The Watering Hole, Monday, November 10th, 2014: Mitch Makes Plans

Today I’m just going to throw a few topics out here, good, bad, or meh

A few excerpts from yesterday’s Washington Post article by Lori Montgomery and Robert Costa, headlined (rather lengthily) “GOP crafts narrow agenda for new Congress, seeking unity, Democratic votes”:

“Within hours of solidifying their control of Congress, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John A. Boehner were quietly laying plans for a series of quick votes in January aimed at erasing their obstructionist image ahead of the 2016 elections.

Considering the previous unfortunate efforts of the Republican Party to slap a different varnish on their tarnished image, I can only cringe wondering what kind of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser(tm) “quick votes” these two have in mind. What would they deregulate first? IOW, what will be the Rs’ first BS “repeal this job killer” meme in 2015? And are Boehner and McConnell, while “seeking unity”, keeping an eye on their own far-right-flank tea-nut gallery? Megalomaniac Senator Ted Cruz (R-PlanetTexas) is not one to allow the limelight to stray far from him, and is already making obstructionist noises. Boehner and McConnell are fools – yes, I could stop right there, but – if they think that Cruz is going to bow to their so-called “leadership.”

“First up: Action on long-stalled bills with bipartisan support, including measures to repeal an unpopular tax on medical devices and approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Whoa, tortoise, whoa! [gets out baseball bat, “I said WHOA!”] Why you sly bastards! First, Boehner and McConnell know damn well that repealing the medical devices tax, however unpopular it may or may not be, will undermine one of the sources for funding the PPACA, aka Obamacare. Boehner has been shown by FactCheck.org to have been lying about the negative effect that the Medical Device Tax would have on jobs. Repealing the Medical Device Tax is just one way that the Republicans would start to unravel the PPACA without actually repealing the act itself.

Now let’s get to “approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.” It seems that everyone, except the few people/companies who stand to gain from the construction of the pipeline, is against that. This is definitely an example of the incredibly ballsy, obviously and provably false claims that the project would be a “job creator.” Temporary American jobs, yes; a few (50 or so) permanent American jobs, yes; but nowhere near the thousands that the pipeline’s proponents would have us believe. There are so many good arguments against the Keystone XL, it’s truly amazing that any politician is still promoting it; unless, of course, well-funded interests are funding them.

There’s loads more from the WaPo article, but there’s also more information in the New Republic’s article called “This is How the New GOP Senate will try to Dismantle Obamacare”, by Jonathan Cohn.

So far everything points to the Rs major obsession for the past several years – if they can’t repeal the ACA, they’ll just kill it with a thousand cuts.

This is our daily open thread – talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 3rd, 2014: Strange Laws

I’m too nervous about the elections tomorrow, so I’m going to avoid politics.

I found the following odd state/town laws here at brainjet.com:

