Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Just saying...

Has anyone else noted that in the last few years, newly purchased items are extremely difficult to remove from the almost indestructible plastic coverings. I find that I need either a scissors or a sharp knife to open these packages, and in doing so I almost lose some fingers or otherwise mutilate my hands. Remember the days when you could easily rip open any package, such as a computer-related  or electronic item, with your hands. And then slowly things changed. The plastic wrap became more and more tough and had to be physically cut with a knife to be opened. Today was  the absolute winner. I purchased a 14 ft pole with an attached saw blade from a general supply store to cut tree  branches . It was completely covered with a hard incredibly hard plastic. I finally used a sharp knife to make an opening and then a scissors to slowly cut the plastic covering the device, trying to avoid the sharp edges of the plastic pieces.

What is going on? Is this a plot by the underpaid factory workers in China, Mexico, VietNam, etc. to finally get back at rich Americans? Or is it paranoid stupidity by the owners of the American retail chains to make their products impenetrable to avoid theft. I often wondered what someone abandoned on a South Pacific island would do when faced with trying to get these items from the plastic wrappings- hit them with a coconut? Do they really believe that someone could possibly open packages in the store and walk out with the items. There should be a consumer revolt to stop buying these things if they are packaged to survive on Mars. Enough is enough!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Know Thy Enemy: The House Republican Freedom Caucus


Jim Jordan

Jim Jordan official photo, 114th Congress.jpg
  • Jordan is among the most conservative Republicans, earning a perfect score from the American Conservative Union. 
  • He has voted consistently for anti-abortion legislation and was endorsed by Ohio Right to Life in 2012. 
  • During the 112th Congress he was one of 40 "staunch" members of the Republican Study Committee who frequently voted against Republican party leadership and vocally expressed displeasure with House bills. 
  • He was the primary proponent and executor of the Republican Congressional strategy to force a government shutdown, in order to force changes in the Affordable Care Act.
  • In the recent Hearings on Benghazi, Jordan attacked Hillary Clinton in a very unprofessional manner.

Justin Amash                          
Justin Amash, official portrait, 112th Congress.jpg

  • Amash is considered pro-life, and generally opposes abortion and the use of federal funding for abortion. 
  • He claims that the "real threat" to traditional marriage and religious liberty is government, and not gay couples. 
  • He said  “I follow a set of principles, I follow the Constitution. And that's what I base my votes on. Limited government, economic freedom, and individual liberty."..

Brian Babin                            
Brian Babin official congressional photo 2.jpg

  •  Babin cites water conservation, repealing the Affordable Care Act and stopping illegal immigration as his main priorities 
  • He believes in the Protestant work ethic and the concept of "if you don’t work, you don’t eat, if you are able to work." 
  • He supports term limits and wants to reduce the number of out of wedlock births and restore the traditional family unit. 
  • He also believes that taxes are too high and the tax code is too complex. .
  • Babin said that President Barack Obama "deserves impeachment", 
  • Babin endorsed Texas Senator Ted Cruz for President.

Rod Blum
 Rod Blum official congressional photo.jpg
  • Rod Blum praised House Republicans for “standing up for their principles” during the 2013 government shutdown.  
  • Blum even praised the orchestrator of the government shutdown, Ted Cruz, for pushing to shut down the government to defund the Affordable Care Act. 
  • The House Freedom Caucus recently declared its opposition to a Continuing Resolution that provides any funding for Planned Parenthood.  
  • Blum supports the First Amendment Defense Act, which would allow businesses to discriminate against customers who don’t share their beliefs.  
  • Freedom Caucus Opposes Any Spending Bill With Planned Parenthood Money. 

David Brat

Dave Brat official congressional photo.jpg

  • Brat has advocated that Christians, both individually and through the church, should more forcefully support free-market capitalism, and should behave more altruistically, in the manner of Jesus, so that "we would not need the government to backstop every action we take."
  • He has blamed the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany on the lack of "unified resistance", adding, "I have the sinking feeling that it could all happen again, quite easily." 
  • Brat believes that countries with Protestant pasts have economic advantages over countries that do not, and that Protestantism "provides an efficient set of property rights and encourages a modern set of economic incentives" that often lead to "positive economic performance". 
  • He believes in Christ as a transformer of culture, and that capitalism is the key to world transformation. This can be achieved when capitalism and Christianity merge; if people follow the gospel, and as a consequence behave more morally, then the markets will improve

Jim Brindenstin

Jim Bridenstine, official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg

  • Bridenstine is one of three co-chairs of the Veterans Coalition supporting Ted Cruz for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential campaign.. 
  • Bridenstine introduced a bill to improve weather forecasting in response to several 2013 Oklahoma tornadoes. 
  • Bridenstine said that "my state has seen all too many times the destructive power of tornadoes and severe weather.
  • Bridenstine claimed 30 times more money was being spent on climate change research than on weather forecasting and warning, a claim that is not true. 
  • Bridenstine  recently hosted an event in his Oklahoma district, where he fielded a noxious question from a constituent. Specifically, an unidentified woman suggested President Obama “should be executed as an enemy combatant.” She added, “This guy is a criminal, nobody’s stopping him.”  “Look,” the congressman responded, “everybody knows the lawlessness of this president. He picks and chooses which laws he’s going to enforce or not enforce. He does it by decree.” Bridenstine, slipping even deeper into the fever swamp, added that Obama “uses foreign bodies, he uses, you know, the United Nations to change the laws in the United States.”

