Thursday, October 31, 2013

Whack-a-mole, whack-a-tea-party-racist

Whack one here, one just pops up somewhere else. Whack them there, they pop up again somewhere eles on the radical right.
whack a mole,
whack a tea party racist

The GOP keep trying to deny the racists among them, but like a game of whack-a-mole, they keep popping up, and not just popping up, but popping up in positions of trust and authority.
cross-posted from MNPP:
Like the whack-a-mole game, the various state GOP and county GOP leadership keep denying them, even firing them, figuratively pounding them down below the surface. But like the rodent in the game, they simply reappear over and over again somewhere else. That's because they don't go away, and it's because they represent a very real segment of the racist right among the GOP.

Last week, it was an executive of the North Carolina GOP who was ultimately fired for racism - although HE still doesn't think he IS a racist. But then, when does a racist think there is anything wrong with their views?

Then we have another example from the not-so-great-state of Texas, via FiredogLake. Using his father as a campaign surrogate certainly does not sound like repudiating racism in the tea party to me.:
Ted Cruz’s Father Tells Obama To “Go Back To Kenya”

Rafael Cruz, the father of Senator Ted Cruz, is a political activist in his own right. One of his favorite targets seems to be President Barack Obama whom he says should go “back to Kenya.”(19:20) Which seems to be a mix of both birtherism and general racism. But Rafael Cruz’s fringe political views go further than believing the president was born in another country, they also include the belief that his son – and all true Christians – are anointed by God to take the country back.

In April, Rafael Cruz, the father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), spoke to the tea party of Hood County, which is southwest of Fort Worth, and made a bold declaration: The United States is a “Christian nation.” The septuagenarian businessman turned evangelical pastor did not choose to use the more inclusive formulation “Judeo-Christian nation.” Insisting that the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution “were signed on the knees of the framers” and were a “divine revelation from God,” he went on to say, “yet our president has the gall to tell us that this is not a Christian nation…The United States of America was formed to honor the word of God.” Seven months earlier, Rafael Cruz, speaking to the North Texas Tea Party on behalf of his son, who was then running for Senate, called President Barack Obama an “outright Marxist” who “seeks to destroy all concept of God,” and he urged the crowd to send Obama “back to Kenya.”

Ted Cruz utilizes his father for his campaigns both in citing his immigration story for bona fides with immigrant groups and bringing him along on campaign trips to Iowa. Rafael Cruz has even served as a campaign surrogate.

And Rafael Cruz is no amateur off on a rant. He is a pastor who directs a Christian group called Purifying Fire Ministries and a professor of Bible and Theology studies. His speech is a reflection of his studied and considered beliefs, not a spur of the moment gaffe. Nor is it the first time he has expressed those views.

He insisted that the advancement of Christianity (his fundamentalist version of it) depends on political battle, noting the need not just for a “spiritual savior” but a “political savior.” (The idea of states’ rights, he said, was based in the bible.) Obama, Cruz proclaimed, believes “government is your god.” When Cruz was a keynote speaker at a tax day rally hosted by Texas tea partiers in April, he told the crowd that conservative Christians need to take over “every school board in this nation.” At a Texas tea party rally in September 2012, he claimed that Obama has “a clear agenda…to destroy American exceptionalism”—and “to achieve a “worldwide redistribution of wealth” and “make us subject to the United Nations.”
Rafael Cruz at North Texas Tea Party Sept. 12, 2012

Now we have another example, from the MN GOP.

this was posted on the MN GOPfacebook page for Chisago Cty.

This led to a series of updates over at the City Pages:
the first update:
The offensive post has now been deleted, but no apology has yet been posted in its place. So upset folks have taken to putting Chisago GOPers on blast in the comment thread for the most recent undeleted post remaining on the page.
Check out this epic burn one commenter left in that thread (and note the irony involved in Chisago GOPers characterizing Democrats as "racist"):
Then we went to update 2, as the MN DFL weighed in - something I can't recall the MN DFL or any other state democratic party having to do regarding such overt and insensitive racism from the left:
:::: UPDATE II ::::
The DFL has released a statement about the Chisago County Facebook post. Here it is in its entirety:

Happy Hallowmas - enjoy, go wild!

The fun starts about 3:15 in:

And then have a howling good time with:

Tea Party flames out......
A tea bag, bursting
into flame....

The Tea Party has imploded, has immolated itself on the flame of it's own extremism. 

In less than a week, we have an important conservative southern primary, in Alabama, and an important southern state-wide election in ultra-conservative controlled Virginia. Those elections will tell if the Tea Party has lost it's influence, and by how much.

The Tea Party is a radical rightwing wreck.  And part of the problem has to do with the battle of the big donors who astroturfed the Tea Party in the first place, who are at war with the 'other' big money on the right that is fed up with the crazy ideologues who put purity ahead of winning.

So, what defines the Tea Party as astro-turfed? That it is funded and controlled by a few big money donors who share extremist or radical right wing politics.  As noted in Mother Jones - first, the big money part of the equation.  It is worth noting that big money funds ALL of the major Tea Party originating entities:

FreedomWorks, the national conservative group that helped launch the tea party movement, sells itself as a genuine grassroots operation, and for years it has battled accusations of "astroturfing"—posing as a populist organization while doing the bidding of big-money donors. Yet internal documents obtained by Mother Jones show that FreedomWorks has indeed become dependent on wealthy individual donors to finance its growing operation.

Last month, the Washington Post reported that Richard Stephenson, a reclusive millionaire banker and FreedomWorks board member, and members of his family funneled $12 million in October through two newly created Tennessee corporations to FreedomWorks' super-PAC, which used these funds to support tea party candidates in November's elections. The revelation that a corporate bigwig like Stephenson, who founded the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and chairs its board, was responsible for more than half of the FreedomWorks super-PAC's haul in 2012 undercuts the group's grassroots image and hands ammunition to critics who say FreedomWorks does the bidding of rich conservative donors.
According to a 52-page report prepared by FreedomWorks' top brass for a board of directors meeting held in mid-December at the Virginia office of Sands Capital Management, an investment firm run by FreedomWorks board member Frank Sands, the entire FreedomWorks organization—its 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) nonprofit arms and its super-PAC—raised nearly $41 million through mid-December [2012]. Of that total, $33 million—or 81 percent of its 2012 fundraising—came in the form of "major gifts," the type of big donations coveted by nonprofits and super-PACs.

Well-heeled individual contributors ponied up $31 million—or 94 percent—of those major gifts, according to the FreedomWorks board book. Eight donors gave a half-million dollars or more; 22 donated between $100,000 and $499,999; 17 cut checks between $50,000 and $99,999; and 95 gave between $10,000 and $49,999. Foundations contributed $1.6 million in major gifts, and corporations donated $330,000. Corporations once accounted for more of FreedomWorks' hefty donations. In a memo included in the report, David Kirby, FreedomWork's vice president for development, and senior adviser Terry Kibbe wrote, "This year continued our trend of relying less and less on corporate support." At the same time FreedomWorks expanded its small donor ranks from 41,794 in 2011 to 81,081 in 2012. More than 30,000 of those small donors gave between a dollar and $99 this year.

