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A Very Tea Party Exit By Kerry Bentivolio

hammer and cycleNo one was odder than Thaddeus McCotter… until Kerry Bentivolio came along. Michigan’s 11th congressional district has a habit of electing Republican politicians with a tangential relationship to reality, and Bentivolio slipped out of Congress almost as soon as he slipped in, replaced by Dave Trott, a lawyer who made his fortune by helping banks kick families out of their homes.

We’ll have a great deal of peculiarity from Dave Trott to reflect upon in the year to come, but this week, Kerry Bentivolio gave us a parting gift in an exit speech he gave to his Capitol Hill colleagues. Describing what he called a “war for the soul of America,” Bentivolio gave us an beautifully accurate definition of the psychology of the Tea Party:

“There is a genuine feeling today, especially among people who attend the various Tea Party and Liberty Groups that we, our country more
specifically, may not make it. Many people consider these folks, the common everyday people who attend the Tea Party meetings `fringe, ring
wing nut cases and extremists’. Many of the people who attend the Tea Party meetings, sometimes weekly, most commonly monthly, and more
attend intermittently, sense something is drastically wrong. For the most part, they sense it and yet cannot firmly point their finger and
claim what exactly is the cause of their discontent, the uneasiness; the fear danger is lurking just around the corner. It is not
necessarily a feeling of doom from a nuclear, biological or chemical attack on our country from some foreign enemy or terrorism either. It
is more serious than any violence a bad actor can bring. It is something more innate, a sense that they somehow lost something but
can’t remember what it was, like when you know you lost something important, an item you need to accomplish a task but can’t remember
what it is and where you placed it. You know it’s around somewhere and if you looked hard enough you’ll see it and you can continue with your

Bentivolio continued for some time, and then closed his speech with a declaration that, “I for one will not submit to the
chains of tyranny. I fly the Stars and Stripes in my yard not the red hammer and cycle!”

The red hammer and cycle? That sounds like it might be kind of fun to fly.

Christmas Emoticons for the Whole Family

¯¯\____(ツ)____/¯¯   What to get the Tetrarch who has everything.

  \  /      ***o***       \ /
(X╭╮X)   *****o***    (-╭╮-)     Uncle Bill and Uncle Ted still won't talk to each other.
              ! !

 |  |
  ()          Snowman tried liposuction against advice.
(    )

>}:-)____?       Here comes Krampus, Here comes Krampus, ja ja ja ja ja!

8->                Despairing on the inside.            

* < ( : - { ) }      Santa got run over by a reindeer.

Can Feeling Younger Really Cause Older People To Live Longer?

The results of a study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week, have received a good deal of attention online. The research found that elderly people who reported feeling younger than their actual chronological age had a greater rate of survival in the period before a 99-month follow-up than their peers who reported feeling as old or older than they actually were.

The implication, according to the popular press reports, is that our perceptions of our age determine the actual course of our health. So, it has been suggested, if older people could just be convinced that they aren’t really as old as their chronological age suggests, they would live longer lives. The authors of the study have encouraged this interpretation, eagerly suggesting that, “interventions may be possible. Individuals who feel older than their actual age could be targeted with health messages promoting positive health behaviors and attitudes toward aging.”

It’s a great storyline that provides us with inspiration to maintain a positive attitude as we age. In fact, the zeal with which this interpretation has been made should be a signal that some greater caution is called for. Perhaps we have a bias for the idea that feeling younger causes us to become physically healthier.

Another interpretation is possible – and more plausible.

The JAMA study found an association between the variables of perceived age and survival rate. What the study didn’t find, and couldn’t given its research design, is the direction of causation between those variables.

It could well be that a third factor – underlying health conditions, for example – affected both perception of age and survival rate. That is, people who felt older than their age may have done so because of a health problem, even if it had not yet been detected, that also made them more likely to die. If this is the case, encouraging old people to believe that they have retained their youth may be a waste of time, because the positive self-perception won’t change the underlying causes of mortality.

Tim Kaine Reminds America: US War in Iraq and Syria is Unauthorized and Unconstitutional

Yesterday, Tim Kaine rose to speak on the floor of the United States Senate to remind his colleagues of a growing illegality in U.S. foreign policy: The ongoing U.S. involvement in civil war in Iraq and Syria – without the constitutionally required declaration of war. He said,

“Presidents cannot constitutionally start military action without Congress unless there is a direct and imminent threat to the United States.
In this instance, with ISIL’s activities occurring halfway across the globe and with the administration admitting that the organization poses no imminent threat of attacking the United States, a new congressional authorization is necessary.

