Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
“The whole scheme of Christian Salvation is diabolical as revealed by the creeds. An angry God, imagine such a creator of the universe. Angry at what he knew was coming and was himself responsible for. Then he sets himself about to beget a son, in order that the child should beg him to forgive the Sinner. This however he cannot or will not do. He must punish somebody--so the son offers himself up & our creator punishes the innocent youth, never heard of before--for the guilty and became reconciled to us. . . . . I decline to accept Salvation from such a fiend.”
— Andrew Carnegie, to Sir James Donaldson, Principal of St. Andrews University, June 1, 1905. Letters (except to Haldane) in Library of Congress collection, cited by Joseph Frazier Wall, Andrew Carnegie, 1970.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
What caused the financial crisis? The Big Lie goes viral.
by Barry Ritholtz
...One group has been especially vocal about shaping a new narrative of the credit crisis and economic collapse: those whose bad judgment and failed philosophy helped cause the crisis.
Rather than admit the error of their ways — Repent! — these people are engaged in an active campaign to rewrite history. They are not, of course, exonerated in doing so. And beyond that, they damage the process of repairing what was broken. They muddy the waters when it comes to holding guilty parties responsible. They prevent measures from being put into place to prevent another crisis.
Here is the surprising takeaway: They are winning. Thanks to the endless repetition of the Big Lie.
A Big Lie is so colossal that no one would believe that someone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. There are many examples: Claims that Earth is not warming, or that evolution is not the best thesis we have for how humans developed. Those opposed to stimulus spending have gone so far as to claim that the infrastructure of the United States is just fine, Grade A (not D, as the we discussed last month), and needs little repair.
Wall Street has its own version: Its Big Lie is that banks and investment houses are merely victims of the crash. You see, the entire boom and bust was caused by misguided government policies. It was not irresponsible lending or derivative or excess leverage or misguided compensation packages, but rather long-standing housing policies that were at fault.
(In short) Congress radically deregulated the financial sector, doing away with many of the protections that had worked for decades. Congress allowed Wall Street to self-regulate, and the Fed turned a blind eye to bank abuses.read the rest here. Repetition is the key to learning, and deceit has become part of the fabric of this country.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
by Steve Benen
First up from the God Machine this week is a Thanksgiving-related news story, which had some conservatives pretty worked up this week.
Here, for example, was the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer warning American consumers about the scourge of Muslim turkeys:
“I want to talk a little bit about Butterball turkeys. And I want to let you know [that] every single Butterball turkey sold in the United States of America has been sacrificed to Allah.
“Every single turkey that Butterball sells has been ritually slaughtered according to Islamic practice and has had an Islamic prayer prayed over that bird while it is being slaughtered.”
Anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller was also outraged by the prospect of “stealth halal turkeys” on dining room tables nationwide.
“Across this great country, on Thanksgiving tables nationwide, infidel Americans are unwittingly going to be serving halal turkeys to their families this Thursday. Turkeys that are halal certified — who wants that, especially on a day on which we are giving thanks to G-d for our freedom? I wouldn’t knowingly buy a halal turkey — would you? Halal turkey, slaughtered according to the rules of Islamic law, is just the opposite of what Thanksgiving represents: freedom and inclusiveness, neither of which are allowed for under that same Islamic law.”
Geller went so far as to call for a boycott of Butterball, while Fischer wants right-wing activists to pressure the company on this.
What in the world are these folks talking about? Well, it turns out that Butterball slaughters its turkeys in a pretty standard way, but that method happens to coincide with Jewish and Muslim dietary laws regarding food preparation. It allows Butterball to appeal to Jewish consumers who want to eat kosher, observant Muslims consumers, as well as everyone else who might want to buy a turkey. The company isn’t promoting or favoring one religion; it’s just trying to sell its product to as diverse an audience as possible. It’s about capitalism, plain and simple.
Right-wing hysterics notwithstanding, there’s just nothing for sane people to get excited about here. The turkeys themselves, in all likelihood, probably aren’t religious, and there’s nothing about their slaughter that associates them with any specific faith tradition.
This is just about some bigots who’ve decided that even turkeys at Thanksgiving should be turned into a culture-war squabble.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* The latest research from the Pew Research Center suggests Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith may affect his chances in the GOP primaries, but even conservatives who hate Mormons would vote for him over President Obama.
