469 days Trump hides taxes from American voters

September 28, 2016

Russian-built UAZ 469 is one of the few, almost-successful vehicles to come out of Russia. This model cover illustrates it in military mode, familiar to NATO forces opposing these vehicles in Bosnia and Eastern Europe. American voters worry that Trump will work to bring these vehicles to the U.S., either as competition to U.S. car makers, or in some enforcement action by his friend Vladimir Putin. Details to be found in Trump's tax returns, which fittingly are 469 days overdue today. Mac Distribution image

Russian-built UAZ 469 is one of the few, almost-successful vehicles to come out of Russia. This model cover illustrates it in military mode, familiar to NATO forces opposing these vehicles in Bosnia and Eastern Europe. American voters worry that Trump will work to bring these vehicles to the U.S., either as competition to U.S. car makers, or in some enforcement action by his friend Vladimir Putin. Details to be found in Trump’s tax returns, which unfittingly are 469 days overdue today. Mac Distribution image

Wednesday, September 28 is the 469th day of Republican candidate for president Donald Trump’s hiding of his tax returns from American voters.

What does he have to hide from voters? There are several possibilities.

  • Trump may be trying to hide income from America’s enemies, or from other foreign sources that are a powerful conflict of interest with U.S. security; his campaign team is riddled with veterans of campaigns for or by Russia’s junta leader Vladimir Putin.
  • Trump may be trying to hide fantastic claims of wealth, not borne out by reported income. He would hate to confess that his business dealings are not so successful as he shouts.
  • Trump may want to hide that he gives little to no money to charity, nor to support any church. Trump has no ties to any church, though most of his supporters would disqualify anyone else who lacked such ties.
  • Trump may want to hide that he uses charities to launder income, and to do political favors. Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold carefully documents daily revelations on Trump’s misuse and abuse of charities and tax laws to hide income and to purchase trinkets for his friends. The series started when Fahrenthold tried, unsuccessfully, to document Trump’s having donated to veterans’ charities a reported $6 million Trump had claimed to raise, at an event back in February.

It’s astounding Republicans did not check Trump out better during the primary season, an indication of the poor quality of the field of candidates fielded on the GOP side.

Tell Donald Trump to come clean, to confess, to stop hiding from the American people essential information we need to decide for whom to vote.

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NASA's secret X37-B spent 469 days on a secret space mission. But it ended after 469 days. It's time for Trump to end his 469-days of secrecy, hiding crimes and wrongdoing in his taxes. Release the taxes, Trump. NASA image

NASA’s secret X37-B spent 469 days on a secret space mission. But it ended after 469 days. It’s time for Trump to end his 469-days of secrecy, hiding crimes and wrongdoing in his taxes. Release the taxes, Trump. NASA image

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Texas Gov. Abbott sides with cancer, brags about it

October 23, 2015

I get e-mail from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and all too often it leaves me shaking my head in disgust.

This one came today. I suppose one needs to understand that the e-mail is intended to mislead the recipients about what Gov. Abbott is doing.

In the War on Cancer, Abbott has sided with cancer. As Attorney General in the later stages of the wilting administration of the beleaguered Rick Perry, Abbott refused to investigate a Texas Constitutionally-established, billion-dollar fund to support cancer research whose administration then-Gov. Perry had turned over to old political friends.

Tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money went into black holes of bank accounts of Perry’s political supporters.

Abbott should have recused himself from any investigation by his office, because under the laws setting up the research fund, he was on the board.  Any investigation would need to answer the question about what Abbott had done to be sure the funds were spent as the law intended.

Conflicts of interest don’t bother Greg Abbott, though, so long as the conflicts work in favor of his friends, and political donors.

Fortunately for Texas, there is another, separate office to investigate public wrongdoing in state agencies, the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s office. That office indicted one of the cancer agency’s officials (he was convicted of misappropriating $11 million in public funds), and promised to indict more.

This so angered Perry he stepped all over the Texas Constitution to bring down the Travis County DA — and that earned Perry his own indictment after an investigation by a GOP-led task force.  Oh, yeah, there were other shenanigans by Perry that he might have wanted to cover up; but the cancer research abuse already sent one Perry buddy to jail.

You get the idea. Cancer research is political in Texas, and probably not all that serious a concern to GOP elected officials. Cancer is something poor people get. Republicans have health insurance.

For years, Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas and the rest of the nation offered free cancer screenings and checkups to women who otherwise could not get them for lack of money. These services have nothing to do with abortion, but a lot to do with obstetrical and gynecological care poor women cannot get otherwise.

Well, now Greg Abbott has ordered funding for those health care services to stop.

Read Abbott’s fund-raising letter — yes, he wants me (and you) to donate to his unholy campaign against women’s health care — and pay particular attention to how he avoids any mention of what kinds of services this funding cut-off will kill. He wants you to think he’s fighting abortion.

Which might be oddly and rarely true, if his denial of cancer screenings enables cancer to kill a woman who might have later gotten an abortion, or destroy her ability to conceive at all.

See the letter, sent with the subject, “Another win against Planned Parenthood”:

___________________________________

Friend,

Abbott cuts funding for cancer fightAbbott cuts funding for cancer fight disclaimer_______________________________________

So there you have it. Greg Abbott wants you to send him money, because he’s stopped poor women in Texas from getting cancer screenings.

Because, abortion, liberty, guns, and probably, illegal immigrants.

And, because he can get away with it.

How stupid must a Texas politician be to think promoting cancer will help any of those problems? How conniving must one be to try to hoodwink Texans into sending him money, neglecting to mention it’s money to support cutting medical care to women who need it?

How stupid must Texas voters be, if they don’t see through this corrupt ruse?

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Close one: Turns out Obama’s not the antichrist

February 16, 2015

In case you were worried:

That appeared in the Lexington Dispatch, in Lexington, North Carolina.  Wish they had that paper at my newsstand.

Read the rest of this entry »


Trickle down economics made Kansas business dry up

September 30, 2014

Kansas voters are angry; they elected Sam Brownback governor on his promises that slashing state budgets and slashing taxes for the wealthy would make Kansas prosperous.

Now the roads are bad, schools are suffering, and many other state services can’t be done.  Kansas is crumbling, and the state government is too broke to do anything about it.

Which explains this picture, in Mother Jones:

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback meets with Kansas farmers about why the roads to get their crops to market are so bad, breaking their trucks and costing them time and money. Illustration by Roberto Parada, in Mother Jones Magazine.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback meets with Kansas farmers about why the roads to get their crops to market are so bad, breaking their trucks and costing them time and money. Illustration by Roberto Parada, in Mother Jones Magazine.

I do love that illustration. It tells an important story.

From the story, by Patrick Caldwell:

That the RGA had been forced to mobilize reinforcements in Kansas spoke to just how imperiled Brownback had become. After representing Kansas for nearly two decades in Congress, he had won the governorship in 2010 by a 30-point margin. Once in office, Brownback wasted no time implementing a radical agenda that blended his trademark social conservatism with the libertarian-tinged economic agenda favored by one of his most famous constituents, Charles Koch, whose family company is headquartered in Wichita and employs more than 3,500 people in the state. Other GOP governors elected in the tea party wave, such as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, garnered more ink for their brash policy maneuvers, but in many ways Brownback had presided over the most sweeping transformation.

Early in his tenure, he said he wanted to turn Kansas into a “real, live experiment” for right-wing policies. In some cases relying on proposals promoted by the Kansas Policy Institute—a conservative think tank that belongs to the Koch-backed State Policy Network and is chaired by a former top aide to Charles Koch—Brownback led the charge to privatize Medicaid, curb the power of teachers’ unions, and cull thousands from the welfare rolls.

“[Brownback] said, ‘I’ll be glad to campaign for you coming up, but I want all of my guns pointed in the same direction,’ meaning there’s no room for difference of opinion. From there on it was chilling.”

But his boldest move was a massive income tax cut. Brownback flew in Reagan tax cut guru Arthur Laffer to help sell the plan to lawmakers, with the state paying the father of supply-side economics $75,000 for three days of work. Brownback and his legislative allies ultimately wiped out the top rate of 6.45 percent, slashed the middle rate from 6.25 to 4.9 percent, and dropped the bottom tier from 3.5 to 3 percent. A subsequent bill set in motion future cuts, with the top rate declining to 3.9 percent by 2018 and falling incrementally from there. Brownback’s tax plan also absolved nearly 200,000 small business owners of their state income tax burdens. Among the “small” businesses that qualified were more than 20 Koch Industries LLCs. “Without question they’re the biggest beneficiaries of the tax cuts,” says University of Kansas political scientist Burdett Loomis.

Laffer told me that “what Sam Brownback has done is and will be extraordinarily beneficial for the state of Kansas,” but many Kansans beg to differ. Brownback had said that his tax cut plan would provide “a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy.” Instead, the state has gone into cardiac arrest. “The revenue projections were just horrendous once the tax cuts were put into place,” Loomis says. The state’s $700 million budget surplus is projected to dwindle into a $238 million deficit. Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s downgraded the state’s bond rating earlier this year as a result. “The state’s on a crisis course,” says H. Edward Flentje, a professor emeritus of political science at Wichita State University who served alongside Brownback in the cabinet of Kansas Gov. Mike Hayden in the 1980s. “He has literally put us in a ditch.”

Conservatives once celebrated Brownback’s grand tax experiment as a prototype worthy of replication in other states and lauded Brownback himself as a model conservative reformer (“phenomenal,” Grover Norquist has said). “My focus,” Brownback said in one 2013 interview, “is to create a red-state model that allows the Republican ticket to say, ‘See, we’ve got a different way, and it works.'” By this fall it was hard to imagine anyone touting the Brownback model, especially with the Kansas governor at risk of going down in defeat—in the Koch brothers’ backyard, no less—and dragging the entire state ticket down with him. The Wall Street Journal recently dubbed Brownback’s approach “more of a warning than a beacon.”

More at the website.

Income inequality, failure of trickle down economics, dramatic tax cut disasters, all come home to roost at some point. Kansans, it appears, are ready to change things.

How about the rest of the nation?

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Why no one believes in evolution, why faith in creationism isn’t Christian doctrine, and why we know Noah’s flood is false

September 2, 2014

I keep forgetting.

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub was born in 2006.  That was three years after my first great forays into education policy in Texas, working to make sure science stayed in the science books — and probably about a decade after I started explaining evolution to creationists, patiently at first, and then with a great deal of snark, on the internet.  A lot of that discussion, and some good posts, died when AOL pulled the plug on archiving discussion threads (the schmucks!).

