Mid-Week Gnuzishness

Welcome to Wednesday, Middle of the Weekish Gnuz be forthwith
Sorry if you’re being held on Trumped up charges, but here’s more about the Prezidunce.

Watergate prosecutor reveals bombshell results of Manafort’s lies: ‘Mueller’s got the evidence of conspiracy’
H/T Raw Story
Smoking Gun? Speeding Bullet? Ole Twumpy’s in a world o’ scheiss!

And,
Here are 7 of the most ridiculous and embarrassing moments from Trump’s latest interview revealing he has no idea how to be president
H/T Alternet
Even for TemperTantrumTrump, this is a doozy!

Finally,
Trump rejects ‘man-made’ climate change
H/T The Hill
We’re gonna have a lot of catching up to do once we rid the White House of this vermin.

Open Thread, snitch it up and run with it!

RUCerious @TPZoo

Weekend Gnuz

All the Gnuz that’s fit to display via electrons and stuff.

3 big takeaways from the major new US climate report
Climate change is here, it’s expensive, and it’s deadly, according to a dire new report.

H/T Vox
Republicans and Trumpistas would sacrifice a livable world to make a buck and put it in the piggy bank.
They can’t be trusted with the reins of government.

And,
Warning signs mount for Trump reelection bid
‘They haven’t gotten his job approval over 50 percent, like Reagan,’ says one GOP pollster.

H/T Politico
No more Mr or Ms Nice Person. There’s too much at stake to allow these fascists to continue in power. We need to ensure that sanity prevails in the next election cycle.

Finally,
Pulitzer Prize-winner describes why Trump gets easily played by Putin and Saudi prince: ‘His gullibility is extraordinary’
H/T Alternet
Trump is a devout Mammonist. Money and Greed, Greed and more money, gained illegally or not.

Open Thread, pick it up and throw it over Trump’s imaginary wall!

RUCerious @TPZoo

Pre-Election Gnuz

It’s a week away from one of the biggest turning points in our history and here’s what’s at stake:

Planet has only until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change, experts warn
H/T CNN
We have from now until a newborn goes to middle school to turn this around.
We need leadership that vows to put solar shingles on every roof in America, ban fossil fuel burning cars within five years, put wind powered turbines every place the wind blows.
For starters.
Consumption needs to come down to sustainable levels. Capitalism isn’t going to get that done.
Your thoughts?

And,
Trump isn’t to blame. His entire party is.
H/T WaPo
Sheep to the slaughter. Lemmings first class.

Finally,
WATCH: Russia expert explains how Trump’s anti-Semitic rhetoric is ‘straight out of Putin’s playbook’
H/T Raw story
It’s a damn shame this president’s tax reuturns are available to show he’s in Putin’s pocket.

Open Thread, pick it up and run with it!

RUCerious @TPZoo

Daily Gnuz

For Tuesday, the second day of the New Year. And too much of the same old crapola, as evidenced below:

Chocolate may go extinct in the next 40 years
H/T Raw Story
Perhaps this will get some attention from an overweight and under informed prezidunce. No more effing chocolate, due to (gasp) Global Climate Change, you effing idiot!

And,
U.S. Police Killed Over 1,000 Civilians in 2017 While the News Was Watching Trump
H/T Alternet
One of the dangers of having the prezidunce creating all the ‘news’, the real headlines get lost in the twitterblabber.

Finally,
White House aides already anxious about 2018
H/T Politico
As well they should be. This prezidunce sits with an approval rating in the mid 30%. Waiting for Mueller to drop the next bomb.

Open Thread, Go get ’em!

RUCerious @TPZoo

Happy GNU YEAR – It Be 2018!

And, on this inaugural day of the year, here’s the GNUZ!

Eastern U.S. braces for the most frigid start to new year in decades: Here’s how cold
H/T WaPo
Now, That’s Cold, frigid, biting, bitter, freezing effing COLD. Stay safe all you’ze out there!

And,
New image from NASA shows massive iceberg in Antarctica melting
H/T Raw Story
Climate Change…not just global warming, extremes in Cold and Hot, read all about it. Understand it. But that’s apparently too much to ask of the sitting on his Mar-a-GoGo Butt, prezidunce.

Finally, I vowed to not put up yet another article about hewhoshouldnotbenamed… so…
Does the White Working Class Really Vote Against Its Own Interests?
H/T TPM
Screw to be, or not to be…
Are working-class white voters shooting themselves in the foot by making common cause with a political movement that is fundamentally inimical to their economic self-interest?
THAT is the question.

Open Thread, Start off the New Year with a song in your heart and a beer in your hand!

RUCerious @TPZoo

Daily Gnuz

Here’s a sampling of the fecal-storms that buffet us today:

It’s 6 months into Trump’s presidency. He’s already asking about pardons for his aides. …And his family members and … himself, according to a new report.
h/t Vox
Circling the wagons, …and the drain.

And

Protecting our children from climate change might take more than just cutting emissions
h/t Raw Story
The longer we wait, the bigger the bullet we must bite in the quest to bequeath a livable planet to our progeny.

Finally, this just about sums up the last six effing months of stupidity and cowardliness

Donald Trump’s six-month report card: A paralyzed, scandal-plagued presidency — and it could get worse
h/t Salon
Worse doesn’t begin to describe the plunge we are about to take. Into the shit canister we go.

Open Thread, enjoy one byte at a thyme
RUCerious @ TPZo

The Watering Hole; Friday September 23 2016; The Last “Bugs” of Summer

Fall has arrived, finally! There are flowering plants in full bloom, along with various little Arthropods on the wing, anxious to take full advantage of slowly waning sunlight and warmth — much to their collective delight, and to the everlasting benefit of the flowers. Life goes on, and if nature has her way, it will flourish.

Below, a small handful of photos from just the last few days of all that life-enhanncing activity.

2016-sep-bee-max-2442b

▲Not sure if this was Bee-1, Bee-17, Bee-29, or Bee-52, but here it comes! ▲

2016-sep-18-bee-in-max-2472

▲Bee refueling at “Hanger,” sotospeak▲

2016-sep-21-bug-max-sunflower-2482

▲Not sure the ID of this guy, only know he was close to a quarter-inch long▲

It’s also fall in the human world, of course, and in a leap year as well, which means there’s a national election coming up in somewhere around fifty days, an election which will choose our next President. Unfortunately, however, a high percentage of Americans no longer have the intelligence-driven capabilities of flowers and insects and have become known, instead, as Conservative Republicans. The problems of diminished intelligence are obvious everywhere, but can be, today, quite ably summarized by just a small handful of headlined links to more detailed analyses. For example, from the last few days of summer, 2016, these:

WorldNetDaily Explains Why It’s ‘Not Natural’ For A Woman To Run For President

Frank Amedia: God Has Called Trump To Tear Down Walls

Jim Bakker: Supporters Of The Constitution Are Mysteriously Dying

Tom DeLay: Obama Will ‘Go Down As The Worst President That Has Ever Served This Nation’

Rand Paul: Obama Should Have Moved Us ‘Beyond Race’ But Race Relations Have ‘Gotten Worse’

Louie Gohmert: US Killed Al-Awlaki To Cover Up ‘All The Different People He Worked With In The Administration’

Gary Bauer: Donald Trump Might Be The Last Chance Conservative Christians Have To Save America

There’s another human problem, one that’s exacerbated by diminished intelligence; it’s the fact that human activities, unlike those of flowers and insects, are changing the planet’s climate — not for the better, but for the worse — to the point where unless corrections are made quickly, the entire biosphere of the earth will change to the point where it will have a severe impact on virtually every life form including flowers, insects, coral reefs, even the life form that will be the last to notice, i.e. Conservative Republicans.

Dangerous Denial of Global Warming

An open letter just issued by 375 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and its foreign affiliates, including 30 Nobel laureates, warns that “rapid warming of the planet increases the risk of crossing climatic points of no return, possibly setting in motion large-scale ocean circulation changes, the loss of major ice sheets, and species extinctions. The climatic consequences of exceeding such thresholds are not confined to the next one or two electoral cycles. They have lifetimes of many thousands of years.”

