Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Archive for June 2011

Should a Candidate's Religion Matter?

Since Romney has emerged as the early, early front-runner for the GOP nomination, and then Huntsman joined him, the issue of a candidate’s religion is being discussed again.  Should it matter?  I’ve heard several pundits sigh in weary surprise that it seems to in an America that elected Obama.  I guess religion is no more a choice than race, and no more determinative of views, agendas, and character in their eyes.  Of course, those opposed to marriage equality still view homosexuality as a choice that connotes an agenda…

The truth is that for many of us, religion is not much more a choice as cultural background.  We may choose whether or not to continue participating, but it does influence who we are and how we engage the world.  As such, it seems to me that it’s fair to consider.  I would expect any Jewish candidate’s perspective on Israel and Palestine to be fair game in considering whether to support them or not.  Any candidate’s view on this question would be relevant, but a Jewish candidate’s background and commitments beg the question in a different way.  I think it is fair to ask catholic candidates how and to what degree they are influenced by church teaching, how and to what degree it shapes their policy perspectives, and how they view papal authority.  I think an observant Muslim candidate (fat chance, I know) should indeed address how their faith informs their thinking.  No more and no less so than with an evangelical candidate.  The problem seems to be when people judge candidates according to assumptions about their faith and its influence.  But it’s a fair question.

Mormonism is an aggressively missionizing religion.  Just like Jehovah’s Witnesses and evangelicals.  That in and of itself raises questions.  I don’t support the organized, institutional recruitment that is part of these door knocking religions.  My first question to door-knockers who show up at my home is: How is your koine Greek and western Aramaic?  When they inevitably cannot read a word of either, I ask them whether they would attend an undergraduate course on Homer with a professor who cannot read attic Greek?  Would they read Dante with a professor who didn’t know Italian or Pushkin with someone who was unversed in Russian?  The point is that these people represent institutions who claim authority and truth based on their doctrine, not their knowledge.  So, yes, I want to hear from any candidate of a proselytizing faith how that informs their perspectives on law and on historiography.  How does it inform their perspectives on sexuality and reproduction?  How does it inform their approach to poverty and human rights?  How does it affect their perspectives on other belief systems and cultures?  And if they think we are moving toward an imminent historically consummating encounter with divine justice, I cannot support them.

So yes, religion matters.  It matters in a different way than race or class or geography.  Some of the recent conversations in the public sphere suggest that this is bigotry.  But it’s only bigotry to make a decision without asking the questions.  

So what do the Moose think?  Is crotchety old Strum a bigot?

The Death of the Tennessee Democratic Party

By: Inoljt,

In the 2000 presidential election, Vice President Al Gore came within four percent of winning Tennessee.

Ten years later, according to reporter Ken Whitehouse of the Nashville Post, the Tennessee Democratic Party died. To mourn its passing, Mr. Whitehouse wrote an obituary chronicling the party’s storied history.

The obituary is quite a humorous read for those with an interest in politics.

More below.

Open Thread: Local Moose Does Good!

A very Motley congratulations to one of our favorite Moose!

DeniseVelez (Deoliver47 on dKos) has been named as the first dKos ‘Class of 2011’ Frontpager.


Kos himself announced the welcomed news just a bit ago…the reaction thus far has been OVERWHELMINGLY supportive and appreciative…a decision worthy of a bit of celebration!

Hello Motley Meece!

I received a lovely invitation to your site from Kysen, who was very kind about a diary I wrote on DKos.  I wanted to say a quick hello, and to thank you for being here, for creating and supporting blogs like this one, and to promise I’ll try to be good.

I’m a pretty ardent supporter of President Obama, and that’s caused me some grief over the last couple of years.  I don’t think I’m a ‘bot, but perhaps I am.  What I think is that I’ve never known a more Progressive or committed president in my lifetime, which is currently about twice as long as I expected it would be.  I barely recognize that oldish lady in the mirror – the inner person is still young and fired up about life and about being part of improving our world and our nation.  

