Why the double standard from the left?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Josh Duggar’s infidelities were outed as part of the Ashley Madison hacking. Duggar, one of the stars of the former Christian reality show 19 Kids & Counting, was revealed to have been a client of the online dating service that is designed for illicit extramarital affairs. And, of course, you’ve seen the wholesale condemnations of the Duggar family, Christianity and “the right” that have followed from left-wing pundits. 

Josh Duggar, of course, was the subject of intense scrutiny just months ago when it was revealed that he molested several children — including some of his sisters — when he was himself a child. His parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, were accused of sweeping the incident under the rug with help from friends in Arkansas law enforcement. 

I wrote a piece in May about how I cannot condemn the Duggars — including Josh Duggar — for what happened years ago. I do not regret writing that in light of these new revelations about Josh Duggar, because the basic truths of his misdeeds as a juvenile still stand. Folks who continue to insist that he should be in jail for the molestation years ago don’t understand even the basic concepts of the juvenile justice system. 

But we do now know that Josh Duggar’s transformation from misguided child who committed heinous acts to supposedly upstanding Christian adult was  a sham. His infidelities through Ashley Madison don’t mean Duggar isn’t a Christian; they simply mean he’s a hypocrite. Still, it’s difficult to defend the guy.

But one of the basic points of my post in May was that many people lashing out at the Duggar family in light of the molestation revelations were doing so simply because of who the Duggars are and what they claim to be. That has been proven again in light of the latest revelations. 

Case in point: this steaming pile of drivel from the Huffington Post which insinuates that Duggar was cheating on his wife through the online dating service because of his upbringing. The author asserts that it’s all the fault of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, because their son “was kept form a normal life, a normal childhood, a normal upbringing,” and taught very “sick” and “dangerous” things about sexuality.

But if Josh Duggar’s Ashley Madison account is all the fault of his parents, what does Hunter Biden’s account on the dating service say about the parenting skills of Joe Biden? 

If Josh Duggar turned to Ashley Madison because of the way his parents saw fit to raise him, Joe Biden must be a terrible parent as well. 

Funny, though, Hunter Biden’s Ashley Madison account doesn’t generate the headlines from the liberal blogs and news services like Josh Duggar’s Ashley Madison account. 

So while Josh Duggar is clearly a hypocrite, all of the pundits on the left who are attempting to use Duggar’s actions to condemn his family and Christianity in general are even bigger hypocrites. 

Dylann Roof, Bryce Williams were the same. Our reaction is not

Back in June, when a white lunatic carried a gun into a black church in Charleston and killed a bunch of people, I wrote at length about how this isn’t just a white problem. The racial divide, I said at the time, will continue to widen as long as we continue to ignore that the problem is a universal one that knows no specific color or race.

That post was largely a response to a Washington Post editor who opined that what happened in Charleston was a result of white supremacy being alive and well in the United States.

That attack, Karen Attiah (who is black) wrote, was “a deeply violent reminder that racism and white supremacy continue to course through America’s veins.” Attiah went on to compare the Charleston shooting with the firebombing of a white black church in Birmingham at the height of the South’s 1960s racial tension. 

Attiah’s column was grossly insulting because of its deep implication that violence in America is one-sided.

Today, we were handed yet another reminder — a reminder we shouldn’t need — that it in fact goes both ways, when a black man murdered two of his former colleagues on live TV and wounded an innocent bystander. All three of the victims were white, and the shooter made it clear that his actions were racially-motivated.

In the immediate aftermath of the Charleston shooting, America paused for a long and drawn-out discussion about what is at the root of caucasian hatred. The Confederate flag came under attack, retailers yanked Confederate insignia from shelves, Dukes of Hazzard reruns were pulled from the air, politicians like Tennessee’s Gov. Bill Haslam struck up conversations of removing the busts and statues of Confederate leaders from public display, and there were even calls for the likenesses of former slave-owning presidents to be stripped from Mount Rushmore. 

But today, when the shoe was on the other foot, there was no discussion about what was at the root of Bryce Williams’ hatred. 

That’s striking, because Williams and Charleston shooter Dylann Roof had one very real thing in common: they both wanted a race war. 

