"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Just Because

For all you math/science geeks:

It's from a Twitter account called "Science Porn," which is worth taking a look at.

This is from the comments:


I think these are both really funny.

And, courtesy of Mustang Bobby, the perfect coda:

Bertrand Russell:

There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.

Quote du Jour

This is just too good, speaking of Donald Trump:

“He speaks what’s on his mind and means what he says,” said Tom Christian, 43, a heating and air-conditioning contractor from Tennessee.

Words fail me.

Today's Must-Read: Memorial Day Edition

I know, I'm a day late, but the heat had built up so much in my apartment that I literally couldn't think. At any rate, Batocchio gets it right at Hullabaloo:

Memorial Day is meant for remembering those who died in military service (a worthy commemoration). It's also a holiday that naturally spurs thoughts of civilians killed in war, of living veterans and how they're treated, and how war is discussed in our country. It's only right to pause and remember the dead. And perhaps the best way to honor them the other days of the year is by challenging the belligerati who believe that casually and aggressively endorsing war or torture somehow makes them tough or makes the nation safer.

I forget who said it, but I ran across this idea as a history student: War is the last resort, after diplomacy has failed. Too many people in this country have started to think that was is the first option. That's not how you keep the peace.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Saturday Science: Oops!

I have a link for an article that was to form the basis of today's Saturday Science, but 1) I'm too tired right now to think, 2) Firefox and/or my connection is/are being a pain, and 3) it may actually serve as a reference for a series I'm thinking of doing.

More on that later.

Today's Must-Read: Threats and Intimidation (Updated)

No, it's not about Donald Trump. It's about Bernie Sanders.

This, via The New Civil Rights Movement:

Rachel Maddow Friday night broke news that attorneys for the Bernie Sanders for President Campaign have just sent a letter to the Democratic National Committee formally demanding the disqualification of two Democratic Party platform committee chairs: former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy. . . .

She adds, "the Sanders Campaign then ends this letter with a threat. If the Committee doesn't kick Gov. Malloy and Barney Frank out of those leadership positions the Sanders campaign will essentially grind the process of the convention to a halt."

"They will gum up the works so nothing happens."

For the video of Maddow, click through to NCRM. (Once gain, Blogger does not want to accommodate MSNBC's clips.)

NCRM has also posted the letter (which I attempted to do, but Blogger insists on displaying it at a size that's too small for clarity, no matter how I fiddle with it in Photoshop).

And do keep in mind that Sanders is not a Democrat and has never been a Demnocrat.


The DNC has reacted:

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has responded quickly to the Bernie Sanders for President Campaign's demand that two high-profile Democrats, Gov. Dannel Malloy and former Rep. Barney Frank be removed as co-chairs of the convention's platform and rules committees.

“Having carefully reviewed your challenge, we find that it fails to meet the criteria for the foregoing reasons and pursuant to the Regulations and Bylaws Committee for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Reg. 3.4(G)(i) we are compelled to dismiss it,” Jim Roosevelt and Lorraine Miller, co-chairs of the Rules and Bylaws Committee wrote to the Sanders Campaign, according to The Hill.


Some Numbers

Amidst all the hoopla, hype, doomsaying, and head-shaking going on over The Hairpiece's showing in the primaries, I got to wondering that this actually says about the depth of his support in the general election, so I did a little digging.

Let's start with the total votes cast in the 2012 election, per the FEC: 129,085,410.

That's a starting point. (As an aside, the table on page 11 of the document at the link is worth a look -- who knew there were that many people running for president from that many parties?)

So, next question, how many people have voted for Donald Trump so far? According to Wikipedia, 11,677,035 out of a total of 28,046,678 to date. Not included are California, New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico, and South Dakota, which have their primaries on June 7. Considering that Trump is the last candidate standing, and that voters tend not to care -- it all depends on who's still on the ballot -- I don't know how to project a final figure. Just to provide a figure, let's add about 7 million to Trump's total.

I'm figuring, the contemporary Republican party being as lock-step as it is, that most Republicans will vote for Trump. Say, 80%? Based on 2012 results, let's say roughly 50 million. (Can he be more unpopular than Romney? Anybody's guess -- the teabaggers love him.)

Now, on the Democratic side, we have a couple of big variables: the pouting BernieBots, and the right-wing smear campaign against Clinton (which Trump will participate in, full throttle). But, Clinton so far has garnered 13,192,713 votes, versus 10,158,889 for Sanders.

Again, it's hard to figure how many Sanders supporters are going to hold their noses and vote for Clinton. I'll say 50%. As near as I can work out in my head, that gives her maybe 85% of the Democratic vote, or 56 million.

So far, this is showing a low turnout for November, which I don't expect to be the case, but this is what I'm looking at now.

This is just a mental exercise, worth as much as any other projection at this point, but I don't see Trump winning in November.

As a sidebar, I've grown more and more disenchanted with Sanders as the campaign has rolled on. This is just one reason. I tend to not trust ideologues in public office, and Sanders is looking more and more like an ideologue. And, as I noted to my father when he started bitching about all the candidates being the same, Clinton, at least, knows what she's doing.

Saturday Science: Tsunami! On Mars?

Martian coastline, after tsunami?
It looks as though that may very well have happened. Big ones:

Mars, despite its current rusted and parched appearance, was once a world where water flowed freely. Detailed observations of the red planet’s atmosphere and surface have led scientists to speculate that perhaps about 3.8 billion years ago, Mars had enough liquid water to form an ocean occupying almost half of its northern hemisphere.

However, scientists have not been able to find this primordial ocean’s coastline despite there being strong evidence that such large water bodies once existed on the fourth planet from the sun.

A new study has now revived the ancient ocean hypothesis. The study, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, suggests the ocean’s shorelines were overrun and buried by two ancient mega tsunamis that occurred approximately 3.4 billion years ago.

It seems the first one, possibly caused by a meteor strike in the Martian ocean, was bad enough. Then the planet cooled down and the oceans froze, to the second one was an ice tsunami.

I don't even want to think about that. But, happily, someone did:

The scientists found evidence for another big meteorite impact, which triggered a second tsunami wave. In the millions of years between the two meteorite impacts and their associated mega-tsunamis, Mars went through frigid climate change, where water turned to ice, Fairén said: "The ocean level receded from its original shoreline to form a secondary shoreline, because the climate had become significantly colder."

The second tsunami formed rounded lobes of ice. "These lobes froze on the land as they reached their maximum extent and the ice never went back to the ocean - which implies the ocean was at least partially frozen at that time," he said. "Our paper provides very solid evidence for the existence of very cold oceans on early Mars. It is difficult to imagine Californian beaches on ancient Mars, but try to picture the Great Lakes on a particularly cold and long winter, and that could be a more accurate image of water forming seas and oceans on ancient Mars."

There's another possibility here that's intriguing: Where did life originate on Earth? The oceans. And brine, as in ocean, doesn't freeze as readily as fresh water.

These icy lobes retained their well-defined boundaries and their flow-related shapes, Fairén said, suggesting the frozen ancient ocean was briny. "Cold, salty waters may offer a refuge for life in extreme environments, as the salts could help keep the water liquid. ... If life existed on Mars, these icy tsunami lobes are very good candidates to search for biosignatures," he said.

