as I write, the Republican Nitwit Committee is brainstorming more ways to spend lots of money on all these vendettas you’ve tried to pass off as being in the interest of the American people.

So. Please remove my name as a plaintiff in your lawsuit. I am looking forward to receiving my cash refund, which I will immediately take to the supermarket to have it examined with their nifty money scanner to be sure it isn’t as bogus as you are.

Sincerely,

<name>

The Watering Hole; Friday July 11 2014; Headlines

Ran across a pair of headlines yesterday that caught my eye

UN Protection Officer: ‘This Is Not A Migration Story. This Is A Humanitarian Crisis.’

Monsanto’s Herbicide Linked to Fatal Kidney Disease Epidemic: Could It Topple the Company?

My first thoughts were simple. I do sincerely hope that the UN takes appropriate ACTION on behalf of the refugee children, and that the imbecilic maladroit hatemongers in this country find themselves globally censured (at least!) for their despicable actions and non-actions — punishments including, of course, the imprisonment of our disgusting Congressional putrefaction aka its Wingnut contingent, followed immediately by YES! FAIL, MONSANTO! COLLAPSE IN AN INGLORIOUS HEAP OF YOUR OWN PUTRIDITY, AND STAY THERE!

Ok, I feel a little better now. I only wish I could find the proper words . . . epithetical verbiages that might come closer to adequately defining the sleazoid undercurrents in this country that are well along in the process of destroying . . . of destroying everything? Everyone? — simply to sate their own greediness, their own irrational hatreds and fears.

Seeking those “proper (epithetical) words.” Recommendations appreciated.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 7th, 2014: Crazy Talk

Thanks to commenter BruinKid at Daily Kos for these two libertarian wingnuts’ words:

First, a quote from Libertarian Kevin Gutzman, who is currently a “neighbor” of ours living in Danbury, Connecticut (In the olden days when Wayne and I were growing up in Brewster, New York, Danbury was considered a ‘local’ call, and we didn’t have to dial the 203- area code.) It’s kind of scary that he is a professor of history at Western Connecticut State College, or as we have always called it, “WestConn.” (My sister attended for 3-1/2 years.)

“As Americans celebrate the Fourth today, remember this: the statists are the intellectual descendants of those who did not celebrate the Fourth in the 1790s, celebrating Washington’s birthday instead:

“In the Founders’ day, the 4th of July was a partisan holiday. It was celebrated in the 1790s and 1800s by Jeffersonian Republicans desirous of showing their devotion to Jeffersonian, rather than Hamiltonian, political philosophy. If you were a Federalist in the 1790s, you likely would celebrate Washington’s Birthday instead of the 4th of July. If you believed in the inherent power of the Executive in formulating foreign policy, in the power of Congress to charter a bank despite the absence of express constitutional authorization to do so, and in the power of the federal government to punish people who criticized the president or Congress, you would not celebrate the 4th. The 4th was the holiday of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, those great states’-rights blasts at federal lawlessness. It was the anti-Hamilton, anti-Washington, anti-nationalist holiday.”

Next, from Jeffrey A. Tucker, who, according to Wikipedia, describes himself as “a dedicated anarchist” (he may also have been involved in the racist newsletters that got Ron Paul in some trouble):

“Now that 4th of July celebrations are over, let’s take the Declaration of Independence seriously and abolish the United States. It’s a cobbled together empire based on nothing but 19th century political ambitions. The results have been a menace to the world and certainly a menace to its own people. If the U.S. devolved to hundreds or thousands of small countries, or even became the great 21st century experiment in P2P legal institutions with no overarching geographically contiguous legal structure, that would even be better. The nation state is an anachronism, and the largest surviving case in point really should set the example, in the spirit of the principles that gave it birth, and be the first to go.”

Last, according to Salon’s July 1st article by Elias Isquitch, Governor Paul LePage of Maine has apparently been “pallin’ around with terrorists.” Author Mike Tipping, who covers local politics in Maine, has a book out about Governor LePage’s several meetings with a group called “Sovereign Citizens”, who are purportedly allied with the “Constitutional Coalition”, who are on the FBI terrorist watch list. LePage’s staff have verified that the meetings did occur. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:

“Among the things reportedly discussed at these meetings was whether or not to seek violent retribution against key political opponents. A Coalition member named Jack McCarthy described the meeting on a radio program hosted by a small group of sovereign citizens calling themselves the Aroostook Watchmen:

“We also discussed this there, that as far as I know, the penalty for high treason has not changed in 100 years. And, I did not say it, but the governor said it. I never – I never opened my mouth and said the word. The governor looked at us and looked at his buddy and said they are talking about hanging them.”

LePage has vehemently denied that he ever discussed executing anyone, let alone his Democratic opponents, with the group, and a spokesperson characterized the meetings as a benign effort by the governor to listen to people across the political spectrum…

The topics of these meetings evidently revolved around classic antigovernment “Patriot” movement conspiracy theories, including the belief that American dollars are phony “fiat” money and that the Federal Reserve is a hoax. One of the meetings was dominated by discussion, led by noted conspiracy theorist Michael Coffman, revolving around the notion that the United Nations is out to seize Americans’ private property rights and impose a New World Order environmentalist regime.”

From the “Constitutional Coalition” website:

“Our Constitution established specific powers of the federal government, powers that are limited and enumerated. The founders believed that the government exists to perform only those services that the people cannot provide for themselves, such as the national defense. Local and state government powers were also to be limited and enumerated with the people self governing in all other areas.