Alabama: Bear wrestling matches are outlawed.
Alaska: It’s legal to shoot bears in Alaska, but it’s not legal to wake a bear up for the purpose of taking its picture.
Arizona: Writing in toilet stalls is illegal ONLY FOR PEOPLE WHO WORK IN MINES.
Arkansas: In Arkansas, pinball games are prohibited by the law from giving more than 25 free games to a high scorer.
California has a law that forbids a frog that dies in a frog race from being eaten.
Colorado: In Aspen, CO, snowball fights are illegal.
Connecticut: In Connecticut, a bushel of potatoes must, by law, weigh 150 pounds.
Delaware: It’s illegal to sell the (literal) hair of a dog.
Florida: For female hot dog stand workers in Broward County, it’s illegal to wear a g-string.
Georgia: In Georgia, moving a trout from one lake to another is prohibited by law.
Hawaii: In Hawaii, using imitation milk in a milkshake without warning is illegal.
Idaho: Idaho prohibits sale of eggs from another state without warning, and anyone who uses flour that’s not enriched with vitamins can face 30 days in jail.
Illinois: “Happy Hours” are prohibited.
Indiana: It’s illegal to sell cold beer in Indiana in a grocery store. If you want to get a chilled brew, you’ll have to make a trip to the liquor store.
Iowa: It’s illegal to surf while drunk in Iowa. This is actually a good policy, but it’s ridiculous in the landlocked state of Iowa.
Kansas: Apparently it’s possible to modify the weather in Kansas, but it’s illegal to do so without the proper permit.
Kentucky: All Kentucky lawyers must swear an oath to refrain from dueling.
Louisiana: In Louisiana, it’s against the law to insult players at a sporting event.
Maine: It’s illegal to place green crabs next to soft-shell crabs.
Maryland: It’s a crime in Maryland to possess more than 3 turtles at one time.
Massachusetts: Gift certificates are required to be valid for at least 7 years.
Michigan: It’s illegal to use foul language in front of a woman.
Minnesota: It’s illegal to go hunting with a ferret.
Mississippi: It’s illegal to take an animal that’s been hit by a railroad car.
Missouri: It’s illegal to pretend to be blind to make money.
Montana: It’s against the law for a water sprinkler to get a passerby wet.
Nebraska: In the city of Ogallala, it’s illegal to disturb public dirt.
Nevada: Nevada has respect for the dead. In the state, it’s prohibited to use bad language in front of a dead person.
New Hampshire: Prohibits seaweed harvesting at night.
New Jersey: In Haddon Township, flirting with somebody against their will is punishable by law.
New Mexico: It’s illegal to get on a ski lift while drunk.
New York: It’s illegal to walk in public with an ice cream cone in your pocket on Sundays.
North Carolina: It’s illegal to serve food to pigs that hasn’t been thoroughly cooked.
North Dakota: Kangaroo boxing is a crime.
Ohio: It’s illegal to disrobe in front of a man’s portrait.
Oklahoma: It’s illegal to break INTO a prison.
Oregon: It’s against the law to own more than 2 undeployed airbags.
Pennsylvania: A Pennsylvania fortune-teller cannot charge money to try to shorten someone’s life.
Rhode Island: Wrapping fresh fish in a newspaper is against the law.
South Carolina: Fishing with dynamite is illegal.
South Dakota: Shooting an animal from an airplane is against the law.
Tennessee: Roller skaters must proceed in a single file line to be in accordance with the state law.
Texas: Taking more than 3 sips of beer at a time while standing is illegal.
Utah: The state has banned the “look, no hands” trick by law, stating that bicyclists must keep one hand on the handlebar at all times.
Vermont: In the city of Middlebury, having more than one person on a skateboard at a time is illegal.
Virginia: It’s illegal to release more than 50 balloons per hour.
Washington: In Bremerton, it’s illegal to throw garbage into anyone else’s trash can.
West Virginia: An unmarried couple living together in the state can be sent to jail.
Wisconsin: On highways in Wisconsin, livestock always has the right of way.
Wyoming: Opening a gate and not closing it is against the law.

This is our daily open thread – talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, October 27th, 2014: Mutants are Cool

I don’t normally click on any of those groups of six ads that seem to be unavoidable on most websites, but when I saw the following photo, I just HAD to:

Horse or Zebra?

Horse or Zebra?


The website, brainjet.com, didn’t answer the caption’s question, but I’d say it’s a zebra with a cool-looking color mutation…which, of course, was the title of the slideshow: “13 Naturally Color-Mutated Animals.” While there were some that I might call into question (for instance, the quality of the “pink elephant” photo was too poor), many were beautiful and marvelous. Go ahead and check them out, here are some of my favorites:
Brown Striped Zebra (Zebra Erythrism)

Brown Striped Zebra (Zebra Erythrism)


The first two were for Zooey. The next one is for Pachy:
Pink Dragonfly

Pink Dragonfly


This next photo was called a “Piebald Deer”, which is erroneous: “Piebald” (at least in horse terminology) describes a white coat with random irregular black patches; “Skewbald” describes a white coat with random irregular brown patches. So the deer in this pic is actually a skewbald, not a piebald:
piebald deer
This one’s for me, since my ‘toon representation in our header is the majestic tiger (thank you, Paul!):
Four Shades of Tiger

Four Shades of Tiger


And just a few more that were cool:
Half-white Peacock

Half-white Peacock


Pink Grasshopper (sounds like a drink!)

Pink Grasshopper (sounds like a drink!)

Enjoy the rest of the slide show. I did!

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

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

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river through The Great Swamp

river through The Great Swamp


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

(sigh)

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

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

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 13th, 2014: More Money than God

At billmoyers.com, I spotted an article by Sam Pizzigati, regarding the recent publication of the Forbes 2014 Billionaires list. An excerpt:

“…the richest of these 400 hold far more than that average. Take Larry Ellison, the third-ranking deep pocket on this year’s Forbes list. Ellison just stepped down as the CEO of the Oracle business software colossus. His net worth: $50 billion.