FreedomWorks, flush with wealthy donors' money, took full advantage of the nation's lax campaign finance rules during the 2012 election cycle. The group's nonprofit side shifted millions of dollars in dark money to the FreedomWorks super-PAC, effectively hiding the true source of those funds. One campaign finance reform advocate blasted those internal money transfers as the "laundering of secret money."
And then there is the funding of the directing and controlling - or, if you are willing to be more precise, MANIPULATING - entities.  As an example, again from Mother Jones, we see Freedom Works paying off Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, who apparently don't succeed on the basis of advertisers:
In 2013, FreedomWorks plans to spend between $25 million and $30 million, according to the board book. Favored causes and projects include the annual Blog-Con convention, the right's answer to Netroots Nation; fly-ins for activists to lobby members of Congress; briefings with lawmakers and their aides; and the recently launched FreedomWorks University. FreedomWorks also plans to continue its financial support for Glenn Beck's media enterprise, including sharing a TV studio with and leasing office space to the Washington bureau of TheBlaze, Beck's website and TV network.

In an interview with Media Matters for America's Joe Strupp, Dick Armey shed more light on FreedomWorks' financial arrangements with Glenn Beck's media network and Rush Limbaugh's radio show. Those deals were first reported by Mother Jones. Armey said FreedomWorks paid Beck upwards of $1 million to promote Freedomwork last year, calling the deal with Beck "basically paid advertising for FreedomWorks."

It's an uphill battle to get anyone other than the hard core tin foil hat crowd to support the extreme right, but the big money keeps pouring in the big bucks.  As noted in the WaPo two days ago, the tea party has reached a new low, and a new high in people who oppose it.  It is not a big jump to figure out that if people don't like it, or worse, think it is a bunch of dangerous lunatics crazily chewing on the right wing fringe, those larger number of people won't be joining them any time soon.  It is also a fair assessment that the disapproval of friends, family, and the public at large might discourage many others - all but the most intransigent tin foil hat wearers - from joining too.  Those remaining die-hards response to everything, good or bad, is to double down on the crazy extremism, including the nutty conspiracy theories and the ever-present "we're victims!" lament.

Opposition to tea party reaches a high in Virginia, according to poll

Opposition to the tea party movement has reached a high in Virginia, a Washington Post/Abt SRBI poll shows, kicking a key leg of support out from under Ken Cuccinelli II as he tries to win the governor’s race on a strongly conservative platform.

Cuccinelli (R), the state attorney general, trails businessman Terry McAuliffe (D) by 12 percentage points among likely voters, the survey shows. And Cuccinelli’s decline comes as Virginians are increasingly turned off by the movement that has backed him strongly and with which he shares many views. 
The tea party is opposed by 53 percent of registered voters in the commonwealth, up a slim three points from last year and up 10 points from a May 2011 Washington Post poll. Just 36 percent support the movement, down from 45 percent two years ago. Among those with the most intense feelings, voters who strongly oppose the tea party now outnumber those who strongly support it by more than 3 to 1. (my emphasis added - DG)

Independents have soured most dramatically on the tea party: Fifty-five percent oppose the movement, up from 37 percent in May 2011. It’s also opposed by 80 percent of Democrats and 23 percent of Republicans.

Leon Turner, a retired furniture factory worker from Collinsville in southwest Virginia’s Henry County, plans to vote the straight GOP ticket Tuesday. But he’s not a fan of the tea party. “I don’t really like them that much,” said Turner, 74. “I don’t think they’re going to get their way, and I think it will just stir up more problems than it helps.” Turner said that he agrees with the tea party “in theory” on many issues and that he “kind of liked them when they first started out.” But his view has changed, particularly since the fight over funding the health-care law, which led to the 16-day shutdown of the federal government.

“I don’t think they should have went that far,” Turner said.

The shutdown was deeply unpopular, and it hobbled Cuccinelli’s efforts to close the race with McAuliffe. Even 60 percent of avowed supporters of the tea party say they disapproved of the shutdown, although a majority of “strong” tea party backers say they approved of it.
It's not just Virginia where the Tea Baggers are highly unpopular.  Bloomberg noted yesterday, when the big money behind the astro-turf goes away, the grass root participants who were manipulated are set to be manipulated again:

U.S. Chamber Takes on Alabama Tea Party in House Contest

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce fired an opening salvo yesterday in the battle for control of the Republican Party, endorsing a self-described “pro-business” candidate in a special U.S. House race whose opponent is backed by Tea Party groups and is vowing to “be like Ted Cruz.”
The endorsement in the Alabama contest is the chamber’s first political move since the 16-day partial U.S. government shutdown and debt-ceiling battle, which exposed a rift between the Republican establishment wing and the smaller-government movement. Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas, was the chief proponent of the ill-fated plan to link defunding Obamacare to lifting the debt ceiling and passing a government spending bill.

In reaction to the shutdown, which Standard & Poor’s estimated cost the U.S. economy $24 billion, the chamber and other business groups said they will engage in elections -- including Republican primaries -- to help candidates aligned with their economic goals.

“Absolutely we want to send a message,” Rob Engstrom, the chamber’s national political director, said yesterday after the group endorsed Bradley Byrne, 58, in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District race. “We are sending a message here today, and we will send a message in every single one of these races. Some will be in primaries, some will be in general elections.”

The chamber has spent more than $185,000 for direct-mail and digital media ads supporting Byrne since making the endorsement yesterday, according to financial disclosure reports filed today.
Republican prospects, especially in the Senate, dimmed after the shutdown and debt-ceiling fight sparked by Cruz and the Tea Party wing of the House Republican caucus. The impasse led to a record-low 28 percent favorability rating for the party, according to an Oct. 3-6 Gallup Poll of 1,028 adults with a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
The Alabama contest is also being watched by Republican House incumbents who’ve run afoul of limited-government groups. Some are donating to Byrne’s campaign.
This is leading to an all out internecine battle on the right between the wallets of the extreme and the sane, as recorded by Bloomberg:

Americans for Prosperity and Club for Growth, two organizations affiliated with Tea Party groups, are backing candidates to challenge lawmakers they deem too willing to compromise.
Soon thereafter, donations began streaming into Byrne’s campaign from political committees run by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), AT&T Inc. (T), Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), Comcast Corp. (CMCSA), Lowe’s Cos., the National Realtors Association and the Alabama Retail Association, among others.
Much of that money was donated in the first two weeks of this month amid the government shutdown that began Oct. 1.
Byrne’s campaign contributions of $689,215 give him an 8-to-1 fundraising advantage over Young, a property developer who has raised $85,547. Young has loaned his campaign $174,500, according to Oct. 24 financial-disclosure reports.
Political action committees belonging to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, and Republican Representatives Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, Ken Calvert of California, Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, Martha Roby of Alabama are among those that have given to Byrne.
And then of course, we have Karl Rove, who helped foster the Tea Party now turning on it as well, with his Conservative Victory Project, which is unabashedly all about big money controlling the grass roots, or more precisely the radical right which failed to take direction properly from the big money donors.  A bit of 'leash correction' is being applied to the little people's collars.

The little people, the 'grass roots' that the big money astro-turfed, are fighting back, but given the disparity of small numbers and small wallets, they don't have much chance against the big money machine that is going to mow them down like the well-tended greens on an exclusive country club golf course - the kind that big money right wingers play on, and that little people tea partiers can't.

From Bloomberg

Leaders of the Tea Party and other Republican groups that oppose abortion and gay rights responded by calling Texas-based political strategist Rove, a founder of the victory project, a “fake conservative” who had “declared war” on the Tea Party.

The victory project also was attacked as “Orwellian” by Matt Kibbe, the head of the Washington-based FreedomWorks, which identifies itself as a “grassroots” Tea Party booster.