Another sign of AOL’s doom, perhaps.

From time to time I run into an earnest creationist, and rather than re-explain, I start looking for my old explanations here at this blog . . . and then I remember.  The explanations largely do not exist here.

Heck, 2006 was even after the decision in the Dover, Pennsylvania case, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. (Read the decision in the case here, key documents and a chronology, here at the venerable TalkOrigins.)

We saw an uptick in creationist activity recently, in 2012, continuing into 2013.  We’ve seen eruptions of ignorance, blind faith and malice, sometimes, that warrant having explanations of evolution around.  So, even though it’s repeating stuff from elsewhere, even though this discussion should have been over by 50 years ago, here we are trying to establish a trail of information explaining why evolution is hard science, and needs to be taught in public schools (and all other schools, too), and why creationism and its mutant clone “intelligent design” are not science, but are instead religious beliefs that have no place in school science classes (nor any classes, IMHO).

There are good sites living in the tubes of the ‘net these days that didn’t exist even nine years ago — but creationists won’t find them quickly or willingly, and they will dismiss them if they do find them at all.   You can find good stuff there, and I highly recommend writings on evolution at these sites:

Recently I provided a brief correction to a post I fell across in some search or other, at a blog by a guy named Daniel Lovett.  He urged that we reject science with regard to evolution.  I responded, and he responded at a greater length.  I had hoped to point him quickly so something I’d written here, and found I hadn’t written it here.

These issues are simmering even in Texas again; I want to create a record.  Here’s a step.

Three points need to be made to the neo-creationists:

  • Evolution is not a faith, it’s based in science and observations of nature.  Consequently, one does not “believe” in evolution; one follows the evidenceThe old creationist snark that “it takes more faith to believe evolution than to be a Christian” is only a statement that one refuses to look at or acknowledge evidence, how evidence works.  It is a confession that one is biased against evidence in reality.
  • Creationism cannot be found in scripture, nor in most Christian tradition.  Creationism is a mostly-American invention falling out of a rather new form of scriptural interpretation called “literalism” which refuses to recognize scripture as documents written by humans about human history.  Creationism starts with an assumption, contrary to tradition and scripture, that God dictated much of the Bible.  In this way it confuses Moslem and Mormon doctrine with traditional Christian doctrine.  This is a long discussion that will only be touched on here even if it seems long.  Creationism claims incorrect authorship of scripture, inaccurately claims only one creation story is told, and assumes as Christian doctrine that the age of the Earth is of importance to the faith, and that contrary to scripture’s claims, one can determine how old the Earth is by following one family tree in the Bible.  Or maybe another family tree.  Serious students of the Bible know that at no place is there anything close to a statement that says, “God created in the Earth in a rush, in six days of slap-dash whim, and one must ignore science in order to be Christian.”
  • Noah’s flood, if it occurred at all, was regional, and not worldwide; assuming a greater cataclysm should not be a point of faith, when it requires one to deny physical reality.

With those preliminaries out of the way, I can answer Mr. Lovett’s arguments specifically, I think.  I stumbled into his blog, and I provided a very brief response to a post of his that makes several erroneous claims about science, about evolution and Christianity, and concludes that creationism is superior to evolution, scientifically.  Mr. Lovett responded, and called me “friend.”

Dear Friend Daniel, you wrote:

I am of the opinion that the Bible is true and accurate in every respect, scientific and otherwise. It can be trusted because Jesus can be trusted. Though I don’t pretend to know “how” God accomplished the creation in 6 days, I know that he did because he revealed that to us (see my other blog post: http://daniellovett.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/creation-science-oxymoron/).

Let’s be clear that the credibility of Jesus is not on the line here.  Jesus didn’t write any of the books we know as “the Bible” today.  So far as we know, Jesus wrote nothing that survives, no text at all.  Could Jesus write?  We don’t know.

So, for all of those reasons which tell us Jesus had nothing to do with the authoring of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, but also the New Testament, putting trust in Jesus has nothing to do with scientific accuracy in the Bible.  If you’re trusting the Bible because you trust Jesus, you’re projecting where projection is not logically required, and where the faith doesn’t ask it.

Evolution is not faith - Global Secular Humanist Movement on Facebook

If the evidence is there, no faith is required. Faith is what we use to substitute for evidence, for things we cannot prove in any rational fashion. In the picture: St. Mary’s Church, the Episcopal Church in Downe where Darwin’s family attended, and several are buried.

While you say “I don’t pretend to know ‘how’ God accomplished the creation in 6 days,” you assume God worked in a fast slap-dash fashion, and your entire post is dedicated to denying that God could have used natural processes of chemistry, physics and biology.  So you do pretend to know how God did it; and you make pretense to knowing that all of science is in error, for theological reasons that escape me.  For Jesus to be right about philosophy, or sin, or any other topic expounded on in Christian scripture, it is not necessary that science be in error.

As with Jesus not being the author of scripture, so we know — in Christian tradition — that God is not the author of scripture, either.  The earliest books we know were written by Jews; the first five books of the modern canon, in both Judaism and most sects of Christianity, we attribute to Moses by tradition, but by the words of the books themselves not to God.  In those books we find the clear command from God to Moses and the Jews to ‘write it down’ with regard to their history and laws.  Nowhere, according to scripture, does God say, “This is what to write down.”  Nowhere does God say, “Here is what I have written.”  The Old Testament was not written by God, was not dictated by God, nor is it the biography of God.

In a few places in those texts is there a claim that God revealed the when and why of creation.  In no place is there a claim God revealed the how of creation.   There are several places where various, different and frequently conflicting creation stories are told, however.  We get the history of creation, though, perhaps like Billy Pilgrim it is “unstuck in time.”  Creation occurred sometime before each story is told — but how long before is never a topic of scripture.  Depending on the version of the Bible one chooses, especially Catholic versus Protestant, there are four to eight different creation stories in scripture.  In Genesis 1 and 2, we find two different, often contradictory creation stories.  In Job, we find a story that is wholly different from both of the Genesis stories — and this is the one that is said by the author to be from God’s lips, explaining to Job what happened at the beginning when God wrestled a dragon to see who would have control of the Earth — no six day creation at all, no day of rest, no Eden, no Adam and Eve.

How can you “know” God revealed something when scripture doesn’t support that claim?  Do you claim to be a prophet?

Wholly apart from what you don’t know about science, I fear you’re unfamiliar with scripture, or you’re hiding those parts that simply do not support your own beliefs.  If the Bible is “true in every respect,” one should respect it; I don’t think you do.  How can you be said to respect scripture, when you ignore all the other creation stories, and the actual instructions of scripture as you do?

Daniel Lovett wrote:

So why do we believe Jesus or the word of God? Short answer: Because Jesus has been proven to be the Son of God and the Messiah, having fulfilled over 300 prophecies, lived a sinless life, worked miracles (all of which went unquestioned – people could have verified the facts by interviewing eyewitnesses), and finally the clincher – he rose from the dead.

I see.  You believe that you are correct, not for any rational reason, but because you believe what you believe.  Faith is a powerful quality; its exercise can be a bold act of tenacity, or a foolish act of stubbornness.  We need to take care when resting on faith, that which can be fact checked, lest we become the poster child of the Dunning Kruger Effect.

We don’t need to contradict your claim that the Bible is correct, but instead we might observe that at no place does the Bible claim to provide a literal and scientifically accurate story of creation.  Your trust in the Bible may be well placed.  Your claim that it presents a creation story in scientific accuracy, however, is not correct on the Bible’s own terms.

You have stretched the Bible to cover material it does not claim to cover, to make claims it does not claim to make.  At no point does the Bible, read as a complete collection, deny evolution, nor an old Earth, nor physics, nor chemistry.

Title page of James Ussher's Annales veteris t...

Title page of James Ussher’s Annales veteris testamenti, a prima mundi origine — the text upon which 6-day creationism is based. No, it’s not in scripture. (Photo: Wikipedia)

For example, at no place does the Bible claim that the Earth is young.  That conclusion was misapprehended through a misreading of the work of an Irish bishop, in the 17th century.  Bishop James Ussher, who passed for a geologist in his day. Studying nature was believed to be a rather divine calling for people who claimed faith in God in that time. Learning about nature was learning about God’s creation from a testament unsullied by mistranslation, church politics, or language difficulties.  Nature provided a solid, irrefutably correct second testament of God, and direct from God with God’s fingerprints on it.  In short, Ussher, and Darwin 200 years later, studied nature because of their belief that God was the creating force behind it.

Isn’t it ironic that, today, you reject the traditional Christian view of nature and its study, and instead adopt a more Pharisaic stance, that scripture written by men trumps God’s own creation?

Lovett wrote:

Jesus believed in creation:
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’” Matthew 19:4

Now I grow concerned.  You say you put your faith in the Bible, but then you cite this passage as somehow evidence that Jesus disputed Darwin and geology and cosmology and biology.

Jesus was talking about divorce.  How in the world could you have missed the plain meaning of that passage, and how could you have confused it to say anything about science, and the science of creation of the planet?  In context, it’s clear Jesus was rebuking the Pharisees for their clinging too strongly to scripture and not paying attention to reality; but at no point does Jesus pause and say, “By the way, the Earth was created in 6 days just a few thousand years ago.”  Jesus mentions a shorthand version of biological observation (I say shorthand because he ignores species with no gender, species with gender other that male and female, transgender, misgender, and species with more than two genders — if he’s relying on biology being accurate here, this passage would nullify all Abramic faith-based questioning of homosexual rights, since God also made them Adam and Steve, and Alice and Eve; but by now I’m digressing).  Jesus says mating is from God, and men shouldn’t create laws to undo it.

Jesus talks about divorce, and how it’s not part of the plan.  He says nothing against Darwin, and in fact appears to be relying on Darwin-style science, what we actually see in nature, to ground his argument against divorce.

I find it interesting that Jesus does not appeal solely to scripture here, but instead to nature.  If we stick to the words recorded, and the events, we get Jesus denying the religious laws of the day and saying, ‘Hey, Pharisees, haven’t you noticed that in nature things pair off; in humans, people naturally pair off in opposite-gender couples most of the time?  That’s an indication of God’s plan.  Divorce isn’t a key value of God’s scheme of marriage.  Don’t muck it up with a misinterpretation of scripture.’  You appeal to scripture, as the Pharisees did, to deny nature, where Jesus based his argument.  Plus, you do that on a topic that was nowhere mentioned in those 12 verses.

Let’s check the text.