They also took a direct swipe at Trump, saying “it is of great concern that the Republican nominee for President has advocated U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord. . . . Such a decision would make it far more difficult to develop effective global strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change. The consequences of opting out of the global community would be severe and long-lasting – for our planet’s climate and for the international credibility of the United States.”

Surveys show that Republican are twice as likely as last year to express doubts about the existence of global warming, According to University of Michigan researchers, one factor may be their presidential candidate’s oft-repeated insistence that global warming is “a total, and very expensive, hoax!”

Here is a closer look at the climate policies of the major Conservative Republican candidate for President:

Donald Trump isn’t backing down from his terrifying climate policy

“We need an America-First energy plan,” Trump said. “This means opening federal lands for oil and gas production; opening offshore areas; and revoking policies that are imposing unnecessary restrictions on innovative new exploration technologies.”

If elected president, Trump has pledged to revoke both the Clean Power Plan and President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the cornerstones of Obama’s domestic climate agenda, and important signals to the international community of the United States’ commitment to climate action.

Trump has also promised to roll back the Waters of the United States Rule, which would extend drinking water protections for millions of Americans. Instead, he said that he would redirect the EPA to “refocus…on its core mission of ensuring clean air, and clean, safe drinking water for all Americans.”

IF human-caused climate change should become the engine fueling the earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction, the odds are very strong that most of what we know of flowers, of insects, of sea life, animal life, and plant life will disappear forever, and evolution will once again be challenged to bring life-on-earth back up to snuff by some point in the distant future. And with most life forms extincted because of Conservative Republicans, evolution will once again have to find a place from which to start its process. In the past, for example, one of the re-start life forms has apparently been the common cockroach from whose DNA has emerged the bulk of what some might call “higher life forms.” The problem is that there’s no guarantee that bugs, flowers, and other forms of intelligent life will re-emerge in that situation. It is fairly likely, however, that if life begins anew based on roach DNA, what we’ll end up with is a creature that more resembles today’s common roach than, say, either a bee or a flower. Something more like this would be a safer bet:

trumpthumb

▲The “First” Roach of Summer? Fall? Winter? Spring?▲

If that should happen again, well, I don’t wanna be here to see it, would prefer to remain extinct. Yuk. Life forms derived from roaches can be so deplorable.

******

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Friday May 27 2016; Climactic (Anthropogenic) Climatic Disruption

Climactic: consisting of, involving, or causing a climax.
Climax: the highest or most intense point in the development or resolution of something.

Climatic: of or relating to climate.
Climate: the composite or generally prevailing weather conditions of a region.

Disrupt: to cause (something) to be unable to continue in the normal way.

ACDAnthropogenic Climate Disruption: Climatic Disruption resulting from human activity; potentially Climactic.

These carefully rendered and ordered definitions were included here for the benefit of any Republican or Tea Party (Congressional Sens-Reps or their voters) that might happen to pass by — unlikely I know, but I always try to be fair and helpful when possible. [See also: The cult of ignorance in the United States: Anti-intellectualism and the “dumbing down” of America].

That said, a closer and finely detailed examination of Anthropogenic Climate Disruption data becomes more revealing with virtually every passing month.

1. From February 2014: The March of Anthropogenic Climate Disruption by Dahr Jamal begins by pointing out that 2013

. . . marked the 37th consecutive year of above-average global temperature, according to data from NASA.

The signs of advanced Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD) are all around us, becoming ever more visible by the day.

At least for those choosing to pay attention.

I’ll not try to summarize Jamal’s paper here — much much more can/will be gained via a careful read. It is, though, an excellent summary of the consequences of ACD already in place back then.

2. Next, more than two years later (just this week, in fact) there’s this: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentration Has Passed the Point of No Return, also by Dahr Jamal. It’s a lengthy essay that covers the gamut of climate change impacts visible today, and most certainly is well worth close and serious examination. Here is a brief quote that sets the stage:

Climate disruption only continues to speed up.

NASA recently released data showing that the planet has just seen seven straight months of not just record-breaking, but record-shattering heat. It is clear, through the space agency’s data, that this year we are already well on track to see what will likely be the largest increase in global temperature a single year has ever seen.

The NASA data also show that April was the hottest April ever recorded, as well as the fact that it crushed the previous April record by the largest margin of increase ever recorded.

That makes it three months in a row that the monthly record has been broken, and easily at that, by the largest margin ever. When record-smashing months started in February, it was then that scientists began talking about a “climate emergency,” and since then our situation has only escalated.

The essay is detailed, lengthy, and filled with links to supporting data sources that demonstrate beyond all doubt that these indeed are dire times, and that it may, in fact, already be too late for there to be any hope of turning things around. The sole (slightly) positive comment in the entire of the essay is this: “Recent polling shows that now half of all conservatives in the United States believe that ACD is real, which is an increase of 19 percent over the last two years.” Wow. Is that great news or what. Doesn’t include any conservatives I know, but any port in a storm is welcome.

Following is a graph, prepared by Ed Hawkins, that shows monthly global temperature changes since 1850:

It’s hard not to notice the jump, so far, in 2016 temperatures; the times, they really are a-changin’, or so it would appear to the trained eye.

But not all eyes are trained. On the other side of the coin live the deniers. I won’t go into extensive detail, just quote a couple of their most egregious fools to demonstrate just exactly how far-fetched the wingnut reality actually is. First, courtesy of Fox News, Jesse Watters explains his concern that public schools in Portland Oregon are no longer going to “teach” the nonsense that supports ACD denial:

One city school district is closing the book on any materials in the classroom that question or deny climate change. The board in Portland, Oregon unanimously approving a resolution that calls for removing books and course materials that suggests climate change does not exist or that people are not at fault for it. . . . Aren’t students supposed to learn how to ask questions? And now we can’t read a book that ask questions.

[. . .]

So getting out of the ice age, how did the Earth warm up after the ice age? There were no humans there with cars and factories. I mean, how did things warm up? These are questions that only I have the answer to. I should be teaching these courses. These aren’t that hard. It gets hot, it gets cold, this spring has been freezing. It’s not getting warmer, it seems like it’s getting colder. Am I wrong?

Yes, Watters, you’re wrong. Of course you’re wrong. You’re very very very wrong. But that, of course, is nothing new or unexpected.

Next, a word or two from that tremendously gifted master of everything, our massively educated and schemingly beautiful billionaire Republican, our loved-by-millions-and-soon-to-be-tremendous-President, Donald Trump.

“Any and all weather events are used by the GLOBAL WARMING HOAXSTERS to justify higher taxes to save our planet! They don’t believe it $$$$!”

This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.

“I think that climate change is just a very, very expensive form of tax. A lot of people are making a lot of money. I know much about climate change. I’ve received many environmental awards. And I often joke that this is done for the benefit of China — obviously I joke — but this done for the benefit of China.”

Meanwhile, back in the real world,

March 2016 temperature smashes 100-year global record

An illustration shows that 2015 was the hottest year since 1880.

Illustration shows that 2015 was the hottest year since 1880. (AFP/Getty Images)

The global temperature in March (2016) shattered a century-long record and by the greatest margin yet seen for any month. . . . Compared with the 20th-century average, March was 1.07C hotter across the globe, while February was 1.04C higher, and the trend continued in April. Apparently the overwhelming mass of global data has proven, beyond the barest shadow of a doubt, that ACD is, in fact, a FACT.

Or, as Trump put it,

“Global warming is based on faulty science and manipulated data
which is proven by the emails that were leaked.”

We’ll have to leave it there.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Tuesday April 26, 2016 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Which trees face death in drought?

Some species succumb more readily than others. Mass die-offs have happened in several western states in the past few years.

The Forest Book of the Dead

 

In other news, Pennsylvania MD and CONN all have primaries today. Can Sanders cut in to Hillary’s lead?

Open Thread

 

The Watering Hole; Friday April 15 2016; Climate Change: Is It Visible?

“Nature is always presenting us with surprises.
And perhaps we are surprised only because we are ignorant.”
(John C. Van Dyke)

I’ve been wondering if/when some signs of climate change and global warming are going to become visible via a quick glance out of my (or most anyone’s) window. In that regard, in fact, I have to wonder if maybe I might have spotted one of those local indicators, and maybe even managed to record it digitally for posterity — last month, March 2016, globally the warmest March since records have been kept.