Mo Brooks

Mo Brooks, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
  • Brooks is opposed to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act . Brooks is also  opposed to allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the United States.  
  • A pundit said that the Republican Party could not survive as the "party of white people." Brooks responded: "Well, this is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party... And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. It's part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, creed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things." 
  • Brooks claimed that "we are at risk of insolvency and bankruptcy because the socialist members of this body choose to spend money that we do not have." 

Ken Buck

Ken Buck official congressional photo.jpg

  • When Buck was the Weld County District Attorney, he said in a rape case: “It appears to me … that you invited him over to have sex with him," and that he thought she might have wanted to file rape charges to retaliate against the man for some bad feeling left over from when they had been lovers more than a year earlier. 
  • According to the Independent, "Buck also comes off on this tape as being at least as concerned with the woman’s sexual history and alcohol consumption as he is with other facts of the case." 
  • Drawing on Buck's abortion stance, the Independent also points out that "The suspect in this case had claimed that the victim had at one point a year or so before this event become pregnant with his child and had an abortion, which she denies, saying she miscarried. 
  • The suspect’s claim, though, is in the police report, and Buck refers to it as a reason she may be motivated to file charges where he thinks none are warranted."


Curt Clawson

Curt Clawson official congressional photo.jpg

  • Clawson was endorsed in the primary by the Tea Party Express. 
  • He spent $2 million on advertising and in one of his ads he challenged U.S. President Barack Obama to a game of one on one basketball. 
  • Clawson delivered the Tea Party response to President Obama's State of the Union Address in 2015.
  •  He had an embarrasing moment in a recent hearing: The two officials, Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar, are Americans who hold senior positions at the State Department and Commerce Department, respectively. Although both Biswal and Kumar were introduced as U.S. officials by the chairman of the Asia and Pacific subcommittee, Clawson repeatedly asked them questions about "your country" and "your government," in reference to the state of India.

Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis, Official Portrait, 113th Congress.jpg

  • DeSantis introduced into the House the Faithful Execution of the Law Act of 2014 (H.R. 3973; 113th Congress), a bill that would direct the United States Department of Justice to report to the United States Congress whenever any federal agency refrains from enforcing laws or regulations for any reason. In the report, the government would have to explain why it had decided not to enforce that law. DeSantis spoke in favor of the bill, arguing that "President Obama has not only failed to uphold several of our nation's laws, he has vowed to continue to do so in order to enact his unpopular agenda... The American people deserve to know exactly which laws the Obama administration is refusing to enforce and why." 
  • In 2013 DeSantis signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes.
  • Congressman DeSantis recently spoke at a Ripon Society forum and addressed the 2013 IRS scandal and tax reform. 


Scott DesJarlais

Scott DesJarlais, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg

  • DesJarlais was considered one of the most vulnerable Congressmen, because of revelations in October 2012 that he had prescribed drugs to a patient with whom he was having an affair and had pressured his former wife and former mistress to have several abortions. 
  • But he was re-elected in 2012 with a reduced majority.
  • Despite these vulnerabilities, DesJarlais managed to hold his seat. 
  • DesJarlais' first wife Susan had alleged that her ex-husband engaged in "violent and threatening behavior".
  • Court filings revealed that he had at least four affairs. One was with a female patient. According to the Huffington Post, tapes that DesJarlais himself recorded, show that he pressured her to have an abortion after she became pregnant. 
  • A second woman came forward, stating that she began dating DesJarlais while she was his patient. 
  • She alleges that the two smoked marijuana together and he prescribed pain medications for her while at his house. 
  • The transcript also revealed that contrary to his staunch anti-abortion stance as a congressman, he had counseled his then-wife to have two abortions and pressured one of the patients with whom he'd had an affair to get an abortion.

Jeff Duncan

Jeff Duncan official photo.png

  • On the 1st of August 2012, Duncan took part in the ´Chick-fil-a appreciation day´, using Twitter to publicize his purchase of large quantities of fried chicken produce in an apparent endorsement of CEO Dan Cathy´s anti-same-sex marriage sentiments. 
  • In January 2012, The New American‘s Freedom Index gave Duncan a perfect 100% score for his votes in 2011. He was just one of three members of congress to receive a perfect score, the other two being Walter B. Jones (R-NC) and Ron Paul (R-Texas).
  • On November 19, 2012, Duncan led a group of 97 Republican U.S. Representatives in writing a letter to President Obama, expressing opposition to the possible nomination of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice to U.S. Secretary of State


John Calvin Fleming Jr.