* Officials in Denmark are eyeing changes to the country’s marriage laws, and want to allow “same-sex couples to get married in formal church weddings, instead of the short blessing ceremonies that the state Lutheran Church currently offers.” (thanks to R.P. for the tip)
* Psychology researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that atheists are “among the least liked people … in most of the world,” and believe the animosity is driven by a lack of trust. (Can't trust atheists?! Have you seen the Republican candidates for President?!)
* In Ohio, seven members of the so-called “Bergholz Clan,” a cult-like breakaway Amish group, were arrested by FBI agents this week, charged with “violating the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in connection with a string of beard-cutting incidents.”
Maybe Steve went to print too soon for this one:
Obama Thanksgiving Address: Conservatives Upset By Lack Of God Mention
Some conservatives are annoyed that President Obama did not mention God during a short Thanksgiving address he made on Thursday. (Watch below.)
ABC News reports that multiple conservative columnists wrote about what they perceived as an oversight on the president's part. Sherman Frederick at The Las Vegas Review-Journal chided, "Somebody ought to remind Obama (and his speechwriter) that when Americans sit down around a meal today and give thanks, they give thanks to God."
Fox News columnist Todd Starnes complained that the president's "remarks were void of any religious references although Thanksgiving is a holiday traditionally steeped in giving thanks and praise to God."
And the Los Angeles Times reports that right-wing corners of Twitter were abuzz over Obama's failure to get religious, with many retweeting Starnes' headline: "Obama Leaves God Out of Thanksgiving Address."
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro didn't hold back, tweeting:"Unreal that Obama doesn't mention God in Thanksgiving message. Militant atheist. To whom does he think we are giving thanks?"
In his speech, which clocked in at just over three minutes, Obama delivered a simple holiday message. He said that he and his family, like many Americans, would spend the day "eating great food, watching a little football, and reflecting on how truly lucky we are." He went on to thank military service members who were "eating Thanksgiving dinners far from your families" and Americans who "are taking time out of their holiday to serve in soup kitchens and shelters...this sense of mutual responsibility, the idea that I'm my brother's keeper, that I'm my sister's keeper, has always been part of what makes our country special." He also acknowledged America's tough economic climate and its persistent political gridlock, offering hope that things could improve.
Friday, November 25, 2011
If you like Michael Moore, you will LOVE this book. If you don't like Michael but you are broad-minded anyway (what are the odds?), read this book and you will gain some respect for the guy. Unless you're a hopelessly creeped-out fundmentalist zombie, perhaps. If so, go back to your cave.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
My suspicions have been confirmed! The more you watch Fox News, the stupider you get! Turn on the TV and turn OFF your mind!!
Unfortunately, my father has been watching Fox News for years now. I hope the Fox Effect is not irreversible. There is no law in the US that says you have to tell the truth, and Murdoch and Fox take full advantage of it.
Fox News Viewers Know Less Than People Who Don't Watch Any News: Study
Fox News viewers are less informed than people who don't watch any news, according to a new poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
The poll surveyed New Jersey residents about the uprisings in Egypt and the Middle East, and where they get their news sources. The study, which controlled for demographic factors like education and partisanship, found that "people who watch Fox News are 18-points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government" and "6-points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their government" compared to those who watch no news.
Overall, 53% of all respondents knew that Egyptians successfully overthrew Hosni Mubarak and 48% knew that Syrians have yet to overthrow their government.
Dan Cassino, a political science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson, explained in a statement, "Because of the controls for partisanship, we know these results are not just driven by Republicans or other groups being more likely to watch Fox News. Rather, the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all."
This isn't the first study that has found that Fox News viewers more misinformed in comparison to others. Last year, a study from the University of Maryland found that Fox News viewers were more likely to believe false information about politics.
We are not surprised!
Monday, November 21, 2011
There were some outstanding artists on the scene ... and many were sitting, squatting, and crouching ...
The skies were cloudy both days and constantly threatened rain, but only a few drops fell ...
It's not every day you can attend a free event in Sam Houston Park ...
She's not made of chalk, but she's still a work of art ....
These artists did it all....from portraits ...
...to fantasy ....
...to .... puppies!
to ... well, just about everything. And all of it would be gone, wiped away by people and cars within 24 hours. Temporary and transient. And art.
"VIA COLORI. HERE TWO DAYS. GONE FOREVER. Clever. But not quite "gone."
Saturday, November 19, 2011
DID YOU KNOW?
World Hello Day is November 21. Celebrate World Hello Day by saying hello to 10 people. The objective is to greet people and show world leaders that communication is a better way to solve conflicts than the use of force.
World Hello Day was started by Brian and Michael McCormack in 1973 as a response to the Yom Kippur War. The day is now observed by more than 180 countries.
