Rumor has it that the president authorized covert action in Libya well before he pledged that there'd be no troops on the ground. Okay, maybe they're CIA: not, literally, troops. But it's not good.
"The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." Orwell
"“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” Plato
"The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant" Robespierre
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Not Good, Part Two
Rumor has it that the president authorized covert action in Libya well before he pledged that there'd be no troops on the ground. Okay, maybe they're CIA: not, literally, troops. But it's not good.
Any moment now, I expect an answer to the question I posed to a frequent visitor: what do teabaggers believe, and why? While she composes her answer and we await the result, here are some data that might be helpful, both to her and to those of us anxious to learn. It's a survey done by some researchers just around the corner, at U Dub:
Are Tea Party Conservatives different from other Conservatives?
We sought to investigate this question in response to critiques leveled by conservatives such as David Brooks, David Frum, and most recently George Will and Michael Medved. Each, it seems, question the strategies, if not always the philosophy, of groups affiliated with the Right, including the Tea Party. More to the point, these commentators suggest that the Tea Party, as a whole, holds opinions at variance with more mainstream conservatives, opinions that may hurt the Republican party in the next election cycle. Others on the Right, such as Peggy Noonan and Juan Williams, view the Tea Party as a net positive. Noonan sees the movement is a “critique” of the Republican party; Williams sees it as a reflection of mainstream concerns of Americans. Which view is closer to the truth? The data suggest that differences abound....
....6% of non-Tea Party conservatives believe the president is destroying the country versus the 71% of Tea Party conservatives who believe this to be true.(click here for full results.)...
...When asked about President Obama’s religious orientation, 27% of Tea Party conservatives believe that Obama is a practicing Muslim compared to 16% of non- Tea Party conservatives, both relatively low; nevertheless, an 11-point difference. More conservative type believe the president a practicing Christian, 27% of Tea Party conservatives versus 46% of non-Tea Party conservatives, but the gap here is even larger: 19%. When it comes to President Obama’s national origin, 40% of Tea Party conservatives believe that Obama was born in the U.S. compared to 55% of non-Tea Party conservatives. Additionally, 26% of Tea Party conservatives believe that President Obama does not have a birth certificate, while 17% of non-Tea Party conservatives believe this to be the case. (click here for full results.) ...
... We also found that conservatives were more likely to view President Obama as alien if they believed themselves to be interviewed by someone white than a non-white interviewer. (click here for the results.)
All of the above support the claims made by Brooks, Frum, Will, and Medved that Tea Party conservatives are out of step with more mainstream conservatives. Moreover, these findings at the mass level validate what we’ve found at the elite level in an ongoing content analysis of the Tea Party. In short, the data suggest that there is an emerging split among conservatives. If this is true, how will this affect Republicans come 2012?
To think teabaggers are not typical of the true Republican party would be reassuring, were it the case that they didn't have the influence they have on who gets nominated and elected, and what legislation moves forward in the current disaster known as the House of Representatives. What the survey doesn't seem to address is the numbers and influence of teabaggers, numbers be damned, among self-described Republicans who vote. Because whatever they choose to say to pollsters, the fact is that the Republican party, as evidenced by its representation in Congress, is composed of the extreme, and the extremely stupid, the vindictive, the hidebound, the fact-averse, the destructive.
So, in case the unthinkable happens -- namely, that my commenter fails to address the question I asked her -- we have data that tells us who the teabaggers are and what they believe. (The why isn't addressed: maybe academics simply couldn't stomach the horror of finding out.)
It's not anything even the most casual observer wouldn't have already known; and it's depressing as hell.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
The Guy Who Gave Us Sarah...
[The above, from 2009, is not fake.]
How is it that John McCain is considered credible on anything? Here's his latest:
Asked about Moammar Gadhafi:
"This is a man with American blood on his hands who has committed acts of terror in the past. And our policy, the United States policy, as articulated by the President of the United States, is that he should go -- he should not stay in power."
