The Watering Hole, Monday, January 25th, 2016: All-“Christian” Edition

Today’s offerings are from two sites whose only thing in common seems to be that they both have the word “Christian” in their names.

First, let’s look at a few things from the Christian Post website (the more ‘persecuted-RW-Christian’ site.)

The Christian Post has sent the 2016 Presidential candidates a list of 12 questions which they feel are most important for the candidates to answer. So far, only two Republican candidates, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, have responded.

Here’s Ben Carson’s responses, a few of which I’d like to comment upon:

2. What is marriage, and what should be the government’s interest and role in marriage?
Like many Christians, I believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman in the witness of God. The government’s interest and role in marriage should be to protect and sanctify this institution[emphasis mine] because it is the cornerstone of our society. Raising families with two parents is key to a child’s development, and marriage is a strong institution that solidifies this crucial social structure. Marriage combines the efforts of two people to provide for and raise children, and gives children two parental figures to love and care for them.

Okay – First, define “sanctify”. According to Wikipedia:

“Sanctification is the act or process of acquiring sanctity, of being made or becoming holy.[1] “Sanctity” is an ancient concept widespread among religions. It is a gift given through the power of God to a person or thing which is then considered sacred or set apart in an official capacity within the religion, in general anything from a temple, to vessels, to days of the week, to a human believer who willingly accepts this gift can be sanctified. To sanctify is to literally “set apart for particular use in a special purpose or work and to make holy or sacred.”

So Carson believes that the U.S. Government has role in every citizen’s marriage, and that role is to make it “holy or sacred”? Does that make the U.S. Government a god?   Doesn’t that conflict with the Establishment Clause?  If Ben Carson believes that marriage is such a strong institution, why not rail against divorce? Christians get divorced at the same – or higher – rate as any other group, not to mention that divorce is said to be a big sin in the eyes of Jesus. If Jesus thought divorce was so wrong, but didn’t mention homosexuality, why can’t the “key” two-parents-must-raise-a-child be in a same-sex marriage?

10. What are your priorities related to both protecting the nation’s natural resources and using those resources to provide for the nation’s energy needs?

Energy is the life-blood that keeps our economy growing. It fuels the tractors that plow America’s fields. It powers the trucks, trains and planes that deliver American products. And it drives the American people in their everyday lives. If we want to return America to its former prosperity, we need to ensure that America’s energy grid is not only reliable, but affordable. That means looking into all potential energy sources to find the most efficient, most effective and more reliable energy grid possible.

We can’t afford to mandate unrealistic fuel standards or price-inflating renewable mandates. But as these energy sources compete head to head, technological advancements and innovations will help drop costs and raise efficiencies even further.

[and the money quote]

When it comes to the environment, we should be good stewards of God’s resources, but the best way to do that is through market-based mechanisms and private efforts, not via government edicts that destroy businesses and intrude into citizens’ lives.

Yeah, because I’m sure that “God” was thinking of “market-based mechanisms and private efforts” when he told mankind to be good stewards of Earth. And wasn’t Carson just talking about how “government” should have an “interest” and “a role” in a couple’s marriage, i.e., “intrud[ing] into citizens’ lives”, and very personally, I might add? But the “government” shouldn’t be involved in determining how the entire country uses its natural resources, because that would “intrud[e] into citizens’ lives”?  Carson has very mixed, and incorrect, notions of what government’s priorities should be.

12. What caused the Great Recession, and what should be done to ensure it doesn’t happen again?

A number of factors contributed to the global financial crisis, but what became clear was that when bankers engaged in highly leveraged financial bets, ordinary taxpayers ended up footing the bill for the big banks’ bailouts.

I believe that certain types of regulations are reasonable for regulating financial markets. For instance, Glass-Steagall was a reasonable piece of legislation after the 1929 stock market crash, and perhaps should be re-imposed in a modified form.

This does not mean that the regulations imposed after the financial crisis were appropriate. In fact, Dodd-Frank is a monstrosity that does not address the root cause of the crisis, imposes heavy burdens on community banks, severely limits the freedom of financial institution to engage in ordinary business and saps economic growth with restrictive government controls.

I believe that when such government regulations choke economic growth, it is the poor and the middle class that are hurt the most.

Carson (or whoever wrote his ‘responses’ for him) must have just skimmed the “U.S. Economic History, Late 20th – Early 21st Century” Cliff Notes(TM), latching on to just enough topical buzzwords and meaningless phrases to put together a few sentences. Too many points there to elaborate on, I’ll let you all pick them apart if you wish.

And here’s Carly Fiorina’s responses. I’m just going to comment on one of them.