Go to Care2.com and send an eCard.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
from Talking Points Memo
Stunning Time-Lapse Video of Earth
Composed of photographs by NASA astronaut Ron Garan (@astro_ron on Twitter) taken from the International Space Station from August to October 2011, German artist Michael Konig edited images of Earth into a spectacular time-lapse video. According to Konig, the images were taken from an altitude of about 200 miles above Earth with a high definition camera. Konig aimed to let the images speak for themselves in the video.
“All in all I tried to keep the looks of the material as original as possible, avoided adjusting the colors and the like, since in my opinion the original footage itself already has an almost surreal an aestethical (sic) visual nature,” he wrote on the video’s caption.
Here’s a list of the shooting locations, in order of appearance:
1. Aurora Borealis Pass over the United States at Night
2. Aurora Borealis and eastern United States at Night
3. Aurora Australis from Madagascar to southwest of Australia
4. Aurora Australis south of Australia
5. Northwest coast of United States to Central South America at Night
6. Aurora Australis from the Southern to the Northern Pacific Ocean
7. Halfway around the World
8. Night Pass over Central Africa and the Middle East
9. Evening Pass over the Sahara Desert and the Middle East
10. Pass over Canada and Central United States at Night
11. Pass over Southern California to Hudson Bay
12. Islands in the Philippine Sea at Night
13. Pass over Eastern Asia to Philippine Sea and Guam
14. Views of the Mideast at Night
15. Night Pass over Mediterranean Sea
16. Aurora Borealis and the United States at Night
17. Aurora Australis over Indian Ocean
18. Eastern Europe to Southeastern Asia at Night
Saturday, November 12, 2011
The people that shop at Wal-Mart are another, uh, breed, entirely. Check out this website ("The People of Wal-Mart") to give yourself yet another reason to avoid Wal-Mart. Or, hey, you might find your long-lost cuzzin there.
Pops in Pink
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Jim was one of the moderators at the most-recent GOP "debate" 11/9/11, and he's pretty fired up in this clip made after the "debate." He speaks some truth in this one...
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
From PFAW - People For the American Way:What a huge day for progressive power! Yesterday, voters in nearly every region of the country turned out and resoundingly defeated right-wing attacks on:
- Workers’ Rights (Ohio);
- Choice (Mississippi);
- Voting Rights (Maine);
- Marriage Equality (Iowa);
- Immigrant Civil Rights AND Government By the People (Arizona);
- Public Education (North Carolina);
- AND MORE.
Let’s remember that most of the Republican presidential candidates came down on the losing side of virtually every one of these issues, showing how out of touch they and their party are with Americans’ values. Frontrunner Mitt Romney, whom many consider to be the presumptive nominee, after his usual hemming and hawing, came out strongly against workers’ rights in Ohio and said he would support the shockingly extreme “personhood” amendment in Mississippi that would have given fertilized eggs the rights of human beings. Even the overwhelmingly Republican -- and culturally conservative -- electorate of deep red state Mississippi rejected that radical position by a whopping 58%-42%. An astute political observer might accurately say that Mitt Romney was in fact yesterday’s, and thus Election 2011’s, biggest loser.
Ohio -- workers’ rights and defending the middle class WIN
In Ohio, voters stood up their neighbors -- their nurses, teachers, policemen and firefighters -- and successfully repealed the right-wing governor’s Wisconsin-style attack on the fundamental collective bargaining rights of public employees -- the law known as SB 5. Tallies are showing that over 60% of voters voted “No” on Issue 2, to repeal SB 5, with only six counties in the entire state showing majorities in favor of keeping the law. In all those counties, Republican Governor John Kasich won with more than 60% of the vote in 2010.
We worked hard, with PFAW activists in Ohio playing a critical role in the effort. Our allies in Ohio, especially our friends at We Are Ohio, led an inspiring and effective campaign. This victory will have a lasting impact in Ohio and national politics, as it staved off an attack that could have been crippling to progressives in a critical swing state.
The attacks on working people in Ohio, Wisconsin and other states are part of a right-wing effort to break the back of organized labor, which is a major source of progressive power and one of the only political counterweights to the corporate special interests that fund the Right. Like laws that disenfranchise voters in communities that traditionally vote more progressive, these new policies are a naked partisan power grab by Republican politicians, and at the same time serve as a big gift, basically a policy kickback, to their corporate contributors like the Koch brothers.
We will work hard to help replicate nationally for 2012 the Ohio organizing model that mobilized a middle-class revolt against right-wing extremism in that state.
