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Lazy Saturday News and Views: Snowpocalypse!

A Washington DC neighborhood yesterday

Good morning Conflucians!!!!

It’s a repeat of last weekend–only worse–for those in the Mid-Atlantic states and stretching west all the way to Ohio and Indiana. Coastal areas are experiencing blizzard conditions and record snowfalls in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia and all the way up to New Jersey and New York. Let us know how things are going where you are. I hope everyone is safe and warm and doesn’t lose power. Stay inside until this think winds down. I speak from experience. There’s no use fighting it, just surrender and enjoy being snowbound for a little while.

From Weather.com:

A punishing winter storm will continue to blast an area from the eastern Ohio Valley to the Mid-Atlantic coast today.

The focus for the heaviest snow today will continue to be near and along the Mid-Atlantic coast. Heavy snow will stretch from eastern Pennsylvania to southern New Jersey through the Delmarva Peninsula into the early afternoon hours.

An additional six to as much as twelve inches of snow will fall today bringing snow totals in this region up to the eighteen to twenty-four inch range with locally higher amounts possible.

Washington Post: Snowstorm’s intensity has D.C. region hunkering down

The full weight of winter brought life in much of the Washington region to a standstill Saturday as a storm predicted to be one of the most powerful on record dumped 12 to 21 inches of snow overnight.

New York Times: East Coast Is Hit by ‘Potentially Epic Snowstorm’

WASHINGTON — One of the largest winter storms the Mid-Atlantic region has seen in decades swept into Washington and Baltimore on Friday, grounding flights, closing schools and government offices, and sending residents racing to stock up on groceries and rock salt before the snow accumulated to what are expected to be record-setting depths….

Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, parent agency of the weather service, called the blizzard “a potentially epic snowstorm” that could rival the 28 inches of snow that a January 1922 storm dropped on the capital.

“The National Weather Service has been very clear that this is a storm to take very seriously,” she said. The halls of the Capitol building were quiet, and the federal government sent many workers home four hours early on Friday. Dr. Lubchenco said she was making contingency plans for all government offices in and near the capital to be closed through Tuesday.

“If it is as much and as heavy as they are forecasting, it may be a number of days before people are actually moving around again,” she said. “This is a serious storm.”

Here are some gorgeous snowstorm pics donated by our own Indigogrrl:

A Mama Cardinal

Two Downey Woodpeckers

Just breathtaking! And here is a picture contributed by Riverdaughter:

RD's neighborhood in anticipation of blizzard conditions

We’d love to hear more reports from Conflucians in the hard-hit areas. I’ll be glad to post more photos too. Be careful out there!


Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz has an article in the Guardian this morning: Obama’s muddled solutions. Stiglitz argues that the message of Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts is not for Democrats to move even further right. Instead he says that voters are sending the same message they sent to Bill Clinton and that he was smart enough to act on: “It’s the economy, stupid!” and “Jobs, jobs, jobs”

The US economy is in a mess, even if growth has resumed, and bankers are once again receiving huge bonuses. More than one out of six Americans who would like a full-time job cannot get one; and 40% of the unemployed have been out of a job for more than six months.

As Europe learned long ago, hardship increases with the length of unemployment, as job skills and prospects deteriorate and savings gets wiped out. The 2.5-3.5m foreclosures expected this year will exceed those of 2009, and the year began with what is expected to be the first of many large commercial real-estate bankruptcies. Even the Congressional budget office is predicting that it will be the middle of the decade before unemployment returns to more normal levels, as America experiences its own version of “Japanese malaise”.

Just as Dakinikat predicted way back at the beginning of the financial crisis.

Stiglitz also has a new book outFreefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy. More from the Guardian piece:

…Barack Obama took a big gamble at the start of his administration. Instead of the marked change that his campaign had promised, he kept many of the same officials and maintained the same “trickle down” strategy to confront the financial crisis. Providing enough money to the banks was, his team seemed to say, the best way to help ordinary homeowners and workers.

When America reformed its welfare programs for the poor under Clinton, it put conditions on recipients: they had to look for a job or enroll in training programs. But when the banks received welfare benefits, no conditions were imposed on them. Had Obama’s attempt at muddling through worked, it would have avoided some big philosophical battles. But it didn’t work, and it has been a long time since popular antipathy to banks has been so great.

Obama wanted to bridge the divides among Americans that George W Bush had opened. But now those divides are wider. His attempts to please everyone, so evident in the last few weeks, are likely to mollify no one.

I couldn’t agree more. Meanwhile, the majority of Americans who are not Wall Street bankers, investors, and brokers, or the politicians they have bought are really struggling.

Voice of America: Slide into Homelessness Jolts Middle Class US Families

Every American neighborhood seems to have one mom to whom all the children gravitate. In a community in the small town of Lebanon, Tennesee, that person is Tammy Renault. But she never expected to be super-mom in this particular neighborhood.

The Renaults are one of more than 20 homeless families currently living in Lebanon’s Timberline Campground. Timberline’s the kind of place someone with a tent or camper might spend a night; a day or two at most. The Renaults have been here since last August.

After her husband Troy lost his construction job, the family struggled for awhile to pay all the bills, but they eventually failed and lost their home.

The Renaults and four of their five sons are now living in a donated travel-trailer; down from 170 square meters of living space to 20.

But beyond the physical hardships, Tammy Renault says her family is getting a crash course in what it means, socially, to be labeled homeless. “It’s being called names. It’s being ridiculed. It’s running into people that have seen you in your highest and are not even speaking to you anymore because they’re too afraid for where you are and don’t know what to say.”

More on the struggles of middle-class Americans in the LA Times: Middle-class Americans driven away from American dream

Middle-class Americans, the backbone of the country, have found themselves in a “middle-class crisis” during the recent recession and are facing the danger to be driven away from the American dream.

Even U.S. President Barack Obama has seen the seriousness of the problem. In his remarks to the U.S. Senate Democrats on Wednesday, Obama said the middle class Americans are “barely keeping their heads above water. They’re trying to figure out how to retire. They ‘re seeing more and more of their costs on health care dumped in their lap” and they are “more and more vulnerable, and they have been for the last decade, treading water.”

Excuse me? Shouldn’t the President be the first to see the seriousness of problems that affect vast numbers of Americans? Have we really reached the point where it is a matter of note that the President speaks about them? Yes, I’m afraid we have.

