Thursday, November 5, 2015

Alien Encounter

Dr. Ben Carson says the pyramids in Egypt are not tombs of the pharaohs.  They’re grain silos built by Joseph… or perhaps by visitors from another world.

In the course of his explanation, Carson said “And when you look at the way that the pyramids are made, with many chambers that are hermetically sealed, they’d have to be that way for various reasons. And various of scientists have said, ‘well, you know there were alien beings that came down and they have special knowledge and that’s how-’ you know, it doesn’t require an alien being when God is with you.” (emphasis added).

Do we really want a president who gets his daily briefing from the National Enquirer?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Know Your Enema

On Meet the Press, David Brooks has the cure for what ails us: Jeb! the laxative.

Via C&L:

DAVID BROOKS: If I were him I’d lead with his strengths. And just say, “I’m boring. I’m boring. Is our problem in Washington we don’t have enough boringness? No. We’ve got too much craziness. And so I’m going to be a sedative. I’m going to be a laxative, I guess. You know, I’m going to calm you down.”

CHUCK TODD: Well, that will now trend on social media.

Yeah, probably, and while I’m not an M.D., I don’t think a laxative is the same thing as a sedative.

Hey, it could have been worse: he could have compared him to a feminine hygiene product… and the bag it came in.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Gander Sauce

Sen. Lindsey Graham on federal aid for storm victims now:

Sen. Lindsey Graham is asking for federal aid for his home state of South Carolina as it battles raging floods, but he voted to oppose similar help for New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2013.

“Let’s just get through this thing, and whatever it costs, it costs,” Graham told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” on Monday of the devastating floods in his home state.

Sen. Lindsey Graham on federal aid for storm victims three years ago:

According to roll call votes for both the House and Senate versions of the Hurricane Sandy relief bill, almost all of South Carolina’s Republican delegation voted against providing funds to flood-stricken New Yorkers in the wake of the storm.

Yet now Sen. Graham doesn’t seem to recall that vote:

“I’m all for helping the people in New Jersey. I don’t really remember me voting that way,” Graham said.

Pressed further, he said: “Anyway, I don’t really recall that, but I’d be glad to look and tell you why I did vote no, if I did.”

Yes, you did.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Beat By The Clock

The story about the kid who happened to be Muslim who built an alarm clock and touched of a xenophobic panic in his public school in Texas is a microcosm of just how seriously stupid, cowardly, and bullying this country has become in the last fifteen years.

Seriously, people.  What the fuck?

The saving grace is that President Obama is effectively trolling every breathless bedwetter out there and inviting Ahmed Mohamed to bring his science project to the White House.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Welcome To The Information Age

Diane Rehm, who otherwise is a reasonable and reliable interviewer, blew a whole in the bottom of the boat yesterday.

WAMU radio host Diane Rehm falsely stated in an interview with Bernie Sanders on Wednesday that the Vermont senator has dual Israeli citizenship.

In an unusual exchange in the middle of the interview with the recently declared 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, Rehm said she got the information about his alleged citizenship from a “list.” Rehm’s show is heard on National Public Radio-affiliate stations across the country.

She later apologized and explained that she’d read about his citizenship on Facebook.  Yeah, the same place your crazy uncle posts pictures of President Obama as a witch doctor and your source for videos of cats dancing with chipmunks.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Driven To The Polls

Via Daily Kos:

A judge has sentenced an Arizona woman to 3½ years in prison for running over her husband with an SUV because he didn’t vote in the 2012 presidential election. Thirty-one-year-old Holly Nicole Solomon of Mesa pleaded guilty to assault charges stemming from injuries her husband suffered days after President Barack Obama was re-elected. She was sentenced on Thursday.

I think I saw an episode of Law & Order like that.

Short Takes

Twelve missing in floods in Texas.

Kurdish leader blames Iraqi forces for losses to ISIS.

Tornado kills 13 in Mexico border city.

Bug out: Ladybugs released as high school prank.

R.I.P. John F. Nash, mathematician profiled in A Beautiful Mind; Anne Meara, comedian and actress.