And asked siding with Libyan rebels with unknown agendas:
"[I]t does take time -- it did during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan -- but we were able to provide them with some weapons and wherewithal to cause the Russians to leave Afghanistan. So we can do it."
On the first point, McCain has an odd memory of recent events. As Justin Elliott explained, Republicans weren't at all concerned about the American blood on Gadhafi's hands -- the Bush administration removed Libya from the official list of state sponsors of terrorism and engaged in direct talks with Gadhafi. More to the point, John McCain personally visited with Gadhafi in August 2009 to discuss delivery of American military equipment to the Libyan dictator.
Maybe this has slipped the senator's mind?
As for the second point, it's true that we provided aid to Afghan rebels that fought the Soviets, and it's also true that Russia gave up and left Afghanistan, but is this really the example McCain wants to use? Those rebels, after all, were the mujahedeen, which included a guy named Osama bin Laden.
He could have been our president. Simply amazing. Even more amazing: he's the favorite guest on every Sunday morning talk show, as if he actually has credibility.
The difference between Newt Gingrich, on the one hand, and Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann on the other, is that the former claims the mantle of intellectual seriousness, while the latter proudly reject it. That the two ladies poll much higher among teabaggers says a lot; but it's also interesting that, other than their self-described positions along the line between stupid and crazy, there's no actual difference among them. Here's Newt's latest:
"I have two grandchildren: Maggie is 11; Robert is 9," Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church here. "I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."
Let's not dwell on the contradictions of an atheist future dominated by a religious group, okay? (Although I'd love it, as I wait for an answer to a recent question, if someone might outline how we get, in America, from where we are to living under Sharia law. Please be specific, but feel free to take as many steps as you'd like.) Let's, instead, wonder what he means by the struggle over the nature of America. Who's fighting, and over what? Given the venue, one must assume he's not talking about credit default swaps.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
In yet another example of right-wingers' disregard for their people, the intermittently rich man with a monster ego but no self-awareness has gone full birther on us. (Far be it from me to mention certain problems with his own papers.) This, though, is almost too perfect to be believed:
Moreover, Trump’s argument isn’t even internally coherent. First he questions why no doctors or nurses in Hawaii remember Obama’s birth, noting “this is the president of the United States!” (It’s unclear if Trump believes Obama was born the president):
TRUMP: Hey look, you have no doctors that remember. You have no nurses — this is the president of the United States! — that remember. That ad that was placed in the Houston paper — that was placed in the paper days after he was born. So he could have come into the country.
But just moments later, Trump doubts the governor of Hawaii Neil Abercrombie’s recollection of Obama’s birth, noting it was over 50 years ago. Abercrombie has said, “I knew his mom and dad. I was here when he was born.” Trump called for the governor to be “be investigated” for lying about the memory:
TRUMP: You know what I get a kick out of? The governor of Hawaii says, oh I remember when Obama was born. I doubt it! I think this guy should be investigated. He remembers when Obama was born? Give me a break! He’s just trying to do something for his party.
But thanks, Don, for yet another byte of proof of the deeply unserious arguments presented by those on the right who'd be our leaders. Naturally, it's considered thoughtful and persuasive by teabaggers everywhere.
What a sad, sad lot.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Never let reality get in the way of a crowd-pleasing right-wing talking point.
His father was a hard core economic socialist in Kenya... So he had sort of antibusiness, anti-free enterprise influences affecting him almost all his life. It just shows you what a person with a silver tongue can achieve."
-- Conservative activist David Koch, in an interview with the Weekly Standard, on President Obama.
Forget the fact that our president met his father, like, once. What about the concept that he's anti-business, anti-capitalist, anti-free enterprise? At what point does evidence begin to mean anything to these people?
Friday, March 25, 2011
It's been a favorite Foxobeckian theme ever since Obama's election: that he "apologizes" for America, that he went on an "apology tour." About a month ago, there was a very detailed article about it, with full context of the statements and events over which the RWS™ panties are abunched.