Now, I regret that the administration started military action — what President Obama called going on offense against ISIL — in August without congressional approval. The White House asserts that the current action is justified by the 2001 and 2002 authorizations, but most outside observers and most Members of Congress believe the current campaign against ISIL needs its own legal authorization. The White House has not proposed authorizing language, and so it is up to Congress to do the job of providing a legal framework for this war.”

It’s been four months since President Obama took the USA into war in the Middle East. In all that time, Congress has been unable to summon sufficient support to pass a legal declaration authorizing President Barack Obama to join the civil wars in Iraq and Syria. Given the lack of legal authority for this new war, to which there is no clear end in sight and for which the Obama Administration has expressed no coherent plan for victory, the most responsible course of action would be for the Obama Administration to bring the American soldiers and machines of war currently in Iraq and Syria back home.

Instead, the Obama Administration and Congress both seem to rely on the hope that the American public will simply forget that the war is taking place at all.

Ben Carson Super PAC Lurches Clumsily Out Of Gate In Iowa

Sometimes, we can learn a good deal about political candidates by observing their supporters.

When the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, run by John Philip Sousa the Fourth, announced the opening of an office in Iowa this week, Ben Carson supporters celebrated the move as a sign of the strength of their favored candidate. Does the group have the political savvy required to make Ben Carson a viable Republican Party presidential candidate, though?

Maybe not, if the comments of supporters are any indication. “Remember [sic],” says one, “who ever wins Iowa will win the nomination!!!! Run ben Run!!”

Whoever wins the Iowa caucuses will win the GOP nomination?

Ah, yes. Who can forget the way that Rick Santorum came so close to defeating Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, or the way that Mike Huckabee represented the GOP on Election Day in 2008? Bob Dole’s victory in the 1988 Republican nomination contest will stay with us forever. We also remember George H.W. Bush’s defeat of Jimmy Carter in 1980 as well, with Ronald Reagan as his running mate.

Of the last nine presidential elections seasons, the victor of the Republican Iowa caucuses went on to become the GOP nominee only four times.

Given the political ignorance of its supporters, the Ben Carson for President campaign might want to spend a good deal of its resources making sure that they simply know when and where their local caucuses are being held.

A cold splash of reality may hit Ben Carson’s supporters this morning, when they learn that their candidate is in 7th place among Republican candidates in the latest national poll, earning the interest of only 6 percent of Republican voters.

Americans Elect Corporate Leaders Ditched Populism Entirely to Support 2014 Private Equity Senate Candidate

Last October, I noted the strong connection between Americans Elect corporate leadership and the 2014 Senate candidacy of private equity candidate Greg Orman through an entity called the Committee to Elect an Independent Senate, founded by Americans Elect CEO and private equity financier Peter Ackerman. Since then, this new politial enterprise of Peter Ackerman’s has filed additional reports that allow us to more fully characterize the connections between it and the old, failed Americans Elect political venture.

Let’s spell the connections out:

Player Americans Elect Role Background Contribution From Expenditure to
Peter Ackerman CEO, Chairman Private Capital $233,334.00 $33,334.00
Michael Bloomberg Funder Private Capital Information $1,000,000.00
John J. Burbank III Funder Private Capital $50,000.00
Kahlil Byrd CEO Political Consultant $1,500.00
Joshua Levine Vice President Corporate Executive $500.00
Douglas Schoen Pollster Political Consultant $143,818.00

Notice how all of them are involved in the corporate world, either as executives or private equity funders or the consultants paid by these two groups. Not one of the contributors to the Committee to Elect an Independent Senate was anything but a political consultant, a corporate executive, or someone sitting on a large load of private equity wealth. This Committee of 2014 completed Americans Elect’s transition from a group that said it only wanted to empower the voice of the citizenry a group that funneled wealth into campaigns without any input from or communication to the little people.

Are they done with their efforts? Not if we take Kahlil Byrd’s latest political project, FFPCO LLC, as an indicator:

FPPCO LLC Incorporated, a project of Americans Elect CEO Kahlil Byrd.  To what end?  Coming Soon.

“Coming Soon.” Watch for it.

Free Color-In 2016 Electoral College Map

Yesterday, we had one of our Irregular Times readers pose an Electoral College challenge – could Jeb Bush actually put together enough state victories to win the general presidential election? To be able to address this challenge, it was necessary to refer to a list of the delegates that each state is able to send to the Electoral College.

Listing out the delegates by state is nice and orderly on a spreadsheet, but it’s more aesthetically pleasing when the exercise can be completed on a map – one colored in with red for Republican, blue for Democrat, and if you dare to dream, green for the Green Party.