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  • In September 2013, Fleming cosponsored and introduced the Republican Study Committee’s American Health Care Reform Act, as an alternative to the soon-to-be-implemented Affordable Care Act, which Fleming said was “not fixable or repairable.” 
  • Also in September 2013, Fleming was among several conservative House Republicans who worked to defund and/or delay Obamacare in connection with government funding and debt ceiling legislation. 
  • In June 2013, Fleming sponsored an amendment to a Defense spending bill requiring the military to accommodate, except in cases of military necessity, "actions and speech" reflecting the "conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member." The amendment drew objections from President Obama, who said "commanders need discretion "to address potentially problematic speech and actions within their units." 


Trent Franks

Congressman Trent Franks.jpg

  • On October 14, 2009, Franks joined with three fellow Representatives in calling for the investigation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) over allegations of trying to plant "spies," based on a CAIR memo indicating that they "will develop national initiatives such as Lobby Day, and placing Muslim interns in Congressional offices." 
  • The request followed publication of the book Muslim Mafia. Representative Sue Myrick had written the foreword, which characterized CAIR as subversive and aligned with terrorists.
  • CAIR has countered that these initiatives are extensively used by all advocacy groups and accused Franks and his colleagues of intending to intimidate American Muslims who "take part in the political process and exercise their rights."
  • The National Journal has ranked Franks among the "most conservative" members of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2009.
  • He is a member of the Republican Study Committee.  
  • In June 2013, he proposed a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks without exceptions for rape and incest. 
  • In defense, he stirred controversy when saying that “the incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low."  
  • During the 2008 campaign, Franks stated that he is skeptical about global warming.
  • He opposes same-sex marriage and abortion.
  • Franks supports the right to bear firearms. The interest group, Gun Owners of America, have given Franks high approval ratings.


Scott Garrett

Scott Garrett official congressional photo.jpg

  • Garrett is considered the most conservative member of the New Jersey delegation, and one of the most conservative congressmen ever to represent the state. 
  • Garrett voted against child safety locks on handguns and  against emergency funding for Hurricane Katrina victims. 
  • He was the only New Jersey member to vote against federal aid for household pets in case of a disaster. 
  • He was one of only four members of the House of Representatives to vote against an extension of unemployment benefits. 
  • Garrett was the only member of the New Jersey delegation that voted to keep the government closed during the United States federal government shutdown of 2013. 
  • He was also the only member of the New Jersey congressional delegation to refuse to sign a letter urging the House to provide relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy.  
  • As a state legislator, he once proposed public schools teach intelligent design alongside evolution. 
  • Garrett was the only congressman from New Jersey to vote against the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act for purposes of states' rights.


Paul Gosar

Paul Gosar Official Portrait c. 2012.jpg

  • Paul Gosar describes himself as pro-life. On abortions, Gosar states, “These procedures undeniably rob the world of a human life in a most cruel fashion... The right thing to do is to ban these procedures.”
  • These beliefs are reflected in his voting record. Gosar cosponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a bill that would make permanent restrictions on federal funding of abortions in the US.
  • Gosar also cosponsored the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, an act placing restrictions on abortions in the District of Columbia.
  • Gosar was given a 100% rating by the National Right to Life Committee, a pro-life interest group, and a 0% rating by NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League), a pro-choice interest group. 
  • Gosar has stated that the “Second Amendment is one of the most important rights set forth by the Bill of Rights” and has stated he will “continue to oppose efforts to restrict, infringe, or remove this constitutionally protected right.”
  • Gosar cosponsored the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, a bill that would allow noncitizens of a state to, with concealed carry permits, carry concealed weapons in that state. 
  • In 2010 Gosar signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes. 
  • On September 11, 2015, Gosar announced that he had filed articles of impeachment against EPA administrator Gina McCarthy for "high crimes and misdemeanors:", claiming that she had "lied to the American people in order to force misguided and overreaching regulations, which have no scientific basis, down our throats."
H. Morgan Griffith

Morgan Griffith, Official Portrait, 112th Congress B.jpg

  • Griffith supported a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage by defining marriage as between one man and one woman. 
  • Griffith voted in favor of several bills to reduce restrictions on gun ownership, including a bill to allow concealed weapons in vehicles without a permit and to allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry their firearms in restaurants and bars.
  • Griffith also voted to prohibit consumption of alcohol while in possession of a concealed weapon. 
  • Early in 2010, Griffith voted in favor of a bill to prohibit any individual mandate to purchase health insurance. 
Andy Harris

Andy Harris, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg

  • On October 16, 2013, Harris voted against the motion to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. 
  • Harris's prominence as a medical doctor in opposition to government-run health care made him a lightning rod for attacks by supporters of the 2010 health care legislation.  
  • In 2014 Harris led the charge to block a recently adopted Washington D.C. cannabis decriminalization bill.

Jody Hice

Jody Hice official portrait.jpg

  • Hice first served as senior pastor of Bethlehem First Baptist Church, until April 2010 in Bethlehem, Georgia. 
  • In addition, he served as first vice president of the Georgia Baptist Convention (2004–05) and Professor of Preaching at Luther Rice Seminary. 
  • Hice served as senior pastor at The Summit Church, a Southern Baptist church, in Loganville, Georgia from 2011 until December 2013 . 
  • Hice has argued that Christians have been "tricked" into a "false belief" in separation of church and state. 
  • He claims that Islam is not only a religion, but a geo-political structure and is therefore not deserving of First Amendment protection.
  • Hice, in his book It's Now or Never, also quoted former U.S. general Jerry Boykin as stating that there is a Muslim Brotherhood plot to take over the United States. 
  • He claimed homosexuality is a choice and is indulging a sinful tendency, much like alcoholism or drug abuse. 