Now this is rich (pun intended):
Goldman Chief’s Bonus Seen by Some as Show of Restraint

After weeks of intense speculation, Goldman Sachs disclosed late Friday that its chief executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein, would receive an annual bonus valued at $9 million, a figure that, to the surprise of many, put him in the middle of the pay scale for the nation’s banking chiefs.

While most people can only dream of such a reward, the news was widely seen on Wall Street as a show of restraint and a nod to the uproar in Washington and elsewhere over resurgent pay and profits at banks like Goldman. Indeed, the award represents a fraction of the record $68 million bonus that Mr. Blankfein received in 2007, when Goldman made less money than it did last year. In 2008, in the midst of the financial collapse, he collected no bonus.

Cry me a river. Blankfein should donate his bonus to some struggling Americans like the Renaults.

Speaking of Tea parties, TPM reports that one of the guys who was arrested for phone-tampering in the offices of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu last week–Joseph Basel–has been spotted at the Tea Party Convention in Nashville.

With a week until he’s due in federal court in New Orleans for a Feb. 12 hearing, Basel has been spotted at the national tea party convention in Nashville by the Washington Independent’s Dave Weigel.

Weigel reports that Basel is at the convention as a credential reporter though he says that he’s “here for myself.”

Basel was ordered by the judge in the Landrieu case to stay in his home state of Minnesota. He is allowed to travel only with the permission of his pretrial supervision officer, according to the conditions of his release on $10,000 bond.

Reached by TPMmuckraker today, Basel’s pretrial supervision officer said she could not disclose whether he got approval for the travel.


This is heartbreaking: Turkish Girl, 16, Buried Alive for Talking to Boys

Turkish police have recovered the body of a 16-year-old girl they say was buried alive by relatives in an “honour” killing carried out as punishment for talking to boys.

The girl, who has been identified only by the initials MM, was found in a sitting position with her hands tied, in a two-metre hole dug under a chicken pen outside her home in Kahta, in the south-eastern province of Adiyaman.

Her father and grandfather are in jail and her mother, who was also arrested has been released.

A postmortem examination revealed large amounts of soil in her lungs and stomach, indicating that she had been alive and conscious while being buried. Her body showed no signs of bruising.

The girl tried to get help from local police but was repeatedly sent back home to deal with her horrific situation on her own.

Back To School: Teacher In Stripper Photo Can Return To Work

BROWNSVILLE, Pa. — A Brownsville Area high school teacher who was suspended after someone posted pictures of her at a bachelorette party with a male stripper has been told she should return to work.

Brownsville Area School District administrators suspended the Fayette County teacher in January for 30 days after they saw a photo of her, fully clothed, in a suggestive pose with a stripper.

The school board decided to take the unidentified teacher back after warnings from the ACLU.

Teenage Spanish Matador Faces 6 Bulls

Jairo Miguel Sanchez Alonso will fight the bulls in his hometown of Caceres, in Spain’s southwestern Extremadura Region.

The average age for matadors in Spain is 25 to 30, and the minimum age requirement is 16. Jairo Miguel — he uses that as his showbiz name — spent some four years fighting in Latin America to escape Spain’s age limit.

The normal format for a bullfight is three matadors taking on two animals each. Aficionados say it is extremely rare for a matador as young as 16 to fight six, a challenge requiring great physical and mental stamina.

In an interview the night before the big fight, Jairo Miguel, the son of a bullfighter, said he was nervous but confident in his skills. A tall, slender boy with a baby-face and a nice smile, he bears a scar from a ghastly goring that nearly punctured his heart in Mexico in 2007.

Why hasn’t this cruel and bloody “sport” been banned? I really think it’s shocking that children would be encouraged to participate in something like this.

I’ll end with one more snowstorm pic from Indigogrrl.

This looks like fun!


169 Responses

  1. Is it Karma? Revenge?

    Mercedes stolen from Charlie Sheen’s garage
    The badly damaged luxury car was found in a ravine off Mulholland Drive and a stolen Bentley coupe was found 200 yards away.


  2. Great pics, Indigogrrl! Thanks bb. We have a beautiful accumulation in South Central PA. I’ve been out shoveling twice and have not made a dent.

    • Don’t overdo it. I usually work about 30 mins. and then take a break. It can sneak up on you.

      • I love that sweaty workout feeling. Then, you can shed your snowy clothes and jump into a nice hot shower. Ahhh…

        “Sing hey for the bath at the end of the day
        that washes the weary mud away
        A loon is he who will not sing
        O, water, HOT, is a noble thing”

        • THAT I love! almost as much as my evening shower!

        • It is a great feeling. I love shoveling snow. But I know from experience that sometimes you can be really feeling great and enjoying yourself and then you pay later with some serious exhaustion. I try to pace myself so I can keep going. But you’re a lot younger than me so maybe you don’t have to do that.

        • I love Tolkien poetry — thanks!!

          And the pictures are wonderful!


      • Just took a nap. Will do RD’s suggestion later in the form of an “ultra bath”. Wish I could sing though.

  3. Someone is fighting for single payer:

    “Doctor arrested twice in bid for reform”


    Paris was arrested in June at a hearing chaired by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. She and other protesters spread out through the audience and stood up at different times and said, “I interrupt this so-called public hearing to bring you the following unpaid political announcement: Put single payer on the table.”

    Her more recent arrest was outside a Baltimore hotel where Obama was speaking. Paris said her colleague, Dr. Margaret Flowers, had written a letter in response to Obama’s State of the Union speech where he challenged anyone to show him a better health reform plan. “Let me know,” he said. “I’m eager to see it.”

    Paris believes single payer is a better alternative and wanted to let Obama in on it. Flowers had tried to deliver the letter by hand at the White House, but the guards would not take it. So the pair took their battle to the Baltimore hotel where they believed Obama’s motorcade would pass. Hotel security told them to move, but they wouldn’t. The Secret Service came out but refused to deliver their letter to the President, Paris said.

    The whole exchange was polite on both sides, she said, but they wouldn’t budge so they were arrested.

    Bill Moyers had Flowers on his program last night. Excellent.


