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Married skeletons in the closet: Mitt’s little problem

Married skeletons in the closet

by digby

Atrios calls this your moment of zen:

Perhaps he should have called it your moment of Mormon. You really would think that Romney, of all people, would be a little bit less rigid about such things. After all, his forebears thought that marriage was between a man and a woman and a woman and a woman and a woman etc. It's not as if he can use the Bible as his excuse, is it?

Mitt really doesn't want this to come up. The people who really care about gay marriage also care about the fact that Mitt believes that Jesus visited America and that there are more than one God and more than one world. Shhhhh.



Time to Break Out

The seasonal ornaments.

A War-on-Christmas Repost:

I want you To remember that no bastard ever won the War for Christmas by dying for his dogma.

He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his dogma.

You can still hear a few crack and pops of faraway artillery from the wingnut rear guard itching to gin up fight, but the real War on Christmas mongers -- the Hate Media outlets, who always need some Fresh!Fake!Outrage! to keep the Pig People amped up and watching -- has gotten bored with it. Like many a toy from Mithrasmases gone by, the GWOX's (Global War on Xmas) paint has faded. Its moving parts have worn out. And it goes through batteries like David Vitter goes through hookers.

Not that any of that matters.

Swap "Clinton Impeachment" out for GWOX and you get exactly the same rhetoric. Swap GWOX for Teabagging, ditto. Swap it for ACORNoia, ditto. Swap ACORN for Obama-the-Kenyan-Usurper, ditto. And so on, and on, and on without end.

It is the same poison with different food coloring offered up to those millions of criminally delusional citizens who cling to their belief that Barack Obama (the guy who buddied up to the Conservatives in his class at Harvard, then buddied up to his Republican colleagues in Springfield, and who has again and again sacrificed or cripplingly compromised core Liberal policies and ideals to mollify some nonexistent group of "reasonable" Republicans) is a really secret Commie who has been (as was explained to me at a party last week) steeped -- steeped I tell you -- "in the ways of radicals like Saul Alinsky" every bit as fiercely and irrationally as any Evangelical clings to Creationism and The Rapture.

For these people, I have no hope at all. None. For 30-years-plus they have proven beyond any doubt that they have no capacity for introspection; no ability to recognize that the fault, dear Brutus, is not in Alinsky, but in themselves.

And for 30-years-plus they have proven beyond any doubt that they will always fall for the Internal Enemy bullshit being marketed to them by the very people whose policies are actually fucking them and the country the claim to love into the ground.

And so I bring you another driftglass seasonally appropriate "War on Christmas" repost (stolen from the movie "Patton" and cruelly forced to serve wicked, Liberal ends by me), because, the War Behind the Global War on Xmas is the one that never ends.
Men, all this stuff you've heard about Pig People not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the War for Christmas is a lot of horse dung. Pig People, traditionally, love to fight for Jesus. All real Pig People love the sting of battle.

When you were kids you all admired the champion draft deferrer, the biggest rich kid, John Birch, and the guy whose daddy could hire the toughest boxer. Pig People love a winner and will not tolerate a loser…except for the whole War of Northern Aggression thing.

And the Jim Crow thing.

And the “Segregation Now” thing.

And the “Loving vs. Virginia” thing.

But other than that, Pig People play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Pig People have never lost and will never lose a war…and Vietnam does NOT count because it was only a “police action” and not a Real War like the War on Christmas. And anyway, we coulda won – were on the verge of winning – when we were betraaaayed by Cronkite and Jane Fonda and the dirty hippies.

Anyhoo, the very thought of losing is hateful to Pig People. As is the thought of Tolerance.
And Science.
And Causality.
And Compromise.
And every other religion in the history of the Universe.

Now, a Chairborne-Again army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality and “thinking for yourself” and “asking gotcha questions of the Sarah Palin” stuff is a bunch of crap. The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Washington Post don't know anything more about real battle than they do about the why fornicating and terrorism are both caused by feminists, queers, teaching Evolution in the public schools and the ACLU.

Now we have the finest food, Chick Tracts, the best hair, and the most extremely heterosexual men in the world. You know, by God I...I actually pity those poor bastards we're going up against, by God, I do. We're not just going to shoot these Liberal “Good Will Towards Men” bastards; we're going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of Santa’s Sleigh.

We're going to murder those lousy “Tolerant”, “Turn the other check” bastards by the Hanukah Bushel.

