The Watering Hole, Monday, October 28th, 2013: Bill Maher: “You Cannot Have Both”

This past Friday night’s “Real Time with Bill Maher”‘s panel consisted of Michael Moore, a surprisingly quiet Al Sharpton, Valerie Plame, and Richard Dawkins. And while the group had some interesting discussions, the best part of the show came in Bill’s soliloquy at the end of the show. Crooks and Liars has the video, but I have borrowed their transcript, here:

MAHER: “Now, when it comes to raising the minimum wage, conservatives always say it’s a non-starter because it cuts into profits. Well, yeah. Of course. Paying workers is one of those unfortunate expenses of running a business… you know, like taxes, or making a product.

If you want to get rich with a tax-free enterprise that sells nothing, start a church.

You might think that paying people enough to live is so self-evident that even crazy people could understand it, but you would be wrong.

Michele Bachmann is not only against raising the minimum wage, she’s against having one at all. She once said “if we took away the minimum wage… we could virtually wipe out unemployment because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.”

Put that in your brain and smoke it. You could hire everyone if you didn’t have to pay them. And naturally, Ted Cruz agrees. Ted Cruz thinks it’s a good thing that when his Cuban father came to America he was paid $.50 an hour to work as a dishwasher, before becoming Charo.

When did the American dream become this pathway to indentured servitude? This economic death spiral where workers get paid next to nothing, so they can only afford to buy next to nothing, so businesses are forced to sell cheaper and cheaper shit?

Walmart employees can only afford to shop at Walmart. McDonalds workers can only afford to eat at McDonalds. And Hooters waitresses have to wear shirts they grew out of years ago.

Even if you’re not moved by the “don’t be such a heartless prick” argument, consider the fact that most fast food workers, whose average age by the way now is 29, we’re not talking about kids, are on some form of public assistance. Which is not surprising. When even working people can’t make enough to live, they take money from the government in the form of food stamps, school lunches, housing assistance, day care. This is the welfare that conservatives hate.

But they never stop to think, if we raised the minimum wage and forced McDonalds and Walmart to pay their employees enough to eat, we the taxpayers wouldn’t have to pick up the slack.

This is the question the right has to answer. Do you want smaller government with less handouts, or do you want a low minimum wage? Because you cannot have both.

If Col. Sanders isn’t going to pay the lady behind the counter enough to live on, then Uncle Sam has to, and I for one am getting a little tired of helping highly profitable companies pay their workers.”

Bravo, Bill – hear, hear!

O/T: Today my mum would have turned 93 – Happy Birthday, Mum, wish you were here.Scan10002

This is our daily open thread, got anything on your mind that you’d like to discuss?

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 21st, 2013: Mixed Nuts

First, Foreign Policy Magazine got a little ‘spacy’ towards the end of the shutdown, with author Michael Peck penning a pair of fantasy articles titled “The Empire Shuts Down” and “One Starship to Rule Them All”

Next, this piece from moneynews.com, features the always-wild-looking “economist” Jim Cramer prognosticating – and perhaps precipitating, if anyone pays attention to him – the shakiness of the dollar. An excerpt:

As the world laughs at Washington’s antics, CNBC’s Jim Cramer says smart money should look for any possible means to flee the dollar.

The United States is “a laughing stock around the world, maybe worse than Italy in some ways when I look at benchmarks,” he said on Squawk Box. “We have obviously lost the faith of a lot of countries.”

If there is a way to take your money out of this country, Cramer suggests putting it in Germany. If he were in the shoes of China, Kuwait, Brazil or Japan, “I would do it immediately,” he claimed.

Third, from Newsmax.com, Amy Woods has a piece on another peanut gallery member: “Sen. Coburn: ‘We’re Drunk’ on Government Spending.” Here’s a bit:

“Special-interest groups, and not the tea party, caused the 17-day government shutdown, Sen. Tom Coburn said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“We didn’t do anything except create a big mess in Washington, and I’m not so inclined to think it was the tea party as much as it was outside interest groups and a few individuals within our party that took advantage of that situation,” Coburn said. All the bickering about the Affordable Care Act distracted Americans from the fact the government spends too much, he added.

Next, an October 19th article from Alternet brings us “Right-Wing Lunacy Never Sleeps: 10 Nutty, Vile and Absurd Utterances From the Fringe This Week.” In this round-up, Justice Antonin Scalia reaffirms his racism, Tony Perkins babbles some nonsense about Democrats wanting a theocracy, Glenn Beck and Pat Buchanan continue to howl in the wilderness, and more.

Finally, also courtesy of Newsmax, the other gum-flapping self-important Limbaugh, David, proves that he is just as delusional as his louder brother in “GOP Poised for Post-Shutdown Comeback”:

“Obamacare represented not only one of many policy setbacks under Obama but also the ever-acquisitive government’s consumption of another one-sixth of the formerly capitalist and robust American economy.”

[That's a load of horseshit, David, enough with the fake "government takeover of healthcare" bogeyman. Last I looked, the U.S. is still a capitalist nation, and the last time we had a "robust American economy" was under a Democrat, President Bill Clinton.]

“Then Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee ratcheted it up a notch, going to the Senate to call Obama out on his destructive agenda and promising to do everything they can to defund and derail Obamacare. Cruz’s 20-plus-hour floor speech was a seminar in the eloquent communication of conservative principles.”

["...eloquent communication of conservative principles"? 'Green Eggs and Ham'? I don't think that David Limbaugh (or his louder brother, for that matter) watched the entirety of Cruz's rambling and sometimes incoherent "seminar."]

“Just as my brother, Rush, gave millions of conservatives hope through his radio show by validating the legitimacy of their beliefs, Cruz, Paul, and Lee let us know that we have people in office fighting for us, as well.

“I reject the conventional wisdom that Cruz and his warriors hurt our cause by increasing the likelihood of our defeat in 2014. To the contrary, they enhanced our cause by energizing the base and fighting. And they laid serious gloves on Obama; his approval rating has never been lower. They also gave him an opportunity, which he fully embraced, to demonstrate his mean-spiritedness, his pettiness, and his dishonesty for all to see.

“The shutdown was not the disaster he promised any more than sequestration has been; he was hyper-partisan and gratuitously punitive during the ordeal; and his egregious misrepresentations about Obamacare were manifesting themselves throughout.”

[Sorry, but to Rush Limbaugh, the word "hope" is part of a punchline, certainly not something that Rush ever gave to his Rushbots. You can "reject conventional wisdom" all you want, but that doesn't mean that conventional wisdom, in this case, is wrong. Obama's approval rating is currently around 50%, according to a recent Rasmussen poll; on the other hand, according to the Gainesville Times, a new poll puts Congress's approval rating at an all-time low at 5%. I'm not sure exactly what planet David Limbaugh, along with the other mixed nuts listed above, inhabits, but it must be a particularly miserable place to dwell.]

This is our Open Thread. Go ahead, get cracking!

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 14th, 2013: More KXL BS

Going through my emails, one from moneynews.com (the $$ division of Newsmax.com) caught my eye: “Pickens: Keystone Pipeline Would Make OPEC Obsolete” Huh?

But first, in an earlier, related article by John Morgan, titled “Steve Forbes: Build the Keystone Pipeline and Frack, Baby, Frack”, failed Presidential hopeful Steve Forbes lies about the proposed pipeline’s safety:

Forbes magazine editor Steve Forbes, a stalwart defender of the Keystone XL pipeline, says approving the pipeline would actually help prevent oil spills, not cause more environmental damage, and that fracking is a key element of America’s energy future.

“If you don’t approve pipelines, we’re going to be moving more and more oil on trains, which is just begging for accidents,” he told Yahoo.

Forbes maintained the Keystone pipeline would create 20,000 jobs, more than some other estimates. The fate of the proposed pipeline, which would push an estimated 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Canada to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast, may be decided in a final ruling from the White House by year-end.

Forbes noted that fracking is boosting local economies in some areas. “Because of fracking, Pennsylvania is prospering, towns are moving up — areas that had been depressed before.” By contrast, upstate New York, where fracking is not permitted, “looks more and more like East Germany before the Wall fell,” Forbes said.

Forbes, CEO of Forbes Media and a staunch Republican, said a big problem with U.S. energy policy is that President Barack Obama “does not like oil, gas or coal.” “He seems to like windmills, a nice medieval technology,” Forbes said.

“The inconvenient truth is that we have not had an increase in temperatures in 15 or 16 years even though we are pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

Mr. Forbes, you are delusional. An oil corporation with a history of leaks and spills is going to build a pipeline that is so amazingly safe that it will actually “prevent” oil spills? And, while rail transport may not be ideal, one can count on one hand the number of rail accidents involving oil (my apologies to the victims of the accident in Quebec.) How many spills have Keystone and other oil corporations already caused, and are still trying to clean up? And for the record, upstate NY looks pretty much the same as it always has, thankyouverymuch. Nice Gore-bashing at the end, Mr. Forbes, stay classy.

Okay, now fast-forward back to “Pickens: Keystone Pipeline Would Make OPEC Obsolete” ~

From Friday, October 11th, an excerpt from an article by Dan Weil:

The Keystone XL oil pipeline would eliminate the United States’ dependence on OPEC, says energy entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens.

“Canadians say they have 250 billion barrels [of oil]. That’s exactly what the Saudis claim they have,” he tells CNBC. “You’re sitting there with the same amount of oil available to the United States from Canada . . . as [from] Saudi Arabia.”

“You could make them [OPEC] obsolete two or three different ways, and that [Keystone] is one of them.”

The Keystone pipeline would run from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. President Obama must decide whether the pipeline can be built.

Pickens would like to see an oil transportation system combining the United States, Canada and Mexico.

As United States energy output, we are on pace to overtake Russia as the world’s biggest producer of oil and natural gas and may already have done so, according to The Wall Street Journal.”

Okay, so (maybe) Canada has the same amount of oil as Saudi Arabia. But both are sold on the world market, so it’s not like the U.S. is getting a discount from Canada (at least not that I’ve heard or read.) But let’s consider the real concrete difference: Saudi oil is NOT being transported straight through the “heartland” of the U.S. The inevitable spill(s) along an almost 1200-mile pipeline would cause an environmental disaster for the local wildlife, ecosystem, and humans. If the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies the drinking water for millions of American citizens, became contaminated, those millions of people would be at risk. In the article, Mr. Pickens “explains” (maybe ‘complains’ would have been a better word?) that the ‘U.S. Navy protects the Strait of Hormuz so that 17 million barrels of oil travels through it a day.’ Since I’m sure that the U.S. Navy presence in the Strait of Hormuz is for more than just keeping the oil flowing, if his point is that we’re wasting taxpayer money by being there, that dog won’t hunt. The U.S. will always have its fingers in the Middle East pie. What price tag would you put on the lives of millions of citizens? Oh, BTW, Mr. Pickens, what are those other “different ways to make OPEC obsolete”?

