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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Daily Drift

They are called repugicans   ...

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Today in History

1486 Henry VII marries Elizabeth of York.
1701 Frederick III, the elector of Brandenburg, becomes king of Prussia.
1778 Captain James Cook discovers the Hawaiian Islands, naming them the 'Sandwich Islands' after the First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Sandwich.
1836 Jim Bowie arrives at the Alamo to assist its Texas defenders.
1862 John Tyler, former president of the U.S., is buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.
1902 The Isthmus Canal Commission in Washington shifts its support from Nicaragua to Panama as a favored canal site.
1910 Aviator Eugene Ely performs his first successful take off and landing from a ship in San Francisco.
1916 The Russians force the Turkish 3rd Army back to Erzurum.
1942 General MacArthur repels the Japanese in Bataan. The United States took the lead in the Far East war criminal trials.
1945 The German Army launches its second attempt to relieve the besieged city of Budapest from the advancing Red Army.
1948 Ghandi breaks a 121-hour fast after halting Muslem-Hindu riots.
1962 The United States begins spraying foliage with herbicides in South Vietnam, in order to reveal the whereabouts of Vietcong guerrillas.
1964 Plans are disclosed for the World Trade Center in New York.
1978 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) isolate the cause of Legionnaire's disease.
1991 Iraq starts firing Scud missiles at Israeli cities.

Non Sequitur


"Skull-boiling" temperatures in Australia

"The past four months have been the hottest ever recorded on the continent, with a new countrywide high temperature on January 7 busting the mercury bulb at 104.6 Fahrenheit...

This January, much of the country has been locked into temperatures exceeding 113 degrees thanks to an atmospheric ridge that delayed the rainy season for several weeks. Sydney hit 114 degrees last Friday, establishing a new high for the city in 150 years of record keeping; other historic firsts include 110.7 degrees in Wellington, 111.4 in Adelaide and at the charmingly named gas town of Moomba (you know, right between Innamincka and Strzelecki), a near-impossible-to-believe reading of 121.3 degrees."
For those who are Celsius-challenged, normal human body temperature (98.6F) is the orange on the heat scale.  More details at The Atlantic Cities.

Narcissism — to a point — can make a more effective leader

North Carolina Just Gave Millionaires A Tax Cut, Raised Taxes On The Poorest 900,000 Working Families

by Alan Pyke
Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) with wife Ann McCrory.
Pat McCrony (r-NC) with slavewife Ann.

The 900,000 poorest working families in North Carolina just got another tax hike from the wingnuts who swept state legislature elections in 2010.
The change took effect at the beginning of 2014, meaning that the taxes those families file this spring will be the last to feature the state’s tax break for the working poor. The provision, known as the Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC, will also be 10 percent less generous in its final year. State-level EITCs work by tacking on an additional benefit to the federal EITC, and the law repealing North Carolina’s EITC for 2014 also cut the credit from 5 percent to 4.5 percent of the federal benefit.
In order to qualify for the federal or state-level tax credit, tax filers must earn less than about $50,000. The goal of the credit is to buoy the incomes of working people whose employers pay them too little to provide the economic stability that having a job is supposed to ensure. Many wingnuts who oppose other policies to boost poor peoples’ income, such as minimum wage hikes, support the EITC as an alternative way of keeping working people out of poverty without interfering with how private businesses operate.
But that argument didn’t carry the day among North Carolina repugicans, and lawmakers slashed and then eliminated the state’s EITC during last year’s legislative session. That change was overshadowed by the repugican cabal’s broader changes to the basic shape of the income tax code in the state to favor the rich and harm the rest.
Along with the disappearance of the EITC, low-income North Carolinians will be paying higher taxes in order to pay for a tax cut for the richest people in the state. The repugicans moved from a two-tiered, progressive income tax system to a flat tax rate of 5.8 percent. A person who earns a million dollars per year will get a roughly $10,000 tax cut thanks to that move, but the bottom 80 percent of the income distribution will see their taxes rise. That means that four out of five taxpayers in the state were going to pay more next year even before the EITC repeal.
The combined effects of those tax changes give poor North Carolinians some incentive to move out of the state, a population shift Pat McCrony (r) hopes to encourage. There are 25 states that still offer some form of an EITC, including McCrony’s northern neighbor of Virginia, and the District of Columbia still maintains the credit as well.