The founders held that only a moral people – a nation of godly people with common spiritual and social values – were capable of self government.”

Here, to take the bad taste out of your mouths, just watch any one of these “comedy vs anti-science videos” that “show how humor can make a difference.” (Which I found as part of “more related stories” after the Paul LePage story, right next to one described as “Comedy can’t change the world: why Russell Brand is dead wrong about politics and humor…” – heh) Or, you can celebrate the fact that Pink Floyd is coming out with a new ‘album’ in the fall. Yay!

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole; Thursday July 3 2014; Travesty. Outrage.

Sometimes words don’t come easily, esp. when anger and outrage work to change the dynamics of conscious thought and expression. Bear with me.

A few days back I ran across an article on Huff Post entitled ASU Professor Slammed To The Ground By Police, Gets Arrested For Assaulting An Officer (which linked to a local metro-Phoenix TV report of the incident). The story caught my eye because of the reference to ASU: Arizona State University (Tempe AZ), a place I happen to be quite familiar with. But I wasn’t prepared for the OUTRAGE I felt as I watched the embedded video, as I read the transcript of an encounter between an ASU Professor of English (who happens to be a black woman) and an ASU PD patrolman (a youngish white cop with an obvious attitude). The Professor was ‘jaywalking’ across College Avenue, a campus street, to avoid, she said, the sidewalk which was “all obstructed.” The cop drove up to her, stopped, then said, “Let me see your ID or you will be arrested for failing to provide ID.” And everything rapidly went downhill from there — fast, and with a brutality that resulted in a passerby calling 911 to report that an officer was getting “way too aggressive” with a woman on the street.

Following a verbal ‘scuffle’, the cop grabbed her and body-slammed her onto the street. At some point the officer claimed she kicked him in the shin, so she was therefore “charged with aggravated assault on a police officer in addition to criminal damage and obstructing a thoroughfare.” According to the local link,

Ore’s attorney, Alane Roby, says Ore is claiming self-defense.

“She was exposed, told officer she was exposed,” Roby said of her client while she was on the ground. “Her dress was up; the officer was reaching toward her anatomy. She felt uncomfortable with hands going there.”

Most of the event was captured on audio/video by the police car’s dash cam. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an encounter between police and pedestrian that is so intensely vicious, such a TRAVESTY, as this one. The hate in the cop’s voice and his demeanor suggests racism as his primary (if not sole) motivating factor. One could easily wonder if the film wasn’t instead shot in Alabama fifty or more years ago.

Fifty years ago — in December 1964 — I completed work on my BS degree at Arizona State University. Those were the days of intense racial hatred in the deep south, but not in Arizona, and esp. not on the ASU campus. I guess times have changed.

And yes, I am outraged.

OPEN THREAD

 

 

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 30th, 2014: Jesus must be screaming

Thank you, frugalchariot, for the link that you posted on Saturday’s thread, leading me to a treasure trove of jaw-dropping info about Colorado’s latest entry in ‘Teh Crazy Game': Gordon J. Klingenschmitt

Teh Crazy is strong in Gordon J. Klingenschmitt

Teh Crazy is strong in Gordon J. Klingenschmitt

Klingenschmitt is the surprise Republican primary winner for state representative in Colorado’s 15th District. The story in frugal’s link to Crooks and Liars includes an excerpt from RightWingWatch on Klingenschmitt that is loaded with links and will curl your hair. As karoli at C&L says in the article:

“This is why there should be a Great Wall between church and state that is impenetrable. This guy is a nut. He makes Rafael Cruz look sane. And he’s now a Republican candidate for state office in Colorado.”

According to the Denver Post, Colorado Republicans don’t want to claim Klingenschmitt as one of their own:

“Klingenschmitt’s rhetoric and beliefs have raised alarm with members of the Republican Party, who worry that his views might cause problems for conservatives.”

“Gordon does not speak on behalf of the Republican Party. To suggest otherwise is inaccurate and dishonest,” said Ryan Call, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.”

Klingenschmitt, a former Navy Chaplain who was court-martialed in 2006 – not for “praying in Jesus’ name” as he tells it – for disobeying a lawful order. It is against military rules to wear one’s uniform at a political event, but Klingenschmitt wore his Navy Chaplain uniform to a protest in March of 2006 – next to former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore – outside the White House. He soon launched a new career with a radio show called “The Pray in Jesus Name Project.” Again from the Denver Post:

“[Klingenschmitt's] outspoken religious beliefs have crossed into the realm of popular politics, including homosexuality and Obama.

“Father in heaven, we pray against the domestic enemies of the Constitution — against this demon of tyranny who is using the White House,” Klingenschmitt said of the president in an episode of his show…”

According to The Public Record, Klingenschmitt has been playing the martyr ever since his court-martial, “boasting to his right-wing extremist followers that he demanded his own court martial because his superior officers prohibited him from praying in the name of Jesus.”

“Further undercutting Klingenschmitt’s claim that he sacrificed his naval career in the name of Jesus is an e-mail Vice Adm. Harvey sent to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Mullen urging him to approve Klingenschmitt’s “involuntary release” from the Navy due to Klingenschmitt’s “lack of career potential.”

Klingenschmitt’s former supervisor in the Navy had lots to say about him as well. Still from The Public Record article (which you HAVE to read, it’s an eye-opener):

“As reported by AU, Norm Holcomb, a retired Navy chaplain who was Klingenschmitt’s boss, sent an e-mail in March 2007 to Kentucky state officials after he discovered the House of Representatives passed a resolution lauding the disgraced Navy chaplain for “service to God, country and the Commonwealth of Kentucky” and invited him to lead a prayer session.”