Note that neither Mr. Pickens nor Mr. Forbes mentioned renewable energy sources.

Now…for some of the riper turds from the shitstorm of comments after the article:

“The MESSIAH is far too concerned with MAKING ALL OF US HURT, to be bothered with being a LEADER. Like MICHELLE, he wants all of us to suffer and become third-world surfs like she sees us and he wants us to be. Neither will be happy until they see the muslim emblem replace our stars and stripes. Keystone is very possible, but we need to get congress to grow up and start doing what they were elected to do…. the OATH they all took..!!!!!!”

“I know former president Jiminy Carter is in the pocket an Arab emirate, and Slick Willie Clinton is in everyone’s pockets, but how or why does Obama not want to get ahead. The only explanation is that he wants the American middle class to fail first. We are being betrayed by a failing presidency.”

“If the Fed Govt. would open Keystone which is by far safer than Obama’s/Warrens Oil Train that hauls hundreds of thousands of gal. of oil through all the cities and town to the refineries and makes an extra $10.00 a barrel more than the pipeline transportation.Sure you could have a pipeline spill but the technology is much better now and they can turn the valve of.”

And my personal favorite:
“This muslim Islamic puke doesn’t want the pipeline because right now we are supporting the Arabs with our money to buy oil at a premium price, and then we go to the gas station and buy the gas from them again and they make more money off of us. This Hitler pig just wants us to support them and the hell with us here. We need millions of good jobs here and this pig gives everything back to them and our country goes down in flames just like the demoncrap pigs have done with Detroit, they will do with our entire country and then the Islamic murdering pigs come in and take us over and anyone that does not fall to islam, well they will be beheaded, that’s how that cult of pigs deal with what they call infedels. Well, I say….screw them, I am a Christian and been that way all my life and I’ll stay that way.
so go screw you Hitler moron!!!!!!!!!!!”

I’d put a pretty picture up to cleanse your visual palate, but this is already too long. Sorry!

Open Thread – so, what else is new?

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 7th, 2013: All the Crazy That Fits

It’s been a while since I put on my hip waders and stepped into Newsmax, so here’s a few gems:

From “Rev. Billy Graham Prepares ‘Perhaps … My Last Message’” by David A. Patton:

“In an exclusive interview, the Rev. Billy Graham tells Newsmax that President Obama’s “hope and change” mantra is nothing more than a cliché and warns that the nation faces increasing threats to civil and religious liberties from its government.

Graham, who is preparing for possibly his last crusade, this time via video, said America is drenched in a “sea of immorality” and suggested that the second coming of Christ is “near.”

“Our early fathers led our nation according to biblical principles,” Graham wrote in response. “‘Hope and change’ has become a cliché in our nation, and it is daunting to think that any American could hope for change from what God has blessed,” he stated, an obvious reference to President Obama’s campaign motto.

“Our country is turning away from what has made it so great,” he continued, “but far greater than the government knowing our every move that could lead to losing our freedom to worship God publicly, is to know that God knows our every thought; he knows our hearts need transformation.” ~~~

Many believing Christians believe in a coming Armageddon, a final battle between good and evil prophesied in the book of Revelation.

Graham tells Newsmax it is not wise to “speculate” about the dates of such a battle, but he adds that the Bible says that there “will be signs pointing toward the return of the Lord.”

“I believe all of these signs are evident today,” Graham wrote, adding that “the return of Christ is near.

“Regardless of what society says, we cannot go on much longer in the sea of immorality without judgment coming,” he says.”

Next, from “Rove: Obama Wants to ‘Break the Republicans’” by Amy Woods:

“Republican strategist Karl Rove on Sunday described President Barack Obama’s behavior throughout the budget showdown as “stubborn obstructionism” whose goal is to “get more money and break the Republicans.”

“The stubborn obstructionism of the president … has a purpose, which is to try and get the Congress to agree to the Senate Democrats’ spending number, which is $91 billion bigger than the House, and bust the sequester, and end the 2011 spending agreements,” Rove said on “Fox News Sunday.” “He is attempting to put the responsibility for raising the debt ceiling and, in fact, naming the amount of the debt ceiling on the Congress and not on himself.”

Third, from “Rand Paul: Democrats’ Stubbornness Keeping Government Closed” by Sandy Fitzgerald:

“Paul denied that House Republicans led to the shutdown by refusing to fund the government.

“The House Republicans said they would fund all of government, and they did,” Paul said. “They funded all of government short of one program. So they really were never wanting to shut down government over this, they were wanting to fund government, and then have a debate.”

He further blamed Obama for his refusal to negotiate for the shutdown.

“When you say the president wants 100 percent of Obamacare or he will shut down the government, that’s exactly what happened,” said Paul. “If he [Obama] doesn’t get 100 percent of his way – his way or the highway – then they won’t do any spending bills that don’t include everything that he wants. That’s him unwilling to negotiate, that’s him being unwilling to compromise.”

Had enough? How about one more? From “Rep. Graves: Obama To Blame if Country Defaults” by Amy Woods:

“Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Graves said Sunday the party is “united” in its belief the government should re-open and negotiations with Democrats should continue to avoid a possible economic default over the debt ceiling.

“We have had a tremendous fight over keeping the government open and protecting Americans from Obamacare,” Graves said on “Fox News Sunday.” “There’s no reason to default. The president’s the only one demanding default right now.”

Sorry, but I have to throw this last link in, just for laughs: Another one by Bill Hoffman, “From Senate to Center Stage: Fred Thompson Makes Broadway Debut”. The author of the piece completely omits any mention of Thompson’s disastrous run for the Presidency, or the fact that Thompson’s most recent “acting” gig has been on ‘Reverse-Mortgage’ commercials.

This is our Open Thread. Have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 30th, 2013: “UBUNTU”

I know that Wayne posted this on yesterday’s Sunday Roast, but it bears another look – especially in light of the myriad inhumane arguments, diatribes, and lies rising to a cacophonic crescendo over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.” Just look at so many of the self-serving and ignorant comments on Think Progress’s various threads about the ACA. It’s getting to the point where I think I’d rather live in a more simple society where greed and selfishness are not idealized.
ubuntu

These children put the childish “adults” running/ruining our country to shame. It seems that those who supposedly revere our founding fathers have forgotten one of the earliest ideals of this once-great country, as depicted in the Great Seal of the United States:
Great Seal of the United States

“E Pluribus Unum”: “Out of many, one.”

“Ubuntu”: “I am because we are.” Even those children understand the basic concept of what a workable society should be, and are living it. Why the fuck can’t we?

This is our daily open thread. I’m totally disgusted – how about you?

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 23rd, 2013: Ignorance is…Ignorant

I wasn’t planning to go to the pharmacy counter at our local A&P grocery store the other day, but I needed some Mucinex and, because somehow weird people might make meth out of it, I had to take a card from the shelf hook and bring it to the pharmacist. Despite standing more than the required 4 feet away – for privacy purposes (4 feet = ‘cone of silence’?) – I caught quite a bit of the conversation between a customer and the pharmacist. The beginning of their discussion was about a delay in getting the man’s medication, so the pharmacist offered to give him several pills to tide him over. The man was grumpy about the whole thing, but eventually accepted the pills, and I thought “finally, my turn.” No such luck.

Their conversation then turned to ‘Obamacare’ and, although they lowered their voices a tad, the bits that I overheard were the usual drivel: “it’s just another step toward socialized medicine”, “it’s insane”, “nobody knows what’s in the law”, “socialized medicine is the WORST!” (those last two were from the pharmacist herself), and so on. While I endured about five minutes of waiting for their fear-fest to end, I debated about interrupting to try to inform them; however, since I, along with Wayne and his mother, are regulars at this store, I didn’t really want to start a fight. By this time I had already been joined by another customer waiting outside the cone of silence–luckily it was one of the nice women from my vet’s office, so I turned to her and muttered “I’m going to slap them both soon.”

Just a few days before this, I took advantage of one of the ACA’s rules that had already taken effect: I had my annual physical. No co-pay for the visit; no co-pay for the bloodwork; no co-pay for the colonoscopy that my doctor told me to get; no co-pay for the mammogram that I need to schedule. In addition, several months ago Wayne and I both received checks from United Healthcare because they did not comply with the 20/80 rule about how the insurance companies spend our/our employers’ premiums.

It just pisses me off that neither the angry customer or the pharmacist, in the course of their conversation, ever thought to admit that one of them should actually look into what the law is about. I would have thought that the pharmacy, since it will likely be affected by some of the new rules that go into effect on October 1st, would have studied up on Obamacare, or what New York State is doing to implement the newest regulations. Unfortunately, these two are amongst the millions of people who would rather bitch and moan about what they don’t know instead of trying to find answers. Anyone with a computer can do a search for information, starting with the White House’s website itself.

Ignorance is not bliss…it is a decision to remain uninformed.

This is our Open Thread. What would you like to talk about?

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 16th, 2013: Monday Medley

As you are all aware, I love going to The Weather Channel online — not just to find out the local forecast, but for their unusual variety of photo galleries and and links to other interesting and frequently educational stories and news.

Today’s crop includes:

- updates on the Voyager 1 probe (and be sure to scroll down for links to space photos from NASA’s Spitzer telescope, and photos of a newborn star from a Chilean telescope.)

- Photos of recent tornadoes, including (but not limited to) several photos taken last week from Kenosha, Wisconsin.

- Photos of lightning storms – check out two in particular that I liked, one called “Lightning Under the Stars” and one called “Fire In The Sky.”
Lightning_weather_Wallpaper_hflv9

- Photo gallery of the “10 Longest Bridges In the U.S.

- Photo gallery of “12 Spectacular Castles of the World

The Bojnice Castle in Bojnice, Slovakia

The Bojnice Castle in Bojnice, Slovakia

This is our Open Thread. Enjoy the views!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 7th, 2013: Today in History

History.com is an interesting place, full of fun facts to know and tell.