10. What are your priorities related to both protecting the nation’s natural resources and using those resources to provide for the nation’s energy needs?

Fiorina: As president, I will ensure that the United States is the global energy powerhouse of the 21st century.

That means reinstating the Keystone XL Pipeline that President Obama rejected. It also means rolling back the regulations from this administration that limit our ability to find resources by imposing regulations on hydraulic fracturing and our ability to be energy independent by regulating drilling on federal lands. As president, I will make America an energy leader through technology and innovation.

No, no, no! Fiorina is just so wrong, it’s hard to believe that she could possibly be serious. Keystone XL, fracking, and drilling, and on OUR federal lands, no less? How does one become an “energy leader through technology and innovation” while relying solely on finite, filthy fossil fuels? Aaarrgghhh!

Let’s turn to the Christian Science Monitor for a few things that are more reality-based and inspiring.

First, I’m sure that you’re all aware by now that Earth may have a new neighbor, as astronomers announced the possibility of a hidden ninth planet.

The evidence for the existence of this “Planet Nine” is indirect at the moment; computer models suggest a big, undiscovered world has shaped the strange orbits of multiple objects in the Kuiper Belt, the ring of icy bodies beyond Neptune.

Next, we can once again thank the Hubble telescope and NASA for showing us the amazing beauty of space, in this article about the Trumpler 14 star cluster. Just don’t let Donald Trump know about Trumpler 14, he’ll probably think that (a) the star cluster is named for him, and (b) therefore he owns it.
Trumpler 14Source: Hubblesite.org

And finally, for our Zookeeper, here’s an article discussing why the zebra has stripes. While it appears that the idea that the striping is for camouflage may be incorrect, there is still no consensus on a proven biological reason.
brown striped zebra

This is our daily Open Thread–discuss whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Tuesday December 8, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Maybe it is just me, but these climate summits have been happening for a while yet very little seems to be accomplished. Mr. Peadbody’s coal trains still chugging past former West Virginia mountaintops. Climate summits seem a lot like Earth Day. Feel good for a little while, but there will be no sense of urgency until the officials at the meetings sit around the tables knee deep in water. Climate deniers, while in a vast minority in the scientific community, rule the roost in political circles, where money sets the agenda. A part of me thinks that Republican/Libertarian support of marijuana law changes in the various states is a cultural shift away from ‘religion is the opiate of the people’ to ‘cannabis is the opiate of the people’.

Read on, if you dare.  

 

The Watering Hole, Friday October 18 2013; Four ‘Energetic’ GOP Wrist-Slashers

I couldn’t help but notice a collection of four articles that were recently posted on Think Progress’ Climate page concerning some remarkable advances in “thinking” concerning energy production. First of all, America’s most hated arch-enemy, France, has finally managed an ‘absolute’

. . . ban on fracking [which] was finally completed Friday [October 11], as its constitutional court upheld a 2011 law prohibiting the practice and canceling all exploration permits. The decision posted on the court’s website said the ban “conforms to the constitution” and is not “disproportionate,” effectively protecting it from any future legal challenge.

U.S. driller Schuepbach Energy brought its complaint to the court after two of its exploration permits were revoked due to the ban. Schuepbach attempted to argue that since no study had established fracking risks, there was no cause for the ban, and that since fracking isn’t banned for geothermal energy projects, it was unfair. The court didn’t find that convincing, citing the differences between geothermal and shale gas exploration.

Environment Minister Philippe Martin framed the decision as a victory in the larger effort to limit fossil fuels and carbon emissions. “Beyond the question of fracking, shale gas is a carbon emitter,” he said in a statement. “We must set our priorities on renewable energies.”

Well, it is the French after all. How did Mark Twain put it? Something like, ‘man was originally created on the level of the angels but has been slipping ever since to where now he’s somewhere between the angels and the French.’ Oh well, no more French Fries will surely serve to improve our nation’s health.

Then there were a pair of surprises . . . BIG surprises, given the political bent of the two states. First, New Arizona Solar Plant Uses Salt To Keep Producing Electricity When The Sun Goes Down . . .

The 280 megawatt (MW) Solana solar plant just came online in Arizona, with one unique distinction: for the first time in the U.S., the plant will use a ‘salt battery’ that will allow it to keep generating electricity even when the sun isn’t shining.

The three-square-mile commercial-scale facility near Gila Bend, Arizona will use thermal energy storage, in the form of a molten salt system, to continue producing clean energy without sunlight. “This technology enables Solana to produce electricity at full capacity for up to six hours after sunset, including the early evening hours when customer demand for power typically peaks in Arizona,” according to an Arizona Public Service (APS) press release.