Mississippi -- reproductive rights WIN
As I mentioned above, voters in Mississippi, a state in which Democrats didn’t even bother to run a candidate in several statewide races, overwhelmingly rejected a state constitutional amendment that would have defined a fertilized egg as a person. That dreadful law would have effectively turned ALL abortions, without exception for rape, incest of the health of the mother, into murder under state law. It would have done the same with many popular forms of birth control and the processes involved in fertility treatment, even creating legal suspicion around miscarriages.
A similar “personhood” amendment had twice been rejected by voters in Colorado by similarly large margins, but polling leading up to Election Day in Mississippi showed a toss up. It’s important to note that while many anti-choice conservatives expressed reservations about the far-reaching extremity of the amendment, just about every Religious Right group and Republican supported it … and it lost by 16 points … IN MISSISSIPPI.
Maine -- voting rights WIN
Maine voters yesterday voted to preserve their same-day voter registration policy after the right-wing legislature passed a law to repeal it.
In another example of the Right doing everything it can to make ballot access more difficult for some voters, after Republicans took control of the governorship and the legislature in 2010, one of the first things on the chopping block was Maine’s same-day voter registration law.
Voters have been able to register at their polling place on Election Day in Maine since 1973 -- if there is anything ingrained in the voting culture of Maine it’s same-day registration. Same-day voter registration is the reason Maine has one of the highest voter turnouts in the country (states with same-day registration average 6% higher turnout than states without it). It’s good for democracy … but apparently that’s bad for the Right.
Republicans had used the bogus straw man argument about “widespread voter fraud” -- even though it’s never been a reported problem in Maine. They amazingly trotted out the argument that people who wait until Election Day to register are not “engaged” enough in the process, even though same-day registrants are simply abiding by the law of nearly 40 years, and showing up on Election Day is the ultimate demonstration of “engagement.”
The Maine Republican Party even ran a full page newspaper ad just before the election trying to portray the ballot initiative to “repeal the repeal” and save same-day registration as some sort of gay activist plot. The ad implied that Equality Maine’s support of the referendum was somehow insidious and revealing of some problem with the long-standing, pro-democracy law. In reality, LGBT rights groups did have stake in the results of yesterday’s same-day voter registration ballot initiative because if Mainers would not join together to defeat such a radical right-wing usurpation of voters’ rights, then the Equality movement in that state concluded there would be little hope in waging another campaign to enact same-sex marriage equality by referendum. So, yesterday’s victory for voting rights effectively leaves the door open for a future victory for marriage equality as well.
Iowa -- marriage equality WIN
While the victory in Maine opens the possibility of a future win for marriage equality in that state, in Iowa, the state’s existing marriage equality law won a major victory with the election of the Democrat running in a special election for state Senate. Party control of the Senate hinged on this race and if the Republican had won, the legislature would surely move to undo marriage equality for same-sex couples in Iowa.
The Senate seat in question became open when Republican Governor Terry Branstad appointed incumbent Democratic Senator Swati Dandekar to a high paying post on the Iowa Utilities Board. Republicans knew full well that the bare majority Democrats held in the Senate would then be up for grabs, and with it, the fate of marriage equality. Congratulations to Democratic Senator Elect Liz Mathis, the voters who elected her and all the people of Iowa whose rights will continue to be protected by a state marriage law that holds true to our core constitutional values of Fairness and Equality.
Arizona -- immigrant rights and democracy WIN
Voters in Arizona really made an impressive show of strength yesterday when they voted to RECALL Republican State Senator Russell Pearce, the architect of Arizona’s infamous draconian “show me your papers” immigration bill, SB 1070. Arizonans did themselves and the country a great service in rejected the lawmaker who pioneered the shameful racial profiling bill.
This is not just a victory for fair and humane immigration policy. The often untold story of SB 1070 is that it was engineered by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a policy group funded by corporate special interests that essentially rights many of the laws pushed every year by right-wing state legislators across the country. SB 1070 was on its face an ugly, racist backlash against undocumented immigrants, but it was also a handout to the powerful private prison industry, which stood to benefit financially by mass roundups of undocumented immigrants who would, of course, be held in prisons.
The successful recall of the right-wing, anti-immigrant icon Russell Pearce was a win for fairness, for civil liberties and for the dignified treatment of America’s immigrant communities. But it was also a triumph over corrupt corporate influence in government and a victory for Government By the People.
