I'm sorry, I can't look at an image of Mitch McConnell without a gag reflex happening. His reason for railing against a Democratic bill to eliminate subsidies and tax breaks for Big Oil? "It won't lower gas prices". WHO...FREAKIN'...CARES, Mitch!! Is THAT really your excuse for voting this down? How about all the taxpayer money that is WASTED by a giveaway to the most profitable corporations on the planet?!! Gag reflex...and I also for some reason can't stop from mouthing the words...P...O...S...whenever I see this man.
Oil companies are making obscene, record-setting profits right now. They also are benefiting from taxpayer-funded subsidies, as well as special tax breaks. Republicans CLAIM to be a party of “small government”. So, let’s see…if “A = B”, and “B = C”, then “A = C”, right? Put all the evidence together, and you’d THINK Republicans would be clamoring to end subsidies for Big Oil, right? After all, if they’re calling to greatly reduce social programs to help the poor or disaster aid, SURELY they’re also calling to reduce completely unnecessary subsidies to the richest and most profitable corporations on the planet!!
Uh…not so much. Republicans yesterday blocked a bill that would have ended subsidies and tax breaks to Big Oil. I get it, from the Democrats’ standpoint. Obama’s chances for re-election are threatened in November if gas prices continue to rise (thanks to American’s ignorance on what drives gas prices, and their shallowness in terms of what they think are the most important issues facing our country). The bill was indeed a political ploy by Democrats, just as much as it was a serious effort to try to eliminate subsidies and tax breaks. Now Democrats can point to Republicans blocking this bill as yet more evidence of Republican’s preference for continuing the status quo, where the rich get richer, at the expense of the rest of us.
Definitely a political ploy by Democrats, but…they also happen to be COMPLETELY RIGHT on the substance of the issue. Why the HEEEEELLLL should taxpayer’s be subsidizing the most profitable corporations on the planet? Isn’t this a no brainer? Republicans are pushing to end farm subsidies (something I also have a problem with in many cases), but at least you can argue that farming for many people is only profitable because of government programs (it’s certainly that way in many parts of the Great Plains). But oil companies? There’s NO logical reason they continue to need a handout, especially at a time when government is supposedly searching for ways to cut costs and lower the deficit.
GOD I wish American voter’s weren’t so damned, well…stupid. I wish to God they’d freakin’ PAY ATTENTION to what Republicans stand for. In SO many cases the people who support the Republican party are those who are hurt the most by Republican policies. Republicans stand for one thing, and one thing only…MONEY, and lining the pockets of big business in return for campaign funding. This story is just one more example of what Republicans are all about. It’s also another story that I’m sure will be ignored by the ignorant American voter.
Posted in Politics
Tagged bill, block, company, Congress, corporation, energy, gas, obama, oil, Republicans, subsidy, tax break, vote
It’s ALWAYS a good day to be a scientist when one of your papers is published in a journal. Today I had a paper published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment. The paper describes land-cover modeling that was done in the Great Plains of the United States. We used our own, home-grown modeling framework, “FORE-SCE” (Forecasting Scenarios of Land-use Change), and projected land-cover change from 2006 out through the year 2100, for 4 different scenarios.
We’re doing the same kind of land-cover modeling for all of the U.S., with a goal of finishing by the end of the year. The land-cover scenarios we’re producing are being used to look at the impacts of land-cover change on carbon fluxes and other greenhouse gases. We really have a great team working on this.
Click here to take a look at the paper! Drop what you’re doing! Put down that book! Turn off the TV! Shut down the computer! Ignore the family! This is a paper that’s SURE to keep you riveted to your seat!
Posted in Scientific Awareness
Tagged AGEE, Agriculture, and Environment, cover, Ecosystems, Great Plains, land, land cover land use, model, modeling, paper, scenario, Terry Sohl, United States, use
Chief Justice John Roberts...just a man. Just like the rest of us, he and his colleagues let their biases affect their decision-making. INCLUDING how they interpret "law".
l’ve purposely tried to avoid getting too immersed in the Supreme Court hearings this week over ObamaCare. The reason? Every time I read an update on what’s happening, I get PO’d. As I stated 2 days ago before things even got started…I fully expect a 5-4 decision that tosses out, at a minimum, the insurance mandate portion of ObamaCare. Only because there are 5 “conservative” judges and 4 “liberal” judges.