For instance, on September 7th, 1776, the first submarine was employed in warfare. It is amazing to me that “submarines were first built by Dutch inventor Cornelius van Drebel in the early 17th century…” Naturally, it was an American who first thought of using a submarine in naval combat:

“David Bushnell, an American inventor, began building underwater mines while a student at Yale University. Deciding that a submarine would be the best means of delivering his mines in warfare, he built an eight-foot-long wooden submersible that was christened the Turtle for its shape. Large enough to accommodate one operator, the submarine was entirely hand-powered. Lead ballast kept the craft balanced.

Donated to the Patriot cause after the outbreak of war with Britain in 1775, Ezra Lee piloted the craft unnoticed out to the 64-gun HMS Eagle in New York Harbor on September 7, 1776. As Lee worked to anchor a time bomb to the hull, he could see British seamen on the deck above, but they failed to notice the strange craft below the surface. Lee had almost secured the bomb when his boring tools failed to penetrate a layer of iron sheathing. He retreated, and the bomb exploded nearby, causing no harm to either the Eagle or the Turtle.

During the next week, the Turtle made several more attempts to sink British ships on the Hudson River, but each time it failed, owing to the operator’s lack of skill. Only Bushnell was really able to competently execute the submarine’s complicated functions, but because of his physical frailty he was unable to pilot the Turtle in any of its combat missions. During the Battle of Fort Lee, the Turtle was lost when the American sloop transporting it was sunk by the British.

Despite the failures of the Turtle, General George Washington gave Bushnell a commission as an Army engineer, and the drifting mines he constructed destroyed the British frigate Cereberus and wreaked havoc against other British ships. After the war, he became commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stationed at West Point.”

"Turtle" submarine (photo courtesy of navy.mil)

“Turtle” submarine (photo courtesy of navy.mil)

120 years later, another engineering first occurred: an electric car became the first automobile to win the first auto race in the United States:

“On September 7, 1896, an electric car built by the Riker Electric Motor Company wins the first auto race in the United States, at the Narragansett Trotting Park–a mile-long dirt oval at the state fairgrounds that was normally used for horse racing–in Cranston, Rhode Island. Automobile companies sponsored the race to show off their newfangled electric-, steam-, and gas-powered vehicles to an awestruck audience. The carmakers’ gimmick worked: About 60,000 fairgoers attended the event, and many more people read about it in newspapers and magazines.

Seven cars entered the race. Along with the Riker Electric, there were five internal-combustion cars and one other battery-powered machine, this one built by the Electric Carriage and Wagon Company. The race began slowly (“Get a horse!” the spectators shouted as the automobiles wheezed at the starting line), but the Riker soon pulled ahead and won the race easily, finishing its five laps in about 15 minutes. The other electric car came in second, and a gas-powered Duryea took third.”

Inventor Riker in his electric car (photo courtesy of wheels.blogs.nytimes.com)

Inventor Riker in his electric car (photo courtesy of wheels.blogs.nytimes.com)

Considering the fact that electric cars have been around since 1896, one has to wonder what our world would have been like now if electric cars became the standard of the automobile industry. Unfortunately for all of us, the internal-combustion engine eventually prevailed, and we – humans, the environment, the planet – are all suffering because of it.

This is our Open Thread. Wonder what will happen today that will eventually become “This Day In History”?

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 2nd, 2013: Whose American Dream?

On a weekend which is supposed to celebrate the lowly worker and his/her hard-fought-for rights, and less than a week after Republicans refused to participate in the celebration marking the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, hard-core conservatives gathered in Florida to “Defend” a much different “Dream.”

Most Americans, like King, might describe the American Dream as one of fairness, an America where hard work, thriftiness, integrity, compassion, and sharing were among the most admirable characteristics. Most Americans dream of a life of somewhat limited goals, i.e., a nice house in a decent neighborhood, enough earnings to perhaps travel, to afford a few little luxuries, indulge in a hobby – generally, to be content and free from everyday financial worry.

Others trivialize both this type of American Dream and the dreamers who dream it, and hold in contempt those who cannot, through no fault of their own, achieve such a minor goal. To them, the American Dream is one of unfettered greed, and those who do not dream ‘big’ are not worthy of their consideration, let alone assistance. And these dreamers of greed went to Florida to “Defend The American Dream.”

Yes, the “Defending The American Dream Summit” was held in Orlando this past weekend, sponsored by your friendly neighborhood free-market-unregulated-capitalism group “Americans For Prosperity”, along with such proud bastions of integrity as The Blaze, Townhall.com/Townhall Magazine, and Altria. Who, you might ask (as I did) is Altria? From their website:

“For more than 180 years, Altria’s companies have built some of the best-known brands in the world – Marlboro, Copenhagen, Skoal and Black & Mild – that today lead their respective categories.”

Yeah, big tobacco.

The only sponsor that may be non-partisan/bipartisan, (based on its client list), is Tray, Inc., a marketing firm.

From “About The Summit”:

“In this banner event, free-market champions from Main Street to Capitol Hill come together for an unforgettable weekend with a shared desire to advance the time-honored ideals of economic freedom.

All around us a battle of ideas rages, and the very fabric of American prosperity is under attack. Now more than ever, we must be alert, involved, and engaged in the fight for freedom and liberty.”

The group of speakers touted include some of our favorite rabid righties: Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Bobby Jindal, Senator Ron Johnson, Governor Rick Perry, Michelle Malkin, Governor Voldemort Rick Scott, and total whack-job David Horowitz – more on him later.

From the Summit Agenda, some of the “Defending The Dream” Summit Breakout Sessions”:
-Bully on the Playground: Beat Back the Bureaucrats (Policy Session)
-Get Past the Gotchas: Staying in Control (Social Media & Messaging Session)
-Medicaid Expansion: Breaking the Bank While Cheating the Poor (Policy Session)
-Freedom in Decline: How Big Government is Ruining Your Future (Youth Oriented Session)
-The Green Monster: Subsidizing Failure in Renewable Energy (Policy Session)

One of the “exhibitors” at the DTD Summit is Go For The Heart – yeah, I never heard of it either. The website says ‘About’ itself:

“Go For the Heart, Inc. is a private non-profit corporation
dedicated to defending the principles of a free society
and to training conservative activists, strategists,
legislators and candidates in the art of political war.”

Its ‘Mission Statement’:

“Conservatives do not have a response to the attacks leveled at them during the Election Cycle as the “party of the rich” and “the oppressors of women, minorities and the poor.” Go For The Heart will equip and empower elected officials, candidates, campaign professionals, grassroots activists, and the conservative youth with the messaging tools to blunt the baseless attacks by Liberals and to be successful in winning elections for conservatives, whether Democrats, Libertarians, Republicans or Independents.”

Guess who seems to be in charge at Go For the Heart? Well, the “Go For The Heart in A Nutshell” video features David Horowitz – as do the downloadable publications offered. Yes, David Horowitz, again. [NOTE: I did not have the stomach to watch the video - do you?]

While there has been little reporting on what each speaker said, that little is enough to show just how extreme and divided the speakers and other conservatives really are. Marco Rubio received mixed greetings due to his lack of Tea Party purity over immigration, as reported by The Washington Post as well as at Breitbart.com:

From Breitbart: “Heckling calls of “no amnesty” and “Secure the border” were heard around the room and throughout Rubio’s presentation. In fact, calls of “traitor” were even heard in some corners of the audience. The catcalls proved that few were pleased with Mr. Rubio.”

But, again, that pesky David Horowitz delivered the most ironically delusional fantasy that I’ve heard in a while, calling the president “…the most brazen and compulsive liar to ever occupy the White House…”

“The reason we don’t attack him is obvious, but no one will say it out loud. I will: It’s because the color of his skin is black…It is because Obama is a minority that nobody will hold him to a standard or confront him with what he has done.”

This is no “American Dream” that the Koch Brothers-backed Americans For Prosperity is trying to “defend” – this is any sane American’s nightmare.

This is our daily open thread — go ahead, start your rants!

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 26th, 2013: “…Chad Everett?”

Way back when Comedy Central was just starting out as The Comedy Channel, The Higgins Boys and Gruber was one of the fledgling comedy shows (along with Short Attention Span Theater, hosted by a very young Jon Stewart, and Mystery Science Theater 3000* aka MST3K, with the inimitable Joel Hodgson.)   [*FYI, good news for MST3K fans at this link.]

One of the sketches on The Higgins Boys and Gruber that Wayne and I always remembered – well, besides the “Sex Survey” sketch – was their game-show spoof “$99,000 Pyramid.” They’re down to the last category in the Pyramid, and the clock is ticking down while one contestant is giving the other clues like “stars”, “suns”, “comets”, etc. The clock runs out while the contestant sputters without an answer. The host says to the disappointed contestant, “Now wait, before you turn around…what if I said…Chad Everett?” The contestant, who obviously had a light bulb go on inside his head, nods and responds with the correct answer, “Things in the Universe?

[...smooth segue...]

So here’s a fabulous photo of another one of those “Things in the Universe”, the “Cinderella’s Slipper Galaxy”, part of a ‘space photo of the day‘ series [scroll down past the picture on the link for hundreds more amazing photos, as well as commentary about the photo] from wired.com. Slate’s Phil Plait wrote about it back on April 2nd, and apparently one of Plait’s Twitter followers suggested the “Cinderella’ Slipper” name.

Cinderella's Slipper Galaxy--Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Hayes

Cinderella’s Slipper Galaxy–Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Hayes

I like what Phil Plait says at the end of his article:

“I find it fascinating that the Universe is so accommodating to our inquisitive nature. It leaves clues everywhere about itself, and all you need to learn about it is a bit of math and physics, technology, and above all curiosity. With those features in combination, the entire cosmos can be revealed.”

This is our daily open thread — talk away now, don’t be shy!

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 19th, 2013: From Baseball to “Cracker”

It’s a good thing I was paying attention during the Mets game today, otherwise I’d have had to think of something else to write about.

The Mets were playing the San Diego Padres, and Keith Hernandez, announcer for the Mets and California native, was talking about the California state flag with, as Keith said, the grizzly bear as the state’s official animal. I wasn’t quite sure if it was a grizzly, so I decided to look up the official state animals and, sure enough, Keith was right…
Flag-of-California

…and here we are.

On the “State Mammals” list from statesymbolsusa.org, poor Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Rhode Island don’t even have their own state animals (mammal or otherwise); a couple of states didn’t have photos/videos of their state mammals, so I have provided them.