[excerpt from Holcomb's email]

“We have been relatively quiet regarding our ex-chaplain’s untruthfulness and lack of honor because we are embarrassed that one of our own could display such behavior in the name of our Lord. We wanted to spare all concerned the embarrassment associated with his dishonesty. However, it now seems that it would be wrong for those of us who know the truth to remain silent. I served with him and supervised him (as best as it was possible to supervise a person who refused to submit to lawful authority) and I know about his daily dishonesty and ‘spin’ of the truth.”

Okay, so the Navy felt that Klingenschmitt lacked “career potential”, his own former supervisor states that Klingenschmitt was “untruthful” and now he’s running for public office? Coloradans, beware!

Next…

Scalia sez 'Go fuck yourselves'

Scalia, as always, sez ‘Screw you, I’m here ’til I die.’

Last week, the Supremes voted unanimously to strike down Massachusetts’ “Buffer Zone” law, which restricts anti-abortion protesters from coming within 35 feet of a women’s health clinic. According to a ThinkProgress thread from June 27th:

“The buffer zone law was struck down in a narrow ruling that suggested there are different ways to curb anti-choice harassment without restricting speech on public sidewalks…it’s still illegal to obstruct women’s access to a health clinic, thanks to a federal law that was passed in response to clinic blockades in the 1980s and early 1990s.”

Naturally, Antonin Scalia took issue with some points in Chief Roberts’ opinion, and had to get his own two cents in, according to an article from aol.com:

“In a separate opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia criticized Roberts’ opinion as carrying forward “this court’s practice of giving abortion-rights advocates a pass when it comes to suppressing the free-speech rights of their opponents.”

Scalia said state and local governments around the country would continue to be able to “restrict antiabortion speech without fear of rigorous constitutional review.”

The buffer-zone case began when Boston-area grandmother Eleanor McCullen and other abortion opponents sued over the limits on their activities at Planned Parenthood health centers in Boston, Springfield and Worcester. At the latter two sites, the protesters say they have little chance of reaching patients arriving by car because they must stay 35 feet not from the clinic entrances but from the driveway to those buildings’ parking lots. Patients enter the building through the parking lots, which are private property.”

[emphasis mine]

Eleanor McCullen, Nosy Parker

Eleanor McCullen, Nosy Parker

So, just because Ms. McCullen wanted to get close enough to her intended harassment victims so that they could hear her better, she sued? Yes, she and her ilk have the 1st Amendment right to free speech, but that shouldn’t mean that a total stranger should be forced to listen to her. And if she couldn’t shout loud enough from across the street, tough darts!

What makes the Supreme’s decision so much harder to swallow is the hypocrisy: the entire Supreme Court plaza is a legislated buffer zone. As Susan Milligan says in this piece from U.S. News and World Report:

“But at what point does the free speech become a barrier to a woman seeking to exercise another right, one upheld by the courts, to have an abortion? The idea that the individuals preaching against abortion on the street are merely “counseling” women is the utmost insult…[t]he idea that a complete stranger presumes to know better – and assumes that the woman in question is some kind of mindless fool who couldn’t possibly know what she is doing – is beyond arrogant.”

Every time a Christian lies in Jesus’ name, Jesus screams.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 23rd, 2014: NY State’s Medical Marihuana Bill

Yes, in the original legislation, S4406-D, marijuana is spelt “marihuana,” so I’ll go with that.

It appears that what Governor Cuomo will agree to sign is not the same as the original bill. S4406-D includes language regarding “smokable marihuana”, such as:

“1 (B) MEDICAL MARIHUANA MAY NOT BE SMOKED IN ANY PLACE WHERE TOBACCO MAY
2 NOT BE SMOKED UNDER ARTICLE THIRTEEN-E OF THIS CHAPTER, REGARDLESS OF
3 THE FORM OF MEDICAL MARIHUANA STATED IN THE PATIENT’S CERTIFICATION;”

The legislation listed a wide variety of illnesses** for which a patient could be treated with medical marihuana. The patient could receive an amount up to (and possibly more than, if prescribed by the patient’s medical practicioner) two (2) ounces every thirty days. The final bill (which I can’t find posted yet, but I’ll update this when I do) may limit the qualifying illnesses

From the Long Beach, NY, Patch:

The bill does not allow for smokable marijuana, “which is important,” according to Cuomo. Sponsors of the bill favored smokeable varieties but Cuomo thought it would contribute to development of a gateway drug, according to the Wall Street Journal report.

Excerpt from the WSJ:

It would permit only doctors to prescribe marijuana, in forms including oil-based and vapor, to individuals with any of about a half-dozen conditions**, including cancer, AIDS, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

But it wouldn’t legalize smokable forms of the drug, making the effort much narrower in scope than many other medical-marijuana laws around the country. And it would allow the governor, upon recommendation by the state police superintendent or health commissioner, to suspend the program at any time.

The plan would make New York the 23rd state to legalize at least some forms of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and the second—in addition to Minnesota—to do so while also banning smokable forms.

Mr. Cuomo had said he wanted to curb marijuana’s potential to become a “gateway” drug, a worry shared by some Republicans—including the GOP leader in the Senate, Dean Skelos—whose votes were critical to the legislation’s success.