As I stated then, I don’t think the decision will be based on the “law”, but would be based on the political persuasions of the individual justices. I haven’t seen anything yet that changes my perception of what will happen. The questions being asked by some of the “conservative” justices seem like something straight out of the Republican presidential campaign right now. Roberts basically implied a ”what’s next” scenario if ObamaCare is allowed to stand, as if it’s all part of some evil liberal plot for government to take over, well, EVERYTHING!! BUUUU-WAAA-HAAA-HAAA-HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! DRAT, Fellow Liberals! They’re on to our evil plan!!
What it’s ALL about evidently…Broccolli!! Scalia even came out and said that if ObamaCare stands…”What’s Next”…the government forcing us all to eat broccoli? GREAT legal argument, Scalia!! Broccoli-gate has played an unexpected role in the entire debate. Scalia also embarassed himself by bitching about the “Cornhusker Kickback” component of ObamaCare. Only problem…the “Cornhusker Kickback” doesn’t exist, after it was stricken from the original bill before it passed. Sounds like another Republican trademark…if you can’t find something to bitch about, make up some kind of conspiracy out of thin air.
It’s not like the Supreme Court is different from the rest of government. After all…all the States fighting against ObamaCare have Republican governors, while those supporting it have Democratic governors. What an AMAZING coincidence!!
Politico has a nice story here about the “Roberts Court on Trial“, where they speculate on whether this case will cement, or clear, the perception that political persuasion rules the court. It’s fascinating to read the transcripts of the discussions over the last three days. If you knew NOTHING about the court, NOTHING about the individual personalities on the court…it would be IMMEDIATELY apparent upon reading the transcripts who were the “conservative” or “liberal” justices. Hey, they’re people. They have biases and opinions just like the rest of us. And despite their position on the Nation’s highest court, I see few indications that they’re able to look past those biases and prejudices any more than the rest of us. American “law” is just as apt to be corrupted by the same ugly, partisan, political discourse that has invaded every OTHER aspect of American life.
5 to 4. Count on it.
Posted in Politics
Tagged broccoli, Chief Justice, health, health care, insurance, John Roberts, judges, justices, law, obama, ObamaCare, Partisanship, politics, Scalia, SCOTUS, Supreme Court
If you get a chance, read this wonderful opinion piece by Katrina vanden Heuvel at the Washington Post. Talk about hitting the nail on the head.
I’m continually amazed at Republicans trying to stake a claim to the moral high ground. I’m continually amazed at the hypocrisy of those who identify themselves as Republicans, who simultaneously proclaim the immorality of liberals, all while supporting the ONLY platform Republicans seem to care about any more….$$$$$$$$$$.
Some random thoughts from perusin’ the web:
Obama Caught with Open Mic - In a story the GOP is sure to play up from now through the election, Obama was caught saying something to Russian president Medvedev about the European missile defense system, asking the Russian to give him “space” on the issue until after the election. It’s not exactly surprising to hear that when (seemingly) out of the range of an open mic, this is how a politician would talk. There’s no doubt Republicans will act indignant on the story, and will righteously declare that all Obama cares about is getting re-elected, and is just playing politics until the election. And…they’re probably right. Obama can take heart though that 1) Republicans are JUST as apt to put politics over the welfare of the country, and 2) in the short news cycles we have, it’s only a matter of time before Romney makes a verbal gaffe and pushes this off the front pages. The real losers in all of this are all the voters. I can already picture scads of Republican ads this fall that feature this Obama comment, just as I can already see scads of Democratic ads this fall that feature stupid Romney comments.
When do plants know to bloom in Spring? - This story is definitely relevant this spring! Interesting read if you get a chance. We’ve already got things blooming here, in South Dakota, in March, in response to the incredibly warm weather we’re having. There have even been Hummingbirds spotted in adjacent states of Nebraska and Minnesota! I don’t usually see them at my house until the first week of May! But as this story notes, for some plants, day length doesn’t matter, temperature alone can trigger blooming. As such…my hummingbird feeder is going up this week!! Who knows??