  4. Wow! great pics! Only a powdering in NYC.
    But here’s a schadenfreude thought: remember how Obama would have been different from that loser Clinton? He would have succeeded in passing a HCR reform – by simply doing the opposite of what Clinton did

    • Thanks for the reminder, EofF. I remember how pissed off I was when a little punk Obots would comment, “SHE tried to pass health care reform and failed.” Even I didn’t dream that Obama could make such a hash of it.

  5. http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2010/02/employment-population-ratio-part-time.html

    Here’s a series of good articles at calculated risk on the unemployment situation.

    The reason the rate went down is there were a lot of people working temp jobs … hardly a reason to celebrate

  6. Also, the financial reform bill is now stalled by the party of NO


  7. I was thinking about taking some pics from the snow here but Indigogrrl raised the bar way way way too high.

    There hasn’t been any real snow here in Berlin for some days now, although Germans are saying the last time there was so much snow uninterrupted was more than 30 yrs ago.

    • ahh c’mon mablue…thanks for the compliment!
      It’s easy to get good pics around here cuz I own my own 14 ac park….and my animals are always willing to pose (or play tether ball)

    • We just have a few leftovers up here, MABlue. We are so lucky!!

  8. Awwww! I like the puppy!
    Snow up here in Ohio is pretty bad. it’s so annoying. I had plans today. So much for those.

  9. Re: unemployment- AstraZeneca and Glaxo just announced more layoffs. They are expected to hit R&D as the ones that have gone before in the past couple of years. 4000 people are expected to lose their jobs at Glaxo. I have former colleagues at Glaxo (It’s a small world). Very distressing.
    The Democrats seem to be completely oblivious to the loss of their scientific research infrastructure. They’d better wake up fast before we are all speaking mandarin.

    • They’re also laying off tons of us at universities because of the decrease of state budgets to balance their budgets and not raise taxes , so not only are you guys going, but the future scientists are gone too.

      • Education ought to be the last thing to be cut, instead it appears it’s the first. Quite sad.

      • I guess I’m lucky to be teaching at a private university, for now anyway. My university is actually renovating a lot of classrooms if you can believe that.

        • No, I believe it. The entire budget here in Lousiana is being balanced on the back of education and health care because of Jindal’s priorities. My friends at Loyolla or Tulane aren’t having this issue. I’ve always made a serious commitment to public education but I don’t know if I can continue it. I was debating switching to a catholic university last summer, but just couldn’t imagine myself being in the middle of all that. Jesuits are free of Papal influence, but this was run by nuns and they still are under the Papal thumb and this pope is awful!

        • I’m at a public university with a medical center — we are looking at our 2nd yr of big budget cuts. Tough times, so they cut education and health care? In what alternate universe does that make sense? It’s not good for students, patients or their families — or the other businesses which depend on the university staff, students, patients.

    • I have a feeling it’s gonna get worse before it’s better on the unemployment front.

      There have been too many triple digit (in the case of Walmart more) announcements for me to think we’ve hit bottom.

      I guess I’m a Dr. Doom follower because I don’t think the economic storm is over. I keep thinking we are presently in the eye of it.

      I’ll be happy when we pay off our wobbly box. It’ll be one less worry.

      • definitely going to get worse …

      • This is the second wave of the GREAT Recession I think. I have been really wondering why this is not on the front pages because education last year was save by a huge influx of money from the ARRA/stimulus. But that is not in the pipeline this year and state budgets are in worse shape. In CA the state would literally have to cut everything in the budget except education to continue ed funding at last year’s level—which was still about a 7% cutback even with ARRA funding.

        • I think this is just the beginning. I think it will get much much worse, and we still might go the way of the USSR. I hope not, but….

          • It’s very bad in Nevada. For the first time ever, I’m worried for my husband’s job as he is paid out of the general fund.

  10. Okay, this is American Thinker, but the analysis of what is happening to the Democratic Party is right on. Excellent article about Clinton voters (the Jacksonian Democrats) that echoes much of what we have been saying all along.

    The conventional wisdom is that Barack Obama’s decline in the polls represents a new, unexpected turn against him. But an examination of the results of the recent elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts suggests that what we might really be seeing is a return to the skepticism that significant portions of the electorate have showed about Obama from the beginning of his national career.

    Obama is not encountering some new, unanticipated resistance from the electorate. Instead, it may be that his general election triumph was the aberration—that his coalition was never as strong as the financial panic of September 2008 made it seem. It would mean that he is now returning to his natural base of support and that the Jacksonians and others who resisted him in the primaries have turned away once again from his charms.


    But it also suggests something more, that the Democratic party is now the party of Obama, for good and for ill. While the president is no Jacksonian, his party has many in its ranks. Democratic officeholders should be concerned about their voters fleeing not just from Obama but from their party as well. The president may be in the process of trimming the Democratic base back into something that looks an awful lot like his own primary base.

    How’s that “New Dem” LOSING COALITION working our for ya, Obama, now that the WINNING COALITION is under the bus and being courted by the right? How many times did we tell you guys that you are going to NEED those “lunch-bucket” Dems, and that if you did not address their concerns, someone else eventually would (albeit in the wrong ways)? Stupid, Stupid, stupid.


    • The sad thing is the right can’t really win me over. I don’t believe government is the problem. I believe it’s the solution. I just believe it’s been handled poorly by the people Americans have put in charge.

      • I agree, I’ll never be a republican, but I wasn’t talking about me or you. There are millions of people out there who, it seems to me, are being actively SHOVED into the conservative camp by the Democrats. It’s just mind-blowing to me how they couldn’t be doing a better job of that if they were doing it on purpose.

      • Government is neither the problem nor the solution. We live in a capitalist society where business and government have roles to play. Business seeks to make profit while government should provide a fair framework to make cerrain that the people don’t get steamrolled in the process.

        Business has to be properly regulated and government should be the solution for that. Unfortunately, it’s now wholely captured and owned by the big banksters, insurance etc.

        The fight for us should be to take back control of the government for the voters. How is the big question. It seems to me that voting out incumbents of both parties would create enough churn to give the people a chance eventually. I’m open to other ideas.

        • Ralph that is a really concise, to the bone analysis of what we face. I think the anti-incumbent thing may be the only tool we have—a meat axe when we need a scalpel but I don’t see much alternative voter tool sets out there.

        • it’s the system though … especially how elections and campaign financing work. Just throwing the bums out brings in a new load of ’em.

