Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Thursday, March 31, 2016

EOM meme dump

It's that time of the month again - the last day of the month - when I clear out my collection of memes that didn't find their way into a post or elsewhere on the blog.  Some of these might have been collected before this month, but they must still be valid or I wouldn't have kept them around.

a few hangovers from Easter/Ishtar

the man who should have been President

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Trump is an idiot

Is the bloom coming off of that ... rose?  Is the teflon finally cracking on the Donald?  It would appear so. 

We recently read that story from an ex-Trump strategist who claimed Trump didn't really want to be President. He just wanted to pump up his ratings. 

Then, Chris Matthews corners the fool into saying some stupid shit about penalizing women who get an abortion. Never mind that abortion is LEGAL!!  He issued two quick clarifications, but now the subject is just clear as mud.

And the story below about the Supreme Court is revealing. This fool hardly knows a fucking thing about government, but he sure knows how to play down to the idiots out there. And with the general overall dumbing-down of America and our decaying but once-awesome educational system, it's no wonder there are many other fools out there who think the Donald is amazing.

Trump stumbles on Supreme Court basics

Running for president is incredibly difficult, but like most tasks, it’s one of those things that people get better at over time. It’s a cliche, but practice makes perfect – the more a candidate spends time on the trail, fielding questions, talking about their priorities, learning details about a broad range of issues, etc., the more they learn how to be good at the task at hand.
At least, that’s usually how it works.
Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum posed a question yesterday that’s quite relevant: “I know that mocking Trump for his policy ignorance is sort of boring. I mean, what else is new? But is it possible that he’s actually getting dumber over time?”
Kevin was making a point about something Trump said on Tuesday, but the Republican’s comments yesterday about the Supreme Court also bolster the thesis. Politico noted, for example, Trump’s plan for the next high-court justice.
“Well, I’d probably appoint people that would look very seriously at her email disaster because it’s a criminal activity, and I would appoint people that would look very seriously at that to start off with,” Trump said in a phone interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Regardless of whether or not you consider Clinton’s email server management important, Trump’s rhetoric was nonsense. Supreme Court justices are not responsible for evaluating controversies surrounding politicians. It’s just not in their job description – it’s not how the court works. Trump seems to believe jurists on the nation’s highest court play some kind of prosecutorial role, which is a failure of Civics 101.
But to the broader point, it’s important to realize that Trump’s rhetoric about the Supreme Court used to be smarter.
At a debate last month, for example, Trump was asked about the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and the Republican talked about who he’d nominate if given the opportunity. “We could have a Diane Sykes or a Bill Pryor, we have some fantastic people,” he said.
Sure, it was a memorized answer, but so what? It was a coherent memorized answer. Sykes and Pryor are right-wing, appeals court judges appointed by the Bush/Cheney administration., and if there were a GOP president right now, these are the kind of folks we’d expect him or her to consider for a Supreme Court vacancy. Trump’s debate answer at least made sense.
But in the weeks that followed, his approach has devolved. Earlier this month, Trump moved away from his perfectly coherent answer to the Supreme Court question and said he’d leave it to the “Heritage Foundation and others” to help him come up with a short list.
As of yesterday, he’s been reduced to looking for a justice who’ll go after Hillary Clinton.
Is Trump somehow getting worse at this, or is he pretending to be foolish because he thinks that’s what it takes to impress Republican primary voters?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Trump is no accident

Hillary Clinton has been talking about this recently and making good points that the GOP brought on the Donald Trump fiasco themselves, by never trying to suppress the crazies in the GOP.  

The GOP has been so pathetic during Obama's two terms (and well before, actually) that they barely even deserve their standing as a national political party. It's sad to see a large political party wrapped up as it is in denying poor people, denying women, denying gay rights, denying minorities, and always sucking off big business any chance they get.

Trump Is No Accident

by Paul Krugman in the New York Times

Establishment Republicans who are horrified by the rise of Donald Trump might want to take a minute to remember the glitch heard round the world — the talking point Marco Rubio couldn’t stop repeating in a crucial debate, exposing him to devastating ridicule and sending his campaign into a death spiral.