Rove’s group “is created with the sole operating mission of blocking the efforts of fiscally conservative activists across the country,” Kibbe said, according to the FreedomWorks blog.

The exchanges provide the first public glimpse of a power struggle inside the Republican Party in the wake of its November losses, including in the presidential campaign. If neither side backs down, the rift could lead to more costly Republican primary fights, with the nominees forced to quickly recover as they confront Democrats in the general election.
When the big money starts to go, the old, angry, conspiracy-theory believing, unsophisticated, and frankly crazy and delusional old farts are going down.  The more extreme right wingers, like the Koch brothers and a few others will keep trying to gin up the few, the old, the angry, the spelling-challenged, who are themselves too easily parted, like other fools, from their money.  But it won't be enough to control the GOP.  The days of the Tea Party controlling primary elections is going the way of the Dodo bird. 

They won't go quietly, they won't go gracefully, but the crabby, old, white tea partiers will twitch and twiddle away into illiterate extinction just the same.

GOP 'family values', Halloween style

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lethal Weapon(s) (tm)..

I was recently watching the movie, "Lethal Weapon."  It's a fairly famous movie (which they then made a series of sequels from) in which Mel Gibson stars.  In the original movie, his character "Riggs" is a troubled, Vietnam veteran who had lost his wife (in a manner I neither recall nor does it matter).  Through much of the movie Riggs contemplates taking his own life.  In one of the better acted scenes Mel Gibson ever played, he takes out his pistol (a Beretta), puts one round in the chamber and puts the barrel in his mouth.  He comes a hairs breadth from taking his own life because he is distraught over the loss of his wife.  He gets labeled as a lethal weapon by his partner "Roger" (Danny Glover) in a subsequent scene because he is both lethal with his pistol (he's beyond an expert shot) and with his hands (he's a jujitsu master).

Here's the point, the reason I bring it up.  Gibson's character certainly COULD have killed himself a hundred ways, be he instead took out his service weapon loaded it and held it to his head.  Like so many, far too many, men in the U.S., after a drink or two, with a weapon at hand, in a brief moment of rage/pity/self-loathing, they end their life.  No, the "lethal weapon" isn't really the firearm, it's the desire, the anger, the despair, but the point that so many gun "advocates" (willfully) miss is that the weapon makes it FAR easier.  They chose instead to ignore that point and simply point out that it was the person, not the gun, which acted, because facing the fact that guns make killing easier means they are arguing a point they can't win.  Because guns DO make it easier, FAR easier.  Which was and is always the point.  No one says limiting firearm ownership will stop crime, end suicide, end murder, we simply say it will make it one heck of a lot harder.

My brother took his own life, he did not use a gun, he got drunk, he hung himself.  It's extraordinarily painful to even contemplate this event, much less write about it.  He found his "way" to his ends, but maybe, just maybe, for someone else's brother, son, father, not having a weapon handy, to load a bullet into a chamber and simply pull a trigger, will save them THAT day.  For suicide is a crime (very often) of the moment, the next day the next week, things may be brighter, and the lack of access to a gun may very well spell the difference between salvation and indescribable. unspeakable agony.

There's fair.....and then there is the GOP

GOP = Lies and Hypocrisy, and Corruption

GOP hates this

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ted Cruz Did His Tea Party Thing in Iowa, This Week

cross-posted from MNPP

the radical right wing 'fringe'
is trying to
destroy America
Ted Cruz dazzled the Crazies on the right wing fringe in Iowa this week, and not for the first time recently.

He's mostly focused in Iowa on bragging up what a success his strategy of shutting down the government was. To the Tea Party up is down, black is white (unless it involves actual skin color) and failure is the best kind of success. Also, hot is cold wet and dry are interchangeable, and there is no problem with any of them in excess.

As Bloomberg noted, Cruz is gunning for another shut down fight. While he is currently trumpeting the purity of his tactics and position to the extremists, he wants more of the same. In the category of failure is really success:
Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who incited a standoff over Obamacare culminating in a 16-day U.S. government shutdown, told party activists in Iowa that fighting the health law will pay dividends in the 2014 midterm elections.
Bloomberg went on to note other claims made by Cruz in Iowa:
Cruz tonight dismissed such suggestions and said that U.S. politics have shifted. “It is a paradigm that is the rise of the grassroots,” he said. “It has official Washington absolutely terrified.”
“Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing matters more than an energized and active and vocal grassroots American,” he said. “That’s how you win elections.”
The legislative standoff over the government shutdown forced Democrats to take “a lot of stupid votes” that will haunt them a year from now, including refusing to repeal an exemption from Obamacare for members of Congress, Cruz said.
“Come October and November of 2014, we are going to see TV commercials all over this country of Democrats who voted to give themselves a special exemption from Obamacare,” he said.
Cruz has plenty of nutjobs worshipping his crazy talk:
A.J. Spiker, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party and a supporter of former Representative Ron Paul of Texas in the state’s 2012 caucuses, said Cruz could catch on as a 2016 presidential contender.
“With people who are unhappy with what Washington has been delivering for the last 50 years, I think his message of late is something that’s really appealing,” Spiker said. “He’s bringing a message that it’s serious to the point where it’s time for an intervention by the adults.”
Cruz continues to spread his false message that there are millions being harmed by the ACA - there aren't; and that Congress has some kind of exemption from the ACA that they don't have:
“I promise you, come October and November of 2014, we’re going to see TV commercials all over this country of Democrats who voted to give themselves a special exemption to Obamacare that their constituents don’t get and there are going to be some Democratic members of Congress and of the Senate who are suddenly going to be experiencing the joys of the private health-care system,” Cruz told the crowd.
In the internal war is really unity category, per USA Today:
Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, who has been drawn to the presidential testing grounds of Iowa three times now in less than three months, told an audience of about 600 at the Republican Party of Iowa's annual Ronald Reagan fundraising dinner: "We need to come together."
"And let me tell you, growth and principles are ideas that unify Republicans," he said. "They are principles and ideals that unify the evangelical community, the liberty movement and the business community. Growth and freedom are principles that bring together Main Street and the tea party."
There seems to be no indication that EITHER Main Street or Wall Street want to unite behind him, and he is credited with causing a deeply destructive chasm among conservatives. But heck, if one lie plays well to the delusional fringe, no reason to stop at one.

Looking for a positive claim t make, Cruz claims he has the key to prosperity and unity -- something he clearly does not. One of his claims for bringing about that prosperity is to deny climate change, and to resist any economic measures to control greenhouse gases. It's hard to imagine the Tea Party accepting a candidate possessing any conformity or lack of total and extreme purity of delusion.

So of course, part of that involves climate change denial deluded orthodoxy. It's more like reality denial, uniquely the purview of the Tea Party.

Here's what the Guardian was talking about:

I would argue that when you lie, you lose. After the recent shut down disaster, and the very real scare of the debt ceiling crisis -- and costs -- the majority of voters, sane conservatives, independents and unaligned voters, and of course Democrats of all stripes and flavors, will oppose an attempted candidacy by Ted-the-fuse Cruz, bomb thrower of the fringe deluded.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Too true, from IFLS

Golly- G! G-Force, that is:
the Unique Insanity of U.S. Conservatives Regarding Anthropogenic Climate Change

Can it be
explained by
'brain rejection'?
I recently read about a study attempting to measure the scientific comprehension of Tea Partiers.

In this particular study, those who self-identified as Tea Party members tested well for science comprehension.  Some of the questions came from here, others from here.