The Tigers lost split the series with the Astros and lost Monday to Oakland.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Reading

Obama on the Middle East — Jeffrey Goldberg’s interview in The Atlantic covers Iran, Iraq, and Israel, and the history of presidential legacies in dealing with all three of them.

“Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this,” he said, referring to the apparently almost-finished nuclear agreement between Iran and a group of world powers led by the United States. “I think it’s fair to say that in addition to our profound national-security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down.”

The president—the self-confident, self-contained, coolly rational president—appears to have his own anxieties about the nuclear talks. Which isn’t a bad thing.

Jimmy Carter’s name did not come up in our Oval Office conversation, but it didn’t have to. Carter’s tragic encounter with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution, is an object lesson in the mysterious power of Iran to undermine, even unravel, American presidencies. Ronald Reagan, of course, also knew something of the Iranian curse. As Obama moves to conclude this historic agreement, one that will—if he is correct in his assessment—keep Iran south of the nuclear threshold not only for the 10- or 15-year period of the deal, but well beyond it, he and his administration have deployed a raft of national security-related arguments to buttress their cause. But Obama’s parting comment to me suggests he knows perfectly well that his personal legacy, and not just the future of global nuclear non-proliferation efforts (among other things), is riding on the proposition that he is not being played by America’s Iranian adversaries, and that his reputation will be forever tarnished if Iran goes sideways, even after he leaves office. Obama’s critics have argued that he is “kicking the can down the road” by striking this agreement with Iran. Obama, though, seems to understand that the can will be his for a very long time.

The Candidate the Tea Party Hates — Jenna McLaughlin at Mother Jones finds out it is not Hillary Clinton.

The tea party hates South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, and the feeling is mutual. It attacked the Republican lawmaker mercilessly during his Senate reelection campaign in 2014, but Graham held his seat with 55 percent of the vote. “Kicking the crap out of the tea party is the most fun Senator Lindsey Graham has ever had,” wrote Molly Ball for The Atlantic last June after interviewing the South Carolina Republican on the eve of his primary election victory, when he faced six no-name challengers, one of them a tea party pick, in his deep red state’s Republican primary.

On June 1, Graham plans to join the crowded GOP 2016 field, according to his preannouncement on Monday. And his soon-to-be presidential campaign raises the question: How will the Graham/tea pary feud continue?

The animosity between this three-term senator and tea partiers began before his 2014 reelection campaign, triggered in part by Graham’s intermittent attempts to work with Democrats in the Senate. Such moves have enraged staunch conservatives. The Greenville GOP compiled a list of 29 offenses that they “strongly disapprove of and hold to be fundamentally inconsistent with the principles of the South Carolina Republican Party.”* Right-wing blogs have nicknamed him “Flimsy Lindsey” and “Grahmnesty” because he disagreed with his party on climate change, immigration reform, and a few other hot-button Republican issues.

Climate change triggered the first tea party salvos against Graham. In the fall of 2009, tea partiers in South Carolina and beyond bashed Graham for his support of energy legislation that aimed at reducing carbon emissions. In an editorial titled “Graham’s Dalliance With Cap-And-Trade Crowd a Bad Move,” Michael Costello of the Idaho’s Lewiston Tribunewrote, “If Republicans really want to completely alienate this crowd and give birth to a third party, they should follow the lead of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). [He] has thrown his lot in with John Kerry (D-Mass) to push one of the worst pieces of legislation in American history, the carbon cap and trade bill.”

Soon after that, as Politico reported, the conflict between Graham and tea partiers “sparked a mutiny back home” in South Carolina. The Charleston County Republican Party, in a written resolution, slammed Graham for stabbing Republicans in the back and undercutting “Republican leadership and party solidarity for his own benefit.” Politico noted that “bubbling” conservative discontent blew up because of the climate change bill but was also fueled by Graham’s support for immigration reform and changes at the US detention facility Guantanamo Bay. Graham, a hawk who often criticizes President Barack Obama’s national security policies, didn’t try to make peace with his conservative critics. Instead, he called detractors of immigration reform “bigots” and refused to disavow or stop his occasional bipartisan efforts.