In the King James version (so the fundies won’t squawk about mistranslations from Jesus’s English):

Matthew 19

King James Version (KJV)

19 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;

And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.

11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.

12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

Indirectly, Jesus bases his argument on creation; you stretch that to say He was putting his faith in creation, something that Jesus does not say there.  Then you stretch that farther to suggest it means He also believed in creationism.  We can fairly deduce a belief in the existence of creation and some natural order; but it’s adding much to the text, to claim that passage contradicts science.  I find that an unfair and unholy twisting of scripture.

At no place is there anything close to “Darwin goofed.”  At no place is there a testament from Jesus to the short slap-dash creation you insist.

Lovett said:

He also believed in the flood:
‘Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the Ark. Then the Flood came and destroyed them all.’ Luke 17:26–27

Again, I think you ignore what Jesus intended, and instead try to stretch a small part to say something else.

During the time Christians believe that Jesus lived and ministered, one of the divisions in Judaism broke over the issue of whether there is an afterlife, and what will be the signs of the Messiah’s coming, and later, of the end of the Earth.  Again, Pharisees try to hold Jesus to scripture, and again Jesus suggests different interpretations.  Notice that, again, neither side is talking about how the Earth as we know it was created.  That’s your add-on.

Again, from the King James Version, much of that chapter of Luke:

20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:

21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

22 And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.

23 And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.

24 For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.

25 But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.

26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.

27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.

28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;

29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.

30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.

32 Remember Lot’s wife.

33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.

35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

Jesus is reported to have referred to a flood here, the flood of Noah.  As we noted earlier, Jesus is not the author of scripture, particularly not the author of the scriptures of the Pentateuch, in which the story of Noah is found.

But he’s not talking about whether a flood actually occurred.  Jesus uses literary allusion here.  Jews had their scriptures (not yet bound into the Torah), and observant and non-observant Jews, including especially the Pharisees, would have been familiar with the story of the flood of Noah.  When challenged about which side of the dispute he was on with regard to afterlife, Jesus didn’t fall into the trap.  He said, just like in the story of Noah when most people had no clue about the pending disaster, no one can know when “the Kingdom of God” will come (let alone exactly what that means).

So Jesus wasn’t saying, “By the way, the whole world was covered by a flood that can be pinpointed in time.”  Jesus was saying, “You Pharisees know the story of Noah; here’s an analogy:  The Kingdom of God will come when people don’t expect it, and they will be caught by surprise, as in the story of Noah people were caught by surprise by the flood.”

Critically, Jesus nowhere claims that the story is wholly, scientifically accurate.

Which is good, because that would make Jesus out to be a liar — and in your schema, where your faith seems to rest on whether Jesus is trustworthy in all things, that would destroy the basis of your faith, right?

I think perhaps you don’t understand what Christians mean by “faith.”  That colors your reasoning, and it clouds your understanding of scripture, and it completely fogs your view of science.  We call it faith because we don’t have the evidence to back it up.

If we did have the evidence, none of us could be anything more than agnostics — the agnostic position is that belief will come when the evidence is sufficient.  Christians believe, despite that lack of evidence.  We call the process a “leap of faith.”  We call it “stepping out on the word of God.”  It’s risky.  It takes faith, which is why we call it that.  (Jews and Muslims also make such leaps.)

It must be faith, because the evidence is not there — as the Bible occasionally acknowledges (see 2 Corinthians 4.18, or Hebrews 11.1; faith is in the things “unseen,” as they are eternal).

Built around the story of the flood of Noah, there is a trap a lot of people of faith fall into, a false dichotomy that, if divinely inspired, surely was intended by evil forces to turn otherwise faithful people away from knowledge and science.  I fear you’ve fallen into it.

Daniel said:

So to cling to a belief that Creation or the Flood is not true is to say that Jesus was a liar.

Quite to the contrary, to claim that Jesus said creationism is true, or that Jesus vouched for the historicity of Noah’s flood, is false.  Jesus didn’t intend that, as we can see from the context, and stretching his meaning to topics way beyond what Jesus was discussing puts us in the uncomfortable and unholy position of adding words to scripture that are not there.

[Hmmm. There’s supposed to be a brief explanation of the science that disproves the idea of a worldwide flood as many creationists believe the Bible describes . . . pending. Maybe later.]

Sorry if I offended you by saying your religion has blinded you, but my position is that a Godless scientific world view is a religion. An unbiased look at science will always reveal the Designer. The scandal of the Gospel is that this Designer then became the man Jesus who died for your sin and rebellion and to restore you to your loving heavenly Father. I pray you find him.

your friend Daniel

Then what is a godful scientific position?  As creationists are too often wrongly happy to remind us, many scientists of the past were faithful, often good Christians.  Darwin, for example, studied for the clergy, and stuck with the church to his death.

Claiming that science is godless, or Godless, is a biased and inaccurate view of science, and as we have seen here, a biased and inaccurate view of  Christian religion, too.

Scripture tells us that regardless how the universe, matter, stars, galaxies, planets and life were created, God is behind it.  The scandal of creationism is the denying that God can be behind what the universe shows us to be true and accurate.  Jesus died for your sin and rebellion, too, Daniel — even your rebellion against God’s creation and the science that explains how and why it works.  You can’t find God if you refuse to look.

More:

The grave of Charles Darwin, in the Nave of the Collegiate Chapel at Westminster Abbey. Darwin is interred near Sir Isaac Newton. Bishop James Ussher is interred in the St. Paul's Chapel, a few dozen yards away. Photo from Laurence Moran's The Sandwalk Blog

The grave of Charles Darwin, in the Nave of the Collegiate Chapel at Westminster Abbey. Darwin is interred near Sir Isaac Newton. Bishop James Ussher is interred in the St. Paul’s Chapel, a few dozen yards away. Photo from Laurence Moran’s The Sandwalk Blog

Darwin's grave in Westminster Abbey

The grave of Charles Darwin, in the Nave of the Collegiate Chapel at Westminster Abbey. Darwin is interred near Sir Isaac Newton. Bishop James Ussher is interred in the St. Paul’s Chapel, a few dozen yards away. Photo via Graveyard Database.

(Yeah, this one’s kicked around in the draft file for a long, long time.)

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Sen. Cruz and Sen. Lee, Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee, poke fun at dead tigers

April 28, 2014

Ted Cruz, demonstrating that he is of the Not Ready For Honorable Service Club, posted this photo on his Facebook page, ridiculing the Endangered Species Act and the plight of tigers everywhere (I’m not a good enough Panthera tigris expert to identify which subspecies* this one is; they are all threatened, and trade in the skins of tigers is proscribed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)).

Cruz said:  “Did a little shopping for the office with United States Senator Mike Lee in Houston today.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said: "Did a little shopping for the office with United States Senator Mike Lee in Houston today."

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said: “Did a little shopping for the office with United States Senator Mike Lee in Houston today.” [This is a replacement copy of the photo, which Sen. Cruz, perhaps wisely, seems to have taken down from his Facebook site. 01/28/2015]

I posted this on Facebook with little comment — it’s just disgusting that public officials would be so cavalier about U.S. law and responsible citizenship like this.  Oddly, someone took offense claiming that we shouldn’t impinge on the First Amendment rights of conservatives.

Shooting threatened and endangered species is not covered by the First Amendment. (YIAAL).

In discussions on my Facebook timeline, I wrote this to those taking offense at criticisms of these two yahoos:

We cannot hope to know the anguish in the hearts of Ted Cruz and Mike Lee that this majestic, endangered, animal was slaughtered.

But we can note that this photo was a genuine lapse in judgment, and we should question whether either of these men is fit to serve you coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, let alone fit to sit in Congress and wreak destruction in our names.

Our national policy is to protect endangered species. Partly that’s done out of respect for creation and our inability to recreated such magnificent things once they are gone. Partly it is done out of the real understanding that as endangered species go, so go we. We do not know, cannot know, which species are the critical ones that make it possible for us to survive on this planet. We shouldn’t be in the business of experimenting with the wiping out of the human race the penalty paid if we goof.

Protecting endangered species produces huge benefits. Not only did we bring back from the brink of extinction the bald eagle, osprey, peregrine falcon and brown pelican when we banned DDT use on crops, we discovered that we’d endangered several species of bats that, now they’ve recovered from DDT, keep our cities free from disease carrying mosquitoes — much cheaper than even DDT at the acme of its cheapness.

And then there are the other benefits. Digitalis to treat heart disease came from a threatened species in tropical climes. Because we’d protected habitat for the spotted owl, when the National Institutes of Health put out the call for massive amounts of Pacific yew, from which to extract a chemical that had shown promise to cure cancers, we had enough of the trees to answer the call right away — and tamoxifen was tested and found very useful, and is today out there fighting cancers.

So what if these two clowns want to jab at environmentalists? Isn’t that allowed, even when they have to urinate on our national symbols to do it?

Sure, it’s allowed. But people who do that? They’re not qualified to be called leaders. Such a lapse in judgment is enough that, in a just world, they’d be asked to resign immediately.

Martin Luther King, Jr., promised that someday the words of the prophet Amos would come true, and justice will roll like a mighty river.

That day is not today. Today we have Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, proving true the words of the prophet Jagger: “Let’s think of the wavering millions// Who need leaders but get gamblers instead.”

Gambling like that does dishonor to this establishment we call the USA.

_____________

They make Anthony Weiner look chaste and noble.

If you’re on Facebook, perhaps you’d like to join in discussion there; I’d like to have your thoughts here.

More: 

Interesting update: Meanwhile, back in Sane America, which is far away from these two guys, The National Zoo/Smithsonian teamed up with Portugal. The Man to release a very rare piece of music, to raise money to help rescue the Sumatran tiger, of which only 400 remain alive.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park and Conservation Biology Institute teamed with agency DDB New York to put the dwindling tiger population in perspective on Earth Day. They enlisted Portugal. The Man to record an exclusive song, then pressed 400 copies on degradable vinyl, so that with each play the record would diminish until the song disappeared, not unlike the dire situation facing our striped feline friends from Sumatra.

Can you get a copy to listen to?  Though there are only 400 copies, I’ll wager it’s easier to listen to this song than it is to get a straight answer about endangered tigers from the Senate offices of these two senators pictured above.

Update #2: Here’s an infographic that suggests why it’s important to keep tigers alive.  They are canaries in our coal mine we call Earth.  Lee and Cruz appear to be cheering on the destruction of all humanity.

Thanks to Lars for pointing out that all tigers are one species, and the different populations are subspecies.


Is President Obama Muslim?