It went like this: “Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing.” The clear, if ungrammatical, implication was that all the bad things Republicans claim have happened under President Obama — in particular, America’s allegedly reduced stature in the world — are the result of a deliberate effort to weaken the nation.

In other words, the establishment favorite for the G.O.P. nomination, the man Time magazine once put on its cover with the headline “The Republican Savior,” was deliberately channeling the paranoid style in American politics. He was suggesting, albeit coyly, that a sitting president is a traitor.

And now the establishment is shocked to see a candidate who basically plays the same game, but without the coyness, the overwhelming front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. Why?

The truth is that the road to Trumpism began long ago, when movement conservatives — ideological warriors of the right — took over the G.O.P. And it really was a complete takeover. Nobody seeking a career within the party dares to question any aspect of the dominating ideology, for fear of facing not just primary challenges but excommunication.

You can see the continuing power of the orthodoxy in the way all of the surviving contenders for the Republican nomination, Mr. Trump included, have dutifully proposed huge tax cuts for the wealthy, even though a large majority of voters, including many Republicans, want to see taxes on the rich increased instead.

But how does a party in thrall to a basically unpopular ideology — or at any rate an ideology voters would dislike if they knew more about it — win elections? Obfuscation helps. But demagogy and appeals to tribalism help more. Racial dog whistles and suggestions that Democrats are un-American if not active traitors aren’t things that happen now and then, they’re an integral part of Republican political strategy.

During the Obama years Republican leaders cranked the volume on that strategy up to 11 (although it was pretty bad during the Clinton years too.) Establishment Republicans generally avoided saying in so many words that the president was a Kenyan Islamic atheist socialist friend of terrorists — although as the quote from Mr. Rubio shows, they came pretty close — but they tacitly encouraged those who did, and accepted their endorsements. And now they’re paying the price.

For the underlying assumption behind the establishment strategy was that voters could be fooled again and again: persuaded to vote Republican out of rage against Those People, then ignored after the election while the party pursued its true, plutocrat-friendly priorities. Now comes Mr. Trump, turning the dog whistles into fully audible shouting, and telling the base that it can have the bait without the switch. And the establishment is being destroyed by the monster it created.

Things are very different on the other side of the aisle.

I still sometimes see people suggesting an equivalence between Mr. Trump and Bernie Sanders. But while both men are challenging a party establishment, those establishments aren’t the same. The Democratic Party is, as some political scientists put it, a “coalition of social groups,” ranging from Planned Parenthood to teachers’ unions, rather than an ideological monolith; there’s nothing comparable to the array of institutions that enforces purity on the other side.

Indeed, what the Sanders movement, with its demands for purity and contempt for compromise and half-measures, most nearly resembles is not the Trump insurgency but the ideologues who took over the G.O.P., becoming the establishment Mr. Trump is challenging. And yes, we’re starting to see hints from that movement of the ugliness that has long been standard operating procedure on the right: bitter personal attacks on anyone who questions the campaign’s premises, an increasing amount of demagogy from the campaign itself. Compare the Sanders and Clinton Twitter feeds to see what I mean.

But back to the Republicans: Let’s dispel with this fiction that the Trump phenomenon represents some kind of unpredictable intrusion into the normal course of Republican politics. On the contrary, the G.O.P. has spent decades encouraging and exploiting the very rage that is now carrying Mr. Trump to the nomination. That rage was bound to spin out of the establishment’s control sooner or later.

Donald Trump is not an accident. His party had it coming.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

anti-atheism runs deep

I agree with this study about anti-atheism being deeply ingrained. Even after hundreds of years of doubt and science debunking this, that, and quite a number of things in the Bible, people still gravitate to their holy books.  Why?

Just goes to show, we may have some very good technology, but our social-cultural milieu has a long, long way to go before we can truly call ourselves an enlightened culture.