Now, some of you boys, I know are wondering whether or not you'll chickenhawk out under fire. Don't worry about that.

I can assure you that you will, just like your fathers and grandfathers before you.

That is, if this were an actual “war” war. Then we’d just send poor Negros, Spics and hillbillies off to do our fighting for us.

But this is just some faked-up Holiday Hatred invented by knee-biters like Bill O'Reilly to keep the stoopids distracted and divided, facing the wrong direction, and screaming the wrong slogans so they never noticed how routinely and ineptly the Cheney Administration lied to them and fucked them over.

The Liberals are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood in the name of the Redeemer. Shoot them in the belly for the sake of the Lamb of God.

When you put your hand into a bunch of Nondenominational “Holiday” goo that a moment before was your best friend's Manger Scene, you'll know what to do!

Now there's another thing I want you to remember: I don't want to get any messages that we are holding our position. We're not holding anything. Let the Liberals do that. We are advancing constantly and we're not interested into holding onto anything except the enemy.

To celebrate the fake birthday of the King of Kings, we're going to hold onto him by the nose and we're going to kick him in the ass. In the name of the Son of the Living God, we're going to kick the hell out of him all the time and we're going to go through him like mouthbreathers through a WalMart on double-coupon day!

Now, there's one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back to you Mommy’s Basement, and you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you what did you do in the great Operation Eternal Clusterfuck in Iraq?

You can proudly say, "Well, first I called everyone that didn't support the Cheney Administration a traitor and a coward. Then I cowered under the bed like a little bitch while far better men and women than I went off to bleed and die to cover the margin call on the Cheney Administration's stupid, reckless gamble. Then I re-elected him! Then I went out and spit on a dirty Jew to commemorate the fake birthday of my Lord and Savior."

Alright, now you sons-a-bitches, you know how I feel. I will be proud to lead you wonderful fucktards into a completely faked-up, Potemkin battle anytime, anywhere.

Like, say, Easter.

That's all.

Pulling the Trigger on California’s Future?

Director of Finance to hold meeting at noon regarding the "trigger cuts"

by Brian Leubitz

Today's the day. If you remember back to the disaster that was last year's budget there was a $4B mystery source of revenue that was basically a cross your fingers and hope real hard kind of thing.  The legislature then asked the Controller (John Chiang), the Legislative Analyst (Mac Taylor) and the Director of Finance (Ana Matosantos) to track how much revenue was coming in, and then if that $4B did not come in, "pull the trigger" on cuts of up to that amount that were already determined.

Well, today is that day, and Matosantos, Brown (and formerly Schwarzenegger's) Director of Finance has to decide how much will be cut for the 2012 part of the current fiscal year.  Don't expect much good news, as the Controller's office already released data indicating that we weren't going to hit that target.  Oh...and we spent more than we projected.

After accounting for November revenues, total year-to-date general fund revenues are now behind the budget's estimates by $1 billion, but expenditures for the year are over projections by $1.95 billion.  It turns out that during a bad economic period, people need more services, but in the current climate in Sacramento, getting the legislature to approve the revenues for those services is an impossible feat even for somebody with the experience of Jerry Brown.

And so we go to the people, I suppose.  According to a new PPIC poll, Californians are not particularly interested in a cuts only budget.

A new poll shows 60 percent of California voters, weary of state spending cuts and unsettled by the prospect of more, are ready to support Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to raise taxes. ... When asked about those automatic spending reductions, part of the budget package signed last summer, a plurality of likely voters - 45 percent - say they would prefer a mix of spending cuts and tax increases to address the shortfall, according to the poll.

Brown, a Democrat, is seeking to raise the statewide sales tax a half-cent and increase income taxes on people who make $250,000 or more a year. He opened a campaign committee last week, and his political adviser, Steve Glazer, has started fundraising for the effort.(SacBee)

There is a long time between now and November 2012, and a lot of painful cuts remain no matter what happens at the ballot box.  But as we continue this slow motion take-down of the California Dream, we'll need to consider what our values really are.  Perhaps we really are a state that is only concerned about our present day self-interest, but I have higher expectations for Californians. We can, and will, break out of this viscous cycle of cuts.


Christmas Physics: How Strong Is One Grinch? [Uncertain Principles]

And what happened then?
Well, in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch's small heart
Grew three sizes that day.
And then the true meaning
Of Christmas came through
And the Grinch found the strength
Of ten Grinches, plus two

-- Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas

It's nearly Christmas, so SteelyKid keeps demanding to watch the two classic Christmas specials we have recorded, Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Watching these over and over again, my thoughts naturally turn to physics, and what sort of physics you could do with these shows.