Individual Donations Help Wendy Davis Soar Past repugican Opponent In Fundraising

On Tuesday evening, Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis released her campaign’s fundraising figures for the last half of 2013 and they were nothing short of amazing. The State Senator was able to raise $12.2 million dollars through the end of the year, which outpaced her repugican opponent, Texas’ Attorney General Greg Abbot. Despite having the support of several extremely rich donors, Abbot trailed Davis by $700,000 in fundraising efforts.
Per Davis, the key to her overwhelming success in fundraising was individual contributors. While Abbot relied on large contributions from a small group of wealthy individuals and corporations, Davis’ was spread out over more than 71,000 individual contributors.
Obviously, Davis’ message is resonating across the state and she will be an extremely tough candidate to beat. Abbot has the advantage of being a repugican in Texas, which would almost certainly spell an easy victory for him in normal circumstances. However, Davis no no normal candidate. Her star has only shown brighter and brighter since her legendary filibuster on the Texas Senate floor when she bravely tried to stop the state’s legislature from ramming through an extremely restrictive law on abortion and women’s health.
What Abbot and the repugican cabal has to fear with Davis is her national profile. She is a huge star now within the Democratic Party. Davis is getting national attention still, months after her historic moment on the Senate floor. On Wednesday morning, she was interviewed by Maria Shriver on the Today Show. As Election Day gets closer and closer, she is only going to continue to raise more money from individual donations by sheer name recognition. For women in Texas, she has become a rallying point. And for women and progressives outside of Texas, she has become a symbol, someone to support even if she doesn’t represent their state.
Abbot is in for a serious fight with Davis. Expect to see extremely disgusting, underhanded political tactics in the near future. While Davis is still the underdog due to Texas’ current political climate, she is also the face of the inevitable change that will occur in that state, sooner or later. The old, white, male repugican establishment will do whatever it takes to hold on to their power in Texas. However, someone like Davis might be the person to finally break that stranglehold.

Wingnut Cretin Erick Erickson Once Again Refers to Wendy Davis As ‘Abortion Barbie’

RedState.com founder and Faux News contributor Erick Erickson took to Twitter on Tuesday to dispute Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’ fundraising totals for the last-half of 2013. Once again, as he has done repeatedly since this past summer when Davis gained national prominence due to her filibuster on the Texas Senate floor over reproductive rights, Erickson referred to Davis as ‘Abortion Barbie.’ Below is the tweet:
While Erickson has been doing this for five months now, it doesn’t make it any less offensive and disrespectful. Erickson tries to pass himself off as a legitimate voice in the conservative movement. But what he really is is a scared little boy who finds humor in being as offensive and unsavory as he possibly can to minorities, liberals and women. It is really the only thing he knows how to do somewhat well (other than quote bible passages.)
Erickson started this whole ‘Abortion Barbie’ nonsense back in early August of last year. With Davis grabbing more and more headlines and becoming a national Democratic and feminist figure, Erickson decided to do his best to make a wholly inappropriate phrase become a buzzword on Twitter. So he took to his blog and asked his readers to tweet out #AbortionBarbie to make it trend on Twitter. When he was taken to task for it, he went with the tried and true conservative defense: I was just joking. Feminists and liberals just don’t have a sense of humor.
Erickson will continue to defend his use of this phrase when referring to Davis. My advise is that when you see him use it on Twitter, call him out on it! There is no excuse for him to continue on being a chauvinist pig who only gets patted on the back by his fellow wingnuts. He should feel a little heat for his constant level of offensiveness.

Darrell Issa Commits A Treasonous High Crime By Leaking Sensitive Obamacare Documents

According to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Darrell Issa has jeopardized the security of the ACA website by leaking sensitive Obamacare documents to unauthorized consultants.
Cummings wrote,
On several occasions since November, I have written to you to request that we meet to discuss the adoption of a bipartisan protocol to safeguard sensitive documents obtained during this investigation and to develop a responsible approach to making information public that the Committee determines is important to its investigation.

I also remain concerned with the unilateral release by your office of partial transcripts and select document excerpts to promote partisan narratives that often turn out to be inaccurate, particularly when these releases are not part of any official report, correspondence, or other Committee action. Not only is this a disservice to the American people and the goals we share, but it undermines the credibility and integrity of the Committee.

Another concern is the security of documents in the custody of the Committee. Currently, the Committee has no procedure governing the storage and handling of these sensitive documents. As a result, there have been two separate occasions last week when sensitive documents were left unattended in unlocked rooms accessible by the public. Although I understand that your office believes these documents are not sensitive, one was produced to the Committee in encrypted, password-protected format, and both were marked as sensitive documents that require special handling.