Anti-atheist distrust ‘deeply and culturally ingrained’, study finds

People's distrust of atheists is “deeply and culturally ingrained”, with even many atheists having an instinctual distrust of each other, according to a new study.

A report published in the UK’s International Journal for The Psychology of Religion found there to be widespread “prejudice” against atheists, despite the fact 13 per cent of Britain’s population place themselves in that category.
The research, carried out by the psychology department at Nottingham Trent University, concludes: “Anti-atheist prejudice is not confined either to dominantly religious countries or to religious individuals but rather appears to be a robust judgment about atheists.”
Professor Leah Giddings and Thomas Dunn led the study with 100 online participants from the United Kingdom, 70 of whom were women and whose average age was 21.
A total of 43 per cent of the contributors were atheist, 33 per cent were Christian and the remainder belonged to other faiths.
The researchers presented the participants with a story about a man who reversed car into a van one day and didn’t leave his insurance details.
Later on, when he found a wallet, he removed the money from it for himself – and respondents thought it more likely the man was atheist.
The university said the findings "suggest anti-atheist distrust is deeply and culturally ingrained regardless of an individual's group membership”.
They added: "Looking to the future, it is also important to explore how these perceptions and attitudes toward atheists manifest behaviourally, whether people act on these prejudices and in what contexts. It is only once the nature and extent of the issue is better understood that we can take measures to address it."
A study by the University of Cambridge last month discovered that, contrary to popular belief, vast swathes of the ancient world did not believe in Gods.

Contrary to what this study found, when I hear of someone doing something illegal or dishonest, my first inclination is to think that that person must be religious. Religion breeds a cognitive dissonance in people, and after all, all you allegedly have to do is ask for forgiveness from the hippie upstairs and all will be right with the world. So you can fuck your brains out, fuck that alter boy, or steal to your hearts content, as long as you ask forgiveness.  Such bullshit.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Brookings bombshell

The chorus to legalize or at least re-schedule marijuana out of Schedule 1 (along with LSD and heroin) is growing. Legislators are slow to respond. They're probably all drunk and having sex with their aides.

Brookings Bombshell: America Needs High-Quality Marijuana Medications

John Hudak, a researcher with the nonpartisan Brookings Institution think tank, concluded in a March 22 study that the White House and Congress must act immediately to save American lives by passing the CARERS act, a marijuana liberalization law that would lift barriers to medical marijuana research, protect doctors and patients, and ultimately re-schedule marijuana so that therapeutic formulations can be made available in all 50 states and territories.

Children are dying due to the absence of safe, tested, uniform pot products, Hudak writes in “The Medical Marijuana Mess — A prescription for fixing a broken policy. Parents are becoming refugees in their own country — moving thousands of miles to experiment with non-standardized marijuana regimens far from their home states. For those that can’t move, an unregulated, online industry of extract sellers like Morgue Juice has popped up promising cure-alls to meet vast demand.

Hudak essentially says this is all unconscionable and that we need to immediately re-schedule marijuana, and de-schedule CBD as drugs. The medical marijuana movement began far away from such mainstream institutions like Brookings, in places like Oakland, which helped pass Proposition 215 in 1996 and made marijuana crime its lowest police enforcement priority under Measure Z. Oakland has among the most robust medical cannabis industries in the world, with lab-testing and third party-certified products widely available on shelves and for delivery. In other parts of California, however, access to advanced medical cannabis formulas is as limited as Virginia, where medical pot is still banned.

According to Hudak, medical marijuana policy in the United States is putting Americans at risk:

“The federal government keeps people who live in states that don’t have medical marijuana programs from accessing a product that could benefit their health. And even as it prevents some people from having it, it erects barriers against research into the safety and efficacy of a product used by tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people who do live in states that have legalized it,” Hudak writes. “The president and Congress have a duty to design laws that reflect modern policy realities and that advance medical research. Comprehensive reform is needed in three key areas: research, access, and legal protection.”
“Federal marijuana policy is contradictory and unsustainable. It has consequences for state and local governments, business owners, doctors, patients, and families. Marijuana prohibition was designed to criminalize the illicit drug trade, but it has victimized innocent Americans.”