Click on the image of the map below, and you’ll be taken to a PNG graphic file of a printable color-in map of the United States, showing the Electoral College delegates that are to be awarded by each state. Use this to follow the results as they come in on Election Night, to see who the next President of the United States will be.


About That Global Cooling, Sir…

ice surface area anomalies 2014Recent headlines suggest that the global cooling meme is still hot:

The Coeur D’Alene Press – Global cooling to intensify in the next 15-20 years.

Breitbart News – Global Cooling: Fall Snowstorm Stalls Northeast

The Inquisitr – Vladimir Putin Has Russia Invading Ukraine Over Global Cooling

NewsMax – NASA Scientists Puzzled by Global Cooling on Land and Sea

Yahoo News – Global Cooling – The REAL Inconvenient Truth

The idea of global cooling is certainly intriguing, as a cultural phenomenon. As a scientific hypothesis, however, global cooling is as dead as a doornail.

Climate data simply refute the idea that the Earth’s climate is cooling. To the contrary, year after year, global temperature measurements continue to indicate global warming. The latest release of data from the National Climatic Data Center shows that, with measurements from November now analyzed, “2014 is currently on track to be the warmest year on record”.

Ocean temperatures lead the way. This autumn, the average ocean surface temperature was 1.13 degrees F above the 20th century average. The combined global land and ocean surface average temperatures were warmer than any other autumn on record.

The Global Temperature Highlights section reports that, “The first 11 months of 2014 was the warmest such period on record, with a combined global land and ocean average surface temperature of 1.22°F (0.68°C) above the 20th century average of 57.0°F (13.9°C), surpassing the previous record set in 2010 by 0.02°F (0.01°C).” The margin of error for these readings is ±0.18°F.

When was the last time you even read an assertion of global cooling that included a margin of error?

Cold Earthers like to cite the increase in Antarctic ice as evidence of global cooling, forgetting that Antarctica is just one region of the earth, and doesn’t indicate the direction of global climate on its own. As the chart to the right indicates, the deviance of Antarctic ice from the norm is not as consistent, or as a strong, as deviance of Arctic ice from the norm. While Arctic sea ice was 5.7 percent below normal, Antarctic sea ice was just 2.0 percent above normal.

This more global perspective indicates that, on the whole, the Earth is seeing a decrease of ice surface area, not an increase.

Methane Fluctuations On Mars – How Big Are The Implications?

The NASA Curiosity Rover team calls the findings “incredibly exciting”. Yesterday, they reported finding organic compounds in Martian soil, as well dramatic fluctuations in atmospheric methane – “the first in-situ detection of methane on Mars”. Given that methane breaks down quickly in the Martian atmosphere, these fluctuations suggest that a dynamic methanogenic system of some sort is at work.

According to NASA scientists, there are two possible sources of the methane surges on Mars: 1) Chemical reactions between the mineral serpentine and liquid water; 2) Life.

mars methane research

When I shared this news with my 13 year-old son, his eyes grew large with the implications. When I shared the news with my wife, her reaction was to shrug.

What’s your reaction – and why do you have this reaction?

In the past, I have questioned the value of human space travel to Mars. Now, I question how yesterday’s news of fluctuating methane on Mars should impact plans for human exploration of the planet. Should the news of methane, possibly from Martian life, encourage us to invest more in human missions to Mars, or delay those plans?

On the one hand, humans on Mars could conduct a quicker, more adaptable search than robot rovers could. On the other hand, the introduction of life from Earth to Mars could forever contaminate the planet, making study of Martian biology much more difficult.

I’d like to hear other people’s thoughts on this subject. For those who want to find out more, the video below is of yesterday’s press conference on the research, nearly an hour long.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

In a World of Hard Choices, an Easy Choice: Be a Bone Marrow Match

The world is full of difficult choices. Some political debates seem irreconcilable : just walk into a room and ask loudly what anyone thinks of gun control and you’ll get an earful from people who voiciferously disagree. Some personal choices can leave you feeling uncertain and can prod your friends into judgmental clucking no matter what you do: omnivore or vegetarian or vegan? Divorce or sticking out a bothersome relationship? Bottle or breast? Dog or cat? Six children or one or none?

Sometimes it feels like there aren’t any easy choices out there, but that isn’t true. We make easy choices every day, so routinely that we scarcely notice. We let people through in traffic. We make room on the elevator. We hold a crying child until it feels better. We pick up bits of litter as we walk by. These are little things we might take for granted. Nevertheless, when we add all these little acts together they make the world a much better place.