That's one thing I love about science -- every answer generates more questions.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Image of the Week

I haven't done this for a while, but I am trying to get back in the swing of things after being so hit-or-miss over the winter.

Let's see what's in my files. . . .

Here's one from last spring -- pretty urban, actually:

Believe it or not, it's about edges. Pretty much.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Today's Must-Read: Who Would Have Guessed?

The headline says it all:

Inspector General's Report On Clinton's Email Greatly Exaggerated By Media Outlets

It goes on:

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) released its anticipated report on the State Department's handling of email and cybersecurity. The report covers Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, but also includes an examination of other State employees use of email, including Colin Powell's use of a private email service.

Almost immediately, the media was full of headlines such as "State Department report slams Clinton email use" from CNN, "State Dept. inspector general report sharply criticizes Clinton’s email practices" from the Washington Post, and "IG: Clinton didn't want emails 'accessible'", from The Hill.

Lost in the hyperbole is the fact that the OIG report was meticulous and thorough, but also dispassionate, just like any other OIG report I've read. There was no direct criticism of Clinton, sharp or otherwise. The OIG was examining the State Department's practices, not specifically investigating Clinton's actions.

You may have noticed in the past that I've come to have a certain -- shall I call it "disdain"? -- for the press. Stories like this only reinforce that attitude. Everyone wants to be Fox News, apparently.

Don't believe everything you read in the papers. Or on the Internet.

Footnote: Add "sloppy" to "bias":

Oh. my. gawd. Someone put up a TrumpTweet on CNN's screen with replies before they'd actually read the first reply in the chain.

If they had, they would have thought twice, because it asks if Trump's penis is as orange as his face.

Today in Disgusting People

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to be exact. They've come out with a really syrupy video about how allowing gay men and lesbians to marry is a violation of their religious beliefs. As you might imagine, it's just chock full of lies. Here's just a few:

"As an attorney, I represent a number of clients who are being punished and coerced by the government to change their views on marriage," Fiedorek notes. "We're seeing this happen to florists, to bakers, to photographers, we're seeing this happen to judges and to clerks who are authorized to solemnize weddings and have a religious objection to doing so."

"Fiedorek" is Kellie Fiedorek of the Alliance Defending Freedom (which, strangely enough, the SPLC doesn't seem to have listed as a hate group), so you can guess what anything she says is worth. As for her statement, no one is being coerced by the government to change their views on marriage. They're being "coerced" to obey the law, just like the rest of us have to do.

"The implications of the redefinition of marriage for religious freedom are vast," says Fiedorek. "I think that the short term effects we will see will first come in the attempt to silence people of faith, or people that hold a conviction that marriage is something sacred, something special, they will be silenced."

Silenced? No one can get them to shut up for a minute. What are we going to do -- cut their vocal cords and take away their keyboards?

"I've been really surprised that just saying that it takes a man and a woman to create a child, that a child deserves a mom and a dad, is viewed by some as hate speech. As if acknowledging where a child comes from is discrimination," says one man. . . .

OK, that's off the rails. Who, exactly, is arguing with the fact that it takes a man and a woman to produce a child? As for a child deserving a mom and dad (and do note the folksy tone), I hate to intrude with reality, but that's not always possible. What children do deserve is a safe, stable home with parents who love and support them. All the research to date indicates that two men or two women are fully capable of providing that.

"If in any way shape or form, you disagree with the prevailing narrative about what is appropriate in terms of sexuality, same-sex marriage, even a hint of it, it sort of takes the air out of the room," says Gloria Purvis. "People begin to think you're closed minded, you're a bigot, and you're hateful."

If you're trying to impose your views on everyone else, then you are a bigot.

And do note the equation of marriage with procreation, a basic tenet of Catholic teaching. Marriage doesn't require children, and it's obvious from the statistics that marriage isn't necessary to produce a baby. It's just another facet of the Church's basic view of humanity as domestic animals -- in this case, breeding stock.

There's also a sequence in the video about how Catholics are feeding the hungry all over the world. Maybe if the USCCB spent more time focusing on that, and less on fighting gay rights and shielding child molesters, I might have a different reaction.

Here's the video, if you can stand it:

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Culture Break: Michael Nyman, "Sometime Like Apes" (from "Noises, Sounds & Sweet Airs")

Noises, Sounds & Sweet Airs is probably my favorite thing by Michael Nyman, although he did a very good soundtrack to Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books, which, like N,S & A, as based on Shakespeare's The Tempest. He also did a ballet based on the same play, so I guess this work was intended to get it out of his system. I might add that Nyman is one of the more protean composers I've run across -- one of those American Individualists who seem to follow no set pattern.

And yes, the video is from Prospero's Books, which, all things considered, is one of the more outrageous adaptations of Shakespeare I've seen.

Maybe There Is a God

You may remember this idiot from a few days ago:

Bruner disagreed: "When we only teach theory -- it's a theory, theories are unproven -- but in the science class, if only one theory is taught then we're teaching a religion. It is the religion of atheism."

That's not the worst of it -- she's the one who was saying that Obama paid for his drugs in college by working as a male prostitute.

Well, she lost:

Texas voters on Tuesday decided the state’s school board should not include a retired teacher who claimed President Barack Obama was a gay prostitute and said dinosaurs might still be around if Noah had more room on his biblical ark.

Mary Lou Bruner, 69, an arch-conservative with a penchant for conspiracy theories, lost by 18 percent to fellow Republican Keven Ellis in a primary race for the board that sets policies for the nation’s second-largest school system, unofficial Office of the Secretary of State results showed.

The nation's textbook publishers are probably breathing a deep sigh of relief.

The scary part is that she only lost by 18%.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Idiot du Jour

Sandy Rios, of one of those hate groups -- right, American Family Association (sorry, but they all sound alike). But then, Sandy Rios is an idiot every day. Her pearls of wisdom on the confirmation of Eric Fanning as Secretary of the Army:

Yesterday, American Family Association official Sandy Rios criticized the confirmation of Eric Fanning to be Army secretary. Rios didn’t find anything wrong with Fanning’s qualifications, she was just upset that he is a gay man.

As a gay man, Rios said, Fanning cannot be an “alpha male.”

“When it comes to leading men into battle, when it comes to being secretary of the Army, I’ll take an alpha male any day,” she said. “I’m sorry. I know these war-like men too well and I don’t think most of them — very few of them are gay. You that are in the gay community, if you were to describe your friends and colleagues who are in this community, I don’t think you would describe them as warriors. I’m sure there are some, but still, I would prefer an alpha male.”

First off, the Secretary of the Army does not "lead men into battle." That's why we have generals. And we sure as hell don't want a warlike man in that position.

But, taking her at face value: Alcibiades, Alexander the Great, Frederick the Great, Baron von Steuben, just off the top of my head. I'm sure a little digging would turn up more.

As for the idea that a gay man cannot be an alpha male -- pfft! Does she even know what an "alpha male" is?

Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

Jumping On the Bandwagon

I suppose I should have seen this coming:

Activists hoping to keep transgender people out of bathrooms just got a new ally: the Ku Klux Klan.

An Alabama neighborhood received fliers speaking out in support of laws like the one passed in North Carolina, that confine bathrooms to gender assignment at birth. They also begged for new recruits and solicit donations.