Hudak's report  is a must-read for federal legislators and activists at the local and state level. It further validates what activists have been saying for years, and what many have gone to jail for — that cannabis therapies work, and science proves it. 

Hudak follows The Collins family of Virginia who were forced to split up in order to treat their 13 year-old daughter’s catastrophic, intractable seizure disorder, which is managed by an extract of THC-A (the raw, non-psychoactive form of THC, pot’s main active ingredient). According to Hudak:

“Beth and Jennifer did not run from crime or war or famine. They did not flee from some country ruled by a murderous despot to a less dangerous place. They are Americans who found it necessary to move from their home in Virginia to another state in order to seek treatment for Jennifer’s serious medical condition—a treatment that was illegal according to the laws of both Virginia and the federal government.”

Hudak also profiles Washington DC Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn who joins the growing ranks of community leaders who are acknowledging marijuana's palliative uses. The Rabbi sells medical cannabis six miles from the White House.

“Like many such owners, Rabbi Kahn feels he is providing his customers with a critical medical treatment. In fact, his decision to go into this business was inspired in part by the suffering of his in‐laws. When he opened the Center, he dedicated it to them. Their 1952 honeymoon photo—which could double for a black‐and‐white beach movie still—hangs in a prominent position across from the welcome desk. A half century after that photo was taken he watched them suffer and eventually die from serious medical issues. His father‐in‐law had spent decades battling multiple sclerosis—a battle occasionally alleviated by puffing on black‐market marijuana. His mother‐in‐law had lung cancer. The doctor who diagnosed it told her she might be able to mitigate the devastating effects of chemo and radiation by using marijuana. But she died before the family could find a dealer.
Those experiences gave Rabbi Kahn a new perspective on pot, and a desire to serve those in need of it. Now he has patients suffering from the same illnesses his in‐laws died of who are finding relief at his dispensary.
The federal government, however, views the rabbi not as a health care provider offering much needed treatment to the afflicted and the vulnerable, but as a drug dealer.”

America also needs to lift its one-farm stranglehold on research-grade cannabis, which “disrupts rather than facilitates research,” Hudak concluded. “The federal government should license additional grow facilities to ensure both product diversity and safety.”

Hudak calls for a White House summit “focusing on research into the efficacy of marijuana as medicine, and call on Congress to direct additional resources to the topic.”

And Hudak also recommends that the federal government to partner with local governments, businesses, and research institutions in states where medical marijuana is legal. "Since more than 149 million Americans live in states with medical marijuana programs, these public‐private research partnerships could serve as the world’s most comprehensive clearinghouses for data on medical cannabis’s uses, successes, failures, side effects, doses, and strengths,” writes Hudak.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Rafael Eduardo Cruz

Ted Cruz, or as he should be called, Rafael Eduardo Cruz, is the typical Republican wearing religion on his sleeve.  As if we haven't had enough of these hypocrites preaching one thing in public and doing quite another in private, Cruz is pulling the bar lower and lower. 

You'd think people would catch on that these politicians are using religion to pull the wool over peoples eyes, but it seems like all you have to do is say how deeply religious you are, and a lot of people get all glassy-eyed and will follow you anywhere. Like. Sheep.

Ted Cruz is baaa-aaad.  Baaa-aaaad.  But I predict that he will be the Republican nominee for President in 2016, and Hillary (or Bernie) will crush him like the slimy piece of shit he is.

The Devil in Ted Cruz

by Frank Bruni in the New York Times

When Ted Cruz announced this week that he was firing his campaign’s communications director for circulating a false insinuation that Marco Rubio had belittled the Bible, he told reporters, “Even if it was true, we are not a campaign that is going to question the faith of another candidate.”

Really? Huh. Then I must have been hallucinating last month at a Cruz event in Iowa where several of his handpicked supporters, who spoke just before him, mocked and dismissed Donald Trump’s professed Christianity.