The degree to which a percentage of the Tea Partiers tested better in this particular sampling was trivially small, not significant.  That did not stop the right wing media machine from trying to make something of it that is not justified.  Among Kahan's findings more generally:
 “Scientific literacy correlates negatively with religiosity.” And “science comprehension decreases as political outlooks move in the rightward direction — i.e., the more ‘liberal’ and ‘Democrat,’ the more science comprehending.”
How then can it be that these two apparent contradictory findings are both true?

A Pew Poll from 2008 supplies the answer; the more educated a conservative, the less they actually believe science and scientists:
Among Democrats, higher education is associated with the belief that global warming is mostly caused by human activity.
Yet for Republicans, unlike Democrats, higher education is associated with greater skepticism that human activity is causing global warming. Only 19% of Republican college graduates say that there is solid evidence that the earth is warming and it is caused by human activity, while 31% of Republicans with less education say the same.
Chris Mooney, a note science author went on to document this phenomena in greater detail in his books, the "Republican Brain: the Science of Why They Deny Science", and the "Republican War on Science".  The short version is those who have post-secondary degrees believe they are smarter than all the scientists in other areas of expertise.  The greater the education, the more the believe they know best, and the greater permission these conservatives give themselves to ignore and deny facts.  The further to the extreme, the greater this problem and contradiction.  This latter group, the more educated conservatives, are the ones who tested well on science comprehension.  There must have been no questions on facts they didn't happen to like along ideological lines.

I have encountered some of these conservatives, most especially among engineers for some reason.
I encountered some of these Tea Partiers in a discussion elsewhere on the internet, where some Tea Partiers were trying to distance themselves from the crazies and the spelling impaired in explanation of this Yale study validation.

Their claims they really aren't all crazy, and that some of them even believe in the Theory of evolution in spite of it being 'just a theory', not settled science, should give you an idea of the scope of the exchange.

I asked if they believed in Gravity as settled science.  The answer was yes, because it is the LAW of Gravity, not some unsettled theory.  They asserted that there was a clear consensus on the topic. I also asked them if they believed that Global Warming was similarly settled science, and was told many silly but not particularly surprising -- and quite wrong -- things about global warming generally, and anthropogenic global warming specifically.

There was surprise, and even at first angry denial when I pointed out that the study of gravity existed under the title Gravitational THEORY in modern science - the 'G' in the title of this post. Most of these Tea Partiers appeared to be old codgers who hadn't seen a science course in more decades than I have fingers on one hand. Even conservapedia, which is far from fact friendly, admits that gravitation is a theory:    

Gravitation is a scientific theory which attempts to define the tendency for every object with mass to attract every other object with mass.
I was by turns, amused and bemused, when one engineer, who proclaimed himself a graduate from a top engineering school tried to deny that there was a theory of gravity, insisting initially that must be 'junk science' until embarrassed into admission that it was still very much settled science.

This and other engineers then tried to assert that as such well-educated men they were qualified themselves to reject the claims of anthropogenic global warming.  They admitted they had not read the actual data, but relied only on the excerpted email publicized by right wing media.

They were shocked, chagrined, and unable to provide a comeback when I pointed out that internationally, all of the recognized Academies of Engineering supported that anthropogenic global warming was real:

  • InterAcademy Council As the representative of the world’s scientific and engineering academies,[44][45] the InterAcademy Council issued a report in 2007 titled Lighting the Way: Toward a Sustainable Energy Future.
    Current patterns of energy resources and energy usage are proving detrimental to the long-term welfare of humanity. The integrity of essential natural systems is already at risk from climate change caused by the atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gases.[46] Concerted efforts should be mounted for improving energy efficiency and reducing the carbon intensity of the world economy.[47]
  • International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences (CAETS) in 2007, issued a Statement on Environment and Sustainable Growth:[48]
    As reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), most of the observed global warming since the mid-20th century is very likely due to human-produced emission of greenhouse gases and this warming will continue unabated if present anthropogenic emissions continue or, worse, expand without control. CAETS, therefore, endorses the many recent calls to decrease and control greenhouse gas emissions to an acceptable level as quickly as possible.
CAETS, of course, includes the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, which does not appear to include any anthropogenic climate change deniers, including any of the ultra-conservative engineers with whom I have had personal exchanges about climate change denial:

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is a government-created non-profit institution in the United States, that was founded in 1964 under the same congressional act that led to the founding of the National Academy of Sciences. As a national academy, it consists of members who are elected by current members, based on their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. The election process for new members is conducted annually. The NAE is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the rest of the National Academies the role of advising the federal government. The NAE operates engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers.
Formally, "members" of the NAE must be U.S. Citizens.[1] The term "foreign associate" is applied to non-citizens who are elected to the NAE.[1] "The NAE has more than 2,000 peer-elected members and foreign associates, senior professionals in business, academia, and government who are among the world’s most accomplished engineers," according to the NAE site's About page.[2]
Election to the NAE is considered to be the among the highest recognitions in engineering-related fields, and it often comes as a recognition of a lifetime's worth of accomplishments.
It is safe to state that the endorsement of the reality of climate change by these and other prestigious engineering academies came as something of a shock.  Added to that shock was my pointing out that this was in addition to, not in place of, the expert opinion of scientists for whom the study of global warming was their specialty. 

At least none of the climate change deniers who were engineers tried to assert they were better engineers or better scientists than the members of the NAE.

The next argument I was presented was that "less than 50% of the World's Scientists support Global Warming".  That is patently, demonstrably factually inaccurate, as a perusal of the scientific organizations which do affirm global warming clearly show.  However, prior to being confronted with the lengthy list, and the very short list of scientist deniers, this appears to have been the sincerely inaccurate belief of these self-avowed Tea Partiers.  These Tea Partiers ALSO had no comeback for the facts, and indeed, seemed stunned to find how isolated their ideological minority really is.

Even the American Association of Petroleum Engineers, back in 2007, affirmed :
"no scientific body of national or international standing rejected the findings of human-induced effects on climate change"
The reality is that the well-educated and intelligent Tea Partiers might do well on a science quiz for science literacy, but they are ideologically willfully ignorant and succumb to hubris in believing themselves superior to the best minds of the world's many, many scientists.  They are so confident in their error, that they refuse to inform themselves of any facts that contradict their blind and ignorant beliefs.

Following that factual failure, the next argument presented was an attempt to smear East Anglia, the college where much of the scientific research has been done.  It was referred to as a dinky, know-nothing little backwater school without prestige or credentials.

Nothing could be further from reality; while it is true that East Anglia is smaller than some of the OTHER prestigious institutions, it is part of a cluster of academic institutions dedicated to research.  In prestige, it is ranked 17th in the UK; it has a world-wide prestigious reputation.  This is not some dinky, no-account backwater crap educational entity.  This is world class scientific research of the highest order.

The saddest part of that reality is that many of these Tea Partiers also justify their willful ignorance on the basis of partisan politics.  Sadly pretty much ONLY in the United States - as my co-blogger Laci has noted elsewhere - is it the case that conservatives are climate change deniers.  Other conservatives in other countries do not share their insanity on the subject, although a little of the willful ignorance from the U.S., deliberately and calculatingly funded by the fossil fuel big money, has contaminated our neighbors to the north in Canada.  But there, thank God, they are thoroughly ridiculed for it, in Canada, to the point that climate denial is uncomfortable, if not impossible, by conservatives and their politicians.  Here in the U.S. such willful ignorance and stupidity is instead rewarded.