Stop right there, Governor Cuomo. Obviously you haven’t studied the issue enough if you believe it is a “gateway drug.” Particularly when you consider what the average age and condition of most of the “certified patients” will likely be, I doubt if any of them will be looking for a higher high. I would have to think that many of them have been treated with a variety of painkillers over the course of their illness, very strong and often addictive painkillers. So why would “smokable” marihuana be more “gateway”-ish than edible marihuana?

Let’s get back to the permitted illnesses, aka “serious conditions”, now down to “about a half-dozen.” **Here’s the list from the original legislation:

12 7. “SERIOUS CONDITION” MEANS A SEVERE DEBILITATING OR LIFE-THREATENING CONDITION, INCLUDING:
CANCER, POSITIVE STATUS FOR HUMAN IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS OR ACQUIRED IMMUNE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME,
AMYOTROPHIC LATERAL SCLEROSIS, ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE, MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY, TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY,
DYSTONIA, PARKINSON’S DISEASE, MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, DAMAGE TO THE NERVOUS TISSUE OF THE SPINAL
CORD WITH OBJECTIVE NEUROLOGICAL INDICATION OF INTRACTABLE SPASTICITY, EPILEPSY, WASTING SYNDROME,
CROHN’S DISEASE, POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER, NEUROPATHY, RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS, AND HUNTINGTON’S
DISEASE, OR A CONDITION ASSOCIATED WITH OR A COMPLICATION OF SUCH A CONDITION OR ITS TREATMENT,
OR ANY OTHER CONDITION THAT IS ADDED BY THE COMMISSIONER.

So now, most of those conditions cannot legally be treated with medical marijuana? That’s a shame for all of those patients who may have had their hopes up of being covered under this bill.

I’ll post the wording of the new bill as soon as I get it. In the meantime, here’s a couple of websites that I ran across that you may find interesting.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 16th, 2014: Local Fearmongering

A few days ago, I received the below email from our local State Senator Greg Ball:

Subject: Assault On Our 2nd Amendment Rights

Friend:

After recent anti Second Amendment efforts in the Assembly, the Senate Democrats are now pushing efforts to move legislation sponsored by Senator Peralta (S68A) that would mandate microstamping in New York State. Microstamping involves the expensive and invasive use of laser technology to engrave a microscopic marking onto the tip of the firing pin and onto the breech face of a firearm, so that spent cartridges give information about the firearm.

This is an extreme attempt to turn law abiding citizens into criminals, rather than tackling the real criminals. We must unite in both the Senate and throughout the state, to kill this extreme and costly effort, as we have done in the past.

There is not a shred of credible evidence that proves the technology actually works. This is a back door gun grab by liberal legislators engaged in social engineering, and we will stand our ground to defeat this recent effort.

I will keep fighting up in Albany to stop legislation that would infringe on our Second Amendment rights, but please stay vigilant and talk with your friends in other parts of the state to contact their elected officials.

Yours truly,

Senator Ball’s giant signature follows, but I won’t include it here, honestly, it’s huge.

Anyhoo, this is the gist of my reply to Senator Ball:

“This is an extreme attempt to turn law abiding citizens into criminals” In what way, Senator Ball? If a gun that is used in a crime shows the ID, wouldn’t it assist law enforcement in their efforts to apprehend a criminal? Most of the penalties outlined in the proposed legislation apply to gun manufacturers and gun dealers. If the ‘law-abiding-citizen’ gun owner does not deface his gun, microstamped or otherwise, then he will not be a criminal under this legislation. See Section 6. (A):

“6. (A) Any person who wilfully defaces any machine-gun, large capacity ammunition feeding device or firearm, INCLUDING DEFACING A MICROSTAMPING COMPONENT OR MECHANISM OF A SEMIAUTOMATIC PISTOL, is guilty of a class D felony.”

“…rather than tackling the real criminals.” Can you define who the real criminals are? Do you or your Republican colleagues have any proposals describing how you would “tackle” these “real criminals”?

“We must unite in both the Senate and throughout the state, to kill this extreme and costly effort, as we have done in the past.” The proposed legislation requires that the process cost no more than $12. (See S.7 below)

“There is not a shred of credible evidence that proves the technology actually works.” Um, not according to the text of the legislation’s Section S.6, so you might want to look into this further:

S.6 “…firearm microstamping is a revolutionary forensic technology that produces an identifiable alpha-numeric and geometric code onto the rear of the
cartridge casing each time a semiautomatic pistol is fired; that the alpha-numeric and geometric code on an expended cartridge casing will provide
an initial lead for law enforcement by enabling law enforcement to match the cartridge casing found at a crime to the original owner of the firearm;
that information from completed crime gun tracing is an important element utilized by COMPSTAT and other crime analysis systems to target illegal
firearms trafficking; that microstamping technology continues to produce identifiable markings onto expended cartridge casings even
after thousands of rounds of testing; that this additional tool will help law enforcement investigate illegal gun trafficking, close firearm-related
criminal cases and protect the public; and that legislative action is necessary to require all new semiautomatic pistols sold after January 1, 2016 to be
microstamp-ready.”

“This is a back door gun grab by liberal legislators engaged in social engineering” Now this is just pure fear-mongering strawman tactics, Senator, intended to rile up an already-riled-up base. Contrary to every NRA/Second Amendment worshippers’ rumor-mongering (which started BEFORE President Obama was even elected), that the big bad government was going to be “coming for your guns!”, the proposed S68A legislation mentions nothing about confiscation of guns whatsoever. In fact, the law itself, if passed, would not go into effect until AT LEAST January 1, 2016 OR whenever law-enforcement officials have received notification from microstamp job shops that certain production standards can be readily met; and, in fact, the law would only apply to GUNS MANUFACTURED AFTER JANUARY 1, 2016.