New Hampshire's official State Dog, the Chinook

New Hampshire’s official State Dog, the Chinook

 

Washington's official "State Endemic Mammal", the Olympic Marmot

Washington’s official “State Endemic Mammal”, the Olympic Marmot

The list is fun to delve into for us animal lovers, and for history buffs, too – after all, a state wouldn’t pick an official animal that wasn’t integral to the history and development of that state.

I noticed that several states have horses as either the official state animal, or in a separate official ‘State Horse’ category. When I was little, horses were my first love, then dogs – it took a while for me to get to cats. I have yet to pore through some of more intriguing and unusual official state dogs. But I digress.

Zooey, whatever you say about Idaho, they’ve got the best State Horse, the Appaloosa. I always found them fascinating, not only because no two are alike, but because the foals are born dark brown/black and develop their spots later.

Appaloosa mare and foal

Appaloosa mare and foal

Appaloosa colt

Appaloosa colt

What suddenly caught my eye among the state horses was the “Florida State Heritage Horse” – the “Florida Cracker Horse.”
According to the website, “Florida designated the Florida cracker horse (or Marshtackie) as the official state heritage horse in 2008 (expires July 1, 2018 unless renewed).”

A handy video explains the history of the Florida Cracker Horse: as with many early American horses, their ancestors came over with Spanish explorers, including Ponce de Leon. After roaming wild for generations after the Spanish left, the horses were utilized as part of Florida’s overall agricultural development, and were essential to their cattle ranching industry. According to the video, the Florida Cracker Horse was named after:

“Florida cowboys, nicknamed ‘Crackers’ because of the sound of their whips cracking in the air.”

Hmmm…”Florida”…”Cracker“…where have we heard a kerfuffle over the word ‘cracker‘ recently? Oh, yeah, that travesty of justice in which the murder of an unarmed 17-year-old black teen was turned into a distracting and disgusting game of ‘Who’s the Real Racist?’ (Sigh)

This is our daily open thread — Sorry for the rant. Enjoy the animals!

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 12th, 2013: The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Twenty-five years ago this month, I went to the Women’s Health Pavilion in Dobbs Ferry, NY, to have my tubes tied.

Wayne and I were planning to get married in October that year, and had decided that, since neither of us felt that we had the temperament to raise children, having my tubes tied was the best route to go. I had been on the Pill off and on for about 10 years, and didn’t want to be exposed to its possibly harmful side effects anymore.

Even back then, as a fully-grown 32-year old adult, at a facility which catered to both happily pregnant women and unhappily pregnant women and teens seeking abortions, the doctors assumed, despite my protestations, that I might change my mind. They insisted that I have the type of tubal ligation which could be undone, even though they admitted that this procedure was more painful than the no-going-back type (they were definitely right about the pain!) That was the first time in my adult life that a decision about my body and reproductive choice was forced upon me by others.

That seems like ages ago now; but it also seems like ages ago (instead of a mere 17 months) that I began writing about the Republican War on Women (see here, here, and here), and in the meantime the suppression of women’s rights by Republicans just keeps getting worse.

This year, the main spotlight has been on Texas, where it took two “Special Sessions” of their legislature to pass a strict anti-abortion bill that couldn’t get passed in their regular legislative session. The only good thing that resulted from this extended knock-down drag-out fight was that it made a political star of State Sen. Wendy Davis, whose tenacious example and amazing filibuster brought thousands of Texans and millions of American women together in support of both Wendy and women’s rights.

Since then, however, more states have jumped on the he-man-woman-haters-club bandwagon. North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory, after promising during his campaign that he would not sign any new abortion regulations, went ahead and did so. Then, adding insult to injury, he offered women protesting outside of his mansion a plate of cookies.

After that, Iowa is now contemplating a bill banning what’s called “telemedicine abortion”, where the doctor can prescribe the abortion pill to a woman online rather than in the doctor’s office.

And most recently, despite the legislation’s failure to pass in Georgia’s legislative session, Governor Nathan Deal(R) “vowed to use his executive power to enact it anyway.”

Lastly, getting back to Texas:

On the final day of the second session, state Sen. Eddie Lucio (D) — the only Senate Democrat who supported the recently approved omnibus anti-abortion bill — filed a measure to require women to complete a mandatory adoption certification course before they may seek an abortion. Lucio has suggested he will attempt to keep pushing that measure during the third session.

It’s hard to find a current answer to ‘how many states now have strict anti-abortion laws?”, but according to answerbag.com (from 2010):

Thirty-eight states have laws that prohibit abortions after a specific point in the pregnancy, except in cases where the late-term abortion might save the woman’s life or protect her health. Sixteen states have laws in effect that do not allow for late-term abortions.

And, according to religioustolerance.org:

At least 16 states still have pre-1973 anti-abortion laws on the books even though they are clearly unconstitutional and nullified under Roe v. Wade.”

Will the attack on women’s reproductive rights ever end? When will Republican women wake up and realize just how much Republican men despise them, want to keep women second-class citizens, and will do anything to control their reproductive health and rights? And when will male Democrats grow a collective pair and denounce Republican men as the ignorant, greedy, hate-filled, misogynistic bullies that they are?

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind?

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 29th, 2013: Saint Ronnie? I Don’t Think So!

jimmycarter460
I have always had great admiration for President James Earl Carter. I confess that I did not start voting until 1988, after I married Wayne (so Clinton was “my first.”) But my parents were pretty staunch Democrats who voted for Carter, and in those times we actually did sit down to watch the evening news every night, and I watched the Sunday political shows with my dad each weekend – which, of course, usually ended with me taking a nap. So I was not completely ignorant of political machinations, especially with dad filling me in on the background issues.

President Carter’s administration covered some troubled times, but he always spoke to the nation in a unique combination of down-home-folksy Sheriff Andy and subtly eloquent professor. That he is still, and always will be, derided by Republicans as one of the worst Presidents in history, just proves how little the Republicans respect intellect and integrity.

President Jimmy (as I like to call him) differentiated himself from too many other former Presidents by, after leaving office, continuing for decades to serve his planet, his country, and humanity in general. Jimmy and Rosalynn remain wonderful examples of “public service” at its most noble.

Here’s a selection of interviews, articles, and videos, all from the last year or two, which include President Carter’s views on America’s dysfunctional democracy and the effect of Edward Snowdon’s NSA leaks; his speech at the Carter Center’s “Mobilizing Faith for Women” conference on June 23, 2013; and an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan from January 2012 on a wide range of topics, but mostly about the Middle East.

And saving the best for last, here’s Part 1 and Part 2 of President Carter’s appearance on The Daily Show, April 9th, 2013.

In my opinion, no other President has acted so Presidential after leaving office as has President Jimmy Carter. The right-wing can criticize and ridicule him all they want, but Jimmy deserves beatification to sainthood much more than their much-vaunted but historically inaccurate Saint Ronnie.

jimmy and rosalynn

This is our Open Thread. What’s your opinion about President Jimmy Carter? Or on anything else, for that matter.

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 22nd, 2013: “Someone’s Got a Case of The Mondays”

Yes, even though I’m writing this on Sunday night, I’ve already got “a case of the Mondays.” The cumulative effect of the idiocy, racism, and total regression of our country into savage barbarism has caused me to become overwhelmed by depression, anger, hatred, frustration, despair and hopelessness. I’m at the point where I can’t even form a coherent rant. So I’ll just put up a photo or two that might help soothe the soul of others who are suffering from a “case of the Mondays.” Forgive me if I’ve used any of these before.

Looking west across Hudson River

Looking west across Hudson River

Fading Sunset Reflection

Fading Sunset Reflection

Skyfire Sunset

Skyfire Sunset

This is our Open Thread. Go ahead, talk amongst yourselves.

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 15th: FFS, There is NO Scandal!

While visiting ThinkProgress the other day, I noticed on the sidebar a photo of President Obama, with the following emblazoned over it: ‘OBAMA APPROVAL PLUMMETS – Is the IRS Scandal The Final Straw?

I couldn’t help myself, I had to click on it, and ended up at the following petition, sponsored (somewhat to my surprise) by Citizens United:

irs

“Tell Attorney General Eric Holder To Appoint A Special Counsel To Investigate The IRS
Sign the Petition : 8,045 Signers So Far

Washington is embroiled in scandal and those at Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department cannot be trusted to conduct an independent investigation because there is a conflict of interest.

In a case this inflammatory – the politicization of the IRS – people serving at the pleasure of the President at the Department of Justice cannot be trusted to conduct an independent investigation because there is an inherent conflict of interest. How can you ask someone to fairly investigate their boss or others who work for their boss? The answer is you can’t.

The American people will not and should not stand for a political investigation into the politicization of the IRS. Please sign the below petition to tell Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a Special Counsel to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal. Make your voice heard!

Thank you for signing this petition, we will keep you informed on the developments related to the fiscal cliff and additional content from Citizens United and the Presidential Coalition.”

[For more on the "Presidential Coalition", here's what SourceWatch and OpenSecrets have on the group.]

For your reading pleasure, here’s a selection of some of the dumbass comments posted by signers of the petition:

Lucy B. from Philadelphia, PA writes:
This was implemented to make sure Obama’s reelection would be secure and his opposition (Conservatives) would be denied money to carry on a political fight.

Robert B. from Chesapeake, VA writes:
Enforce the law on these lawleess jerks!!

Shirley H. from Pearland, TX writes:
Mr. Holder you need to appoint a special counsel to investigate the IRS. You have proven yourself unreliable and dishonest. Someone else should have investigated Fast and Furious and Bengahzi. You need to be fired and charged with several crimes.
Take yourself and the DOJ out of IRS investigation.

Herb P. from Boulder City, NV writes:
Repeal the income tax; our economy was better before the income tax.

larry b. from West Palm Beach, FL writes:
Shut Down the irs!!!!
flat tax NOW!!!

Geraldine R. from Milwaukee, WI writes:
Eric Holder needs to be investigated too.

robert w. from Hilliard, FL writes:
for this and bengazzi

Jan M. from Overland Park, KS writes:
STRONG CASE FOR IMPEACHMENT IF YOU FOLLOW HIS PLAN TO DESTROY THE US!

Irv P. from Burbank, CA writes:
Your corruption breeds more corruption. It and you are putrid.

Everett S. from Darien, CT writes:
We want a AG that is fair , balanced and Just. Our nation needs and depends on this

[Note: I agree with this, but obviously, for reasons which are probably not the same as Everett's.]