Tim Tebow welcomed in New York - Few things bother me more in life than our incredibly shallow American culture, and what passes for being a “celebrity”. We have “celebrities” who have done nothing more than be participants in a “reality” (hah!) TV show, or are simply famous for being complete jackasses. In the sports world, the artificial nature of being a “celebrity” was quite obvious over the past week, when the Denver Broncos signed Peyton Manning to be their QB, and subsequently traded Tim Tebow to the New York Jets. Manning is a Super Bowl winner and an NFL MVP. Tim Tebow? He was one of the poorest rated quarterbacks in the NFL last year. But yet, the stories have at LEAST been 5 to 1 about Tebow instead of about Manning. Tebow to me is one of those “artificial” celebrities, now that his college career is well in the past. He CERTAINLY doesn’t deserve the attention for what he’s accomplished on the field in the NFL. He gets attention simply because of his very public, very over-the-top profession of his religious faith. In America…THAT’s what gets you noticed…acting outside-the-box. Peyton Manning’s accomplishments? Unimportant compared to Tebow’s unusual personal life. I wish I could say it was just sports, but this story is a microcosm of America in general. Working hard and achieving great things in your line of work? That’ll get you nowhere!! What you NEED is a viral video! What you NEED is to be a wacky, vocal jackass! THAT’S the kind of thing that gets you noticed in today’s America!
Supreme Court Tackles Obamacare - The Supreme Court today started hearing arguments regarding the legality of ObamaCare. In a poll, 56% of Americans believe Supreme Court Justices will rule according to their own personal politics, while only 27% believe that ObamaCare will be judged according to the law. I can’t say as I disagree. What’s always baffled me…why SUPREME COURT JUSTICES are either categorized as “Liberal” or “Conservative”. Isn’t the LAW above politics? Why the HELL should LAW be judged according to one’s own personal politics? Are American laws SO poorly written, are they SO open to personal interpretation, that Supreme Court decisions are (seemingly) always split according to perceived political persuasion of the Justices? In the end, what I FULLY expect…a 5-4 decision to repeal the mandate component of Obamacare. Why? Not because of any legal precedent or ruling. No, I expect a 5-4 ruling to repeal much of Obamacare, simply because 5 current justices are considered “Conservative”. Hey…I TELL you that I’m a CYNICAL scientist. Unfortunately, when it comes to my cynicism in matters such as this, I also have a hell of a lot of evidence to back me up.
Posted in Climate Change, Perusin' & Musin', Politics, Sports
Tagged bloom, climate, defense, Democrat, election, Europe, flowers, global warming, GOP, justice, Missile, NFL, obama, ObamaCare, Open Mic, Peyton Manning, plants, republican, spring, Supreme Court, Tim Tebow, warm, weather
The Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush is a bird of the tropics. It had only been seen in the U.S. twice, both times on the far southern edge of Texas. Then in the summer of 2010, a singing Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush was found in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This VERY lost bird drew birders from not only across the state and region, but from across the entire country. It was a once-in-a-lifetime find, but alas, it was also on the opposite side of the state from where I live. I never did get a chance to do the 6-hour drive to go see it.
So I thought tonight I’d rectify that, and draw it instead of photographing it! Click for a larger view.
And they're off!! Unfortunately, all too often in the U.S., the question often isn't who is going to finish first, it's which of these beautiful animals may give its life, all for the sake of "sport".
I’ve always been a sports fan. Growing up in Nebraska, it’s practically a given that you must become a Nebraska Cornhusker football fan (I hear they have other sports at Nebraska as well, but I don’t think that’s ever been confirmed). I played a lot of baseball as a kid, and still am a baseball fan. However, even for Nebraska football and baseball, my passion for sports just continues to fade over time. I still pay attention to Nebraska football, but I’m no longer riveted in front of the TV on a fall Saturday, watching college football all day. The NFL? I used to be a big fan as a kid, but last year, I watched a little of the Super Bowl, and that was it. “March Madness”? Another sports event I used to really pay attention to, but I’ve only watched one half of one game in this tournament, and that was more out of sheer curiosity than anything else (South Dakota State University making their first NCAA appearance).
I guess what has turned me off sports as I’ve gotten older is the emphasis that SO many people seem to place on sports in this country. Pure “sport” has given way to fanaticism and a lack of respect for your opponent. Even worse, “sport” has become all about the money, and not about the competition itself.
So, when I see a story such as this one about horse racing in the United States, I’m utterly shocked to see how much carnage is going on at race tracks, but not surprised as to the motivation behind it all. As the story notes, on AVERAGE, 24 horses die every WEEK in the U.S., all for the sake of “sport”. It’s almost like the stories you see about “puppy mills” that crank out puppies for the pet trade, with little concern for anything but the money that can be made. The stories notes the issues with drugs being used in horse racing, the lack of oversight, and the treatment of horses as a “throw-away” commodity from which a fast buck can be made.