“It appears to be against transgender and transgender bathrooms and it was basically a recruitment flier,” Capt. Will Benny explained to the Dothan Eagle.

It seems that trans folk using the bathroom is the best fundraising gimmick since gay Boy Scouts.

All I can say is, you're known by the company you keep. (There's a Tony Perkins joke in here somewhere, but the connection is just too easy.)

Today's Must-Read: Whistleblowers

This is what happens to whistle-blowers who go through channels:

But if you want to know why Snowden did it, and the way he did it, you have to know the stories of two other men.

The first is Thomas Drake, who blew the whistle on the very same NSA activities 10 years before Snowden did. Drake was a much higher-ranking NSA official than Snowden, and he obeyed US whistleblower laws, raising his concerns through official channels. And he got crushed.

Drake was fired, arrested at dawn by gun-wielding FBI agents, stripped of his security clearance, charged with crimes that could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life, and all but ruined financially and professionally. The only job he could find afterwards was working in an Apple store in suburban Washington, where he remains today. Adding insult to injury, his warnings about the dangers of the NSA’s surveillance programme were largely ignored.

Edward Snowden learned from Drake's experience, revealed in the story of another man, a senior official at DoD:

But there is another man whose story has never been told before, who is speaking out publicly for the first time here. His name is John Crane, and he was a senior official in the Department of Defense who fought to provide fair treatment for whistleblowers such as Thomas Drake – until Crane himself was forced out of his job and became a whistleblower as well.

His testimony reveals a crucial new chapter in the Snowden story – and Crane’s failed battle to protect earlier whistleblowers should now make it very clear that Snowden had good reasons to go public with his revelations.

During dozens of hours of interviews, Crane told me how senior Defense Department officials repeatedly broke the law to persecute Drake. First, he alleged, they revealed Drake’s identity to the Justice Department; then they withheld (and perhaps destroyed) evidence after Drake was indicted; finally, they lied about all this to a federal judge.

This is horrible enough in itself, but think of what we're in for if, by some bizarre circumstance, someone like Donald Trump actually becomes president -- which is to say, someone with no concern for the rule of law.

Read the whole article.

Via Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The State of Things

This is interesting: CAIR made the decision to help the family of the San Bernardino shooters, and the fallout was pretty much what you'd expect:

Later that day, Ayloush and CAIR took a step the group had never taken before: It would advise the family of a suspected killer and terrorist. Soon, Khan spoke to reporters at a news conference organized by CAIR.

The organization received angry calls and critical coverage from conservative media, including Breitbart, which ran a headline asking, "Why is CAIR helping San Bernardino terrorists after the fact?" Others wondered why CAIR was getting involved before it was clear whether others — possibly even other family members — had known of the attacks before they occurred.

Almost half a year after the deadliest attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001, Ayloush said CAIR does not regret the decision.

"It is not about what is popular or convenient," Ayloush said. "We wanted to make sure no one is punished for the sins of others."

What a refreshing change from the attitude of so many "Christians," who seem to think that somebody (else) must be punished, no matter what. It's sort of emblematic that Breitbart would automatically cast the family members as "terrorists."

Sometimes I think this country can be pretty disgusting, and then I remember that we're hearing from the fringe.

Let's Build a Wall Around Texas

and make them pay for it. Then we might be spared things like the Texas State Board of Education, which has undue influence on the content of textbooks nationally and seems intent on electing only the most rigidly ignorant to serve:

"Ms. Bruner has said that she wants creationism taught in science class," Inside Texas Politics host Bud Kennedy noted. "And that her views represent those of the district. Are you Christian enough to represent this district?"

"Yes, I am," Ellis insisted. "I've taught Sunday school and Bible quiz in my church in 20 years. And I believe it's my responsibility to teach my faith to my children. The catch of when you get religion in school is whose religion is going to be taught?"

Bruner disagreed: "When we only teach theory -- it's a theory, theories are unproven -- but in the science class, if only one theory is taught then we're teaching a religion. It is the religion of atheism."

It's not only the lack of knowledge in her last statement, it's her complete inability to make a coherent argument. "If only one theory is taught, then we're teaching a religion." -- WTF?

The sad part is, Bruner will probably win.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

It's Sunday

That means more reviews at Green Man Review.

You know what to do.

Another WTF? Moment

Courtesy of Fox:

Um, excuse me -- the bald eagle is a bird.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Hunk du Jour

I haven't done this in a while:


Apparently, #NationalSendANudeDay is a thing.

Even if it's not, who cares?

Maybe I should sign up to Instragram -- but don't expect anything like this from me: those days are over.

And just in case you've been vacationing in outer space, that's Colton Haynes, one of those people I can look at any time.

Congress' Approval Rating Is At 14%. Want To Know Why?

Because they pull stuff like this:

Working the floor:

The House erupted in chaos Thursday morning with Democrats crying foul after Republicans hastily convinced a few of their own to switch their votes and narrowly block an amendment intended to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from discrimination.

It was an unruly scene on the floor, with Democrats chanting “shame!” after GOP leaders just barely muscled up the votes to reject, 212-213, an amendment by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) that would have effectively barred federal contractors from getting government work if they discriminate against the LGBT community.

At one point, a monitor in the House gallery showed there were 217 votes supporting the legislation, eliciting cheers of joy from Democrats who thought the measure might actually pass. But over the course of about 10 minutes, those votes suddenly dropped one by one to 212 — and the amendment failed. . . .

Maloney, the amendment's author, was furious with Republicans for how they handled the floor fight over his offering. He singled out Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in particular for criticism, saying the No. 2 House Republican personally lobbied GOP members to change their votes when it looked like Maloney's proposal would pass.

"The leader [McCarthy] went around and twisted their arms, and they voted for discrimination," Maloney said. When Maloney complained directly to McCarthy, he said the majority leader told him "to get back on your own side."

McCarthy actually held the vote open until they got enough votes to defeat the amendment, which is against House rules.

And -- you'd better shut off your irony meter for this one -- via Digby, this quote from The Boys Wonder's office:

"Our veterans and troops were prioritized over a political messaging amendment that could have jeopardized the final passage of the appropriations bill," said Speaker Paul Ryan's spokeswoman AshLee Strong in a statement.

Excuse me -- which party is it that keeps trying to cut appropriations for the VA? And refuses to raise salaries for enlisted personnel?

And, while our infrastructure is crumbling, more and more people are entering poverty, and climate change will wipe out most of our major cities in the next few decades, they spend their time on things like this:

A Republican lawmaker has proposed legislation that would ban federal spending on yoga classes for federal workers.

The bill from Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., doesn't prohibit federal workers from doing yoga. But they would have to use their own money to rebalance their chakras if his proposal became law.

The bill is one of Salmon's several proposals to reduce wasteful federal spending. Salmon said free yoga classes aren't something taxpayers should pay for just because workers get those kinds of perks at high-tech companies.

In case you don't appreciate the magnitude of the waste:

Salmon said the Department of Energy and EPA alone spent more than $168,000 on yoga classes over the last five years. "Government, bending over backwards to waste your money," Paul's report said.

That's less than Rep. Salman's salary for one year. I have a better idea on how to cut government waste. . . .