In confessing to the church slayings in Charleston, Roof admitted that he wanted to start a race war. And in a fax to ABC News after he murdered his two former colleagues in cold blood, Williams claimed he was giving Roof the race war that Roof had wanted.

But instead of pausing for a discussion similar to the one initiated by Roof’s actions, we’ve watched today as the talking heads on television and the politicians in Washington have fallen back on the same tired talking points: The need for more gun control, the mental stability of the shooter, and pop culture’s influence on the events in question. 

Think back two months ago and recall that there was little talk about gun control. Oh, there were the obligatory calls for lawmakers to enact stricter gun control measures. President Obama, just hours after Roof left nine victims dead, issued his standard plea to Congress for tighter gun laws. But those remarks largely fell on deaf ears. We were too engaged in a national conversation about the Confederate flag, the Dukes of Hazzard, and what drives white people to kill black people.

Today, within hours of the journalists’ deaths in Virginia, the White House again sounded off on gun control, with Obama press secretary Josh Earnest saying it’s time for Congress to enact “commonsense” gun laws, while Democrat presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton pressed Congress to pass stricter gun control laws.

The difference between June 17 and today is that, today, the politicians’ calls for stricter gun control resonated with the editors and publishers who determine what news headlines are consumed by the masses. Because today we weren’t distracted by discussions about what drives black people to kill white people. 

The difference is glaring. When whites kill blacks, it’s a racism problem. When blacks kill whites, it’s simply a problem of too many guns in the wrong hands. 

The truth, though, is the same now as it was on June 17. We have a problem that goes beyond white hatred, guns, and all the other scapegoats. 

As I wrote on June 19: 

“Somewhere in America, probably in multiple places, innocent white people will die because black people are seeking to avenge the Charleston massacre. And the cycle will continue with increasing viciousness. Meanwhile, our mainstream press — driven by agenda-laden journalists — will continue to ignore the problem while simultaneously driving the wedge of racial divide. And the problem will continue to get worse.” 

Today, Bryce Williams made it clear that his actions were exactly that — an effort to avenge the Charleston massacre.

And we still haven’t learned our lesson. 

A great take on Elvira

I’m a big fan of the Oak Ridge Boys. And arguably their biggest song is Elvira. It’s a timeless classic.

So what would make it better? How about the Oak Ridge Boys being joined by one of the most talented a cappella groups of our day, Home Free? Watch, listen, and be amazed:

Check out Home Free’s YouTube channel for more musical goodness. They’ve done a lot of covers, and all of them are spectacularly done.

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Florida is in Erika’s sights

A very quiet hurricane season in the Atlantic basin has heated up in a hurry. Tropical Storm Erika has become the fifth named storm of the 2015 season. And while Hurricane Danny may have fizzled and died as he neared the Caribbean, it is looking more and more as though Danny may have simply paved the way for Erika to become the second storm of the season to impact the U.S. mainland.

Tropical storm warnings are currently being posted for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, along with the Antilles, but it is what comes after that that has U.S. interests particularly on guard: 

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As you can see, the National Hurricane Center currently projects Erika to strike South Florida as a Category 1 hurricane early Monday. 

This storm is rocketing along, relatively speaking, moving west at 17 mph. The current projected path keeps it just north of the major islands of the Caribbean, which means minimal land interaction — which in turn means there won’t be much to hinder development, so long as atmospheric conditions remain optimal. 

The major models all show Erika continuing to strengthen through the next five days, eventually reaching hurricane strength. A couple — most notably, the GFDL — even have this storm becoming a major hurricane before landfall. 

So, is it a done deal that Erika will strike Florida? No. In fact, a couple of models show this storm recurving out to sea. The GFDL, which shows her becoming a rather powerful hurricane, takes her north to the Carolinas. A couple more — the GFS and the BAMM — take it into the Gulf of Mexico (the GFS by way of Miami). 