They marveled at a past comment of Trump’s about never asking God for forgiveness. One of them chose a bizarre, religiously coded analogy for a boast Trump had just made about how much voters loved him, saying that the billionaire’s bragging was an echo of John Lennon’s infamous claim — an outrage to American Christians in the 1960s — that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.

But no, Cruz’s campaign would never question the faith of another candidate.

The Texas senator is some piece of double-talking, disingenuous work. While the so-called dirty tricks that he and his lieutenants have been charged with aren’t all that shocking by the standards of bruising presidential campaigns, they really do stand out in the context of Cruz’s flamboyant claims of rectitude and righteousness.

He directs you to his halo as he surreptitiously grabs a pitchfork. His rivals aren’t so diabolically hypocritical.

At a town hall in South Carolina that CNN televised, he answered a question about his miserable relations with fellow lawmakers in Washington by assuring voters that “it’s not that I speak with a lack of civility or respect.”

“The Bible talks about if someone treats you unkindly, repay them with kindness,” he added. “That has been the standard I’ve tried to follow. That’s how I’ve approached it in the Senate. So I have not attacked or insulted my colleagues in the Senate, Democrat or Republican.”

Is he suffering from delusions? Amnesia? On the Senate floor he called Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, a liar. He also likened Senate Republicans who recognized the impossibility of defunding Obamacare to Nazi appeasers.

Where was his vaunted “civility or respect” when, on the heels of his election to the Senate in November 2012, he derided Mitt Romney’s failed presidential bid — to an audience including Romney supporters — by saying that during one presidential debate, “I’m pretty certain Mitt Romney actually French-kissed Barack Obama.”

And where was that “civility or respect” during subsequent Senate hearings to confirm Chuck Hagel as the secretary of defense? Cruz’s repeated suggestions that Hagel had been corrupted by money from America’s enemies were so out of bounds that senators from both parties were appalled.

Cruz continues to congratulate his campaign for its high-mindedness even though his allies and operatives spread an erroneous report, during the Iowa caucuses, that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race. And they had the niftiest bit of counsel for Carson voters. Switch to Cruz!

Then, in South Carolina, Cruz operatives doctored a photograph so that it showed Rubio shaking hands with President Obama in front of the United States Capitol.

These shenanigans profoundly contradict the godly styling of a candidate who was the first ever to announce a presidential campaign at Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the world, and who incessantly invokes the Bible, Jesus and morality.

And they surely reflect the campaign culture that Cruz has created. Political allies and aides tend to behave in a manner largely consistent with their boss’s directives and understood values.

Or they’re brought aboard a campaign because they behave that way. As Matt Flegenheimer reported in The Times this week, Cruz hired a campaign manager, Jeff Roe, who is widely known for destructive gossip, for malicious tactics — and for winning.

Cruz’s hypocrisy may be catching up with him. In Iowa, he drew more evangelical Christian voters than his rivals did, but in South Carolina, Trump beat him among those voters, and Rubio wasn’t far behind. Some of them told reporters, including me, that they’d been turned off by behavior of Cruz’s that they deemed un-Christian.

This dynamic could cripple him in the Southern states that vote in the first half of March, and his strategy hinges on those states.

With their evangelical voters in mind, he frames himself as the candidate truest to Scripture and fiercest in the battle against such scourges (in his estimation) as gay marriage. That framing implicitly questions rivals’ devotion.

And his onetime proclamation that “any president who doesn’t begin every day on his knees isn’t fit to be commander in chief” is a summons to rivals to prove their faith. He should focus instead on conduct that proves his own.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

listen to Sarah

Sarah Silverman is very funny. She's also voting for Bernie Sanders, and she lists the reasons why in this 5-minute video.

You should listen to Sarah.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

John Blum

I met John several years ago when he joined the Midtown Community Garden that we were building in Houston. Along with everything else, he's a pretty good gardener.