          Again, quote from my neighbor Antwoine:

          “It doesn’t make any difference who they are or where they come from. You elect them and the turn on you.”

          I swear I’m going to publish a book one of these days on Ninth Ward Wisdom.

          • We should get a few months out of some of them before they get bought out though. That’s better than we have now.

            Eventually, some of them might decide not to sell. If you’ve got a better method, I’m all ears.

        • That’s actually my Republican neighbors philosophy. He doesn’t vote for the incumbent regardless of political party now. He actually voted for Peggy Frank, the Democrat for state legislature.

    • What charms?! I never could see what others saw in him. I mean, really, it just baffles me.
      In the meantime, I reminded of what Harold Ickes said at the conclusion of the RBC hearing in May 2008. He said that the vote they were about to take, throwing away fair reflection and all of the principles of their party. was not a good way to start down the path to party unity.
      Yep, the man was prophetic. Where is he now? Do you know his father was one of the major architects of The New Deal? Gawd, that meeting was fraught with heavy symbolism in sooooo many ways.

      • Most people weren’t charmed but they were paniced and convinced to vote for the Democrat by the crash of Sept, ’08. He could have been anyone, it wouldn’t have mattered. Now that some of the panic has subsided, support is reaching it’s natural levels.

        McCain was leading in the polls up until the market crash. This was predictable if he didn’t perform well, and he has not.

      • I would love to know what Harold Ikes is thinking and saying now. Does anyone know?

        The fact that a Roosevelt grandson (?) led that meeting was sad.

    • They totally lost me. They can see if they can get their ‘new’ coalition to ever vote again and see where that gets ’em.

    • I certainly don’t consider myself a “Jacksonian Democrat.” That’s kind of odd. In fact, I’m an academic.

    • What amazes me is how the mass media and New Dems have convinced themselves that Hillary Dems don’t even exist, swept under the rug, out of sight out of mind. And people wonder where all these new Independents are coming from. The New Dem base will indeed shrink to their Dem primary base with far fewer kool-aid kids.

  11. I’m kinda agnostic about the bullfighting thing. It seems to me that the bull has a fighting chance, given the number of matadors who are gored. Is it really worse than slaughtering an animal for food? Or is it just that we don’t see that blood and horror?
    People have been testing their wits and strength against bulls since time immemorial. Wait! Didn’t they paint that stuff on the cave walls in France and Spain? So, it goes back a long, long time. What makes it barbaric now but not then? If the remains of the carcass are not wasted, why shoudln’t man and beast fight it out in the ring?
    I don’t personally have a taste for blood sport but I can’t condemn it.

    • I don’t know why humans think they have the right to exploit other living creatures for their enjoyment.

      • I suspect that people who enjoy bullfighting don’t necessarily see it as exploitation. Bulls are not an endangered species and the human in the ring has a pretty good chance of dying if he/she isn’t quick enough. It’s a contest to them. You might say that they are honoring and respecting the bull’s strength. There might be a mythological or sacred component to the activity that we don’t understand. Very Joseph Campbellian in that respect. Like I said, we are sensitized to see this activity as barbaric because it is so out in the open. But what goes on in slaughterhouses is just as likely to turn our stomachs. I think we are capable of recognizing that meat comes from living beings, that their death is unpleasant and that this is not necessarily a inhumane thing. People have eaten meat for millions of years. I’m an animal, a predator. I just happen to be a thinking one who has figured out how to not exhaust the species I prey on.
        I don’t think you and I will come to an agreement on this SoD. I’m a bleeding heart liberal and all but I’m not averse to wearing fur, eating steak and bullfighting as long as the species are not endangered or the animal has an opportunity to gore the matador.

        • You’re right. We’ll never agree. I do know what goes on in slaughterhouses and it’s one of the reasons I don’t eat meat. Plus, it would only take one time seeing an animal skinned alive and left to die to stop people from wearing fur.

          Remember, arguments in support of slavery and the extermination of Jews and the oppression of women are very similar in nature.
          i.e, animals are stupid and/or lesser beings.

          My hope is that as we continually evolve in our enlightenment things will change and we won’t exploit an animal like a bull that had no say whatsoever in the decision to be used for sport. I’ve studied the theory of social dominance for some time and this is just part and parcel with that.

          That’s all.

          • Well, I don’t know how animals are killed in the fur trade. It seems to ne that there are plenty of animals that were killed in the past before their fur was taken. I’ll confine my fur purchases to them (like I have money for fur).
            But where do you draw the line, SoD? I work for an industry that routinely uses animals in order to test new drugs. No, there are no alternatives. Seriously. There is no computer model that can predict what happens in a complex biological system and even isolated cells grown in the lab are inadequate to predict what will happen in humans. So, we make human-animal hybrids, splicing human genes into rats and mice and then breeding them to produce suitable models for testing. (The faint of heart may wish to look away at this point). For other assays, we subject the test subjects to little ordeals like simulated drowning and putting their tails on hot plates or inserting canulas in their skulls so we can administer drugs to them and measure their reactions. It’s enough to make a vegan sick. But there aren’t any other options. If you want a drug, a safe drug, it has to be tested in animals before it can be tested in man.
            We employ veterinarians and lab technicians to care for these animals and the FDA has a shitload of regulations to make sure the animals are well cared for, are socialized with their species and experience as little pain as possible. But the cold hard truth is that they will die from what we do to them. There is no other way.
            Should we feel guilt over our barbaric treatment of these creatures? Or do we come to terms with it and move on doing all we can in the meantime to spare the creatures pain?
            In some respects, the PETA folks are like the anti-abortion crowd. There’s a hard absolutism that ignores reality and romanticizes what they perceive as “innocent” beings, like the rest of us aren’t.
            Sometimes, there is no right or wrong answer. There are only shades of gray and we do the best we can.

          • Funny you should ask about the testing. I actually had a post up about that — I was hoping you would join in. Yes, that is an excellent debate question and goes to your “alternative” issue and links to survival. You may be surprised in the position I took.

            Here was the post: https://riverdaughter.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/debate-club-the-use-of-animals-for-testing/

          • And BTW, I do not support PETA. Their approach is many times reprehensible. I also don’t espouse to absolutism, but people should be able to support their conclusions and not just walk away and shrug their shoulders.