Wake County, North Carolina -- public education and racial equality WIN
Last month, voters in Wake County, North Carolina decisively defeated four conservative school board candidates responsible for scrapping the district's lauded diversity policies. Yesterday, the final runoff election was decided by Wake County voters who handed victory, and majority control of the school board, to the Democrats.
The ousted board members had been backed by the Koch-funded Tea Party group Americans For Prosperity (AFP). This past summer, People For the American Way and PFAW's African American Ministers in Action (AAMIA) program joined with Brave New Foundation to cosponsor the release of their “Koch Brothers Exposed” video that told the story of AFP’s involvement in the school board election and the board’s effort to resegregate schools. I’m proud that we were able to help shine a light on the Right’s unconscionable attack on public education, racial equality and civil rights.
More Notable Results
The citizens of Missoula, Montana passed a resolution in support of amending the Constitution to end corporate personhood and undo the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision in Citizen's United v. FEC. The referendum was initiated by a City Councilwoman Cynthia Wolken, an active member of our affiliate PFAW Foundation’s Young Elected Official (YEO) Network.
In Kentucky, Democrats won four out of five statewide races with incumbent Democratic governor Steve Beshear winning in a landslide over his Republican challenger.
In New Jersey, after two years on the losing side of confrontations with Gov. Chris Christie, Democrats seemed to turn the tide, fighting off well-funded Republican challenges and gaining one seat in the state Legislature.
And in Virginia, the GOP was expected to take majority control of the state Senate -- which they only needed two seats to do but might have fallen just short. With a paper-thin margin of 86 votes in one race handing preliminary victory to the Republican, there will surely be a recall and Democrats are at least publicly optimistic.
There were more progressive victories in local races around the country, and some losses. For the most part, however, the losses were either very minor or very expected. Where the eyes of the nation was focused, and where progressives put energy and resources, we won across the board. This morning, as we look ahead to 2012, the Right should be very nervous.
Thank you for your ongoing support -- it makes all the difference, every time … and 2012 will be no exception.
Michael Keegan, President
Second, because its optical technology is more precise, the solar cells it creates have a higher efficiency. "Our calculations show that some material that is at 16 percent efficiency now is capable of reaching 20 percent if we take advantage of these photonic effects," NREL principal engineer Bhushan Sopori said. "That's huge." Lauren Simenauer and Sean Pool explain what this means:
The White House has challenged the solar industry to produce clean electricity at $1 per watt. It has also set a national goal to achieve 80 percent clean energy use by 2035…The good news is that researchers are racing toward that goal at an impressive rate.
In fact, the cost of photovoltaic, or PV, cells had already fallen 50 percent in the past two years prior to the DOE announcement. A June 2011 projection predicted PV module prices would hit the goal of $1 per watt by 2013; now the finish line of the proverbial "race to the bottom" seems even more imminent.
In a way, this is the quiet silver lining behind Solyndra's highly publicized failure. Solyndra's goal was to produce cheaper, better solar power, and it failed because other companies beat them to the punch. But this is good news. Whether it's Solyndra or someone else, what's important is that stiff competition in the solar sector is producing dramatic gains in solar efficiency. Ramez Naam provides the numbers:
Over the last 30 years, researchers have watched as the price of capturing solar energy has dropped exponentially. There's now frequent talk of a "Moore's law"
in solar energy. In computing, Moore's law dictates that the number of
components that can be placed on a chip doubles every 18 months…If similar dynamics worked in solar power technology, then we would eventually have the solar equivalent of an iPhone—incredibly cheap, mass distributed energy technology that was many times more effective than the giant and centralized technologies it was born from.
…Averaged over 30 years, the trend is for an annual 7 percent reduction in the
dollars per watt of solar photovoltaic cells…If the 7 percent decline in costs
continues (and 2010 and 2011 both look likely to beat that number), then in 20 years the cost per watt of PV cells will be just over 50 cents…The cost of solar, in the average location in the U.S., will cross the current average retail electricity price of 12 cents per kilowatt hour in around 2020, or 9 years from now…10 years later, in 2030, solar electricity is likely to cost half what coal electricity does today. Solar capacity is being built out at an exponential pace already. When the prices become so much more favorable than those of alternate energy sources, that pace will only accelerate.
Solar power isn't the answer to all our energy needs. No matter how cheap it gets, we'll still probably need nukes or natural gas to provide baseload power. But even if solar can only provide electricity during daylight hours — and improved storage technology may change even that in the future—daylight hours are when electricity use is highest. Combine cheap solar with hydro, wind, and, maybe, biofuels, and the need for fossil fuels could diminish dramatically over the next few decades. What's more, the need for the worst of the fossil fuels, coal, could diminish even more.