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The GFS track is the most interesting one, as far as U.S. interests are concerned. First, a direct hit on a major U.S. city, followed by a potential second landfall along the Gulf Coast? That could spell trouble. And, of course, any tropical storm becomes an increased interest to inland locations such as East Tennessee once it enters the GOMEX. While there is quite a bit of uncertainty within the global model suite as a whole, the GFS’s ensembles are actually in pretty good agreement with a track that either takes Erika across the southern tip of Florida or between Florida and Cuba to the Gulf of Mexico. Only three of the model’s ensemble members recurve the storm before impacting Florida. 

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However, here’s the interesting thing about the GFS: the model doesn’t really develop Erika into a full-fledged tropical storm as she approaches Florida. In fact, the GFS’s current interpretation is little more than a tropical disturbance that would bring thunderstorms to south Florida. And most of the ensemble members agree with the GFS’s operational run. That’s largely why the GFS has this storm further south than most of the other models. Weaker storms drift along on more of an east-to-west axis while stronger storms begin their northward churn more quickly (which is also why the GFDSL is much further north and east with this storm). 

So, what’s the bottom line? Much uncertainty. Hey, it’s weather. Of course there’s uncertainty! Erika weakened a bit overnight and she’s still fighting unfavorable conditions, including dry air and wind shear. Additionally, the looming island nations could pose a problem for her, especially if her projected path is a bit further south than several of the models suggest. And if the dry air and wind shear continue to mess with her mojo, chances increase that she will be a bit further south. That would result in more land interaction, which in turn would hinder development, or even cause the storm to dissipate entirely, much like Hurricane Danny.

Dr. Jeff Masters currently gives the storm only a 20% chance of making landfall in the U.S. as a hurricane, contrasted with a 40% chance that it dissipates before landfall. 

Summer’s last stand: The heat ain’t done

If these last couple of days haven’t made you feel alive, then you might not be. The first true taste of fall has been in the air here in East Tennessee since a cold front swept through the region yesterday, ushering high pressure and dry air in and lowering dew points.

But don’t get too used to it. Summer isn’t finished.

As I mentioned yesterday, it looks like hot weather will return with a vengeance as September arrives next week. 

The GFS computer model has been consistently advertising above-average temperatures to start the first month of meteorological autumn. The model runs four times each day, and for the past three or four days, each of those runs have steadfastly projected temperatures well north of 90 degrees for next week, even here on the higher elevations of the Cumberland Plateau.

It’s worth noting, of course, that the GFS is only one of several models that meteorologists rely on to build their weather forecasts. But it’s a reasonably accurate model, and it isn’t by itself in projecting some very warm temperatures next week. For the purpose of this post, though, we’ll stick with the GFS.

Yesterday was the hottest day of modeling by the GFS. Three of the model’s four operational runs yesterday depicted temperatures in excess of 100 degrees here on the northern plateau at various points between Sept. 3 and Sept. 8. 

As I pointed out in yesterday’s post, temperatures that hot are extremely unlikely. We rarely hit 100 degrees here on the northern plateau; if someone you know says “it was 100 degrees today,” chances are their thermometer wasn’t properly set up (out of direct sunlight, etc.). You could count on two hands the number of times we’ve hit 100 degrees in our history, let alone in the month of September.

The latest 100-degree temperature reading in Oneida was on Aug. 10. That occurred during the massive heat wave of 1980. By the time we get to next week, we’ll be three weeks past that all-time latest date. The hottest we’ve ever gotten in September here in Oneida is 98 degrees, which occurred on Sept. 3, 2011. (The second-hottest is 97 degrees, which occurred on Sept. 4, 2011.) Once you get past Sept. 4, the hottest we’ve ever gotten in Oneida in the month of September was 94 degrees, set on Sept. 10, 1994.

But we routinely see temperatures in the 90s during the first half of September, and even if you throw out yesterday’s runs of the GFS as anomalies, that’s still what the model is projecting. All four of today’s runs of the GFS project us getting into the upper 90s (topping out at 97-98 degrees) next week. So there’s pretty remarkable run-to-run consistency for some unseasonable heat building in as we get into the middle of next week.

And, unfortunately, it looks like it’ll hang around for a few days. The model is currently projecting temperatures in the upper 90s all the way through the end of the run on Sept. 10.