S.7 “This act shall take effect January 1, 2016, or at such time that the superintendent of the state police has received written notice from one or more microstamp job shops that such shop or shops are willing and prepared to produce microstamp structures on two internal surfaces of a semiautomatic pistol as defined in subdivision 26 of section 265.00 of the penal law for a price of twelve dollars or less at a production level of one thousand semiautomatic pistols per batch, whichever occurs later…”

So your guns-above-all-else-type of constituents can stock up to their heart’s content with non-microstamped weaponry.

“…and we will stand our ground to defeat this recent effort.”

This, Senator, offends me even more than your previous incendiary words.

While (S68A) would not have prevented, nor might not prevent, a tragedy such as the Sandy Hook shootings, any and every effort to do so warrants at least discussion. Yet you insist on using the volatile phrase “stand your ground”, which is now synonymous with “you can shoot anyone you want if they look at you the wrong way, or play their music too loud or, well, whatever, AND you can get away with murder! [Women need not apply.]” Your total lack of human tact or empathy is astounding. The people in Newtown/Sandy Hook are our neighbors. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that a teacher in the Pawling School District lost a child at Sandy Hook? You talk about this legislation’s (imagined) effect on law-abiding citizens, what about the effect of ignoring such a horrific slaughter of truly innocent children? Would you publicly label those particular parents of Newtown victims who are now advocating stricter gun laws “gun-grabbers”?

“I will keep fighting up in Albany to stop legislation that would infringe on our Second Amendment rights, but please stay vigilant and talk with your friends in other parts of the state to contact their elected officials. Not for much longer, Senator. [State Senator Ball has announced that he would not be running for public office once his term is up.]

Senator, IF this legislation ever passes, I hope that you will not be out there telling people these irresponsible, incendiary lies. In the meantime, why doesn’t the NY State Senate work toward gun-control legislation that could prevent another Sandy Hook, another Columbine, another Aurora, etc., etc. There have been over 70 shootings since Sandy Hook in public places such as schools, malls, plus killings like the recent one in Florida where a father killed three children and his wife before turning the gun on himself.

But the scariest shooting of all occurred last week when two of Cliven Bundy followers killed, in cold blood, two Las Vegas policemen on their lunch break at a local pizzeria; then the couple adorned each corpse with a Gadsden (“Don’t Tread on Me”) Flag. Shortly thereafter, after killing another innocent civilian, they killed themselves, too cowardly to face responsibility for their despicable act. A libertarian pundit, Adam Kokesh, “argued that because America’s political institutions — including the police — have become “homicidal … against freedom,” it was wrong to see the Millers unprovoked killing spree as acts of murder rather than self-defense. Kokesh argued next that the Millers had, if anything, saved lives by murdering two police. “Think of how many lives might have been saved by this incident,” he urged his audience. “How many people would these cops have killed had they not been killed?” “We can only hope that some of the officers in America are listening — if you care about your own safety”

Seriously, Senator Ball, please remember that words have consequences. The kind of rhetoric you use in your email could be the spark that lights some mentally unstable New Yorker’s fuse. Is that really what you want?”

Sincerely,
blahblahblah

 

Open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 9th, 2014: Thank you, Carl Sagan

Illustration by Kate Gabrielle

Illustration by Kate Gabrielle


earth_moon

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
carl sagan_cosmos25_02

And thank you, Neil deGrasse Tyson, for bringing Carl Sagan’s Cosmos back to life.

from Cosmos Season 1 Finale

from Cosmos Season 1 Finale

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 2nd, 2014: “Travel Is So Broadening”

Let’s start off the week with a quick trip around the United States. Courtesy of The Weather Channel, here’s a state-by-state photo gallery of some of our country’s natural wonders. In alphabetical order, they range from:

Noccalula Falls in Alabama…
alabama noccalula falls
…to the Cahokia Mounds in Illinois…
cahokia-flood-illinois_72986_600x450
…to Acadia National Park in Maine…
Otter-Cliff-Acadia National-Park-Maine
…to Niagara Falls in New York…
AA019259
…to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota…
ND_THRO_2
…to Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming.
Old Faithful Geyser at Sunset, Yellowstone Natio

Whew! I think I need a vacation after that “quick trip”!

Open thread–what’s on your mind today?

Memorial Day, May 26th, 2014

World War I Memorial, Washington, DC

na-WWI-Memorial

World War II Memorials, Washington, DC
ww2memorialDC
ww2 marines-memorialpacific atlantic ww2

Korean War Memorials, Washington, DC
washington-dc-korean-war-veterans-memorialKorean-WarKorean War Memorial in the Snow 04

Vietnam War Memorials, Washington, DC
vietnam-memorial-three-soldiersvietnam-war-nurses-memorialvietnam-veterans-memorial-washington-dc-ilker-goksen

Tomb of the Unknown
an american soldier

Iraq War Memorial, Washington, DC

?

Afghanistan War Memorial, Washington, DC

?

Open thread–have at it!

The Watering Hole; Friday May 23 2014; Wingnuttistan Weekly

It’s getting more and more difficult with every passing hour of any given day to highlight the weekly biggies emanating from that vast wingnut wasteland called the GOP, the Republican Party, the Tea Party, (or any other appropriate designating banner for abject stupidity) in any format containing less than a thousand pages. Still, some of the rot does indeed stand out, so that’s a place to at least begin. Ergo: below are my contributions for the day, each via a quick snippet from the linked source. The snippet pretty much tells the tale, but of course anyone who dares is surely welcome to explore the entire.

