Monday, October 20, 2014

Stop Helping

When the right wingers are running out of things to carry on about, it’s probably not a good idea to hand-deliver them something to shake down the gullible.

Earlier this year Houston passed an ordinance to protect the LGBT community from discrimination.  A bunch of pastors took it upon themselves to get a petition drive going to repeal it.  They lost, so of course they sued.  After all, what good is judicial activism if you can’t use it yourself?  In the course of the lawsuit, the City subpoenaed the sermons of the pastors who railed against the ordinance, and that had the predictable result.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, was on Fox News last night claiming that Houston Mayor Annise Parker (D) is “taking a bulldozer to that wall of separation [of church and state]” and trying to “dictate what pastors preach.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweeted that the subpoenas constitute a “march against our freedoms.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called the subpoenas a “grotesque abuse of power.” And Texas Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott (R) wrote to the Houston City Attorney that the subpoenas should be unilaterally withdrawn because they reflect “hostility to religious beliefs.”

Because discovery in a lawsuit violates everything we hold sacred in our judicial process.  Just ask Kenneth Starr.

But on the whole it’s not a good idea to go after spouting preachers.  For one thing, it skates way too close to the wall of separation of church and state (although it’s ironic that many pastors who claim there’s no such thing suddenly discover it when there’s a subpoena on the pulpit).  Second, it gives them a status of martyrdom that they don’t deserve.  Martyrs should be in jeopardy for a good cause: one that will enlighten the human condition, not feed the bigotry and fear that these terrible-tempered ministers shout into the headlines.

Mayor Parker is only adding to the flames with this.  She needs to find another way to beat them at their own game.

Can’t Get Here From There

This is what happens when you don’t do your homework… or check Orbitz.

A member of Congress who wants to ban travel from countries afflicted by the Ebola outbreak appeared to be unaware of a key fact — that there are no direct flights between the U.S. and Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone.

In a Friday morning appearance on MSNBC, Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) argued that instituting a flight ban, regardless of what experts say, makes sense and said he plans to introduce a bill doing so once Congress reconvenes in November.

[...]

Since there are no direct flights between the hardest-hit nations and the United States, the Florida Republican was pressed to specifically identify which flights he wanted to impose restrictions on.

“I believe there are some flights,” Ross responded.

“There are no flights. There are no direct flights that come to the United States from West Africa. That is incorrect,” rebutted New York Times reporter Jeremy W. Peters.

Yep.  Another Florida win in the Idiot Quotient in Congress.

It’s 1988 Again

Hey, I like my 1988 Pontiac, but there are some things from that year I’d just as soon forget.  Like race-baiting scare tactics in political campaigns such as the infamous Willie Horton ad that George H.W. Bush used against Michael Dukakis.  It cemented the white vote for the GOP but also guaranteed that the GOP would have a bit of a hard time getting a rather significant number of African-Americans to trust them again.

History is repeating itself in a House race in Nebraska.

The ad, from the National Republican Congressional Committee, ties the Democratic candidate in an Omaha Congressional race to one Nikko Jenkins, a former inmate who was released early from jail and went on to get convicted for murdering four people. The Democrat, state Senator Brad Ashford, supported the state’s “good time” law, which enables inmates to reduce sentences.

Roll Call describes the ad as a “Hail Mary” for the incumbent, GOP Rep. Lee Terry, reporting that both Democrats and Republicans privately agree that Terry is down in the polls.

Then again, no Republican ever lost an election by using race as a motivator.

Pumpkin Riot

It’s time to have a national discussion about how white people respond to random violence against autumnal squash.

Pumpkin Riot Tweet 10-20-14It’s Ferguson all over again.  This time with gourds.

Don’t Panic — Ctd

Via the New York Times:

At least one chapter of the Ebola saga neared a close Sunday, as most of the dozens of people who had direct or indirect contact here with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola, had been told by officials that they were no longer at risk of contracting the disease.

Mr. Duncan’s fiancée, Louise Troh, who nursed him in their cramped apartment while he suffered from diarrhea and who was put under state-ordered quarantine, was set to be declared Ebola-free by officials at the end of Sunday. So, too, were the paramedics who drove an ailing Mr. Duncan to a hospital and health care workers who drew or processed his blood. And a mandatory quarantine was lifted for a homeless man who later rode in the same ambulance as Mr. Duncan before it was disinfected.

The 21-day monitoring period ended Sunday and Monday for nearly all the roughly 50 people. It concludes as federal health officials are tightening the guidelines for the protective gear worn by health care workers treating Ebola patients.

Hear that, Fox News?  You are free now to find something else to obsess about.  Okay, how about a jihadist deliberately infecting himself and then taking the A train?  Have you worked that one out yet?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Little Night Music

While driving back today from Lakeland — we made it without a hitch, thank you — I was remembering the music we used to listen to in another station wagon: our 1967 Ford Country Squire with the 8-track tape player.  This album was one of the first tapes Mom bought for it.

Lake Mirror Car Show

Here are some shots from the Lake Mirror Classics show yesterday.

The Pontiac was up in the Open Show area, which is for cars of all years divided by model or type.  For some reason they initially had it in the Muscle Car Era group, but when I pointed out to them that while I was flattered to think of my station wagon as a muscle car, it would probably be teased and bullied by the others, so they moved it to “Neo Classics.”

