Oh man, these guys are dumb

We all know that state legislatures are often the stepping stones for ambitious pols who want to go work at the Capitol Building in DC (3 of 7 Democrats running this year for US District One in Honolulu are State Senators or Representatives; another 3 are City Councilmembers). It’s often useful to point out how absolutely insane some of the junior varsity at the state level is.

For example, a Republican state senator in Kentucky recently said this:

“As you sit there in your chair with your data, we sit up here in ours with our data and our constituents and stuff behind us. I don’t want to get into the debate about climate change, but I will simply point out that I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that,” said the senator in a video posted by the weekly publication. “Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There are no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.”

As several people have pointed out, there’s so much wrong with this it’s hilarious. First off, no, the temperatures on the two planets are greatly different (Earth: average 58 degrees Fahrenheit; Mars: average minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit). Then, despite his “in academia we” statement, he’s not an academic. He got a BA in political science from the U of Kentucky in 1991 and put it to work owning a mining company called Mohawk Energy. The coal mine business has to do, I think, with the evidence that burning coal increases greenhouse gases and thus raises global warming, but “MARS isn’t warming and it doesn’t have coal mines” or something.

This guy just might want to run for US Representative one day, so keep his idiocy in mind.

World Cup semifinals

Could there have been two more opposite games in one tournament? Yesterday the Germans destroyed the Brazilians 7-1, while today the Argentines had to win on penalty kicks after the match ended in a scoreless tie.

I don’t know much about South American politics, but I imagine that the idea of Argentina playing for the championship on Brazilian territory can’t please the host country or its citizens very much. World War 2 buffs should be amused that the Argentines’ opponent will be Germany, given the post-war emigration of several major Nazis to the South American country (see Odessa). The game is Sunday at 9:00AM ET.

Him? Really?

Remember neo-cons Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz from the early days of the Iraq War debate? Perle was chair of the Defense Policy Board and used that position to push hard for war, advocating for Ahmad Chalabi’s installation as the new President of Iraq after the US toppled Saddam Hussein. Wolfowitz was Deputy Secretary of Defense during the period, and famously said about Iraq “We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon.”

Well, they’ve surfaced and they are still advocating for Chalabi. This despite his prior record of selling American political leadership a bill of goods about Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction,” which never existed, not to mention the millions of dollars he siphoned from the CIA to pay for his Iraq National Congress, a faction of Iraq’s politics which now has one member: himself.

Decent members of society should shun all these bastards, particularly if they show up in green rooms prior to appearing on television. Decent folk would say to talk-show bookers, “do you ever have any neocons on this show and do you allow them to spew their lies without criticism? If so, don’t call me to appear on the show.”

Dream a little dream

At Talking Points Memo Peter Dreier imagines a world in which the Dems win the 2016 Presidential election and two of the eldest Supreme Court Justices (Kennedy and Scalia) retire. I admit it’s a pleasant fantasy, but while thinking about it he forgets that there’s a filibuster procedure which is still in place for judicial nominations. The odds of getting a truly liberal nominee through the Senate Judiciary Committee, much less the full Senate, are pretty slim unless the Dems win a majority of the 20-odd Republican Senate seats which will be up for grabs that year.

He discusses his wishlist anyway, and it’s not bad. Ideas include: overturn Citizens United, overturn last week’s Harris v. Quinn (the union fees decision), decide same-sex marriage is a right conferred by the Feds, not by each state, overturn Hobby Lobby and other cases giving rights formerly held by persons to corporations as well, re-establish Section V of the Voting Rights Act, which forces Federal Department of Justice pre-clearance of voting laws states want to change, and one I’m not sure the Supreme Court can do — mandate standard funding for all pre-K to 12 students nationwide.

Fourth of July, 2014

“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

Carl Schurz, who was quite a man. A German immigrant to America, he became US Minister to Spain and upon his return was appointed a Brigadier General in the Union Army by President Lincoln. He later became a US Senator and Secretary of the Interior, where he struggled with civil rights issues for former slaves and Native Americans. I think now we’d say his upbringing in Germany formed his beliefs that non-whites weren’t equal to whites. Nonetheless, he apparently tried hard despite his personal attitudes.