        • It goes with being top of the food chain. Not that any and all brutality sits well with me, but the idea that other animals only hunt for food, never for sport, is crap.

          I have two extremely well-fed greyhounds. They kill squirrels. They do not eat them, and have never shown the slightest desire to do so. But they obviously enjoy stalking, chasing, and killing them. Then they enjoy tossing them around the yard with great glee. It is sport to them.

          I think one can go to extremes with “nature red in tooth and claw” as it applies to humans, but I think one can also go to the opposite mushy extreme and forget we are also animals, and that’s not to be apologized for.

          • Yes, but that’s part of their natural instinct driven by the need for survival. We’ve evolved well beyond that sufficiently to know what we are doing and to discern between sport and survival. I have no problem with people who eat meat for survival reasons.

          • You assume that the need for some type of predator survival instinct is completely unnecessary in the human species. A relic that we are beyond. I don’t agree.

            I think that the human brain is an amazing thing. And while we have much less need for physical survival skills than we once did, I tend to be cautious about taking a position that those traits ought to be completely stamped out, as unsavory in their entirely. Who knows what will happen to the human race in the coming millenia? Mayhap we will need those buried instincts once again. What will the consequences be of getting rid of predatory and survival instincts? All roses and rainbows, or some unintended results as well? Our brains seem to be very resistant to eradicating them. Sometimes it’s wise to listen to Nature.

          • I’m not sufficiently evolved. My favorite animal is steak.

          • Well then, why are Gladiator fights to the death not legal? At least the participants are both doing so willingly? And it would therefore satisfy that predator instinct. If people want to kill something for sport, they should find a willing opponent that agrees to engage. We may be at our base animals, but our higher intelligence demands better critical thinking and restraint.

            So why are humans better than animals? (rhetorical of course, because any answer you give will have difficulty passing analysis when you substitute other beings that fit those criteria — i.e., intelligence (people of limited mental capacity); ability to discern pain (people in comas); top of the food chain (women, minorities, the poor). Value is always relevant. What do we value?

            If we assign lower value, we can justify it’s exploitation. Social dominance is a funny thing. Those who dominate will always find a justification.

          • they were bred to do that … they’re hunting animals who are supposed to kill for their masters and then let the masters eat the meat

          • Gladiator fights would be a way to relieve prison overcrowding.

          • myiq2xu: NBA seems to do the same thing.

          • There are a lot of things we *ought* to do but we can’t solve all of the world’s problems. As Gandalf said, all we can do is make use of the time given to us.
            That being said, as long as the act is not overtly cruel, I see no reason why we have to go to some enlightened level on the issue of consuming animals. What makes humans different from animals in the consumption of other animals? The reasoning escapes me. If you don’t want to eat meat, fine, don’t do it. Don’t do it for health reasons or environmentatl reasons or religious reasons. But enlightenment reasons? That there is a achievable morality to it towards which we must all strive if we want to transcend our evolutionary past? I’m not buying it. Many species of animal feed on other animals. Humans are no different nor is there any reason why we should be. One could make a justifiable argument that we should be eating less meat because it’s not good for the environment to spend so much energy producing animal feed. One could say that cholesterol and fat are not needed in the quanitities that modern humans consume them. You might even make the case that there are spirits in animals that might object. I don’t buy it but you could. But to think that there is a morality to abstaining from eating meat because we’re supposed to have grown out of it doesn’t strike me as a good reason.
            It might make sense to you and if that’s your cup of tea, go for it. But be aware that you are suggesting that the rest of us omnivores are somehow less moral for indulging in our rich, juicy steaks. That’s not a message I would want to send.

          • Yes, but those other animals don’t erect factories to breed those other animals and then treat them inhumanely (a willful act) in order to acquire the food. That is what I’m referring to as inhumane.

            We don’t think about the process behind it. That’s my beef (no pun intended). I just believe that social dominance is social dominance is social dominance. I don’t need to eat meat to survive and so I don’t. Others may have a need to do so, but then they have the intelligence to be able to ensure that their food is not the result of inhumane treatment. We should give ourselves some credit for our intelligence.

            It has nothing to do with religion except for the fact that religion was used to dominate animals (check out Genesis).

          • Personally, I like organic chicken and beef. It just tastes better. But I don’t see anything wrong with the production of organic chickens and cattle on a mass scale. I can’t get worked up about it. I’ve been to farms and seen animals and I’m sorry, I just don’t see Flossie as anything but a consumable. I don’t feel shame over this. As long as the meat is relatively chemical free and socialized properly and the species isn’t on the verge of extinction (which makes me turn down certain types of fish in restaurants, BTW), I’m going to eat the suckers.
            With artichokes and mushrooms or slathered with Hoboken Eddies Green Sauce and grilled to medium rare. DEEEEElishus.

          • Well, you’re ok with it. I’m not. But I’m venturing you’ve never watched them being slaughtered. I have.

            Hopefully someday they’ll be treated better. Right now there are not enough people to advocate for them so horrible things are done to them.

            That’s what happens when a group is dominated by another. It takes a larger group to rise up against. Right now, more people feel as you do and are more willing to allow it to continue.

            This applies to sport, entertainment, fur, food, and some testing. I don’t believe we have the right to exploit them. I don’t believe we are inherently superior; but some do and abuse happens every day because we allow ourselves to believe that they are lesser.

            If there was a choice between my survival, or my family’s survival and an animal, would I choose my family and myself? Yes, of course. Fortunately that is not a choice I face.

          • Damn, this thread is making me hungry.

          • BTW, SoD, I never said that humans are “better” than animals. I don’t subscribe to those kind of value judgments. We aren’t better. We are equals under the sun. That doesn’t mean that we can’t eat them. or that they can’t also eat us.

      • Plants are living creatures too.

        • buddhists draw the line with sentience: if it fears for its life, it’s sentient and shouldn’t be harmed

        • BTW, plants may be living, but they’re not “creatures.”

          • Speciesist!

          • How do we know that for sure? Just because they can’t speak for themselves doesn’t mean they don’t possess some life force that should be honored and respected.
            Hey, I know people who have taken veganism one step further and only eat windfall fruit. I think it’s insane and I’m not inviting them to any of my dinner parties but that’s what they believe. They have a point. It’s extreme but they are just thinking things through to the end. They probably look like the left wing to the vegans.