January 25, 2014

A friend, who happens to be a Muslim and politically active, sent me this:

Next time one of your RWNJ friends or relatives claims President Obama is a “closet Muslim” who is trying to spread Islamic law throughout the U.S., remind them of this:

In Muslim countries there are certain tendencies. Among them:

  • They are anti-abortion.
  • They are supportive of the death penalty.
  • They are anti-gun control.
  • They are anti-separation of church and state.
  • They are supportive of teaching religious indoctrination in school.
  • They believe women should have less rights than men.
  • They oppose “multiculturalism.”
  • They believe homosexuality is “evil” and do not allow same-sex marriage.

SO, if President Obama were REALLY trying to spread Islamic law in the U.S., he’d be a REPLUBLICAN!!

Most of the people who complain about Shariah law in the U.S. don’t know what it is, and also don’t know what is in the Republican platforms in the states and national party.

Then, sorta to drill it home, another friend commented:

http://i.qkme.me/3qatww.jpg

http://rollingout.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/obama_in_israel_pic_3.jpg

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSQSOXrcAq2V_q-sRcx7zW_mRrW68bHglAOkFfc4VvxASqU0i52

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-U5ug6oq0YEI/T6A2wvROiDI/AAAAAAAAAsA/ApHANGIbdjY/s1600/Obama+Bin+Laden+killing.jpg#obama%20killed%20Osama%20Bin%20Laden%20550x440

http://assets.nydailynews.com/img/2008/07/05/amd_obama-hotdog.jpg

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSNRqZ2_AkVhn-0zB8vjncxXRvvZV1Zu9klSZB1CEf2ndH5rhuPhttp://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/article_large/hash/52/29/52290a70c1b5478b5f29057e6b5082ce.jpg?itok=p0p342pU

http://www.bartcop.com/worst-muslin.jpg

Please don’t bother me with your bizarre claims that Barack Obama is Muslim. It immediately brands you, in my admittedly jaundiced eye, as one who either cannot tell nonsense from the truth, or one who is intent on spreading mistruths for nefarious, skullduggerous reasons.

[I apologize; the missive that came to me did not bear credit for the photographs; if you know who deserves credit for any or all of them, please tell us in comments.]

Tip of the old scrub brush to Eric and Jim.  They know who they are.


Can’t make this stuff up: Utah internet sales magnate wants Constitutional Amendment for . . . religious freedom

August 13, 2013

You know what?  The Stupid doesn’t burn, after all — if it did, this guy would have self-immolated long ago.

Utah Policy Daily is an online-newsletter of public policy stuff in the Beehive State — a very good one.  It’s done by some top Utah political consultants from both parties, and former political writers, colleauges and friends from the University of Utah and the political and culture wars in the state.

Utah Policy Daily carried this story, this morning, which I present in full only because you wouldn’t believe it otherwise:

Constitutional Amendment Would Protect ‘Religious Liberty’

By Bryan Schott

Jonathan Johnson, Executive Vice-President of Overstock.com, is leaping into the political ring with a proposed constitutional amendment to protect religious liberty.

Jonathan Johnson of OverStock.com

Jonathan Johnson of OverStock.com

The Daily Caller reports Johnson wants his proposed amendment to exempt churches from being forced to perform same-sex marriages. Johnson says the amendment wouldn’t interfere with the Supreme Court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage, but it also protects groups opposed to the practice at the same time.

Johnson and some friends hatched an idea for states to pass a constitutional amendment saying: ”A religious organization, religious association, religious society or any person acting in a role connected with such organization, association or society and shall not be required to solemnize, officiate in, or recognize any particular marriage or religious rite of marriage in violation of its constitutional right of conscience or its free exercise of religion.”

(The wording is still being fleshed out, but that’s basically what it will say.)

In some ways, this shouldn’t be controversial. The proposed amendment “doesn’t get in the way of gay marriage,” Johnson notes — “but it [also] doesn’t have gay marriage encroach into areas of religious liberty.”

Read more: Utah Policy – Constitutional Amendment Would Protect Religious Liberty

As I understand it, this amendment would be aimed at preventing the government from ordering preachers to marry people they don’t want to marry.

Maybe Johnson is so much a Mormon (I do not know his faith) that he does not know that this “right” is protected by the First Amendment, and has been practiced by far too many Catholic priests, Baptists ministers, and even Mormon Bishops, over the past 225 years.  Preachers regularly refuse to allow their churches to be used by people for any fool reason whatever, and no preacher is forced to solemnize a marriage.  In short, his proposed amendment is wholly superfluous, already covered by the First Amendment.

Unless his real purpose is to create some new way of bashing homosexuals, as I suspect.  Bigot.

Here’s the scary part:  This guy has created a lobbying group to push for the amendment, and has already raised more than $100,000 to push it.  According to the RWNJournal Daily Caller:

As conservatives work to create a firewall on the issue of religious liberty, don’t be surprised if this effort catches on nationwide. Johnson already has a Utah PAC (First Freedom PAC) and a 501 (c)(4) that he says has “raised low six digits — and we’re not really trying yet,” he says.

How many stupid people, people wholly unaware of the First Amendment, are out there with the checkbooks open willing to be suckered by confidence schemes like this?  Enough to raise “low six digits.”

Hey:  For just $10,000, I’ll come to your home and explain why the First Amendment already gives us religious freedom, and tell you why it shouldn’t be mucked with.  I’ll bring PowerPoints and patriotic music, if you want, and give it all to you in less than an hour — or take a whole day if you want.  I won’t even charge expenses.

Then you can put your remaining money into a group that really works to defend the Constitution, or the First Amendment specifically — and I’ll tell you who they are.

Next thing you know, this guy will “come up” with an idea for an amendment to recognize Jesus.

History and policy ignoramii.  Santayana’s Ghost is grumbling and going back for another cup of coffee.  Has Chris Rodda heard about this yet?  Ed Brayton? (Oh, yeah, Ed’s on it already.  Good.)

One point of light:  My old colleague at the Daily Utah Chronicle, Bob Bernick, wrote a column detailing that Utah politicians generally are not so stupidly right-wing as many in the rest of the nation, “Utah, not as crazy as we could be.”  Maybe some of those not-stupid people will take Mr. Johnson aside and explain the Constitution to him.

Update:  Point of darkness:  Johnson has a law degree from BYU.  Seriously.  I thought U.S. Sen. Mike Lee was an aberration,

More:

Here in Texas, we have the First Amendment engraved in stone, at Southern Methodist University.

Here in Texas, we have the First Amendment engraved in stone, at Southern Methodist University. Photo by Ed Darrell – use encouraged.
Text of the First Amendment: Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


Out near Longview: Small district defense of CSCOPE and good lesson plans

May 10, 2013

The nasty kerfuffle over a Texas lesson-planning aide, a comprehensive program called CSCOPE, may have evaded your radar.

Heck, most people in Texas aren’t even aware of this money-wasting teapot tempest.

CSCOPE Parent Portal logo

CSCOPE Parent Portal logo for a Texas school district. Click to see one way Grand Prairie ISD gives parents access to what’s going on in classrooms.

But the state’s attorney general (campaigning for U.S. Senate, hoping to please the Tea Party Commissars) makes threatening gestures towards CSCOPE from time to time, our leading Black Shirt member of the State Senate pushes bills to gut the lesson planning tools, and Texas’s education overseeing ministry, the Texas Education Agency, is conducting a three-month “review” of CSCOPE to make sure it’s politically correct and properly condemning of Islam, Catholicism, Mormonism, Hinduism, agnosticism and atheism (if any can be found).  CSCOPE critics hope that the review will delay updating materials just long enough that school districts across the state will abandon it in favor of . . . um, well, kids can learn if they got books . . . er, um, well — “they shouldn’t be learning about Islam at all” (never mind the state standards that require that course unit).

Out of the east, near Longview, three brave school district officials from two school districts put up their hands to ask why the CSCOPE critics are standing naked.  It’s not much, but it’s about the toughest defense of CSCOPE put up by school officials — and of course, they risk investigation by the Attorney General Abbott merely by speaking out, according to CSCOPE critic harpies.

Dear Reader, you can learn a lot from this opposite-editorial page article in the Longview News-Journal (I’ve added links for your convenience):

CSCOPE and Carthage ISD

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013 5:46 pm

It is sometimes mindboggling how some controversies begin. Certainly, the wildfire that has swept across Texas concerning the CSCOPE curriculum has our heads spinning. Misinformation has spread rampantly and the truth backed by factual information has been difficult to get out in front of the folks that are taking small excerpts and lessons out of context. In some cases, the CSCOPE curriculum has been attacked with reckless, unsubstantiated accusations.

The shame is that CSCOPE should be a success story of how 870 public school districts, average enrollment of 2000 students, working together with the twenty Education Service Centers (ESCs) created a 21st century curriculum based on the state mandated Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Prior to selecting this curriculum for CISD, an extensive investigation was conducted to assure that it was a good fit for our district.

CSCOPE curriculum/lesson plans were created by master “Texas” teachers, not a textbook company, not a testing company, and not a private, for-profit vendor. Multiple resources, including digital resources, were integrated into the curriculum, with suggested lessons that proved to be extremely beneficial to less experienced teachers. The framework allowed districts and staff to integrate localized lessons within the scope and sequence of the system. Approximately 50% of the charter schools (i.e. KIPP Academy, UT Charter School, Bannockburn Christian Academy and the Texas School for the Deaf) also use CSCOPE. Private schools, such as Catholic Diocese of Austin, Wichita Christian, Hyde Park Baptist and Cornerstone Christian Academy use CSCOPE.

What is my point? CSCOPE and our ESCs have been accused of promoting non-Christian and unpatriotic values based on a couple of lessons that were taken out of context, the targeted lessons were based on state standards created and approved by the State Board of Education. Due to several districts refusing to purchase another “new” curriculum, the creators of this “new curriculum” began a mass media blitz misrepresenting two lessons that addressed the state required curriculum standards.

Districts are mandated to teach the major religions of the worlds and the beliefs of those religions. Districts are mandated to teach heroism and terrorism. CSCOPE curriculum units have designed lessons that explore these standards, allowing students to investigate, compare/contrast, and analyze perspectives based on cultural influences. Example, the Boston Tea Party was perceived as an act of heroism from an American’s point of view; however, patriots of England considered this an act of terrorism. Islam, one of the major religions of the world, believes their God is the only God. These are the two excerpts taken out of context of the instructional units that have resulted in mass social media messages from those wanting to sell “their curriculum”, accusing the writers of CSCOPE and the ESCs of treason and promoting the Islam religion! Recently, a superintendent received threatening emails because the district was using CSCOPE.