A third concern relates to providing access to sensitive information to individuals outside the Committee. In December, you stated that you intended to “consult carefully with non-conflicted experts to ensure no information is released that could further jeopardize the website’s security.” Several days later, you wrote a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services indicating that you had already begun this process, stating that you would “continue” consulting with outside security experts.
Based on your statements, it is unclear who these outside experts are, who they work for, and who they may be affiliated with, raising concerns about what they may do with the information. If they do not work for the government or any of its contractors, it is unclear what contractual or other restrictions they are under not to disclose this sensitive information further. There have been multiple reports about organizations and individuals who are deliberately targeting the Healthcare.gov website for malicious purposes. The risk that this information could get into the wrong hands increases dramatically as more individuals gain access to it, particularly when these individuals are under no obligation to safeguard it.
Darrell Issa is leaking sensitive Obamacare documents to consultants that he refuses to name. Even more troubling is the fact that he will not disclose what the individuals intend to do with this information. Issa is clearly not securing important documents, and making those documents available to parties that he refuses to identify. Given his partisan bent, it is a safe guess that this is all part of an attempt to destroy Obamacare.
Twice last week someone left sensitive documents unattended in an unlocked room that is accessible to the public. Why do you think someone would do that? Carelessness perhaps, but a more likely answer is that someone wanted those documents available to people who aren’t authorized to view them.
Rep. Cummings was correct. Issa’s behavior increases the possibility that hackers can get their hands on this sensitive information, which I suspect is exactly what Issa wants. Issa has abused his power as chairman of the House Oversight Committee from the moment that he took power. Rep. Issa’s one and only goal has always been to impeach President Obama.
It is easy to imagine that Issa would leak sensitive documents related to the security of healthcare.gov in order to jeopardize the website. It’s time for the investigator to become the investigated. If Issa is trying to sabotage the ACA website through leaks, he must be removed from office.
Issa’s obsession with bringing down the Obama presidency may have finally taken him too far, and he must be stopped.

In the Real World repugican Budget Cuts Have Increased Hunger, Poverty and Sickness

The one thing repugicans never talk about when making devastating cuts to safety nets are the real world consequences to the people their cuts impact.…

Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one’s conduct are the ultimate basis for judgment about the rightness of that conduct. Thus, a morally right act (or omission from acting) is one that will produce a good outcome and is commonly summarized as “the ends justify the means.”  The repugicans have attempted to convince Americans that it is morally right to cut funding for domestic programs that serve the elderly, children, and the poor because it produces a good outcome of shrinking the government, and teaches them there are consequences for getting old, being poor, and working for low wages. The repugicans have had a measure of success persuading their supporters that the pursuit of smaller government justifies cutting domestic programs that serve vulnerable Americans, and validate the devastating consequences of the their actions by portraying the poor, children, and seniors as moochers robbing America of its wealth.
The one thing repugicans never talk about when making devastating cuts to safety nets are the real world consequences to the people their cuts impact. No repugican stands on the floor of the House or Senate and says they need to cut billions from the food stamp program and the result will be that 48 million Americans will have significantly less food to eat and go hungry, or that not extending unemployment benefits means 1.3 million Americans lose the lifeline keeping them from falling into dire poverty. It is much easier to dehumanize the cuts as much-needed deficit reduction, or reining in the size of government to prevent it from robbing Americans’ tax dollars and preventing job creators from recording higher profits that might encourage them to hire more workers. However, there are human consequences in repugicans’ harsh austerity that is keeping Americans hungry, homeless, and sick and still, repugicans have fought tooth and nail to make deeper cuts and keep their precious sequester in place.
The sequester is directly responsible for increased hunger, homelessness, and sickness among the poor, but there is little mention of its effects that are literally killing Americans. Last month it was reported that sequester cuts were killing homeless Americans forced to live on the streets in freezing winter weather due to cuts to the Section 8 housing assistance program. Over the weekend, sequester cuts to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that assists low income households meet their home energy needs were responsible for deaths of three children in the Midwest. LIHEAP particularly helps Americans with the lowest incomes that pay a high proportion of that income for home energy, especially for heating during the winter months.