The most obvious possibility is suggested by the lines above. As you no doubt remember if you've seen the cartoon, the Grinch steals all the Christmas trappings from the Whos down in Who-ville, loads it on a sled, and drives it ten thousand feet up the side of Mt. Crumpet, to dump it. When he hears the Whos singing their Christmas song even without their material goods, he has a change of heart, and saves the sled from falling off the cliff, using his new-found strength:


So, just how strong is the Grinch, to lift all that?

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Newtie owns the loonies—- they’re his creations

Newtie owns the loonies --- they're his creations

by digby

This morning Politico seemed a bit incredulous that Newtie "missed a chance" to correct a looneytunes wingnut talking about Islam taking over the country in a town hall meeting:

The questioner went on for a while, noting that he was a Christian and wanted his rights protected against Islam. The crowd applauded.

Gingrich didn't quite endorse the question, but he certainly didn't correct it: There was no caveat that most American Muslims are good citizens, or that Constitutional rights apply to all religions. Instead Gingrich pivoted directly into a riff about the dual threats, to Christians and Jews, of Sharia law and of secularism.

The moment captured Gingrich's political skills: He offers parts of the Republican base who are used to being dismissed and marginalized by the mainstream media -- for what was, in this particular case, an actual fringe conspiracy theory, or at best a wild overstatement -- a sense of legitimacy and intellectual heft, a sense that their concerns are part of a profound, deep, and fundamental structural concern.

But pandering to your audience when they are peddling crazy theories isn't actually good general election politics, and it may not be good primary politics. You wind up owning the fringe. And while Gingrich may win over a town hall with a moment like that, it's an impulse that won't serve him well as the focus intensifies.

Gingrich has happily owned that fringe for decades. He helped create the modern anti-secular version of it and jumped on the anti-Islam version as soon as it became available. This is why they love him.

Doesn't anyone remember his famous GOPAC memo with the list of words?

Language: A Key Mechanism of Control

Newt Gingrich's 1996 GOPAC memo

As you know, one of the key points in the GOPAC tapes is that "language matters." In the video "We are a Majority," Language is listed as a key mechanism of control used by a majority party, along with Agenda, Rules, Attitude and Learning. As the tapes have been used in training sessions across the country and mailed to candidates we have heard a plaintive plea: "I wish I could speak like Newt."

That takes years of practice. But, we believe that you could have a significant impact on your campaign and the way you communicate if we help a little. That is why we have created this list of words and phrases.

Often we search hard for words to define our opponents. Sometimes we are hesitant to use contrast. Remember that creating a difference helps you. These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party.

abuse of power
anti- (issue): flag, family, child, jobs
"compassion" is not enough
criminal rights
failure (fail)
permissive attitude
punish (poor ...)
red tape
status quo
urgent (cy)

Following in the great tradition of Republicans like Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon, Gingrich almost single-handedly led the paranoid resurgence of the far right in the 1990s. His singularly nasty rhetoric combined with a pretense of intellectual prowess is what they like about him. He validates their hatred.

I suppose it's a fair bet that the general electorate isn't going to be as enamored of Newtie's ugly political mien, but if there's ever been a time when an angry man with a list of grievances and enemies could capture the imagination, I suppose it might be now. Certainly, he represents the Republican Party as well as anyone in politics. The party has finally fully bought in to his vision.


Putting Down the Pipeline [Page 3.14]

Like addicts, we would love to stick to what is easy, familiar, and dependable. The withering consequences of our actions, abstracted to an intangible future, are easy to deny. Prominent politicians say that global warming is a fantasy, that we can keep doing what we're doing, that everything will be okay. Meanwhile their speech is paid for by the same corporations we enrich with our emissions. These corporations are addicted to our money like we to their energy and plastic, but corporations are not people, and unlike us, will never have the will to quit. Recently a number of groups including the Charles G. Koch foundation funded a new study hoping to blame the steep increase in temperature since 1970 on urban "heat islands." Greg Laden explains, "Urban areas can be warmer than surrounding non-urban areas because there is a lot of combustion, pavement and other structure can collect solar heat and retain it for a while." James Hrynyshyn continues "Their hypothesis is that too many of the thermometers used to record temperatures over the last 200 years have been located in or near cities, and so have produced a warming bias produced by the waste heat generated in urban areas." But instead the study produced a graph nearly identical to the iconic "hockey stick" it was intended to debunk. Ethan Siegel says that the new work confirms "with great precision the results of the previous studies, showing a rise over the past 60 years of an average of 1 degree Celsius, with the rise accelerating over the past 30 years." But it's the next 100 years we really need to consider.