Secondary to the heat, it looks like much drier weather than what we’ve been experiencing lately may be in store for the first half of September. Both the 0z and 12z runs of the GFS today projected a half-inch of rain or less for the northern plateau over the course of the next two weeks. It’s worth pointing out that the GFS has performed remarkably poorly this summer in regards to rain chances beyond 3-4 days out, but the bottom line is that triggering mechanisms for thunderstorms appear to be few and far between for the next couple of weeks, and with no frontal boundaries to speak of, or tropical disturbances washing ashore from the Gulf of Mexico, chances are we’ll see much more sunshine than rain over the next 15 days or so.

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center is showing a strong likelihood of above-average temperatures for the entire eastern U.S. for the next 14 days, but it’s also showing slight chances of above-average rainfall for Tennessee for days 8-14. 

Does very hot weather loom?

A real taste of fall across East Tennessee today, and that’s going to continue for the next couple of days, but history says we’re still a few weeks removed from the end of the threat of summer heat. 

And, right on cue, the GFS computer model has been advertising some ridiculously hot temperatures a week into September.

The 12z run of the model this afternoon tops us out at 101 degrees here on the northern Cumberland Plateau on Thursday, Sept. 3, with the hot weather building in on Sept. 1 and continuing all the way through the end of the model run on Sept. 9. 

The 18z run of the model later this evening also showed the heat arriving on Sept. 1 and sticking around for the next week, but delayed the hottest temperature of 101 until Tuesday, Sept. 8.

The 0z run of the model this morning showed a maximum temperature of 102 on Thursday, Sept. 3. The 6z run a few hours later topped out “only” at 97, but it also showed very hot temperatures all week next week.

The bottom line is that the GFS model is consistently — for the last few days — advertising very hot temperatures for the first week of September. Today’s runs of the model were the hottest so far, but this idea has been on the table for a few days now. 

I think we can fairly safely say that 100 degrees isn’t going to happen. The northern plateau rarely hits 100 any time, let alone in September. The latest 100-degree or hotter temperature ever recorded on the northern plateau is Aug. 10, which came during the massive heat wave of 1980. As far as September goes, the hottest temperature ever recorded here is 98 degrees — set on Sept. 3, 2011. The next day saw a temperature reading of 97 degrees, which is the second-hottest September temperature on record in Oneida. Once you get past Sept. 4, the hottest temperature we’ve ever had in September was 94 degrees, set on Sept. 10, 1994.

The GFS has also been indicating the potential for some very dry weather over the next couple of weeks. The 12z run this afternoon showed almost two inches of rainfall for the period, but the 0z run this morning showed less than a tenth of an inch of rain. That lines up with some other recent runs of the model, including the 18z run that rolled out this evening. 

For what it’s worth, the Climate Prediction Center forecasts above-average temperatures for the eastern U.S. for the next 14 days. (But, for days 8-14, the CPC also predicts above-average rainfall for Tennessee.) 

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Danny dies an unceremonious death

El Nino conditions have caused Hurricane Danny to meet his demise. 

The combination of dry air and wind shear was expected to kill Danny before he did too terribly much damage to high-population areas, but he wasn’t expected to go quite this quick. But after being downgraded to a tropical depression this morning, hurricane hunters failed to find a closed circulation area. And radar indicates that thunderstorm activity associated with the tropical system is diminishing. Thus, Danny is no more.

But that doesn’t mean the island nations of the Caribbean are out of the woods. Not just yet, anyway. Another tropical disturbance, Invest 98L, is currently marching across the Atlantic, and could very well become Erika — the fifth named storm of the 2015 hurricane season. In fact, the National Hurricane Center currently gives it a 90% chance of cyclone formation in the next two days. 

Erika will fight the same battles Danny fought, though. If she’s able to survive, she could be a threat for anywhere from Puerto Rico to New England — and it’s currently too soon to say which. The GFS is the furthest south of all the models, depicting this storm impacting the island nations. The other models in the global suite are further north. A trough will be developing over the eastern U.S. by the time Erika gets close to the Caribbean, and that feature could very well determine exactly where this storm winds up. 

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Another tropical wave has peeled off the coast of Africa and is currently situated just west of the Cape Verde islands. But the NHC gives it only a 10% chance of cyclone formation over the next five days.