I marched and sang and joined and signed when I was still in my teens, I phone-banked and walked neighborhoods when I was in my early 20’s, I helped form a neighborhood association during that time as well.  Then I took a couple of decades off to work on recovering from alcoholism and managing bi-polar disorder.  I tried really hard to fit into what I thought I should be, and failed rather spectacularly.  Repeatedly.  About 12 years ago I hit “fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke” mode, and life is easier

Reducing Food Waste: Making the Most of Our Abundance

Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet.

According to staggering new statistics from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), roughly one-third of the food produced worldwide for human consumption is lost or wasted, amounting to some 1.3 billion tons per year. In the developing world, over 40 percent of food losses occur after harvest-while being stored or transported, and during processing and packing. In industrialized countries, more than 40 percent of losses occur as a result of retailers and consumers discarding unwanted but often perfectly edible food.

At a time when the land, water, and energy resources necessary to feed a global population of 6.9 billion are increasingly limited-and when at least 1 billion people remain chronically hungry-food losses mean a waste of those resources and a failure of our food system to meet the needs of the poor. The Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project is highlighting ways to make the most of the food that is produced and to make more food available to those who need it most.

According to Tristram Stuart, a contributing author of Worldwatch’s State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet report, some 150 million tons of grains are lost annually in low-income countries, six times the amount needed to meet the needs of all the hungry people in the developing world. Meanwhile, industrialized countries waste some 222 million tons of perfectly good food annually, a quantity nearly equivalent to the 230 million tons that sub-Saharan Africa produces in a year. Unlike farmers in many developing countries, however, agribusinesses in industrial countries have numerous tools at their disposal to prevent food from spoiling-including pasteurization and preservation facilities, drying equipment, climate-controlled storage units, transport infrastructure, and chemicals designed to expand shelf-life.

“All this may ironically have contributed to the cornucopian abundance that has fostered a culture in which staggering levels of ‘deliberate’ food waste are now accepted or even institutionalized,” writes Stuart in his chapter, “Post-Harvest Losses: A Neglected Field.” “Throwing away cosmetically ‘imperfect’ produce on farms, discarding edible fish at sea, over-ordering stock for supermarkets, and purchasing or cooking too much food in the home, are all examples of profligate negligence toward food.”

Nourishing the Planet researchers traveled to 25 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, meeting with 350 farmers’ groups, NGOs, government agencies, and scientists. The amount of loss we saw is shocking considering that many experts estimate that the world will need to double food production in the next half-century as people eat more meat and generally eat better. It would make good sense to invest in making better use of what is already produced.

“Humanity is approaching – and in some places exceeding – the limits of potential farmland and water supplies that can be used for farming,” notes Worldwatch Institute Executive Director Robert Engelman. “We’re already facing food price spikes and the early impacts of human-caused climate change on food production. We can’t afford to overlook simple, low-cost fixes to reduce food waste.”

Nourishing the Planet offers the following three low-cost approaches that can go a long way toward making the most of the abundance that our food system already produces. Innovations in both the developing and industrialized worlds include:

  • Getting surpluses to those who need it. As mountains of food are thrown out every day in the cities of rich countries, some of the poorest citizens still struggle to figure out their next meal. Feeding America coordinates a nationwide network of food banks that receive donations from grocery chains. Florida’s Harry Chapin Food Bank, one of Feeding America’s partners, distributed 5.2 million kilograms of food in 2010. In New York City, City Harvest collects some 12.7 million kilograms of excess food each year from restaurants, grocers, corporate cafeterias, manufacturers, and farms and delivers it to nearly 600 New York City food programs. Similarly, London Street FoodBank utilizes volunteers to collect unused food items from London businesses and get them to food banks around the city.

  • Raising consumer awareness and reducing waste to landfills. Those who can easily afford to buy food-and throw it away-rarely consider how  much they discard or find alternatives to sending unwanted food to the landfill. In 2010, however, San Francisco became the first city to pass legislation requiring all households to separate both recycling and compost from garbage. By asking residents to separate their food waste, a new era of awareness is being fostered by the initiative. Nutrient-rich compost created by the municipal program is made available to area organic farmers and wine producers, helping to reduce resource consumption in agriculture. The Love Food Hate Waste website-an awareness campaign of the U.K.-based organization Wrap-provides online recipes for using leftovers as well as tips and advice for reducing personal food waste.