What does Ellison do with all those billions? He collects homes and estates, for starters, with 15 or so scattered all around the world. Ellison likes yachts, too. He currently has two extremely big ones, each over half as long as a football field.

Ellison also likes to play basketball, even on his yachts. If a ball bounces over the railing, no problem. Ellison has a powerboat following his yacht, the Wall Street Journal noted this past spring, “to retrieve balls that go overboard.”

Hiring that ball-retriever qualifies Ellison as a “job creator,” right? Maybe not. Ellison has regularly destroyed jobs on his way to grand fortune. He has become, over the years, a master of the merge-and-purge two-step: First you snatch your rival’s customers, then you fire its workers. In 2005, for instance, Ellison shelled out $10.6 billion to buy out PeopleSoft, an 11,000-employee competitor. He then proceeded to put the ax to 5,000 jobs.

Here’s the Forbes 2014 list. Note that the Koch Brothers are tied for 6th place – aww, they didn’t make #1? They must be spending too much money on Republican/Teabagger political candidates. And, of course, several members of the Walton family took 8th through 11th place. I have not perused much of the list, but I see that one of the other sugar daddies of the right, Sheldon Adelson is at #15, while evil left-winger George Soros is at #24. (In between is Wayne’s former ‘boss’ at Xerox, Carl Icahn, at #22.)

One of the “highlights” listed towards the bottom of one of the Forbes articles is this factoid that gave me pause:

“The oldest billionaire is David Rockefeller Sr. (# 190), age 99, with a net worth of $3 billion.”

Gardens at Rockefeller Estate - Hudson River in the background.  (photo by Jeff Goodell)

Gardens at Rockefeller Estate – Hudson River in the background. (photo by Jeff Goodell)

Now, we grew up in an area where the Rockefeller estate is about half-an-hour away, near the legendary “Sleepy Hollow” area. I have cousins on my father’s side who lived near the estate, and when we used to visit them when I was young, the drive took us along, and through, parts of the estate (one could tell by the tall fencing that seemed to hold the estate’s huge old trees back from the road, often on both sides.) So we always considered the Rockefeller family as sort of ‘neighbors.’ Despite his obvious personal flaws, i.e., not making Happy Rockefeller happy, at least Nelson D. Rockefeller was a fairly moderate Republican in the days when there really were moderate Republicans, several of whom could be respected regardless of one’s political affiliation. Of course, these days, Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller would be considered RINOs.

Another excerpt from Pizzigati’s article:

“This year, for the first time ever, Forbes has assigned a “self-made score” to every one of America’s richest 400. More than two-thirds of this year’s 400, Forbes claims, rate as “self-made,” Ellison among them.
[emphasis mine]Forbes doesn’t bother asking how those rich went about self-making their fortunes. We should. Our top 400, after all, haven’t just made monstrously large fortunes. They’ve made a monstrously large mess. To unmake it, we need to unmake them.”.

Amen to THAT, folks.

Oh, yeah, one more thing about the Forbes list: if you’re worth a mere billion dollars, you’re still not rich enough to make the list, as the minimum to qualify this year was $1.55 billion.

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

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 6, 2014: No Nukes for You!

As usual, I found the topic for today’s thread while researching something else: in this case, looking for info on the time frame when Bush wouldn’t let the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) finish its inspection for WMDs in Iraq, just prior to our heedless and headstrong invasion. I never finished that research, as I was distracted by more timely news.

The first IAEA link that came up was, surprisingly, from a Chinese news site, from which I learned that the IAEA is sending a team to Iran shortly for talks on Iran’s progress in meeting certain deadlines regarding its nuclear program. In addition, the National Journal says “The IAEA has sought information on the “potential military dimensions” of the Iranian nuclear program, in particular information about Iran’s extensive research and development of a nuclear explosive device.”

From the Chinese site, xinhuanet.com:

“Iran and the IAEA agreed to implement five practical measures including the cooperation of resolving two points of Iran’s nuclear program related to the alleged nuclear weapon plan, so- called possible military dimensions (PMD) to Iran’s nuclear plan by deadline Aug. 25 in order to provide greater transparency of Tehran’s nuclear program.However, the IAEA said Iran missed the deadline in implementing three measures, and two measures related to PMD issues have yet to be implemented so far.”

