Category Archives: Uncategorized

DroughtWatch: Storms bring dramatic relief

The major rain storms hitting California over the past week have brought the most dramatic relief yet to a parched Golden State, with reductions at all levels, according to the latest map from the United States Drought Monitor.

The most telling dropoff was in the worst category, Exceptional Drought, which fell from 18.31 percent of California’s land area to 2.13 percent in the course of seven days.

More than a third of California [34.62 percent] is now drought-free, compared to 18.07 percent last week:


Quote of the day: The goddess of today’s GOP

Gore Vidal, one of the most perceptive writers America has ever produced, cast a discerning eye on the monster who birthed the modern Republican Party, a Russian exile whose writing inspired Paul Ryan and a whole host of modern monsters who use who narcissistic scribblings as justification for as politics for politics as eugenic cleansing, waging war on the poor and disadvantaged for the sake of the almighty dollar.

Writing in an Esquire commentary in July, 1961, Vidal said it better than anyone else ever has:

Ayn Rand is a rhetorician who writes novels I have never been able to read. She has just published a book, For the New Intellectual, subtitled The Philosophy of Ayn Rand; it is a collection of pensées and arias from her novels and it must be read to be believed. Herewith, a few excerpts from the Rand collection.

  • “It was the morality of altruism that undercut American and is now destroying her.”
  • “Capitalism and altruism are incompatible; they are philosophical opposites; they cannot co-exist in the same man or in the same society. Today, the conflict has reached its ultimate climax; the choice is clear-cut: either a new morality of rational self-interest, with its consequence of freedom…or the primordial morality of altruism with its consequences of slavery, etc.”
  • Then from one of her arias for heldentenor: “I am done with the monster of ‘we,’ the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame. And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: ‘I.'”
  • “The first right on earth is the right of the ego. Man’s first duty is to himself.”
  • “To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men.”
  • “The creed of sacrifice is a morality for the immoral….”

This odd little woman is attempting to give a moral sanction to greed and self interest, and to pull it off she must at times indulge in purest Orwellian newspeak of the “freedom is slavery” sort. What interests me most about her is not the absurdity of her “philosophy,” but the size of her audience (in my campaign for the House she was the one writer people knew and talked about). She has a great attraction for simple people who are puzzled by organized society, who object to paying taxes, who dislike the “welfare” state, who feel guilt at the thought of the suffering of others but who would like to harden their hearts. For them, she has an enticing prescription: altruism is the root of all evil, self-interest is the only good, and if you’re dumb or incompetent that’s your lookout.

Chart of the day II: Most Americans reject GMO food

From a new report from the Pew Research Center:


Yet another racist in The Donald’s cabinet lineup

It’s either a still from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a 1920 classic German horror film, or Trump administration Chief Strategist and mastermind Steve Bannon introducing the latest name on the Trump cabinet short list, as American women look on in horror.

It’s either a still from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a 1920 classic German horror film, or Trump administration Chief Strategist and mastermind Steve Bannon introducing the latest name on the Trump cabinet short list, as American women look on in horror.

The Breitbart Administration may about to pick yet another loathesome member to Dr. Caligari’s Cabinet.

The New York Times reports that Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, is on the short list to become Secretary of Defense in the Trump administration.

Gee, another Southern Republican. Surprise, surprise.

But there more, reported in a second Times story:

In 1981, a Justice Department prosecutor from Washington stopped by to see Jeff Sessions, the United States attorney in Mobile, Ala., at the time. The prosecutor, J. Gerald Hebert, said he had heard a shocking story: A federal judge had called a prominent white lawyer “a disgrace to his race” for representing black clients.

“Well,” Mr. Sessions replied, according to Mr. Hebert, “maybe he is.”

In testimony before Congress in 1986, Mr. Hebert and others painted an unflattering portrait of Mr. Sessions, who would go on to become a senator from Alabama and now, according to numerous sources close to President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition team, is a potential nominee for attorney general or secretary of defense. Mr. Hebert testified that Mr. Sessions had referred to the American Civil Liberties Union and the N.A.A.C.P. as “un-American” for “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people.”

One African-American prosecutor testified that Mr. Sessions had called him “boy” and joked that he thought that the Ku Klux Klan “was O.K. until I found out they smoked pot.”

