The Watering Hole; Friday October 24 2014; On the Other Hand . . .

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The other day I accidentally ran across this pair of tidbits that represent . . . not sure how to say this . . . that represent either (a) the pinnacles of American stupidity or (b) the bottom of the bottomless pit of American idiocy? (Word choice is open for discussion).

First off, this gem:

Author says South should form new nation without gays and Hispanics called ‘Reagan’

Conservative columnist and former aide to President Ronald Reagan called on southern states to secede and form an ultraconservative new nation named after his old boss. Douglas MacKinnon, a former speechwriter for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, appeared Tuesday on The Janet Mefford Show to promote his new book, “The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country … Now.”

He told the religious conservative host that southern states – starting with Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina – should leave the United States so they can implement a right-wing Christian system of government.

MacKinnon envisions other states joining, but he hopes to leave out Texas because “there have been a number of incursions into Texas and other places from some of the folks in Mexico.”

“A growing number of our leaders seem determined to erase our borders,” he wrote in a recent syndicated column promoting his book, “do away with the rule-of-law, expand the nanny state into a theology, bankrupt or punish American companies in the name of fighting climate change, do away with the 2nd Amendment, censor or demonize the history of western civilization and replace it with multiculturalism, give every kid a trophy and turn them into wimps, continue to support the completely unfunded public-employee pensions which are destroying the financial solvency of cities, counties, and states across our nation, add billions every day to our $17 trillion in debt, destroy our health-care system to substitute socialized medicine, vilify fossil fuels, and attack all faith in God with a particular and unhinged bias against the Christian faith.”

[. . .]

He said the new country should be called Reagan, at least until voters there could decide on a permanent name.

MacKinnon did not specifically address . . . whether slavery would be legal in the new secessionist government, nor did he describe the status of black people living in Reagan.

But he made clear that LGBT people would be second-class citizens – or worse – saying that advances in their rights as citizens was a major factor in his call to break up the United States. [Etc.]

What a great idea! What could possibly go wrong?

Next up, a message massage from Louie Gohmert, one that presumably defines the fate of the part of the country that chooses not to become part of the nation called ‘Reagan.’

Gohmert: Gay Massage Will Make Our Soldiers Vulnerable To Terrorism

“I’ve had people say, ‘Hey, you know, there’s nothing wrong with gays in the military. Look at the Greeks.’ Well, you know, they did have people come along who they loved that was the same sex and would give them massages before they went into battle. But you know what, it’s a different kind of fighting, it’s a different kind of war and if you’re sitting around getting massages all day ready to go into a big, planned battle, then you’re not going to last very long. It’s guerrilla fighting.

“You are going to be ultimately vulnerable to terrorism and if that’s what you start doing in the military like the Greeks did … as people have said, ‘Louie, you have got to understand, you don’t even know your history.’ Oh yes I do. I know exactly. It’s not a good idea.”

I was going to add a snarky comment right here, but I can’t remember what it was. I guess I’ve been dumb-founded, or something.

Oh well, on the other hand there’s another world out there. In fact, I’m thinking of seceding from this one and moving on to that better place — ‘Out There.’ Like for example (trying to sound secessionist):

Colorado Front Range, Indian Summer

Colorado Front Range, Indian Summer

And finally, a massage message from some ‘out there’ residents:

Geese at Beckwith 621

There. ‘Nuff said. No need for more words.

OPEN THREAD

Watering Hole: Thursday, October 23, 2014 – Quiet Zone

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Sometimes quiet can be a good thing.  Here’s a short story about a town in West Virginia that gave up their wireless gadgets.

GREEN BANK, West Virginia—The barrage of noise and distractions that are all but inescapable in most American communities is refreshingly absent in this unassuming hamlet, located in the wooded hills of Pocahontas County, four hours west of Washington, D.C. Here, no cell phones chirp or jingle, and local kids aren’t glued to the glowing screens of their mobile devices. Older residents roll down their car windows to greet each other and leave their front doors unlocked.

But Green Bank, population 143, isn’t a technological backwater. On the contrary, it is the proud home of one of the marvels of the space age: the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, or GBT for short. Towering nearly 500 feet above its wide, green valley, with a dish large enough to cradle a football field, the GBT is the world’s biggest fully steerable radio telescope—and one of the largest movable objects anywhere on land. Locals jokingly refer to it as the Great Big Thing.

The GBT and other radio telescopes enable astronomers to detect and study objects in space that give off little visible light but emit naturally occurring radio waves—objects such as pulsars, gas clouds, and distant galaxies.

… etc…

This is our Open Thread.  I do hope that you read the complete article at National Geographic as I only posted the opening three paragraphs.

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 20th, 2014: Goodbye, Indian Summer

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2221717194

river through The Great Swamp

river through The Great Swamp


On Friday, I wore shorts to work and went in with my hair still wet. The day was sunny and hit the low 70s. Today, I’m going into work wearing long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a lightweight fleece jacket, as the weather is finally remembering that it’s fall.

