The Watering Hole, Saturday, December 20, 2014: Conservative Governance

I’ve often said it’s the ideology of the political people doing things, not the party, that matters. On a national level, the Republican Party is entirely Conservative, with no Liberals in the House or Senate. The Democratic Party, OTOH, has many fiercely staunch Liberals, but it also has Conservatives, especially from predominantly red states, who we call “ConservaDems”, from the Latin word for “assholes.” People almost exclusively attribute to Republicans what should rightly be attributed to Conservatism. When people talk about what a Republican-controlled House passed, they often ignore how much Democratic support that same bill got. And that support usually didn’t come from the Liberal Wing of the party, it came from the Assholes, I mean, ConservaDems. When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (a/k/a, “LBJ”) passed his New Deal legislation, some prominent millionaires set about to destroy everything FDR (a/k/a “Neil Patrick Harris”) did. They did it because they were Conservatives, and Conservatism is a philosophy rooted in Selfishness, of putting the needs and desires of oneself above all others. It is the antithesis of Liberalism, which seeks to do what’s best for everyone as a whole. The mistake is in believing that the best way to govern a country is to treat both philosophies as equally valid. They are not. When you want to govern a population of lots of different people, you need to think about the group as a whole, not just about the individuals, whose concerns ,must also be considered. Conservatives do not believe in thinking about people as a whole group, but prefer to think of them as a bunch of individuals. I’m not saying there’s no place for a little bit of Conservative thought brought to a search for a public solution to a problem. It actually helps to have people who can say, “But the way you wrote this, convicted sex offenders can still vote in school board elections. Do you want that?” Or something like that. They can help define what the reasonable limits of our public assistance should be. But if you left it entirely up to them to decide, there would be no public assistance at all! And that is where America is headed by giving control of the country to Conservatives. Here’s some examples of the kinds of things Conservatives do when they get hold of public office.

By now you’ve heard stories about Ferguson, Missouri, Grand Jury Witness 40, the one whose testimony staunchly (and a little suspiciously) supported Officer Darren Wilson’s version of events. I say “suspiciously” because she raised money for Darren Wilson’s defense before giving testimony. And because she was a documented liar. [WARNING: Site has photo at the top of Officer Wilson standing over Michael Brown’s deceased, uncovered body. Just thought you should know.] This has not stopped Conservative radio and television entity Sean Hannity from using her perjury testimony words to defend Wilson. Now, one might wonder why a prosecutor would put someone up to testify to a grand jury, whose sole purpose is to decide if enough evidence exists to indict someone, if he knew the person would not give truthful testimony. He must not have known how unreliable a witness she was. Funny thing about that. It turns out he did know. He knew she could not possibly have been a witness to the events of that day, yet he put her forth, without revealing to the grand jury why he knew she was lying, to relay what turned out to be, for all intents and purposes, Darren Wilson’s version of events, as if it would corroborate what he told investigators. Conservatives do not respect the Truth, especially when it proves them wrong. If you know nothing else about how the grand jury process works, you must have heard that you can indict a ham sandwich. All that means is if a prosecutor wants to bring charges against someone so they stand trial, it can easily be done, even if evidence exists of the person’s innocence. So when a prosecutor with a history of being pro-police fails to convince a grand jury that a cop shooting an unarmed man might have committed a crime, you have to conclude he didn’t try very hard. Maybe there’s another ham sandwich out there against whom he will bring charges. In the meantime, that’s what Conservative law enforcement will get you. Expect to hear more stories like this.

Speaking of Missouri, even though women in this country (regardless of which state they’re in) have a constitutional right to obtain an abortion, a woman there must give her consent and convince the person performing the abortion that she is not being forced to have it. But it’s not enough for her to say on her own that she wants to have an abortion. But State Representative Rick Brattin has introduced a bill to be taken up in next year’s session that would require a woman to obtain and present the consent of the biological father before receiving abortion services. The language of the bill says there’s an exception if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, but in an interview with Mother Jones Brattin said that the rape would have to be proven.

“Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it,” Brattin tells Mother Jones. “So you couldn’t just go and say, ‘Oh yeah, I was raped’ and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape.” Brattin adds that he is not using the term “legitimate rape” in the same way as former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who famously claimed that women couldn’t get pregnant from a “legitimate rape” because “the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.” “I’m just saying if there was a legitimate rape, you’re going to make a police report, just as if you were robbed,” Brattin says. “That’s just common sense.” Under his bill, he adds, “you have to take steps to show that you were raped…And I’d think you’d be able to prove that.” The bill contains no provision establishing standards for claiming the rape or incest exceptions. It also doesn’t state any specific penalties for violating the law nor say whether a penalty would be imposed on the woman seeking the abortion or the abortion provider.

Some Conservatives may argue that if there is no penalty for not doing these things, then why worry about it? That’s not the point. Why write the law that way at all if it really doesn’t matter to you whether or not he woman is telling the truth? Unless, of course, your entire point is to humiliate and dominate a woman already going through a very difficult decision. A decision she has every legal right to make. Because we already know the truth doesn’t matter when you’re a Conservative. Brattin defended his bill by claiming it was an attempt to protect men’s rights. That’s nice, except Roe v. Wade protected a woman’s rights, not a man’s. If any such right existed in this situation, it surely would have been part of the debate from the beginning. It hasn’t because it doesn’t. You won’t hear many Liberals introducing bills like this..