... It isn't like it was held in an inconvenient location. I didn't expect television cameras, but I did expect some coverage by either the print or radio press...
...They will report on people who scream about "death panels" and "government takeover of healthcare" -- both rated "lies of the year" by PolitiFact for 2009 and 2010, respectively -- but they don't report on the very real benefits of the legislation.
No wonder the law isn't more popular.
If the traditional media had sent a reporter to the Marriott this morning, they could have reported on the benefits to small business, like the tax credit that allows Merrill Gobetz, the operations manager of Bistro Kids to insure her chefs, and how access to healthcare has made her employees healthier, less stressed and more productive....
... A lot of small businesses jumped at the chance to offer their employees health coverage as soon as they could afford to, thanks to the tax credit. Low income individuals who aren't offered health coverage benefit as well, because the ACA increased funding to subsidize community health centers, where low-income people can receive care either free or at a reduced rate...
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Not generally one to share my dreams, I'll mention this because it was pretty good.
The Newt Who Would Be King
The serial adulterer, two weeks ago:
Exercise a no-fly zone this evening. Communicate to the Libyan military that Gadhafi is gone, and that the sooner they switched sides the more likely they were to survive. Provide help to the rebels to replace him. I mean, the idea that we're confused about a man who has been an anti-American dictator since 1969 just tells you how inept this administration is. They were very quick to jump on Mubarak, who was their ally for 30 years, and they're confused about getting rid of Gadhafi. This is a moment to get rid of him. Do it. Get it over with.
The serial adulterer, one day ago:
I think that two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is a lot. I think that the problems we have in Pakistan, Egypt — go around the region. We could get engaged by this standard in all sorts of places. I would not have intervened.
To use one of Newt's favorite words, it's simply stunning. The man hasn't had a consistent, moral, or useful thought, ever.
.... Do they think no one is going to catch them? Or do they not really care because they don't think the public really cares?
I think it used to be the former, but has lately become mostly the latter. Back in the day, I remember a lot of people saying that it was getting harder for politicians to shade their positions — either over time or for different audiences — because everything was now on video and the internet made it so easy to catch inconsistencies. But that's turned out not to really be true. Unless you're in the middle of a high-profile political campaign, it turns out you just need to be really brazen about your flip-flops. Sure, sites like ThinkProgress or Politifact with catch you, and the first few times that happens maybe you're a little worried about what's going to happen. But then it dawns on you:nothing is going to happen. Your base doesn't read ThinkProgress. The media doesn't really care and is happy to accept whatever obvious nonsense you offer up in explanation. The morning chat shows will continue to book you. It just doesn't matter.]
[Update: having just seen this, I'm starting to think in Newt's case it's an early form of dementia. He simply says whatever comes into his little adulterer's brain at the moment and has no recollection of what he said previously. He's Guy Pearce in "Mememto.]
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Here's a pretty interesting take on Obama's foreign policy of late. The writer is more nuanced than I was.
... Obama is the near textbook embodiment of complex policies that meet the needs of reality and the moment, rather than what the body politic and the commentariat so often pine for, which is abundant simplicity and tidy slogans.
"There’s just no quick way to define it," the New America Foundation's Steve Clemons told Politico, in eager search of an Obama Doctrine, in of course the arena of foreign affairs. "... So he knows what you do in Egypt isn’t the same as what you do in Libya and that isn’t the same as what you do in Bahrain."
That's not only refreshing (to me at least), it also mirrors the profoundly complex pragmatism of the foreign policy designs of FDR, who was, however, extraordinarily fortunate not to have 24/7, sensationalist news operations and talk, talk, talk radio and the blogosphere second-questioning his every thought, hounding his every move, and demanding the unwavering articulation of an explicit FDR Doctrine....
... Obama's UnDoctrine is a universe away from the uniform simplicity of Wilsonian or Bushian idealism, which is better left to German philosophers than foreign policies. Idealism is a word closely aligned with ideology, and for good reason: It is a straitjacketing term that, once out of the bag and affixed to its proponent, too often coerces that proponent into grossly ill-advised actions for consistency's sake.