Carthage ISD was not one of the first districts to embrace the curriculum; however, the revised state standards and new state assessment system demanded a new curriculum. CSCOPE offers a well-designed curriculum framework that is vertically aligned to the state standards (NOT the Federal Core Standards as inaccurately reported), the state assessment system and 21st century life-long learning goals.

CSCOPE insures the appropriate skills are taught in specific grades using multiple resources. The instructional focus is college and career readiness at all levels. School districts have the flexibility of using the curriculum as a sole source or as an alignment framework – CSCOPE lessons/units optional. Skills such as spelling, cursive handwriting, and math facts are found aligned in CSCOPE. Teachers have the flexibility to adjust the amount of time spent practicing these skills.

CSCOPE is a learning curve for classroom instruction. It is not driven by one textbook or worksheets. It embraces multiple resources, integration of technology and higher order thinking skills.

Similar to purchased curriculum there are mistakes within the lessons, those are reported and corrected. An internal system exists where teachers are asked for input on any element of CSCOPE. It is a proprietary curriculum and shares the same protection as other vendors’ products one must purchase to access the content. Districts sign affidavits, comparable to those required by the state for STAAR testing, to protect the integrity of the system, not unlike copyright laws. The cost is based on the enrollment of the district.

Parents can view the content of a lesson at a parent meeting; however, giving parents free access to the lesson plans and tests would destroy the validity of the assessments and negatively impact the intent of the instructional lessons.

The attack against the supporters and users of CSCOPE may well become the first step toward the state assuming total control of all curriculum and lesson plans for all districts. A bill has been filed to begin this process. That would be another attack on local control by the state.

Article by:

Glenn Hambrick, Ed.D., Superintendent, Carthage ISD

Donna Porter, Ed.D., Asst. Superintendent, Carthage ISD

Mary Ann Whitaker, M.Ed., Superintendent, Hudson ISD

More: 

Longview is under the green star, map from Sperling's BestPlaces

Longview is under the green star, map from Sperling’s BestPlaces


So-called conservatives out of their minds — still, but moreso: 3 reasons not to fear ‘Brave New World’

April 11, 2013

You can’t make up this kind of crazy.  This guy’s been Tweeting this to everyone he can find on Twitter:

Seriously?  Hatcheries for children?

Isaac Asimov‘s great off-the-cuff essay one why 1984 wouldn’t be like 1984 is sort of a prototype of the sort of take-down of dystopias one finds in literary and historical circles.  (Once I had a link to a version of the essay, but it’s buried in the bowels of the internet now.)

First edition cover

Is this where we are going, so rapidly in this handbasket? First edition cover, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World – Wikipedia image

But it never makes the true crazies see the light.  They can’t see contrary evidence.

Asimov’s essay noted Orwell’s lack of foresight in simple things, and human things.  In Orwell’s Big Brother dystopia, Winston Smith couldn’t get razor blades or shoe laces, indicators of the economic failures of Big Brother.  Asimov wrote that, in reality,  he used an electric razor, and wore slip-on shoes.  Blades and laces were foreign to his world, too, but not evidence of dystopia; instead, they were evidence of changing fashion and innovation. Orwell thought Big Brother would watch everyone with electronics.  We learned that people as a mass, who use phones, especially cell phones, and the internet, put out too much information in total for a Big Brother to make sense of it, absent other indicators — and that even when hints of wrong-doing turn up, the bureaucracies tend to prevent quick action, or any action at all.  (See the report of the 9/11 Commission.)

One wishes Asimov were alive to do a take-down of the Brave New World fears.  One also suspects those living in fear of Huxley wouldn’t understand the takedown.

Huxley himself gave it away.  Nothing in scientific discoveries has altered Huxley’s errors of prediction (if he was “predicting” and not simply fantasizing).

So, here are three reasons a rational human should not fear we are on the verge of Brave New World, as Huxley scared us all:

  1. Huxley’s dead, and out of date.  Huxley died 50 years ago (on November 22, 1963, coincidentally enough — Sam Theissen with find some omen in that; superstition can’t be stamped out of those who refuse to learn).  Huxley’s premises, his assumptions about society, don’t work in a modern world.  Huxley’s imaginings were almost pre-modern science.  His story doesn’t imagine electricity on the Navaho or Hopi or Apache reservations.  He didn’t foresee Interstate Highways, nor even Route 66, and America’s love affair with travel and the automobile.  He didn’t see the rise of broadcast television and radio, nor rock ‘n roll, nor especially did he see the cultural effects of popular radio on U.S., British or world politics.  Huxley assumes a Soviet-style dictatorship can work.  We know better.  We have Solzhenitsyn.  We had Sakharov protesting in the Soviet Union, and Oppenheimer protesting in the U.S.  That should also remind us that Huxley missed nuclear power.  Huxley simply missed most of the technology and especially culturally-affective technology that makes a Brave New World impossible.
  2. Human hatcheries don’t work.  Hatcheries work for fish; we’ve been unable to make them work for most birds.  Critically, they don’t work for humans, nor for any other complex mammalian — nor chordate, in the ways Huxley describes the embryoes being programmed for certain kinds of intelligence and physical traits.  Oddly, that seems to be the focus of Thiessen’s fears — but the technology simply doesn’t work.
  3. Sex is fun. Huxley’s story required that sex and procreation be done away with.  Oh, there was some sex — but procreative sex is presented as a shameful character flaw, like patricide, embezzling or drug dealing.  Brave New World is frustrated, in the 20th century, by the backseats of cars and the simple fact that sex is so much fun.  Raising kids is fun, too, and valued by adults the world over, a value that got much more expression after World War II.

It’s difficult to imagine kids in high school reading Brave New World without giggling, and without noting the difficulties of the story now (try to get a high school kid to believe Superman used phone booths . . .).

Sam Thiessen is convinced civilization will collapse — he’s written books about it.  I wonder about people who miss the ultimately fatal flaw of Huxley’s story, that humans love one another, and humans like to have sex.  Those who fear Huxley’s book is a forecast, I think, either don’t get enough sex, or don’t know how.

The things are going with current witch hunts, Texas teachers who use Huxley’s book should look out — Thiessen and his fellow travelers will soon accuse them of indoctrinating students in the stuff, instead of warning them against it.  After all, Thiessen seems to have missed the warnings himself.

I’d wager that in other rants, self-titled conservatives and libertarians like Thiessen rail at the usual-suspect decline in morals, including a lot of actions shocking to them, caused by the fact that most people find sex really fun.  Does it not make sense that they’d take a step back, and see that the behavior they claim disgusts them, also makes possible the broken future they fear?

Oblivious to this odd balance of freedoms, they then campaign to end the immorality they see, never thinking that by doing so they advance the dystopia they claim to fear.  What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to misperceive.

More:

A note about the title of the book:

O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.

  ♦ William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act V, Scene I; spoken by Miranda


More unintentional humor from Texas conservatives: Can’t read charts on economic systems

April 1, 2013

Mural in Adams Building of Library of Congress, Jefferson on Education

Mural in the Adams Building of the Library of Congress,m with Thomas Jefferson’s views on education, and education’s importance to liberty. (Click for larger version)

Under the standards for social studies the Texas State Board of Education promulgates, Texas high school kids must learn to read charts and extract information from them.

In the criticism of the small-school curriculum planning system, CSCOPE, conservative critics demonstrate both that they are not as smart as a Texas high school kid, OR they don’t know feces in economics.

Note the chart; it’s a fuzzy picture, but it shows an arrow indicating which economic systems have more government involvement, or control, or “interference” in Texas conservative talk; and note the comments:

So, in other words, the conservatives worry because a chart shows that socialism and communism have “more government control and planning,” and the conservatives come unglued.  They read the chart incorrectly; generally conservatives can be counted on to favor less government control in economic matters, which this chart shows is a virtue of free market economics systems.

Let me repeat:  They read the chart incorrectly.

Worse, there’s a guy who professes to teach economics in a California college who says he doesn’t teach this stuff.

What do they want, what does he teach?  That communism offers more economic freedom from government regulation than free enterprise?

Clearly they didn’t bother to read the chart.  These critics are the epitome of knee-jerk reactionaries:  If there is a word about something they don’t like, they assume the entire piece is tainted and biased against them.  If you said, “We say the Pledge of Allegiance every day as a defense against communism,” they’d claim you’re teaching communism.

BUT, this sort of criticism got Texas Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Mars, to call for an investigation, a witch-hunt, of the group that works to provide curriculum helps especially to smaller districts who don’t have curriculum planning staffs; SBOE and the directors of the Regional Education Centers agreed.  Directors of the Regional Education Centers have bent over backwards to be open about what goes into CSCOPE, and how each lesson and each unit, and each test is aligned with Texas standards, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

Yeah, I know:  The chart could have been done differently.  But this is EXACTLY the sort of stuff the Texas Education Agency favors on standardized tests students must pass to advance and graduate, to make sure students read the questions, and the charts.

Are you as smart as a Texas high school student?  Then you’re smarter than the critics of CSCOPE, at least in this case.

Still, CSCOPE, in an well-intentioned effort to be open about the curriculum materials they provide, and whether there is any bias in them, released this statement on their support of free enterprise:

CSCOPE Response to Lesson Regarding Economic Systems

CSCOPE strongly believes in the greatness of the free enterprise system and how it has helped build our country into the envy of all other nations. Free markets are a critical part of our American way of life. It is important to note that the activity in question is in a high school course and not in a grade 6 lesson. This twenty-minute activity is part of a six-day lesson on various economic systems at the high school level that are state required teaching standards set forth by the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education requires students to learn the following economic systems in World History:

  • WH.18: Economics. The student understands the historical origins of contemporary economic systems and the benefits of free enterprise in world history. The student is expected to:
    • WH.18A: Identify the historical origins and characteristics of the free enterprise system, including the contributions of Adam Smith, especially the influence of his ideas found in The Wealth of Nations.
    • WH.18B: Identify the historic origins and characteristics of communism, including the influences of Karl Marx.
    • WH.18C: Identify the historical origins and characteristics of socialism.

Furthermore, the State Board of Education establishes student expectations that focus on social studies skills. For the World History unit referenced above, the following social studies skills are included:

  • WH.30: Economics: The student communicates in written, oral, and visual forms. The student is expected to:
  • WH.30C: Interpret and create written, oral, and visual presentations of social studies information.