“I’m making that a tea party goal to get scoundrels like Lindsey Graham out of office,” Greg Deitz, a Charleston Tea Party organizer, told Politico.

London Mystery House — Ed Caesar in The New Yorker on the biggest house in London and the question of who owns it.

Witanhurst, London’s largest private house, was built between 1913 and 1920 on an eleven-acre plot in Highgate, a wealthy hilltop neighborhood north of the city center. First owned by Arthur Crosfield, an English soap magnate, the mansion was designed in the Queen Anne style and contained twenty-five bedrooms, a seventy-foot-long ballroom, and a glass rotunda; the views from its gardens, over Hampstead Heath and across the capital, were among the loveliest in London. For decades, parties at Witanhurst attracted potentates and royals—including, in 1951, Elizabeth, the future Queen.

In May, 2008, I toured Witanhurst with a real-estate agent. There had been no parties there for half a century, and the house had not been occupied regularly since the seventies. The interiors were ravaged: water had leaked through holes in the roof, and, upstairs, the brittle floorboards cracked under our footsteps. The scale of the building lent it a vestigial grandeur, but it felt desolate and Ozymandian. A few weeks later, Witanhurst was sold for fifty million pounds, to a shell company named Safran Holdings Limited, registered in the British Virgin Islands. No further information about the buyers was forthcoming.

In June, 2010, the local council approved plans to redevelop the house and five and a half acres of grounds, maintaining Witanhurst as a “family home.” It was the culmination of a long battle with other Highgate residents, who did not welcome such an ambitious project. Since then, Witanhurst’s old service wing has been demolished and replaced with the so-called Orangery—a three-story Georgian villa designed for “everyday family accommodation.” And beneath the forecourt, in front of the main house, the new owners have built what amounts to an underground village—a basement of more than forty thousand square feet. (The largest residential property in Manhattan is said to be a fifty-one-thousand-square-foot mansion, on East Seventy-first Street between Madison and Fifth, owned by Jeffrey Epstein.) This basement, which is connected to the Orangery, includes a seventy-foot-long swimming pool, a cinema with a mezzanine, massage rooms, a sauna, a gym, staff quarters, and parking spaces for twenty-five cars. In late 2013, the local council approved plans for a second basement, beneath the gatehouse, which will connect that building to both the main house and the Orangery. Earlier this year, the owners also sought planning permission to extend an underground “servants’ passage.”

When the refurbishment is complete, Witanhurst will have about ninety thousand square feet of interior space, making it the second-largest mansion in the city, after Buckingham Palace. It will likely become the most expensive house in London. In 2006, the Qatari royal family bought Dudley House, on Park Lane, for about forty million pounds; after a renovation, its estimated resale value is two hundred and fifty million pounds. Real-estate agents expect that the completed Witanhurst will be worth three hundred million pounds—about four hundred and fifty million dollars.

If a vast and lavishly appointed house in Manhattan—a palace nearly double the size of the White House—were being redeveloped on the edge of Central Park, New Yorkers would want to know who lived there. Londoners are equally inquisitive, and concerted efforts have been made to uncover the identity of Witanhurst’s owners. Shortly after the house was sold, it became known—from local gossip and publicly accessible planning documents—that Witanhurst belonged to a family from Russia. Several newspapers speculated that the owner was Yelena Baturina, Russia’s richest woman, and the wife of Yury Luzhkov, then the mayor of Moscow. (Luzhkov and Baturina reportedly enriched themselves while he was in office, before Luzhkov clashed with the Russian government; she now lives in London.) Baturina denied owning Witanhurst, and in 2011 she sued the London Sunday Times for publishing an article titled “BUNKER BILLIONAIRESS DIGS DEEP.”

The Baturina lawsuit and the continued secrecy surrounding Witanhurst have intensified the guessing game. Generally, the names of homeowners in Britain are listed in the Land Registry, which can be read for a small fee. But listings for properties owned by offshore companies do not disclose individual beneficiaries. In the British Virgin Islands, records reveal merely the name of the “registered agent” of Safran Holdings—Equity Trust Limited, a local agency that holds several such positions and is connected to the company by name only—and the company’s post-office box, on the island of Tortola.