The three children lived in Hammond, Indiana where most residents were able to keep the bitter cold at bay by turning up their heat to stay warm against freezing temperatures. That was not the case for Andre Young’s family whose rented house had been without electricity, gas, and water for 6 months, and had barely survived the frigid winter weather by using a propane space heater until January 8th. At about 10:30 that night witnesses said Young ran in to his burning rented house to rescue his five children and was successful saving a two-year-old and a six-year-old before he was burned seriously and collapsed in the snow. Another man attempted to kick down a door and save three remaining children aged four, three, and seven months, but he was unsuccessful. By the time first responders arrived they found the three and four-year-old in each other’s embrace and the seven-month old nearby; all three children perished.
Mr. Young, who works in lawn care, remains hospitalized in critical condition and his wife, a Walmart worker until recently, did not earn enough money to afford rent, food, and still make their utility payments. They were forced to choose food and shelter over heat, and the consequence of their choice was three dead children and a critically-burned father. It is likely that repugicans are still patting each other on the back for successfully implementing the sequester to “rein in spending” and “cut the size of government,” and look longingly forward to nine more years of austerity cuts with no regard for the costs in human terms.
In November, the National Energy Association Directors’ Alliance (NEADA) released a report citing the sequester had cut 330,000 poor families from energy assistance heading into the winter season. The report said the outlook for poor families during the heating season was grim with colder weather, higher energy costs, and declining purchasing power due to declining incomes and low wages. NEADA reported that the number of households receiving home heating assistance declined in fiscal year 2013, and noted that the sequester cuts were on top of severe cuts to the program since 2010. All told, nearly 1.5 million households lost heating assistance, and the outlook is especially bleak since the Energy Information Administration projected the average cost of home heating increased from $922 to $977 that leaves most Americans working for poverty wages with a choice of eating or staying warm. It is a choice forced on them by cruel repugicans and their precious life-ending sequester.
In the town the Young family lives, Hammond, money provided by the federal low-income energy assistance program (LIHEAP) is administered by the North Township Trustee and can give amounts between $100 and $500 starting in October to individuals and families living in poverty if funding is available. The Indiana utility, NIPSCO, confirmed Young was on some form of assistance, though it did not specify which kind, but with five children and rent to pay, it was likely food stamps that were cut two months ago on November 1st. An average household in Indiana house spends about $530 on heat between November and March which is significantly more than the assistance provided, and experts warned that the frigid weather from the “Polar Vortex,” coupled with devastating sequester cuts that have already reduced the amount of LIHEAP assistance available will push those on heating assistance to the limits of their budgets and force them to choose feeding their families or keeping them warm.
The repugicans love boasting to their inhumane followers that “reining in spending” and “cutting the size of government” justifies their cuts that are killing poor Americans struggling to survive in poverty. One might be inclined to say the Young family’s tragedy is a cautionary tale of what dire consequences result from repugican austerity, but it is a stark reality that is recurring all across America with no apparent end in sight. The repugicans are well-aware of the devastation their senseless and barbaric cuts are wreaking on the most vulnerable Americans and yet they are dissatisfied the damage is not severe enough or they would not continue panting to make deeper cuts to social safety nets.
The consequences of repugican austerity are the ultimate basis for judgment about the rightness of their conduct, and in human terms, their conduct is beyond wrong, it is inhumane, immoral, and sheer evil. Their jobs as legislators, according to the U.S. Constitution, is to provide for the general welfare of the people, and yet their standard practice is inflicting pain and suffering first on the most vulnerable Americans with more of their attention being shifted to the declining middle class. It is a sad state of affairs that repugicans would withhold heating assistance, food, and adequate housing from those who need it most and never acknowledge the consequences of their actions. As their austerity drives more Americans to choose between shelter, food, and heating in inclement weather, more poor Americans will opt to feed their families and use dangerous propane stoves to keep warm and suffer the deadly consequences of repugicans’ reining in spending and cutting the size of government.