Below is a series of five photos of the same basic scene (Rocky Mountain Front Range, the series of peaks called the Sierra Mojada, or the Wet Mountains) taken from the same spot (my tee-tiny office’s window). The dates begin in September 2009 and end just last month in March 2016, and each one shows the mountains on the morning after a heavy snowfall. I should note that the four main snow-clad peaks are, l. to r., Greenhorn, North Peak, Mt. St. Charles, and Round Top (clipped, not fully shown). Each peak stands above the timberline and ranges in elevation from 11,750 ft. to 12,350 ft., and all are typically white with snow from late September thru mid-May. Till this year, that is.

The first photo is the ‘oldest’ and shows three of the four peaks noted above, and each of the mountains are snow-clad from summit to base (approx. 7000 ft.). The pair of pines in the foreground stand a block from my window at roughly 6000 ft. and about 7 miles from the base of the mountains. The Mojada are about 5000 ft. tall, i.o.w.

0922-2009 Wet Mtns, 2 frames

▲1. September 2009▲

The second photo mainly focuses on North Peak and Mt. St. Charles (with portions of Greenhorn and Round Top, l. and r., resp.). Note that the pines in the foreground are free of snow but the peaks and the heavily timbered mountain slopes are covered with the white stuff.

Wet Mountains, high noon, 4-19-09

▲2. April 2010▲

Photo number 3 shows the result of a heavy snow from the summits to below 6000 ft, foreground pines included.

▲3. October 2011▲

Photo 4 shows Mt. St. Charles the morning after a heavy snowfall that once again coated the pines at 6000 ft. Note the date.

2015 Feb 26 Mt St Charles 952

▲4. February 2015▲

Finally, the fifth photo shows one of the strangest snowfalls I’ve ever seen. Note that the summits of both North Peak and Mt. St. Charles are far less snow-clad than is typical — lots of bare spots — and the 6000 ft. foreground pines are also clear of snow. The only fresh snow is in the band from the mtn’s base (around 7000 ft) to the cutoff point about halfway up the slope, or around 9500 ft. The date is 13 months beyond number 4 above — March 2016, the “hottest” March since records have been kept.

Mar 19 2016 North peak-St Charles low snowfall 2206r

▲5. March 2016▲

Is that weird snowfall pattern a ‘symptom’ of climate change as seen through my window? I have to wonder how often, historically, mountain snows have made it a point to avoid the summits and instead go for the mid-range elevations elevations only. First time for everything, I suppose, especially on a world in which the most intelligent species consistently performs (and then ignores the consequences thereof) the role of what could easily be viewed as LEAST! intelligent.

I should check with James Inhofe, maybe? Or Trump? Is what I’m seeing happening because of something the Chinese are doing in their effort to sabotage the world economy? Something like that?

If I do hear back from them, I’ll make sure to spread the word. Meanwhile —

“If we but knew our facts, they would point their own conclusions,
and neither theory nor argument would be needed.”
(John C.Van Dyke)

Yeehaw.

******

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Tuesday October 6, 2015

Creator of 5-hour Energy Wants to Power the World’s Homes—With Bikes

Can I be a cynic for suggesting that this is another way to create market demand for the drink?

” Hey Honey, the lights are dimming. Go get some more 5 Hour Energy!”

Actually, aside from giving money to the GOP, he has pretty ambitions plans for the third world (and in the case of geothermal, the whole world).

Pedal power for the tiny house …in India.

Can we use the hamster for the night light?

 

Discuss

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 11th, 2015: The Planet Killers

Over the last few days, several related and intertwined articles are pulling together more and more evidence that Exxon-Mobil, BP, Chevron, other fossil-fuel giants, and the Koch Brothers, along with their front groups, have deliberately and willfully been funding a disinformation campaign denying global climate change reports that they have known about since the early 1980s.

From yesterday’s ThinkProgress thread written by Joe Romm, “Oil Company Exxon Knew About The Scientific Reality of Climate Change in 1981”:

“…despite a growing understanding of the scientific reality of climate change in the 1980s and 1990s, Exxon became one of the biggest funders of scientists and think tanks and others who do little but deny and cast doubt on the scientific understanding of human-caused global warming.
Over the years, fossil fuel company executives have funneled tens of millions of dollars into this disinformation campaign. The top funder was ExxonMobil for a long time. But the company was overtaken years ago by Koch Industries, run by billionaires Charles and David Koch, who spent more than $48.5 million from 1997 to 2010 to fund disinformation. From 2005 to 2008, the Kochs outspent Exxon-Mobil well over 2-to-1 in funding the climate denial machine.”

From Huffington Post’s July 8th article, “Internal Documents Show Fossil Fuel Industry Has Been Aware of Climate Change for Decades”, written by Elliott Negin:

“Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse created a stir recently when he speculated that fossil fuel companies may be violating federal racketeering law by colluding to defraud the public about the threat posed by carbon pollution.”

~~~

“Exxon Recognized Carbon Emissions Problem 34 Years Ago
The collected documents reveal the fossil fuel industry campaign has relied on a variety of deceptive practices, including creating phony grassroots groups, secretly funding purportedly independent scientists, and even forging letters from nonprofit advocacy groups to lobby members of Congress.

ExxonMobil’s duplicity is perhaps the most remarkable. Internal documents and public statements stretching back decades show that ExxonMobil’s corporate forerunners Exxon and Mobil, which merged in 1999, acknowledged the threat posed by global warming as far back as the early 1980s.”

~~~

In November 1988…Mobil President Richard F. Tucker cited the “greenhouse effect” in a list of serious environmental challenges during a speech at an American Institute of Chemical Engineers national conference.

“Our strategy must be to reduce pollution before it is ever generated — to prevent problems at the source,” he said. “That will involve working at the edge of scientific knowledge and developing new technology at every scale on the engineering spectrum. …Prevention on a global scale may even require a dramatic reduction in our dependence on fossil fuels — and a shift toward solar, hydrogen, and safe nuclear power. It may be possible — just possible — that the energy industry will transform itself so completely that observers will declare it a new industry.”

Fossil Fuel Companies Disregard Their Own Scientists

Tucker’s warning went unheeded even by his own company. A year later, in 1989, 50 U.S. corporations and trade groups created the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) to discredit climate science. Its founding members included API, British Petroleum (now BP), Chevron, Exxon, Shell, Texaco and … Mobil.

Until it disbanded in 2002, GCC conducted a multimillion-dollar lobbying and public relations campaign to undermine national and international efforts to address global warming. One of its fact sheets for legislators and journalists, for example, claimed “the role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood” and emphasized that “scientists differ” on the issue.”

From a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), titled “The Climate Deception Dossiers: Internal Fossil Fuel Industry Memos Reveal Decades of Corporate Disinformation” (also linked to within the HuffPost article):

“Containing 85 internal memos totaling more than 330 pages, the seven dossiers reveal a range of deceptive tactics deployed by the fossil fuel industry. These include forged letters to Congress, secret funding of a supposedly independent scientist, the creation of fake grassroots organizations, multiple efforts to deliberately manufacture uncertainty about climate science, and more.
The documents clearly show that:
– Fossil fuel companies have intentionally spread climate disinformation for decades.
– Fossil fuel company leaders knew that their products were harmful to people and the planet but still chose to actively deceive the public and deny this harm.
– The campaign of deception continues today.

The UCS report includes links to all of the memos, emails, and other documentation. While I haven’t had the chance to delve into it much, a quick glance at the titles of the seven “Deception Dossiers” includes “Deception Dossier #6: Deception by the American Legislative Exchange Council”.

Gee, whodathunk?

As Inspector Kemp [played by Kenneth Mars] said in Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein”, “A riot is an ungly thingk… undt, I tink, that it is chust about time ve had vun!”