Obama's critics and Republican opponents are naturally all too delighted to confuse his internationalist pragmatism with an absence of principles, when in reality these -- pragmatism and principles -- are no antithesis. It would be a happy world indeed if the constant application of idealism always achieved the principled objectives pursued, yet history indicates its near abject failure in nearly every instance ..., whereas our hyperpragmatic presidents, from Washington to Lincoln to FDR, achieved nearly all of their principled goals...
This is a time, I guess, when I need to remind myself what I've said about Obama from the very beginning: he's no far-left liberal. He's a pragmatist whose instincts are progressive. That is, in fact, exactly what I liked about him, and, in most things, still do. In this Libya excursion, I hope to hell his approach will be proven right. (It does seem they got this part right.)
Although it's pretty apparent there are a lot of stupid people on the right side of the congressional aisle, I doubt their concerted efforts to undermine economic recovery are the result of not knowing what they're doing. I think it's pretty obvious: they're hanging their 2012 electoral hopes on a flagging economy and will do everything they can to see that it happens. If ever there were an example of politicians choosing their own interests over those of their country, this is it. Read this comprehensive report, and see if you can come to any other conclusion:
The Recovery Act Lowered The Unemployment Rate And Increased The Number Of People With Full-Time Jobs By Millions. According to the CBO:
CBO estimates that ARRA's policies had the following effects in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2010:
- They raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product by between 1.1 percent and 3.5 percent,
- Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.9 percentage points,
- Increased the number of people employed by between 1.3 million and 3.5 million, and
- Increased the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs by 1.8 million to 5.0 million compared with what would have occurred otherwise. (Increases in FTE jobs include shifts from part-time to full-time work or overtime and are thus generally larger than increases in the number of employed workers).
[Congressional Budget Office, 2/23/11]
- All 176 Republicans In The House And 38 Republicans In The Senate Voted Against The American Recovery And Reinvestment Act. [H.R. 1, Vote #70, 2/13/09; H.R. 1, Vote #64, 2/13/09]
The Affordable Care Act "Could Increase The Number Of Jobs In The United States By About 250,000 To 400,000 Per Year." According to the Center for American Progress: "In the analysis that follows, we combine these two studies to show that health care reform could increase the number of jobs in the United States by about 250,000 to 400,000 per year over the coming decade." [Center for American Progress,1/8/10]
- No Republicans In The House Or Senate Voted For The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act. [H.R. 3590, Vote #165, 3/21/2010; H.R. 3590, Vote #396,12/24/09]
The Jobs For Main Street Act Could "Create More Than One Million Jobs."According to Rep. Ray Oberstar (D-MN) via National Journal: "We have the opportunity to build on the foundation set by the Recovery Act in H.R. 2847, the Jobs for Main Street Act. This bill, which won approval in the House on December 16, 2009, would invest another $37.3 billion in our nation's highways and transit systems, and create more than one million jobs." [National Journal, 1/4/10]
The report, which thoroughly enumerates Republican efforts to destroy job growth, concludes with this:
Rove Op-Ed: "Democrats Are Being Held Accountable For [The Economy's] Poor Performance." From a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Republican Strategist Karl Rove: "Instead, they [the Democrats] will be killed at the polls. This election's top issue is the economy, and the Democrats are being held accountable for its poor performance. After all, the party controls the White House and Congress and passed all the spending and stimulus measures it could dream up." [Wall Street Journal, 10/7/10, emphasis added]
I guess it's reassuring at some level to know elected Rs aren't simply blithering idiots: they have a well-organized plan. It's just that it happens to be to destroy America so they can run against Obama.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
When a nuclear device is detonated, it gives rise to raja-tama predominant vibrations of the Absolute Cosmic Fire element. Discordant subtle sounds accompany these frequencies. These subtle sounds have a subtle harmful effect on the mind and intellect of the people in the vicinity of the nuclear attack. It can range from depression, to negative thoughts, to fogging up of the intellect.