I’d like to bring another easy choice to your attention today: it’s easy to sign up for the National Bone Marrow Registry and possibly be a bone marrow match for a sick person in need.

This easy but consequential act has some personal urgency to me: you may have noticed that I haven’t been writing as much at Irregular Times as I used to. It isn’t that I’ve lost interest in politics or religion or the mystery of urban legend. I’d love to write more for Irregular Times than I have been lately. But this summer, my wife was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a nasty cancer of the blood and bone. They found bone tumors up and down her spine. Rib tumors quickly made it hard for her to breathe. I had to tell my kids that their mom has a disease that kills most people in less than five years. Since then, I’ve been busy trying to find some way to do something to change her odds.

Although there are a lot of very smart people working on the problem of multiple myeloma, there’s only one treatment right now that has the potential to cure this cancer of the blood and bone. That treatment is a transplant of bone marrow stem cells from someone else to my wife. The National Bone Marrow Registry finds a match or two for most people, but as usual my wife isn’t most people. There’s no match for her. No match means no cure. No cure means we’re riding the train that ends in her death.

This is much too early in her life for that. I know there are people who die in infancy; I know there are kids who die far too early. I know other people have a harder row to hoe. But my wife and I have a daughter who just graduated from elementary school, a son who just started high school. She’s young and has so much she wants to do. And yes, I’m selfish and want to keep her around.

To get off the death train, we need that possibility for a cure. To get that possibility, we need a match. To get a match, we need more people to join the National Bone Marrow Registry.

It turns out I joined the registry on behalf of someone else two years ago, and I can tell you that the joining is easy, painless and costless. Just go to BeTheMatch.Org and you’ll get a kit in the mail. All you have to do is swab your cheeks (essentially, rub a Q-tip or two inside your mouth) and send your sample back in. That’s it. What could be simpler?

Then, if you end up being a match for someone in need, the registry will get in touch and take care of all the arrangements for you to donate bone marrow stem cells… which does not involve a gigantic needle stuck into your hip. They get the cells nowadays directly from your blood — it’s basically like making a big blood donation. I haven’t had the chance to donate bone marrow stem cells to anyone yet, but I hope I’m the match for someone some day (it turns out about 1 in 500 people who join the registry end up actually donating bone marrow stem cells).

All of this — from testing to any needed travel to actually donating — happens at no charge to you if you’re in the target age range for healthy and mature bone marrow: 18 to 44 years old. Typically all expenses are paid — and you could save someone’s life.

You could save my wife’s life. You could save my kids’ mom. You could save a person who deserves more than what she’s got. You could make an easy choice that makes the world a better place.

And here’s the best part: if you’re not a match for my wife, you’re not just wasting your effort, because there are a lot of people who are sick and need a match. Maybe next month, maybe next year, you could be the match for someone else. And then you get to walk around the rest of your life knowing that, gosh darnit, you’re a lifesaver.

If you’re a healthy person aged 18-44, would you make this easy choice? Would you sign up to be tested for a match at the BeTheMatch website?

Regardless of whether you can donate, would you let others know about this easy way to be a hero? Would you spread the word?

Thank you.

Sony Hacks Ethics Scandal Embroils Deputy General Counsel

Sony Deputy General Counsel John Fukunaga has so far declined to comment about an ethics scandal revealed in emails linked by a shadowy group calling itself Guardians of Peace. The emails suggest that Fukunaga may have knowingly violated Sony corporate policy by checking his Facebook account while officially on the clock.

Furthermore, Fukunaga appears to have been involved in an organized scheme that may involve the theft of Sony corporate property. In searching through the Sony Hacks leaks, a pattern of emails emerges in which certain of Fukunaga’s colleagues ask to “borrow” items from his office. There is never any record of these “borrowed” items being returned, however, and Fukunaga has been unable to account for their whereabouts. The items in question include a pencil, a paperclip, and several sheets of paper.

Fukunaga’s professional reputation has also been damaged by the discovery of emails in which he appears to have responded to videos of kittens playing the piano by writing “LMFAO”.

Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times points out that this information needs to be shared with the world, even if it was stolen by hackers, because it serves the public interest, as was the case with the Pentagon Papers. “It’s always worthwhile to be reminded what happens behind the carefully cultivated scrim of Hollywood, or any industry,” he wrote.

Yes, it is always worthwhile. I will treasure, for the rest of my life, the moment when I discovered the minor details of Sony film negotiations. Thank you for upholding our way of life, Guardians of Peace!