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Jaw-Dropping NASA Video: The Best of the Solar Dynamics Observatory

The nearest star
Science • Views: 22,840

Sam Tannenhaus on NPR: Why Does the GOP Continue to Be ‘The Party of White People?’

“Who needs Manhattan when we have the Southern states?”
Politics • Views: 22,986

MP3 Audio

Here’s Tannenhaus’s full article at the New Republic: Original Sin - Why the GOP is and will continue to be the party of white people.

“Who needs Manhattan when we can get the electoral votes of eleven Southern states?” Kevin Phillips, the prophet of “the emerging Republican majority,” asked in 1968, when he was piecing together Richard Nixon’s electoral map. The eleven states, he meant, of the Old Confederacy. “Put those together with the Farm Belt and the Rocky Mountains, and we don’t need the big cities. We don’t even want them. Sure, Hubert [Humphrey] will carry Riverside Drive in November. La-de-dah. What will he do in Oklahoma?”

Forty-five years later, the GOP safely has Oklahoma, and Dixie, too. But Phillips’s Sunbelt strategy was built for a different time, and a different America. Many have noted Mitt Romney’s failure to collect a single vote in 91 precincts in New York City and 59 precincts in Philadelphia. More telling is his defeat in eleven more of the nation’s 15 largest cities. Not just Chicago and Columbus, but also Indianapolis, San Diego, Houston, even Dallas—this last a reason the GOP fears that, within a generation Texas will become a swing state. Remove Texas from the vast, lightly populated Republican expanse west of the Mississippi, and the remaining 13 states yield fewer electoral votes than the West Coast triad of California, Oregon, and Washington. If those trends continue, the GOP could find itself unable to count on a single state that has as many as 20 electoral votes.

Ted Nugent at the SOTU? That’s Bad, but the Problem Goes a Lot Deeper

Inmates running the asylum
Politics • Views: 24,301

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) wants to impeach President Obama over his proposals for gun control, and since he’s allowed to invite guests to the President’s State of the Union address, Stockman’s guest for the evening will be Ted Nugent. Of course. This is the Republican Party in 2013.

Congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX) has announced that he would be bringing musician and conservative loudmouth Ted Nugent to President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.

“I am excited to have a patriot like Ted Nugent joining me in the House Chamber to hear from President Obama,” Stockman said on his congressional website on Monday.

Now, that’s a responsible, upstanding member of Congress for ya! Ted Nugent, you may recall, was investigated by the Secret Service after swearing publicly that he’d “either be dead or in jail” if Obama was reelected. Who better to invite to a State of the Union speech?

Nugent’s bad enough, but I have to agree with Greg Sargent here: The Problem Runs a Lot Deeper Than Ted Nugent.

But really, this episode is significant for reasons that go well beyond Nugent. The key actor here who matters is Steve Stockman. The problem lies in all the over-the-top stuff GOP lawmakers say regularly that isn’t quite crazy enough to earn widespread condemnation, as Nugent’s quotes have, but are still whacked out enough to encourage an atmosphere that helps keep millions of GOP base voters sealed off from reality. The problem is the perpetual winking and nodding to The Crazy that is deemed marginally acceptable - the hints about creeping socialism, the claim that modest Obama executive actions amount to tyranny, the suggestions that Obama’s values are vaguely un-American and that Obama is transforming the country and the economy into something no longer recognizably American, and so on — more so than the glaringly awful stuff that gets the media refs to throw their flags.

As Jonathan Bernstein put it the other day, Republican lawmakers who flirt with this type of talk regularly are helping create an environment in which moderate Republicans are forever on the defensive and in fear of the base.

Study Confirms Tea Party Was Created by Big Tobacco and Billionaires

The far right’s Trojan Horse
Politics • Views: 24,487
A screenshot of the archived U.S. Tea Party site, as it appeared online on Sept. 13, 2002

A new academic study confirms that front groups with longstanding ties to the tobacco industry and the billionaire Koch brothers planned the formation of the Tea Party movement more than a decade before it exploded onto the U.S. political scene.

Far from a genuine grassroots uprising, this astroturf effort was curated by wealthy industrialists years in advance. Many of the anti-science operatives who defended cigarettes are currently deploying their tobacco-inspired playbook internationally to evade accountability for the fossil fuel industry’s role in driving climate disruption.

The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health, traces the roots of the Tea Party’s anti-tax movement back to the early 1980s when tobacco companies began to invest in third party groups to fight excise taxes on cigarettes, as well as health studies finding a link between cancer and secondhand cigarette smoke.