Laine P. from Austin, TX writes:
There is nothing to say that the “thought police” will not use against anyone with a brain left after these five years of oppression.

Mike H. from Palm Beach Gardens, FL writes:
He won’t do this because it would lead right to the White House.

Dr. Jim C. from Young Harris, GA writes:
bho is anti-American and the most divisive public figure to ever live in this Great Nation.

John T. V. from Tamaqua, PA writes:
These Chicago thugs, are like satan, “MASTER OF ALL LIES AND DECEIT.”

Anne M. from Hyde Park, MA writes:
Dear AG E. Holder: Do your job. Or perhaps it was your idea to pull this off in the first place? In that case, resign, if you have a trace of honor. That being doubtful, then know that you are unacceptable as chief law-enforcement officer of this country, because you have violated the Constitution you swore to uphold. Since you have all my personal information already, I’ll simply sign my self: Anne, A Citizen

Calvin M. from Bristol, VA writes:
The IRS is to Political. It has shown time and time again that it is out of control and cannot be trusted.

Richard B. from Chicago, IL writes:
Impeach Obama and dump his socialist Obamacare witch is a big Federal scam we are all in BIG trouble if its not repealed

christopher S. from Morocco, IN writes:
Holder and Obama are both black racist crooks need to be tried , convicted and sent to prison

Caroline C. from Sioux City, IA writes:
We have a president with blood on his hands
from the babies who survive an abortion and blood on his hands from the Benghai attack. The IRS is another President’s problem with their misuse of taxpayers’ money!!!!

Lucy B. from Philadelphia, PA [again] writes:
ABSOLUTLY! IRS apologized after his reelection was secured by eliminating his feared opposition the Tea Party which he marginalized used sexually divisive terms that great grandmothers didn’t even understand. And he has no respect for the RULE OF LAW.

Jo Ann C. from Jacksonville, FL writes:
For years, honest folks were afraid of the IRS…most with good reason as an audit by them put anyone in fear…even when they had done nothing wrong! Now it is our President who puts fear in us by all the things he has done and plans to do. He acts more like a Dictator than a President! I pray to God daily for the safety and security of our USA. I hope he is impeached and removed from office in order to save the America we know and love. I am an 80 year old woman and hope and pray for our Country…whomever reads this, please forward if you are like minded. Thanks

LEONARD C. from Glendale, AZ writes:
guilty as charged.this is a no brainer for a blind man.hang them for treason. god bless america.sent them all to kenya.

Now, I’m no fan of Eric Holder and his so-called “Department of ‘Justice’”, but this IRS “scandal” bullshit is just that, BULLSHIT. Yet Citizens United (spit) is still using it to incite and bilk the ignorant.

Well, since I can’t put all of the ignorant comments that I found into this post, I’ll leave you with this final winner:

susan D. from Latrobe, PA writes:
I have never seen so much corruption ever ;they just keep doing IT and getting away with everything ;that is so not right come on Gongress do your job ;fire holden @ Obama ;and Hiliray Clinton to . .there are many corruped people in the white house it is shocking .And they are trying so hard to make Balck and White such a bad rachal thing it is terbble ;i have no probelm with black people at all ;there all the same colour is not an issue it is the GOVERNMENT THAT IS THE ISSUE .

This is our Open Thread. Have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 8th, 2013: Satan

Over the weekend, a nice married couple from the Jehovah’s Witnesses stopped by with some tracts and an invitation to an upcoming JW Bible Conference. Considering that there is a large presence of JW churches in our area, including a huge facility built on a hillside section of one of the bigger farms just south of us in Patterson (with gorgeous views of the rest of the farm in the valley below, with more rolling hills to the west), this was only the second time in about 20 years – ever since our neighbor answered the door while cleaning her gun – that the Witnesses have visited us.

After a few minutes of discussion regarding my agnosticism and our common Roman Catholic upbringing, the woman, Jennifer, brought up Satan, in the context of being a ‘real person’ responsible for the evil in the world. She pointed out a section on Satan in one of the tracts, which she said had ‘opened her eyes’, and suggested that I read it. I did, and here it is (courtesy of “Awake!” June 2013):

Is Satan a real person?
WHAT PEOPLE SAY Some believe that Satan the Devil is not a person but, rather, the abstract quality of evil that exists inside each person.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS Satan is a real person. He is a rebel angel, a spirit creature who opposes God. The Bible calls Satan “the ruler of this world.” (John 12:31**) He uses “lying signs” and “deception” to accomplish his aims.–2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10.
The Bible records a conversation in heaven between Satan and God. If Satan were a mere symbol of the evil that exists inside each person, how could God, who is perfect and morally unblemished, have been talking to an evil part of himself?(Deuteronomy 32:4; Job 2:1-6) Clearly, Satan is a real person and not merely a personification of evil.
WHY SHOULD IT MATTER TO YOU? Satan’s reasons for wanting you to believe that he is fictitious are similar to those of a criminal who hides his identity so that he may continue to break the law undetected. To protect yourself against Satan, you first must acknowledge that he exists.

Where does Satan live?
WHAT PEOPLE SAY Many believe that Satan resides in a fiery hell at the center of the earth. Others feel that he exists inside bad people.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS Satan is a spirit creature, so he lives in an invisible realm. For a time, Satan was allowed to move about at will where God and the faithful angels reside. (Job 1:6) Now, however, he has been evicted from God’s presence and, along with other wicked spirit creatures, is confined to the vicinity of the earth.–Revelations 12:12.
Does this mean that Satan is limited to one specific place on earth? For example, you may have read that the ancient city of Pergamum was said to be “where Satan is dwelling.” (Revelation 2:13) Actually, that expression alluded to the concentration of satanic worship there. Satan does not call any one physical place on earth home. Instead, the Bible says that “all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth” are his.–Luke 4:5,6.

Can Satan harm or control people?
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
Most of mankind have yielded to Satan’s misleading influence and have thus come under his power. (2 Corinthians 11:14) This fact helps explain why humans have been unable to improve world conditions.
The Bible also records more extreme cases, in which Satan or other rebel angels have taken control of people and caused them physical harm–Matthew 12:22; 17:15-18; Mark 5:2-5.
WHAT YOU CAN DO You need not dread Satan’s power. To avoid coming under Satan’s influence or control, you need to learn how he manipulates people, so that you are “not ignorant of his designs.” (2 Corinthians 2:11) By reading the Bible, you can obtain vital knowledge of Satan’s tactics and thus avoid becoming a victim.
[I love this next part.]
Get rid of any paraphenalia associated with demon activity. (Acts 19:19.) That includes amulets, printed matter, videos, music, and computer applications that promote spiritism or divination.
“Oppose the Devil,” says the Bible, “and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) By obeying the Bible’s wise counsel, you can protect yourself against Satan’s evil machinations.–Ephesians 6:11-18.”

**I found this amusing ‘Forerunner Commentary’ at the site for the King James bible: “When Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and died for the sins of men, He qualified to dethrone Satan. The “god of this world” has been defeated!” [Yay, Mission Accomplished!) "However, he remains active among us until the King of kings returns and sets up His government on earth." [Wait, huh?] [BTW, the links above simply go to the bing page for the linked chapter and verse, just to show the different translations.]

I have to say that I’m less than impressed by the supposed reasoning in this: i.e., ‘does Satan exist? Yes, of course, the Bible says so.’ I read most of the rest of the literature that they left me, and it was all much the same: read the Bible for answers, the Bible is the word of God.

Leaving aside the first of the obvious red flags – that the bible was written by many, many ‘blemished’ human men; varyingly translated by many, many ‘blemished’ human men; and bent to the wiles of many, many very ‘blemished’ human men – why should it be necessary to acknowledge the existence of Satan in order to fight ‘evil’ in the world? How does one define ‘evil’? Must ‘evil’ be defined solely in terms of the Bible, God and Satan, or can we not define ‘evil’ within, say, the realms of the human psyche, genetics, and the workings of the human brain itself? I’m leaning towards science on this one. If ‘evil’ can be defined in lowly human terms, I would say that it is a complete focus on having one’s way without regard to harm to others. Whether evil’s source is within (psychological or physiological) or without (Satan) one, I feel that science is more likely to at least look for, if not find, an answer other than “because the Bible says so, and the Bible is the true word of God.”

On a lighter note, I’ll leave you with a bit from a a more enjoyable book about god and satan, demons and imps, heaven and hell: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s brilliant “GOOD OMENS.” Much of the story is told from the perspective of Crowley (the Serpent in human form); in this bit he’s meeting with two other demons to report on his “Deeds of the Day.” Crowley proudly tells the demons, “I tied up every portable telephone system in Central London for forty-five minutes at lunchtime.” Having no clue about cell phones, the demons are not impressed. One demands, “And exactly what has that done to secure souls for our Master?”