As noted in a Guardian piece earlier this week, there is an actual media industry around the disinformation of U.S. conservatives:

Fox News defends global warming false balance by denying the 97% consensus

Fox News claims bias is balance, exemplifies the five characteristics of scientific denialism
A study published earlier this year in the journal Public Understanding of Science found that consumption of politically conservative media outlets like Fox News decreases viewer trust in scientists, which in turn decreases belief that global warming is happening. This is in large part a result of disproportionate representation of the less than 3 percent of climate scientists who are 'skeptical' of human-caused global warming, as well as interviewing climate contrarian non-experts, for example from conservative fossil fuel-funded think tanks.
Last week, I reported that studies of media coverage leading up to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report revealed that Fox News and other politically conservative media outlets continued this practice of false balance. Fox News was particularly guilty, representing climate contrarians in 69 percent of their IPCC stories.

Fox News false balance
I think my favorite comment from the above-referenced Tea Partiers science knowledge discussion was the response to my noting that only 6% of scientists self-identify as conservative, Tea Party, or Republican.  The explanation for that was that good, honest, self-respecting conservatives of any variety wouldn't take a job where the funding came from government.  It was my great pleasure to point out that assumption was not true.

According to the OECD - the Organization for Economic Cooperation, an entity founded in 1961, (out of an earlier entity post-WW II to help administer the Marshall Plan), consisting of 34 countries which pretty much duplicate the membership of NATO:

According to OECD, around two-thirds of research and development in scientific and technical fields is carried out by industries, and 20% and 10% respectively by universities and government. Comparatively, in countries with less GDP, such as Portugal and Mexico the industry contribution is significantly lower. The US government spends more than other countries on military R&D, although the proportion has fallen from around 30% in the 1980s to under 20. Government funding for medical research amounts to approximately 36% in the U.S.
So long as conservatives deny science, deny reality, deny FACTS, so intensively, so extensively, there can be no effective negotiation.  Compromising with delusion is not really a valid option.  Facts MUST be the foundation on which any meeting of the minds proceeds.  Until conservatives acknowledge the scientific consensus of everything from the THEORY of gravitation to the THEORY of Evolution, to the overwhelming consensus on the human causation and dangers of global warming, we will have a terrible economic and political conflict in the United States.  It is, ultimately, the conflict between reality and idiot ideology, between sanity and the delusions of willful ignorance and denial.

Popsies on the ACA, a la Fiore

GOPP - Grand Old Party (of) Pestilence!

From Mark Fiore - the Tea Party voyage: Lost in Space

There is a distinction between being stewards of the planet, and exploiters, looters, and abusers of it.

From IFLS:

Havin' a Heat Wave......for the anthropogenic global warming deniers

from IFLS
Using radiocarbon dating of 365 vegetation samples on Baffin Island in the Eastern Canadian Arctic, scientists determined that the level of warming now matches or goes beyond what occurred during a natural warm period about 5,000 to 10,000 years ago, known as the Holocene Thermal Maximum. These higher temperatures may even be the warmest for 120,000 years.

Read more:

Image is of Central Baffin Island. Image credit: Gifford Miller / University of Colorado Boulder.

Too right! Too funny!

Hooray for Stanfor University School of Medicine!

From Science Daily:

The liver is the body's chemistry set. It builds complex biomolecules we need, and it filters and breaks down waste products and toxic substances that might otherwise accumulate to dangerous levels. Unlike most other organs, a healthy liver can regenerate itself to a significant extent. But this capacity cannot overcome acute liver poisoning or damage from chronic alcoholism or viral hepatitis.

Acute liver failure from acetaminophen alone takes about 500 lives annually and accounts for close to 60,000 emergency-room visits and more than 25,000 hospitalizations annually. Other environmental toxins, including poisonous mushrooms, contribute still more cases.

All aspects of the new fat-to-liver technique are adaptable for human use, said Gary Peltz, MD, PhD, professor of anesthesia and the study's senior author. Creating iPS cells requires introducing foreign and potentially carcinogenic genes. But adipose stem cells merely have to be harvested from fat tissue. The process takes nine days from start to finish -- fast enough to regenerate liver tissue in acute liver poisoning victims, who would otherwise die within a few weeks, barring liver transplantation.

Some 6,300 liver transplants are performed annually in the United States, with another 16,000 patients on the waiting list. Every year, more than 1,400 people die before a suitable liver can be found for them. While it can save lives, liver transplantation is complicated, risky and, even when successful, fraught with aftereffects. Typically, the recipient is consigned to a lifetime of taking immunosuppressant drugs to prevent organ rejection.

"We believe our method will be transferable to the clinic," Peltz said. "And because the new liver tissue is derived from a person's own cells, we do not expect that immunosuppressants will be needed."

Friday, October 25, 2013

Why don't these people vote out the right wing oppressors? In most cases, it is because of deliberate voter suppression.

Shame on the right for trying to deny people health care and health care insurance.

Friday's -- Cruz is a liar about the ACA, massively so

Contrary to the fact-averse claims made by the right wing radicals, like Cruz, like Bachmann, the ACA is bringing down some costs, slowing down the rate of increase of others, and NOT disadvantaging people in the horrible ways they claim.  They LIE.  They lie often, the lie loudly.

I try to fact check both the statements made on the right and the left.  There seems to be a clear difference between deliberate misrepresentation of facts, and occasional confusion over numbers as those numbers are emerging or changing.  That is a distinction between deliberate lying, and sloppy quoting or legitimate conflicting data.

Ted-the fuse-Cruz is a bomb thrower of the deliberate exploitative liar variety, in that his data was never true, never accurate or even close to accurate, and there is no similar data with which it honestly could be confused.  It is in fact the OPPOSITE of the actual data.  But Cruz wants to make a big noise, and the more destructive the amount of damage, the happier he is.