When the ritual of Agnihotra is performed, it gives rise to sattva predominant vibrations of the Absolute Cosmic Fire element. The fire created from Agnihotra disintegrates the raja-tama particles and therefore purifies the environment at a spiritual level. It also creates a subtle protective sheath around the person performing the ritual. This sheath is highly sensitive to anything related to the Absolute Cosmic Fire element and from the subtle dimension this sheath looks reddish.
The raja-tama predominant Absolute Cosmic Fire particles (emanating from a nuclear device detonating) strike in a very harsh and callous manner. The protective sheath intuitively knows in advance when they are coming near it and as a reflex action it sends the Absolute Cosmic Fire frequencies from within it towards the raja-tama predominant particles with tremendous force. This destroys the raja-tama predominant Absolute Cosmic Fire particles which give rise to the sound frequencies. As a result, the destructive Absolute Cosmic Fire from the detonated nuclear device loses its power.
It's even better, vis a vis current events, or so one would infer:
3.1 What decides the effectiveness of the Agnihotra ritual during a nuclear holocaust?
It is important to keep in mind that the protection levels that are being discussed are in a nuclear holocaust environment. Therefore, the benefit that the ritual of Agnihotra can provide, is severely restricted compared to a peace-time scenario.
Clearly, this is much more scientific, than mere prayer, which, under the circumstances, seems like sort of a hail-Mary.
[Here's the link, which I followed from Pharyngula.]
The more I think, hear, and see, the less I like the fact that we're involved in Libya. I do hope Qaddafi goes down; I hope a semblance of democracy rises from the ashes. But I'm disturbed and worried about our role.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Scoping The Problem
This is emblematic of a large part of the problem with health care costs, and why it'll be next to impossible to do anything about it.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Sun Rises In West
Dan Quayle, the last voice of rationality in the Republican Party????
In a Fox Business Network interview, Former Vice President Dan Quayle defended President Obama from Republican criticism that he plays too much golf when there are so many troubles around the world. Said Quayle: "I'm glad he's out playing golf. I happen to be a golfer. I think presidents deserve down time. And believe me, he is in constant communication with what's going on... I mean, what do you want him to do, stay in his house and be on the phone with the ambassador to Japan all the time?"
Dan Quayle. Knock me down and call me a potatoe.
Friday, March 18, 2011
It's hard to think about our imminent enforcing of a no-fly zone without thinking about Iraq and Afghanistan. There are differences, of course, not the least of which is that in those wars we began with full intention of using full force. Years later, the results of it all remain unclear, and Iraq is heading down a pretty undemocratic path.
If the no-fly-no-drive zone fails to protect Benghazi from Qaddafi, are we then obliged to intervene on the ground? What the UN Resolution seems to require is protection of civilians. But if the methods authorized fail to do so, do we then just give up and give Qaddafi not just a victory against his own people but also against the West?
On the other hand, what are the US's obligations if the protection of Benghazi is successful? Are we required to provide food or arms to the rebels? And if the UN Resolution passes, hasn't the US essentially told the rebels to fight on? Having done that, do we not have a moral obligation to support them in an open-ended civil war?
How much is this estimated to cost? What programs are being cut in order to afford this?
It seems to me that this new war ignores every single lesson of the recent past. There is no clear goal. There is no exit plan. The American public opposes it. However tarted-up the coalition is, in the end, we all know that this will become a US responsibility. And we do know that if we break it, we own it, do we not?
If we are prepared to do this in Libya, why not in Congo, where the casualties and brutality have been immensely greater? Or Zimbabwe?
Qaddafi is brutal and crazy, of that there's no doubt. The people rose up bravely, seemingly with freedom in mind. What's not to like? Other than the usual uncertainties of any uprising about ultimate outcome. And the idea that we'll now be at war in three Muslim countries simultaneously. Instinctively, I want the rebels to succeed, and it's hard to watch the slaughter without feeling like doing something.