Jon Green has some observations on Salmon and his cost-cutting at AmericaBlog.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Liberal Redneck on Target Protesters

I don't really need to add anything:

Culture Break: Jon Balke/Amina Alaoui: Jadwa, from Siwan

This is from the album Siwan, a collaboration between Balke, Alaoui, and a number of other very talented musicians. It's a terrific collection -- a mix of North Africa and Iberia, beautifully rendered:

I've reviewed it, but it hasn't been republished yet at the new Green Man Review, but I do encourage you to look it up.

I Would Vote For Him In a Second

If you don't know who he is, where have you been hiding?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Why Is This A Surprise?

I think the headline says it all:

Centrist Democrats: We can work with President Trump

By way of elaboration:

As Democrats portray Donald Trump as a dangerous leader for his party, most of them barely acknowledge he could be president. But some centrist Democrats say they’re ready and willing to work with the business mogul should he defeat their party’s nominee.

“The people will have a chance to vote. If Donald Trump is elected president there will be a great opportunity to sit down and have a conversation about what that agenda looks like,” explained Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who has long backed Hillary Clinton. “If he’s president, we’re going to have disagreement. But we’d better all figure out how to come up with an agenda for the American people.”

We used to call them "Blue Dogs" -- at this point, "centrist" translates as "Republicans lite." Anyone who thinks they can work with Donald Trump is dreaming -- yes, he's a deal-maker, but he's also dictatorial, a game-player, and shoots too much from the hip: they're not going to pin him down to anything, basically.

Still, centrist Democrats sound strong notes of skepticism about a President Trump's relationship with Congress: They think he’s got a bad habit of rewriting his policy platform on the fly from one day to the next. In the words of Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Trump’s policy portfolio seems “very schizophrenic.”

“I don’t know if he’d send one piece of legislation over in the morning, and then send the exact opposite legislation that afternoon,” McCaskill said. “You go down every single issue, he is all over the place. So I have no idea. I don’t think he knows. It’s clear to me he’s kind of making this up as he goes along.”

As for breaking up the gridlock in Congress, I found this statement quite humorous, considering the source:

“People are very angry. They’re angry at Republicans, they’re angry at Democrats, they’re angry at Washington for not solving the biggest problems. So what they’ve done is nominate a candidate who’s of neither camp to basically shake things up,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas. “And hopefully help us to address some of these long-standing issues that we know are a problem.”

Says one of the people who has steadfastly refused to address those issues.

Here's a big part of the problem:

[Sen. Joe] Manchin [D-WV], who represents a state in which Obama is very unpopular and that is poised to be a landslide for Trump, said his constituents are eager for someone that understands what’s become of manufacturing cities and coal country.

“My people are really hurting,” Manchin said. “They don’t believe this administration or Barack Obama really cares about them.”

In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, because you haven't been out there countering the bullshit coming from the Republicans.

Via Digby, who wonders:

None of these people are up for reelection this year. There is no good reason for them to even hint at some kind of common cause with the fascist demagogue Donald Trump when even Republicans are desperately trying to run away from him. To treat him as a normal politician is a betrayal.

They're taking the long view, which is about two years: they are up for re-election in 2018, and if the unthinkable happens, they want to be able to take advantage of it. Make no mistake: their primary interest is not the needs of their constituents or the country as a whole. It's their own political careers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Today's Must-Read: Privatizing Everything?

It's a basic principle, I think, that some things should not be subject to the profit motive, including most government services, for which we're already paying taxes: education, infrastructure, water and sewer systems, and I'd be happy to add to that energy and Internet. But, corporations being what they are, they keep trying:

When it's not obsessing over its citizens' bathroom habits, North Carolina's GOP-led legislature is ogling any public infrastructure that generates revenue for state cities. Take it away and you cripple the economic base of those centers of blue-leaning voters. Which happens to coincide with the interests of international corporations in getting control of "their water" out of the hands of not-for-profit public agencies.

North Carolina is not the only state where this is happening -- Sullivan starts off with a story about Nestle's attempt to get control of a municipal water system in Pennsylvania -- and there are other examples across the country, and it's not only water. Schools are a favorite target, as well. Here's an interesting article on the tactics used in privatizing education. And the abuses in private prisons -- well, they start from the ground up.

And it seems that in every case, service has declined, costs have gone up, and the general result is a negative for everyone except the corporations involved.

Do we really want to do that with our water supplies?

Idiot du Jour

Someone hasn't been getting enough attention:

Ralph Nader said Hillary Clinton is unfairly winning the Democratic nomination with unelected superdelegates and closed primaries that shut out independent voters who prefer Bernie Sanders.

“If he had an open primary, he’d have beaten her,” Nader told The Hill in a Facebook Live interview on Monday. "It should be open to all voters. And that helped her; that gave her a big advantage."

Why should "all voters" be able to vote in party primaries? That just proves to me how clueless Nader is.

That's the guy who gave us President Dubyah.

Oh, and this is choice:

Nader argued that American voters deserve better than a binary choice between Clinton and Trump, two candidates he finds so loathsome that he refuses to say who is worse. He said Trump is a bigot and a sexist and called Clinton “corrupt” and a “finger to the wind politician.”

But while he had nothing positive to say about Clinton, he acknowledged it was “a bit refreshing” that Trump had taken on the mainstream media and “churned things up” by putting into the mainstream opposition to international trade deals and Wall Street cronyism.

Yeah, well, so did Sanders, you dolt.

Some people just never learn.

Via Joe.My.God. There's video at both sites, if you want to subject yourself to half an hour of Ralph Nader.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Front-Runner: A Guessing Game

You get to guess which election these were from:
Donald Trump
If you guessed 2000, sorry, but that's not it.  They're The Hairpiece's tweets from the 2012 election.

Via Digby.

Today's Must-Read

This post, from Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo. This part struck me:

Eli Saslow reports for the Washington Post on the decline of manufacturing in northeast Indiana where the American Dream is proving to be just that. Chris Setser stands to lose his $17/hr production line job at United Technologies Electronic Controls (UTEC) in Huntington. . . .

Setser leaned into the table and banged it once for emphasis. “They’re throwing our work back in our face,” he said. “China is doing better. Even Mexico is doing better. Don’t you want someone to go kick ass?”

Globalization. Financialization. Greed, one of the deadly sins. Nothing a little ass-whupping won't fix.

It occurs to me that people like Setser are, quite deliberately, being pointed in the wrong direction for the ass-whupping. Mexico and China didn't come over here and steal our jobs. The bosses figured they'd make more money by shipping the jobs to sweatshops in China or Mexico -- American workers are just too darned expensive.

The Hairpiece, being of the class that ships jobs overseas (check out where the clothing in his clothing line is made) is blaming all the wrong people. Of course. And people like Setser are buying it.

Here's the story as WaPo. It's worth reading, too.

Wasn't I Just Saying

that the Republicans would fall into line behind Trump? Via Crooks and Liars:

Open Thread - Baptism?
Credit: Bramhall / NY Daily News  

Skipped a Day

I was busy finishing up some old review business, which means fixing drafts, uploading, finding cover art, etc., etc.

But, there are reviews newly posted at Green Man Review, so hop over and take a look.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Saturday Science: Coywolf, Coydog, What?