On the street

The Pontiac on the street.

The Concours was held around Lake Mirror where the cars were lined up on the Promenade.

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The Promenade.

And here are a few of the cars… and they happen to belong to fellow members of my car club.

1952 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow.

1952 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow.

1941 Chrysler Royale.

1941 Chrysler Royale.

1959 Oldsmoble Ninety-Eight.

1959 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight.

1958 Volvo.

1958 Volvo.

1962 Plymouth Fury.

1962 Plymouth Fury.

It was a great show, and I hope the trip home will be pleasant and uneventful.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Car Sales

TV commercials for some favorite cars:

In Canada, drug manufacturers cannot reveal what prescription medications do; they can only suggest that you consult your doctor about your medical problem.  The makers of Cialis, the alternative boner pill to Viagra, have come up with a brilliant way around that restriction, and they do it with a Mustang.

Have fun, son… and dad.

Friday, October 17, 2014

It’s Showtime

I’m heading off this morning for Lakeland, Florida, to participate in the Lake Mirror Classic car show.  It is, to quote their literature,

…one of the “must do” collector car shows in the southeastern United States. The display of more than 600 show vehicles on and surrounding the restored 1920’s, art deco-inspired Lake Mirror Promenade in downtown Lakeland, Florida provides one of the most scenic venues in the country. The event is known for its beautiful lakefront setting and friendly atmosphere. In addition to attracting over 35,000 spectators, the Lake Mirror Classic draws top car collectors from the southeast and serves as a support event to the prestigious Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

Well, if it’s a “must do,” than I’m doing it.

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I went last year for the first time and had a great time showing the Pontiac.  And then on the way home on Sunday there was the little incident with the fire under the hood and the re-building of the transmission in Sebring that became a ten-day adventure.  But all is better now; the car is running well and I had it checked over last week by J’s Automotive, the best mechanic in Miami.  So we’re off.  Bob is going along to serve as a judge at the Promenade show while I will be up at the street show.  If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by; I’ll be in the “New Classics” group.

Blogging will be light and variable this weekend, but I’ll take a lot of pictures and maybe even share a few with you.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hazardous Material

Ebola can be controlled with the right precautions.  But there seems to have been a breakdown at the Dallas hospital that treated Thomas Eric Duncan.  Via TPM:

A nurses’ union – which doesn’t represent the Dallas nurses but was enlisted to speak on their behalf – released a statement today detailing a mix of sloppiness, uncertain and evolving practical and lack of proper equipment in the first days of Thomas Eric Duncan’s stay at the hospital. But the more striking news – found in medical records obtained by the AP – is that there was apparently a critical two and one half days after Duncan was admitted to the hospital with a suspected case of Ebola but before his definitive diagnosis when hospital workers continued to operate without hazardous materials protective gear.

I’m not a doctor or a healthcare worker, but I think even a layman knows that when you’re running the risk of being exposed to an infectious disease, be it a head cold or Ebola, you wear protective gear.  (My dentist wears a mask and gloves when he’s flossing my teeth.)  It’s not like the hospital didn’t know that there was an epidemic of Ebola going on somewhere in the world.

Out of Gas

A story in the New York Times revealed that American soldiers found rotting, rusting, and forgotten chemical weapons shells that the U.S. had sold to Saddam Hussein during his war with Iran in the 1980′s.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush insisted that Mr. Hussein was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of international will and at the world’s risk. United Nations inspectors said they could not find evidence for these claims.

Then, during the long occupation, American troops began encountering old chemical munitions in hidden caches and roadside bombs. Typically 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets, they were remnants of an arms program Iraq had rushed into production in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war.

All had been manufactured before 1991, participants said. Filthy, rusty or corroded, a large fraction of them could not be readily identified as chemical weapons at all. Some were empty, though many of them still contained potent mustard agent or residual sarin. Most could not have been used as designed, and when they ruptured dispersed the chemical agents over a limited area, according to those who collected the majority of them.

In case after case, participants said, analysis of these warheads and shells reaffirmed intelligence failures. First, the American government did not find what it had been looking for at the war’s outset, then it failed to prepare its troops and medical corps for the aged weapons it did find.

No, wingnuts, this does not prove that President Bush was right about WMD’s all along.  It’s roughly the same as finding an old Soviet warhead from World War II buried in a backyard in Warsaw and claiming that Mikhail Gorbachev was plotting to invade Poland.

The real crime is that the Pentagon for whatever reason decided not to train their soldiers on how to deal with the old ordnance when they encountered them, and covered up the injuries when they did.

Fan Base

Okay, this was weird.

The Florida gubernatorial debate got off to a rocky start Wednesday night when Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) refused to come out because his Democratic opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist, asked for and received a fan under his podium.

The debate moderators at CBS Miami seemed shocked, wondering aloud what to do for several minutes until Scott finally consented to join Crist on stage. Scott apparently told the hosts that the debate rules banned fans from the stage.

Wow.  Just wow.

For those of you who live outside of Florida and may wonder WTF?, imagine living here where this kind of behavior from Gov. Scott has been going on for the last four years.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014