Back in the 1960s British Cosmologist Fred Hoyle, who coined the term 'Big Bang', wrote a series of papers theorizing that life on Earth (and perhaps elsewhere) began out in the seeming void of deep space. His peers thought he was delusional.
Until along came Lew Snyder, then of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. He asserted that Hoyle had the right idea and that prebiotic molecules (molecules believed to be involved in the processes leading to the origin of life) could not only evolve in deep space, but could also be distributed throughout the universe enduring the unimaginable torment of interstellar travel.
Furthermore, he could prove it.
Seems that many compounds have a unique and identifiable radio-wave signature - something that can be detected with the use of radio telescopes.
With this method, they theorized, you could point radio telescopes at the cosmos and by measuring the radio-wave signatures you could determine the molecular compounds that exist in the targeted region. This would tell us if complex, organic and prebiotic compounds are created and endure in deep space.
Sure enough, in 1969 they discovered interstellar formaldehyde - a complex, prebioitc compound. Since then, astronomers have discovered more than 150 molecules in deep space. Most interesting of these found is acetonitrile, a molecule structurally similar to glycine - one of the building blocks of biological proteins.
All this is profoundly important as it sets the stage for validating a once-absurd theory - that life on Earth (and perhaps throughout the universe) may have been seeded from deep-space chemical reactions.
This cold-sounding theory of our origins clearly runs counter to cherished beliefs that we are God's children or that we have a special place in this universe. Such a possibility could prove profoundly unsettling to many to say the least.
But there is no worry here. Not because the possibility doesn't exist. It does. The reason not to worry is that people en masse tend to see only what is in front of them and only that which is most emotionally comfortable.
For most people, such things are far too arcane and intangible to seriously consider. What they see before them and what they've been taught growing up is all that they know and all that they care to know.
And that is the way it is with most things - with evolution, with global warming -- and so it is with ideology and politics.
Whatever is before us is all that there is. The economy is a disaster. There's a war in Iraq. The jobless situation is devastating. The housing market is in shambles. Obama is the president. And the Democrats are in charge.
That leads to an obvious conclusion for most - that Obama and the Democrats have brought this upon us - that they are the ones who must pay the price for our pain.
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We don't need no stinkin' House majority.
What have the Democrats done for us anyway?
Sure, Time Magazine says that the Democrats have implemented "the most ambitious energy legislation in history... ...pouring $90 billion into clean energy, including unprecedented investments in a smart grid; energy efficiency; electric cars; renewable power from the sun, wind and earth; cleaner coal; advanced biofuels; and factories to manufacture green stuff in the U.S. The act will also triple the number of smart electric meters in our homes, quadruple the number of hybrids in the federal auto fleet and finance far-out energy research through a new government incubator modeled after the Pentagon agency that fathered the Internet."
Oh, and it also said that, because of Obama and the Democrats, "There's $8 billion for a high-speed passenger rail network, the boldest federal transportation initiative since the interstate highways. There's $4.35 billion in Race to the Top grants to promote accountability in public schools, perhaps the most significant federal education initiative ever -- it's already prompted 35 states and the District of Columbia to adopt reforms to qualify for the cash. There's $20 billion to move health records into the digital age, which should reduce redundant tests, dangerous drug interactions and errors caused by doctors with chicken-scratch handwriting. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calls that initiative the foundation for Obama's health care reform and "maybe the single biggest component in improving quality and lowering costs."
But they just keep going on and on and on about all that... ...boring.
And then there is Rolling Stone that made the extensive case that Obama "Averted a Depression", "Sparked a Recovery", "Saved the U.S. Auto Industry", "Reformed Health Care in America", "Cut Corporate Welfare", "Restored America's Reputation", "Protected Consumers", and "Launched a Clean-Energy Moonshot".
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That Newsweek Poll.
Seems the Repuglinuts don't like that poll because it doesn't fit their teabag revolution narrative. They slant their brows in angry scowls, slam their hammy fists and declare the poll an outlier, unfit for human consumption!!!
"Look at Real Clear Politics," they insist. "Their totally and completely non-partisan analysis of polling numbers shows that the Newsweek poll is a fake, a lie, a CONSPIRACY - all designed by the VLWC to raise the specter of Republican failure only days before the greatest and most important election of forever."
Oh, what a world!
So what about that Newsweek poll? Was it an outlier? Was it in any way valid? Are we desperate for a sprig of hope? Are we totally delusional?
After all, that Newsweek poll totally disagrees with all those other, much, MUCH more legitimate polls that show Obama with a -0.0% likey-likey rating and a generic ballot that suggests a pickup for the Republicans somewhere between 1.2 million and infinity seats in the House.
The Reality is that these pollsters sometimes have a difficult time adjusting to a thing we all refer to as "Progress". Say it with me Pro-gress.
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That Republicans will make gains is no surprise. The party out of power - and in this case way out of power -- nearly always benefits in the midterm elections. And, as we wade through the muck of destruction left in George W. Bush's wake, we must also expect that those currently in charge will take a hit for the current state of the nation, regardless of whom was responsible for it.
Also no surprise is that the minority party will be the party with greater 'passion' and thus the most 'likely' voters. The frustration of powerlessness is a great motivator.
Thus the media narrative of which we are all familiar.
There are, however, some elements to this year's election cycle that might be surprising, some things that run counter to the narrative that Republicans will take the day. These are things that will deny the GOP their fantasy of a congressional majority.
And here they are, conveniently bullet-pointed for your perusal:
Top 9 Reasons the GOP Will Fail to Take Either the House or the Senate
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All because of the long-term effects of global warming.