(Crowley thinks) What could he tell them? That twenty thousand people got bloody furious? That you could hear the arteries clanging shut all across the city? And that then they and took it out on their secretaries or traffic wardens or whatever, and they took it out on other people? In all kinds of vindictive little ways which, and here was the good bit, they thought up themselves. For the rest of the day. The pass-along effects were incalculable. Thousands and thousands of souls all got a faint patina of tarnish, and you hardly had to lift a finger. ~~~

~~~As for the rest of it…There were people who called themselves Satanists who made Crowley squirm. It wasn’t just the things they did, it was the way they blamed it all on Hell. They’d come up with some stomach-churning idea that no demon could have thought of in a thousand years, some dark and mindless unpleasantness that only a fully-functioning human brain could conceive, then shout “The Devil Made Me Do It” and get the sympathy of the court when the whole point was that the Devil hardly ever made anyone do anything. He didn’t have to. That was what some humans found hard to understand. Hell wasn’t a major reservoir of evil, any more than Heaven, in Crowley’s opinion, was a fountain of goodness; they were just sides in the great cosmic chess game. Where you found the real McCoy, the real grace and the real heart-stopping evil, was right inside the human mind.

I find this at least as credible as any bible.

This is our Open Thread. What’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 1st, 2013: Creatures Great and Small

First, a look at some strange underwater life, including such oddities as the “Christmas Tree Worm”, which comes in a wide array of colors.

Assorted Christmas Tree Worms (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Assorted Christmas Tree Worms (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Next, although the title of the article is “What the Heck Is That? Animals You Didn’t Know Existed”, I believe that most of us nature-lovers will recognize at least some of these unusual animals, such as the Aye-Aye from Madagascar or the Proboscis Monkey.

Aye-Aye foraging at night (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Aye-Aye foraging at night (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Proboscis Monkey (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Proboscis Monkey (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Once you finish checking out the “What the Heck Is That?” article, directly below it (under the heading “More on Weather.com: Meerkats and other Baby Animals) is a photo gallery of baby animals, from meerkats (loads of them) to baby rhinos, various primates, tapirs, capybaras, coatis, and tons more.

Baby Brazilian Tapir (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Baby Brazilian Tapir (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Last, here’s a happy-ending story about an unusual trio of formerly-abused animal friends.

This is our Open Thread. Enjoy Nature’s wonders at The Zoo!

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 24th, 2013: The Silence of the Dems

Pretty much every single day, Republicans do or say things that make us either laugh at their foolishness or gasp at their political machinations. On the one hand, we hear idiots like Michele Bachmann spout ‘history’ that she pulled out of her ass, or the ignorance of misogynists such as Trent Franks and Michael Burgess, or just about anything out of the mouth of Steve King. On the other hand, Republican governors and congresspersons are busily doing ALEC’s bidding, continuing and escalating their war on women’s reproductive rights, joined by the supposed “jobs, jobs, jobs”-focused Republican-controlled House. It would seem to be easy enough to just sit back and watch the Republican party descend into oblivion.

Yet, while some of their utterances can be amusing, the Republicans’ overall strategy of limiting citizens’ rights, particularly women and minorities, along with their disdain and antagonism towards the poor among us, is deadly serious. But what are the Democrats doing to stop them, or at least to draw the country’s attention to the medieval legislation being proposed and passed by the Republican governors? I, for one, am sick of the “State’s Rights” BS by which Republican governors and Congressmen swear. President Obama has talked about their divisiveness, and a few of the more left-leaning Democratic Senators have as well, but where are the majority of the Democrats?

But it’s not just Republican schemes that the Democrats need to decry: where are they on President Obama’s illegal (in my mind) drone program, or the NSA spying, or the continuation of the ill-begotten PATRIOT Act? While dinosaurs like Diane Feinstein and Chuck Schumer seem perfectly comfortable with spying on Americans, and denounce whistleblowers as traitors, where are the other Democrats speaking up for our rights as citizens? Where are the Democrats when it comes to the apparently untouchable big corporations, banks, etc.?

Since talk of the next round of elections started the moment the general election in November was over, it seems that most liberal pundits are focusing more on the self-destruction of the Republicans than on what potential Democratic candidates will offer as an alternative. Democrats need to start now to distinguish themselves from the Republicans on issues, and they’re going to need to speak loudly and carry a big stick. They cannot simply rely on pointing at Republicans and laughing from the sidelines. The time for them to speak up is now!

This is our Open Thread. What do you have to say today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 17th, 2013: Small Gummint/Big Gummint: A Love/Hate Story

It’s been two months since the tragic fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. Currently, town leaders and residents looking for financial assistance in rebuilding seem to be involved in navigating a maze to acquire that funding. Of course, first the people of West who had insurance coverage have to start there, while other funding sources must wait in the wings to pick up where the insurance leaves off. But that’s where the real maze starts.According to the local ABC News affiliate, WFAA.com:

“…more than $5 million in private donations has funneled into accounts set up at the town’s two banks, as well as a variety of relief funds through agencies like the Salvation Army, Baylor University and the Waco Foundation.
The Waco Foundation has collected the largest amount to date, close to $1.4 million. Executive director Ashley Allison…admits only about $20,000 of the $1.4 million has been handed out.

Baylor hasn’t yet distributed a single penny.

The Salvation Army told News 8 most of the money it has put into West so far was to cover operational expenses of their relief efforts on the ground.

So what accounts for the holdup?

Town leaders have been pushing for most of the private donations to be channeled through a newly established non-profit organization called the West Long-Term Recovery Center. The center is trying to attain a 501(c)3 designation so it can fully operate as a charity and start helping distribute the private money that the relief funds and banks have collected.

“It is a process, we know that,” said interim executive director Karen Bernsen.

The Internal Revenue Service will ultimately decide on approving the center’s designation. An application was filed last month, but there is no timetable for approval.”

But no one is going to pay attention to mundane details about local West town government, when there’s an opening to complain about a ‘big gummint’ agency. As USAToday.com reported,

“According to a letter obtained by The Associated Press, FEMA said it reviewed the state’s appeal to help West but decided that the explosion “is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration.””

From wacotrib.com, responses to FEMA’s decision:

“Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was critical of the federal response.

“…once the cameras have stopped rolling, President Obama’s FEMA has denied our state and our neighbors the necessary opportunities to rebuild critical infrastructure in the town, including an entire school.””

West Mayor Tommy Muska: “… In my opinion, the federal government is looking for the state to pony up and the state is looking at the federal government to pay.””

“U.S. Rep. Bill Flores…said he will urge fellow Texas Congress members to sign a letter urging the president to reverse the decision.”

Texas Sen. Brian Birdwell,
R-Granbury, said in a statement he also was “stunned” at the ruling and pledged to work with Perry, Flores and U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz toward winning an appeal.

Governor Perry’s office: “The day of the West memorial service, President Obama stood in front of a grieving community and told them they would not be forgotten. He said his administration would stand with them, ready to help. We anticipate the president will hold true to his word and help us work with FEMA to ensure much-needed assistance reaches the community of West.”

Even though the main headline of the majority of articles was “FEMA denies aid to West, Texas”, most of them did, at least, admit that:

“FEMA has, however, provided emergency funds to individual residents.” ~ WFAA.com

“FEMA said last week more than $6.5 million has been approved for nearly 800 residents impacted by the fertilizer plant explosion on April 17.” ~ WFAA.com

“Though FEMA is denying aid to the city, agency representatives note that millions of dollars have gone directly to residents in the form of grants and low-interest loans.” ~ wacotrib.com

So, does anyone else besides me find it ironic that Texas, a state whose Republican leaders extol States’ Rights and despise all ‘big gummint’, especially the IRS and FEMA, now is looking to that same ‘big gummint’ for taxpayer-funded relief? Let’s see who, if any, amongst them, suggests that the federal government should cut spending elsewhere in order to ‘balance’ the FEMA aid that Texas requests.

Finally, there’s this pointless, obviously slanted piece by Mike Sackett of USA Today. Here’s a couple of excerpts:

“Federal agencies investigating the cause of the blast that killed 15 and injured 200 would do well to include in their findings the federal government’s pivotal role in making the stuff that exploded. That might change FEMA’s attitude.”

[The "federal government's pivotal role"? Making ammonium nitrate into bombs in WWII! Darn gummint!]

~ and ~

“I suspect that as long as the National Security Agency’s domestic spying scandal sizzles in the glare of public scrutiny, federal investigators in Texas will loll in the shade, taking their sweet time investigating the explosion in West.”

[And I suspect that Mr. Sackett is pulling stuff out of his ass here.]

This is our Open Thread. Talk about anything that’s on your mind!

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 10th, 2013: Panning Pundits

Watching the political lineup on MSNBC must be getting to me. Here’s my personal list of things that have come to annoy the crap out of me:

-”At the end of the day…”
If I got $5 for every time a political pundit used that phrase… Whatever happened to alternatives such as ‘all in all, or ‘the upshot is’, or ‘when it comes down to it’? Mix it up, pundits!

-”I mean…” Recently, political pundits seem to be beginning their spiels with “I mean, ” – Can’t you tell us what you mean without actually (and redundantly) starting with this pointless phrase? It’d be like GWB starting out one of his inimitable dumbass statements with his catchphrase, “In other words…”

-“The IRS targeting scandal” – It’s not been found to have been endemic throughout the IRS, just the one branch in Cincinnati. Yet every time the topic is introduced, it’s “The IRS scandal.” People talk about the one Cincinnati office employee who asked for a transfer because of the targeting going on: has it occurred to anyone that, if this targeting were happening throughout the IRS, a transfer to another office wouldn’t have done that employee any good? Yet no one on any of the political shows has connected those dots.

-Same faces, different show - Is it just me, or are the ‘contributors’ starting to be the same on every show, or are they just blending together in my mind? It seems that often, a pundit who appeared on, say, Chris Hayes, ends up wrapping up the night on Lawrence. It also seems that many of the ‘pundits’ are mainly hosts from other MSNBC shows. It’s starting to look like the liberal version of “Fox and Friends” sometimes.

-At least half of their stories come straight out of Think Progress. It’s a good bet that, on any given MSNBC political show, we’ll see at least one video or graph or whatnot taken directly from TP. This started way back when Faiz was still with TP, but lately it’s become more widespread and frequent. The thing is, usually the TP thread that MSNBC features is a day or two old.

Maybe I’m just getting jaundiced or just plain cranky, but I find myself unable to sit through the entire evening lineup without getting either annoyed or bored. Is it just me?

This is our Open Thread. Talk about anything that’s on your mind!