Mr. Sessions denied calling the lawyer “boy” but acknowledged or did not dispute the substance of the other remarks. The bitter testimony sank his nomination by President Ronald Reagan to be a federal district court judge and foreshadowed the questions that Mr. Sessions could face at another set of Senate confirmation hearings if Mr. Trump nominates him for a cabinet position.

Chart of the day: Cities & housing for the homeless

From Housing Not Handcuffs, Ending the Criminalization of Homelessness
in U.S. Cities, a report from the  National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty:


The lack of adequate public shelter for the poor in America’s cities has been accompanied by increasingly criminalization of those who, lacking shelter, sleep on sidewalks, under overpasses, and in their vehicles.

From Al Jazeera:

Cities across the US are enacting more bans on living in vehicles, camping in public and begging, despite federal efforts to discourage such laws amid a shortage of affordable housing, according to a new report.

Denver, which ordered about 150 homeless people living on pavements to clear out their belongings on Tuesday, was among four cities criticised for policies criminalising homelessness in a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, an advocacy group aiming to prevent people from losing their homes.

The other cities listed in its “hall of shame” are in Hawaii, Texas and Washington state.

Many cities with increasing home prices have been struggling with homelessness, including Denver and Honolulu, which were reprimanded for an anti-camping law and ban on sitting or lying on sidewalks, respect[ively].

“These laws are unconstitutional and bad public policy,” Maria Foscarinis, the centre’s executive director, said.

More from the center:

Across the country, cities are criminalizing homelessness, making it illegal for people to sit, sleep, and even eat in public places—despite the absence of housing or even shelter, and other basic resources.

These laws and policies violate constitutional rights, create arrest records and fines & fees that stand in the way of homeless people getting jobs or housing, and don’t work. The evidence is clear that homelessness is reduced in communities that focus on housing, and not those that focus on handcuffs.

Criminalization of homelessness costs more money than simply solving the problem by ensuring access to adequate housing.

And there is a growing awareness among the general public that our criminal justice system is not the solution to social problems.

The time is right for a national campaign to stop the criminalization of homelessness—and to push for effective housing policies that end homelessness.

Even supposedly “liberal” cities like Berkeley, California have been aggressively targeting the homeless, and that’s even with one of the nation’s best [but overcrowded] shelter programs.

Earlier this month a city council candidate was arrested when police cleared a homeless tent camp near city hall erected as a protest over the lack of housing.

Chart of the day: The sharply divided electorate

From A Divided and Pessimistic Electorate, a new report from the Pew Research Center including data derived from polling the day before the election:


Chart of the day: Is Donald Trump the Devil?

Following up on our previous post, a chart from the Toronto Star cataloging the lies told by Donald Trump during his campaign from mid-September through this weekend [click on the image to enlarge]:


More from the Star, which has a complete list of the lies at the link:

Sure, all politicians lie. But Donald Trump is in a class by himself.

He lies strategically. He lies pointlessly. He lies about important things and meaningless things. Above all, he lies frequently. Since he began his campaign last June, the Republican presidential candidate has subjected America to a daily barrage of inaccuracy and mendacity.

His rival, Hillary Clinton, has her own reputation for dishonesty. Some of it is no doubt earned: she has made false claims this campaign about her email scandal, about her flip-flop on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and about assorted other things. But our scrutiny shows there is just no comparison in their level of accuracy on the campaign trail. At the three presidential debates, for example, we counted 104 false claims for Trump to 13 for Clinton.

The extreme, unprecedented quantity of Trump falsehoods is why we started fact-checking everything he said. From mid-September through Sunday, we did 28 “#TrumpCheck” analyses of every word he uttered or tweeted in a given day.

The total: 560 false claims, or a neat 20 per day.

About that curious headline. . .

While esnl is an atheist, in the sense that we live our life without consideration for religious teachings, we weren’t always an unbeliever.

Indeed, we once led the services in a metropolitan Los Angeles church, and we have read the Bible cover to cover a dozen times or more.

And having read and studied the book in great detail, we have a problem understanding why so many [but not all] evangelical Christians are back Trump.

That adherence to a man so antithetical to the values they profess becomes even more curious in this biblical passage from the Book of John, Chapter 8, verse 44, a declaration that would seem to depict The Donald in every detail:

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Lusts and lies. . .how better to characterize the self-proclaimed pussy-grabber who would be president of the greatest military and economic power on earth?