Nevertheless, the extent to which I find my instincts on the same side as the neocons is discomfiting. As is the fact that, so far, the actions about to be taken seem a little too Bushian for my taste. I've said many times here, and I still believe, that you can't defeat terrorism with wars. Is this different, though? It's not about terrorists; it's about people risking everything for freedom.
Behind The Curtain
Here's a couple of short items that allow a clear glimpse into the mind of the teabagger wing of the Republican party (all of them, in other words, pretty much):
...the farm lobby and members of Congress representing rural states wield mighty power in Washington. So it's little surprise to see Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee urging Budget Chairman Paul Ryan not to make substantial cuts to federal farm programs.
But this time there's a twist: Lest those Republicans appear profligate, they have proposed one area for cuts--food stamps:
The only program the letter offers as a possible area for belt-tightening is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program. The panel said it might not continue the boost in monthly benefits for SNAP participants when they expire Nov. 1, 2013. SNAP, which accounts for nearly three-quarters of the Agriculture Department's budget, got an across-the-board increase in monthly benefits under the 2009 stimulus (PL 111-5).
And then, this: in their attack on union workers, anyone care to guess if Wisconsin Rs distorted the facts? Anyone hear the claim about bus drivers making $160K? Think it could be bogus?
Mick Rusch, a spokesman for Metro Transit for the city of Madison, tells me: “It’s not fair to point to public employees as being overpaid based on this situation.”
Here are the details, as provided by Rusch. The driver, John Nelson, was able to earn $160,000 in 2009 not because of his annual salary, but because he worked a huge amount of overtime hours. He was able to do this because of previous rules, negotiated by Teamsters local 695, that allowed drivers with most seniority — and the highest salaries — to rack up large amounts of overtime. As a result, in 2009, Nelson worked 1,896 hours of straight time, but he was also able to add on a whopping 2,012 hours of overtime. This, not the exorbitant salary public employees supposedly enjoy, is what accounts for his huge haul that year.
Is Nelson overpaid? Starting bus drivers in Madison earn $17 per hour. Nelson has been working as a driver for 36 years, and his salary in 2009 was up to $26 per hour. There are other ways a bus driver can rack up more money, such as working at night or on vacation days, but all in all, his baseline salary has not gone up much. When working overtime he earns roughly $39 per hour. All this, after working this job for nearly four decades.
But wait, it gets better. It turns out that pointing to Nelson as an example of what’s wrong with public employee unions is thoroughly bogus in another way. According to Rusch, the city of Madison went to the bus drivers union last year and said the rules allowing the highest-paid bus drivers to snap up the most overtime had become a major problem. Turns out the union agreed, and renegotiated a deal to limit overtime in a way that has left Metro Transit happy. And guess what: That deal was negotiated through collective bargaining.
“They agreed with us that it was a problem,” Rusch said of the union. “They sat down with us and worked with us through collective bargaining to fix the problem.”
Resolved equitably, through collective bargaining. You know, that thing away with which they just did.
Oh, and guess where those WI legislators are heading, after all their hard work:
State Republicans are planning to hold a big fundraiser at the offices of a major lobbying firm in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
Supporters are asked to give at least $1,000 to the state Republican Party's federal account to attend the event at the BGR Group's offices in D.C. The cost is $2,500 to sponsor and $5,000 to host the fundraiser.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
For my countless readers who disbelieve evolution but whose curiosity and desire for truth allows them to go where the facts take them, I offer this.
About 600 million years ago, or a little more, there was a population of small wormlike creatures that were the forebears of all modern bilaterian animals. They were small, soft-bodied, and simple, not much more than a jellyfish in structure, and they lived by crawling sluglike over the soft muck of the sea bottom. We have no fossils of them, and no direct picture of their form, but we know a surprising amount about them because we can infer the nature of their genes.