Tim Huelskamp

Tim Huelskamp.jpg

  • In early 2012, Huelskamp introduced legislation that would ensure military chaplains could not be “directed, ordered or required to perform any duty, rite, ritual, ceremony, service or function that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles or religious beliefs of the chaplain, or contrary to the moral principles or religious beliefs of the chaplain’s faith group.”
  •  Huelskamp accused Treasury Secretary Geithner and the entire Obama administration of failing to correct the U.S.'s debt crisis, which he believed would lead the country down the same path. 
  • Geithner replied that Huelskamp had an “adolescent perspective on how to think about economic policy.” 
  • Huelskamp  announced that he would introduce a constitutional amendment to restore the Defense of Marriage Act.  
  • Huelskamp, Amash and Schweikert   were described by Politico and its sourcing of Huelskamp's other colleagues as "jerks" who "made life harder for other Republicans by taking whacks at them in public for supporting the team" 


Raul Labrador

Raúl Labrador, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg

  • Labrador supports the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act because he believes it will raise costs and kill jobs. 
  • He believes the best way to give Americans more affordable health insurance is with market-based policies that will decrease healthcare costs. 
  • In 2010 Labrador signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes. 
  • Labrador stated that what the Obama administration needs to do is "immediately deport" young undocumented immigrants. 
  • He wanted language in the immigration bill requiring that undocumented immigrants be responsible for their own health care costs.

Barry Laudermilk

Barry Loudermilk official photo.jpg

  • Loudermilk (R-Ga.) told a town hall audience in Georgia last week that he thinks parents should decide whether to have their children vaccinated against diseases like measles and mumps. He said he and his wife didn't get vaccinations for most of their children.  Loudermilk, chairman of a science subcommittee, was responding to a question that implied a link between vaccines and autism.  
  • Ludermilk said that the while the House would like to investigate such Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the government, it has been stonewalled by the Obama administration.
  • Loudermilk refused to answer a question on whether he would take down the Confederate flag from state buildings in Georgia, instead choosing to focus on the shooting's significance for the Christian community. The congressman called the tragedy “an attack on the freedom of religion,”


Cynthia Lummis


  • In 2008, Lummis reported her wealth as ranging from $20 million to $75 million. She ranked in 2010 as the twenty-ninth wealthiest member of Congress. 
  • Lummis is part of an extreme faction of the Republican Party seeking to hold the federal government hostage over implementation of the 2009 health care law.
Mark Meadows

Mark Meadows, Official Portrait, 113th Congress.jpg

  • Meadows has signed the Contract from America, a list of ten policies assembled by the Tea Party movement..
  •  Meadows voted against relief for Hurricane Sandy. 
  • Meadows is a fiscal conservative and is part of a group that has advocated for a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution. 
  • In addition he opposed the recent federal stimulus spending and has expressed desire for the federal spending growth rate to be capped at the inflation rate. 
  • He supports a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget has been balanced. 
  • Meadows opposes any cuts to military spending levels. 
  • Meadows opposes any restrictions on gun purchases and opposes a national gun registry that would list detailed information about firearm ownership. 
  • Meadows has stated that cap-and-trade emission policies are ineffective and have minimal impact on the global environment. 
  • He has proposed that the United States should tap into oil and gas reserves to keep energy prices low, and to develop energy independence. 
  • He supports tapping into off-shore oil and gas supplies. 
  • Meadows opposes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), and states that it should be replaced by private enterprise. 
  • He opposes any federal funding for abortion and believes parents should be notified of underage abortion procedures. 
  • Meadows opposes same-sex marriage. 

Alex Mooney

Alex Mooney Congress.jpg

  • The target of most of Mooney’s socially conservative agenda through the years came towards the LGBT community, as he was credited as being the main obstacle to overcome in Maryland politics towards getting same sex marriage approved there, repeatedly stalling efforts towards the legalization being passed. 
  • Since 1999, his rhetoric on gay rights issues has been downright repulsive, including his 1999 response to legislation to create LGBT hate crime legislation in Maryland, when he asked a constituent who supported the bill, “Should we also support special rights for people who practice beastiality?” 
  • In fact, Mooney claimed in July 2008 that hate crimes legislation was a secret pathway towards gay marriage being legalized, and that would lead to religious figures being “oppressed”, and then they’d come for the children! 
  • Alex Mooney also voted for the latest attempt by the Republican House to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This in spite of the fact that data shows it’s not just working, it’s working better than it was expected to.
  • Rep. Mooney voted to defund the Department of Homeland Security, as one of many Republicans as a threat to President Obama over his executive orders on immigration.