And if you think Conservative governance is bad from the beginning of life, it doesn’t get any better at the end, either, especially when it’s a “legitimate death” at the hands of the state. If you don’t know this already about me, I am adamantly, 100% opposed to the use of capital punishment anywhere in the world, but I am especially opposed to its use in a country supposedly built on the idea of personal freedom (if you listen to the Conservatives.) There is 0% justification to execute someone for a crime he did not commit, but Conservatives on the Supreme Court don’t think that’s a problem. Nor are Conservatives particularly concerned about how cruel an execution is, as evidenced by Oklahoma’s refusal to stop using a drug in its lethal injections that doctors have warned is inadequate to do the job it’s supposed to do. After botching the execution of Clayton Lockett, 21 inmates have asked the courts to suspend further execution using lethal injections. One of the drugs used, which is supposed to make the condemned unconscious, doesn’t perform well enough to be used in operations (where you don’t want the patient waking up to find out his insides are opened up) and would be “problematic” to use in executions. The drugs that would be best for this purpose, if you still want to go through with killing someone that badly, are sold in Europe, and most European nations refuse to sell them if they know they’ll be used in carrying out executions. Good for them. What Oklahoma Government Murderers are failing to remember is that lethal injection was supposed to be a more humane way of killing someone because they would be unconscious for the part where they are killed. That point is entirely missed when the condemned is wide awake and totally aware of the effects on his body. Liberals care about this kind of thing. if you’re going to have executions at all (and there is no evidence that it does any good at deterring others from committing the same crimes), then don’t be like the people you say are the worst in Society. Conservatives, who respond better to negative stimuli, don’t get that a killer who knows someone else is getting executed for his crimes, is not in the least bit deterred from killing again. So you can expect more people to be put to death and, because it is inevitable if you’re going to execute people, more of them will be innocent of the crimes for which they are being executed, which doesn’t serve Society at all.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss the disease that is Conservatism, or anything else you wish to discuss.

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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, December 17, 2012 – Can We PLEASE Talk About Guns In Our Society Now?

On the morning of December 14, 2012, it was Newtown, Connecticut.
Before that it was Clackamas Town Center, Oregon.
Before that it was Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Before that it was Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Before that it was Aurora, Colorado.
Before that it was Seattle, Washington.
Before that it was Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Before that it was Oakland, California.
Before that it was Seal Beach, California.
Before that it was Carson City, Nevada.
Before that it was Tucson, Arizona.
Before that it was Manchester, Connecticut.
Before that it was Fort Hood, Texas.
Before that it was Binghamton, New York.
Before that it was Carthage, North Carolina.
Before that it was Northern Illinois University, Illinois.
Before that it was Kirkwood, Missouri.
Before that it was Omaha, Nebraska.
Before that it was Virginia Tech, Virginia.
Before that it was Salt Lake City, Utah.
Before that it was Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Before that it was Seattle, Washington.
Before that it was Red Lake, Minnesota.
Before that it was Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Before that it was Meridian, Minnesota.
Before that it was Fort Worth, Texas.
Before that it was Atlanta, Georgia.
And before that, on the morning of April 20, 1999, it was Littleton, Colorado.

These are all places where someone, or several someones, took a gun, or several guns, and began shooting people at some location, or several locations. Does this list strike you as being rather long? These are just ones since Columbine. There were others in between and before that. Many people died in those mass shootings. Too many. And too many were children. Far, far too many. And yet, we can’t seem to have that talk about all these mass shootings and the prevalence of guns in our society.

How many people have to die in mass shootings before we are allowed to talk Continue reading

Oklahoma abortion law will expose women to danger

The Raw Story

A new Oklahoma law that forces women who have had abortions to post details of the procedure online is being sharply criticized

by women’s rights groups, and is now being challenged in court by two Oklahoma women.

As of November 1, doctors in Oklahoma will be compelled — under penalty of criminal prosecution — to post the details of each abortion they perform online. Among the details to be posted for every abortion is the patient’s age, marital status and race; her financial condition; her education; and the total number of her previous pregnancies.

In all, 37 personal questions will have to be asked and answered, and posted publicly for the world to see, under the new law.

“A friend said it best: It’s like undressing women in public, exposing their most personal issues on the Internet,” Lora Joyce Davis, one of the plaintiffs suing to prevent the law from coming into effect, told ABC News.

Hey, if protesting on a street corner against a legal medical procedure doesn’t stop enough abortions, then pull out the big guns and pass laws that will terrorize women into giving birth.  Yeah, that’s the ticket!

The law has come under extreme criticism from social activists. The Feminists for Choice blog declares the law invalid under the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

“A major goal of the Privacy Rule is to assure that individuals’ health information is properly protected while allowing the flow of health information needed to provide and promote high quality health care and to protect the public’s health and well being,” blogger Reyna writes. “This law does quite the opposite. Instead of protecting patients, this law puts these [women] in danger.”

But since they had dirty, dirty sex and then tried to cover it up by having an abortion, danger is what they deserve, right?

It’s all about the blastocyst with these people.  Living, breathing women are second class citizens to “potential life.”  Incubators, if you will.

“Why don’t we just tattoo a Scarlett “A” on their foreheads?” blogger Mike the Mad Biologist asks at ScienceBlogs.

Don’t give ’em any ideas, Mike…

Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern Blames “Sinners” For Recession – Not The Bankers

This is the same woman who made this statement about homosexuality in 2008:  “I honestly think it’s the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam.

Sally Kern’s, a self appointed moral guardian, drafted the “Oklahoma Citizens Morality Proclamation” in which she blames sinners – people with bad moral behavior – for the recession.  Here is a sample:

“We the People of Oklahoma, Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessing of Liberty…

WHEREAS, we believe our economic woes are consequences of our greater national moral crisis; and

WHEREAS, this nation has become a world leader in promoting abortion, pornography, same sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse, and many other forms of debauchery; and

WHEREAS, alarmed that the Government of the United States of America is forsaking the rich Christian heritage upon which this nation was built; and

WHEREAS, grieved that the Office of the president of these United States has refused to uphold the long held tradition of past presidents in giving recognition to our National Day of Prayer; and

Continue reading