Wednesday Reads: Winter…Sunlight, Monsters and Tolkien

78308149-7d10-4b53-8b07-648b314a268bGood Morning!

Finally…we have a nippy morning here in Banjoland! I love the cold weather, it makes sleeping late in a nice cozy bed even more enjoyable.

There was another shooting late yesterday, this time in Portland, Oregon. Gunman Opens Fire in Oregon Shopping Mall. According to VOA, the gunman shot and killed two people before turning the gun on himself…no final number of wounded as I write this post. I will be sure to update you on this latest shooting as more information comes forward.

Okay…I’ve got plenty of politics for you this morning, if it is okay I will give them to you in link dump fashion. (Honestly, I am still a bit “gun-shy” with WordPress. It may take a few post before I feel comfortable writing a lot of words in these threads. I think it is a slight case of PSTD, from way back in college…when my final thesis went phffft, poof and gone…just as I was printing the thing out on the day it was due. Nightmare!)

Anyway, here are some of the political stories of the last 24 hours:

Soledad kicked some major ass yesterday. She is awesome at her job, which btw is being a journalist and a real savvy reporter. Soledad Grills Jeff Sessions: ‘You Hurt People Who Need Food’ with Food Stamp Cuts

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) on Tuesday faced tough questions from CNN host Soledad O’Brien for his plan to cut the food stamp program and “hurt people who need food,” including 20 percent of his own constituents in Alabama.

Speaking to Sessions in an interview on CNN’s Starting Point, O’Brien wondered if cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) should be on the table as part of the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations.

“Absolutely,” Sessions insisted. “This month was a record increase in food stamp participation at a time when unemployment is declining.”

“But there are people who say if you’re doing cuts, you invariably hurt people who need food,” O’Brien observed. “It’s 61 percent of households in your state have children who are recipients of the food program that they’re on.”

Sessions continued to spew his crap, I mean opinion:

“Soledad, this program has been growing out of control at an incredible rate and there are a lot of people receiving benefits who do not qualify and should not receive them,” Sessions remarked. “No child, no person who needs food should be denied that food. Nobody proposes that. We are talking about an amendment that I offered that would have reduced and closed a loophole of $8 billion when we would spend $800 billion was opposed by saying it would help — it would leave people hungry in America, but it would have only eliminated abuses in the program.”

The CNN host, however, pointed out that the Alabama Republican had voted twice to grow the program and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities had determined that “SNAP has one of the most rigorous quality control systems of any public benefit program.”

“People highlight the program as actually not having a lot of fraud,” O’Brien explained. “Most people who are on it are not somehow working the system. They’re just hungry people.”

Snap for SNAP…Video at the link.

From ABC News, and what looks like the back of Barbara Walter’s head: EXCLUSIVE: President Obama Predicts GOP Will Cave on Taxes

PHOTO: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participate in an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Dec. 11, 2012.
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama participate in an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Dec. 11, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As the clock ticks toward a tax hike on all Americans in 20 days, President Obama predicted Republicans would join Democrats to extend current rates for 98 percent of earners before the end of the year.

“I’m pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals,” Obama said today in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Barbara Walters.

You wanna bet?

These right-wing Republicans are like bulldogs locked down on a hunk of red meat…they do not give up. Just take a look at these headlines:

Angry with Obama, GOP threatens political war next year – CNN.com

Rick Perry: Outlawing All Access To Abortion Is ‘My Goal’ | ThinkProgress

Yes, threats and promises of all out war to get what they want. Basturds!

In other GOP political news:

H/T to Tennessee Guerilla Women: Michigan ‘Right-to-Work-for-Less’ Bill Copied from Koch-Funded ALEC Playbook

You didn’t think Michigan Republicans had an original idea:

Michigan Passes “Right to Work” Containing Verbatim Language from ALEC Model Bill 

I’ve got to share this political cartoon with you, it can’t wait until our Friday Nite Lite:

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Right to Work Pee

Right to Work Pee © Daryl Cagle,CagleCartoons.com,ssGOP,Republican,elephant,urine,union,United Auto Workers,UAW,AFL-CIO,Teamsters,pee

Yup, piss on…piss on!

This latest PPP poll shows that people are sick of the mutant asshole turtle, I mean…Mitch McConnell…he is highly unpopular according to Public Policy Polling

Mitch McConnell is the most unpopular Senator in the country. Only 37% of Kentucky voters approve of him to 55% disapprove. Both in terms of raw disapproval (55%) and net approval (-18) McConnell has the worst numbers of any of his peers, taking that mantle from Nebraska’s Ben Nelson.

McConnell is predictably very unpopular with Democrats (23/73). But his numbers are almost as bad with independents (33/58) and even with Republicans he’s well below the 70-80% approval range you would usually expect for a Senator within their own party (59/28).

If only this disgust toward McConnell would relate in votes against the man.