This is our daily Open Thread–get your pitchforks and torches ready!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 27th, 2015: Il Papa, Don’t Preach

Recently, “Il Papa”, Pope Francis, has pissed off several (often overlapping) factions of conservative “Christian” politicians, pundits, and what I’ve decided to call “pulpiteers”, aka Evangelicals. Apparently the Pope is only “infallible” when his flock agrees with his pronouncements or actions. I find it deliciously ironic that the first Pope in, well, “god” knows how long, to actually emulate the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ according to their own bible makes all of these faux christians so suspicious, dismissive, and ultimately hypocritical. I can just imagine one of the conversations:

Derp 1: “Washing the feet of poor people and criminals? Who the hell does that?”
Derp 2: “Well, according to the Bible, Jesus Christ did. Oh, and Christ fed the poor, too – you heard that Frankie wants all of us Christians to do that, too, right?”
Derp 1: “I know, is he crazy?! C’mon, that do-goody stuff isn’t supposed to be taken literally!”
Derp 2: “No, of course not, not those “New Testament” Jesus-y parts, anyway; just the parts about dominating the earth and all its resources, and the parts about stoning homos and wimmen and your kids if they sass you.”
Derp 1: “Exactly, that’s my point, we have to put the fear of god into these $chmuck$, er, potential voters!”

After already dissing unbridled capitalism and corporate greed, among other things, in his 2013 missive “Evangelii Gaudium: Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World”, last week Pope Francis issued his now-infamous encyclical focusing on man-made climate change, and his idea of the correct Christian, and, as he noted, human course of action necessary to combat it for the good of Planet Earth and all of her children.

While some Catholic and other Christian groups agreed with Pope Francis and are willing to preach his ‘gospel’ to their flocks, other self-proclaimed “Christians” pretty much think that either Pope Francis is wrong, or that he should mind his own goddam beeswax. In particular, the many Catholics (or whatever “Christian” flavor) among the numerous Republican 2016 Presidential hopefuls would prefer that the Pope stay quiet. From the ThinkProgress article:

“At a town hall event in New Hampshire…[Jeb] Bush said that religion “ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”

 

“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home,” Bush said, “but I don’t get my economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.”

No, Jeb, you certainly don’t get your economic policy from your pope, otherwise you’d actually have to DO something to help the poor. And it doesn’t seem to be working out when it comes to “making [you] better as people”, unless somehow by “better” you mean “more hateful.”

However, you and your ilk seem perfectly happy to get your SOCIAL policy, in particular regarding women’s rights, abortion, and LGBT rights, from your pope and your bible.  And you definitely LOVE it when your flavor of religion ends up crafting legal policy for the entire country, you fuckwad.

The article goes on to say that:

“Bush’s views on climate change and religion have, at times, been contradictory. In May, the presidential candidate and brother of George W. Bush said that the science surrounding climate change was “convoluted.”

“For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even.”

Once again, NO, Jeb, it’s NOT “intellectual arrogance” when the vast majority of scientists who have studied all of the data have come to the inevitable conclusion that global climate change is real, it’s mostly man-made, and it’s going to make the lives of your – and everybody else’s – grandchildren and greatgrandchildren a miserable hell.

And, of course, Rick Santorum had to get his twisted views out there:

““The Church has gotten it wrong a few times on science,” Santorum told radio host Dom Giordano. “We probably are better off leaving science to the scientists, and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality.”

WHAT the huh? Morality? Wait, he’s got more:

“I’m saying, what should the pope use his moral authority for?” Santorum asked. “I think there are more pressing problems confronting the earth than climate change.”

Are you fucking kidding, Rantorum? Oh, hold on for the finish:

“When we get involved with controversial and scientific theories, I think the Church is not as forceful and not as credible,” Santorum continued. “I’ve said this to the Catholic bishops many times — when they get involved in agriculture policy, or things like that, that are really outside of the scope of what the Church’s main message is, that we’re better off sticking to the things that are really the core teachings of the Church as opposed to getting involved in every other kind of issue that happens to be popular at the time.”

Okay, for Jeb and Sick Rantorum and every other Catholic and self-proclaimed Christian: If you are true to your supposed faith, then every official utterance of Pope Francis or any other Pope is, according to YOUR dogma, the infallible transmission of the Word of your God. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, the Pope is supposed to be the unquestionable representative of your Trinity. And if you and your science-denying conservative cohorts DON’T think that global climate change is the MOST pressing problem confronting the Earth, then you don’t deserve to even be aspiring to the Presidency of these United States. Just sit down and shut up.

Anyhoo…NOW Pope Francis has done something to ruffle the feathers, to say the least, of Israel and her supporters: According to Foreign Policy Magazine:

“On Friday [June 26], the Vatican signed a comprehensive treaty with Palestinian authorities, formalizing a basic agreement between the Catholic Church and the PLO back in 2000. In essence, it is a formal declaration of the Holy See’s support for the creation of a Palestinian state and the peace process with Israel. “[I]t is my hope that the present agreement may, in some way, be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both Parties,” wrote Vatican foreign minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher.”

 

“The news is not going over well in Tel Aviv. “This hasty step damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement, and harms the international effort to convince the Palestinian Authority to return to direct negotiations with Israel,” said Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.”

 

“[G]iven its sordid history of anti-Semitism, book-burnings, forced conversions and Inquisitions, the Catholic Church should think a hundred times over before daring to step on Israel’s toes,” wrote Michael Freund, former deputy communications director to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the Jerusalem Post on May 18. “If anything, the pope should be down on his knees pleading for forgiveness from the Jewish people and atonement from the Creator for what the Vatican has wrought over the centuries.”

I’m really starting to enjoy this new Pope Francis reality show (especially as a former Catholic) – it beats the hell out of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice Asshole” or “19 and Groping.”  Heh.

This is our daily Open Thread–go ahead and talk about things!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 9th, 2015: Overload

I have next to nothing today, simply because there’s way too much crazy shit out there and I’m just overloaded.

Looking at:  the several Republican 2016 Presidential hopefuls who have come out of their nutshells just this past week alone; the freaking HUGE sums of money being thrown at them and other possible candidates by the Kochs, Sheldon Adelson, and “interest groups” (aka front men for the Kochs, Adelson, and powerful ne’er-do-well corporations); the newest batshit crazy delusions that they’re all spouting; not to mention the frightening impact that climate change is already having and knowing that there’s worse to come; on top of way too fucking many murderous “law enforcement officers” and dead young black men…well, I could go on and on, but the point is that my brain just can’t take in much more.

Last night, while watching the Star Trek Next Gen episode “Tin Man”, I felt a kinship with the character Tam Elbrun, a Betazoid whose unnaturally strong telepathic ability has caused lifelong psychological problems because he hears everybody’s thoughts, all of the time, and cannot shut them out. Tam is brought on board the Enterprise for an unusual first-contact mission, an attempt to communicate with with an alien “ship”, nicknamed “Tin Man”, which turns out to be the last surviving member of a sentient species of space travelers. Tin Man is saved from suicide by its contact with Tam, and Tam decides to remain inside Tin Man. Traveling through space with Tin Man enables Tam to eliminate all the thoughts hurled at his mind by humans and humanoids.

Most of the times that I’ve watched this episode in the past, I couldn’t really empathize with Tam Elbrun.  These days, I envy him.

This is our daily Open Thread – talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 2nd, 2015: “Just Say No To FRC” Part Deux

Last Saturday I wrote about how Faithful America, a group of more Christ-like Christians, were protesting against CBS’s Bob Schieffer having Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council on Face The Nation to discuss the gay marriage case currently being argued before the Supreme Court. On that Sunday’s show, Bob Schieffer told Tony Perkins about Faithful America’s request that the interview be cancelled, due to the fact that the FRC (NAMBLA) doesn’t represent the majority of Christians. Faithful America’s petition to CBS had mentioned that the FRC was considered to be a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. That mention of SPLC apparently was the dog whistle for the other crackpot faux-religious groups to attack, demanding that “CBS and Bob Schieffer” apologize on the air to the FRC. According to their complaint, and confirmed by various googled sources, the FBI had taken the SPLC off of their “hate crimes resources” list due to an incident where an “SPLC supporter” attempted to shoot people at an FRC office. Here’s the Conservative Action Project’s letter to David Rhodes, President of CBS News – unfortunately it’s a PDF, but I’ll just quote a little bit of it:

“The interview was more than sloppy journalism. It was an assault against Judeo-Christian people of faith.
The work that FRC and its President Tony Perkins do to promote healthy families and traditional values is irreplaceable in our culture. To suggest, as Schieffer did, that FRC doesn’t represent Christians flies in the face of reality. The millions of Americans that we, the undersigned, collectively represent are proof of that.”