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The Advent Calendar of Physics: Gauss and Maxwell [Uncertain Principles]

As the advent calendar moves into the E&M portion of the season, there are a number of possible ways to approach this. I could go with fairly specific formulae for various aspects, but that would take a while and might close out some other areas of physics. In the end, all of classical E&M comes down to four equations, known as Maxwell's equations (though other people came up with most of them), so we'll do it that way, starting with this one:


This is the first of Maxwell's equations, written in differential form, and this relates the electric field E to the density of charge in some region of space. The upside-down Delta on the left ("del" in physics terms) multiplying the E indicates the gradient operation: you take the derivative of E with respect to each of the three vector components, and add those derivatives together.

So, what does this mean, and why is it important?

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Don’t worry. It’s only record levels of climate-killing methane gas. by @DavidOAtkins

Don't worry. It's only record levels of climate-killing methane gas

by David Atkins

It seems like every day brings more alarming news that would shock and alarm an intelligent species with the capacity for foresight. Sadly, humanity doesn't seem to be such a species.

Yesterday brings news of a shocking level of methane gas being released into the atmosphere via climate-change-induced permafrost melt--one of those positive feedback climate change loops we keep hearing about:

Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.

The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Igor Semiletov, of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.

"Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we've found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures, more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It's amazing," Dr Semiletov said. "I was most impressed by the sheer scale and high density of the plumes. Over a relatively small area we found more than 100, but over a wider area there should be thousands of them."

Why does this matter?

Scientists estimate that there are hundreds of millions of tonnes of methane gas locked away beneath the Arctic permafrost, which extends from the mainland into the seabed of the relatively shallow sea of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. One of the greatest fears is that with the disappearance of the Arctic sea-ice in summer, and rapidly rising temperatures across the entire region, which are already melting the Siberian permafrost, the trapped methane could be suddenly released into the atmosphere leading to rapid and severe climate change.

And why is methane so bad? Adam Siegellinks to this piece at Thinkprogrss by Joe Romm to explain:

Scientists learned last year that the permafrost permamelt contains a staggering “1.5 trillion tons of frozen carbon, about twice as much carbon as contained in the atmosphere,” much of which would be released as methane. Methane is is 25 times as potent a heat-trapping gas as CO2 over a 100 year time horizon, but 72 times as potent over 20 years!

The carbon is locked in a freezer in the part of the planet warming up the fastest (see “Tundra 4: Permafrost loss linked to Arctic sea ice loss“). Half the land-based permafrost would vanish by mid-century on our current emissions path (see “Tundra, Part 2: The point of no return” and below). No climate model currently incorporates the amplifying feedback from methane released by a defrosting tundra.

But what the heck do all these scientists know? Real Amurkans know it's time to get science out of politics, tackle the real threat to humanity posed by gay military service, and give the jaahb creators more tax breaks. And that's all that really matters, right?

“Liquid Silver” Can Tarnish Life [USA Science and Engineering Festival: The Blog]

By Joe Schwarcz PhD, Author, USASEF Expo Performer, AT&T Sponsored Nifty Fifty Program Speaker
joe_schwarcz (2).jpgPhysicians today are unlikely to encounter "Gilder's palsy." Nor are they likely to diagnose a patient with "hatter's shakes." But prior to the twentieth century these ailments had to be considered when a patient presented with tremors, irritability, increased salivation and fatigue. In the case of the hatters, the culprit was mercury nitrate used to produce felt. Beaver and rabbit fur, the traditional materials for making felt, can be matted more easily when the pelts are first treated with mercury nitrate, a chemical that opens up the pine cone-like layers known as "imbrications" on the surface of individual hairs. When these are opened up, adjacent hairs can interlock more readily. Hatters invariably got the mercury nitrate on their hands and since their hygiene was probably less than exemplary, ended up ingesting some of the toxin.