Even with a mysterious nervous system disorder that doctors could never figure out, John didn't let any of that slow him down. He recently finished his second bike ride in the Patagonia in South America and will be doing the MS 150 this year for the 4th time. The MS (Multiple Sclerosis) 150 is a two-day bike ride from Houston to Austin.

John recently sent out an appeal on behalf of Multiple Sclerosis patients. See below.

Welcome to John Blum's Page

A few years ago I had medical issues that required multiple visits to a neurologist, who recommended I don't do things like ride my bike from Houston to Austin.  I don't have multiple sclerosis, but the only thing I dislike more than being told what to do is to put my dreams in a drawer labeled someday. I do not accept that people with multiple sclerosis have to wake up each day to find more of their drawers locked. This is not acceptable and is not the inevitable conclusion.
Don't know anyone with Multiple Sclerosis? Imagine if your ability to live vibrantly slowly diminished, or if life's basic functions were on a roulette wheel and each day you woke up the ball landed on and took away your ability to walk, hold a cup of coffee or hug your child, rending your senses daft. Would you accept this? Of course not. 

You probably already know someone who experiences this - but are unaware because their symptoms are often invisible. Let's enable them to live with vigor. I ride the MS150 because I want to enable people with this devastating, progressive disease to have treatment, support and hope that tomorrow can be lived as fully as today

Would you consider donating to this good cause?  Go to John's page here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

40% from rooftop solar

The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), a unit of the U.S. Department of Energy, now estimates that up to 40% of total energy needs could be satisfied by only placing solar panels on "suitable" rooftops. And that doesn't count the extra 10 panels you could have in your backyard, or the extra energy you could generate with a wind turbine or two.

Renewables are here to stay, and the costs continue to drop while efficiency continues to climb. It's no longer sensible to pull all that carbon fossil fuel (petroleum, natural gas), out of the ground, especially when the hemp plant can do most of the things petroleum can do for less financial and environmental cost. 

With Solar, U.S. Rooftops Could Provide Nearly Half Of Nation’s Power

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has almost doubled its previous estimate of the total U.S. technical potential for rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and has found that U.S. building rooftops could generate close to 40% of national electricity sales.
NREL says its analysts have used detailed light detection and ranging data for 128 cities nationwide, along with improved data analysis methods and simulation tools, to update its estimate. The analysis appears in a new report that quantifies how much energy could be generated if PV systems were installed on all suitable roof areas in the continental U.S.
The analysis reveals a technical potential of 1,118 GW of capacity and 1,432 TWh of annual energy generation, equivalent to 39% of the nation’s electricity sales. That is significantly greater than that of a previous NREL analysis, which estimated 664 GW of installed capacity and 800 TWh of annual energy generation.
Analysts attribute the new findings to increases in module power density, improved estimation of building suitability, higher estimates of the total number of buildings, and improvements in PV performance simulation tools.
Within the 128 cities studied, the researchers found that 83% of small buildings have a suitable location for PV installation, but only 26% of those buildings’ total rooftop area is suitable for development. Because of the sheer number of this class of building across the country, however, small buildings actually provide the greatest combined technical potential. Altogether, NREL says small building rooftops could accommodate up to 731 GW of PV capacity and generate 926 TWh per year of PV energy – approximately 65% of the country’s total rooftop technical potential.
“It is important to note that this report only estimates the potential from existing, suitable rooftops, and does not consider the immense potential of ground-mounted PV,” adds Robert Margolis, NREL senior energy analyst and co-author of the report. “Actual generation from PV in urban areas could exceed these estimates by installing systems on less suitable roof space, by mounting PV on canopies over open spaces such as parking lots, or by integrating PV into building facades. Further, the results are sensitive to assumptions about module performance, which are expected to continue improving over time.”
NREL says its work was supported by funding from the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in support of its SunShot Initiative, a collaborative national effort to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, the department supports efforts by private companies, universities and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06/kWh.
The full report, titled “Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Technical Potential in the United States: A Detailed Assessment,” is available here.