Gary Palmer

Gary Palmer official congressional photo.jpg

  • In 1989, Palmer co-founded the Alabama Family Alliance, which later became the Alabama Policy Institute. Palmer served as president of the conservative think tank for 25 years, stepping down in 2014 to pursue a run for Congress. 
  • Palmer helped found the State Policy Network, a nonprofit umbrella organization for conservative and libertarian think tanks which focus on state-level policy, and served as its president.


Steve Pearce

Steve Pearce, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg

  • In  a memoir Pearce wrote that a wife should "voluntarily submit" to her husband, just as the husband should "lovingly lead and sacrifice".  
  • In late October 2007, Pearce made 130,000 automated phone calls to justify his opposition to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) bill that would have provided health benefit to children. 
  • The Wilson campaign claimed "Pearce violated House ethics by urging those he called to contact him through his official, non-campaign phone number or check out his official, non-campaign Web site."


Scott Gordon Perry

Scott Perry official photo.jpg

  • In 1993, Perry founded Hydrotech Mechanical Services, Inc., a mechanical contracting firm in Dillsburg. The firm provides contract construction and maintenance services to municipal and investor-owned utilities from North Carolina to New York specializing in large meter calibration. 
  • In 2002, allegations were raised by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection against Hydrotech that accused the company of altering sewage monitoring reports while doing work for the Memphord Estates Sewage Treatment Company. 
  • Perry faced charges of conspiring to falsify state mandated sewage records. 
  • Upon review of the situation and circumstances, he was allowed to complete a diversion program and avoid any charges, which allowed him to keep his U.S security clearance.


Ted Poe

  • Poe received a 0 rating from abortion rights group NARAL in 2007, and rating of 100 from the National Right to Life Committee in 2007–2008.
  •  He also voted for the Prohibiting Federal Funding of Abortion Services amendment on November 7, 2009. 
  • Poe does not support what he calls "government run health care". 
  • Poe voted "Nay" on the Health Care and Insurance Law Amendments bill on November 7, 2009.
  • In 2008 Poe voted for the Medicare Bill (HR 6331). 
  • Poe supports healthcare reform that would "Allow insurance to be purchased across state lines, provide for a safety net for catastrophic injury or illness…and allow for a health savings account". 
  • He opposed the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, calling it "an imperial decree to unilaterally ignore portions of the immigration law of the land".
  •  He is the sponsor of the Deport Foreign Convicted Criminals Act of 2011 (H.R. 3256), which would provide for denial of immigrant and non-immigrant visas to nationals of countries which have "refused or unreasonably delayed repatriation" of persons ordered deported from the United States. 
  • On June 7, 2009, Poe signed on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 1503, the bill introduced as a reaction to conspiracy theories which claimed that U.S. President Barack Obama is not a natural born U.S. citizen. 
  • On July 23, 2009, he appeared on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonightin which he claimed that Certifications of Live Birth issued by Hawaii State Department of Health cannot be used to obtain a U.S. passport, which is untrue. 
  • In August 2011 AlterNet reported that Poe, along with John Culberson and Michael McCaul, was attempting to remove the right of deceased soldiers families to choose which prayers, if any, were to be read at a soldier's funeral. 
  • The three politicians were said to be attempting to impose Christian ceremonies on the military funerals of everybody who has served in the military, regardless of whether or not the deceased was Christian and with or without the consent of the family of the deceased. 

Bill Posey

Bill Posey.jpg

  • Bill Posey is famously the author of the failed H.R. 1503, the “Birther Bill”, that would require all candidates for the presidency of the United States to present evidence of their citizenship before being allowed to run for that office. 
  • While some might argue that this would detail what exactly the Constitution means when it specified that the President must be a natural born citizen, it however, merely seems to give credence to the insane conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and is therefore not legitimately president (even though the children of U.S. citizens like Obama’s mother are considered “natural born” and eligible. Hell, John McCain was born in Panama). 
  • When Rep. Posey was asked, himself, if he believed the president to be a natural born American, Posey refused to answer the question, saying his personal beliefs were “irrelevant”. 
  • That’s not the only conspiracy theory that Posey unfortunately adds fuel to the fire on. The good part is, he wants money put into medical research to study autism. The bad news is, Posey does so because he suspects autism is caused by vaccinations. 
  • Bill Posey’s name almost always turns up in attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (which he falsely claims passed only on party lines, ignoring the fact that folks like GOP Senator Olympia Snowe crossed the aisle), including the 2013 Government Shutdown, showing he’s either an oppositionist Birther hack, or he just gets by as a politician by throwing red meat to them. Either way, it’s kind of a dangerous level of rhetoric to engage in.


Keith Rothfus

Keith Rothfus, Official Portrait, 113th Congress.jpg

  • Rothfus has been an ineffective, extreme right-wing backbencher who generally does what he's told by Boehner and Cantor. 
  • His Progressive Punch crucial vote score is the second worst of any member of the Pennsylvania delegation, after Bill Shuster's 0.96, an abysmal 1.92, and he's racked up zero scores on education, clean water, global warming, fair taxation, health care, domestic spying, labor rights.