~ and ~

“It is now clearer than ever before that the liberal media–including CBS–along with the radical left, aided by the Obama administration, will stop at nothing to use their power and the power of government to silence, shame, punish and fine Americans who embrace traditional marriage and other politically incorrect truths. This is an unacceptable trend in a free society with a “free press.”

Well, just wait a minute here, you, “the undersigned.” There’s a big difference between representing millions of Christians and representing “millions of Americans.” Especially when you read the list of “the undersigned.” Right near the top of the signatories is Frank Gaffney. Almost “’nuff said” right there, for those of us who are aware of Gaffney’s looney-tunes Islamaphobia. But take a brief look at the names and their groups, and you’ll recognize a few right off the batshit, er, I mean ‘bat’:

Ed Meese (The Hon. Edwin Meese III to us peons)
Brent Bozell
Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin
Tim Wildmon of the AFA (NAMBLA)
Herman Cain (“9-9-9”)
Gary Bauer
Joseph Farah (okay, I didn’t recognize the name, but he’s from World Net Daily.)
David Bossie, President, Citizens United

Since some names and organizations didn’t ring any bells, I took a look at one organization that had more than one name associated with it: Institute on Religion and Democracy. Apparently Right Wing Watch and another right-wing-tracking group, Right Web, know them even if I didn’t.

From the IRD’s home page:

“The Institute on Religion and Democracy is a faith-based alliance of Christians who monitor, comment, and report on issues affecting the Church. We seek to reform the Church’s role in public life, protect religious freedom, and support democracy at home and abroad.”

Maybe my dad’s big old family bible had had a page ripped out – you know, the page where Jesus instructed the Apostles to “support democracy at home and abroad.” Or, since it really was a big-ass door-stop bible, maybe I skipped that page? I always thought that Jesus wanted his followers to do good works, help the downtrodden, and give hope to the hopeless. I seem to remember some big speech that Jesus gave about “Blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – and no, NOT the CHEESEmakers, the PEACEmakers. (Thank you SO much, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam.)

I’ll leave you to peruse some of the IRD articles and the group’s blog (I recommend “An Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change”) Their blog has the icky-weird name of “Juicy Ecumenism” – hmmm, I’ll bet we could make a “Santorum” out of that.

I wonder if Bob Schieffer will have something to say on tomorrow’s Face The Nation. Maybe a correction or elaboration on the SPLC’s status would be in order, but an apology? Just say ‘NO’, Bob.

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy yourselves!

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 9th, 2015: Monday Morning Morons

I know that we do a lot of Right-Wing-Nut-Job (RWNJ) bashing here, much of it about the more Rabid Religious amongst them (RRRWNJ) but…well, both (often overlapping) groups just come up with so many things that invite ridicule, they’re their own worst enemy. Just look at last week alone (in case you missed some of these):

Being gay is worse than Murder and Genocide. Yes, now, according to “Pastor” Scott Lively, homosexuality is the Number One sin against God. An excerpt from Right Wing Watch’s article:

“Last month, rabidly anti-gay activist Scott Lively warned that if the Supreme Court strikes down state bans on same-sex marriage, it could lead to the rise of the Antichrist by the end of the year.”

In an interview with Bryan Fischer on Friday, “Lively told Fischer that America is about to cross “a line with God that hasn’t occurred in the entire history of the world since Noah’s flood” – which Lively claims was caused by god because god apparently hates gays. Back in January of 2013, Lively had stated:

“We need to remember that in the time leading up to the Flood what the rabbis teach about the last straw for God before He brought the Flood was when they started writing wedding songs to homosexual marriage and Jesus said that you’ll know the End Times because it will be like the days of Noah. There’s never been a time in the history of the world since before the Flood when homosexual marriage has been open and celebrated, and that’s another sign that I believe that we’re close to the end.”

(Snip)

“I think this is the issue of the End Times, homosexuality. It’s present, if you do a careful investigation of all the scriptures dealing with this from the beginning and all the way to the end, God is painting a very clear picture that this represents the outer extent of rebellion against Him in a society and the last thing that happens before wrath comes.”

Okay…first, I thought that President Barack “Hussein” Obama was the AntiChrist in RWNJ eyes. So there’s another one? Second, I don’t know what religious sect/cult Lively is the “Pastor” of, but if it’s based on Christianity in any way, then I must have been dozing throughout my 13 years of Catholic schools.

Anyhoo…today, “Pastor” Lively is urging his followers and other groups to, according to his “Open Letter to America”

“…band together in the spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14 to promote and conduct a continual prayer vigil and stand-out for marriage at SCOTUS (or any Federal Courthouse for those who can’t get there) from now until the ruling comes out, probably in June…”
“This is a general call to all believers to go to SCOTUS alone or in groups to pray and hold signs. Churches and other organizations can choose dates or times to rally their own troops if they like and/or hold press conferences etc., but let’s all just put out the word to whatever circle of influence we have and let the Holy Spirit stir hearts.

I am asking every Christian and pro-family radio talk host to promote this vigil, and perhaps do a broadcast from the site. Large organizations could provide logistical support…”

(snip)

“Only God can save us from the calamity and disgrace of defiling His institution of marriage in our official national policy.

Let us take the authority we have in Him, and the freedom we have as Americans, to join together to surround the federal judges with such a hedge of prayer that they will be forced to bow their knee to the one who created marriage as the foundation of all human civilization — one man and one woman.”

Hmm, “god created marriage as the foundation of all civilization”? I don’t remember any wedding performed by god himself–you’d think that the bible would have mentioned that, huh? And now Scott Lively thinks that the entire Supreme Court of the United States should get on their knees for something other than sucking Koch and refer all decisions to Lively’s god? I realize that one or two of the Justices would be happy to do so, but all nine? Rather unconstitutional, don’tcha think?

Back to Lively’s call for a prayer vigil: from BibleGateway, the 1599 Geneva Bible version, here’s 2 Chronicles 7:14:

14 If my people, among whom my Name is called upon, do humble themselves, and pray and seek my presence, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear in heaven and be merciful to their sin, and will heal their land”
Footnotes: 2 Chronicles 7:14 I will cause the pestilence to cease and destroy the beasts that hurt the fruits of the earth, and send rain in due season.

I’m not sure how Lively uses this as an anti-gay call to march/pray, as neither 2 Chronicles 6, nor the remainder of 2 Chronicles 7, makes any reference to homosexuality. But I’m sure that Lively’s twisted interpretation is a masterpiece of pulling it out of his ass, so to speak. Considering how many whoppers he produces, one could probably drive an SUV up his asshole–well, a 4WD SUV, anyway.

Well, let’s leave “Pastor” Lively to his unChristian vigil, and go on to:

OMG, Christians are being persecuted – again! Poor embattled Ken Ham (“Answers In Genesis”, Creation Museum) is whining about being denied $18 million in tax breaks for his planned Noah’s Ark park by the State of Kentucky’s Tourism Board. The Board “cited AIG’s stated intention to discriminate based on religion in its hiring of theme park employees and to use the taxpayer-subsidized park for religious evangelism…” On a RW radio program last week, Ham stated:

“If Christians just keep accommodating and allowing this to happen more and more, we will lose that free exercise of religion.”

“It’s more and more of that trying to eliminate the Christian freedom that we have in this nation,” he said.

Yes, of course…those poor, poor Christians having to cave to the Constitution. I just don’t know how they’ll manage to keep practicing their faith, what with all their churches being shut down and religious leaders arrested, and…oh, wait, that never happens. But, but…tax breaks!

And lastly, in a switch away from the RRRWNJs to the “normal” RWNJs, Fox News’ pet climate change denier, Mark Morano of climatedepot.com, is very upset. According to RawStory, he does NOT like the idea that “Google’s popular web-search engine is being re-engineered to direct users to more “trustworthy” websites, saying “Let the public decide what’s the truth…” The article goes on to say:

“The proposed changes at Google would move websites up in the rankings based upon truth and not popularity.

Morano, who previously worked for Rush Limbaugh and climate change-denying Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), says this would be[sic] put him at a disadvantage.