Cruz Distorts ACA Impact on Seniors, Children

Sen. Ted Cruz says his “fight against Obamacare must continue,” and so must our fact-checking of claims about the law.
Cruz distorted the impact of the Affordable Care Act on two vulnerable populations — the elderly and special needs children:
  • Cruz said seniors “right now” are being notified that they are “losing their health insurance” during the enrollment period that began Oct. 15. In fact, the number of seniors enrolled in the Medicare Advantage plans to which he’s referring has increased 30 percent since the law took effect in 2010 — and enrollment is expected to increase again next year.
  • He also claimed seniors “are facing higher prescription drug costs” next year. In fact, seniors to date have received $7 billion in rebates and prescription discounts under the Affordable Care Act, and the average senior will have the choice of more prescription drug plans for 2014.
  • Cruz said “families of special needs children will face a new penalty for using savings” to pay for medical expenses. He’s referring to a $2,500 cap on pre-tax contributions to flexible spending accounts. Actually, advocates for special needs children say that provision hasn’t had much of an impact, and other provisions of the new law “greatly benefit people with disabilities.”
Medicare Advantage
On Oct. 16, when Senate leaders announced a bipartisan deal that would end the partial government shutdown, Cruz held a media availability and issued a press release to say he opposed — but would not block — the agreement.
He said he would oppose the Senate compromise because it does nothing to help “the millions of Americans who are being harmed by Obamacare,” singling out some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations.
Here’s what he said about the Senate bill in a press availability with reporters on Capitol Hill (at about the 48 second mark):
Cruz, Oct. 16: And it provides no relief to all the seniors, to all the people with disabilities who are right now getting in-the-mail notifications from their health insurance companies that they’re losing their health insurance because of Obamacare.
And this is what he said in a written statement issued that same day:
Cruz, Oct. 16: As a result of Obamacare, families of special needs children will face a new penalty for using savings to pay for medical therapies and health-related expenses. That’s not part of the discussion. Seniors who are facing higher prescription drug costs as a result of this law won’t be given any consideration, either.
We asked the senator’s office for information on the statements he made about the impact of the law on seniors and special needs children. Let’s start with senior citizens, beginning with the claim that seniors are “losing their health insurance.”
The senator’s office referred us to a recent analysis by the consulting company Avalere of Medicare Advantage plans that will be available to seniors for 2014.  The consulting firm’s report found that the number of plans available to seniors in 2014 would “dip modestly” from 2,664 to 2,522, a decline of 5.3 percent. The open enrollment period began on Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7, so Cruz is no doubt right that some seniors have been told that their insurance plan is no longer part of the Medicare Advantage program.
However, a drop in the number of plans does not mean a drop in the number of persons covered.
In fact, the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation reports that the number of persons enrolled in MA plans rose by nearly 10 percent this year, compared with 2012. A total of 14.4 million persons now are covered by MA plans, more than ever before.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services says that trend will continue. In a Sept. 19 press release, the CMS said “for the fourth straight year enrollment is projected to increase” in 2014. CMS spokesman Raymond Thorn told us in an email that enrollment “is projected to grow to 14.995 million in 2014,” an increase of 4.7 percent over this year.
This is exactly contrary to the predictions at the time of the law’s enactment. KFF notes: “Since 2010, enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans has grown by 30 percent in spite of concerns that the payment changes enacted in the 2010 Affordable Care Act would lead to significant reductions in enrollment.”
In fact, as Affordable Care Act critic Alyene Senger of the conservative Heritage Foundation wrote recently, “It is not yet known how MA plans will react to Obamacare’s significant reductions or how beneficiaries will respond to any changes made by MA plans.” But that hasn’t stopped Cruz from saying seniors are losing coverage. His office even cites Senger’s article as supporting that claim, perhaps hoping that we would not actually read it.
Allyson Funk, a spokeswoman for the AARP, did not express concern about the slight dip in MA plans. She said there “will remain broad penetration and availability of MA plans” in 2014. Funk also noted that Medicare Advantage premiums have gone down, “while quality has improved,” since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. CMS says the average premiums for Medicare Advantage plans are down by 9.8 percent since the health care legislation became law.
Disabled Seniors
In his criticism of the law’s impact on seniors, Cruz also made reference to seniors with disabilities when he expressed concern about “all the people with disabilities” who “right now” are “losing their health insurance.”
This time, the senator’s office referred us to a Sept. 16 opinion piece written by Scott Gottlieb of the conservative American Enterprise Institute about 9 million low-income people who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare. Gottlieb wrote that many of these people “will be forcibly moved into Medicaid HMOs once another long-delayed element of the bill starts to get implemented this fall.”
But they are not “losing” coverage “right now” — in fact, most of the 9 million will be unaffected now and for at least three years.
Here’s what’s happening: In April, CMS announced that it would provide funding and technical assistance to 15 states to develop demonstration programs designed to provide better, more cost-effective services to low-income people (elderly and non-elderly) who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare. In a recent report, KFF says the demonstration project is limited to no more than 2 million dual-eligible beneficiaries, and, so far, CMS has approved specific plans in eight states covering 1.1 million beneficiaries.
The demonstration programs, which will last for three years, target both the elderly and non-elderly. In fact, Massachusetts’ program will include only non-elderly, dual-eligible beneficiaries, according to KFF’s report. Five of the eight states (and the county of Los Angeles) will seek volunteers for the demonstration programs before automatically assigning beneficiaries to managed care plans. In one state, Minnesota, the demonstration program will be strictly voluntary. Six states will allow beneficiaries assigned to HMOs to opt-out.
According to CMS: “[I]n each Demonstration beneficiaries will receive all the current services and benefits they receive today from Medicare and Medicaid with added care coordination, protections and access to enhanced services.”
In other words, the coverage they are getting is supposed to be better than the coverage Cruz says they are “losing.” Whether it works out that way or not, we can’t say, and at this point neither can he.
‘Higher Prescription Drug Costs’?
Cruz also said that seniors “are facing higher prescription drug costs,” and his office again referred us to the Avalere analysis.
In addition to its analysis of Medicare Advantage, Avalere also reviewed the costs of Medicare Part D standalone Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs) for the 2014 coverage plans that seniors are now signing up to join. The analysis concluded: “On average, PDP premiums will increase by 5.1 percent overall.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation, in its own analysis, says that the average increase for these plans will be a little less than 5 percent — from $38.14 per month to $39.90 — “unless many new or current enrollees select lower-priced plans.” That is entirely possible. KFF notes that Medicare beneficiaries in 2014 “will have a choice of 35 stand-alone PDPs, on average, up by four from 2013.”
KFF also illustrates in Exhibit 3 of its report that average premium increases are nothing new for Medicare Part D standalone plans. Since 2006, the average premium has gone up about 54 percent — including a high growth rate of 17 percent in 2009, which was before the Affordable Care Act took effect. The only year the average premium did not go up was in 2012, when the law was in effect.
But seniors — and about two out of three seniors are in standalone prescription drug plans — should be warned that averages are just that. What any individual will pay will vary — sometimes greatly — as KFF’s study points out.
KFF says: “Enrollees in two of the most popular PDPs will experience 50-percent premium increases if they stay in the same plans in 2014, while enrollees in three other popular PDPs will see lower premiums.” Exhibit 4 provides this breakdown: Forty-four percent will see an increase of $1 to $10 per month, and 14 percent will see an increase of more than $10 per month. Thirty-one percent will see a decrease of $1 to $10 per month, and 4 percent will see a decrease of more than $10. About 7 percent will see a minimal change.
As is the case with most insurance coverage, the actual change in premiums will depend upon an individual’s personal situation and the decisions that he or she makes.
“We encourage our members to carefully evaluate their Part D plan options each open enrollment period by comparison shopping,” the AARP’s Funk said.
It’s also true that premiums are just one component of the prescription drug insurance coverage.
KFF notes that a little more than half of the PDPs — about 53 percent — require a deductible. For those that do, the deductible will fall next year from $325 to $310 — a $15 savings that would help offset the average premium increase for some seniors.
Also, the Affordable Care Act has provided 6.6 million seniors with $7 billion in rebates and discounts on prescription drugs to help them pay for costs that fall into a gap in coverage known as the “doughnut hole.” In 2014, the plans will pay most drug costs (minus a deductible and co-pays) up to a certain level (after a beneficiary incurs $2,850 in total costs). But then beneficiaries will have to pay all of their prescription costs until they reach a “catastrophic level” of $4,550 out-of-pocket expenses “(or $6,691 in total drug costs under the standard benefit),” KFF says in its report. About 82 percent of PDPs offer no or very limited gap coverage, the report says.
However, the Affordable Care Act provided a one-time $250 rebate to seniors who have Medicare Part D drug coverage in 2010 to help cover some of the costs of the doughnut hole. In addition, the law provides discounts each year and eventually (by 2020) phases out the doughnut hole entirely. In 2014, for example, that means that seniors who reach the coverage gap will receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs and the insurance plan will pay 2.5 percent of the cost, leaving seniors to pay 47.5 percent during that gap period.
 Special Needs Children
Cruz also said “families of special needs children will face a new penalty for using savings to pay for medical therapies and health-related expenses.” Some may, but advocates for these families say Cruz overstates the impact and ignores the benefits these families will receive from the Affordable Care Act.
Cruz’s office told us the senator was referring to the $2,500 cap the new law places on annual contributions to Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs). These accounts allow an estimated 33 million Americans to contribute pre-tax dollars from their pay checks for future medical expenses. Until January of this year, the IRS did not limit how much employees could contribute — although employers could.
The senator’s office referred us to a Sept. 25 blog post on the website of Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative group that is opposed to the law. ATR says the cap “will be particularly cruel and onerous” on special needs children, because these families use the accounts not only for medical expenses but also to pay tuition for special needs education.
This is not the first time that Republicans have cited the cap as being particularly onerous for special needs families who use FSAs for education costs. The Republican National Committee has claimed that the cap will result in a “$13 billion tax increase on families with special needs.” The RNC also says special needs families use these accounts “to pay for fees at special needs schools, transportation costs associated with their child’s education, Braille books, and guide dogs for the visually impaired.”
It is simply not true that the special needs families will have to pay $13 billion in additional taxes. That’s the total amount that the cap is expected to generate in new revenues over a 10-year period, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. It isn’t known how much of that would be paid by the families of special needs children, but the ARC — one of the nation’s leading advocates for children with developmental disabilities — tells us that it hasn’t seen any evidence of the cap having much of an impact on families with special needs children.
“We do not know how many people may be using FSAs to pay for private school tuition or other expenses — we have tried to research it but found no information,” the ARC said in a statement provided to us by spokeswoman Kristen McKiernan. “We know it can be expensive to have a special needs child but we have not seen any evidence that the ACA change [on FSAs] is very impactful.”
Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association, said her organization hasn’t fielded any questions or complaints about the cap on FSAs for either tuition payments or medical expenses. “We haven’t had any of our members say it is an issue for them,” she said. It may be an issue for some, but she’s not heard that it is. “This is the first I heard of it,” she said.
The ARC statement noted that the IRS still allows special needs families to deduct medical expenses and health-related expenses, including for special education. IRS rules say such families can deduct certain educational expenses for “children who have learning disabilities caused by mental or physical impairments,” including tuition, meals and lodging. The deduction, of course, does not provide the same benefits as pre-tax contributions to an FSA.
The ARC and the United Cerebral Palsy websites say the Affordable Care Act “contains numerous provisions that greatly benefit people with disabilities.”
The ARC and the United Cerebral Palsy: The most important changes that the ACA will bring about are: Prohibiting pre-existing condition exclusions; Eliminating annual and lifetime caps; Prohibiting discrimination based on health status and disability (prevents insurers from dropping individuals when they get sick); Requiring insurers to issue and renew insurance to employers and individuals; Expanding Medicaid eligibility to cover individuals with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line (approximately $29,000 per year for a family of four); and making a number of improvements to the Medicaid program.
The ARC statement summed it up by saying, “We expect that the ACA will benefit people with disabilities because of the health insurance reforms.”
– Eugene Kiely, with Brooks Jackson