(sigh)

Goodbye, Indian Summer – you’re welcome to visit any time…

This is our daily open thread – feel free to discuss whatever you want.

Sunday Roast: Relax, people

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find that, lately, I need to find a way to unclench my jaw.  It just seems to keep getting worse.  I dunno why…

Maybe it’s because we live in a world full of fuckwits.

The music of Azam Ali helps.

This is our daily open thread — At least try to relax

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, October 22, 2014, and now for something completely different…

I found this video fascinating. The wave forms reminded me of my high school physics class, when I was trying to get a grasp of the particle-wave theory of light.

Open Thread Time

Thoughts?

Reflections on the metahysical nature of the universe?

Or….

Shall we do the Time Warp again?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 18, 2014: Is Stupidity Worth the Price of Religious Freedom?

In an impassioned (if somewhat inaccurate) defense of “speaking the truth,” Senator Ted Cruz (Regressive, NeverNeverLand) completely mischaracterized and fabricated a rationale for a subpoena brought about in a legal dispute over the validity of petition signatures to overturn a Houston, TX, ordinance that hasn’t yet gone into effect, and which could not have been used in the manner he feared even if it did. He’s not the only one doing it. TV personality on his own network and malignant boil on the skin of religious liberty, Pat Robertson, is also making up his own reasons for the subpoenas. The subpoenas in question were intended to find out what instructions were given to signature gatherers organized by five local pastors. Mayoral Spokesperson Janice Evans said, “Neither the mayor nor City Attorney David Feldman were aware the subpoenas had been issued until Tuesday. Both agree the original documents were overly broad. The city will move to narrow the scope during an upcoming court hearing. Attorney Feldman says the focus should be only on communications related to the HERO petition process.” They sought

“all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

Yes. If all they were after were the instructions given to people gathering signatures, then this subpoena was unquestionably too broad. And so the city has refiled the subpoenas with the focus solely on the petition process instructions. And that’s as it should be.

But what about all the diaper-filling crying by the religious right about what these subpoenas were really about? These are allegedly educated men. Did they not understand the issues involved? Does Cruz really believe this issue had anything to do with pastors being “hauled off to jail for a hate crime because they are speaking for traditional marriage”? Does Robertson really believe that Mayor Parker’s “predilections” were exposed by this incident (the filing of the subpoenas), and that it’s the worst demand by a mayor in modern times? (Robertson must have slept through the Civil Rights struggles of the 50’s and 60’s.) According to the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) (emphasis mine)

…bans discrimination based not just on sexual orientation and gender identity but also, as federal laws do, sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy and genetic information, as well as family, marital or military status.

The ordinance applies to businesses that serve the public, private employers, housing, city employment and city contracting. Religious institutions would be exempt. Violators could be fined up to $5,000.

So even if the law were in effect and the sermons sought by the original subpoenas were legally obtained, they still could not be used to prosecute the pastors under the HERO because they’re exempt. It’s hard to believe Cruz and Robertson don’t understand this. But sadly, it’s easy to believe their target audience doesn’t. They’re counting on their target audience not bothering to take the time to learn the facts about the subpoenas, and so they’re describing them in ways that have nothing to do with reality. (But then, when have Marion “Ted” Cruz or Rafael “Pat” Robertson ever been known to have anything to do with reality? No, seriously. When?) And what are they saying? Some of the stupidest stuff being said today as part of the anti-LGBT movement. They’re claiming that suppression of this nonsensical hate mongering (if that were, in fact, the intent of the subpoenas) is a violation of their religious freedom! And therein lies the problem.

No one will dispute there are limits to the rights expressed in the Bill of Rights, including the freedoms of speech and religion. There are certain things you are not allowed to say (whether you mean them or not), and there are certain religious practices in which you cannot always engage any time you wish. Because of the danger to lives that panic can cause, you can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater, nor can you do it in a church for the same reason. Which leads to the logical conclusion that there are things you can’t say even in a church. Which leads to the question of the dividing line between speech and religion. When does religious freedom cross into the areas of speech where you are not free to roam? And even if it doesn’t cross the line of constitutional protection, how much stupidity are we expected to withstand in the name of religious freedom? And what about the people too stupid to understand the issue? What if the religious message being given is not an accurate reflection of the official religious doctrine? Is it still protected? What religious conservatives think is “pro-traditional marriage” language is often “anti-homosexuality” language, so is it still protected? More distinctly, is it protected speech or protected religious practice? If your religious beliefs lead you to believe stupid and wildly inaccurate things about your fellow human beings, which in turn cause you to say stupid, harmful things to another person, are you still freely exercising your religion? What if the foundation of one your religious beliefs is provably wrong? Are you still free to claim it’s true and that you are justified in your hatred? Are we so caught up in the idea of religious freedom that we’ll allow stupidity to become the prevailing wisdom?

This is our daily open thread. Talk about whatever you wish. Within reason, of course.