Published in the peer-reviewed academic journal, Tobacco Control, the study titled, ‘To quarterback behind the scenes, third party efforts’: the tobacco industry and the Tea Party, is not just an historical account of activities in a bygone era. As senior author, Stanton Glantz, a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) professor of medicine, writes:

“Nonprofit organizations associated with the Tea Party have longstanding ties to tobacco companies, and continue to advocate on behalf of the tobacco industry’s anti-tax, anti-regulation agenda.”

The two main organizations identified in the UCSF Quarterback study are Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks. Both groups are now “supporting the tobacco companies’ political agenda by mobilizing local Tea Party opposition to tobacco taxes and smoke-free laws.” Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity were once a single organization called Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE). CSE was founded in 1984 by the infamous Koch Brothers, David and Charles Koch, and received over $5.3 million from tobacco companies, mainly Philip Morris, between 1991 and 2004.

More: Study Confirms Tea Party Was Created by Big Tobacco and Billionaires

Not the Onion: Glenn Beck Will Redefine the 4th of July by Talking to the Man in the Moon

Not the Onion
Weird • Views: 22,860

I really think Glenn Beck may finally be losing his mind — for real this time, not just ranting crazily to bilk the rubes. His latest grandiose plan has a distinct odor of outright lunacy, with emphasis on the luna: Glenn Beck Will Save the 4th of July by Talking to the ‘Man in the Moon’ in Utah.

Breitbrat Joel Pollak: The “Lickspittle” Huffington Post Is Helping Obama Impose Fascism

Breitbrats gotta rant
Wingnuts • Views: 18,535

The rhetoric just keeps getting crazier and crazier at the hate site that Andrew Breitbart built, as head attack weasel Joel Pollak posts a demented rant about fascism and the “lickspittle” Huffington Post. Yes, it’s another absurd post about the Benghazi boogaloo, and Pollak is absolutely certain there’s a “cover-up” going on: LEFT-WING LICKSPITTLES: HOW THE HUFFINGTON POST IS AIDING OBAMA’S BENGHAZI COVER-UP!

The headline and image (see above) were clearly meant to be laudatory. The Huffington Post was praising Obama for exerting “command,” and gave the impression that both its editors and readers are eager to be so commanded. The idea of a president who not only ignores the opposition, but the very legislative process, matches Obama’s vision in last year’s State of the Union address of grafting a military model onto our political life.

That spirit, which has possessed much of the country’s press corps, fits fascism rather than democracy. The irony is that Obama was not the “commander” on that terrible night. We already know that neither he nor his Cabinet showed more than a passing interest in the fate of the Benghazi consulate and its personnel. To mock those seeking answers, and to praise Obama’s leadership, is to aid and abet a disgraceful cover-up.

What exactly is being “covered up?” It’s anybody’s guess! As usual, Pollak never gets around to explaining that; it’s enough to make dark insinuations and rant about fascism. That’s all the Breitbart audience needs to get their motors going.

Pollak’s opening sentence for this stupid post is a real hoot, though:

Normally, we at Breitbart News ignore the Huffington Post.

Yeah, right, they “ignore” the Huffington Post — by obsessively attacking them on an almost daily basis. breitbart.com’s own search function brings up 1,260 results for “Huffington.” (There may be more by the time you read this.)

And not to burst any bubbles, but one of the people who helped start the Huffington Post was none other than … yes, Andrew Breitbart.

Pope Benedict XVI Says He Will Resign, ANSA Reports

Religion • Views: 19,228

1121: Pope Benedict announced his decision in Latin, during a meeting of Vatican cardinals.

1120: Mr Thompson also tells the BBC it will be difficult to find someone of Benedict XVI’s calibre to replace him.

1119: Religious commentator Damian Thompson says the news is sad and Benedict XVI has been a great Pope.

It’s worth noting that the exact reasons for Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation are not yet clear.

Frederic in Belgium emails: My God I’m in shock. What a strange decision as normally a Pope dies in function. He should have a good reason, and may God help him in his way.

Read our main news story on the pope’s resignation here.

1116: A Vatican official says he expects the period when the papacy is vacant to be “as brief as possible, Reuters reports.

1115: The Vatican says Pope Benedict’s resignation means the papacy will be vacant until a successor is chosen, Reuters news agency reports.

More: LIVE: Pope Benedict XVI Says He Will Resign, ANSA Reports

More at CNN

The full declaration:

As transcribed by Vatican Radio
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

Read more: [Link: www.kshb.com…]

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 Frank says:

I'm not going to be Bill Clinton and say I never inhaled. I did inhale. I liked tobacco a lot better.