I’d have added a few hundred more had I not become dizzied by the sillinesses implicit in each of these four little gems; stated another way, I do indeed and thereby find myself eternally thankful for silliness-imposed dizziness. So onward! Or, as someone once said, “here goes nothing.”

The Latest Right-Wing Solution For Sea Level Rise: Move Southern Florida.

Marlo Lewis, senior fellow of the fossil fuel-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute, argued that moving regions that will be affected by sea level rise is a better idea than taking efforts to mitigate climate change.

During the May 20 episode of NPR’s On Point, Lewis was hosted alongside two climate experts to discuss the recent findings that the collapse of a West Antarctic ice sheet “appears unstoppable,” and will cause global sea levels to rise of ten feet or higher in the next 200 to 1,000 years. Lewis dismissed taking action to reduce our carbon emissions, saying we could simply adapt to the effects of climate change.

Host Tom Ashbrook challenged him, saying, “So you’re saying move New York, move Miami, move Southern Florida, move Boston?” Lewis responded, “Yeah.” His reasoning: “The built environment from the studies I’ve seen, most building stock turns over in about 50 years. And so the markets adapt to this sort of phenomenon anyway.” 

In Alaska Senate Race, A Fierce Competition To Prove Who Knows Less About Climate Science.

The tea party-affiliated candidate for Alaska’s open U.S. Senate seat [Joe Miller] is challenging his Republican primary opponents to “come clean” about their beliefs on man-made climate change, saying he’s the only true skeptic of the bunch. . . .

According to Miller, there are good reasons to doubt that humans are causing climate change. Those reasons, he said, include a Fox News story last year on data that showed a 60 percent increase in Arctic sea ice between 2012-2013; a Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks study finding that the average temperature in Alaska declined by 2.34 degrees between 2000-2010; and a CNS news article about a Canadian evolutionary biologist who wrote a blog post claiming Arctic polar bears could be threatened by too much — not too little — sea ice.

Of course, as Skeptical Science notes, a one-year growth in sea ice is largely irrelevant to a long-term melting trend; The Geophysical Institute’s study specifically notes that the findings represented a “temporary variation” and that “in general, the temperature has increased in Alaska since instrumental records are available,”; And despite the points made by Dr. Crockford in her polar bear blog post, the majority of peer-reviewed scientific articles on the subject provide that early melting of summer sea ice plays a large factor in the bears’ endangerment.

Charles Krauthammer on Privatizing VA health care . . .

Appearing on Fox News on Monday, Krauthammer declared, “”Well, if you would suggest that we go to a voucher system, where everybody will get a voucher for treatment in any hospital he or she chooses, and I were a vet, I would choose that,” adding, “I would rather go to Georgetown University Hospital than to a VA.”

Republican lieutenant governor candidate in Alaska: ‘I’d probably invade ANWR’

[Alaska Lieutenant Governor candidate and current Anchorage Mayor Dan] Sullivan said he’d be an enthusiastic ambassador for the state. Part of that would be fighting for Alaska’s state rights. He said that includes getting the 20 million acres that’s still owed to the state from the federal government, and controlling the state’s resources.

“One of the things I’ve suggested, too, is that if I was governor today, I’d probably invade ANWR,” he said. “What are they going to do, shoot you? Well, they might. But martyrdom goes a long way sometimes.”

There. That’s it. Thank all gods. I think I need a drink.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 19th, 2014: Deniers vs Debunkers

In a recent thread on ThinkProgress, State Representative Mark McCollough of Oklahoma, one of eleven members of the Oklahoma House Administrative Rules and Government Oversight Committee, used the typical climate-change denialist’s talking points to support his vote against new standards for Oklahoma’s science education. From TP [bold emphasis mine]:

On Monday, the Oklahoma House Administrative Rules and Government Oversight Committee voted 10-1 to reject the Oklahoma Academic Skills for Science, a set of academic standards that had been developed by a committee of teachers, community members, as well as business and industry representatives over the last year and a half.

“One of the things brought up in the House Committee meeting was concern over teaching climate and weather subjects in early grades.

Oklahoma Rep. Mark McCullough expressed his concern over the sections in the standards that deal with climate science, sections he said make references to “human impacts on the climate” in third, fourth, and fifth grades. He also said he thought references to human activity related to the environment focused on negative aspects of human involvement, such as the over-spraying of pesticides, and said “positive” examples of humans intervening in the environment to produce a change, such as flood control, weren’t as common, a focus that could end up leading to an “agenda-driven curriculum” that teaches students that “people are the problem.”

“There’s been a lot of criticisms, in some sectors, as to maybe some of the hyperbole — what some consider hyperbole relative to climate change. I know it’s a very very difficult, very controversial subject,” he said, going on to ask, “do you believe that those sections specifically relating to weather and climate particularly at the earlier ages…could potentially be utilized to implicate into some pretty young impressionable minds, a fairly-one sided view as to that controversial subject, a subject that’s very much in dispute among even the academics?”

The Oklahoma Science Teachers Association (along with just about anyone with half a brain) disagree. The OSTA’s blog reports that, “[A]ccording to teachers who were present at the hearing”, one of the two “dominant concerns expressed by members” was:

“Weather and Climate being placed in early grade levels – It appeared to observers that committee members believe standards that reference climate at all might be utilized to direct students to being forced to subscribe to climate change theory. ([Blog Archivist]: Isn’t it ironic that a state so dependent on weather and climate might be lead by elected officials who are afraid that science teachers might broach the topic in 3rd or 4th grade?)”