Matt Salmon

Matt Salmon, official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg

  • Salmon is pro-life and has opposed federal funding of abortions as well as family-planning assistance that includes abortions. 
  • Salmon voted to ban gay couples adopting children and opposes gay marriage. 
  • In April 2013, Salmon announced that he would continue to oppose same-sex marriage even though his son is openly gay..
  • Salmon is a strong fiscal conservative and has often caused rifts and defections in his own party to oppose increasing the deficit.
  • He has strictly opposed raising the debt limit and any new spending without matching cuts. 
  • Salmon signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes


David Schweikert

David Schweikert, Official Portrait, 112th Congress 2.jpg

  • Schweikert argues that the state's immediate objective must be to secure the border against smuggling and illegal immigration.  
  • Schweikert opposes restrictions on gun ownership. He has received an "A" rating from both the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America. He was endorsed by the NRA in his 2010 election. 
  • Schweikert voted in favor of the National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011. This act requires all states, regardless of their own laws, to honor concealed carry permits from other states. 
  • Schweikert is strongly pro-life as proven by his vote for the Title X Abortion Provider Act, an Act that would deny all federal funding to Planned Parenthood. 
  • In addition, he voted yes for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act in which the Act would ban any taxpayer from funding abortions.  
  • Schweikert voted yes on Opening the Continental shelf to oil drilling and voted yes for drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in pursuit of coal. 
  • He voted to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases.
  • Schweikert signed the American's For Prosperity "No Climate Tax Pledge" in which he will "oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue".


Marlin Stutzman


  • Stutzman has opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 
  • In September 2013, he advocated attaching a measure defunding the Act to must-pass legislation funding the federal government. 
  • After the government subsequently shut down, Stutzman remarked that the issue at stake was no longer merely the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and Republicans would need some concession in order to reopen the government. 
  • In 2010 Stutzman signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes.


Randy Weber

Randy Weber official portrait.jpg

  • In January 2014, during President Obama's State of the Union address, Weber in a tweet referred to the President as "Kommandant-In-Chef" [sic] and "the Socialist dictator." 
  • After the White House apologized for failing to send a more high profile leader to a demonstration in Paris following the January 2015 terrorist attacks in that city, Weber tweeted, "Even Adolph [sic] Hitler thought it more important than Obama to get to Paris." 


Ted Yoho
Ted Yoho, official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg

  • Yoho is a member of the Tea Party Caucus and the House Liberty Caucus.
  •  He supports reduction in taxes: replacing the current tax code with the Fair Tax, reducing corporate tax rates, and eliminating federal programs that cannot be balanced with revenues. According to the CBO, there would still be a deficit even if all discretionary spending (all Federal programs except pensions, Medicare and Social Security) were stopped. 
  • Yoho also is opposed to raising the debt ceiling unless significant spending cuts are made.
  • Yoho has described his views on voting as "radical", advocating that only property owners should be allowed to vote. 
  • He stated that early absentee ballot voting is a "travesty"

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Strange Case of Rachel Dolezal

It seems like all the  media is interested in these days is the fact that Rachel Dolezal said she is black and her parents disagreed. I first thought, who cares! If she wants to be black let her be black. After all, what is "being black"? Is there a genetic test that would settle the question and if so, so what!

It got me to thinking of  what really is meant by "race" in this country, especially after spending some time working and being a tourist in Brazil and marrying  into a Brazilian family. I grew up in Philadelphia where I was the only Jew and a friend named Vernon was the only black person in my elementary school. Vernon had had polio and had problems walking normally so I actually thought black people had trouble walking. Yes, I was a  real dickhead. I hate to say it but my grandparents were somewhat racist, as many old Russian  Jews were at that time. I suddenly realized that this was wrong and I spent more than a few hours arguing futilely with my grandparents and even with my Mother and Uncle. I finally decided to really spook my Mother by saying that I would never marry a Jew but would marry a black woman when I grew up. And then came the 60's with flower power and free love and the fight for civil rights. I did my share of marching for civil rights and against the Vietnam war, but most of my energy was spent in studying and deciding what I wanted to do research on for my life's work.

I spent a lot of time in Brazil at that time and  quickly learned that  Brazil had tremendous intermixture, due mainly to the fact that the Portuguese who colonized Brazil were the world's greatest fornicators. In fact more  than 50% of the population was considered "pardo" or "mixed  race" by the Census. And there are a multitude of Portuguese words for different "racial" mixtures - e.g. mulatto, mestizo, caboclo, etc. And the absence of Jim Crow segregation in Brazil also indicated the concept of race differed greatly  from that in the US. I thought that this was fantastic and showed that Brazil had no race problem as in the US. But I soon learned that most rich people in Brazil were white and most poor people were black. And that 4.8 million Africans were imported as slaves and that Brazil did not stop slavery until 1888. But race itself in Brazil in fact seems to be a Rachel-like decision. For example there were politicians who had very black skin color but who considered  themselves white. In the US of course this type of cultural decision is difficult due to our fossilized racism.

Being a scientist, I decided to do some literature research and learn what was really known about race. I quickly learned that the very concept of race is not understood and not defined. Pigliucci has proposed that human races are actually geographical "ecotypes" not genotypes. And most scientists believe that this meaning of race is very different from the usual meaning of folk races. In fact studies of genetic variation provided no evidence for the existence of  genetic subspecies in modern humans that could correspond to separate white, African American, East Asian and Hispanic populations.