The goal of this activity is to address the content and skills standards that have been adopted by the State Board of Education, and it is absolutely not promoting a way of life contrary to what we value as Americans. In this activity, students examine four different flags, beginning with the US flag, and analyze the colors, the design, and the graphics as symbols of each country’s characteristics and economic systems. Students then design a flag to demonstrate their understanding of the characteristics of socialism, as the standard requires (WH.18C).

CSCOPE has a significant emphasis on the free enterprise system. The other economic systems are only addressed as required by State Board of Education. Additionally, every lesson and activity in our system is customizable. The teacher in the classroom is the final authority on whether or not the lesson should be customized for his or her students and community.

CSCOPE would also like to reassure parents and community members that there is a comparable activity in the lesson that focuses on free markets where students are asked to read about characteristics of free enterprise in The Wealth of Nations, complete an analysis chart, and discuss with their classmates the characteristics and benefits of the free enterprise system. In addition, in Texas History, World History, US History, and US Government courses, students are engaged extensively in studying the principles of the US free enterprise system and the role it plays in American society. Furthermore, Texas graduation requirements specify that students take an economics course, and this course focuses entirely on the American free market system.

CSCOPE staff takes great pride in helping educators teach the standards established by the State Board of Education. This dedicated staff works each day to ensure that teachers have the best resources available to help Texas school children succeed, and they continually focus on improving the system for the districts they serve. We are committed to helping every parent and community member better understand CSCOPE. Please contact CSCOPE through the http://www.cscope.us site if you have further questions or concerns.

The exercise with flag making is pretty lame, to me — with no note of irony that CSCOPE nor their critics would notice, it offers the grand opportunity to read all sorts of symbolism into the U.S. flag that was never intended by the flag’s designers, nor by any tradition.  That’s a pro-free enterprise bias if it occurs, however, and not a pro-communist or socialist bias.

One may wonder if the references to Adam Smith and Wealth of Nations threw the critics; more than once I’ve been confronted by a yahoo at a meeting in Texas who argues that we in the U.S. don’t need any foreign influences in our laws or economy, like that “socialist” Adam Smith!  (To be fair, he published in England . . .)

The charges from “Sharon” can’t help but remind you of that famous political smear campaign against then-U.S. Sen. Claude Pepper, of Florida, in which his opponent called him “Red” Pepper, and accused him of ::GASP!!:: matriculating while a student in college — and not just matriculating, but matriculating in public!

Yes, this is an attempted political smear of CSCOPE, Texas teachers, and Texas education.

P.S.:  I’d love to have a copy of that chart in a readable form; if you have access to the chart, especially to information that indicates where it really comes from (it looks like CSCOPE, but it’s fuzzy here), please send me a copy.  Thanks.

More:

Comments from people and groups who appear not as smart as a Texas high  school student:

And the original?  Screen shot from Glenn Beck’s show:


Obama Derangement Syndrome, described in 2013

March 24, 2013

Superman stands with President Obama

This photo will set off most sufferers of Obama Derangement Syndrome — who can’t stand Superman’s duplicating Obama’s stance. Can’t find details on this photo — I believe it was taken in Metropolis, Illinois, in 2008.

In my post drafts I have a longish one on various forms of crazy that, well, make me crazy.  It includes a lot of illogical things that populate the internet and political discussions like dysentery in a poorly-run refugee camp on the border of two third world nations at war with each other.

But it’s still hanging fire.  Plus, my description of the various anti-Obama crazinesses isn’t so cogent as our friend Jim provided in comments to an earlier post.

So, for your edification, and in the hopes that some sufferers of Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS) may seek help on their own, or that you may be able to persuade them to seek help, here’s what Mr. Stanley wrote about it (all links added by me, here):

As with any mental illness, Obama Derangement Syndrome’s treatment must begin with an accurate diagnosis. It is certainly possible that what passes for ODS may actually be nothing more complicated than food poisoning. Got ahold of some bad clams? It will pass. It could be severe constipation. Nothing an enema can’t clear up. But if you’ve ruled out the usual suspects, follow this handy checklist to determine if you are an ODS sufferer. Remember, admitting you have a problem is the first step toward lucidity and wellness.

You may have Obama Derangement Syndrome…

  • . . .  if you believe he was a CIA operative fighting with the Afghan rebels and against the Soviets in the 1980s. Your case of ODS may be terminal if you believe this, and yet now believe Obama is, himself, a Marxist.
  • . . . if you suspect he had that great American patriot, Andrew Breitbart, murdered. Extra points if you are sure the Obamas have had as many people murdered as you believed the Clintons did. Still more bonus points if you think gay sex orgies were connected to his murder spree.
  • . . . if you are reasonably sure President Obama orchestrated Hurricane Sandy in order to improve his chances at the polls in 2012; planned and ordered either the Sandy Hook school massacre or Aurora Theater massacre to create a pretext for a giant “gun-grab”; and was behind the BP oil spill and/or the Massey Energy coal mine disaster in an effort to justify tighter regulation of business.
  • . . . if you believe the President used an executive order to hand over U.S. territory to Russia. [Or to the UN, or to anyone else.]
  • . . . if you have seen incontrovertible “proof” that Obama removed the American flag from Air Force One and replaced it with his campaign logo; has consistently refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance or salute the flag; seldom if ever wears an American flag lapel pin and steadfastly resists suggestions from staffers that he say “God bless America” at the end of his speeches.
  • . . . if you know that he was a member of the Black Panthers, the Weather Underground, the American Communist Party, the American Fascist/Third Way Movement, the Illuminati, the German-American Bund, the Campfire Girls of America and Friends of Ish Kabibble.
  • . . . if you believe President Obama has a “secret plan” to remove evangelical Christian young people from their homes and place them in FEMA or UN-run re-education camps.
  • . . . if you believe the birth certificate is a forgery, never existed in the first place or that it exists – but that it, upon careful examination, shows that Barack Obama was sired by a jackal.
  • . . . if you have seen “evidence” that he furnished the Oval Office with Islamic or Middle Eastern décor; that he has changed the name of the WH Christmas tree to the WH “Holiday” tree; that he wears jewelry with secret Koranic verses on it; or that he was sworn in on the Holy Koran and not the Bible.
  • . . . if you believe he had the October, 2012 jobs report altered.
  • . . . or if you believe President Obama is part lizard, the Antichrist or a former CIA operative who was teleported to Mars.

If any of these resonate with you as plausible, reasonable or outright true, seek help for ODS immediately. There is no shortage of treatment options. One might begin by cancelling subscriptions to Stormfront, Newsmax, Citizen Magazine, World Net Daily, Conservapedia and World Magazine. Additional recommendations include a Fox “News” fast, putting your “Left Behind” books in the recycle bin and avoiding those personalities who may function as enablers of ODS. Such individuals include Glenn Beck, James Dobson, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Sowell, Laura Ingraham, Texe Marrs, Hal Lindsey, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Allen West and Rick “Man on Dog” Santorum. (This is, of course, not an exhaustive list.)

Side effects resulting from successful ODS treatment may include increased lucidity, rationality, compassion and diminished feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing. People who have recovered from ODS report a significant reduction in suspicion and mistrust of those of different races, religions and cultures. Ask your mental health professional if receiving ODS treatment is right for you.

Mr. Stanley got through that entire list without mentioning  Kenya, Bill Ayers, or the Illinois Bar disciplinary procedures.

You may be suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome, if the symptoms listed above describe you.

There’s hope for you, if you are a sufferer. ObamaCare covers treatment.

Obama Derangement Syndrome may be a lot more prevalent that he thinks!

More:


Obama H8rs complain, “Obama’s not emperor!”

February 18, 2013

President Obama at 2nd Google+ Fireside Hangout, February 14, 2013

Obama’s got good answers and is willing to discuss policy with American citizens; critics keep making stuff up to complain about. Caption from the White House: President Barack Obama participates in a “Fireside Hangout” on Google+ with Americans from around the country to discuss his State of the Union Address, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. February 14, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Can’t make this stuff up as fast as the unthinking anti-Obama folks can dish it out.

Their criticisms often vaporize at the slightest investigation, though.  Why not talk serious policy?  They won’t do it.

Wednesday night, President Obama participated in a Google+ ” Fireside Hangout.”  These sessions take their cue in part from FDR’s Fireside Chats.  In the modern, Google+ version, it’s not just the president talking.  He takes questions from a panel of interrogators, and from people who send in questions by Tweet or e-mail.  Obama took questions from citizens.

One woman, Jackie Guerrero (sp?) complained that the Obama administration enforces our immigration laws with much more toughness than any previous administration, ever.  She said too many people who shouldn’t be deported, are being deported.  She asked President Obama to explain why his administration has done that.

Obama said he’s the executive, and he’s required to carry out the laws.  He urged the woman to support changes in the laws, but he pointed out that must come from Congress.  His answer took two-and-a-half minutes, and he outlined the need for immigration reform.  In a few seconds, he started his answer with this:

“This is something I’ve struggled with throughout my presidency,” said Obama. “The problem is that I’m the president of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.”

You as a reasonably intelligent and perceptive Dear Reader recognize that Obama is asking for citizen pressure on Congress to pass reform of our immigration laws.

You as a reasonably intelligent and perceptive Dear Reader are also well aware there is a group of people loose in America who say that, whatever Obama says, Obama is wrong.

So, what do those Obama H8rs say?  Do they complain about immigration reform, saying we don’t need it?

No, they don’t even give their listeners and viewers the dignity of talking about the issues. Here’s how Michael Savage butchered the video of the Google session:

Savage posted this wan explanation:

Published on Feb 15, 2013

In a Google hangout last evening February 14, 2013, President Barack Obama explained that his problem is that he’s “not the emperor of the United States”: “This is something I’ve struggled with throughout my presidency,” said Obama. “The problem is that I’m the president of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.”

In a very technical sense, that’s accurate reporting of part of Obama’s statement.

But it’s not the whole truth, as you can see.  There is no mention whatsoever of the issue at hand, immigration reform, for example.  How can they report it correctly, if they don’t even report what happened?

How have others reacted?  Our old friend Joe Leavell leapt at the opening Michael Savage provided, with a Facebook post linking to the video:

“The problem is, I’m the President of the United States. I’m not the emperor of the United States.” – President Obama.
This is a problem? Yikes!

Can you tell Joe’s views on immigration reform?  On enforcing laws?  On not enforcing laws?  Just try to pin him down.

Leavell on Obama as emperor

On Facebook, a complaint leaving the impression that Obama said he wants to be emperor, though of course, that’s not at all what Obama said.