Okay, climate-change deniers, enough is enough. Let’s start the debunking.

May 16th’s Bill Moyers show featured Canadian scientist and environmental activist David Suzuki discussing the topic of “The War on Climate Change Scientists.” It’s a fascinating – and frightening – interview, which can be seen (here. (The transcript of the interview is available via the link just below the video.) The Moyers & Company website then provided Eight Pseudoscientific Climate Claims Debunked by Real Scientists,” by Joshua Holland. Here’s just a couple of excerpts:

Under “No, the Earth Hasn’t Stopped Warming Since 1998 (or 1996 or 1997)”:

“But the idea that the climate stopped warming at some point goes back even further. In the 1990s, two climatologists, Roy Spencer and Richard Lindzen, published a series of papers hypothesizing that global warming had stopped. Spencer and Lindzen are among the few climate contrarians with real scientific credentials, and have been widely cited by climate skeptics; Spencer has testified at a number of Republican congressional hearings on climate science.

Spencer also dismisses the theory of evolution, and has written: “I view my job a little like a legislator, supported by the taxpayer, to protect the interests of the taxpayer and to minimize the role of government.”

“But according to John Abraham, a professor of thermal and fluid sciences at the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering, “It turns out that they made three serious errors in their data…It took years, and it took a lot of time from other scientists to find these errors in their calculations. In fact, they switched a positive sign for a negative sign in one of their equations.”

Under “Yes, There Is a Scientific Consensus”:

“There have been three studies, using different methodologies, that have shown that almost all working climate scientists — 97 percent — accept the consensus view.

“But what if those three percent who reportedly reject the consensus are like Galileo, who challenged the 16th century view that the sun revolved around the Earth? John Abraham and five of his colleagues published a study earlier this year which found that studies authored by climate contrarians “were often found to be unsubstantiated by the data,” resulting in “criticisms, corrections, and in some cases, resignation of editors.” They add: “the same fate has not befallen the prominent consensus studies.”

Under “Yes, It’s Been Warm Before”:

“Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech, says…“Just because something happened before for one reason, doesn’t mean that when it happens again it’s for the same reason.”

““Our planet is running a fever,” says Hayhoe, “and I can think of six or seven reasons why it could be running hot. As a scientist, you don’t just jump to conclusions. You do the tests. You say, ‘OK, could it be a natural cycle this time? Could it be the sun? Could it be volcanoes? Could it be orbital cycles and ice ages?’ We run those tests and we see if it could be any of those things that caused the climate to change naturally in the past. And in this case, we’ve run those tests and the answer to all those questions is, ‘no.’ In fact, if our temperature were controlled by natural causes right now, we’d be getting cooler, not warmer.”

Let me finish with one of the most influential people in environmentalism’s history, the ‘mother’ of environmentalism, Rachel Carson. The Moyers & Company site has an article honoring “The Bravery of Rachel Carson”, which reminded me of Carson’s influence on my mindset. In high school (early ’70s), we were treated – if that is the right word – to a viewing of the documentary “Silent Spring”, an account of Rachel Carson’s research and writing of the book.

“The most alarming of all man’s assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. This pollution is for the most part irrecoverable; the chain of evil it initiates not only in the world that must support life but in living tissues is for the most part irreversible. In this now universal contamination of the environment, chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world — the very nature of its life. — Rachel Carson

I remember the tears in my eyes watching the documentary, tears of sympathy for the land, the animals, the environment being spoiled by pesticides. And here I am, 40+ years later, seeing a similar disaster-in-the-making, with Monsanto running/ruining crops, with GMOs with who-knows-what effects yet on humans, and with climate-change deniers trying to blind people to the fact that our planet is already suffering the consequences of man-made global climate change. And I still weep.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind today?

The Watering Hole; Thursday May 15 2014; Protect Public Lands

One of my longstanding passions remains the protection of ALL public lands, everywhere, from EVERY assault, no matter the source or the “logic” behind it. In that vein, a few days ago I received the following notification from The Wilderness Society, a notification which details yet one more proposal to use public lands in the WRONG way.

What is 6,000 miles long, up to 5 miles wide and could threaten wilderness, wildlife habitat and national parks? A planned network of electric power line routes that would crisscross the west.We need new power lines to get electricity to our homes, but a proposed network, the West-wide Energy Corridors, could threaten American wildlands. Outside Arches National Park a power line corridor is proposed alongside the park and through spectacular scenic vistas in Utah’s red rock desert. Another proposed corridor would require cutting down old growth forests near Mt. Hood in Oregon.

 Fortunately, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is currently listening to the American people on where to put these power lines. Now is your chance to tell the BLM to keep them away from wild places!

 The current network of energy corridors also connects to dirty coal power plants but neglects areas with high renewable energy potential. Rerouting corridors to support wind, solar and geothermal projects will help tackle climate change and advance a clean energy future. The BLM has the opportunity to protect wild places like Arches National Park from large scale transmission lines and support clean, renewable energy. Tell the BLM to propose new routes away from important wild lands!

 Sincerely,

The Wilderness Society

Let’s face it: Public Lands — National Parks, National Monuments, National Forests, National Grasslands, designated Primitive and Wilderness Areas, and BLM acreages represent the very few remaining parcels of relatively untrammeled land in the entire of this nation, the “trammeling” of which will have massive negative consequences.