A recent investigation by the Financial Times found that more than a hundred billion pounds’ worth of real estate in England and Wales is owned by offshore companies. London properties account for two-thirds of that amount. Charles Moore, a former editor of the Telegraph, says that London’s property market has become “a form of legalized international money laundering.” For Highgate residents, however, worries about the lack of transparency in the purchase of Witanhurst have come second to a more English concern. People irritated by the construction noise and the traffic that have blighted their normally quiet neighborhood have no owner to complain to—only managers.

Doonesbury — Everything you say.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Short Takes

California clean-up crews are rushing to clean up an oil spill north of Santa Barbara.

The Nebraska legislature voted to abolish the death penalty.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) goes Jimmy Stewart over the USA PATRIOT Act.

Turns out Osama bin Laden read Bob Woodward.

Israel rescinded their segregated-buses-for-Palestinians plan.

The Tigers beat the Brewers 5-2.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Do The Crime, Go To The Bahamas

Yet another story that’s not from The Onion:

Robert Bates, the volunteer Oklahoma deputy reserve who shot an unarmed black man in Tulsa earlier this month, pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter charges on Tuesday.

The judge set a hearing for July 2, and allowed Bates to take a previously scheduled vacation to the Bahamas.

If you think that if Mr. Bates was anything other than a rich white guy playing dress-up cop and it was all a horrible accident and he needs to go to Nassau to recover from the trauma of not being allowed to play with his guns, then what the fuck.

If Mr. Bates was a black man in the same situation who “accidentally” killed a white man, he’d be held to a $1 million bond and wearing an ankle monitor.  America hurrah.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

Hose Job

The San Francisco cathedral that built a sprinkler system to ward off the homeless says they’re sorry they were “misunderstood.”

Bishop William Justice, who is also the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese, spoke about the sprinklers during a Wednesday news conference and noted that two of the four sprinklers had already been disabled. He also extolled the virtues of the Archdiocese and the work it does for the homeless before attempting to quell the outrage over the water system.

“We are sorry that our intentions have been misunderstood and recognize that the method was ill-conceived,” Justice said. “It actually has had an opposite effect from what it was intended to do, and for that we are very sorry and apologize.”

In a formal statement obtained by KCBS, Justice further explained that the intent of the system was to increase safety in the area.

“The idea was not to remove those persons, but to encourage them to relocate to other areas of the Cathedral, which are protected and safer,” Justice said. “The purpose was to make the Cathedral grounds as well as the homeless people who happen to be on those grounds safer.”

These folks make a living by selling myths and fables, so it’s no surprise they came up with this whopper of an excuse.  But somewhere in one of their faerie stories there’s a line about “thou shalt not bear false witness,” right?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

An Unclean Act

A San Francisco cathedral uses a sprinkler system to run off homeless people.

Saint Mary’s Cathedral, which, the radio station reported, is the main church within the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the home of the archbishop, has four tall side doors which are used as sheltered nooks by homeless people in the city.

While the church has “No Trespassing” signs, the watering system doesn’t come with a warning and the showers rain down throughout the night, KCBS reported.

The spigot is 30 feet up on the ceiling of the doorway alcove and when it spews water, the alcove and unsuspecting homeless people reportedly get soaked. According to KCBS, the water runs for about 75 seconds every 30-60 minutes.

When Jesus said “Come unto me and I will refresh you,” I don’t think this was what he had in mind.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Can It

It sounds silly, but it’s better than arming teachers and would meet the recommended daily allowance for fiber.

A middle school principal wants to stockpile cans of corn and peas in classrooms for students to hurl at possible intruders as a last defense. In a letter Friday, Priscella Holley, principal at W. F. Burns Middle School in Valley, Chambers County, asked parents to have each student bring an eight-ounce canned item. The can “could stun the intruder or even knock him out until the police arrive,” Ms. Holley wrote. “The canned food item will give the students a sense of empowerment to protect themselves and will make them feel secure.” The school superintendent said the request had brought few complaints.

The police report will read “The suspect was detained by repeated blows from the jolly Green Giant.”

Wednesday, January 14, 2015