Then in an article from Arutz Sheva, Israel National News, the headline shouts “353 US Reps to Kerry: Iran ‘Stonewalling’ on Nuke Detonator”, followed by the opening line, “Stunning bipartisan congressional letter focuses on Iran’s ‘refusal to fully cooperate’ with IAEA over Parchin.”   Hmmm, well, here’s the letter, which I didn’t find particularly “stunning.” The article continues:

“The Congressional Letter’s signatories included almost all of both parties’ leaderships, and was greatly aided by Republican Congressman Peter J. Roskam (R-IL-06) of Illinois, a stalwart, and tireless, advocate of Israel as a vital strategic asset of the United States.”

“This Congressional warning follows a similar warning from Israel Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, who issued a statement last week that emphasized that “credible sources” alleged that “internal neutron sources such as uranium were used in nuclear implosion tests at [Iran’s] Parchin.”

I also found this ^^ article interesting as it includes a diagram of a “neutron initiator” by the infamous AQ Khan – KHAAAAAAANN!  (Sorry, I had to.)

Okay, Congress and Israel, don’t get all freaked out and start shouting “mushroom cloud.” Remember the last time that we had “credible sources” about possible nukes, purportedly in Iraq, and went off half-cocked and half-assed? As Donald Rumsfeld (spit) so insultingly told under-provisioned U.S. troops to their faces, “…you go to war with the army you have—not the army you might want or wish to have…” How many thousands of American and coalition troops died, how many maimed, how many innocent Iraqis were killed? How much of their “sovereign nation” did we destroy? Seriously, do you macho politicians ever remember history, because you seem quite willing to repeat it.

Moving along…again from israelnationalnews.com, blogger Batya Medad writes about the following news:

“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Israel Radio late Thursday that he had agreed to an American framework proposal whereby Israel would negotiate peace with the Palestinians on the basis of the ’67 cease-fire lines with territorial swaps. (Jerusalem Post)”

Ms. Medad then writes:

“American policy is American policy. They promote what they think is good for the United States of America, and they want the support of what they perceive as “moderate Arab states.” The fact that such a phrase is an oxymoron has nothing to do with anything. Let the USA do whatever it wants. My complaints are against the Israeli Government, Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu’s government coalition.

Israel is supposedly an independent country and has been since the 1949 Armistice, which ended the active fighting between the newly established State of Israeli[sic] and the surrounding Arab countries, which had attacked it.

Although the State of Israel has been victorious in all of the wars against us by our Arab enemies, we have had successive governments that beg the United States for support and friendship. Bibi’s acquiescence to American demands is just the latest in a long series of bad policy steps over the decades.”

Oh, my, where do I start with this bit?

How about, if it weren’t for the U.S. and its allies, the State of Israel would not exist?

Or, AIPAC is the biggest and probably most powerful lobby in the United States?

Or, how much money and military equipment and assistance has the U.S. given to Israel throughout its existence?

Or, didn’t you guys actually start some of those “wars against us by our Arab enemies”?

Or, Israel doesn’t “beg the United States for support and friendship”, it demands it unconditionally and unswervingly, then spits in our faces. And when we politely ask that Israel restrain itself a tad when they’re violating the conditions of the 1967 agreement by bombing their neighbors and taking their neighbors’ land, Israel considers it an affront to their sovereignty. Bite me, Israel, you can stop taking our money and assistance, we can certainly use a few extra billion dollars right here.

As to Israel’s worry over the possibility of Iran hiding the development of a nuclear weapon, all I can say is, how big is Israel’s nuclear stockpile that Israel denies exists?

Okay, rant over…for now.

This is our daily open thread – don’t mind me, feel free to discuss whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 29th, 2014: Intelligent Life…Please?

Although I’ve only been back online since the beginning of the weekend (my home computer crashed early last week, and access from the office was hit-or-miss, too), my search for intelligent life in American politics found little. So for today’s post I’m turning to the infinite wonder and majesty of “space, the final frontier”, in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, there could be a civilization out there that isn’t aiming to destroy itself through its own arrogant stupidity.

The following are just a few of the more recent Hubble Deep-Space images from a photo gallery that I found at space.com:

"All-sky-view of Magellanic Stream"

“All-sky-view of Magellanic Stream”

"A Selection of Hubble's planetary nebulae"

“A Selection of Hubble’s planetary nebulae”

"...two galaxies interacting. NGC 2936, once a standard spiral galaxy, and NGC 2937, a smaller elliptical, bear a striking resemblance to a penguin guarding its egg."

“…two galaxies interacting. NGC 2936, once a standard spiral galaxy, and NGC 2937, a smaller elliptical, bear a striking resemblance to a penguin guarding its egg.”

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