Eastern coyote (Wikipedia Commons)
Interesting (well, for me, but I'm somewhat of a nature nerd) article on what has been called variously the "coywolf," "coydog," and "northeastern coyote," with an argument for naming it a new species:

Soon after, my colleague William Lynn (Marsh Institute, Clark University) and I published a meta-analysis in the scientific journal Canid Biology & Conservation that summarized recent studies on this creature and confirmed that what we call “coyotes” in northeastern North America formed from hybridization (the mating of two or more species) between coyotes and wolves in southern Ontario around the turn of the 20th century.

In the paper, we suggest that coywolf is the most accurate term for this animal and that they warrant new species status, Canis oriens, which literally means eastern canid in Latin. We based this on the fact that they are physically and genetically distinct from their parental species of mainly western coyotes (Canis latrans) and eastern wolves (Canis lycaon). They also have smaller amounts of gray wolf (Canis lupus) and domestic dog (Canis familiaris) genes.

Actually, the bulk of the article devoted to the statistical side (if I can call it that) of evolutionary biology and provides a good look at the way this sort of thing actually works.

Which some of us think is totally fascinating.

Quote du Jour

Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris:

"Trump is stupid. He’s very stupid... Mr. Trump is so stupid, my God. My God.”

Video, which I can't embed, at the link. Transcript courtesy of Digby.

More Disgusting People

They're out in full force -- the bathroom nannies, that is. Here's just a brief recap from this morning's headlines at The New Civil Rights Movement:

Tony Perkins Calls for Obama's Impeachment Over Transgender Directive for the 'Safety of Children'

Well, it worked for Anita Bryant

Mississippi Governor on Transgender Directive: 'Disregard' Obama's 'Social Experiment'

"The directive is nonbinding, and does not carry the force of law. Because these decisions are better left to the states, and not made at the point of a federal bayonet, Mississippi's public schools should not participate in the president's social experiment."

Somehow, I can't quite wrap my head around the idea that equal treatment under the law is a "social experiment." Oh, by the way, Governor -- you've heard of the Supremacy Clause?

Pat McCrory Hypocritically Slams Obama Transgender Directive as 'Massive Executive Branch Overreach'

"Most Americans," McCrory, claims, "including this governor, believe that government is searching for a solution to a problem that has yet to be defined."

I really can't think of an appropriate response. But then, it's Pat McCrory, a known weasel.

Oh, and by the way, Governor: most Americans are opposed to laws like your Hate Bill 2.

Texas Superintendent Says Obama Directive on Transgender Students 'Going Straight to the Shredder'

"I don't recognize President Obama. I expect a President to be a strong, fearless leader. Nothing he does has any shred of leadership."

Strange -- I would have considered this letter an example of leadership. In fact, Obama's whole stance on LGBT issues falls under the heading "leadership."

One wonders if they would be so outraged if the president were white. Just asking. I mean, look at where all these jerks are from.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Weasel du Jour (Update)

That would be Pat McCrory, staunch guardian of North Carolina's bathrooms. The man's really a piece of work. I'm sure you've heard this one:

Speaking to CNN host Jake Tapper on Wednesday, McCrory accused Democrats of starting a fight over transgender bathroom rights by passing an ordinance in the City of Charlotte that allowed transgender people to visit public restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

"I think that this was an argument that we didn't need to have," McCrory opined. "But this is an agenda by the far left. And for some reason, the national media is saying the far right brought this up. I had no interest in this subject."

"Shame on you, for making me hit you!"

North Carolina, for the first time in something like 150 years, has a legislature full of bullies, headed by their bully-in-chief, McCrory. (Seriously -- this is the first time Republicans have been in control of the state government since, I believe, 1870.)

Tapper pointed out that transgender children "have a very difficult time fitting in, they have very high suicide rates."

"What are you telling the teachers at schools in North Carolina where, say, a 12-year-old who identifies as a girl, though her birth certificate says boy, what do you tell teachers about her if she's using the girl's bathroom?" the CNN host wondered.

McCrory argued that the solution was to "make special circumstances" by allowing the transgender girl to use a segregated bathroom.

"But now the Civil Right Division of the U.S. Justice Department has deemed those types of arrangements to be discriminatory," McCrory remarked.

Does the phrase "separate but equal" ring a bell, Governor?

Here's video, if you can stand it. The man turns my stomach.

Credit to Tapper for not giving him a pass.


And the First Runner Up is: Governor Phil Bryant (R-Mississippi [no, not Alabama, but close]):

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant complained Christians are still being bullied in his state because not everyone agrees with their interpretation of a law that permits discrimination against LGBT people.

Bryant insisted the law was intended to prevent discrimination against Christians by allowing them to deny service, housing, medical treatment and some government documents to LGBT people or even unmarried couples — so long as they claim a religious objection.

The ACLU is challenging portions of the law that permit discrimination against same-sex couples by arguing the law violates the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, and Bryant complained the civil rights group was “bullying” Christians in his state, reported Right Wing Watch.

Seriously -- allows them to deny medical treatment?!?!?

There's this psychological mechanism known as "projection". . . .

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Today in Disgusting People (Update)

And I can't think of anyone more disgusting than George Zimmerman. Here's his latest bid for attention:

Calling the gun "an American Firearm Icon," Zimmerman lists it as "the firearm that was used to defend my life and end the brutal attack from Trayvon Martin on 2/26/2012."

He says it is "fully functional as the attempts by the Department of Justice on behalf of B. Hussein Obama to render the firearm inoperable were thwarted by my phenomenal Defense Attorney."

Zimmerman adds, "I am proud to announce that a portion of the proceeds will be used to: fight BLM [apparently Black Lives Matter] violence against Law Enforcement officers, ensure the demise of [State Attorney] Angela Correy's persecution career and Hillary Clinton's anti-firearm rhetoric."

"Now is your opportunity to own a piece of American History."

Do I need to add anything?


It seems this auction is not going to happen, at least not immediately: from commenter Piet, the BBC announced that the original auctioneer has pulled the offering. Now, from CNN:

George Zimmerman tried to sell the gun purportedly used to kill Trayvon Martin on two different auction websites Thursday.

Both times, the websites kicked him off.

Zimmerman said he used the gun to kill Martin, an unarmed African-American teen, in Florida four years ago. He claimed self-defense and was found not guilty.

Bidding on the gun was supposed to start Thursday morning on GunBroker, but the website sent out a message in the afternoon saying it had rejected the idea.

"Our site rules state that we reserve the right to reject listings at our sole discretion, and have done so with the Zimmerman listing," the GunBroker statement said. "We want no part in the listing on our web site or in any of the publicity it is receiving."

He then tried a second site:

Zimmerman then tried to sell the gun through United Gun Group, an online marketplace for firearms. It listed the weapon at a starting bid of $5,000, the same as on the previous site.

But United Gun Group put out a statement Thursday night, saying the gun will not be sold on its site.

"As an organization, we stand by the rule of law and, while no laws have been broken, we do not feel like it is in the best interest of the organization to continue to host this sale on our platform," it said.

"Our mission is to esteem the 2nd amendment and provide a safe and secure platform for firearms enthusiasts and law-abiding citizens; our association with Mr. Zimmerman does not help us achieve that objective."

Zimmerman also claimed that the Smithsonian had approached him about acquiring the gun. The Smithsonian said:

"We have never expressed interest in collecting George Zimmerman's firearm, and have no plans to ever collect or display it in any museums," it said in a statement.

