Oklahoma should be embarrassed

It has several times voted for Senator James Inhofe, most recently seen flipping a snowball to an aide to prove that climate change was a myth.

No, I’m not kidding. Watch:

From The Huffington Post:

Inhofe doesn’t misunderstand the science; rather, he doesn’t need science as his guide, because God has already assured him there is nothing to fear.

In his recent book on climate change, which he titles “The Greatest Hoax”, he assures readers that the scientists — which he refers to as “alarmists” throughout the book — can be ignored because a greater Authority has already spoken.

“I take my religion seriously,” Inhofe writes. “[T]his is what a lot of alarmists forget: God is still up there, and He promised to maintain the seasons and that cold and heat would never cease as long as the earth remains.”

For those still skeptical of his climate change skepticism, Inhofe quotes from the source material, “one of my favorite Bible verses,” Genesis 8:22:

As long as the earth remains
There will be springtime and harvest
Cold and heat, winter and summer

As I said, Oklahoma should be embarrassed. This man makes boxes of rocks look like Nobel laureates.

Knives?

In 200-plus years there have only been eight US Ambassadors who have been killed while in office, six in armed attacks and two in plane crashes. Mark Lippert, America’s Ambassador to South Korea, won’t be the ninth, thankfully. But he was the victim of a knife attack yesterday.

One doesn’t ordinarily think of South Korea as a dangerous place for American diplomats, but the guy who knifed Lippert, Kim Ki-jong, is seemingly “well-known among police and activists as one of a hard-core group of protesters willing to use violence to highlight their causes.”

Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said it was the first time a foreign ambassador stationed in modern South Korea had been injured in a violent attack.

However, the Japanese ambassador narrowly escaped injury in 2010 when Kim threw a piece of concrete at him, according to police. Kim, who was protesting Japan’s claim to small disputed islands that are occupied by South Korea, hit the ambassador’s secretary instead, media reports said, and was sentenced to a three-year suspended prison term over the attack.

I can hear the NRA now. “If he and his security detail had had knives or concrete blocks he’d never have gotten hurt!”

Can the Supreme Court be trusted?

Who knows? The adjectival clause “established by the state” in context seems perfectly clear to me: “state” means “the Federal government.” But now the Nine Wise Souls, as Charlie Pierce likes to call them, get to decide the fate of some millions of people and their tenuous grip on middle class status.

If it decides that the plaintiffs’ case is correct, the entire health care system as envisioned and currently in place folds up and dies. Some thousands of people will be unable to afford life-giving medications like transplant anti-rejection drugs, chemotherapy and radiation, and other prescriptions. They’ll die.

Millions more will be unable to afford health insurance and will be at the mercy of the health care system as it previously “worked,” meaning they’ll be one major medical emergency away from bankruptcy.

The infrastructure of the system itself has been entirely reworked to conform to the Affordable Care Act’s requirements, from hospitals to insurance companies. If the Court agrees with the plaintiffs, that’s going to be a nightmare for those institutions as well.

And we don’t really have a clue how the black-robed politicians are going to decide.

Idaho follies

Seven of Idaho’s finest GOP state legislators declined to attend the invocation at the state capitol Tuesday. Why? Because it was going to be given by a Hindu.

State Sen. Steve Vick (R) told the Spokesman-Review on Monday that he would walk out of the invocation, delivered by Hindu leader Rajan Zed. He explained that the U.S. was “built on the Judeo-Christian not only religion but work ethic,” and said he didn’t want to see that “undermined.”

Hindus “have a caste system,” he added. “They worship cows.”

Is there a special brand of stupidity that’s infected Republican state legislators nationwide, or is it just the same old bigotry the party has exhibited since the civil rights movement?

Spots in Space!

There’s a mystery out there. Ceres is a dwarf planet between Mars and Jupiter, the biggest object in the asteroid belt at 950km in diameter. Two bright spots have appeared in a 92km-wide crater on its surface.

CeresSpots

The US space agency’s Dawn probe is bearing down on the dwarf planet and on Friday will be captured by its gravity.

That will allow the satellite to spiral down in altitude in the coming months, to take ever sharper images of the spots, which sit inside a wide crater.

The striking features could be where an impact has dug out surface deposits and exposed the dwarf’s interior layers.

But deputy project scientist Dr Carol Raymond cautioned that the resolution of Dawn’s imagery was not good enough at the moment to make any definitive statements.

“These spots were extremely surprising and they have been puzzling to everyone who has seen them,” the Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory researcher told reporters.

“They show up in a 92km-wide crater that’s about 19 degrees North latitude. The spot in the centre is about twice as bright as the spot on the side of the crater, and as yet it has not been resolved, meaning it is smaller than the 4km pixel size [of the images].