These animals would have been the predecessors of flies and squid, cats and starfish, and what we can do is look at the genes that these diverse modern animals have, and those that are held in common we all inherited together from that distant ancestor. So we know that flies and cats both have hearts that are initiated in early development by the same genes, nkx2.5 and tinman, and infer that our common ancestor had a heart induced by those genes…and that it was only a simple muscular tube. We know that modern animals all have a body plan demarcated by expression of Hox genes, containing muscles expressing myoD, so it's reasonable to deduce that our last common ancestor had a muscular and longitudinally patterned body. And all of us have anterior eyes demarcated by early expression of pax6, as did our ancient many-times-great grandparent worm.
There's another thing we know about these ancient ancestors: they had two kinds of eyes. ciliary and rhabomeric. Your eyes contain ciliary photoreceptors; they have a particular cellular structure, and they use a recognizable form of opsin. A squid has a distinctly different kind of photoreceptor, called rhabdomeric, with a different cell structure and a different form of opsin. We humans also have some rhabdomeric receptors tucked away in our retinas, while invertebrates have ciliary receptors as well, so we know the common ancestor had both.
Now this ancestral population eventually split into two great tribes, the protostomes, which includes squid and flies, and the deuterostomes, which includes cats and starfish. It should be an obvious indication of the general state of that ancestor that it represents all that those four diverse animals have in common. It also tells us that while that ancestor had eyes, they were almost certainly very simple, and could have been nothing more than a patch of light-sensitive cells, or perhaps even single cells, as we see in some larval eyes ....
I find it fascinating and thrilling. Contemplating this amazing process is exhilarating and, yes, spiritually rewarding. What an amazing planet we live on, how singular and powerful the forces at work. It makes our lives all the more valuable, our surroundings all the more wonderful to behold. For a nice diversion from nuclear holocaust and general disintegration of political thought, I recommend taking the time to read it. Just for the hell of it.
In case there's still anyone out there who thinks the teabaggers are about limited government and love of democracy, they'd do well to read this (from that noted left-wing rag, Forbes):
Perhaps lost in the Wisconsin shuffle is the story of what exactly is happening in Michigan. Newly elected Republican governor, Rick Snyder, is set to pass one of the most sweeping, anti-democratic pieces of legislation in the country – and almost no one is talking about it.
Snyder’s law gives the state government the power not only to break up unions, but to dissolve entire local governments and place appointed “Emergency Managers” in their stead. But that’s not all – whole cities could be eliminated if Emergency Managers and the governor choose to do so. And Snyder can fire elected officials unilaterally, without any input from voters. It doesn’t get much more anti-Democratic than that.
Except it does. The governor simply has to declare a financial emergency to invoke these powers – or he can hire a private company to declare financial emergency and take over oversight of the city. That’s right, a private corporation can declare your city in a state of financial emergency and send in its Emergency Manager, fire your elected officials, and reap the benefits of the ensuing state contracts. ....... The Tea Party movement talks a good game about democracy and limited government, but in practice its elected leaders are crony-capitalists and union-busters. There is nothing limited about a state government that can erase entire cities or take control of school districts and local governments with the swipe of a pen. Manufactured crisis and a litany of politicians and power-brokers talking about how broke we are is all it takes to rob us of our democracy.
Then, wonder: is this really what democracy looks like? American democracy? Cut taxes to the point of ruination, declare emergency, void elections, turn towns over to corporations. Really? Self-described patriots, teabaggers: this is what you want of our country? It doesn't bother you, not even a little?
Words from Imam Feisal Rauf, just now, in Bahrain : "Bahrain is already a bridge but we need to put more traffic on it," he told a...
The estimable CPP wrote about the Koch brothers . He's depressed. With reason aforethought. ... This is two guys -- TWO FREAKING...
"Now, some may ask how, at this moment of economic challenge, we can afford to invest in reforming our health care system. Well, I ask ...
Well, I'll give the teabaggers this much: they are indeed bringing transparency to government. In the sense that they've instituted ...
So it seems the insanity known as modern "conservatism" in these parts has infected people north of the border: Back i...