All that depends a lot on how serious we get about this, but it depends even more on solar power getting cheaper than coal. Federally funded basic research, like NREL's work on the Optical Cavity Furnace, is a key part of that.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Political Class Clowns
By TIMOTHY EGAN
For a Republican Party that has spent the better part of its presidential campaign proving that most of its candidates are not smarter than a fifth grader, the real scandal around frontrunner-of-the-moment Herman Cain is not what he knows. It’s what he doesn’t know.
China, for example. Lost in the wave of contradictory statements about his personal behavior was something Cain said a few days ago about the Asian powerhouse.
China, said Cain with his clueless urgency, is “trying to develop nuclear capability.” Anyone who is gobsmacked by this category five level of ignorance concerning a country that has had nuclear weapons for more than 45 years has not been paying attention. Cain makes Sarah Palin, with her eagle-eyed view of Russia from Alaska, sound like a Council of Foreign Relations scholar on a gasbag high.
The clowns have finally taken over the circus, and I mean this with all due respect to those who labor with painted faces and oversized shoes. The party that got itself into a fever over Barack Obama’s imaginary Kenyan birth, and briefly elevated Donald Trump, the main purveyor of that invention, to its front ranks, is now overwhelmed by its own nonsense.Herman Cain was never — and will never be — a serious candidate. He’s a vanity candidate who got into the race to boost his income as a motivational speaker. And lo, because he can speak, and people like Governor Rick Perry cannot string noun, verb and object together in a coherent fashion, he looks superior by comparison.
As evidenced by his year on the stump, Cain has proved that he knows almost nothing about American life beyond burgers and pizzas, and even less about the larger world.
But Cain is not the problem. It’s his party. Cain gets away with saying that we should have a moat along the Mexican border filled with alligators because there is no reality cop on the Republican beat.
Jonathan Ernst/ReutersHerman Cain was trailed by reporters in Washington on Nov. 2.
Consider Newt Gingrich, something I suspect many Republicans will now start doing as Cain craters. Gingrich fancies himself as the intellectual among high-office aspirants on the right, albeit a grumpy one. Yet he spent much of his early campaign talking about the nonexistent danger of Shariah law in the United States. In March, when President Obama gave the O.K. for American air support to save lives and oust Muammar el-Qaddafi, Gingrich said it would prove to be one of the worst foreign policy blunders in his lifetime.
Or look for just a moment at Rick Santorum, a man who is obsessed with other people’s sex lives. Last month, this former senator said if he were president he’d wage a campaign against “the dangers of contraception.” He’s serious. “It’s not O.K.,” he said. “It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
The former Iowa frontrunner, Rep. Michele Bachmann, thinks the poor should pay more taxes, and that vaccines against cervical cancer may cause mental retardation. I think she gets her information from a guy living in a van down by the river. On the eve of the last Republican debate, Politifact, the nonpartisan referee, rated 14 of her 36 major policy statements as false. And 9 of those 14 were given the “pants on fire” lie designation.
While the nation begs for solutions to the troubles of a hurting and diminishing middle class, Republicans have been talking about whether Mormonism is a cult, and how many Mexicans they can kill with Cain’s alligators. In the process of trying to delegitimize Obama, they have done the same to themselves.
More than ever, the public feels disconnected from the political process. They feel like it’s an inside game, and money always wins. They despise a Congress that fiddles with votes to keep “In God We Trust” as a national motto and rails against a nonexistent rule to regulate dust, but will do nothing to forward funds to repair a bridge. In the last CBS/New York Times poll, Congressional approval was 9 percent. The only surprise was that it was so high.
It does not matter if the sexual harassment story about Herm Cain the restaurant lobbyist came from a plant by Rick Perry or from Bart Simpson. What Cain did after hours is not a worthy discussion because Cain is not a worthy candidate. He should run for something — anything — and study the globe for 20 minutes before assuming he can be president. In the meantime, Republicans have the frontrunner they deserve.
The public already knows the real scandal: our broken politics. On Sunday, in case we need reminding, the disgraced criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff will be on “60 Minutes” giving a little tutorial about life in the nation’s capital. He had 100 congressmen in his pocket, he explains. “We owned them.”
And as long as the political class focuses on the happy-hour antics of a pizza man, nothing will change but the name of the lobbyist counting congressmen in his corral.
What kind of Psychometer would this be without an elected representative saying something obscenely racist? Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina weaved an embarrassing metaphor to a crowd of college students likening illegal immigrants to home-invading rodents.