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 3rd, 2013: Lows and Highs

As is my wont, I found today’s offerings while trying to research a totally different topic. Let’s start with the lows (after all, it is Monday):

First up: The Atlantic Cities website has an interactive map of the world, where you can pick any area, zoom in, and watch a time-lapse video of changes over thirty years’ time. The human infestation of our poor planet continues apace. (sigh)

In other ‘low’ news, Darrell Issa is still wasting oxygen (as well as taxpayers’ money and valuable legislative time) on Obama conspiracy theories, in this particular case the IRS/Tea Party story. (On a slight ‘high’, at least Candy Crowley made an attempt to introduce Issa to reality.) And, almost lower than Darrell Issa himself, right-wing trolls, i.e.:

spammeister1 [yes, "spammeister1" is really the troll's screen name]
“And the nobama admin IS the most corrupt in the history of our once great republic. Issa, being experienced, saw that from the beginning even tho , as u say, he as of yet had no actual proof. but look at the corruption in the admin now. CROOKS!!!! LIARS!!!!! FOOLS!!!!!”

(The Spammeister had more to say later, but I won’t inflict more of his brand of ‘stupid’ on you.)

Then there’s this literary masterpiece:

jojomon1
“really Kevin you really believe that liberal bs more then 50 where denied and no liberal org where even look at and that s really the kind of government you want well you make my point for me liberals or the new communist party”

And, this plum:

Sheila Firmin · Top Commenter
“Candy can not be trusted to be fait or balanced….she is an Obama shill…..asskissing arm of the administration.”

[eyes rolling]

On a somewhat lighter note, but still in the ‘low’ category, we have…Cicadas: I’ve heard that this year there’s supposed to be a plague of cicadas. For anyone who’s curious about whether human development can prevent cicadas from emerging from their 17-year cycle, this article on The Atlantic Cities website has the answer. Short version, probably not – but at least I learned a bit more about cicadas than the fact that they come in cycles.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now for your ‘highs’ today: Here’s 13 different bird’s eye views from around the world, courtesy of cable cars. Enjoy! (unless you’re afraid of heights, of course.)

This is our Open Thread. Go ahead, talk amongst yourselves!

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 27th, 2013: Untitled*

*I could not possibly honor the day anywhere near as well as frugalchariot’s Memorial Day post does, so I will not even try. To anyone who missed it, take the time, it’s a must-read.

Instead, I thought that I would check the local on-line newspapers in the hopes of finding some fodder. I went to the Opinion page of the Poughkeepsie Journal. One title looks promising: “Energy Policy is National Security Issue: Column” “by Merrill Matthews, USA Today.” As I read it I noted the author’s right-wing point of view, and wondered where he was going with it. After some discussion of Russia, Iran and Venezuela, with their “totalitarian regimes” and great big gobs of oil and natural gas, Mr. Matthews came closer to his point. An excerpt:

“Many energy-dependent countries would like to be free of that oil and gas stranglehold to pursue their on[sic] foreign policy interests and alignments. The good news is that the old paradigm is shifting; the better news is that we can accelerate those changes. [emphasis mine]

For one thing, the oil and gas production boom, especially in the U.S., has dramatically increased energy supplies and pushed down prices. That means that some of the “energy captives” now have options available to them, including coal, they may not have had in the past, helping to break the stranglehold.

But this shift is not necessarily permanent; much of it depends on expanded U.S. production, made possible by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and the ability to export some of that energy.

Which takes us to the better news: how to accelerate the current trend. The U.S. must move forward with plans that will turn cheap and abundant natural gas into liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export. We are only now building the liquefaction facilities to undertake this venture on a large scale, and the private sector is investing the money to make it happen — as long as the Obama administration will allow it. [emphasis mine]

The ability for the U.S. to extract and export energy is a national security issue. Energy self-sufficiency, which could be attainable in a decade or so, would mean that U.S. foreign policy wasn’t held hostage to energy policy.”

Not one word about wind, solar, hydroelectric, nothing about renewables at all. Still oil and gas, with a side of coal. At this point I’m wondering who this dinosaur is and, more to the point, who’s paying him. At the end of the “Column”, there it is:”Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation.” Hmmm, that name rings a bell, IPI, yup, ding-ding-ding! The conservative think-tank and member of ALEC which was, as per sourcewatch, “founded in 1987 by Congressman Dick Armey to “research, develop and promote innovative and non-partisan solutions to today’s public policy problems.”” Yeah, right. Dick Armey is as slimy and partisan as they come, and cannot help but leave his oily fingerprints on everything he touches.

Moving on…I guess I should have known better than to try the “Online Extra: Obama Scandals Overlap and Drain his Authority” – it turned out to be a rancid piece of pink slime meat by George Will. I couldn’t read the whole thing, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t subject you to some of it:

“Liberalism’s agenda has been constant since long before liberals, having given their name a bad name, stopped calling themselves liberals and resumed calling themselves progressives, which they will call themselves until they finish giving that name a bad name.”

[Fuck you, George, I'm still proud to call myself a liberal.]

“The agenda always is: Concentrate more power in Washington, more Washington power in the executive branch and more executive power in agencies run by experts. Then trust the experts to be disinterested and prudent with their myriad intrusions into, and minute regulations of, Americans’ lives. Obama’s presidency may yet be, on balance, a net plus for the public good if it shatters American’s trust in the regulatory state’s motives.”

It gets worse after that, and should only be read by someone with an iron stomach.

After noting that John Stossel was another featured columnist, and that other links were to pieces such as “Michelle Malkin: Top Obama donor a fox in health records hen house”, “Slippery slope to accepting atheist Boy Scouts”, and “Punchlines: Prom Season for Obama”, I gave up entirely on the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Palate cleanser: here’s a Blue-Footed Booby (one of my all-time favorite bird names) from National Geographic:

Blue-Footed Booby, photo by Tim Laman, courtesy of National Geographic

Blue-Footed Booby, photo by Tim Laman, courtesy of National Geographic

This is our Open Thread. Go ahead, talk amongst yourselves!

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 20th, 2013: Dirty vs Clean

First, I’m dragging you into the down and dirty: a brief glimpse into the dark and incomprehensible sludge that passes for brains in far-right-wingers:
From a commenter on a TP thread about the new Virginia GOP nominee for Lieutenant Governor:

“What I will never understand is that Gays have no idea they are being set up for easy persecution by the Liberals. How hard do you think it is going to be to find Gays now that same sex marriages are taking place? There is a paper trail to follow! When the time comes that Islam takes more and more control of America which unless you are a moron is happening right under your nose, “Gays’ will once again be TARGETED but this time these religious nuts believe God wants them to cut the heads off of Gays…just saying”

“BTW Shari law calls for the execution of Homosexuals on the spot when found out and this administration wont even use the word Radical Islam and is arming them…keep supporting Liberals and bashing Christians fools.. right up to the day when there are no Conservative Christians left to defend the Constitution and Sharia Law comes here and explain it to them its a ” life” as they place you on your knees and cut your head off!”

From a Moneynews (aka Newsmax) article/new conspiracy theory about the IRS (to which I am NOT linking, both on general principle and for your own sakes), a couple of separate commenters:

“…a flat income tax is no more than rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. Under the flaw tax, you still have to surrender your Constitutional rights to pay the tax, you still have to place ALL your property in jeopardy or peril to pay the tax, and you subject yourself to criminal prosecution every time you fill our a return. And under the flat income tax you still have to file returns, which gives this congressionally sanctioned terrorist organization, the irs, its jurisdiction over you, your property and just about everything you do (now with the inclusion of obamacare). What is desperately needed is to sever that jurisdiction between ordinary American citizens, doing nothing more than earning an honest living from their God given talents, and this hedonist organization that has no more regard for your rights and property than a common street thug. To do that, we need replace the marxist income tax with a national sales tax. It is what the Framers intended to finance the government. Read Federalist 21.”

“- Open the White House Doors Now – Our Kids Deserve better! – That’s a travesty in itself….never mind all this other corruptness in charade! Who has gone to jail?”

“If the government doesn’t do something about the IRS, I think it’s time the american people take in in their own hands. Fed up with this communist government and the people who support them.”

“ABOLISH THE IRS AND THE INCOME TAX!
WE DO NOT NEED THE IRS INCOME TAX OR EVEN A FAIR/FLAT TAX!!!!!!!!!!!
WE do NOT need a federal income tax!!!!!!!!!!!!!
and I need to add I FRIGGING HATE THE IRS! IT NEEDS TO BE ABOLISHED NOW LONG WITH OVER HALF OF THIS TYRANNICAL FED GOVT!
READ THIS: WE DO NOT NEED THIS MASSIVE DAMN FED GOVT! WE DO NOT NEED THESE A-HOLES MONITORING OUR MOVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now, since I forced you to get all dirty, here’s something to clean you off:
piglet enjoying shower

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to comment on any topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 13th, 2013: ‘Hu-mons’ and Animals – I’ll stick with the Animals

Well, the argument over gun legislation isn’t going to go away anytime soon, especially as long as Americans are being shot, deliberately or in tragic “accidents”, every day.

First, a frightening story from a commenter at TP:

“My son tried to make plans with a few friends to see the new Batman movie in Aurora. His plans fell through. The next day we talked. Grateful that he wasn’t there, I just felt sad. Then he told me about how hard to tried to be there. It jolted me awake. I kept thinking of how different my day, his day and our lives would have been had he been in that movie theater. I am more grateful for my son’s life than I have been since he was quite young. Gun regulation is personal to me. It is time. I will stick with this movement. It is time.”

Next: From a (somewhat outdated, as it was from November 2012, therefore does not include the Newtown shooting nor the 3000 or so gun deaths since December 14th) Mother Jones article listing mass shootings in the U.S. from 1982 to 2012, excerpts from the comment section:

Someone trotted out the “hammers kill more people than guns do” bullshit story (the report actually said that hammers were used to kill people more often than rifles, not guns); when another claimed disbelief, a pro-gun person who had been the main commenter on the thread responded:

#1.. proof of hammers.. GOOGLE IT.. in under 10 seconds you will find links showing proof..

As for where are the stats from? The FBI… national crime stats. The same thing can be had via StatsCan as well as other sources.

It sounds absurd to ban or regulate hammers as well. Why? not only are they used for non-malicious purposes an uncountable # of times every day (the same as firearms are) it again would NOT actually accomplish anything good at all.

It would not stop the rapist that uses the hammer to subdue his victim.. it would not stop the “armed robber” from robbing the local 7-11.. it also won’t stop the moron whom wallops his thumb with it either. Instead it would make “work” and waste of $ within gov regulation.. so you have to prove you are “competent” etc etc to put a nail in the wall with a “deadly and dangerous hammer”. Meanwhile criminals would just get an illegal hammer and use that… while the law abiding home owner has to wait to hang up a picture for gov approval.

As for the Nuclear bomb.. no.. that is not a fair comparison at all.. it is a very stupid comparison.

Explosives (Nuclear or otherwise) are already highly regulated to try to prevent lunatics such as Timothy McVeigh from causing mass destruction.