Nevertheless, today the pressures to allow and enable such trammelings are endless . . . and extremely well-funded.It’s time to say NO! Click on either of the above link(s) and let your voice be heard. There are ALWAYS alternatives to sacrificing the integrity of public lands simply to the interest of corporate convenience, and the time for we the people to say NO! is NOW! And that includes NO to power lines; NO to fracking; NO to logging; NO to mining; NO to ATVs (esp. in Utah’s Recapture Canyon and to all the Idiot/Bundy/”Patriot” intruders); NO to ANY human-financed/oriented destruction of ANY kind. Because, believe it or not, there are some things still remaining on this earth that are of more value than even that of power, of money, of ego.

Meanwhile, below: the peak of the 13,000 ft. (Colorado Rockies Front Range) Greenhorn Mountain is a defined Wilderness area. All who believe it would better serve corporate interests with power lines, or maybe fracking gear, or mining via mountaintop removal, or even an ATV racetrack?? — feel free to vote Republican. On the other hand, to all who are sane, to all who listen to the whispers of intellect and hear the voice of The Wilderness Society . . .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

[Photo taken on May 14, 2014, circa 10AM; most of the snow 'up there' fell on May 12 and 13, courtesy of yet one more of this year's human-caused Global Climate Change aberrational impacts. This episode was, however, at least useful in that it may well have postponed the fire season by a week or two, or three. Any port in a storm.]

OPEN THREAD

 Post Script: Though they remain but one of the most difficult of all aspects to protect from monetary greed, public lands in the US are, of course, one standout issue implicit in the expansive process required to reverse human contributions to biosphere destruction. In that vein there’s no time like the present to ACT, and The Wilderness Society is but one of many great places to begin. Follow their lead. Help save the earth.

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 12th, 2014: BREAKING into WIND power

Last week at the grocery store, I noticed a couple of men standing behind a table near the pharmacy section. They had some large tri-fold posters standing on the table, but, since my first view only encompassed the back of the posters, I didn’t know what they were pushing. I avoided them for a bit, but I had to pick up a prescription so I covertly checked them out from the safety (and better viewing angle) of the pharmacy counter. Once I realized that the posters showed wind turbines, my interest was piqued and, after I finished getting my prescription, I went directly over and said, “Hi, whatcha doing?”

The two men were from Green Mountain Energy, and the tall, bearded man named Gregory explained that they were offering NYSEG (New York State Electric & Gas) customers a choice to opt for electricity generated solely by wind power. New York State has a number of wind farms providing electricity for hundreds of thousands of customers, enough to offer an approximate $.02/killowatt-hour savings over traditional, multi-source electricity ($.089 versus $.11+.) However, even if it was the same price, just the idea that we would not get our electricity from oil, natural gas, coal, and other polluting sources made me feel that it would be worthwhile to switch. While New York State does produce hydroelectricity, the vast majority of our electricity comes from oil and natural gas. Ewww. Well, not anymore for us at least!

From Green Mountain Energy’s website:

In 2013, our customers had the largest annual impact ever, avoiding more than 6.1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2)! Over the past 15+ years, our customers collectively have avoided 30.6 billion pounds of CO2 by choosing cleaner electricity and carbon offset products. To put that into perspective, that’s like:

Taking 2.9 million cars off the road for a year
17.6 million households turning off their lights for a year
Planting 3.6 million trees

At first, of course, I hemmed and hawed about it, thinking that Wayne would be furious with me if I just blindly signed up and we got stuck in something we really didn’t want. Gregory assuaged that fear a bit by telling me that even if I signed up then and there, the contract would not be etched in stone. I was given a booklet about the company for us to review, along with Gregory’s phone number. We arranged to have him talk to Wayne, and, after a phone call the following day, a little research, and a visit back to the store to meet with Gregory, Wayne agreed to it. So we’re finally breaking into renewable energy sources.

Wayne and I have often said that, when we can eventually afford to have our roof fixed, we’ll go solar (our back yard is big enough and open enough to fit a small solar array, too.) But until then, I feel a little bit better about lessening our carbon footprint.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 5th, 2014: Hubble, 24 and Going Strong

Last Thursday marked the 24th year in space for the Hubble telescope. After its inauspicious start, when it became obvious from the blurry images sent back that something was wrong with the telescope’s huge mirror, who’d have thought that we’d eventually be treated to beautiful and breathtaking images of star nurseries, a huge variety of nebulae, and glorious galaxies. The Weather Channel has a photo gallery of the top 100 images from the Hubble Telescope; here’s just a few from this amazing gallery:

Carina Nebula (NASA/ESA Hubble Heritage Team)

Carina Nebula (NASA/ESA Hubble Heritage Team)


Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1672 (NASA/ESA Hubble Heritage Team)

Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1672 (NASA/ESA Hubble Heritage Team)


Antennae Galaxies merging (NASA/ESA Hubble Heritage Team)

Antennae Galaxies merging (NASA/ESA Hubble Heritage Team)


Centaurus A, Taken with Hubble Wide Field Camera 3

Centaurus A, Taken with Hubble Wide Field Camera 3)


Orion Nebula, taken by Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) (NASA/ESA Hubble Heritage Team)

Orion Nebula, taken by Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) (NASA/ESA Hubble Heritage Team)

The mind-boggling size of these formations and their unimaginable distances from our tiny corner of the universe makes me feel about the size of a dust mote, and totally inconsequential.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind today?