          • There is evidence. The other is unsupported. Show me they are sentient and we can have that discussion. Otherwise it’s just straw. (again, no pun intended.)

          • The bigger problem is that people want to automatically jump on the “eat meat or not eat meat” bandwagon. You’re totally missing my point. It’s about being aware of the PROCESS. If you can honestly say you know how that food made it to your plate and you’re OK with it, that’s different. But most people do not want to know.

            Every time I suggest watching the process people run the other way. So, I’m speaking about how the animals are treated, not whether one should eat meat — that’s the red herring. It’s the same argument about the original topic: Bullfighting.

          • I’ve seen every step in the process from on the hoof to on the plate.

            I still eat meat – and feel no guilt whatsoever.

            BTW – ever see one of those nature shows where the lions start eating some critter before it’s even dead?

            Nature is very cruel.

          • I have no problem with people who hunt, kill and eat their prey as a means of survival but not sport. Thankfully we have better tools to do the job with than the lions; however, if all we had were big incisors and hefty claws, I’m sure the process would look the same.

    • I saw my first bullfight in spain at the age of 13. It was awful. The bull doesn’t have a fighting chance. The Picadors gang up on them, poke them with knives, and wear them out before the matador even steps in the ring. After the first kill, I cried for my parents to take us back to the bus. My sister was much younger and she couldn’t even say any thing but she had a look I won’t forget. My parents couldn’t get all of us out of there fast enough. We spent the rest of the time sitting in the bus with other appalled Ford Dealer families from around the U.S. It’s animal torture, pure and simple.

      • Well, you were there and I wasn’t so I’ll take your word for it. I guess I’d have to insist on more of a fair fight for the bull and cut out the picadors. Like I said before, blood sports are not my cup of tea. But this is a tradition that goes back 40,000 years or so. The geographical location of the bullfighting thing is no coincidence.
        Maybe a bullfight should consist of the bull and the butcher. Let them duke it out and may the best animal win.

        • I consulted for years for Campbell Soup. I worked with them at a plant were they killed, cooked, and got chicken ready for Swanson pot pies and Campbell’s chicken soups. It was a little plant in a little town in SE Nebraska. It’s not a pleasant sight, but those chickens were killed humanely. The bulls in spanish bullfights are slowly tortured to death. I’ve also seen cows and pigs slaughtered in the south omaha stockyard heydays as a kid on field trips. Nothing prepared me for a bullfight.

          • That is the way I feel about it. I think it’s ghastly.

          • I saw my one and only bullfight in Tijuana with my mother and brother back in 1976 (I was 20, he was 18). My mother used to go to them all the time when she was younger. I’m a meat eater and not squeamish, but what my brother and I saw that day freaked us out. We were horrified. The picadores goring the bull, the kill and the final ears and tail trophies were just too much.

        • If it were a fair fight, the bull would win. That’s why they use the picadors.

          • Then take out the picadors.
            I imagine that at one time long ago, there was a sacred, ritualistic and mythological aspect to bullfighting. They’ve made it less dangerous for the humans now and it looks like it’s not a fair fight any more. But at one time, I’m betting it was a rite of passage. So, I’m in favor or restoring it to its original purpose. Let people risk their lives in the ring against a worthy opponent.

          • Match. Game. Set.

          • It will never happen, because the humans involved don’t want a fair fight. Bullfighting also is a blood ritual with a long history. I don’t expect it to be banned ever. I just posted the story, because I thought it was shocking that parents would allow a young boy to do that. The boy was only 16 and had been gored years earlier

            I’ve actually quite surprised that no one has commented on the girl who was buried alive by her family for talking to boys. That one tore my heart out.

          • boomer–haven’t had a chance to go through the links yet, thanks for pointing to that story about the Turkish girl here in the comments. I just scrolled up and read it. There are no words for how heartbreaking that is.

      • From wiki:
        Part of the first stage of a Spanish bullfight.

        “At this point, the picador stabs just behind the morillo, a mound of muscle on the fighting bull’s neck, weakening the neck muscles and leading to the animal’s first loss of blood. The manner in which the bull charges the horse provides important clues to the matador about which side the bull favors. If the picador is successful, the bull will hold its head and horns lower during the following stages of the fight. This makes the bull’s charges less dangerous and more reliable, enabling the matador to perform.”

        I’m with you, dak.

      • When we lived in Mexico, my mother wanted to see a bullfight, mostly out of curiosity. My dad, who had seen one, refused to go with her and wouldn’t let her take me. So she went with some friends and came home horrified even though she was the daughter and granddaughter of farmers who slaughtered their own pigs and cows and had seen it done.

        RD–bullfighting as it is practiced today does not have its roots in mythology or in ancient ritual. It’s descended directly from Roman “games” in which the patron produced a large scale “hunt,” or “venation” of exotic animals in the arena–for entertainment. Purely for entertainment. Purely cruelty, and a lead-in, of course to the spectacle of humans slaughtering each other.

        For ritual, you need to go all the way back to Crete, where athletes are depicted dancing with the bull, not torturing or killing him. Were some of those bulls ultimately sacrificed? Quite possibly, even probably, since animal sacrifice is usually a matter of offering the god his/her own living avatar, and Crete as a maritime society had cogent reasons to want to keep on Poseidon’s good side. But even in that case, the sacrifice was honored, not tortured.

    • Cruelty to non-human animals desensitizes the participants and observers to cruelty to other humans.
      In that sense bullfighting is no different than dog fighting or cock fighting.

      No, the bull does not have a fighting chance, if by “fighting chance” you mean a chance to survive. The bullfight goes back to Roman “venations,” which involved the slaugher of large numbers of animals–sometimes thousands–in the course of the games.

      The bulls painted on cave walls at Lascaux and Altamira were wild aurochs, and were apparently depicted either as part of hunting magic or as tribute to the divinity they embodied. Or both. Almost every pre-modern culture revered either the bull or other large indigenous ungulate. There were no Magdalenian bullfights, not with something roughly the size of a pickup truck.

    • Well, I think boxing should be outlawed too. But at least the human being has a choice of whether to be beaten to a pulp, brain-damaged for life, or killed.