You get the idea that no one wants to have anything to do with this loser?

Maybe he can arrange a private sale to Ted Nugent.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Another "Christian Counseling" Horror Story

Although this one could have been much worse:

Alex Jacobsen, 26, was suffering from mental exhaustion and anxiety. He hadn’t slept for days despite being in a faith-based treatment program. He felt hopeless and when he spotted a box knife he grabbed it and held it against his neck pressing harder as it cut through his skin.

This all happened 10 days after he stopped taking his medication, which was when he entered himself into the faith-based program, the Des Moines Register reports. He said he trusted his recovery to them and to God and he almost died from it.

They took away his meds and substituted Bible study. These are not, by the way, qualified medical professionals:

Jacobsen’s father said that he called Rev. Hanges to ask if his son could put a hold on starting the program so he could go to his scheduled evaluation for outpatient treatment at University of Iowa Hospitals. He also said he warned Rev. Hanges about the prescription drugs his son was taking and inquired about the pastor’s training. The pastor assured the father that his mentally ill son could make his own choices and would make the right decision. He also clarified that he is certified online as a faith-based Christian counselor by the International Institute of Faith-Based Counseling in Texas.
(Emphasis added.)

In other words he's not qualified as a therapist or counselor. If he were, he might have spotted the danger signs:

Medical professionals who treated him after the suicide attempt told the family that he could have died from suddenly halting the use of his medication. The Society for the Study of Addiction lists insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, psychosis and suicidal thoughts as symptoms of withdrawal. All of which Jacobsen had.

I've heard enough stories about gay teens consigned to this sort of torture, and winding up dead, that this is no real surprise. What's most appalling is that these outfits are not regulated -- in Iowa, at least, there are no state minimum requirements that they have to meet, and most other places they get a pass for being "religious organizations." As one of the commenters noted;

Yet the Governor of Iowa fully backs this system and refuses to require any sort of licensing or registration for these "clinics. Yet Iowa requires 18 months of study and licensing, with yearly continuing education to cut someone's hair.

I think it's about time that religious scam artists in this country got a little bit less of a free ride. Or at least was held to some sort of accountability for the damage they do.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sort of What I'd Been Thinking

Digby writes about the crack-up of the GOP. This part stuck out:

Weirdly, Tyrrell's analysis of the crack-up from way back when seems to have been premature rather than outright wrong which lends credence to the notion that this has been happening in slow motion for quite a while. He saw a movement that was in love with its own voice and thought it had all the answers:

Throughout the Reagan years the conservatives have been off pursuing their one way to save the Republic; The Seminar! The Commemorative Banquet! Fund raisers! The narrowness of America's conservatives is a mystery.I have seen it retard fuddy-duddies like Russell Kirk and the libertarians, who can become violent at the first departure from orthodoxy. But it also overcomes conservatism's new recruits the noconservative who gave up on Liberalism when its utopianism became intolerable Th neoconservatives too adopt on way to save the world: The Quarterly Journal! The News Letter! Anti-Communism! Economic Growth!

The result is a conservatism composed of conservatives who do not integrate their narrow values into the broad range of human experience. Their views are sound enough but each is only one recipe on life's menu. Coq au vin is delicious and good for you but man cannot live by squiffed chicken alone. Too often conservatives have insisted that only their favorite dish leads to good health. In this they are as bizarre as vegetarians and as unwholesome.

This hits a lot of places. First, and the part that stuck out, is Digby's comment about it happening in slow motion for "quite a while." Historical trends take their own time. History also runs in cycles (like the rest of the universe): as societies move toward a more "liberal" outlook -- social welfare, concern for individual rights, rejection of authoritarian rule -- they generate their own backlash: conservatives want to maintain the status quo ante. So it goes back and forth: the '60s gave us, ultimately, Ronald Reagan (whom I consider the first symptom of the Republican debacle). It was Reagan, remember who gave us the religious right, figuring he could use them as a power base. We've seen how that worked out: when you put the likes of Tony Perkins on your platform committee -- well, you've heard of the tail wagging the dog.

Fast forward thirty years, and you have the teabaggers -- the money wing's answer to the Moral Majority (with a good dose of racism thrown in). Their first exercise was to oppose the ACA, in most cases against their own self-interest, but that's what the Republicans rely on.

This is not to say that the bible-thumpers have disappeared -- the spate of anti-gay, and especially now, anti-trans laws coming from state legislatures is evidence enough of that. The smokescreen is "public safety." That's bullshit, as I may have noted before. John Cole nails it:

I’m also sick of the argument that liberals are trying to “normalize” X, where X is whatever the reich wing jeebus freaks have decided is the target du jour, whether it be homosexuality, transgenders, etc. Homosexuality and transgender individuals are normal. It happens naturally. It’s not something that happens as commonly as heterosexuality, but it is quite normal.

When these jackasses say they don’t want something like homosexuality normalized, what they mean is that they don’t want to have to stop brutalizing homosexuals and transgenders both physically and emotionally and socially. They want them back in the closet, so they don’t have to confuse their pretty little heads with something that scares them or that they don’t understand. What they really mean is not that they don’t want homosexuality “normalized,” what they mean is that they want to continue to treat normal people like shit for no reason or because Jeebus told them to. Or because it makes them feel superior or because they see political gain. Or because they are sociopaths. Or because they themselves are having feelings for the same sex or are confused about their gender identity and it scares the living shit out of them because they are surrounded by people like them who have spent their entire lives telling that that is wrong. Or some combination of all of the above.

The GOP has practically made an art form out of combing mutually antagonistic ideologies into a whole -- not a unified whole, but when you're more interested in power than philosophies, it's good enough.

And now Trump. Really, what did anyone expect? And the GOP Establishment is having kittens, although I'm pretty sure they'll fall into line. (TPM is tracking the support; it's no surprise that so many of them -- so far -- are teabaggers -- what's interesting is how many have pledged to "support the nominee.")

No,the GOP is not going to disappear, any more than the Democrats disappeared after the McGovern disaster. But it's going to have to reinvent itself.

Monday, May 09, 2016

For the BernieBots

I've heard too much from supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders about sitting out the election if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee (or voting Green, which is the same thing). They're pretending it's high principles -- "Oh, she's hand in glove with Wall Street," or "I don't think she's honest," or "she supports the TPP," or any of a baker's dozen of excuses. I see it as being childish and petulant.

So, for all you purist leftists (if any of you read this blog), I bring you this, via Digby, from President Obama's commencement speech at Howard University:

You can be completely right, and you still are going to have to engage folks who disagree with you. If you think that the only way forward is to be as uncompromising as possible, you will feel good about yourself, you will enjoy a certain moral purity, but you’re not going to get what you want. And if you don’t get what you want long enough, you will eventually think the whole system is rigged. And that will lead to more cynicism, and less participation, and a downward spiral of more injustice and more anger and more despair. And that's never been the source of our progress. That's how we cheat ourselves of progress.

You have to go through life with more than just a passion for change – you have to have strategy. Not just awareness, but action. Not just hashtags, but votes. Change requires more than righteous anger. To bring about structural change, lasting change, awareness is not enough. It requires changes in law, changes in customs.

There are over 310 million people in this country, including a lot of people who are frightened and dismayed by the pace of the changes we've had. You want instant Paradise? By whose definition?