Read the story I’ve linked to for more. If you’re even have the tiniest hint of an animal lover in you, it’s sure to provoke some outrage. I guess it doesn’t matter in the U.S. if it’s a horse, or if it’s a college football or basketball player. The horse, the college football or basketball player, they’re just commodities…something from which money can be made. The welfare of the sports participant, be it a person or a horse? The competition ITSELF? Unimportant, at least in comparison to the monetary aspect. I wonder where we’ll be 100 years from now? I wonder what the term “sportsmanship” will mean, given where things are headed?
Posted in Sports
Tagged competition, death, drug, euthanasia, euthanize, horse, injury, medicine, New York Times, pain, race, racing, sport, sportsmanship
Dick, Dick, Dick...what the hell are you doing? Doesn't Congress have anything better to do than meddle with the NFL?
Congressional approval is hovering around 10%. They seem incapable of governing, incapable of passing the most straightforward piece of legislation. Given how little time they actually DO spend in Washington, you’d think the time spent there would be pretty busy, and they’d have to focus on the most important issues facing the country today.
Uh, no. Sen. Dick Durbin today announced that he was going to conduct hearings on the scandal in the NFL regarding “bounty” systems, where NFL players have been given monetary awards for injuring players on the opposing team, with the intent of rendering them incapable of continuing in a game. Disgusting, yes. Not surprising, given the nature of the game itself, but disgusting nonetheless.
But seriously, is it something that Congress should interfere in? Do we really need Congress spending any time dealing with an issue that’s internal to a professional sports league? It reminds me of the Congressional hearings that were held regarding steroids in baseball, complete with a now infamous line-up of famous major leaguers coming in to testify. Do these buffoons in Congress think this is REALLY what they should be worried about? Are steroids in baseball, or this bounty thing in the NFL, some of the most pressing issues facing our country? Are they issues the Federal government should have ANY involvement in?
I’m obviously liberal on most matters. One of the conservative talking points that bugs me the most are those who whine about how intrusive the Federal government is in our lives. Really? REALLY? I find it laughable that people complain about government intrusion in the lives of Americans, given how freely we live our lives and how little interaction most Americans have with government. However, completely pointless hearings such as these certainly feed into the conservatives’ storyline about government being needlessly involved in private affairs.
Let it go, Sen. Durbin. Let the NFL worry about policing themselves. I don’t think this is exactly a threat to national security or well-being.
Posted in Politics, Sports
Tagged baseball, bounty, Congress, congressional, Dick Durbin, football, hearing, NFL, scandal, Senator, steroids, system
Work is unbelievable busy right now. Busy in a good way, but…busy and stressful at the moment. I needed to relax tonight so drew again.
This is a Blackburnian Warbler. For a change…this ISN’T some tropical bird that rarely is ever found in the United States. Heck, I even see these here in South Dakota sometimes in the spring. Gorgeous, gorgeous birds, that are only here for a week or two in migration, and they’re not very common. They are another one I don’t have a (good) photo of.
You can click on it for a larger view.
One of my least favorite lines that you often hear people say…”I’m not a racist”. The word “but” often preceeds or follows the line, as in, “I wish illegal aliens would stay in their home country, but…I’m not a racist”, or “I’m not a racist, but…I do think Obama is a Muslim.” What it almost universally means when someone feels the need to verbally state “I’m not a racist”? It usually means they are a racist.
Last week, a photo of a bumper sticker was making the rounds. The bumper sticker reads “Don’t Re-Nig in 2012″, a plea to vote Obama out of office this fall. The seller of the bumper sticker is Paula Smith from Hinesville, Georgia. Smith, under fire for selling the bumper sticker, has, you guessed it, come out saying “I’m not a racist”. Her “logic” for that assertions? That the dictionary doesn’t define the N-word as racist. Oh, and that she KNOWS some black people. That brings up another one of my least favorite statements that people often seem to use in conjunction with “I’m not a racist.” For example, “I’m not a racist…one of my neighbors is black”, as if saying you KNOW a (gasp!) person of another race or were once (gasp!) NICE to a person of another race is proof that you are “not a racist.” It certainly provides a good measure of insight into someone’s mind when they feel that being nice to a person of a another race is something worthy of commendation, as if it’s not to be expected.
The seller of this bumper sticker claims that neither she nor the bumper sticker are racist.
Don’t “Re-Nig” in 2012…nah, no racist overtones there!! Paula Smith, for being the perveyor of this disgusting bumper sticker, and for having the AUDACITY to claim that neither the bumper sticker nor yourself are racist…you are the winner of this week’s prestigious “Scum of the Week” award.