Mercury's toxicity is a consequence of its ready binding to sulphur, an element that is a crucial component of many enzymes. Some of these enzymes are critical to the workings of the central nervous system and their failure to function properly when bound to mercury causes the shakes and mental disturbances that are characteristic of mercury poisoning.

Gilders, whose profession was based on coating metal objects with gold, exhibited symptoms similar to that of hatters. Their problems, however, came not from exposure to compounds of mercury, but from exposure to metallic mercury, the silvery liquid found in thermometers. The Romans called the metal hydrargyrum, meaning "liquid silver." That also explains why we use the symbol Hg for the element. Unlike mercury nitrate, liquid mercury is somewhat volatile and can therefore be inhaled and absorbed into the bloodstream from the lungs.

Metallic mercury does not occur in nature, but it can be produced by heating cinnabar, a naturally occurring form of mercury sulphide (HgS). The metal has long fascinated people, especially the alchemists who thought that it was the key to the transmutation of base metals into gold. Of course it was not that, but there is a gold connection. Gold readily forms an alloy with mercury, a phenomenon that is apparent to anyone who has handled mercury while wearing a gold ring. While playing with mercury is a bad idea, the historical alloying with mercury to form "gold amalgam" has been an important method for isolating gold from ores. The traditional process involves crushing the gold ore, mixing it with mercury and separating the amalgam that forms. This is then heated to drive off the volatile mercury, leaving pure gold behind. But it can leave something else behind as well. The misery of mercury poisoning! And many a button gilder could have testified to that.

Military uniforms commonly feature golden buttons. Until about the middle 1800s these were made by dipping metal buttons into gold amalgam and then heating to evaporate the mercury. The layer of gold left behind was very thin, just one gram of gold was enough to gild about 500 buttons. The results for the buttons were pretty, but for humans, not so much. On occasion, even construction workers had to deal with "gilder's palsy." About 100 kilos of gold were mixed with mercury for application to the copper sheets that were used to create the golden dome that adorns the cathedral of St. Isaac in St. Petersburg. The dome, unfortunately, is also a symbol of mercury poisoning. Some sixty workers died as a result of mercury inhalation! However, the chemical ingenuity of two Italians would eventually put gilder's palsy on the back burner.

In 1800 Allisandro Volta's discovery of an electric current flowing between two dissimilar metals separated by moistened cardboard established the chemical principles that would lead to the first battery. Just five years later his friend, Luigi Brugnatelli reported in Belgian Journal of Physics and Chemistry how he had put the "Voltaic pile" to use: "I have lately gilt in a complete manner two large silver medals, by bringing them into communication by means of a steel wire, with a negative pole of a voltaic pile, and keeping them one after the other immersed in ammoniuret of gold newly made and well saturated." Brugnatelli had discovered electroplating, a process that would be commercialized by Henry and George Elkington of Birmingham, England in 1840.

The elimination of gilder's palsy thanks to electroplating did not mean that we were rid of poisoning from inhaled mercury. Consider the case of the 68 year old man and his 88 year old mother in law in Michigan who were admitted to hospital with nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. The next day, the man's son and daughter in law were brought in with the same symptoms. Because the esophagus and lungs of all four were inflamed, doctors suspected chemical exposure. It turned out that the son worked for a company that manufactured dental amalgam which is an alloy of mercury and metals, mostly silver. With the price of silver on the up and up, he had the bright idea of stealing some of the material and extracting the silver by evaporating off the mercury. Thinking he had a formula for riches, the prospective alchemist set up a crude lab in the basement equipped with a furnace for melting metal. He had a formula alright, but it was one for disaster. Despite the use of dimercaprol, a drug that can bind to mercury through its sulphur atoms, all four mercury poisoning victims died. Their house was demolished and the debris treated as hazardous waste.

You don't have to be a greedy crook to suffer from mercury inhalation. You can be an inquisitive youngster. Like the boy who dissected a household thermostat and spilled the mercury on the carpet. He vacuumed it up but never changed the bag. With each subsequent use of the vacuum cleaner some of the mercury vapourized. Months later the boy was hospitalized with weakness, weight loss, anorexia, lethargy and insomnia. Luckily in this case dimercaprol treatment was effective. Too bad Alice didn't have any to offer the Mad Hatter.

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The Durban Deal: Everything and Nothing [Class M]

The thing about the "Durban Platform for Enhanced Action," is that it simultaneously manages to both exceed expectations and demolish any remaining hope for real action. In effect, it tells us everything we need to know about geopolitics of climate change.

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