A little overdramatic? Maybe for you, but not for them.
We've known about the greenhouse effect and human-induced global warming for decades, yet we've done nearly nothing to stifle its progress.
The global warming 'skeptics' - aka: the greedy, the misinformed, and the willfully ignorant among us who find some reward in questioning scientific consensus or fantasizing about environmental conspiracies - are a large part of the problem. But so are the rest of us. We are the adults who rightfully talk down to these people. We know and accept the reality of the situation and the daunting prognosis that shadows it. We know the threat posed and even the steps necessary to mitigate and eventually halt the warming process.
Yet we do nothing as a society. We still drive our SUVs, buy cheap crap from China, leave lights on all over the house, and drink water out of plastic throw-aways.
Glaciers recede, the Arctic melts, deserts grow, oceans acidify, weather patters go haywire and storms intensify.
Political will for action is cowed by constant campaigns and elections and by electorates more concerned about the heft of their pocket right now than the likely condition of the world in which their grandchildren will be raised.
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The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.
I first became aware of William Greider after the publication of his 1981 Atlantic Monthly profile of President Reagan's embattled Office of Management and Budget Director ("OMB"), David Stockman. At the time I was just a kid and the Reagan administration insisted they could simultaneously balance the budget, cut taxes and increase defense spending exponentially.
Greider's reporting however exposed that even Stockman, doubted the fiscal prudence of Reaganomics. After the article's publication, Stockman absorbed public humiliation when President Reagan took him "to the woodshed." I trace that article as a seminal moment in my own political awareness.
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Then Romney won going away in Michigan; a win that injected caffeine into his Postum and added more green to his already bulky bankroll.
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Given the recent polling data, Republicans should stop speciously pointing fingers and start asking: 1) why do most Americans view us negatively, and 2) what can we actually do to change that?
Last week's Gallup poll found that more American's trusted Democrats over Republicans to do a better overall job and to handle national security and prosperity. The new Washington Post/ABC poll results contain similarly bad news for Republicans.
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For in a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, 'hold office'; everyone of us is in a position of responsibility; and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities. We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve."~~ John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage [p. 265]My friend Bernie says he's not only tired of making excuses for Democrats, he's sick and tired of it. "We've worked our backsides off since 9-11 getting people in office with the courage to derail Bush and Cheney's Constitutional death train," Bernie wailed. "We had our feet on the ground, our eyes on the prize, our noses to the grindstone, our backs to the wall, our shoulders to the wheel --" he paused, mentally clicking off body parts.
"Your head in the clouds?" I suggested helpfully.
"Yeah. That too," Bernie said. "We believed them when they said they wanted to end the war. They promised to stop the torture, the slaughter of innocents, the killing and maiming of our own citizens. Just give us the power, they said, and we'll put a stop to Bush and Cheney's killing spree -- we'll jerk a knot in Gonzales' tail, stop the illegal spying on Americans -- restore our battered Constitution. They promised to impeach the treasonous warmongers, and we believed them. Well," Bernie said, "we were wrong. We gave them the power -- and they betrayed us."
Bernie's right. They betrayed us. Scarcely had the polls closed in November before the victorious Democrats were out in force, backing down, caving in, reassuring George Bush and Dick Cheney they had nothing to worry about. Incoming House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi held an immediate news conference, then hit the airwaves, to include CBS 60 Minutes and Tim Russert's Meet the Press, with a single announcement -- impeachment is no longer in the Constitution. Oversight...accountability.
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When the AG told Congress he didn't recall any Constitutional guarantee of habeas corpus, I was stunned. I didn't realize Art. I, Sec. 9 of the Constitution was a figment of my imagination. At least that explains why no one uses it anymore.
This week really surprised me, though. I hear Congress just granted more unchecked powers to Gonzales. I can't understand how that happened. It's like no one recalls his testimony. It was awhile before I figured out the problem: we haven't been supportive enough.
Instead of calling them Vichy Democrats who cower in front of glass-jawed bullies, we should be supporting them. We've done it before. We can do it again. In 2006 we gave them a mandate. You and I know the majority of America was behind them. The problem was they didn't feel it. That's our fault. We need to show them we're behind them.
Working together, we can solve this ...
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Kollwitz, The Propeller
Having shown over the last seven months, since taking control of the legislative branch that they are at least equal to the Republicans when it comes to avarice, the Democrats set out this past weekend to demonstrate that, when it comes to cowardice, to blatant, unmitigated, ass covering politics they are every bit a match for Republicans.
Who impeaches the Congress? What in our Constitution protects the citizens of this country from a completely rogue government? When all three branches have abrogated their constitutional obligations, who will stand up for, who will represent the people of the United States?
Where must we search, to whom do we go for protection from the power of the wealthy corporate classes who are stealing our wealth, our livelihoods, and our future, who are spitting on our laws and our history as they sacrifice our Children and Grandchildren on the profane altar of their greed, in their eternal wars for profit and power?
Where is the opposition? Where do we go for redress of grievances when every institution of government is in the hands of the enemies of the people?
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By Dr. Lawrence Smith, Population Institute, at RH Reality Check.
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Today, the House Democrats will waltz into the mark-up of the Labor HHS Subcommittee and proudly present a bill that puts their stamp of approval on domestic abstinence-only-until-marri age programs--an ideological boondoggle that threatens the health and well-being of America's youth.
The most appalling aspect of this sell-out is that that the Democrats will not only fully fund the worst of the failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs--they'll give them a $27 million increase--the first in three years!
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