One more demonstration we don’t need that people who truly hate Obama with no good reason will make up crap to claim against him, regardless what he says.

Some wag said, “I hope President Obama comes out tomorrow with a warning against eating yellow snow, just so I can see these guys explain the benefits of eating yellow snow.”

I wish they’d just wake up, read the old Boy Scout Citizenship Merit Badge booklet, and be good citizens without all the hoax complaints.

No, Obama did not say he wants to be emperor.  No, he did not.

No, he didn’t.

Alas, Joe Leavell on Facebook is not the only one who had what should be embarrassing conniptions over the mined quote.

Wall of shame, commenters who fuzzed up the news and ran with the political smear; count ’em:

  1. Weekly Standard (apparently all their fact checkers died; I didn’t realize they really have no regard for the accuracy of stuff they report, before).
  2. Obama: ‘The Problem is … I’m not the Emperor of the United States’ (radio.foxnews.com)
  3. Obama Says the “The Problem Is…I’m Not Emperor of the United States” (gunmartblog.com)
  4. Obama: “The Problem Is I’m President of the United States, I’m Not the Emperor” (Video) (thegatewaypundit.com)
  5. Obama: ‘The Problem Is … I’m Not the Emperor of the United States’ (givemeliberty01.com)
  6. Obama Says ‘The Problem Is That I’m Not The Emperor Of The United States’ (vineoflife.net)
  7. ‘The Problem Is … I’m Not the Emperor of the United States’ (ConservativeActionAlerts.com)
  8. I’m Not The Emperor of the USA (tarpon.wordpress.com)
  9. “The Problem is I’m not Emperor:” Obama’s Freudian Slip (rjblack.wordpress.com)
  10. Barack Obama: ‘The Problem Is … I’m Not the Emperor of the United States’ (ijreview.com)
  11. Obama: ‘The Problem Is I’m Not The Emperor Of The United States’ (conservativebyte.com)
  12. Barack Obama: I’m not emperor of the United States (Twitchy)
  13. Obama made a Freudian slip, The Rio Norte Line
  14. Of course The Blaze misreported it, too
  15. Washington Times blog screwed it up
  16. Victor Medina, a Dallas Republican operative, in the Examiner
  17. TeaParty.org copied the Weekly Standard, a weakly slandering practice of theirs
  18. WeaselZippers honestly stated they got the report “scouring the bowels of the internet” and came up with the same old offal; this is the quality of reporting we’re talking about here
  19. Before It’s News reported it, though it wasn’t news at all
  20. Nothing but the Truth misses its named target, copying the false report at Gateway Pundit

Some of you may remember Spike Jones’s send-up of that classic show tune, “I’m in the Mood for Love.”  One verse of the lyric is, “Funny, but when I’m near you, I’m in the mood for love.”  In Spike’s version, an indignant voice interrupts with, “Funny butt!  Who’se got a funny butt?”

That’s rather what Savage and others have done with Obama’s answer here.

How many of those sites do you think would like it if Obama had said, “Okay, we’ll stop deportations of all but criminal and dangerous undocumented aliens tomorrow?”  How many of those sites will favor action on immigration reform?  How many of them will want their children to know they wrote these things, in ten years?

This cheap and misleading criticism ignored the two-and-a-half-minute response Obama gave to the immigration and deportation question, in which he concisely explained the problems and the urgent need for immigration reform to benefit the U.S. economy.  See the complete answer in the video of the entire session, at the bottom of this post.

Obama’s critics don’t dare allow him a fair chance to state his position.  They have no answers for his clearly thought-out plans.

More:

See for yourself how Obama’s views were covered up and his meanings distorted.  Here’s the entire Google Fireside Hangout, all 47 minutes of it (in HD and stereo); the question on immigration comes about 19 minutes in, and Obama’s answer took about two and a half minutes, all ignored completely by Obama’s H8rs:

Update, post script:  CBS’s guy who keeps all the records, Mark Knoller, accurately reported Obama’s words in a Tweet, with just 140 characters; why can’t conservative wackoes get it right with 1,000 words and video?  They probably don’t intend to get it right, like Knoller works to get it right every day, day in, and day out.


It’s raining crazy

January 12, 2013

Sheesh! Did climate change boost the crazy crop, or what?

Without much comment, a few stories that cropped up in the browser today; as the comic writer Dave Barry says, you can’t make this stuff up.  If you were trying to sell it as fiction, they’d laugh you out of the room.  Nobody could be that crazy . . . and yet:

  1. Creationists visited the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found they don’t like what science knows about nature, especially evolution.  Why did they even bother to go?  Story at the Sensuous Curmudgeon.
  2. At Slate, David Weigel wrote about Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s plan to eliminate the state tax on gasoline — the tax that pays for roads and bridges — and instead tax hybrid cars.   It’s stupid, because it dramatically increases taxes on clean air machines, and it creates the wrong incentives for a tax system.  But it’s dramatically crazy because it sucks money out of the funds to build and repair roads and bridges.  As best I can tell, it takes a tax that collects about $100/vehicle now, and imposes a tax on about 5% of cars, of about $100.  There can’t be enough money coming in to replace the tax.  In short, McDonnell’s plan damages jobs, hurts business, and leaves Virginia in the back row of well-run states.  With patriot plans like McDonnell’s, who needs al Quaeda, the Soviet Union, or China?

    RawStory image of Fox News Eric Bolling flunking math on national teleivision

    Fox News’s Eric Bolling calls the distributive property of multiplication “liberal bias.” It must be embarrassing to flunk algebra so publicly on national television. RawStory image

  3. Sometimes the excess of stupid makes you feel embarrassed for them.  Fox News distorter Eric Bolling accused teachers (natch!) of indoctrinating students in algebra classes.  (See what I mean?  You can’t make up this sort of crazy — oh, you don’t see what I mean?  Read on).  Seems Mr. Bolling has discovered — this is exclusive — that there are problems in algebra books that teach the distributive property of multiplication! Can you get much more liberal that that? Bolling wonders.  The rest of us wonder, can Fox News sink any lower in the stupid sump.  (Distributive property.)
  4. Meanwhile, in Tennessee, James Yeager who claims to be a consultant and instructor in security, urges people to arm up for civil war because, Yeager is sure, Obama is coming to get everybody’s guns.  His profanity-laced YouTube rant is off of his site, but preserved for us (fortunately? unfortunately?) at RawStory.  This is a bit too crazy even for West Tennessee — the state suspended the man’s handgun carry permits. (Would he have been so persecuted, had he been living in East Tennessee?)
  5. Hackers exploited a flaw they found in Java 7 — the U.S. Department of Homeland Security can’t figure a fix, and neither has Oracle, so Homeland Security urges businesses to disable Java on their browsers.

    Bildbeschreibung: Frank Zappa-Statue von Vacla...

    There’s a statue to Frank Zappa in Europe, another in Baltimore; Rep. Gingrey, not so much. Frank Zappa-Statue von Vaclav Cesak in Bad Doberan Quelle: selbst fotographiert Fotograf/Zeichner: Hei_ber Datum: 2003 Sonstiges: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  6. Another Republican Member of the House of Representatives made a burro of himself with comments about rape.  In a bad paraphrase of Frank Zappa, “Rep. Phil Gingrey, what’s gotten into you?”  Gingrey misrepresents a district in Georgia.
  7. The House GOP is still threatening to shoot America’s economy in the head unless Democrats agree to crash the economy in the ditch with draconian, unnecessary and damaging spending cuts.
  8. Anthony Watts already has a half-dozen posts up denying the recent findings that 2012 was the warmest year on record for the contiguous 48 United States.  James Delingpole, at The Daily Mail is just making stuff up.  (Should it be “Gourdian?”) I hadn’t realized there was a King of Denial crown up for grabs.

    Update, January 15, 2013:  Greg Laden reported that the Watts blog has taken crazy to cosmic proportions.

There is good information out there.  I hope there is an army of sane people to get the good information, and sort it from the bad.

I’m going to sleep on it.  Good night!

More:

This one’s for you, Eric Bollinger; from Khan Academy, the Distributive Property of Multiplication:

(Did you notice that the answer was the same under the “liberal” distributive law as it was without its use?)


U.S. actions to support Agenda 21: Soil conservation, farm and rural development; no population control, no black helicopters

October 24, 2012

Not sure what Agenda 21 is?  It’s the larger program of the United Nations to pick up where the U.S. Soil Conservation Service left off (SCS is now the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, NRCS).  Erosion control.  Don’t deplete the soils.  Keep water sources clean and flowing.  Use wise plowing practices to prevent another Dust Bowl.  Get Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and Future Farmers of America and 4-H Clubs to build check dams and plant beneficial trees.

See a quick explanation of Agenda 21 here (courtesy of Grist, here).

Keenan Wynn and a Coke machine, Dr. Strangelove (publicity still?)

Keenan Wynn as Col. Bat Guano, pauses before shooting open a Coke machine to get change to place a call to the President of the United States to save the world, in Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” (publicity still?).  Agenda 21 is not like “Dr. Strangelove,” except perhaps in the minds of those poisoned by dramatic over-consumption of Coca-Cola or Monster Cola.

You can’t find that stuff easily on Google, nor Bing, usually.  Instead you’ll find people worrying about black helicopters, the massive, unseen and never-detected UN Army poised to take over U.S. golf courses, and unhinged rants about forced population control, rants worthy of Col. Bat Guano but lacking Kubrick’s and Southern’s and George’s wit or Keenan Wynn‘s sharp delivery.  (Yes, if you hear someone complaining about Agenda 21, you may and perhaps should say, “That’s Bat Guano!”)

Agenda 21 is the umbrella agency under which nations who are members of the UN undertake studies of Earth’s resources, human effects upon those resources, and which makes recommendations about how to save our planet’s resources from depletion.  KyotoRio CopenhagenIPCC.

Agenda 21 is about as milk toast a policy initiative as it is possible to get.  Why all the angst among so-called neo-conservatives and so-called libertarians?  Beats me.  I can only imagine that they have never read any of the documents, know nothing of the issues discussed, and have slept through much of the past 50 years on farm and food production issues.

Should we fear, as Paul Sadler‘s GOP opponent for the Texas U.S. Senate seat does, that Agenda 21 will require Texas to turn over all its golf courses to the UN?  No, we should instead pay attention to what the government has actually done in support of Agenda 21 initiatives — all of which are voluntary under the Agenda 21 program and the UN Charter.  Also, perhaps, we should make sure to vote against anyone who tries to instill fear by misstating what Agenda 21 is, or does, or “requires” (Yeah, you, Ted Cruz — what sort of crazy are you on? and this is why we’re voting for Paul Sadler instead; we need rational people who love Texas more than crazies who speak smack about golf courses and people who golf).

