The Watering Hole, Monday, April 7th, 2014: Torture

Over the past month or so, there’s been a lot of talk about the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the previous administration’s CIA torture program (oh, excuse me, “enhanced interrogation techniques”.) Chair of the Committee Senator Dianne Feinstein has accused the CIA of accessing Congressional computers and deleting memos and other evidence. Last week brought the news that Senator Feinstein is pushing to have the results of the report made public, in order to “ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted…”

Cue the attacks, specifically on FauxNews: First, former CIA Director Michael Hayden questions Senator Feinstein’s possible “motivation for the report” is “emotional.” An excerpt from the ThinkProgress article:

“Citing specifically Feinstein’s line about not using such techniques again, Hayden told Fox News Sunday host Chis Wallace, “Now that sentence that, motivation for the report, Chris, may show deep emotional feeling on part of the Senator. But I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.”

A surprised Chris Wallace asked,

“…You’re saying you think she was emotional in these conclusions?” Hayden did not respond specifically to Wallace’s question, but rather said simply that only portions of the report had been leaked but it did not tell the whole story.”

Despite whatever Hayden believes the “whole story” to be, the portions that have been leaked seem to be quite detailed and very damning, as discussed in this March 31st article from WaPo.

“Officials said millions of records make clear that the CIA’s ability to obtain the most valuable intelligence against al-Qaeda — including tips that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011 — had little, if anything, to do with “enhanced interrogation techniques.””

It does not seem possible that Hayden’s “whole story” could in any way mitigate the fact that torture was systematically used, both here and abroad at “black sites”, supposedly in the name of our “security.”

From the Washington Post article on Hayden’s “emotional” characterization:

“Former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden suggested Sunday that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) might have compromised the objectivity of a report on CIA interrogation techniques because she personally wants to change them…Hayden suggested Feinstein feels too strongly about the issue on an “emotional” level.”

Feinstein struck back at Hayden’s comments later Sunday by calling her committee’s forthcoming report “objective, based on fact, thoroughly footnoted, and I am certain it will stand on its own merits.”

In a statement, Feinstein noted that the committee’s investigation began in 2009 and the report’s conclusions “came from documents provided by the CIA and the result is a comprehensive history of the CIA program. The only direction I gave staff was to let the facts speak for themselves.”

“I believe last week’s 11-3 vote to declassify the report demonstrates that both sides agree that Americans should see the facts and reach their own conclusions about the program,” she added.

Raw Story tells it slightly differently:

“Yeah,” Hayden replied dismissively, noting that a Washington Post columnist had reported that “Sen. Feinstein wanted a report so scathing that it would ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation would never again be considered or permitted.” [Emphasis mine, in that I have been unable to find to which "Washington Post columnist" Hayden is referring, nor any such reporting that Senator Feinstein had directed how "scathing" the report should be.]

“That motivation for the report may show deep emotional feeling on the part of the senator,” Hayden opined. “But I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.”… ““You’re asking me about a report that I have no idea of its contents,” Hayden admitted.

[The notion that Hayden has "no idea of" the report's "contents" seems pretty ludicrous; regardless of his professed ignorance, it didn't stop him from attacking the Senator for one moment.]

Raw Story also provides us with cyborg former Vice-President Cheney’s reaction, which also sparked an invitation from Senator Angus King (I-ME) to have Cheney waterboarded:

“The accusations are not true,” Cheney told college television station ATV last week. “Some people called it torture. It wasn’t torture.”

“If I would have to do it all over again, I would,” he insisted. “The results speak for themselves.”

Sorry, the report’s results do speak for themselves:

“A report that has been completed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, however, has found that the CIA misled the government and misstated the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation program. The report concluded that the CIA lied when it said it had gotten “otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives.”

“I was stunned to hear that quote from Vice President Cheney,” Senator King explained. “If he doesn’t think that was torture, I would invite him anywhere in the United States to sit in a waterboard and go through what those people went through, one of them a hundred and plus-odd times.”

And finally Cheney’s spawn, Liz, reliably shouts “Benghazi!” Again from Raw Story:

“Fox News contributor Liz Cheney on Sunday argued that a United States Senate report on Bush-era torture was “political” and that lawmakers should spend more time investigating President Barack Obama’s role in failing to prevent terrorist attacks in Benghazi.

“If you’re going to say that we should not have conducted the enhanced interrogation program, if you’re going to say that we shouldn’t have waterboarded three terrorists, then you’ve got to say that you’re willing to accept the consequences of that,” the former vice president’s daughter said on a Sunday morning Fox News panel. “You’ve got to be willing to say how many American lives would you have been willing to put at risk because you didn’t want to waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”

“Fox News political analyst Juan Williams quipped that Liz Cheney was the “good daughter,” but the American people had a right to know what the CIA was doing in their name, and if the techniques were effective.

“I want to start by agreeing with Juan,” Liz Cheney shot back. “That we need more congressional oversight… of Benghazi, for example.”

She added that the Senate did not produce a “fair report” because it was “written entirely by Democratic staffers.”

“The Republicans wouldn’t participate!” Williams replied. “People not only wouldn’t cooperate, [the CIA] tried to spy on the U.S. Senate.”

Liz Cheney concluded by saying that she had “missed Juan” during her absence from Fox News for a failed Senate run in Wyoming.

[Yeah, how'd that work out for ya, Lizzie? Finally found out that no one in your home state likes you?]