So how did Ceres and asteroid Vesta, which Dawn spent 2011 and 2012 studying, get to be dwarf planets?

“Both Vesta and Ceres were on their way to becoming planets, but their development was interrupted by the gravity of Jupiter,” said Carol Raymond, deputy project scientist at JPL. “These two bodies are like fossils from the dawn of the solar system, and they shed light on its origins.”

I freakin’ love space. There is so much we don’t know.

Back to the thrilling days of psychedelic yesteryear

I speak of the time when the Moody Blues put out seven consecutive concept albums, most of which were beautifully produced but so multi-tracked that they had a helluva time trying to reproduce them on stage, and the band toured a lot.

Here’s one they could perform live, although without all the strings from the original “Days of Future Passed” album.

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Governor Scott Walker is foolish

While at CPAC, the annual meeting of the faithful hard-right lunatics which form a large part of the base of the Republican Party, he was asked how he, a governor with no foreign policy experience, would deal with ISIS. He responded with this: “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.”

That set Twitter off. Here’s the best tweet I saw:


Charlie Pierce spared no vitriol:

Breathtaking, isn’t it? He didn’t “take on” anyone. He was the invisible man when 100,000 of his constituents came to call. He did everything he could to suppress the free speech rights of said constituents. And, with the abject cowardice and buck-passing that has marked his entire public career, Walker trotted out a sacrificial spokes-drone to “clarify” what he meant when he compared the chanting of middle-school teachers to bloodthirsty barbarism.

Walker aide Kirsten Kukowski issued a statement Thursday clarifying his earlier comments, saying: “Governor Walker believes our fight against ISIS is one of the most important issues our country faces. He was in no way comparing any American citizen to ISIS. What the governor was saying was when faced with adversity he chooses strength and leadership. Those are the qualities we need to fix the leadership void this White House has created.”

Anybody that was in and around Madison in those days knows how laughable Walker’s claim to “strength and leadership” during that time is on its face. He was the invisible man, using outside money and the Capitol Police as his shield and buckler.

Walker is a two-bit faker whose career is propped up by outside financiers who want a puppet in the White House. He’s an anti-union, anti-education anti-poor featureless little crook whose every campaign has had tinges of fraud about it. He shouldn’t be the nominee of a major party for County Executive again, much less for President of the United States.

ISIS and its attempts to provoke

The rest of the world has looked on in horror as these murderous bastards have beheaded innocents, murdered townsful of people, and kidnapped more. It’s pretty clear that it has a goal in mind: to draw its enemies into a war on turf of its choosing. It has escalated its atrocities in an unending effort to infuriate citizens around the world and persuade them to clamor for their governments to make them stop. These efforts are aided by the press, which covers each cruelty thoroughly and feeds it to us on our evening news.

In some places it’s working. Sadly, one of those places is the US Congress. Take Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, for example. On “Face the Nation” a few Sundays ago he said this:

“Foreign fighters flow with passports that can penetrate the United States or our Western allies, so you’ll see Paris on steroids here pretty soon if you don’t disrupt this organization and take the fight to them on the ground.”

[snip]

“You’re going to need boots on the ground, not only in Iraq, but Syria. And there’s got to be some regional force formed with an American component somewhere around 10,000 American soldiers to ally with Arab armies in the region and go in to Syria and take back territory from ISIL. That’s what will make it stop.”

Senator John McCain is equally bellicose. Back on February 19 he said:

“I’m talking about 10,000 in Iraq,” said McCain. “Then we need to say that our objective is to eliminate Bashar Assad as well as ISIS in Syria, and we recruit other Arab nations with Americans, but not too many, to fight against ISIS and Bashar Assad in Syria and coordinate those movements with air power guided by air controls.”

In my view these Senators and their colleagues who agree with them are being sucked in by ISIS/ISIL. I’m not sure whether they really see that outfit as an existential threat — if they do they’re fools. ISIS has roughly 20,000 fighters. No matter how well funded they’re not likely to defeat the US Army, the best and most elaborately-equipped army in the world, one which numbers over 550,000, if it really came to that. If they just feel that someone has to do something to stop the atrocities, I can agree that that’s a laudable goal, but I’m not convinced landing an expeditionary force in Iraq or Syria to take them on is the best way to achieve it. Also, Senator McCain’s idea of “eliminating” Syria’s Bashar Assad might not sit well with other potential allies in the region; is he suggesting that America should just go into countries willy-nilly and get rid of their leaders if those leaders aren’t performing up to John McCain’s exacting standards of behavior? That’s no way to win friends and allies, Senator.