Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Let Freedom's Tower Sing, Gay Wedding Bells Ring, and the GOP Scandal Machine Ka-Ching!

The 408-foot spire is added to the Freedom Tower of One World Trade Center in lower Manhattan in New York City on May 10, 2013.

With the addition of the spire, the tower reached its final and symbolic 1,776-foot height -- and becomes (with some argument*) the tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere.

The Freedom Tower replaces the Twin Towers of the old World Trade Center that were destroyed in the 9/11/2001 attacks.

*The argument centers on whether the spire is "part" of the tower itself.


I started my entry about my weekend camping trip but it is simply way too late to begin -- much less complete -- such an undertaking. Instead, I'll just post a brief update tonight while noting a few items ...

My work day was fine although I kept my usual hours that are offset by about 2 hours from everyone else. I incorporated lots of edits into the geothermal technical working paper that I'm helping to draft.

The workers at the Freedom Tower pose on the morning of May 10, 2013 before the raising of the final spire.


I went to the gym and had a 5 mile / nearly 1 hour treadmill jog, almost 1 hour of weight-lifting, and just under a half hour swimming. My weight was 154.5 pounds -- just about at my minimum and down 29 pounds as measured on the big scale at the gym, although in point of fact I've lost at least 30 pounds and more like 32 or 33 pounds if you include muscle mass gain.

I'm home now watching TV and cooking a late dinner.


The weather ...

Sterling (LWX) NWS weather map advisories in effect as of 110AM EDT May 14, 2013.

It's a rather chilly night for mid May and as the map above shows, there are frost advisories in effect for the more distant northern and western D.C. and Baltimore suburbs / exurbs and outright freeze warnings in the Blue Ridge, Shenandoah, and Potomac Highlands. KIAD and KBWI will likely get down to 35F or thereabouts while KDCA does its usual 12F warmer thing.


A few other items ...

Minnesota's state legislature passed a bill legalizing gay marriage (the House last week and the Senate on Monday) and Gov. Mark Dayton is set to sign it later today (May 14, 2013). Minnesota joins Rhode Island and Delaware in the past 12 days to do so. Minnesota is the 12th state to do so and the first Midwestern state to approve it through the legislative process. (Iowa's move was a state Supreme Court decision.)

As of this exact moment, the map directly above shows the status of same-sex marriage and civil unions by state in the United States. Minnesota flips to dark blue later today. And what a shock -- the frickin' old Confederacy is all red. I'm so tired of the South. Maybe Lindsey Gay Graham (R - Gay) can talk us through this map.

Of course, there is also the not-so-little matter of how the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the two cases before it -- DOMA and California's Proposition 8. It basically will come down to Justice Kennedy or Chief Justice Roberts.

As for the IRS / Teabagger 501(c)(4) organization auditing thing, Chris Hayes on his show All In had an excellent segment discussing the all-important post-Citizens United context involving 501(c)(4) organizations.

None of this will matter, of course -- and indeed, the reason I can't get worked up about the alleged scandal / abuse of IRS power at its Cincinnati office before a more senior official ended the "extra scrutiny" -- is because the whole point of this from the Fox News / GOP perspective is to gin up the base's shrieking hysteria and dark paranoia in order to make the world safe for corporate oligarchy. This story is getting old.

Of note, I've seen Chris Hayes enough around the Dupont / Kalorama neighborhood that we sort of recognize each other and say hello. (I think he lives in the same building where Chris T. used to live.)

And as for "Benghazi Fever" (to use the description on Hardball), it's all GOP horsesh!t designed to deflect attention from actual issues such as mass unemployment. 

Oh, and in Michigan the governor proudly said F/CK YOU to a poor, most black school district (Buena Vista) and and let it close down rather than tap any of the $500M the state has in a rainy day fund.

Oh, yes, read this excellent piece by Jonathan Chait about how the two central tenets of present-day Republican philosophy are collapsing. These include:

(1) the belief that severe austerity in the face of a depressed economy is essential precisely because it will destroy what remains of the welfare state, which itself is a sort of moral imperative because high debt and deficits are causing a collapse of society; and

(2) medical inflation will ensure "Obamacare fails." 

For starters, the deficit is plunging and secondly, medical inflation has slowed dramatically, and it seems to be a structural change rather than due to the Great Recession.


"The deeper expression of the Ryan worldview comes from Yuval Levin, a close adviser to Ryan, probably the most influential conservative intellectual of the Obama era (and who was recently recognized as such and granted a $250,000 Bradley Prize).

"The fullest expression of Levin's view came in a widely cited essay he wrote for National Affairs, 'Beyond the Welfare State,' which came out right about when Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, and has served as their blueprint ever since. The most striking thing about the essay is its Marxian grandiloquence. Just as Marx believed of capitalism, Levin insisted the welfare state was utterly doomed, that the ailments he identified would necessarily continue indefinitely unless his chosen remedy was adopted."

This weird Marxist connection in an inverted form to present day American hard right Republican ideology is something Michael Lind has talked about at length. It is NOT a coincidence.

OK, that's all for now. My next planned update will be either on Wednesday or Thursday night. As for my camping-themed blog entry, it is probably going to have to wait until next weekend. Hopefully, it won't be as long as the still-delayed second entry about my New Jersey trip in January to my great Aunt Babe's 100th birthday party.


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