 So there we are, as confused as when we started. I personally conclude that believing you are black means that you are for all  intents and purposes black.I think we should admire and even honor Rachel for her courage and convictions. So more power to Rachel and may she long be black.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Way Things Were

Even though my favorite sandwich was and is the classic Philadelphia cheese steak, I used to really like the  Arby's steak sandwich. And the barbeque sauce Arby's had was fantastic. Every time I entered Arby's and saw the large chunk of meat roasting, I would start salivating. Agda and I got married in Santa Monica City Hall many years ago and afterwards she, I and Sergio, Agda's brother, who was our Best Man, took my jeep for service at the Toyota place in Santa Monica and went across the street to Arby's for our honeymoon lunch. Those were the days!

And  growing up in Upper Darby, a suburb of Philadelphia, I loved going to the pre-MacDonald White Castle at 69th St. for their tiny little burgers. You could eat 5-10 of them and not get filled up.
But then the unthinkable happened - Arby's stopped using real meat and (I think) began using "pink slime" molded to look like real meat. And White Castles essentially disappeared and their tiny little burgers became known as "sliders", which are these days available at every bar for Happy Hour. What an ugly word for a divine little hamburger.

But all was not lost - the Arby's barbeque sauce has remained! And so did the only thing I like at MacDonald's - the HiC orange drink. And the White Castle restaurant was immortalized in the 2004 mind-bending movie, "Howard and Kumar go to White Castle".

Yes, those were the days!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Best Invitation Yet

Look at this fantastic invitation I received  to be an Editorial Board member of that prestigious scientific journal entitled Journal of Bioterrorism and Biosafety. I don't know how  many of these pseudo invitations to pseudo journals I and I am sure many other academics have received. However, this one wins the prize. It seems to be the form letter to be sent to everyone but someone forgot to fill out the "tokens". I am not sure even if the journals actually exist. They appear to be mainly from China and India. 

I also get an enormous number of  invitations to be a major speaker at scientific meetings in China. They usually mention an old publication of mine and frequently the field of the meeting has no relation to the paper or to my real field of research. The list of people who are speaking is impressive and frequently has some Nobel prize winners.The email writer's name is usually something like "Judy" and she has the chutzpah to complain that I have not responded to her previous emails of invitation. 

I read recently that someone actually submitted a paper for publication in one of these predatory journals (International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology) in which every sentence was "Get me off Your Fucking Mailing List". An anonymous reviewer actually rated it as "Excellent" and they requested a $150 fee for publication. I copy a portion of this paper together with  a "Figure" below:

Enough said.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

There is no Middle Ground

In an article today on climate change (http://tinyurl.com/pfmw6ke) by Christina Nunez, a figure is reprinted which shows our problem with horrifying detail:

Graphs of unburnable coal, gas, and oil

These are the reserves of fossil fuel that must be left in the ground by 2050 if we want to stay at the warming of 2 degrees C.already pre-determined by inaction.  And then, to get a feeling for the idiocy out there, look at the Comments on  this article. My God. As the writer stated: "Your friends are not climate scientists, they are weathermen".

 So is this at all possible and if so how can it be done? My answer to the first question is simply "no" and that makes  meaningless the second question. But my friends tell me that I am too pessimistic, so lets explore this a little. First of all, the response must involve every country on earth and I do not believe that this can  be accomplished for anything, not to speak of an action that will cause enormous problems for most countries, especially when there are a large  number of people who deny that the problem actually exists.

An anecdotal personal story illustrates the problem in a small way: I decided to disinvest my retirement accounts from fossil fuel stocks, which would crash all at once when they could not be removed from the earth and lost all value. When I asked my financial advisor, he looked incredulous and then laughed, saying it was not possible since my retirement accounts were mainly in mutual funds which contained multiple types of stocks and bonds and on which the solitary investor has no influence at all. And  he said "We are out to make money, not to save the world". There are a very few "green" mutuals but they are only tokens.

Some obvious  possible answers would be to immediately mandate solar power on every roof of every house world-wide, to begin government sponsored  mega-projects to recover wind energy, tidal energy and thermal energy and to construct "smart" electric grids to handle this type of distributed energy. Combined with these projects would be government mandates to immediately stop exploring for new fossil fuels and to stop using existing ones and completely move over to renewables.  And finally comes the ultimate undoable project - to immediately stop population increase in every country on earth by controlling the number of offspring. Otherwise no matter what is done, the exponentially  increasing number of people will just eat it up.

And there is no middle  ground. That would be the same as not doing anything, it will just postpone the horror by a little. Bioengineering is currently not feasible. Of course the warming might be slowed down by increasing light-blocking aerosols in the atmosphere or by doing what I suggested in my Blog - of bringing a asteroid into the Lagrange Point between the earth and the sun, large enough to block only around 5% of the sunlight which is enough to prevent warming. But neither would prevent the ongoing CO2-caused acidification of  the world's oceans which would kill the food chain and thereby cause enormous starvation and mass migrations.