The Sociopaths of the repugican cabal

by Erin Nanasi

A growing number of repugicans have the traits of a sociopath

Sociopaths of the GOP 
Note: For this article, I am using the term sociopath to describe Antisocial Personality Disorder. According to many websites, a diagnosis of APD often leads to what is known as a sociopath.

When we hear the word “sociopath,” typically our minds turn to serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein or Ted Bundy. Most sociopaths are different than psychotics; sociopaths often do not kill or physically harm others. You can be married to, or work for a sociopath and never know. You can even vote for one.
Politicians share many of the same traits as a sociopath. Narcissism, delusions of grandeur, the ability to lie at the drop of a hat are all at least somewhat necessary to achieve a place in the political hierarchy of America. Those may be traits shared by politicians in other countries, but since we are most affected by our own representatives, let’s keep our focus here. For the past thirty years or so, the party that seems to have attracted the most sociopaths is the repugican cabal.
Sociopaths do not feel empathy. To them, people are simply things to be used for their own pleasure, objects that have no worth. A sociopath will look at a hungry child, or a person with a terminal illness, or the survivor of rape and be unable to comprehend what that person is feeling. For example, a sociopath speaking about rape victims becoming pregnant might attempt to qualify rape as “legitimate,” thus demeaning the rape victims and the violent act they survived.
Pathological lying is a common trait among sociopaths. Since they have no moral compass, they see no reason to tell the truth if doing so does not benefit them in some way. A sociopath will have a history of lying, about anything from the most trivial event to criminal activity, like arson and car theft. And since the sociopath gets away with lying time and time again, they never stop.
The ultimate goal of many sociopaths is to create a willing victim. Ariel Castro blamed his victims for his crimes during his sentencing hearing, refusing to take any responsibility for his own actions. Now, Castro was also a psychopath, but the underlying action was the same as that of sociopaths: blame the victim. A good example of this in relation to the repugican cabal is their constant blaming of the poor for the troubles in America.
Sociopaths of the GOP 
During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney blamed single mothers for gun violence. More recently, Marco Rubio, citing a study done by Tim LaHaye’s wife, Beverly, said the answer to poverty is more marriage, again, blaming single parent households. While not necessarily creating willing victims in every state, there is startling data suggesting that the sociopaths in the GOP are creating some in their own red states.
The poorest state in America is Mississippi. The median household income in Mississippi is less than $37,000 a year, the unemployment rate is approximately 10% and the poverty rate is 21.3%. The governor of Mississippi is Phil Bryant, a repugican. Senators Roger Vicker and Thad Cochran are the two repugican senators. In 2012, Mississippi went to Mitt Romney, the man who said that 47% of Americans see themselves as victims and dependent on the government.
According to the Department of Agriculture, 22% of Mississippi residents rely on food stamps. In 2011, Mississippi spent $1.5 billion on welfare.  And in 2012, this hungry, unemployed, repugican-governed state, the poorest state in America, voted for Mitt Romney and the repugican cabal. The residents of Mississippi are willing victims of a party made up of sociopaths.
When you combine narcissism, pathological lying, lack of empathy and the need to create willing victims using politics, what you get is a party of sociopaths. There aren't any emotionally stable repugicans in America; the sociopaths who have taken over their cabal have the charisma, the charm and the doublespeak down so well that the stable persons have no voice. John Boehner learned that the hard way. He gave tea party sociopaths the reins and when he realized exactly what he’d done, he tried to reverse course. And the unadulterated rage that had been lurking below the surface of the lunatic fringe boiled over.
The only way to fix this is to get the sociopaths out of politics. Unfortunately, as I wrote above, some criteria of Antisocial Personality Disorder may be necessary for a career in public office. Bill Clinton is an excellent example. He was a fantastic president, and he had some similar traits to a sociopath. But we have actual, full-blown sociopaths serving in both Houses and they’ve proven time and time again their lack of empathy, their penchant for lying and victim blaming and their utter disregard for the majority of Americans. They will burn this country to the ground just to watch the flames.
Many pundits and journalists have wondered aloud if the repugican cabal will destroy itself. It might, given the fact that the lunatic hates the status quo and vice versa, but can we afford to let the party of sociopaths maintain their strangle hold on our country? Do we sit home in November, like many did in 2010, or do we look around and realize we are in real danger? It’s up to us. The willing victims cannot see what is being done to them until it’s too late. But by that time, it may be too late for us all.

No, wingnuts, Bullies are Not the Victims

Isn't it a wee bit hypocritical to cry for tolerance of your own intolerance?…
sarah plain duck dynasty 
It is interesting and instructive that wingnuts feel we are all obligated to be tolerant of their intolerance, but that they are not required to be tolerant of – anything. How does that work, exactly? Good question: Isn’t it a wee bit hypocritical to cry for tolerance of your own intolerance? Yes. But don’t expect conservatives to understand that. Right Wing Watch caught Matt Barber and Mat Staver demonstrating this up is down thinking by continuing the endless conservative whine fest about critics of Duck Dynasty:
Barber: There’s a take-away from all this; it’s been a few weeks now, all the dust has settled and everything but left in the rubble of all this, the big losers GLAAD, the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Human Rights Campaign, the so-called secular progressive left in general. People are finally seeing that if you stand up to these bullies, you are dealing with a paper tiger. They have no power that people don’t give them. These big corporations and individuals in the entertainment industry and people grant these homofascist bullies – I call them the Gaystapo – they grant them this power that otherwise they would not have. This tyranny of the minority has been taking place for too long now and Americans, when they stand up, when the double down and say ‘no, I’m not going to waiver from biblical truth on matters of human sexuality,’ it’s like okay, what are you going to do now? Nothing. They go away and lick their wounds.