He may have directed the hit "Tower Heist," but Brett Ratner didn't have the best week. You know you may be having PR trouble when you have to confirm that you "banged" Olivia Munn but did not masturbate with shrimp in the same sentence, as Ratner did.
James Franco, the Most Serious Artist of Our Time, is going to hold a seance for Tennessee Williams, right on the heels of some kind of James Dean project that involves dildos. To be honest, we're officially exhausted following all the Important Art created by the worst thing about "Spider-Man 3."
Kirk Cameron took a break from scolding people for not loving Jesus to scold people for not knowing this country's important documents. He asked a TV audience whether the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence starts with "Four score and seven years ago," before revealing, trick question, that it was the Emancipation Proclamation -- and not the Gettysburg Address, like it is in real, non-Truthiness-based life.
A Virginia GOP committee celebrated Halloween very festively this year, but they forgot to not pass around a pamphlet depicting a Zombie Obama complete with bullet holes and other wounds.
Should we really feel bad for Herman Cain? He's still the GOP frontrunner without managing a halfway serious campaign. And between his newfound brotherhood with the Koch brothers, as well as a sexual harassment scandal whose facts he can't keep straight, Cain has proven that he's either a genius or the luckiest former pizza CEO of all time.
Ann Coulter says a lot of nonsense simply to rile up liberals, but claiming that that the Republican party's black people are "so much better than" the Democratic party's black people was over the line -- even for her. We know what Coulter meant, but when such poor common sense is displayed, we have to call it out.
Kim Kardashian once again defended her title of World's Most Useless Human Being by ending her marriage only 72 days after her $18 million wedding, offending gays who can't get married, the poor and unemployed, and anyone with a moral compass in one swift stroke.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Farm Fest 2011Last Organic Outpost’s annual FarmFest will be on Saturday November 5, 2011!
This FREE family-centered event will be held from 10am to 4pm at 711 N. Emile, in the heart of Houston’s Fifth Ward, and will feature a short fitness fun walk, art, healthy food, music, children’s activities and lectures and demonstrations about sustainable gardening and lifestyle practices.
The Last Organic Outpost is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization maintaining the farm at 711 N. Emile and dedicated to creating a sustainable urban farm belt and “food everywhere” gardens in Houston's underserved inner city.
For the past 11 years we have been developing and running model projects in Houston’s Fifth and Third Wards, some of our city’s largest food deserts. We have worked with children from St. John’s Bread of Life, from Prairie View A&M, mother’s groups, team building groups, various religious groups, and Life is Living.
Some of the other programs and work we do:
- Individuals can work with us, and receive fresh produce in payment.
- Free produce for our elderly neighbors near the Farm who cannot work.
- Free cooking demonstrations and tastings at the Farm.
- Classes, grade school to college, on farming, vermiculture, and nutrition.
- Free or low cost, hands-on, gardening classes and demonstrations.
We also believe that sustainable communities gain strength by encouraging all members to learn, work, grow, and just have fun together. Please support us in this effort.
For more information on who we are, please visit our website:
Friday, November 4, 2011
The wealthy have been waging class warfare on the rest of us since Reagan, and they've been winning. So, what should be done about it? Get a rope?
From Paul Krugman's blog:
Inequality Trends In One Picture
Just an addendum on the role of the top 1 percent versus the college-noncollege differential. Here, from the CBO report, are the changes, in percentage points, of the shares of income going to three groups. The top quintile excluding the top 1 percent – which is basically the abode of the well-educated who aren’t among the very lucky few – has only kept pace with the overall growth in incomes. Just about all of the redistribution has taken place from the bottom 80 to the top 1 (and we know that most of that has actually gone to the top 0.1).
It’s a tiny minority, not a broad class of well-educated Americans, who have been winning here.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Lancaster was not only tough physically, he was also tough in his religious, ethical and political stances, and was willing to risk money and status for what he believed in. In 1947, he was nearly blacklisted after signing a letter deploring the anticommunist witch hunts in Hollywood. The FBI kept a file detailing his activities. Lancaster was a self-described atheist, turning down the role of Ben-Hur, but taking on the role of a corrupt evangelist in "Elmer Gantry" (1960), because he wanted to make an anti-Billy Graham statement. He won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as the oily preacher. Lancaster participated in Martin Luther King's March on Washington in 1963, was an active campaigner for George McGovern in the 1972 presidential election, and was one of 575 people named on President Nixon's 1973 "Enemies List." He appeared in the movie "Go Tell the Spartans" (1978), which is widely considered one of the foremost antiwar movies about Vietnam. He publicly associated himself with AIDS research in 1985. In 1988, in response to George H.W. Bush's comment deriding the fact that his presidential-race opponent Michael Dukakis was a "card-carrying member of the ACLU," Lancaster was featured in a television commercial "confessing" that he, too, was a card-carrying member of the ACLU. The concluding line in the commercial sums up Lancaster's unwavering liberal political viewpoint: "No one agrees with every single thing they've done. But no one can disagree with the guiding principle--with liberty and justice for all." D. 1994
“The Ten Commandments, he said, were fine -- but not for him.”