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Danny takes aim at the islands

Hurricane Danny — the first hurricane of the 2015 Atlantic tropical season — has exceeded expectations, gaining Category 3 status with maximum sustained winds well north of 110 mph. But he’s begun weakening, has been downgraded to a Cat 2 hurricane, and is expected to be a tropical storm by the time he impacts the islands late this weekend, later devolving into a tropical depression due to interaction with land over Hispaniola: 

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Models have arrived at a pretty solid consensus, taking Danny across Puerto Rico, then Hispaniola, then Cuba, before aiming him at the southern point of Florida. 

When Danny briefly gained Cat 3 status Friday afternoon, he became the strongest hurricane on the Atlantic high seas in five years. No one expected a major hurricane when this system began to evolve, but it’s still a very compact storm, with hurricane-force winds extending only 15 miles. 

What’s interesting is that Danny is so small and so compact that his core can actually miss the land interaction if the anticipated track shifts even slightly to the north, which would help him remain a force to be reckoned with all the longer. It is still anticipated that this storm will recurve before reaching Florida, but there’s no guarantee. The positioning of an upper level low over the continental U.S. almost a week from now will help determine exactly where this storm tracks. 

Danny has been an unpredictable storm thus far and will likely continue to be as he moves closer to U.S. interests. 

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Hurricane Danny is born

We were close, but we didn’t make it to the end of August without a tropical cyclone for the first time since 1997. 

Danny became a tropical cyclone early yesterday and has now strengthened to hurricane status, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, gusting to 100 mph, as he bears down on the Caribbean. 

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The good news is that his time to strengthen is just about behind him, and he should begin to weaken over the next few days. Because he’s making a beeline for the island nations. 

Danny could be downgraded to a tropical storm by the end of the weekend, as he prepares to brush the Lesser Antilles late Sunday and early Monday and reach Puerto Rico by early Tuesday. 

There’s still much uncertainty about where this storm goes after that. The operational GFS computer model takes him just south of Hispaniola, but most of the model’s individual ensemble members actually take him north of Hispaniola, perhaps impacting Florida’s Atlantic coast or even recurving before getting that far west.

It’s interesting to note that the latest GFS is the furthest south of the model suite. The rest of the major models are more in line with the GFS’s ensemble majority, meaning the National Hurricane Center may have to adjust its track further north than it’s currently depicted. 

Danny has been fighting atmospheric conditions that would rip apart many storms, but he continues to plug along. As Dr. Jeff Masters points out, this is largely due to his small size. This is a compact storm that only has hurricane force winds extending 20 miles, and tropical storm force winds extending 60 miles. 

The dry and dusty Saharan air that battered the storm yesterday will continue to work on it over the next few days, which should aid the weakening that is projected by models. The wind shear — so common in El Nino years — will also be his enemy. 

Bottom line: Lots and lots of uncertainty for Danny over the next week or so. He could yet become a Gulf of Mexico hurricane — which is what we always watch for during tropical season because it could have an eventual impact on East Tennessee — but that remains to be seen. 

Meanwhile, another tropical disturbance is developing off the Atlantic Coast. Invest 97L is well out to sea, and should stay there. But there is some uncertainty about where it’ll track, and the NHC currently gives it a 60% chance of strengthening to cyclone status over the next five days. So we could have two cyclones in the Atlantic Basin at the same time, and there’s no guarantee that this one won’t impact the New England coast before all is said and done. 

Vols on the verge of a national title

When is the last time you saw the words “Tennessee” and “national championship” mentioned in the same breath? Barton Simmons, of 247Sports.com, goes there, listing the Vols among six programs that are on the brink of national title contention:

Everyone sees what Butch Jones is doing on the recruiting trail and the Volunteer roster is starting to look like Alabama and Florida State walking off the bus. The main reason that Tennessee could have realistic national title aspirations in the long term is what they’ve done at the quarterback position. After Josh Dobbs, Quinten Dormady looks like the real deal, four-star Sheriron Jones is behind him but even more talent is in the cooker. Tennessee could potentially land the top quarterback in the country for both 2017 (Hunter Johnson) and 2018 (Trevor Lawrence). That’s how you build dynasties.