Staver: It’s the rank and file people of America, the vast majority of people who do not support this homosexual agenda, do not support this homofascism, they en masse respond and A& E and Cracker Barrel had to read the tea leaves and it was pretty easy to do it …
So [Phil Robertson is] not going to be bullied by anyone and I think the other thing is to not back down. Some people, they get intimated, they don’t want to get involved in this fight and yet Phil Robertson stood there on principle, he stood there with love and he became a national hero to many people because he would not budge. If you back down, if you give someone an inch – it’s almost like negotiating with terrorists – if you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.
The tyranny of the minority. Yes, he said that.
That was one fear the Founding Fathers did not have. Being far wiser than Matt Barber and Mat Staver, they correctly divined that the threat was to the minority at the hands of the majority, and history justified their fears.
And if you give them an inch they take a mile? You can hear the outrage, and this is what’s in the back of Staver’s mind: “You mean they not only want to be freed from their slavery, but they want to vote too?”
The real problem wingnuts have is with any minority thinking it has any rights. Saying “no” is tyranny. Standing up to a bully is “tyranny.” Freedom, yes, freedom, is “tyranny.”
Why? Because the more rights, the more freedom, the more liberty, the more equality people enjoy, the fewer rights wingnuts have to bully everyone.
There has always been intolerance and like war, there will always likely be. And yes, there have been plenty of intolerant liberals and progressives throughout history. But wingnuttery seems to have institutionalized intolerance.
The problem is, they didn’t put a lot of thought into it. I can understand how a reactionary defense of the status quo could lead to intolerance, but sometimes they seem to be intolerant just because they like to be, out of pure spite, even when it is harmful to their own interests.
And like Barber and Staver, they don’t even care how stupid they sound. It’s okay in America to stand up for the “biblical truth on matters of human sexuality” but not the constitutional truth on matters pertaining to the First Amendment protections of freedom of religion and speech?
Isn’t the Constitution, and not the bible, the law of the land? I don’t think the Supreme Court has spent the past two centuries plus interpreting the Law of Moses.
And then there is the atrocious logic of their argument.
In the wingnut mind, if somebody stands up to a bully, they are a bully, but the original bully is not a bully but a victim of bullying. The result is that wingnuts can bully whoever they like – women, gay people, lesbians, atheists, Latinos, muslims, and pretty much anyone else they wish to bully – with impunity and yet always be victims. It’s a neat trick.
All you have to do is be willing to sound like a blithering idiot.
And if we object, we’re bullies. We’re fascists, or terrorists. Their free speech is being violated. We, in turn, have no free speech. We have no right to speak out against their bullying.
If there was ever an example of warped thinking, it is this: The original victims are somehow not victims. By this thinking, it was the Jews who were bullying the Nazis, women who were bullying the puritan patriarchs, the slaves who were bulling the plantation owners.
None of this makes even a lick of sense, of course, but it is what conservatives insist is reality. All we have to do is ignore their whining as we gently remind them at the polls that we’re not as stupid as they sound.

Judge rules TSA no-fly procedures unconstitutional

Despite a series of disgraceful dirty tricks, the TSA has lost its case against Dr Rahinah Ibrahim, a Malaysian academic who had been wrongly put on the no-fly list. The DHS engaged in witness tampering (denying Dr Ibrahim and her witnesses access to the courtroom by putting them on the no-fly list) and argued that neither Dr Ibrahim nor her lawyers should be allowed to see the evidence against her (because terrorism). Lowering the Bar does a great job of summing up the ruling, which held the no-fly list unconstitutional because citizens are "entitled to a remedy that requires the government to correct its lists and records... and to certify under oath that such correction(s) have been made."
* The plaintiff has standing to challenge the no-fly listing and practices, and all of the government's arguments to the contrary are overruled.
* Once a plaintiff shows "concrete, reviewable adverse government action" (i.e. not being allowed to fly) has resulted from a government error, she is entitled to a remedy that requires the government to correct its lists and records "and to certify under oath that such correction(s) have been made."
* Because the government's current administrative remedies, such as they are, don't do this, they are unconstitutional.
* He ordered the government to provide that remedy here (take plaintiff off the list and certify under oath that it did so), and/or to disclose whether she is in fact on or off the list. (As you may recall, the government refuses to tell people whether they are on the list or not.)
* Presumably she is or will soon be off it, because "the government concedes [as it has for a while now] that plaintiff is not a threat to our national security."

NLRB Busts Walmart for Breaking The Law in 14 States

Protesters sit in the middle of the road before being arrested in Los Angeles  
On Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board issued a historic complaint against Walmart for the company’s activities against its employees. The complaint, the largest ever issues against Walmart, alleges that Walmart illegally fired around 70 workers due to their speaking out for better wages and working conditions. The complaint names more than 60 store managers and spokespeople across 34 stores in 14 states. It also named Walmart’s vice president of communication, David Tovar.
OUR Walmart released a statement shortly after the NLRB’s announcement was made. OUR Walmart is a national organization of Walmart workers that works towards getting living wages, better benefits and improved working conditions for the company’s employees. The press release included a moving statement from Colby Harris, one of the workers fired for voicing his opinion.
“Walmart workers like me are calling for better jobs for all Americans. It’s not right that so many of us are struggling to get by on less than $25,000 a year while the Waltons have more wealth than 42% of American families combined. Today the federal government confirmed that Walmart is not above the law, will be held accountable, and I have rights.”
This complaint that has been filed should hopefully open the door for full-time workers at Walmart to make at least $25,000 a year with some basic benefits. Also, if Walmart is found liable, the improperly fired workers will most likely receive back pay and their jobs back. However, one extremely important development from all of this should be that Walmart will be unable to discipline or fire any of their workers for organizing labor activity or strikes. A positive ruling in court will prevent Walmart from retaliating against its employees in the future. Perhaps even just having this complaint filed will make the company’s management think twice before intimidating workers.
At this time, Walmart appears to be ready to fight the complaint in court. They actually had the opportunity to address this matter directly with the NLRB and perhaps even come to a settlement. However, the nation’s largest corporation decided against that and wanted to see if action would be taken against them. That is indeed what occurred. The company released a short statement on Wednesday:
“We look forward to shedding light on the facts of the situation. Again, this is just a procedural step – it provides us the opportunity to speak in front of a judge.”
Nothing yet has been fully accomplished as a court date still looms. But it looks like the NLRB is actually serving its intended purpose–to protect worker’s rights and prevent abuse from the hands of employers. By standing up to a large corporation like Walmart, which profits mightily by paying its workers very little, the NLRB is making a statement to the rest of corporate America.