      • True, but we don’t give our filet mignons any say in the matter either before we douse them in truffle sauce.
        It’s the same thing. Cattle in the slaughterhouse are not met at the door like this:

        Carry this choice thing to its logical conclusion and before you know it, you have to ask permission of every living thing you put in your mouth. Most people just don’t have the inclination for it.

        • Yes but we can be more enlightened about our choices. The animals in factories today are not treated humanely. People are not willing to face the processes that bring them their food — they’d rather make a joke or pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s easier that way.

          I challenge anyone to watch Sean Mosen’s film “Earthlings” and not be affected.

          There are so few people willing to fight for the humane treatment of animals. At least when the Native Americans killed Bison they did so with reverence and a spiritual pact that recognized the sacrifice of the animal. We just walk into Wegmans and grab that filet off the shelf without a thought of the animal who suffered so that you could eat it.

          • To quote Jim Gaffigan:

            “I don’t know what they do to those chickens but it’s delicious.”

          • I don’t know that the animal suffered. For all I know, Wegmans could be practicing euthanasia on those prepackage lemon herb marinated chickens. Temple Grandin, the cattle shute architect with autism, has spent her professional life constructing slaughterhouse facilities that spare the animals a lot of unnecessary anxiety as they head off to be butchered. For all I know, my coq au vin was killed in one of her human constructs.
            I can’t get inside the head of a food source and I have no intention of starting to empathize with one. I see no need to do that. It doesn’t mean I approve of cruelty to animals, whether they are human or otherwise. I am just not convinced that humanely slaughtering an animal for its meat is cruel. No, I am convinced that it is not. It’s not a matter or morality for me.

          • It’s easy to make that argument. I could say that prostitutes and strippers all WANT to do that and wash my hands of it too. People used the argument that slaves were treated well by their masters.

            There is no humane treatment at a factory farm. There is plenty of evidence, but it’s all ignored while people just hide their eyes and say the same thing you just did.

            I’m really done arguing this point unless you can point me to evidence — real evidence — of humane treatment at a factory farm. Not just what someone said or heard, real footage.

          • Sorry, SoD. I have no idea what it is like to agonize over the butchering of animals for food. Yes, I know how it’s done. Yes, I know sometimes it’s not done well. Yes, I know that many people are unaware. You obviously have a reason for believing what you do. I don’t envy you. It must be very difficult to not be able to shut out the pain you are perceiving. You are just more highly attuned to it than we are. That’s not good or bad. It just is.

          • How do “humanely” and “slaughtered” go together?

            Sorry, my head won’t go around that, any more than it will go around “humanely murdered” or “humanely raped.”

      • Speaking of people giving each other brain damage — what about football?

        • Yup.

        • But there is a lot of research going on now on ex-football players, and it may be possible to design better head protection. In the old days football players didn’t even wear helmets, and then they wore ineffective helmets.

          • Those interviews that I heard on NPR we talked about said that the newer helmets were giving players the sensation of complete safety and they were taking more risks now because of it and actually causing more damage because they’re not being safe and risking concussions.

        • Malcolm Gladwell had a great piece on that subject a couple of months ago:

          How different are dogfighting and football?

          An offensive lineman can’t do his job without “using his head,” one veteran says, but neuropathologists examining the brains of ex-N.F.L. players have found trauma-related degeneration.

          An offensive lineman can’t do his job without “using his head,” one veteran says, but neuropathologists examining the brains of ex-N.F.L. players have found trauma-related degeneration.

    • evolution

  12. “Excuse me? Shouldn’t the President be the first to see the seriousness of problems that affect vast numbers of Americans? Have we really reached the point where it is a matter of note that the President speaks about them? Yes, I’m afraid we have.

    Almost exactly my thoughts BB when I read that excerpt on 0 noting the mc barely making it. News flash. Thousands, if not millions, are no longer “barely making it”—they are not making it, period.

  13. I am not a “Jacksonian” Democrat. I know too much about that guy from history. But I certainly identify with FDR, Truman, Clinton and JFK (although we will never know how JFK Democrats would have been).

    But I am firmly in the camp of government is there to keep the playing field level, ensure opportunity and access and make government programs work—not just creak along—but be models of best practice.

    I live in a dream world.

    • Yeah, I’m with you. Jackson is not my Democratic role model. FDR is. I like capitalism as long as there are rules to keep everyone honest and all players get a fair crack at leading stable, productive lives.

      • Same here. I just wrote that above. Right wingers like Michael Barone are clueless about what makes liberals tick.

      • Another FDR democrat……..I believe strongly in minimum wage and social safety nets for the elderly for those reasons alone I identify with FDR.

      • I find both FDR and Jackson to be a mixed bag – things I admire and dislike about both. Can I combine them to my satisfaction? That might be ideal.

    • Likewise.

      You won’t find a lot of Native Americans who are “Jacksonian” anything. But FDR, Truman, Clinton, JFK–more FDR and Clinton than the other two in many respects–are among the best of our presidents precisely because of their commitment to Democratic and democratic principles. And you have to give LBJ his due, too, apart from the Vietnam War. He did more to build on FDR’s programs than anyone else since.

  14. Just want to note from a comment down below: Great PBS interview last night of David Stockman. Really hope Daki can find the time to take a look at it and post her thoughts on it.

    • Ooo, did you see the NOW episode on PBS about Democrats and reproductive rights? Check it out.
      Democrats and the New Politics of Abortion
      There’s a vote on that site on whether pro-life Democrats are ruining the party. It’s about 3:1 saying YES, they are ruining EVERYTHING.
      The program was marred by Howard Dean, who I have never liked. He went out of his way to try to recruit these people and then he scolds them for acting like pro-life activists. Get a fuckin’ clue, Howard.

      • Candidates that like stupak and nelson that are basically republicans are running as democrats in those states because the republican party there has moved so far to the right, it’s hard to run any one there and win a statewide election. Nelson and Stupak are Republicans. So is Lieberman, they should just switch parties and get on with it. I can’t believe they waste party resources are those idiots.

    • jangles: Other thread first request!!!

  15. I added a new photo from RD!!

    • Wow RD! Is that a before or after pic.

      • The storm hasn’t really hit NJ yet, but they are expecting blizzard conditions later, according to the weather channel.