Here's Obama delivering the speech:

And Tom Sullivan ("Undercover Blue") has a transcript here.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Culture Break: Journey: Winds of March

This one always destroys me:

More Updates

Reviews, that is, at Green Man Review, including reviews of the conmplete Preacher, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. If you want to go through the whole saga, start here.

Liberal Redneck on Ted Cruz' Flameout

Have you run across the Liberal Redneck (a/j/a Trae Crowder) yet? Watch for him. This is just a sample.

He sounds just like my cousins.

Here's a longish piece on him from Lawrence O'Donnell:

Honoring the Flag

No comment.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Saturday Science: Fossils From Way Down Under

Photo:  University of Queensland
As far under as you can get: Antarctica, to be exact.

"It's a very hard place to work, but it's an even harder place to get to," Steve Salisbury, a researcher at the University of Queensland and one of the scientists on the expedition, says in a release.

Salisbury was one of 12 scientists from the U.S., Australia and South Africa that ventured south on a fossil hunting mission to James Ross Island, located on the Antarctic Peninsula. Over five weeks, the team camped on Vega island, hiking over six miles a day to to reach their main hunting grounds where they systematically sorted through rocks.

The scientists retrieved over a ton of fossils from ancient marine creatures, dinosaurs and birds that lived during the late Cretaceous Period. The massive stash could take years for them to catalog and study. For now, they say, the fossils will make their way to Chile and then Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

In case you're thinking "How weird! How could dinosaurs live in Antarctica?" keep in mind that Antarctica wasn't always where it is now, and that at various times, the earth has been much warmer than it is now. So it only stands to reason that there would be fossils there; the only real problem is getting at them. It's not what you call ideal working conditions.

There's video at the link of an interview with Salisbury that gives an idea of what it was like just getting ready to work.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Today's Must-Read

This, from Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice, quoting President Obama:

You hear a lot about government overreach. Oh, Obama, he’s for big government. Listen, it’s not government overreach to say our government’s responsible for making sure that you can wash your hands in your own sink, or shower in your own home, or cook for your family. These are the most basic services. There’s no more basic element sustaining human life than water. It’s not too much to expect for all Americans that their water is going to be safe.

BC draws the right conclusions. Click through and read the whole thing.

North Carolina's "Hate Bill 2"

I don't know if you've been following this one, but it's generating a lot of coverage. To summarize, NC Gov. Pat McCrory called a special session of the legislature to pass HB2 in the wake of action by the Charlotte City Council broadening the city's civil rights protections to include transgender people. The bill was passed in twelve hours with no public testimony, and McCrory signed it immediately. In addition to overriding all municipal civil rights ordinances, the bill also overrides local ordinances concerning minimum wage and worker protections, and removes the ability to seek redress for any civil rights or discrimination complaints from the state courts. The pretext was "protecting our wives and daughters" from men dressing as women to get into women's restrooms and molest them. There are no reported cases of that happening in the 200+ jurisdictions that have passed laws allowing trans people to use the restroom of the sex with which they identify. The "public safety" issue is complete bullshit.

The backlash was immediate and severe -- NC has lost millions in new business, companies have halted plans for expansion in the state, high-profile musicians have cancelled concerts, and the loss in jobs has mounted to the thousands. McCrory, running true to form, insists that it's all the fault of "the Left."

And now, the Justice Department has notified the governor that the law is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and has given the state until Monday to rescind it.

McCrory and the legislature, being right-wingers, have reacted as you might expect: when caught out doing something crappy, double down. The republican legislature is, of course, refusing to comply with the deadline
-- House Speaker Tim Moore is quoted as saying they are reviewing their legal options and will "take the time it takse." Since it only took twelve hours to pass the bill, five days should be plenty of time to review their legal options, which are pretty much nil.

This is going to be fun. North Carolina will sue (probably claiming "states rights" or some such nonsense) and lose. They'll fight it all the way to the Supreme Court, and all else being equal, will probably lose there.

McCrory is running for re-election; his poll numbers have dropped since this all blew up in his face. Be careful what bandwagon you jump on.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Into the Maelstrom, Part II

And on another note, let's talk about climate change:

A huge wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., destroyed an entire neighbourhood and burned homes and businesses in several others Tuesday, and continues to rage out of control.

By late afternoon, the entire city of 60,000 had been ordered evacuated. Residents by the thousands fled the fire and for hours caused gridlock on Highway 63, even overwhelming oilsands work camps, where beds and meals were offered. Police were patrolling the highway with cans of gas, after fuel supplies ran out in Fort McMurray, Wandering River and Grasslands.

Fire chief Darby Allen said the entire neighbourhood of Beacon Hill "appears to have been lost" and the fire burned many homes in other parts of the city.

I suspect we're going to see more and more things like this. One article cited hot, dry conditions as exacerbating the fire. Sound familiar? Given the way weather patterns have altered in the past few years -- drought throughout the West, except where there's been flooding from sudden freak storms, record snows hitting the Northeast and Atlantic Coast, record erosion along coastlines, increasingly violent hurricanes -- well, welcome to the future.

If you think I'm being alarmist, read this:

Looking out from the house he built in 1959 with lumber brought by boat to this island at the south end of Terrebonne Parish, Wenceslaus Billiot remembers when the view from his back porch was thick forest and solid marsh.

Now there is just open water.

With their homes growing ever more vulnerable to hurricanes, the 89-year-old Billiot and other residents of Isle de Jean Charles soon will have the choice of whether to stay on this slip of land or relocate, hopefully with their neighbors, to higher ground.

This opportunity comes thanks to a $48 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to move the entire community. It’s a first of its kind for Louisiana and a test case for the choice other coastal communities will be facing as land loss continues: Leave or stay and be overwhelmed by storm after storm.

It's not just vulnerability to storms -- the island itself is disappearing.

Despite a highly lauded state master plan for coastal restoration and protection, land loss is expected to continue at a rate of 25 to 35 square miles a year into at least the near future. Certain areas of the coast will be washed away, including Isle de Jean Charles.

The erosion of the island occurred over the lifetime of the older residents, shrinking from 22,400 acres in 1955 to the approximately 320 acres it covers today.

Yes, these events are related -- the world is getting warmer, weather patterns are disrupted, the ice caps are melting.

The next time someone tells you that climate change is a hoax, slap them.

Into the Maelstrom (Updated)

Well, now that the Hairpiece is the presumptive Republican nominee for president, here's a small taste of what we're in for.


Cassy McWade was involved in a car crash near Asheville, North Carolina, and her family called their regular mechanic to drive 45 minutes north from his shop to haul her wrecked vehicle back for repairs, reported WHNS-TV.

Ken Shupe, owner of Shupee Max Towing, arrived about an hour later and began hooking McWade’s car up to his truck — until he spotted the Sanders campaign sticker on her bumper and the yard sign placed in her rear window.

“He goes around back and comes back and says, ‘I can’t tow you,'” McWade said. “My first instinct was there must be something wrong with the car, and he says, ‘No, you’re a Bernie supporter.’ And I was like, ‘Wait — really?’ And he says, ‘Yes ma’am,’ and just walks away.”

And the punchline:

“Something came over me, I think the Lord came to me, and He just said, ‘Get in the truck and leave,'” Shupe said. “And when I got in my truck, you know, I was so proud, because I felt like I finally drew a line in the sand and stood up for what I believed.”