Why? Simple.. what practical use would a nuke be for people to have? You You can’t take it to a range to and practice with it.. you can’t carry it for personal protection and the protection of others. Not to mention it is a BOMB

You also neglect the fact that the lunatics such as McVeigh and Lanza are not stupid. If they did not have access (legal or illegal) to firearms they would find another way to inflect the damage they are intent on. It’s not hard to learn how to build a bomb online.. (though I won’t help educate anyone here how.)

As for pools and accidents.. yes they matter. But the anti’s love to pull the “if it saves one kid” crap. It’s crap since those saying such don’t care that a kid dies.. they care HOW they die. otherwise they would actually look at the real problems and try to find a solution. Such as education. We teach our kids safety with a pool.. why should they not be taught safety with a firearm? That alone is the single most effective way to reduce accidents (same for some adults). We also do not rely on the gov to regulate education about swimming pools. it is COMMON SENSE. The absurd stigma the uneducated use with firearms is unbelievably ignorant. Something sadly only made worse by the sensationalized BS spewed by the media.

Contrary to the media’s typical BS such as showing “Hollywood” scenes and constantly mislabeling firearms.. as well as the lie of “assault weapons” (There is no such thing btw as I’ve explained before… or do I need to explain it again?).. they have been caught flat out bold face LYING to the public. (Wolf Blitzer for one prime example and he was called on the carpet and publicly embarrassed for it)

So once again.. the aim of your post is to in effect place blame upon the inanimate objects and to punish those whom have done no harm. You aim to make those same people less able to defend themselves and others from the very people whom do cause harm. That is insanity to say the least since we already know the lunatics and criminals don’t obey the law. So it is completely destined to failure as gun control always has been. (Unless you are the dictator wanting control such as Hitler etc etc)

Once again the proof of the inanimate object doing no harm: http://montego.roughwheelers.c…

You were tempted to “refute every major contention” I’ve made. Sorry but the only way to try to do so would be to LIE. I am only telling the truth. Not trying to twist and cherry pick like the Anti’s do constantly. It is a cold hard and realistic view of the issues and the world. I for one refuse to fall for “feel good” legislation that does only harm to the general public. It is the absence of emotional rhetoric so commonly found with incidents such as Sandy Hook

It is not a lack of compassion for the victims of such either. It is the opposite. I would much rather those teachers had been armed and shot Lanza in the head on the spot. I would much rather the rapist is killed by the would be victim. I would rather the armed home invader that raped and robbed an 80 yr old woman last yr instead be shot by her.

As for incidents such as Lanza.. if I had been there I’d have attacked him even unarmed.. because it is the right thing to do. If I had been armed I’d have not even blinked at the need to shoot him on the spot.

Remember it is about personal responsibility. Unlike those blaming the firearm(s).. or blaming hollywood movies.. or video games etc etc.. none of those matter. I have played those games, watched those movies and I’ve been around firearms for most of my life. Funny.. I’m not a rampaging murderer… nor are you (I assume). They are all merely objects that are easy and conveniently to blame when trying to blame anyone or anything but ourselves.

Society failed for Sandy Hook not due to lack of moronic gun control… or lack of game control etc etc.. but they failed due to mental heath system in the US. His mother was trying to get a conservatorship of her Adult son (very hard to do).. and to have him committed. Also her firearms were locked up and he apparently got the code(s) w/o permission. If the system had not failed her, him and everyone else that incident could very well have been avoided entirely. And not a single “gun control” law would have been needed to accomplish such.

If you want to actually accomplish something good.. stop focusing on the object.. focus on the actual problems.

There is evil in the world.. and all the well wishing, idiot laws and tantrums by the anti’s won’t make that go away.

Oh and something I posted elsewhere you also should read:

You cannot child proof the world… but you can try to world proof your child.

“It is the Soldier: Not the minister Who gave us freedom of religion. Not the reporter Who gave us freedom of the press. Not the poet Who gave us freedom of speech Not the campus organizer Who gave us freedom to protest Not the lawyer Who gave us the right to a fair trial Not the politician Who gave us the right to vote It is the soldier who salutes the flag,Who serves beneath the flag, Whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows protesters to burn the flag” – Adapted from Charles M. Province

and

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” – Voltaire

That which was fought for and died for you have the privilege of enjoying. Do not waste such a gift by spitting in the faces of those whom fought and died so you have it in the first place.

You enjoy the 1st and 2nd in the US… it comes from the Magna Carta. Learn history and defend it since the rights you do not defend you loose.

And the same commenter later:

“Of course they are not telling the whole truth. They are cherry picking stats in order to try to twist the truth. Sadly very typical of the anti’s to try to promote their own agenda.

As for Oz [I believe this refers to Australia].. Deaths / injuries via violent crime and suicides have climbed and remained relatively stable respectively after GC. South Africa skyrocketed after GC. etc etc… it has all been thoroughly listed.. though they refuse to accept the reality still.

GUN CONTROL is a failure and always will be.”

A commenter for gun control:

One more thing, speaking of gun defense…I find it interesting, that we have the most guns of any “developed” nation..we have the least restrictive laws…and we don’t have this “gun paradise” of less crime because armed vigilantes saving the day.

We have the opposite. More gun deaths than any other developed nation.

Yet gun ownership seems to be declining. So if we don’t have a “safer” country with the amount of guns we have now, and less people want/have guns…then that hypothesis will never come to pass.

Unless this is the safe society we get with an armed citizenry?

And that same commenter also said later:

“Ugh, the “guns don’t kill people”, is such a trite argument.

I keep having to reference the stuff you throw out there. First off, we regulate cars in all sorts of ways. We regulate at the federal level of what a car maker can make. We regulate what safety features must be had. If you want to drive the car, even once, you are required to register with the state regularly. You have safety inspections regularly. You have to have insurance. You are required several months of intensive training. The state can revoke your license at will, including your Alzheimer’s patient. There are school zones where you have different rules to follow. All done to protect people. So let’s do all that in a mandatory way on every gun.

As you said, it’s just an object. Let’s treat it like every other dangerous object, which is to minimize the damage and casualties.

And once again, your premise is wrong. Guns do kill people, because they were designed to. Near the Newtown shooting, there was a school stabbing in China where 20 kids were attacked. How many died by the gun here? 20. How many died in China with the stabbing? 0. So…the gun does kill people. It kills people that otherwise may have lived.

Let’s get away from self-destructive ‘hu-mons’ (“ugly bags of mostly water”) and hang out with Nature:

While depressing, this photo gallery of rare and endangered animals is worth the look; on a brighter note, check out “Earth as Art”, shown just below the linked article, for a different look at our world.

Next, unusual albino animals; and, in somewhat the same vein, a few rare dog breeds.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to comment on any claims made above, or on any topic on your mind.

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 6th, 2013: Dark to Light

As a cat would present a disemboweled small animal, I present some steaming stool I stepped in on a few recent gun threads.

For some reason, a thread about a planned march on Washington by people armed with loaded weaponry was sidetracked by accusations of treason.

“TREASON is SWEARING TO UPHOLD AND DEFEND the CONSTITUTION of the United States of AMERICA and then doing EVERYTHING IN YOUR POWER TO DESTROY IT! Treason is sending people to Benghazi THEN WATCHING AND FAILING TO SEND NECESSARY ASSISTANCE while they are massacred! Treason is getting your own Border Patrol agents KILLED by GUNS YOU DELIVERED TO THE MEXICAN CARTELS through a failed attempt to create a gun control problem! Treason is when the Media is BOUGHT BY ONE MAN TO PUSH AN AGENDA WHICH RUNS AGAINST THE AMERICAN BEST INTEREST! This nation is close to tearing itself apart- Because too many people bought the snake oil salesman’s LIES WHOLESALE. And refuse to SEE the TRUTH when shown to them in a clear and brilliant light. WAKE UP PEOPLE_ IT IS NOT ABOUT THE GUNS- IT IS ABOUT THE CONTROL!”

– and -

“The treason is in the White House. Obama is who should be arrested. Revolution is coming in a few short years and much liberal blood will be shed.”

["Good luck storming the castle, boys!"]

I don’t know what the beginning of this comment is all about, but it turns “birther” pretty quickly, with a final steep drop into “Nazi Germany”:

“That’s exactly how the government is going to pull this off, by brainwashing weak people into thinking that anyone with a gun is a terrorist! You all are being lied to! Get off your lazy American butts and do some research into what’s really going on in Washington! Hello, mainstream media is controlled by the government! They are not going to tell you what they are really doing and they know that we are lazy and brainwashed and will believe whatever they tell you! If anyone can tell me why a President would not be able to present the people of his country with a legitimate copy of his birth certificate, I would feel differently. Oh, wait, are they not talking about that on mainstream news?! Hello America! And why is Obama running our economy into the dirt??? He wants to collapse our economy so we are dependent on the government and then they will have us all “eating out of their hands”. Remember Nazi Germany! That is right where America is headed!”

And another genius who never read the first half of the Second Amendment, and who slept through the entire Bush Administration:

“Cowards in the Senate? YOU MEAN THE ONES WHO ABIDED THEIR OATH TO UPHOLD AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA? This is NOT cowardice- THIS IS WHAT EVERY ONE OF THEM SHOULD HAVE DONE! We will have NO DICTATORS HERE!”

Although these delusional spewings were bad enough, I found this gobsmackingly-insane blithering out of the mouth of Linda Riddle, the grandmother of the 5-year-old boy and 2-year-old sister who he shot dead, to be the most offensive of all:

“Riddle said she is devastated, but comforted knowing that her granddaughter is in a better place. “It was God’s will. It was her time to go, I guess,” she told WLEX. “I just know she’s in heaven right now and I know she’s in good hands with the Lord.”

[emphasis mine]

WTF?! “It was God’s will.”? “It was her time to go” at age 2? It was God’s will that made Caroline’s 5-year-old brother and his birthday rifle God’s instrument for her death? It was God’s will that made their mother “step…outside of her home just for a few minutes, but it was long enough for her 5-year-old son to accidentally shoot and kill his 2-year-old sister.” God’s will? I call it “god swill”!

The CNN article (linked above) notes that the “…family kept the Crickett rifle in what they considered to be a safe spot”, but, according to a NY Daily News article, “Cumberland County Coroner Gary White said the family had not realized a shell was left inside the gun, which was kept in a corner of the house.” [emphasis mine]

Yeah, that sounds like a real safety-conscious family. Isn’t the first rule of gun safety ‘ALWAYS ACT AS IF A GUN IS LOADED’? It also seems obvious that, since the mother had “stepped outside of her home for just a few minutes”, the boy was playing with his gun INSIDE THE HOUSE! Can someone please explain to me how, despite what appears to be a clusterfuck of criminal negligence, this tragic shooting “has been ruled an accident” according to Kentucky State Police Trooper Billy Gregory.

In the CNN article, County Coroner White says, “It’s just one of those crazy accidents.” NO, sir, no it is not.

Enough darkness for now, here’s some cuteness to lighten up this Monday morning.
dog chick bunniesbunnyineggshellgossip time squirrel

This is your Open Thread. Please feel free to speak your mind.