Well, fucking DUH.

This is our daily Open Thread–what’s on YOUR mind?

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 5th, 2015: Unholy Alliances

Last week when Pope Francis announced his itinerary for his crusade against man-made climate change, the Joe (“You lie!”) Wilson of ‘evangelical’ deniers, one Calvin Beisner, rudely stated that “The Pope should back off”:

““The pope should back off,” said Calvin Beisner, spokesman for the conservative evangelical Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. “The Catholic church is correct on the ethical principles but has been misled on the science. It follows that the policies the Vatican is promoting are incorrect. Our position reflects the views of millions of evangelical Christians in the US.”

According to People for the American Way:

“Beisner is a CFACT [Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow] board member and an “adjunct fellow” of the Acton Institute, which is primarily funded by groups like ExxonMobil, the Scaife foundations and the Koch brothers. Beisner is also an adviser to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which is financed by the oil-backed Earthart Foundation, the Koch brothers, and ExxonMobil.
In fact, Beisner is not a scientist and has no scientific credentials. Despite claiming to be an authority on energy and environmental issues, he received his Ph.D. in Scottish History.

In 2009, Beisner’s Cornwall Alliance cosponsored a climate change denial conference led by the Heartland Institute, a pro-corporate group funded by Exxon Mobil, the Koch Family Foundations, and the Scaife foundations. Other organizations funded by energy corporations that cosponsored the conference include the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Tax Reform, and Americans for Prosperity.”

The “About” section on the Cornwall Alliance’s website states:

Our Identity
A coalition of theologians, pastors, ministry leaders, scientists, economists, policy experts, and committed laymen, the Cornwall Alliance is an evangelical voice promoting environmental stewardship and economic development built on Biblical principles.

I doubt very much if, as Beisner claims, Cornwall Alliance’s “position reflects the views of millions of evangelical Christians in the US”, as some of their ‘affirmations’ and ‘denials’ are, to put it lightly, a bit twisted. An excerpt from one of their “Landmark Documents” titled “The Biblical Perspective of Environmental Stewardship : Subduing and Ruling the Earth to the Glory of God and the Benefit of our Neighbors“:

9. We affirm that by God’s design Earth and its physical and biological systems are robust, resilient, and self-correcting.

We deny that they are fragile.

20. We affirm that human multiplication and filling of the Earth are intrinsically good (Genesis 1:28) and that, in principle, children, lots of them, are a blessing from God to their faithful parents and the rest of the Earth (Psalm 127; 128).

We deny that the Earth is overpopulated; that “overpopulation” is even a meaningful term, since it cannot be defined by demographic quantities such as population density, population growth rate, or age distribution; and that godly dominion over the Earth requires population control or “family planning” to limit fertility.

21. We affirm that when the Bible speaks of God’s judgment on human societies because they have “polluted the land,” the “pollution” in mind is consistently not chemical or biological but moral—the pollution of idolatry, adultery, murder, oppression of the weak, and other violations of the moral law of God expressed in the Ten Commandments (Psalm 106:38; Jeremiah 3:1–10; 16:18).

We deny that Biblical prophets’ concerns about the pollution of any land focus significantly on chemical emissions from agriculture or industry, although prudent study of the risks those pose to human and ecosystem health is a worthy task and can lead to proper efforts to balance risks and benefits.

22. We affirm that cost/benefit analysis (Luke 14:28) is a proper and critically important aspect of godly dominion over the Earth (Proverbs 14:4).

We deny that cost/benefit analysis is unprincipled pragmatism or indicates a lack of faith in God.

The Cornwall Alliance seems to be especially partial to one of the worst of the real-life polluters, the coal industry. In one of their articles, “Europe Flees Economy-Destroying Green Initiatives While Obama Presses On”, after bashing Germany (“Germany, like all who subscribe to the environmentalists’ viewpoint, has put being “green” over the good of its people. They have forgotten God’s created order…”), they turn on President Obama:

“President Obama continues pushing the United States toward the brink by forging ahead with plans to fight the global warming that hasn’t happened in at least the last 17 years, using measures that will cost $trillions by mid-century but will cause no significant reduction in global temperature by the end of the century.

One of President Obama’s means to force the environmentalist agenda on Americans is The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Its war on coal destroyed between 13,000 and 17,000 direct and indirect jobs in 2012 alonedue to announced coal plant closures. Fast forward to 2014 and the EPA has announced a regulation that would effectively kill the coal industry. Any new coal power plant built, whether to replace or add to existing plants, must meet an emissions standard that is impossible with current technology.

Then of course there is the stonewalling of the Keystone XL Pipeline extension. This pipeline that President Obama claimed would only “create about 50 permanent jobs,” has been estimated by his own State Department to create 42,000 jobs.”

Although that “42,000 jobs” figure has been debunked time and time again, yet another Republican on Meet the Press yesterday morning got away with using it without being slapped down by the useless Chuck Todd. TransCanada itself estimates “that the pipeline would create no more than 2,500 to 4,650 temporary direct construction jobs for two years.” The Keystone XL Pipeline website uses the figure of 9,000 U.S. jobs.   On the other hand, the KXL website also says:

“Keystone XL Pipeline will be the safest and most advanced oil pipeline operation in North America. It will not only bring essential infrastructure to North American oil producers, but it will also provide jobs, long-term energy independence and an economic boost to Americans.”

Yeah, right – and I have a really nice bridge for sale, too…

This is our daily open thread, so discuss whatever you’d like.

The Watering Hole, Tuesday August 26, 2014 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Since it is harvest time, going to focus on food politics for this post.

First, how about a smart phone app that can determine whether the product you are buying leans Democratic or Republican. You get to vote in the food aisle every time you shop.

Corn flakes – Repub or Dem?

Next up – drought and bottled water. Did you know that most of the stuff comes from drought prone states?

Water from where?

Last – a staggering number of Americans will succumb to Type 2 Diabetes and many of them are people of color without good access to fresh veggies or good information about diet and nutrition. It doesn’t hurt that they are inundated with advertising pointing to bad food choices. Think about how many McDonald’s commercials have people of color featured. These commercials are not about being inclusive or progressive. They are predatory. When was the last time you saw a black person touting the benefits of arugula?

Fritos, Egg McMuffins, Whoppers, …supersize me!

Can you eat just one?

 

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 18th, 2014: Sick Day

I am so sick of everything that I’m just going to throw up a few thoughts and see who’s coming down with the same thing.

I can’t even find the words to describe how sick I am of “Christians” (who, if Christ were real, would have been disowned by him) who are doing their damnedest to take over this country, whining about ‘religious persecution.’ The same zealous whackjobs go crazy fearmongering about ‘teh gay agenda’, when their own ‘Christian-nation/one-nation-under-their god’ agenda is infinitely more far-reaching. An excerpt from Right Wing Watch:

“Christian-nation activist David Lane is engaged in a multi-year, multi-state project to get conservative evangelical pastors more involved in electing right-wing candidates, and he is intent on making sure that the GOP nominates a 2016 presidential candidate to the Religious Right’s liking.”

When pastors of any religious stripe start getting “involved in electing right-wing candidates”, their church’s tax-exempt status should be revoked, period. They’ve been on thin ice for years, let them operate on just tithing and other donations from their parishioners.

I’ve been sick forever, it seems, of the sheer stupidity of the vast majority of Americans, but the last few years the ignorance has reached new heights? depths? From the now-common mundane ignorance of people who cannot speak or write proper English, to the simplistic denials of the worldwide disaster of global climate change, too many Americans are smugly proud of their lack of knowledge. When ‘leaders’ in government happily announce “I’m no scientist” when talking about human female biology/birth control, or climate change, or evolution, the premise of the movie “Idiocracy” doesn’t seem quite so far-fetched anymore. Just add some holy-rollers/snake oil salesmen to Idiocracy so it’s a tad more realistic.

I’m sick of the police and other law enforcement entities playing into the teabagger/libertarians’ narrative with the militarization of police forces across the country. There are groups out there who are insanely itching to get into a firefight with the “gummint” and consider ANY law enforcement to be the “gummint.” Cops, you are NOT helping when you treat civilians as an enemy – I’m looking at YOU, FERGUSON.