As it is, we are heading towards  a runaway warming leading to a Venus-like planet which can not sustain any life at all.
          No there is just no middle ground.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Requiem to a Country (and perhaps the World)

Forget the zombie apocolypse and the rapture to heaven, the Republican crazies have taken control of the US Senate and the House. This could be the worst thing that has ever  happened to this country in its not so long history. The American Taliban will do real damage. Ironically it was coincident with the IPCC Report that  use of fossil fuel must drop to "0" by 2100 or there will be devastating irreversible changes. And  now the great denier from Oklahoma, Senator Jim Inhofe himself,  will be Chairman of the Environment Committee. It would be an insult to a doorknob to compare Inhofe to a doorknob and he is on a crusade against climate change. Unfortunately the sun will rise and the the climate will change no matter what Jim Inhofe thinks or does. Combine that with the five Republican Supreme Court Justices who decimated the Voting Rights Act and let Millionaires decide elections. And since Supreme Court Justices are essentially immortal, the damage they do will last a long time.

Just to give a flavor of the newly elected crazies, there is the pig castration woman, Joni Ernst, who wants to do away with the EPA and worse.

Here is one of her conspiracy theories:

All of us agreed that Agenda 21 is a horrible idea. One of those implications to Americans, again, going back to what did it does do to the individual family here in the state of Iowa, and what I've seen, the implications that it has here is moving people off of their agricultural land and consolidating them into city centers, and then telling them that you don't have property rights anymore. These are all things that the UN is behind, and it's bad for the United States and bad for families here in the state of Iowa.

Another:State nullification of federal laws:

You know we have talked about this at the state legislature before, nullification. But, bottom line is, as U.S. senator, why should we be passing laws that the states are considering nullifying? Bottom line: our legislators at the federal level should not be passing those laws. We’re right ... we’ve gone 200-plus years of federal legislators going against the 10th Amendment’s states’ rights. We are way overstepping bounds as federal legislators. So, bottom line, no we should not be passing laws as federal legislators -- as senators or congressman -- that the states would even consider nullifying. Bottom line.

Another: Climate change is not man-made:

Yes, we do see climates change, but I have not seen proven proof that it is entirely man-made. I think we do have cyclic changes in weather, and I think that's been throughout the course of history. What impact is man-made. ... but I do think we can educate people to make good choices.

She loves her beautiful little Smith and Wesson:

I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere. But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family -- whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.

And Joni Ernst is just one crazy among the many that were elected.

And now I just heard the new Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell,
(don't look at this before you go to sleep at night!)
say that he will stop the gridlock in the Senate, which is amazing considering that he himself blocked every piece of legislation President Obama tried to introduce and was proud of this.

I had told friends that if the crazies took over, we would move to another country. Canada was the obvious choice, until I discovered that their Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is anti-science, pro-fossil fuels, anti-environment and is just as crazy as any Republican in this country. Australia looked attractive until I discovered that their Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is as bad as Stephen Harper and that Australia is the major exporter of climate-destroying coal in the world. What is left? New Zealand does have a certain far away charm and gentility, but I refuse to live in any country where they drive on the left. 

Ah well, I will probably just stay here and fight off the zombies.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Existential Angst

I have always been fascinated by Cosmology, the origin and nature of the Universe. To me these are the most significant questions in science (please to pardon me, my fellow Parasitologists!). Every time I looked at the night sky and saw the multitudes of stars and even our Milky Way galaxy, if I was lucky and could get out of Los Angeles for a while,  I was awe struck. And then when I realized that what I was looking at was a panorama of ancient history of the Universe where the light from each star began its journey from a few years to millions of years ago, my level of awe got even higher. This fascination led directly to Amateur Astronomy. However, being a professional scientist in another field I realize that it is really presumptuous of   me to try to do Astronomy at this time in my life in the absence of any formal training, but I have never led not being presumptuous run my life. And it is only money, so I bought a 10 inch Meade telescope with all the goodies - CCD camera, rotator, adaptive optics, etc. And I dug a hole in my back yard and embedded a concrete pier to hold the scope and then built a shed with a sliding roof to hold the scope et al. And finally after several years of learning my way around the sky and learning to use the software for imaging and processing the images, I finally was able to create a plan and tell the scope to automatically find the star, galaxy or nebula and  image it, and then to close the roof and park the scope.

Then came the Cobe and WMap satellite experiments and arose my existential angst. I learned that most of the Universe is a mysterious anti-gravity stuff called dark energy and that a large chunk is also a still mysterious dark matter, and finally only around 5% is what I like to look at and image. I almost went into a deep depression realizing that what I do is a total waste of time and energy. And then I read some current cosmology books (written for parasitologists of course) and learned that there may be a multitude of other Universes out there in addition to our Universe. Wow!!! and double wow!!!  I actually stopped imaging for a while until I could think of a rationale to do it at all. The angst was truly existential.

Finally I retired this year from UCLA and stopped doing  research and teaching, and I decided that even though it was meaningless and climate change was certainly more important and meaningful, I enjoyed it , so I would once again take up imaging the heavens for a few years. So here I am back in my back yard with my new dome and the old telescope imaging my old friends. Life is like that sometimes.