Ultrasound probes optional

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Are YOU part of the 6%?

The Gilded Bishopric

Bishop's Digs,
courtesy of the BBC
Something stinks in Limburg, Germany, and for once, it is not the cheese, it’s the church.

As of this week, the Bishop has been given a time out.  No more chapel with a heated roof; no more $500,000 walk in closets (those must be SOME closets), no more lolling in his $20,000 bath tub with a $6,000 faucet.  No sitting around his $34,000 conference table, with his feet up.  I can respect that historic restoration is more expensive than straight up construction; but that isn’t part of historic restoration.

Previously the rebuild/remodel was 10 times over the original budget, at the equivalent in euros of $42 million.

That’s old news; that was last week.  The new total is expected to come in around – and possibly above – $55 million U.S.

The pious poverty pope is not amused.   Boooo diddly hoo.

We’re still waiting however for the Roman Catholic establishment /hierarchy to start paying the victims, instead of the perpetrators, for the damages done by their priests — their ‘employees’.  This is fascinating, since the pope has no problems summoning his bishops, and suspending or removing them, and punishing them by such suspension, but yet the church insists that priests, who are every bit a part of the same international organization of clergy are not considered ‘employees’.
The Roman Catholic Church cannot be considered the employer of priests and thus cannot be held accountable for their actions, criminal or otherwise, an Oregon federal court has ruled in a landmark decision.
The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman concerned a case first filed in 2002 by a man in Seattle identified as John V. Doe who claimed that the late Rev. Andrew Ronan molested him repeatedly in the late 1960s. The man’s lawyers tried to prove that the Vatican should be held liable for the actions of Roman and all priests, but Judge Mosman ruled against such a standpoint.
“There are no facts to create a true employment relationship between Ronan and the Holy See,” Mosman explained in Monday’s decision.”Catholic officials want to have their cake and eat it too – sometimes admitting the church is a rigid, top-down monarchy and sometimes claiming it’s radically decentralized. The truth is that the Vatican oversees the church worldwide, insisting on secrecy in child sex cases and stopping or delaying the defrocking of pedophile priests,” remarked David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP.
“This ruling runs counter to the encouraging, long-term trend of more secular officials holding more church officials more responsible for the devastation to children by pedophile priests and callous bishops,” Clohessy countered.
The SNAP director added, “We’re glad an appeal is planned and we hope that courts will begin to acknowledge the reality that the Catholic abuse and concealment scandal starts at the very top.”
So, apparently, when parishioners and other donors give money to the church, to their LOCAL church, the pope and the whole Vatican hierarchy has control over that, and over the cardinals, monsignors, archbishops and bishops, and of course over the conduct of nuns and priests.   It’s only when there is a question of liability that they deny their clergy.  The Bishopric of St. Peter, exercising the apostolic authority of St. Peter,  is not so very different than the three-fold denier of Christ for whom he is named.   The last pope, the prior pope’s ‘Rottweiler’ had a terrible record in terms of response to pedophile priests.  That was excused when he was elevated to the papacy, on the pretext that he was under orders.  Since when does that excuse such conduct?  I would say never.

Even with the truly wonderful humility of Pope Francis, there is an inherent rot in the church, a similar rot that was present in the days of the reformation.  Coincidentally, it is gaining attention once again in Germany.  That rot is reflected in the Minnesota Archibishop Nienstedt, refusing to provide his files to the police to review instead of a private company, who is aid by the church, therefore, not a trustworthy or  independent entity, but refusing to take full responsibility or to provide full and appropriate transparency.  There is an inherent arrogance to this world wide clergy, a defective and deficient hierarchy.   Repairing the problems begins with cooperation with criminal authority, with full transparency, and with full financial accountability, and with full taking of responsibility at every level — let that begin with Nienstedt HERE. Now.  Or let them forfeit their tax exempt status.

Well.......maybe with the exception of when conservatives keep repeating their mistakes, to their own damage... that can be entertaining.

They get it in the EU...

From Deutsche Welle
Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem has said the EU can "no longer watch on without acting" as 1,000 Europeans are killed in gun violence each year. She is proposing unified, stricter rules for the whole bloc.
A little comparison here, the EU Comprises 28 nations and has a 2012 population of 507,890,191 whereas the US has a population of 316,915,000. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, killers used guns to murder 11,000 people in 2010 in the U.S., the latest year for which statistics are available. Twenty-thousand others used guns to commit suicides that year, and another 73,000 people were rushed to hospital emergency rooms for gunshot wounds (Source VOA).