This is a big step forward from the more common solar photovoltaic (PV) technology, which requires direct sunlight to create electricity.

And . . . not only is the Solana plant a technological breakthrough in terms of thermal energy storage, it’s also the largest plant in the world to use to use parabolic trough mirrors to concentrate solar energy. This concentrated solar power (CSP) technology uses the mirrors to focus the sun’s heat on pipes, heating a synthetic oil that flows to boilers, which create the steam that drives two 140 MW turbines to produce electricity, much like a traditional power plant.

And then, miracle of miracles, there’s this from, of all places, Inhofe’s Oklahoma: Oklahoma Utility Buys 600 MW Of Wind Power To ‘Provide Substantial Savings To Our Customers’ . . .

Oklahomans will soon be paying less for their electricity because their utility looked at the market and decided that wind power would be the most cost-effective option.

On Thursday, the 100-year-old Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) — a division of American Electric Power (AEP) — signed an agreement to buy 600 megawatts of power from wind farms being developed in the northwestern part of the state. Currently there is just one large-scale wind farm in the Panhandle and in almost two years, there will be three more.

“The Panhandle of Oklahoma truly is one of the mother lodes of wind in this country,” said Clean Line Energy Partners President Michael Skelly.

The initial plan was just to buy one 200 MW project, but PSO tacked on another 400 MW “after seeing extraordinary pricing opportunities that will lower utility costs by an estimated $53 million in the first year and even more thereafter,” according to Tulsa World.

The Renewable Energy Purchase Agreement means that on January 1, 2016, 600 megawatts of wind energy will be available, enough to power 200,000 average American homes. This is pending the approval of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

So. Progress seems to be on the move. At least one country has said absolutely NO to any and all fracking, and in the US, electric utilities in a pair of deeply red states are seriously advancing the renewable energy programs which, with persistence and a little bit of luck will one day in the not too distant future overwhelm the fossil fuel industries once and for all and for good.

And finally, this pertinent ‘footnote’: Renewable Energy Patents Booming, Led By Solar And Wind.

” . . . while patents in fossil fuel technologies grew modestly, and nuclear technology remained flat, between 2004 and 2009 the number of patents issued annually for solar energy increased by 13 percent per year, while those for wind energy increased 19 percent per year on average.

“The study attributes investment in R&D and market demand for helping spur such growth, which for solar and wind exceeded patent growth rates for semiconductor and digital communications technologies.”

It appears as though THE major capitalist driving force may be coming into play in the energy world: Profit! Imagine the consequences . . . cleaner air, less environment destruction, not to mention a great many less Republicans to stand in the way of thoughtful progress. Of course, someone will have to clean up the mess left behind by all the slashed wrists, but I’m sure that’s a more manageable task than, say, cleaning up the mess left behind by a leaky oil pipeline.

OPEN THREAD

CLOSED FOR BUSINESS

Christmas came early for hundreds of thousands of federal workers as the Tea Party Caucus successfully shut down the Federal Government. This, to be sure, is a White Christmas. Except for Father Christmas, John Boehner. He’s orange.

The Speaker of the House used the power of his position to prevent a clean funding bill from coming up for a vote. He is dedicated to spending any amount, incurring any hardship, just to see that millions of Americans don’t have health insurance. Except that he’s spending taxpayers’ money, and he’s not having to get by without a paycheck. The same goes for the Tea Party Caucus. They know, thanks to gerrymandering, they’ll get re-elected.

The Republican Party has long run on the mantra of a smaller federal government and now, they’ve succeeded in their goal. Only functions deemed “essential” are operating. Everything else is shut down, or shutting down. Everything else, we can get by without, on a permanent basis. National Parks? nope. Government regulators? Who needs them. Research grants? Let the free market take care of it.

If the Tea Party wants to, they can make sure that a total economic collapse, worse than the Great Depression, starts on Obama’s watch. All they have to do is…nothing. And they’ll still get their full paychecks.

Merry Christmas.

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 2nd, 2013: Whose American Dream?

On a weekend which is supposed to celebrate the lowly worker and his/her hard-fought-for rights, and less than a week after Republicans refused to participate in the celebration marking the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, hard-core conservatives gathered in Florida to “Defend” a much different “Dream.”

Most Americans, like King, might describe the American Dream as one of fairness, an America where hard work, thriftiness, integrity, compassion, and sharing were among the most admirable characteristics. Most Americans dream of a life of somewhat limited goals, i.e., a nice house in a decent neighborhood, enough earnings to perhaps travel, to afford a few little luxuries, indulge in a hobby – generally, to be content and free from everyday financial worry.