— Kate Buford, Burt Lancaster: An American Life, 2000, p. 277
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
"I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC. "You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.
The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971 before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure."
*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*
1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.
2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.
3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.
4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.
The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their terms, then go home and back to work.
THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!!!!! If you agree with the above, pass it on.
Snopes.com says that only the first quote is really from Warren Buffett, the one about ending the deficit in 5 minutes. Go here. The rest is falsely attributed to Buffett. It's mostly a rehash of the "Congressional Reform Act of 2009." I agree with items 1-6. Not sure what #7 even means. It's quite amazing all of the garbage that floats around on the internet. Maybe I should go onto change.org and create a new petition. Or maybe you should.
Planets and stars team up to stage two pretty conjunctions this month, with the Moon passing by each duo. Mars and Regulus, which rise shortly after midnight, remain within a few degrees of each other all month, with Mars nearly doubling in brightness by month's end. Saturn and Spica, which are low in the southeast at first light, also snuggle close together throughout the month. In the meantime, Taurus climbs high across the sky, reaching its zenith around midnight late in the month. Orion and Gemini climb skyward earlier each evening, and by month's end are in good view by the middle of the evening. More stargazing information: http://stardate.org/nightsky
Radio Program Highlights
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November 1-6: A great show. One of the brightest comets of the last few centuries lit up Earth's night sky two centuries ago. We'll have details. We'll also talk about an attempt to get back in the game of planetary exploration.
November 7-13: Moon meanderings. The Moon passes by a brilliant planet this week, and they're on display for most of the night. And two other planets team up to put on their own display in the evening sky. Join us for this and more.
November 14-20: Moon, Mars, and meteors. The Moon passes a bright orange companion this week: the planet Mars. We'll have details. And we'll also talk about an autumn meteor shower. Join us for these, plus a spacecraft that's on the edge.
November 21-27: Mars battlewagon. The largest Mars rover yet will head for the Red Planet as early as this week. It's equipped with armloads of experiments, from a laser to zap the rocks to a chemical laboratory for analyzing them.
November 28-30: Rare birds. Two birds stroll across the southern horizon at this time of year — a crane and a phoenix. We'll have details, including the story of two of phoenix's stars that are locked in a tight dance. Join us for this and more.
November Program Schedule: http://stardate.org/radio/calendars
Find an Affiliate: http://stardate.org/radio/affiliates
This Month in StarDate Magazine
The editors of StarDate bring you ideas for astronomy- or space-themed holiday gifts in our November/December issue in our feature "Astro Gifts for Everyone." And astronomer and author Barbara Ryden of Ohio State University returns to StarDate to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the birth of Grote Reber, one of the pioneers of radio astronomy, in her feature "Tuning into the Radio Universe."
News from the Observatory
Texas-led Team Discovers Unusual Multi-Planet System with Kepler
A team of researchers led by Bill Cochran of The University of Texas at Austin has used NASA's Kepler spacecraft to discover an unusual multiple-planet system containing a super-Earth and two Neptune-sized planets orbiting in resonance with each other. They announced the find recently in Nantes, France at a joint meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Science and the European Planetary Science Conference. The research will be published in a special Kepler issue of The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series this month.
Find out more: http://mcdonaldobservatory.org/news
The Hole Story
We've added a new Research section to the StarDate Black Holes Encyclopedia, and the first profile is online: the effort to confirm the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
Find out more: http://blackholes.stardate.org/research
Watch Award-Winning Videos on the HETDEX Channel
Our exciting project to study dark energy, the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX), now has its own channel on YouTube. Watch as scientists from The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M, and around the world discuss the challenges in studying this mysterious force whose discoverers were recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. And don't forget to watch our video "Dark Energy: Speeding up the Universe," that recently won two prestigious film awards of its own!
Watch now: http://www.youtube.com/hetdex
Earth is only 6,000 years old? Pull your heads out of the Bible and GROW UP!!
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