Using those numbers, the EU has a larger population, but 9% (0.090909)  of the gun violence, yet they admit there is a problem. Although officially, the US admits it has a problem as the VOA article I mentioned about is titled: Experts: Gun Violence Is Public Health Crisis in US.

The DW article goes on:

The EU's home affairs commissioner wrote that one problem with the open-border bloc was "the danger that criminals try to get hold of their guns in the countries with the most lax laws" on gun ownership.
Let's also put out this bit of info:
The annual Small Arms Survey report in 2007 sought to estimate gun ownership per capita around the world. According to these results, Germany had 30.3 registered firearms for every 100 inhabitants – putting it above average in European Union terms, but behind countries like Finland (45.3), Cyprus (36.4) and Sweden (31.6). The US topped the global list by a considerable margin, averaging just under one gun per person, according to the research institute based in Switzerland.
The rule changes which are reported to be under European Commission consideration include revising which guns are eligible for home ownership, tighter regulations for the sale and ownership of antique weapons and air rifles or air pistols, and a possible ban on selling weapons or ammunition on the Internet.

I know the usual excuse is to blame the Second Amendment, but any interpretation that goes against the public welfare goes against the spirit of the constitution (and you don't need to go too far into the document to see that).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bang! another mass shooting Unwanted, unnecessary, and avoidable: GUNS

Our latest
dead hero

Active-shooter incidents like the shooting at a middle school in Sparks, Nevada, have tripled in the U.S.

They shouldn’t occur at all. They don’t have to happen. They don’t happen in other countries. We CHOOSE to let them happen. It is the consequence of our priorities and decisions. It is the outcome of our political will.

Dead is not free. Violence and lethal force are not synonymous with liberty.

Per Attorney General, Eric Holder, via NBC news. (bold in text, my emphasis added)

Active-shooter incidents have tripled since 2009: Holder
Attorney General Eric Holder says the number and the lethal nature of active-shooter incidents nationwide have soared over the past five years.
In remarks to the nation’s police chiefs in Philadelphia on Monday, Holder said the United States saw an average of five active shooting incidents a year between 2000 and 2008.
“Alarmingly, since 2009, this annual average has tripled. We’ve seen at least 12 active shooter situations so far in 2013.”
The Department of Homeland Security defines an active shooter as an individual actively engaging in killing or attempting to kill in a confined and populated area. Recent examples include the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December and the Navy Yard shooting in Washington, D.C., last month.Over the past four years, Holder said, the number of people shot and killed in these incidents is up nearly 150 percent.
“It’s become clear that new strategies and aggressive national response protocols must be employed to stop shooters in their tracks,” Holder said.
I repeat; this is a choice.

We can choose to put an end, if not to all gun violence, to the overwhelming majority of it.

Also from NBC news:

Slain teacher hailed as ‘fallen hero’ after school shooting A mathematics teacher was hailed as a “hero” after being fatally shot while apparently trying to shield students from a 12-year-old boy who opened fire at a Nevada middle school on Monday.
The slain teacher was identified by his brother as Michael Landsberry, 45, a former Marine and a member of the Nevada Air National Guard who celebrated his wedding anniversary last Friday.
Authorities suggested that Landsberry tried to protect students, but stressed they were still investigating. Two boys were wounded before the shooter took his own life at Sparks Middle School, east of Reno. The Associated Press reported that the incident was witnessed by 20 or 30 children.
Police said the first shots were fired from a semiautomatic handgun at 7:16 a.m. (9:16 a.m. ET), just before classes got underway. First responders arrived at the scene in less than three minutes, police said.
The two wounded boys, who were originally transferred to a local hospital in critical condition, were later upgraded to stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries, Sparks deputy police chief Tom Miller said at a Monday afternoon news conference.
The Nevada authorities MIGHT be holding the parents criminally responsible for the actions of their son, because of allowing a dangerous firearm to fall into his hands.    The Nevada authorities are NOT, at this point, or possibly EVER, releasing the name of the 12 year old boy who did the shooting, OR his parents…BECAUSE THEY ARE GRIEVING.


Too damned bad – THEY were the ones who chose to have a gun.  They were the ones who did not keep it secure.  Their failed judgment got people killed.  Deal with the statistical probability of this kind of outcome.  It is a tragedy, but it is NOT a surprising one.  It happens ALL THE TIME.


Firearms in the home are the method for more than half of all suicides, according to the NIMH.  Almost four times as many males commit suicide as females.  Adolescents and young adults are more likely to use firearms to commit suicide.  And then of course, there is the larger fact that in other countries, strict, effective  gun control has resulted in the end of shootings like this.

Never mind the sensitivity to the other family members of the dead man, or the children who were initially hospitalized in critical condition.

Never mind the sensitivity to the needs of the rest of the nation, who are – AGAIN – traumatized by Americans with guns shooting other Americans.

Because, in Nevada, GUNS ARE PATRIOTIC; well, pseudo-patriotic, if by patriotic you really mean treasonous.  So……..we just feel bad for the parents who, in their insistence on owning a firearm (or more than the one used) and in their refusal to adequately secure it, were no doubt absolutely sure they had everything under control…until they did not.  For everyone else who got shot, either killed or wounded, and THEIR family and friends?  Well geeeze......too damned bad.  Guns are more important than you, your loved ones, or anyone's safety; or more precisely, that illusion of empowerment is.

And THAT is what needs to change.

So we have the problem with too many guns; we have a problem with too many shootings, and we have a problem with a very poorly conceived notion of patriotism.  The reality is that we would all be safer — from each other — with fewer guns, more restricted guns, and with much more highly secured guns where guns are permitted.

But the problem goes even deeper than that.

We hear, once again, that the young male who appears to have been the shooter this time, may have been bullied, apparently, more than once.

Conservatives feel they have a right to hate speech, to bullying, and to verbally abuse others, in the name of their ideology and religious freedom of speech.  Their solution to gun violence is more violence; they want to have teachers shooting students like this 12 year old who committed a murder/suicide, not try to talk him down, as we have seen so successfully done in other schools.  MORE VIOLENCE!  MORE SHOOTINGS!  MORE MORE MORE GUNS GUNS GUNS! More people in schools with guns! Arm EVERYBODY!  Shoot MORE people!Bully people FOR GOD (he'll be pleased!)


The combination of lethal force and the freedom to engage in verbal abuse and harassment gives conservatives a sense of power – a power they have demonstrated they should not have.  The combination empowers them to harm themselves and others.  It needs to stop – both the bullying, and the excessive numbers of guns, unregulated or under-regulated.  Conservative policies and values are a giant recipe for destruction.

Conservatives do not care if the outcome is destruction.  They only care about having the power to hurt others, in an effort to compel others to conform to their dark, sad little failed values.   We’ve seen this mind-set in action, in so many ways, including the hazarding of the nation in shutting down the government and in risking the debt ceiling limit and resultant certainty of global economic disaster.

Conservatives are NOT the adult in the room; conservatives demonstrate the kind of reckless bad judgment and shallow values that we tend to associate with badly hormonal teenagers having a temper tantrum.  That doesn’t go well with guns. AGAIN. STILL.  It is time to disarm the bullies on the right, once and for all — for their own good, and ours.  It is time for a more balanced respect for the rights of all, instead of giving preferential treatment to the rights of conservatives to harm others.