Others trivialize both this type of American Dream and the dreamers who dream it, and hold in contempt those who cannot, through no fault of their own, achieve such a minor goal. To them, the American Dream is one of unfettered greed, and those who do not dream ‘big’ are not worthy of their consideration, let alone assistance. And these dreamers of greed went to Florida to “Defend The American Dream.”

Yes, the “Defending The American Dream Summit” was held in Orlando this past weekend, sponsored by your friendly neighborhood free-market-unregulated-capitalism group “Americans For Prosperity”, along with such proud bastions of integrity as The Blaze, Townhall.com/Townhall Magazine, and Altria. Who, you might ask (as I did) is Altria? From their website:

“For more than 180 years, Altria’s companies have built some of the best-known brands in the world – Marlboro, Copenhagen, Skoal and Black & Mild – that today lead their respective categories.”

Yeah, big tobacco.

The only sponsor that may be non-partisan/bipartisan, (based on its client list), is Tray, Inc., a marketing firm.

From “About The Summit”:

“In this banner event, free-market champions from Main Street to Capitol Hill come together for an unforgettable weekend with a shared desire to advance the time-honored ideals of economic freedom.

All around us a battle of ideas rages, and the very fabric of American prosperity is under attack. Now more than ever, we must be alert, involved, and engaged in the fight for freedom and liberty.”

The group of speakers touted include some of our favorite rabid righties: Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Bobby Jindal, Senator Ron Johnson, Governor Rick Perry, Michelle Malkin, Governor Voldemort Rick Scott, and total whack-job David Horowitz – more on him later.

From the Summit Agenda, some of the “Defending The Dream” Summit Breakout Sessions”:
-Bully on the Playground: Beat Back the Bureaucrats (Policy Session)
-Get Past the Gotchas: Staying in Control (Social Media & Messaging Session)
-Medicaid Expansion: Breaking the Bank While Cheating the Poor (Policy Session)
-Freedom in Decline: How Big Government is Ruining Your Future (Youth Oriented Session)
-The Green Monster: Subsidizing Failure in Renewable Energy (Policy Session)

One of the “exhibitors” at the DTD Summit is Go For The Heart – yeah, I never heard of it either. The website says ‘About’ itself:

“Go For the Heart, Inc. is a private non-profit corporation
dedicated to defending the principles of a free society
and to training conservative activists, strategists,
legislators and candidates in the art of political war.”

Its ‘Mission Statement’:

“Conservatives do not have a response to the attacks leveled at them during the Election Cycle as the “party of the rich” and “the oppressors of women, minorities and the poor.” Go For The Heart will equip and empower elected officials, candidates, campaign professionals, grassroots activists, and the conservative youth with the messaging tools to blunt the baseless attacks by Liberals and to be successful in winning elections for conservatives, whether Democrats, Libertarians, Republicans or Independents.”

Guess who seems to be in charge at Go For the Heart? Well, the “Go For The Heart in A Nutshell” video features David Horowitz – as do the downloadable publications offered. Yes, David Horowitz, again. [NOTE: I did not have the stomach to watch the video – do you?]

While there has been little reporting on what each speaker said, that little is enough to show just how extreme and divided the speakers and other conservatives really are. Marco Rubio received mixed greetings due to his lack of Tea Party purity over immigration, as reported by The Washington Post as well as at Breitbart.com:

From Breitbart: “Heckling calls of “no amnesty” and “Secure the border” were heard around the room and throughout Rubio’s presentation. In fact, calls of “traitor” were even heard in some corners of the audience. The catcalls proved that few were pleased with Mr. Rubio.”

But, again, that pesky David Horowitz delivered the most ironically delusional fantasy that I’ve heard in a while, calling the president “…the most brazen and compulsive liar to ever occupy the White House…”

“The reason we don’t attack him is obvious, but no one will say it out loud. I will: It’s because the color of his skin is black…It is because Obama is a minority that nobody will hold him to a standard or confront him with what he has done.”

This is no “American Dream” that the Koch Brothers-backed Americans For Prosperity is trying to “defend” – this is any sane American’s nightmare.

This is our daily open thread — go ahead, start your rants!

Watering Hole: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 – Yes, We Still Can

The big shopping season is upon us.  There are bargains everywhere.  Lots of cheap Chinese stuff that will be even cheaper.  Many chain stores will be open on Thanksgiving Day and they will be offering super special savings right into the next day, “Black Friday”.

We don’t have to buy these foreign goods that are made by under paid factory owned workers.  Believe it or not, there are still union shops making products right here in the USA.

Here’s a link to a website that provides information about what products are still made here in a union shop.  Let’s support the union workers.  When unions win, workers win.

This is our Open Thread.  Where do you like to shop?  Speak Up!