Meet the owner of the "$1 patent portfolio" used to shake down businesses that own scanners

Patent troll "MPHJ" has been exposed at length in recent reports. Today, Ars Technica takes a look at the firm's latest move: suing the federal government.
The new lawsuit (PDF) also reveals how MPHJ organized its 101 subsidiary LLCs, which all have bizarre six-letter names like GosNel and IntPar. It discloses how many targets MPHJ found and how they were chosen. And the final exhibit—the FTC's draft complaint, which was on the verge of being filed—reveals the mystery of who actually owns MPHJ. The company's sole member is Jay Mac Rust, a Texas lawyer with a trail of troubled cases, including one where he was accused of running a "Ponzi scheme." Last year, Ars was provided with a recording of one of Rust's enforcement calls. "99 percent of people are using it," said Rust about the MPHJ patents at that time. "You know it and I know it."
MPHJ reportedly acquired its IP portfolio for a single dollar in 2012. But it is nonetheless "something of an innovator", adds Klint Finley for Wired: "Instead of suing large tech outfits, it goes after small businesses. But these brazen attempts to make money from outfits with tiny legal budgets has attracted both state and federal government agencies."
I don't buy the idea that this guy is the "World’s Most Innovative Patent Troll" just because he goes after small guys and has preemptively sued the government. The trick is so simple (it's cheaper to just pay him off than to hire a lawyer) that small-time swindlers were bound to catch on sooner or later. What this troll is doing—targeting normal people and making a big show of insolence and outrage—is just what small-time swindlers do.

India's street typists: a vanishing breed

India's street typists -- skilled professionals who type documents for passersby who need formal paperwork for official purposes -- are in great financial difficulty. Their trade has been largely supplanted by computers with word-processors. Even the love-sick young men who would come to them to type out love letters have moved on. The BBC profiles the street typists of Calcutta, in a piece steeped with melancholy at a world that has moved on.
Ajay took the job because he could find no other work. He says he would not advise anyone to follow his example.
"There are only old men here now. There are no youngsters here."
"I even told my son not to join this profession as it is difficult to make a living on the streets now."
It is time for him to go home after another largely fruitless day.
As I walk away he shouts out: "Come and see me soon. I and my friends may not be here for much longer."

Wreck of the SS America

Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
This former United States ocean liner was wrecked in 1994 after 54 years of service.

2 Planes Collide in Midair, Get Stuck Together, Land Together Intact

Here’s a story of remarkably skilled piloting. On Sept. 29, 1940, two Avro Anson training aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force took off from a base near Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. During their flight, they collided. But rather than crashing or even just bouncing off each other, the two planes got stuck together.
Leading Aircraftman Leonard Fuller remained in the top plane while the three other crewmen from his plane and the one below him bailed out. LAC Fuller didn’t want his country to lose the expensive aircraft, so he decided to land them.
It was even crazier than it sounds. Fuller’s aircraft had lost its engine, but he did have control over its ailerons and flaps. The aircraft below him still had its engine, which had been conveniently left running. The Futility Closet describes this amazing stunt:
After the crew of the lower plane had bailed out, along with his own navigator, Fuller flew an additional five miles and made an emergency landing in a paddock, where he slid 200 yards to a safe stop. “I did everything we’ve been told to do in a forced landing,” he told air accident inspector Arthur Murphy. “Land as close as possible to habitation or a farmhouse and, if possible, land into the wind. I did all that. There’s the farmhouse, and I did a couple of circuits and landed into the wind. She was pretty heavy on the controls, though.”
Fuller thus saving his country £40,000 worth of equipment. His own plane was repaired and returned to service.

The firebombing of Japan

This is one of the Washington Post's "40 more maps that explain the world."  For now, I'll just leave it here for possible future reference.
"This map shows each Japanese city that was bombed during World War II, an American city of equivalent size, and the percentage of the city estimated destroyed by the bombings. All Americans learn about the two atomic bombs the U.S. dropped on Japan at the end of the war, and we're starting to become more aware of the firebombing campaigns that wiped out much of Germany, including civilians. But we are nowhere near confronting the U.S. firebombing of Japan, which killed several times as many people as the atomic bombs and devastated Japan's wooden-constructed cities. By the time the war ended, 30 percent of the residents in Japan's largest 60 cities were homeless."