And I am sick to death of the blatant outright racism that has been revived by the election of President Barack Obama. But not just the racism itself, it’s the acceptance, even embracing, of racism that makes me so sick. I don’t know if President Obama anticipated just how much racist backlash would result from his election – I know I certainly didn’t. Just take one or two examples regarding the insanity that is happening in Ferguson, Missouri:

Ever-clueless Representative Steven King:

“”This idea of no racial profiling,” King said, “I’ve seen the video. It looks to me like you don’t need to bother with that particular factor because they all appear to be of a single origin, I should say, a continental origin might be the way to phrase that.”

“I just reject race-based politics, identity politics” King concluded. “I think we’re all God’s children. We all should be held to the same standards and the same level of behavior.”

and,

Tea-Partier radio-show host Jesse Lee Peterson:

““I’ve said from day one that Michael Brown is a thug,” Peterson explained before asserting that he must be a criminal by nothing[sic] “the fact that he was running from the cops, period, because good folks do not run from police officers, they follow their instructions.”

He added, “I just think that it’s a shame that, in America today, that criminals are given the benefit of the doubt – especially black criminals because white criminals are not – but black criminals are given the benefit of the doubt and the police officers are the suspects. I don’t know what has happened to my country.”

According to Wikipedia, “On September 21, 2005, Peterson penned a column for WorldNetDaily, in which he suggested the majority of the African-American people stranded in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina were “welfare-pampered”, “lazy” and “immoral” and “Peterson has also thanked “God and white people” for slavery—adding that if it weren’t for the slave trade, blacks might have never made it to the United States—and described traveling on slave ships as akin to “being on a crowded airplane” That is one ‘brother’ who really hates his own race. How can he possibly think that way?

I can’t help but think that, had Hillary Clinton won the Democratic Primary and the Presidency in 2008, we would not be seeing all of this out-in-the-open, ‘can-you-top-this’ undisguised racism. I blame President Obama for a lot of things, but I can’t honestly blame him for being elected and thereby opening the floodgates of racial prejudice.

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

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, Monday, March 24th, 2014: Mixed Emotions

This past weekend’s reading brought an odd range of emotions:

HUMILITY: Geography is not my strong suit. When I was growing up, the continent of Africa was nearly always referred to as “the dark continent”, or “darkest Africa.” However, the amazing maps in “8 Maps That Will Change The Way You Look at Africa” help to shed light on “the dark continent” and its place in the modern world. Some of the maps are truly mind-boggling.

INCREDULITY: Why is David Vitter still a Senator? How was he not so shamed in his constituents’ eyes that not only did they not demand his immediate resignation when his diapered-DC Madam sexual habits were made public, they reelected him? And why is Vitter showing his face in public claiming that “…the Koch brothers are two of the most patriotic Americans in the history of the Earth…God bless the Koch brothers. They’re fighting for our freedoms.”? Steve Benen on The Maddow Blog can at least answer the the last question.

BETRAYAL: This one’s personal. My love-hate relationship with my beloved/cursed New York Jets is finally tipping over toward the ‘hate’ side. This weekend, the Jets announced their acquisition of former Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, and their release of hapless quarterback Matt Sanchez. My sense of betrayal has nothing to do with Sanchez–he sucked most of the time, but I wish him well. On the other hand, I wish that Michael Vick, of dog-fighting-ring/dog killer fame, would have his throwing arm mangled by a pit bull. Just enough to keep that scum out of football forever. In the meantime (well, when football season starts), I will boycott the Jets until that inhumane piece of shit is gone.

Damn, it's just a toy

Damn, it’s just a toy

Finally, to take that nasty taste out of your mouth:

CONTENTMENT: Although the story is five years old, it’s still heartwarming, and reinforces my opinion that animals are far better than humans. Mankind should really try to emulate Mother Nature.

In 2009, a fire in the Santa Barbara area had firefighters rescuing wildlife, including young animals separated from their mothers. The unlikely pair shown ended up together after their rescuers ran out of crates.
Rescued Fawn and Bobcat kittenfawn and bobcat kitten

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

The Waterless Watering Hole, Monday, February 3rd, 2014

A few recent articles got me started connecting several dots, which then began forming an unsettling picture. Read along, and let me know what you think.

First, according to this ClimateProgress article from January 31st, what was once the largest lake in the Middle East, Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran, has reportedly lost 95% of its water. While Lake Urmia is a saltwater lake, and not essential for agriculture or drinking water, such a huge reduction in size is more than alarming. From the article:

“Dam construction recently increased throughout the country, to provide both badly needed electricity and water supplies for irrigation. But that’s also diverted massive amounts of the freshwater that formerly flowed into Lake Urmia. Other major rivers throughout the country have gone dry, and the dust from the riverbeds and the salt from Lake Urmia’s dried basin are now a form of pollution unto themselves. Major cities around the country — including the capital of Tehran, home to 22 million — are making contingency plans for rationing. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently named water as a national security issue, and demonstrations and riots over water supplies have already erupted.”[emphasis mine]

“According to a 2012 study by the United Nations, 65 percent of the decline can be chalked up to climate change and the diversion of surface water cutting inflow to the lake. Another 25 percent was due to dams, and 10 percent was due to decreased rainfall over the lake itself.

A long drought in Iran ended two years ago, but the recent boost to rainfall has not been able to offset the other effects on the lake. Average temperatures around Lake Urmia rose three degrees in just the past ten years. In Pakistan, which sits along Iran’s southeast border, climate change has reduced snowmelt and river flow. That’s led to domestic political strife, and to a strained relationship with India over dams along the Indus River — Pakistan’s main source of freshwater.”[emphasis mine]

A commenter on the thread then led me to this Guardian article from November, concerning Hongjiannao Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake:

“Data released by local meteorological agencies on Thursday and reported by Chinese state media, shows the lake has now shrunk by almost one-third since 2009…”

Then there was this article by Graham Land entitled “Asia’s Disappearing Lakes”, with its alarming opening paragraphs:

“One of the worst environmental disasters in living memory is the near vanishing of the Aral Sea in Central Asia. What was once one of the world’s four largest lakes, containing some 1.5 thousand islands and covering 68,000 square kilometres (26,000 miles), by 2007 the Aral Sea was only 10% of its previous size and divided into four lakes.

What happened to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan’s inland sea was not the result of normal changing weather patterns. The fate of the Aral Sea is a story of human intervention, contamination and local climate change.”

Next, Brad Plumer interviews Francesca Femia of the think-tank Center for Climate and Security in this Washington Post article. Ms. Femia states that, during the period between 2006 and 2011, “…up to 60 percent of Syria’s land experienced one of the worst long-term droughts in modern history.”

“This drought — combined with the mismanagement of natural resources by [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, who subsidized water-intensive crops like wheat and cotton farming and promoted bad irrigation techniques — led to significant devastation. According to updated numbers, the drought displaced 1.5 million people within Syria…They all moved into urban areas — urban areas that were already experiencing economic insecurity due to an influx of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees.”

Ms. Femia added, “…we’re not making any claim to causality here. We can’t say climate change caused the civil war. But we can say that there were some very harsh climatic conditions that led to instability.” Later in the interview, Ms. Femia says that it was a 2011 NOAA report “showing that a prolonged period of drying in the Mediterranean and the Middle East was linked to climate change” that brought the conditions in Syria to her attention. [I mention this simply because I find it ironic that a NOAA report is taken so seriously outside of the U.S., while so many of our “exceptional Americans” are dumbfuck climate change deniers who wouldn’t trust a NOAA report if god it/him/herself read the report to them.]

We’ve all read the recent stories about the toxic spill in West Virginia that contaminated the water supply for 300,000 people. (And they’re still peeling more eye-watering layers off this onion of a story.) We’ve seen the photos and news reports showing West Virginians driving to designated water-supply centers for their ration of clean water–which didn’t appear to be enough for families to bathe, drink, cook, and somehow wash clothes with. At one point, Wal-Mart had to call in the local police to help protect a delivery of bottled water.

Now imagine if the Keystone XL pipeline is given the go-ahead, and eventually there’s a spill that contaminates the Ogallala Aquifer. Instead of 300,000 people being without clean water, it would be 3,000,000 – all vying for relief deliveries of fresh water.