Here’s the White House list of activities to support Agenda 21 in the last four years; can you find the black helicopters and UN takeover of U.S. territory?  No, neither can anyone else:

Policy Initiatives

President Obama’s administration understands that a strong American economy is contingent upon a strong rural economy. Since the creation of the White House Rural Council, the President has made historic investments in rural America designed to drive job growth.  The actions will help ensure the development of a rural economy built to last.  These actions include:

Doubling Small Business Administration (SBA) Investment Funds for Rural Small Businesses
Announced August 2011

The Administration established a rural “carve-out” in the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Impact Investment Program that will invest in distressed areas and emerging sectors such as clean energy.  SBA will provide up to a 2:1 match to private capital raised by the fund.  SBA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are committed to partnering to drive $350 million of investment capital through the fund and existing SBICs into rural small businesses over five years, doubling the current rate of investment.

Providing Job Search Information through USDA Field Offices
Announced August 2011

The USDA and Department of Labor (DOL) partnered to offer job training information and better utilize the rural footprint of the USDA field offices across the country to provide them with greater access to job search resources by reducing the driving times and distances for rural customers seeking program information.

Expansion of the National Health Service Corps to Critical Access Hospitals
Announced August 2011

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expanded eligibility for the National Health Service Corps loan repayment program so that Critical Access Hospitals, those with 25 beds or fewer, can recruit new physicians, using student loan repayment incentives.  This program will help hospitals across the country recruit needed staff.  Once a hospital has qualified as a service site, it can then apply for student loan repayment on behalf of its primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

Expanding Health Information Technology in Rural Communities
Announced August 2011

USDA and HHS signed an agreement to improve access to capital for rural hospitals and other providers seeking to implement health information technology and expand the health IT workforce in rural communities.

Commercial Aviation Biofuels Partnership
Announced August 2011

The Navy, the Department of Energy, and USDA have joined forces to spur the creation of an advanced biofuels industry that will support commercial aviation, with a pledge of $510 million, over three years, under the Defense Production Act of 1950.

Promoting a Bioeconomy through BioPreferred
Announced February 2012

To support the Administration’s “Blueprint for a Bioeconomy,” the President is utilizing the purchasing power of the Federal government by directing Federal agencies to take additional steps to significantly increase the purchase of biobased products over the next two years, which will create thousands of new rural jobs and drive innovation where biobased products are grown and manufactured. Utilizing the existing BioPreferred program, the Federal government will use its procurement power to increase the purchasing and use of biobased products, promoting rural economic development, creating new jobs, and providing new markets for farm commodities. Biobased products include items like paints, soaps and detergents and are developed from farm grown plants, rather than chemicals or petroleum bases. The biobased products sector marries the two most important economic engines for rural America: agriculture and manufacturing.

Rural Jobs Accelerator
Announced February 2012

The “Rural Jobs Accelerator” will link Federal programs to facilitate job creation and economic development in rural communities by utilizing regional development strategies. The “Rural Jobs Accelerator” will allow multiple agencies to coordinate technical assistance and grant/loan programs so that a consortium of public and private rural entities can have a single access point within the Federal government, allowing for improved access, streamlining of programs, and better leveraging of resources.  USDA and EDA will leverage approximately $14 million in funding, with technical support from Delta Regional Authority, Appalachian Regional Commission, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Education.

Development of Rural Health IT Workforce
Announced February 2012

HHS and the DOL signed a memorandum of understanding to link community colleges and technical colleges that support rural communities with available materials and resources to support the training of HIT professionals.  Rural health care providers face challenges in harnessing the benefits of health information technology (HIT) due to limited capital and a workforce that is not trained to work within the expanding field of HIT. Due to lower financial operating margins and limited capital, funds for hiring new staff or training existing staff in HIT implementation and maintenance are often simply not available to rural health care providers.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the needed HIT workforce will increase by 20 percent by the year 2016.  A significant part of that growth will come in rural areas, which are served by approximately 2,000 rural hospitals, 3,700 Rural Health Clinics as well as the more than 3,000 Community and Migrant Health Centers that are either located in or serve rural communities.

Timber and National Forest Restoration
Announced  February 2012

USDA’s Forest Service, in conjunction with the White House Rural Council, released a strategy to increase the scale of restoration treatments like forest thinning, reforestation, and other activities to restore and sustain the health of our forests.  In addition to environmental benefits, these activities create jobs in the forest industry which has been hurt significantly by the economic downturn.  The strategy relies on (1) using collaborative approaches to broaden public support for forest restoration; (2) expanding restoration tools like the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program and stewardship contracting; (3) better targeting budget resources; and (4) streamlining forest planning and analysis without sacrificing quality.

Mortgage Refinancing
Announced February 2012

The Administration announced an initiative to assist rural homeowners refinance their mortgages at lower interest rates through USDA’s Rural Development agency. By reallocating existing funding, at no additional cost to taxpayers, USDA will have almost doubled the amount of funds available to homeowners seeking to lower their mortgage payments or avoid foreclosure.  Under the new allocation, the amount of the $24 billion program dedicated to refinancing will increase from $520 million to $1.1 billion, allowing USDA to meet the growing demand for refinance transactions.

Task Force on Tourism and Competitiveness
Announced January 2012

On January 19, the President signed an Executive Order creating a Task Force charged with developing a National Travel and Tourism Strategy with recommendations for new policies and initiatives to promote domestic and international travel opportunities throughout the United States. The strategy will include recommendations to promote visits to the United States public lands, waters, shores, monuments, and other iconic American destinations, thereby expanding job creation in the United States, as well as tourism opportunities in rural communities. The Task Force is co-chaired by Secretary Salazar and Secretary Bryson, with participation from USDA, other agencies and WH offices.

Advancing Water Quality Conservation across the U.S.
Announced May 2012

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the launch of a new National Water Quality Initiative committed to improving one to seven impaired watersheds in every U.S. state and territory. The Initiative is part of the Obama Administration’s White House Rural Council which is working in partnership with farmers, ranchers and forest owners to improve conservation of working lands in rural America. The 157 selected watersheds were identified with assistance from state agencies, key partners, and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Technical Committees. NRCS will make available at least $33 million in financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners this year to implement conservation practices to help provide cleaner water for their neighbors and communities.

Small Business Administration Investing in Rural Small Businesses
Announced June 2012

The Administration extended more than $400 million in FY 2011 of investments in rural America through the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Impact Investment Program, at no cost to taxpayers. Nearly $2 billion in additional funding will be invested by the end of fiscal year 2016. These investments will continue to help finance, grow, expand, and modernize rural small business operations around the country.

MOU to Improve Support in the Colonias
Announced June 2012

The U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development (USDA-RD), Housing and Urban Development, and Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI) partnered to create the Border Community Capital Initiative. This collaboration is designed to expand access to capital in the U.S/Mexico border region which includes some of the poorest communities in the country. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will provide up to $200,000 to nonprofit and/or tribal financial institutions that serve colonias. This funding will go to increase access to basic necessities such as safe drinking water, adequate sewage systems, and safe, sanitary housing.

U.S Department of Education Investing in Rural Schools
Announced June 2012

Through the national broadband plan, the Obama Administration will leverage the power of technology to overcome distance and increase collaboration to accelerate student achievement in rural schools. The White House Rural Council partnered with the U.S Department of Education to deliver a new online community of practice groups for rural schools. This online tool will create virtual communities of practice for educators to connect to resources, tools, colleagues, experts, and learned activities both within and beyond schools. The Administration is using technology to break down geographic barriers and address rural isolation in education.

Accelerating Broadband Infrastructure Deployment
Announced June 2012

On June 14, 2012 President Obama signed an Executive Order to make broadband construction along Federal roadways and properties up to 90 percent cheaper and more efficient. U.S agencies that manage Federal properties and roads will partner to offer carriers a single approach to leasing Federal assets for broadband deployment. Providing a uniform approach for broadband carriers to build networks will speed the delivery of connectivity to communities, business, and schools in rural America. In order to further expand the nations broadband service, more than 25 cities and 60 national research universities are partnering to form “US Ignite.” US Ignite will create a new wave of services that will extend programmable broadband networks to 100 times the speed of today’s internet. This partnership will improve services to Americans and drive job creation, promote innovation, and create new markets for American business.

Supporting Appalachian Communities
Announced June 2012

Facilitated through the White House Rural Council, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) developed a Livable Communities Initiative. This initiative is a partnership between ARC, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA RD). The initiative provides technical assistance to small rural towns to help them develop and implement strategies for making the communities more livable and competitive. The partnership will focus on expanding transportation choices, supporting thriving and distinctive rural communities by investing in rural town centers, and extending affordable housing opportunities.

There is nothing seriously objectionable in that list of activities.  If you’re an astute, patriotic American, you’ll recognize a lot of actions that strengthen our nation.  Maybe opposition to Agenda 21 is a virus spread by an insect vector — there is no rational explanation for it, certainly.

More:

Highlights from the video, as listed at the White House blog:

Drought Relief: President Obama also toured McIntosh Family Farms in Missouri Valley, Iowa to see drought damage first-hand and offer relief to those being effected. The President announced that the Department of Agriculture will begin to buy up to $170 million worth of pork, chicken, lamb, and catfish. And the President is directing the Department of Defense — which purchased more than 150,000 million pounds of beef and pork in the last year alone — to encourage its vendors to accelerate meat purchases for the military and freeze it for future use.

“Understand this won’t solve the problem. We can’t make it rain,” the President said. “But this will help families like the McIntoshes in states across the country, including here in Iowa. And we’re going to keep doing what we can to help because that’s what we do. We are Americans. We take care of each other.”

To learn more, the Department of Agriculture is collecting resources for farmers, ranchers, and small businesses wrestling with this crisis at USDA.gov/drought. More information still is available at WhiteHouse.gov/drought.

Banner Year for the U.S. Wind Industry: Also this week, the Energy Department and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released a new report highlighting strong growth in America’s wind energy market in 2011 and underscoring the importance of continued policy support and clean energy tax credits to ensure that the U.S. remains a leading producer and manufacturer in this booming global industry.As President Obama has made clear, we need an all-of-the-above approach to American energy and the U.S. wind industry is a critical part of this strategy. In fact, wind energy contributed 32 percent of all new U.S. electric capacity additions last year, representing $14 billion in new investment.

Wall of Shame on Agenda 21; sites that promote the crazies:


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