40 more maps that explain the world

This is one of the Washington Post's "40 more maps that explain the world."  For now, I'll just leave it here for possible future reference.
"As the polar ice caps melt, it's creating something that the world hasn't seen in a long time: vast, unclaimed territory. That territory also happens to include oil and other natural resources, as well as valuable trade routes. Five countries are competing to claim the new land: Canada, Russia, Norway, Denmark and the United States."

The empires of pre-colonial Africa

This is one of the Washington Post's "40 more maps that explain the world."  For now, I'll just leave it here for possible future reference.
"This map of indigenous African empires is not exhaustive. It spans two thousand years from 500 B.C. to 1500 A.D., so these empires were not concurrent; some existed centuries apart. But it shows that... sub-Saharan Africa was rich with vast and powerful empires long before the Europeans arrived... The Songhai Empire, at its peak in the 14th century, was a global center of culture and learning, based in the still-famous mosques of Timbuktu."



Ancient Nordic Elite Swilled Complex Grog

High-class Scandinavians of the day enjoyed alcoholic mixture of barley, honey, cranberries, herbs and even grape wine imported from Greece and Rome.

Steel Manufactured in Scotland 2,500 Years Ago

Broxmouth Iron Age Fort
Scientists have determined that fragments of artifacts recovered from the Broxmouth Iron Age hill fort in the 1970s were forged from high-carbon steel. The objects, which date to between 490 and 375 B.C., may have been tools or weapons. “The process of manufacturing steel requires extensive knowledge, skill and craftsmanship. It is far from straightforward, which is why such an early example of its production tells us so much about the people who once occupied this hill fort,” said Gerry McDonnell of the University of Bradford. The site featured well-preserved roundhouses, hill fort entrances, and an Iron Age cemetery.

Trees grow faster and store more carbon as they age

Trees put on weight faster and faster as they grow […]

Africa's Lost Mega Lake

A vast lake that rivaled the Great Lakes once filled an arid valley far up the Nile. But no dam created it. Climate did.

Daily Comic Relief



"The word hart is an old alternative word for "stag" (from Old English heorot, "deer" – compare with modern Dutch hert and Swedish/Norwegian hjort, also "deer").

Specifically, the word "hart" was used of a red deer stag more than five years old. In medieval hunting terms, a stag in its first year was called a "calf" or "calfe", in its second a "brocket", in its third a "spayed", "spade", or "spayard", in its fourth a "staggerd" or "staggard", and in its fifth a "stag", or a "great stag". To be a "hart" was its fully mature state. A lord would want to hunt not just any deer, but a mature stag in good condition, partly for the extra meat and fat it would carry, but also for prestige. Hence a hart could be designated "a hart of grease", (a fat stag), "a hart of ten", (a stag with ten points on its antlers) or "a royal hart" (a stag which had been hunted by a royal personage). A stag which was old enough to be hunted was called a "warrantable" stag.

The hart was a "beast of venery" representing the most prestigious form of hunting, as distinct from lesser "beasts of the chase", and "beasts of warren", the last of which were considered virtually as being vermin. The membership of these different classes varies somewhat, according to which period, and which writer, is being considered, but the red deer is always in the first class, the fox hardly being regarded at all.

Harts' horns, are the horns of the male red deer. Various substances were made from the shavings of the animals' horns. The oil of hartshorn is a crude animal oil obtained from the destructive distillation of the deers' bones or horns.

The salt of hartshorn actually refers to two distinct substances, sal ammoniac (ammonium chloride), and ammonium carbonate, which have been obtained from oil of hartshorn by dry distillation. The spirit of hartshorn (or spirits of hartshorn) is an aqueous solution of ammonia...

Hartshorn jelly or a decoction of burnt hartshorn in water was used to treat diarrhea. Hartshorn was used to treat insect bites, sunstroke, stye, and snakebites.

Hartshorn salt (ammonium carbonate), also known simply as hartshorn, and baker's ammonia, was used as a leavening agent, in the baking of cookies and other edible treats. It was used mainly in the 17th and 18th centuries as a forerunner of baking powder.   ½ teaspoon of hartshorn can substitute for 1 teaspoon of baking powder. It is called for in old German and Scandinavian recipes and, though rarely used in modern times, may still be purchased as a baking ingredient."

Animal News

A glass of water is all a fish detective needs to identify thousands of fish.
Birds can use this skill to fly in amazingly precise patterns that blanket the sky.
California's marijuana industry may harm the rivers where Chinook and other salmon swim.
The extinct 10-foot-tall, 1,200 pound ape, Gigantopithecus, may have died out after turning to fruit to replace dwindling bamboo.
A very early ancestor to humans originated before dinosaurs went extinct.

Animal Pictures