I could go on, but I think you catch my drift: if mankind, and the United States in particular, continues to ignore global climate change, refuses to enforce current environmental regulations, continues to rely heavily on finite and filthy fossil fuels, and refuses to consider stricter pollution regulations, then clean drinking water will become more scarce, and more valuable. If scarcity of water is fueling riots and protests in other parts of the world, imagine what could happen in the United States: with so much of our citizenry being over-armed and paranoid, how soon would the shooting start? And, if even Iran is already considering water to be “a national security issue”, eventually the inept fools who occupy Congress might finally get it through their thick skulls that clean water is essential to life as we know it, and is therefore more important than oil. So, when do you think the first War for Water would start? Or maybe it would be referred to as WWW: World Water War?

Not that I think that all of this may happen within my lifetime, but as Rachel Maddow used to say, “Somebody talk me down!”

This is our daily open thread–talk about whatever you want!

The Watering Hole; Friday, January 24, 2014; The Poetry of Earth (part II)

“The poetry of earth is never dead.”
(John Keats, 1817)

A long time ago, the English poet William Wordsworth  wrote, in “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey,” a most able synopsis of the ideal relationship between mankind and the balance of earthly life:

 To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
 The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.  And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man
A motion and a spirit that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.  Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear, — both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognize
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my hearth, and soul
Of all my moral being.

One has to wonder, sometimes, what has happened in this, our ‘modern’ era, to Wordsworth’s “joy Of elevated thoughts”? A glance around at each day’s news headlinesat politics both at home and globally, at scientific data and the discussions based thereupon — offers little reassurance that “The anchor . . . of all . . . moral being” still has any root at all “In nature” much less in “the language of the sense.” Today about all that seems to count, at least for our species, is acquisition of money and power.

I’m not at all certain as to just how many different and distinct species inhabit this little backwater planet we call earth, but I’m guessing ‘tens of millions’ would at least reach ballpark status. And in a sensibly run situation, each and all species would most likely remain viable for a good long time, susceptible far more to global changes brought about by astronomical events than to any sort of localized ‘eat or be eaten’ thesis. In fact, one of the more significant mass extinctions happened some 65 million years ago when a sizable asteroid smashed into the earth, tossed all sorts of dust, smoke, and other debris into the atmosphere, modified the climate, and slammed the door on the dinosaurs, among numerous other life forms, in result. Extinction by natural phenomena is nothing new.

Then came humans. Homo sapiens, as we’ve named ourselves. Not sure just when it was that we popped up. Six thousand years ago, if you believe the believers; maybe a million years ago, give or take a hundred thousand or two, if you believe science. Not that it really matters all that much, given that it’s looking pretty certain that we as a species are well past the halfway mark of our existence, given how diligently we work with all our clever tools to modify the global climate sufficiently to force another mass extinction. Lucky for us there’s all that fossilized carbon left beneath the surface by all the life forms that disappeared in the last mass extinction; it appears, in fact, to be more than enough to ‘fuel’ (sotospeak) the next one.

Oh well, what the hey, I’m too old to worry about it all that much; my fate will likely already be a historical footnote by the time the mass die-off commences. Still, there are the young folks, and, well you know, the millions of other species, many of which will be at risk simply because of the idiocy implicit in our one species.

What went wrong?

I checked with poet Walt Whitman; he offered this little bit of wisdom back in 1855 as part of the preface to his masterwork, Leaves of Grass. He speaks my mind, and he somehow managed to do it some 87 years before I even showed up!

Animals

I think I could turn and live with animals,
they are so placid and self-contained

I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied,
 not one is demented with the mania of owning things,

Not one kneels to another,
nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,

Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth

Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men – go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers or families – re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.

Sounds like some of the best advice anyone could ever offer to not only you and me, but also to the entire of our species (even including such sapiens marginals as, say, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, et al. et al. . . . the list is endless). And seriously, just how is it that life-on-earth’s most “intelligent” species is the species engaged in a process previously left solely to galactic processes? What went wrong?

I tried to answer that question a decade or so ago. I used a total of 140 syllables in my so called Paradox of Humakind: Superior Inferiority effort and while I’m not at all sure I overturned every stone in the process, what the heck, right?

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!

So today, thanks to human consumption of fossil fuels and with climate change well underway courtesy of atmospheric CO2 levels approaching historic levels — with the Arctic ice cap rapidly melting and thereby allowing the release of the even more climate-altering (permafrost-embedded) methane, and with efforts on the part of science and thinking people to do whatever is necessary to halt and reverse the process dismissed as some sort of collaborative tom-foolery by industrial and political power centers — we have managed to contrive a potential mass extinction episode with the potential equivalence of the asteroid collision some 65 million years ago.  Bring on the Keystone XL Pipeline! More War! Invade Syria! Nuke Iran! Yeah! Benghazi Benghazi!!

So. Where is the sapiens these days, the intellect, the intelligence? What of “The anchor . . . of all . . . moral being”? Wordsworth drew that concept as he apparently pondered the messages he gained from his juxtaposition between the natural world and the world of Tintern Abbey in Wales, an ancient church founded in 1131 by Cistercian Monks who adhered to the Benedictine philosophy that insisted upon a moderate path between individual and institutionalized theses. Tintern Abbey stands in ruins today, as it has for several centuries. One cannot help but wonder if the words “in ruins” are not also applicable these days to most ‘Western’ religious practice, given that today’s major and most murderous conflicts are, after all, between the three major “God” -based belief systems of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And so the question persists: wherein and in whose hands lies the fate of the human species, indeed of the planet itself?

Brings to mind yet one more piece of compelling poetry, this one written by Philip Appleman sometime in the latter half of the twentieth century. It’s titled Last-Minute Message for a Time Capsule, and its message carries an all too familiar ring of truth.

I have to tell you this, whoever you are
that on one summer morning here, the ocean
pounded in on tumbledown breakers,
a south wind, bustling along the shore,
whipped the froth into little rainbows,
and a reckless gull swept down the beach
as if to fly were everything it needed.
I thought of your hovering saucers,
looking for clues, and I wanted to write this down,
so it wouldn’t be lost forever –
that once upon a time we had
meadows here, and astonishing things,
swans and frogs and luna moths
and blue skies that could stagger your heart.
We could have had them still,
and welcomed you to earth, but
we also had the righteous ones
who worshipped the True Faith, and Holy War.
When you go home to your shining galaxy,
say that what you learned
from this dead and barren place is
to beware the righteous ones.

Are we genuinely the ‘masters’ of our own fate? Of the fate of the planet’s biosphere? Based on current information, we may well prove to NOT be that much better an option than another collision with a giant asteroid! Here’s a better idea: re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem . . .Thanks Walt. If we can get THAT done it will be further evidence that Keats might have been correct after all when he wrote, “The poetry of earth is never dead.”


OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 6th, 2014: Odds and Ends

First, the weather: Here in southeastern New York, just a few days after two separate storms brought us 6+ inches of snow apiece, all that’s left of the snow are a few small scattered patches. Sub-frigid temps have given way to, well, right now it’s 55 degrees, according to my computer. Despite overnight temps in the mid-to-upper 40s, a band of freezing rain (which I could hear during one of my ‘up’ phases at around 3:00am) passed through during the night. Tonight, we’ll be dropping back to sub-freezing again. We’ve got some pretty strong wind gusts right now – the wind actually opened our front door a few minutes ago! And in the meantime, other parts of the country will be experiencing killer record-low temps and wind chills. Think warm thoughts, folks!

Second, our neighboring Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT): ICYMI from TP a few days ago, Senator Murphy spent a day with a local homeless man, and his account of the day and the Catch-22 in which so many homeless people are caught up in should be plastered across the country. (Senator Murphy is also one of the few senators who spent a week trying to live/eat on $4.50/day.) Every state should have at least one of their two senators be a hands-on, down in the trenches with the 99%, guy like this. I’m glad that he’s only 40, and should have a good long career as a true public servant ahead of him.

Lastly, to perhaps lift the spirits a bit, here’s The Weather Channel’s Top 100 photos of 2013. Enjoy!

This is our daily open thread–how is the weather affecting you? Speak up, about this or anything else on your mind.