Carl Schurz statue, NYC

Carl Schurz statue, NYC

I am embarrassed

Three busloads of illegal immigrants were traveling to a Border Patrol intake facility in a town called Murrietta in California when the buses they were riding were blocked by screeching citizens of the town. Despite assurances the passengers, who were mostly mothers and children, were not going to stay in their lovely little burg in Riverside County north of San Diego, the mostly white residents protested, picketed, waved poorly-spelled signs, and generally made fools of themselves.

Seeing these images reminded me of the shrieking mobs that threatened those black kids trying to integrate Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas in 1957.

Then:

full_1337908346Little_Rock_Desegregation_1957

Now:


I don’t like or admire some of my fellow Americans very much.

Deluge!

Well, no. But it was unnerving for a few minutes. At 4:15am I was awakened by a very loud steady roar. After a few minutes I figured out that it was water flowing/rushing somewhere. I looked out the window and saw water glistening on the cul-de-sac’s asphalt. Shortly thereafter I heard people talking, and I eventually heard some clanking noises like those made when a sprinkler handle is opening an access cover. I decided there was nothing I could do about it, and surely some one of the people who owned one of those voices I heard would call the Department of Water and Sewer.

Got up this morning and here’s what it looked like. All the cars have been moved out of the cul-de-sac and so have all the refuse cans (good timing: they were all out on the sidewalk for pickup). I’m not sure who set the cones.
IMG_6202

So now, eight hours later, here’s what’s going on. One front-end loader has been here to excavate the asphalt and dirt to make a hole for the crew to get at the big underground water pipe (installed in the late 1960s when the subdivision was built). There have been two DWS trucks here all day, one serving as a dump truck to hold all the dirt the loader carried out of the hole, the other presumably with specialized equipment. They’ve dug up a hole about twenty feet long and ten feet wide, and in this picture there’s one (or more) guys down in the hole inspecting the damage.
IMG_6205

It’s unclear if any of our neighbors has lost water service; we have not. If no one has, I’ll bet these guys quit around 4:00pm and come back tomorrow morning. If there is a customer without water they may work until they get it fixed.

Hobby Lobby

Sorry, can’t write about this today. Must file incorporation documents so I can get out of paying for my staff’s doughnuts. I have a religious objection to sugar, you see, and now the Supreme Court has said that’s good enough for them. I’ll save billions!

Hey, government! Where do I send the bill for my employees’ health care sugar riders?

And it restarts

On Thursday the Supreme Court told Massachusetts that its 35-foot buffer zone around clinics which provide abortions was too big. On Saturday the protesters who used to have to remain behind that line moved closer.

Activists chanted, prayed, and sang during a nonviolent six-hour protest that occasionally erupted into vitriol and shouting.

“Please don’t kill your baby! You can celebrate a birthday next year!” protesters shouted at young women entering the clinic. They waved signs imploring passersby to say no to abortions, some depicting infants nestled serenely in their mothers’ arms, another showing a bloody baby clutched by hands bearing the marks of stigmata.

At its height, the protest drew about 70 people — three times more than the average Saturday morning crowd, typically the largest gathering of the week . . .

[snip]

Since the ruling, said Walz, Planned Parenthood has received many complaints from patients about the protests, and more patients than usual have canceled appointments.

“Our patients and staff are subjected to this extreme, aggressive behavior, but that’s what the Supreme Court thinks is appropriate for the women of this country,” Walz said.

One wonders whether more shootings, bombs or assaults on clinics and their personnel might persuade the Supreme Court justices that going to see a doctor should be allowable behavior. After all, the reason that 35-foot buffer zone was put into effect was to expand a narrower one which had been established after the 1994 murders of two women, receptionists at two different Planned Parenthood clinics in Brookline, Mass.

Hooray for free speech, Justices.