Proud of leaving a disabled woman beside the road with a wrecked car. Yep, sounds like a Republican to me. I hope she sues him and takes his damned truck and everything else he has -- he's in clear violation of the Civil Rights Act.

It gets worse:

Police are trying to determine whether a notorious white supremacist left threatening leaflets on vehicles in a Sacramento neighborhood.

The leaflets warned against “white genocide” — a white nationalist slogan — and threatened targeted violence against Muslims and Hispanics, reported the Sacramento Bee.

The fliers urged “white resistance groups and lone wolves” to activate the “hundred little death camp policy” and begin slaughtering Muslims and Latinos in the U.S., Europe and Russia.

“If you have not secured a body dump-site, do so now!” the leaflets warn. “Kidnap, rob, torture for information and execute all Muslims and Latinos. Leave no survivors.”

White supremacists are real big on Trump.

While we wait for El Rushbo to weigh in with his victory dance, let's have a look at what Grand Wizard Duke had to say about the win.

The former KKK leader said that Republican elites have been working to undermine Trump just as they worked against him when he ran for governor of Louisiana as a Republican in 1991. He particularly took issue with Trump’s former Republican rival Ted Cruz taking money from a “Jewish leftist commie,” arguing that Jewish financiers are bent on “destroying the Republican Party” by targeting people like Trump and himself.

And via Digby, this, from Right Wing Watch:

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has been energizing and electrifying white supremacists, and their excitement is hitting new highs now that he is clearly the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee.

The neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer, which endorsed Trump two weeks after his immigrant-disparaging campaign launch, is filled with posts celebrating the GOP candidate’s victory this morning. “White men in America and across the planet are partying like it’s 1999 following Trump’s decisive victory over the evil enemies of our race,” says one post, which also celebrates that “[t]he Jews are in full-on freak-out mode.”

And this:

The fires of nationalism, the fires of identity, the fires of anger against the corrupt establishment are arising all around Europe, all around America, all around the entire world. So we just need to strap in, because the future is gonna definitely be interesting, and I believe we could have a switch in our direction even more…Hail, Emperor Trump! And hail, victory!

As Digby notes: "And keep in mind that Trump has been promising to bring a lot of new people into the process ..."

One more:

A Washington, D.C. Muslim woman says she was attacked by a Donald Trump supporter while sitting outside a coffee shop, WJLA reports.

The woman, who did not give her name, is African-American and wears the hijab, a head covering that devout Muslim women wear. She told WJLA she was sitting outside a Starbucks on April 21. Police have since released surveillance footage that shows the woman yelling in the victim’s face, then returning with a bottle of liquid and dousing her.

“A Caucasian lady with blond hair walked right past me,” she told the station. “Then as soon as she sat down she started talking about me. Saying ‘F-ing Muslim. Trash, worthless piece of Muslim trash. You all need to go back to where you came from.”

Yes, I know about #NeverTrump. Right. The Republicans will fall into line because they are about power and want to stay in control of Washington by any means necessary. And Trump will start making deals.

Update: What did I say?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he's committed to supporting Donald Trump's presidential bid.

But, the Kentucky Republican wrote, he has expectations of Trump -- who he said "now has the opportunity and the obligation to unite our party around our goals."

McConnell said in a statement Wednesday night that he plans to support the real estate mogul, who became the GOP's presumptive nominee once Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ended his campaign after losing Indiana's primary on Tuesday night and Ohio Gov. John Kasich then dropped out of the race on Wednesday.

"I have committed to supporting the nominee chosen by Republican voters, and Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee, is now on the verge of clinching that nomination," McConnell said.

"Republicans are committed to preventing what would be a third term of Barack Obama and restoring economic and national security after eight years of a Democrat in the White House," he said. "As the presumptive nominee, he now has the opportunity and the obligation to unite our party around our goals."

They're already falling into line.

And excuse me, but when has a Republican administration brought economic and national security? Eisenhower is the only one I can think of, and the country would have been fine no matter who was in office in the '50s -- we were the superpower, and the post-War economy was going gangbusters.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

I Wish Him the Same Success He's Enjoyed Thus Far (Updated)

The "he" in question being Brian Brown, of the hilariously misnamed National Organization for Marriage. Since he's has such resounding success in the U.S., he's gone international:

A group of anti-LGBT organizations, including leading American groups, have banded together to sign a joint platform meant to “push back against UN entities attempting to redefine the family to include same-sex relations.”

. . .

The platform states that any reference to the family in UN documents should be interpreted only as “a man and a woman united in marriage, and relations that are equivalent or analogous, including single parent families and multigenerational families.”

It makes clear that this specifically excludes families headed by same-sex couples: “Relations between individuals of the same sex and other social and legal arrangements that are neither equivalent nor analogous to the family are not entitled to the protections singularly reserved for the family in international law and policy.”

The platform concludes that any language that “implicitly or explicitly attempts to dilute, erode, or undermine” this definition of the family is “incompatible with international human rights law.”

As if any of these clowns know -- or care -- anything about international human rights law, which increasingly reflects a concern for the rights of gay and transgender people.

[Brian] Brown, as marriage equality has become entrenched in the U.S., has increasingly worked to form global alliances to prevent the advance of LGBT rights.

Most of the groups involved in this effort are designated anti-gay hate groups. 'Nuff said?

Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

Update: If you want to know the kinds of things these groups have agitated for -- and sometimes been involved directly in the creation of -- read this at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Truth in Passing

Every once in a while, someone makes a remark in passing that resonates much more than you would expect. This is even more true when the discussion is about something else.

This one jumped out at me:

Anyone who’s run a successful con will tell you that fear and greed are your greatest allies in getting the mark to go along with your scam.

Mustang Bobby throws it at Trump and Cruz, and it sticks.

But my reaction was: Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce the "Christian" right.

Monday, May 02, 2016

I'm Speechless

Stories like this just stop me cold:

"This is something we've never heard before, but according to workers, has been going on for quite some time," says Sovereign Hager with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.

In federal court, five workers said they were pressured to falsify applications for assistance by stating families had more than $100 in assets when they had less than that or none at all.

Lawyers say those people were then wrongfully denied food assistance.

Yeah -- just keep voting Republican.

Just Under the Surface

Should I be more surprized at things like this than I am?

Old Navy tweeted a family showing off their cheap clothes on Friday that happens to be an interracial family. The photo sent the internet into an uproar and racists clutched their pearls to such an extent that it even began trending on Twitter Sunday afternoon.

Here’s the original tweet:

Oh, happy day! Our is finally here. Take 30% off your entire purchase: http://oldnvy.me/1LUMNBd 

The responses are, to anyone who's decent, pretty awful.  This is possibly the most outrageous:

I'm not ashamed. Really I consider slavery a testiment to our kindness.

It's not only about gay couples eating Cherios. Do you really wonder at the popularity of Donald Trump among right-wing extremists?

Local note: I can't even think how many interracial couples I see in the course of a day. In fact, just yesterday I stopped off at the Jewel to pick up a couple of things and was in line for the check-out behind a gay interracial couple and their daughter. Can you imagine how these dodos would react to that? Sorry, Gomer, but in my part of the world, that's normal.