The reason McConnell does decently well in the head to head match ups despite his poor approval numbers is that even though a lot of Republicans dislike him, most of them would still vote for him in a general election before they would support a Democrat. This is the same phenomenon we saw in Florida and Pennsylvania this year where Bill Nelson and Bob Casey won by solid margins despite middling approval numbers because Democrats that weren’t thrilled with them still voted for them. And although independents don’t like McConnell they don’t like most of the Democrats either, and they support McConnell in every match up we tested.

The PPP article mentions Ashley Judd, go read the rest at the link. (I sure hope Judd does run for McConnell seat in 2014. But my hope is up there with a Hillary run in 2016….I think it is kind of a long shot they will run period.)

Speaking of Hillary, Nate Silver has this to say about Hillary 2016: Why Hillary Clinton Would Be Strong in 2016 (It’s Not Her Favorability Ratings)

Let’s start by stating the obvious: Hillary Rodham Clinton would be a formidable presidential candidate in 2016.

Mrs. Clinton’s credentials as secretary of state, as a United States senator and as a politically engaged first lady would be hard for any of her Democratic or Republican rivals to match. She would have little trouble raising funds or garnering support from the Democratic officials, and she might even come close to clearing the Democratic field of serious opposition.

Be sure to read the rest of Silver’s post.

With the release of The Hobbit later this week, J.R.R. Tolkien is figuring in lots of blog post, like this one from Medieval.net: Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics

Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics

By J. R. R. Tolkien

Introduction: In 1864 the Reverend Oswald Cockayne wrote of the Reverend Doctor Joseph Bosworth, Rawlinsonian Professor of Anglo-Saxon: ‘I have tried to lend to others the con-viction I have long entertained that Dr. Bosworth is not a man so diligent in his special walk as duly to read the books… which have been printed in our old English, or so-called Anglosaxon tongue. He may do very well for a professor.’ These words were inspired by dissatisfaction with Bosworth’s dictionary, and were doubtless unfair. If Bosworth were still alive, a modern Cockayne would probably accuse him of not reading the ‘literature’ of his subject, the books written about the books in the so-called Anglo-Saxon tongue. The original books are nearly buried.

Of none is this so true as of The Beowulf, as it used to be called. I have, of course, read The Beowulf, as have most (but not all) of those who have criticized it. But I fear that, unworthy successor and beneficiary of Joseph Bosworth, I have not been a man so diligent in my special walk as duly to read all that has been printed on, or touching on, this poem. But I have read enough, I think, to venture the opinion that Beowulfiana is, while rich in many departments, specially poor in one. It is poor in criticism, criticism that is directed to the understanding of a poem as a poem. It has been said of Beowulf itself that its weakness lies in placing the unimportant things at the centre and the important on the outer edges. This is one of the opinions that I wish specially to consider. I think it profoundly untrue of the poem, but strikingly true of the literature about it. Beowulf has been used as a quarry of fact and fancy far more assiduously than it has been studied as a work of art.

It is of Beowulf, then, as a poem that I wish to speak; and though it may seem presumption that I should try with swich a lewed mannes wit to pace the wisdom of an heep of lerned men, in this department there is at least more chance for the lewed man. But there is so much that might still be said even under these limitations that I shall confine myself mainly to the monsters—Grendel and the Dragon, as they appear in what seems to me the best and most authoritative general criticism in English—and to certain considerations of the structure and conduct of the poem that arise from this theme.

Click here to read this article from the College of Southern Idaho

Click here to read this article from TeacherWeb

Click here to read this article from the University of Georgia

Hopefully one of those three links will work for you. Enjoy it!

And finally, a big hat-tip to Fiscal Liberal, who emailed me these links below…kewl as hell!

First link is to a blog that details the movement of sunlight and weather during the day, via Opentopia – World Sunlight Map

FireShot Screen Capture #358 - 'Opentopia - World Sunlight Map' - www_opentopia_com_sunlightmaprect_html

A world map showing current sunlight and cloud cover, as of Dec 12 2012 02:00 UTC.
This is the rectangular projection. You can also see a more realistic hemispherical projection.
Image provided by die.net.

Click the link to see the updated real/time image.

This next link is to a 19 minute video, OVERVIEW on Vimeo

On the 40th anniversary of the famous ‘Blue Marble’ photograph taken of Earth from space, Planetary Collective presents a short film documenting astronauts’ life-changing stories of seeing the Earth from the outside – a perspective-altering experience often described as the Overview Effect.

The Overview Effect, first described by author Frank White in 1987, is an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.

‘Overview’ is a short film that explores this phenomenon through interviews with five astronauts who have experienced the Overview Effect. The film also features insights from commentators and thinkers on the wider implications and importance of this understanding for society, and our relationship to the environment.

I’ve embedded the video below…however if you want to see a larger screen image, click on that Vimeo link up top. Hope you enjoy this one too.

That is all I got for you this morning, should be a good start, right? What are you all reading and thinking about today?