      • During. I’m going out in a minute to shovel round one. I was supposed to visit a furniture store this afternoon and pick up Brook’s new cockatiel but it ain’t happenin today. We’re going to bunker down in the basement with Rock Band 2 and Wii Snowboard and Ski.

      • During. It’s still early.

  16. We had 22 inches in Baltimore City and it is still coming down hard. It is really heavy. About 4 this morning we had incredible lightening and thunder!! Really cool. I did lose a big branch on my magnolia tree. 😦 After 1 1/2 hours of shoveling we have run out of places to put the snow. Have not seen a snow plow in our neighborhood, looks like I will be walking for the next few days.

    • Everything may have to shut down. This is taking on “Blizzard of ’78” proportions. We are prepared for blizzards up here, but the whole state of Mass. had to shut down for a week in Feb., 1978.

  17. Wow, I’m a new vagitarian and I missed the whole vagitarian thread, Darn!

  18. On the contrary, the sport of dancing with bulls goes back to at least ancient Crete. It was a sport practiced by both men and women and presumably ended with the death of the animal. It had a religious component to it as well.
    And yes, Cro Magnons engaged in fights with animals as big or bigger than bulls. Think mammoths for example. First blooding is also a tradition that goes back thousands of years.
    If people want to go toe to toe with a huge dangerous animal in a ring, an animal that might be slaughtered for food or other products, and they want to do it with little more than their wits and a sword, why not? Eliminate the picadors and let the beast have a fighting chance. Let’s dispense with the notion that the animal has any say in its own demise. It will be killed eventually, whether in the ring or the slaughterhouse. But if a testosterone poisoned matador wants to try his strength against a force of nature, why not? We don’t have to be there and there’s a good chance that the bull wins. That is, if we even the playing field for the bull.
    No, I don’t approve of cock fights and dog fights. That really is cruel and the human participants get off scott free. I think they should have a stake in the outcome, like their own flesh.

    • RD–Sometimes nesting is great; sometimes it isn’t. See above for comments on Crete. There’s no evidence that the bulls from the dance were routinely or even normally killed at the finale. On the contrary, the bulls for the dance were fairly obviously trained, as were the human athletes. Killing them routinely would have represented a lot of wasted effort.

      Otherwise, I think you’re conflating hunting with fighting. Of course Cro-Magnons hunted–they were subsistence hunters, by everything we know of them. Many populations appear not have lived where agriculture or even much gathering was possible. People who have to hunt to live do not,however, tend to regard it as a form of entertainment; on the contrary, it’s damned hard work and was usually done in a manner designed to produce as little close contact between large, potentially lethal prey animals and the human hunter as possible. That’s why we have evidence of so many deadfalls–much easier and less dangerous to spook the mammoth over the cliff than to go mano-a-tusk with him.

      Where is the line between bullfighting and dog- and cockfighting? What makes it somehow different and, you seem to be saying, not cruel? That the animal killed is generally regarded as edible? But then, so are chickens, and dogs in some cultures. Would dogfighting be less objectionable to you if they were dog against human instead of dog against dog?

  19. Pretty outrageous:

    SF Chron: Anthem Blue Cross raises premiums

    “Anthem Blue Cross customers got a shock this week when the health insurer informed thousands of individual policyholders that their premium rates will jump as much as 39 percent on March 1.
    Anthem, which has reportedly sent letters this week to those who buy their coverage individually and are not covered by a group policy, said rising health care costs led to the increase.
    Last year, when Anthem Blue Cross raised rates by as much as 68 percent for some customers, the company said it had about 800,000 members.
    Unlike home and automobile insurers, California insurers can legally raise rates for policyholders as much as and whenever they want. Regulators technically oversee the increases, but they have no power to control rates.


  20. From where else:

    Sarah Palin has demeaned herself, according to Arianna.

    Arianna appeared on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” Friday and explained that Sarah Palin’s refusal to call out Rush Limbaugh for his use of the word “retard” proves that she is afraid that offending the radio host and arbiter of the conservative movement could hurt her image.

    Earlier this week, Palin called for Rahm Emanuel to be fired after he used the same word.

    Arianna agrued that Palin’s decision to go after Emanuel, but not Limbaugh is all part of Palin’s “cost-benefit analysis” operating procedure:

    Arianna: Everything with her seems to be about this cost-benefit analysis, you know what is in her best interests as opposed to anything else. And that goes directly against the brand that she tried to build about her being authentic, being about her core values, keeping her baby eventhough it was a down syndrome baby. All these things… are really exposed here as nothing but a veneer. The hypocrisy is really stunning

    First of all, Arianna’s own tabloid ran the headline “Sarah Palin Rebukes Rush Limbaugh For ‘Retarded’ Remarks” on February 4th. So I guess Katie Couric should ask Arianna if she reads her own internet newspaper when she interviews her. (The Palin camp later went after WaPo for trying to take attention away from Rahm’s use of the word, but they maintained Palin’s stance against the word being used as a pejorative no matter who uses it.)

    Second of all, that Arianna quote is stunningly hypocritical itself. Change the feminine pronouns to “his” and “he” and every single word of it (besides the stuff about the baby) was applicable to Obama during the 2008 election cycle. That certainly didn’t stop Huffington from shilling for him then.

    I think it would be legitimate to ask Palin to denounce Tancredo’s disgusting remarks at the convention or fair game to criticize her for not doing so. But, calling her out for not going against Limbaugh when she’s one of the few GOPers to even say as much as she has and not back down from saying that it’s “wrong no matter who does it”–that’s really lame.

  21. Here in northern NJ we had – NOTHING, nada, bupkus, niente, nichts,niet, rien – not even a flurry – while our son and daughter-in-law report 6-8 inches and still coming down hard in the Princeton area.

    The 5 and 3 year old are out “helping” daddy shovel! We told our son to tie a rope on the little guy so as not to loose him in the snow. 😆

  22. I’m surprised no one has commented on the honor killing story. Is burying young girls alive and cementing them into the tomb a typical honor killing practice? How can these people live with themselves? I don’t get it.

  23. that was the most disgusting thing I’ve heard of

  24. wow that bird in particular is quite amazing looking. what species is it?

  25. Stiglitz was interviewed on Book Talk on CSpan 2 this evening (Sat.) ….re: his book “Freefall.”

    Try to catch it at the CSpan site, if they have video up. It was really a brilliant discussion!!

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