  • Improving storage and processing for small-scale farmers in developing countries. In the absence of expensive, Western-style grain stores and processing facilities, smallholders can undertake a variety of measures to prevent damage to their harvests. In Pakistan, the United Nations helped 9 percent of farmers cut their storage losses up to 70 percent by simply replacing jute bags and mud constructions with metal grain storage containers. And Purdue University is helping communities in rural Niger maintain year-round cow pea supplies by making low-cost, hermetically sealed plastic bags available through the Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS) program. Another innovative project uses solar energy to dry mangoes after harvest; each year, more than 100,000 tons of the fruit go bad before reaching the market in western Africa.

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

Conservatives Cannot Concede that Their Social Policies are Built on Paranoia

David Frum posted an opinion piece on regarding NY’s triumphant ratification of marriage equality in which the Heritage Institute cast-off and current “sane” conservative voice revisits his former opposition.

I was a strong opponent of same-sex marriage. Fourteen years ago, Andrew Sullivan and I forcefully debated the issue at length online (at a time when online debate was a brand new thing).

Yet I find myself strangely untroubled by New York state’s vote to authorize same-sex marriage — a vote that probably signals that most of “blue” states will follow within the next 10 years.

I don’t think I’m alone in my reaction either. Most conservatives have reacted with calm — if not outright approval — to New York’s dramatic decision.


The short answer is that the case against same-sex marriage has been tested against reality. The case has not passed its test.

Since 1997, same-sex marriage has evolved from talk to fact.

If people like me had been right, we should have seen the American family become radically more unstable over the subsequent decade and a half.

Instead — while American family stability has continued to deteriorate — it has deteriorated much more slowly than it did in the 1970s and 1980s before same-sex marriage was ever seriously thought of.

By the numbers, in fact, the 2000s were the least bad decade for American family stability since the fabled 1950s. And when you take a closer look at the American family, the facts have become even tougher for the anti-gay marriage position.…

Given Frum’s emerging stance as an intellectually honest truth teller, we should hardly be surprised.  And yet, even this supposedly bold concession lacks explicit recognition of the central fact of this debate.  He concedes that he was wrong, but not why.  

A Child In Every Pot

A child in every pot and a body under every garage!

Meet Michelle Bachmann’s new campaign pledge. Rest easy Republicans…your newest Great White Hope for the Presidency shares John Wayne (Gacy’s) vision for America!

Rep Bachmann’s Dream for the Nation: John Wayne’s America

A more hysterical campaign gaffe could not have been written.

Follow me below the fold for comedy gold.  

Tuesday June 21 and Wednesday June 22, 2011: Two Days in Tubes

If you missed it, or (like me) refuse to watch faux no matter what, Jon Stewart payed a little visit to Chris Wallace who is host for one of faux shows on Sunday morning. Don’t ask me which one, I don’t watch that channel as I hate the taste of vomit in my mouth.

Well that wasn’t from Sunday. Hmmm. While I am looking or the correct tube, feel free watch what happened in the world on Wednesday June 22, 2011 in 100 Seconds from TMPtv.

Huntsman? I didn’t know there was a Blue Dog challenging President Obama for the Democratic nomination.

This popped out at me and I thought I would share. I have always liked Robert.

Isn’t he adorable?

Flying Blind in Critical Infrastructure

Crossposted from Infosec Island

[Note: “SCADA” and “ICS” are essentially interchangeable terms for “Critical Infrastructure”. ICS is “Industrial Control Systems” and it doesn’t really matter what SCADA means for our purposes here.]

The root problem with SCADA security is that control systems have been built on the concept that devices can be trusted.

Since everything else about SCADA is based on the concept that devices can never be trusted (“Sure, the temperature in the boiler should stay at such-and-such, but I would like to monitor the hell out of it, anyway.”), once you get your head around the idea that you cannot trust your cyber devices either you find that it fits with existing industrial ideology quite well.

The solution to industrial cyber security is to do your best to build a reliable cyber system – just as you do with the physical assets in the industrial process – then monitor it like a convicted criminal in solitary confinement.