A couple of the commentors on that Daily Kos thread could have helped Juan Williams bitch-slap that she-devil:

JW: I got a better idea Liz, why don’t we focus on the 22 embassy attacks that happened under your daddy’s watch.

bplewis24:

[Quoting Liz Cheney] “If you’re going to say that we should not have conducted the enhanced interrogation program, if you’re going to say that we shouldn’t have waterboarded three terrorists, then you’ve got to say that you’re willing to accept the consequences of that,”…Yes. I am fully willing to accept the consequences of that. Reports tend to tell us there are no real consequences of it, but even if there were, that’s the “sacrifice” I’m willing to make in order to live in a civilized world.

I think that I would just go with what Sheppard Smith once blurted out “emotionally”: “THIS IS AMERICA AND WE DON’T FUCKING TORTURE!”

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind?

Sunday Roast: Cats & Zooey take a day trip

Yesterday, it was such a beautiful day that Cats and I decided to take a spur of the moment day trip.  We made a loop from Eugene, down past Cottage Grove, over to Reedsport, then up to Florence, and back to Eugene.

The scenery was AMAZING, and here are just a few of the things we saw:

Canada Geese having a rest on their journey home.

Canada Geese having a rest on their journey home.

Roosevelt Elk, looking a bit raggedy and having lunch of fresh green grass.

Roosevelt Elk, looking a bit raggedy and having lunch of fresh green grass.

More Roosevelt Elk having a lie down.

More Roosevelt Elk having a lie down.

Stunning pink rhododendrons.

Stunning pink rhododendrons.

Dunes in Florence.

Dunes in Florence.

It was a perfectly lovely day, and, as you might imagine, we discussed all the issues of the day, and solved every single one of them — if only people would listen to us.  ;)

This is our daily open thread — Get on with it!

Watering Hole: Tuesday February 4, 2014 – Tidbits (bite-size morsels on food and environmental politics)

Is Monsanto giving up on GMO Foods? Well maybe not cash cows like corn and soy, but veggies don’t seem to want to respond in ways that make them better through genetic manipulation. Mother Jones has the whole story… No GMO Monsanto!

House votes to de-fund food stamps in Blue States. After de-funding the left, the Right’s next goal is to make the poorest among us grovel for food on the street. I guess getting free food when so many Americans are working for theirs is just too much for them to bear.They would much rather have the poor begging in the streets (again)

Monarch butterflies drop, migration may disappear. The famed annual migration of monarch butterflies to Mexico is at an all time low and may be history. Who to thank? Start with the big M. Urban sprawl is a boogeyman here as well. Read on…
Flight canceled.

And now for some good news…
Slow Cities: The Growing Movement Putting Sustainability and Community Back in the Forefront. It all starts in Europe, of course. First it was the Slow Food movement, and now out of Italy again Cittaslow, an expansive vision of how smaller places can remain viable. Here are the variables in play:

Contain fewer than 50,000 people
Commit deeply to preserve and sustain the environment.
Encourage thoughtful development and use of new technologies for sustainability.
Foster local culture and preserve heritage traditions.
Promote healthy eating and lifestyle.
Support local artisans and businesses.
Welcome visitors.
Encourage active participation in community life.
Read on…
Create a slow city (or neighborhood) near you.

Sunday Roast, February 2nd, 2014: Two “Super” Bowls

It’s Super Bowl Sunday (or, as Stephen Colbert has been referring to it, “Superb Owl”), and if you’re couch potatoes like Wayne and I, you have two major viewing choices. One can watch hours on end of pre-game football discussions, the actual Super Bowl game featuring the Denver Broncos vs the Seattle Seahawks, followed by endless post-game analysis,
denver_broncos_horse_logoseattle_seahawks-29136
~ or ~

One can watch hours of cute puppies (and kittens at ‘half-time’) playing faux-football on Animal Planet’s 10th Annual Puppy Bowl. You can meet the entire starting lineup of puppies here.

Puppy Bowl X pre-game warmup (photo credit: DCL)

Puppy Bowl X pre-game warmup (photo credit: DCL)

Or you may have something better to do today.

This is our Sunday open thread–what’re you up to today?

The Watering Hole: Monday, January 20, 2014, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day

Today is a day dedicated to the memory of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of this nation’s most important civil rights activists. Although the first federal holiday was observed in 1986, it hasn’t been a holiday in every state since then. It wasn’t until 2000 that South Carolina became the last state to sign a bill recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday. [And not everybody has a paid day off. Jane and I have to work, but since we're lucky enough to have jobs, we won't complain.]

But in addition to being a federal holiday to honor a great man, it is also a Day of Service.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Each year, Americans across the country answer that question by coming together on the King Holiday to serve their neighbors and communities.

The link can also lead you to projects in your local communities to help you find ways to serve.

mlk day

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to talk about Martin Luther King, Jr., your plans for serving in your local community, or anything else you wish to discuss. I wish I could say I was serving my community, but I’ll be working and checking in on my mother twice.

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 13th, 2014: Just for Fun

I thought I’d start the week off with some just-plain-silly stuff. It started when, on a couple of totally unrelated threads at Think Progress recently, mention was made of the New York Daily News newspaper. One commenter, in response to another who was using the NYDN as a source for some ‘evidence’, said “The NY Daily News is probably the closest thing to a rag sheet that is published on a daily basis in NYC.” So I says to myself, “hmmm, wonder where Weekly World News is published?”

Well, according to Wikipedia, WWN is no longer published:

“The Weekly World News was a largely fictional news tabloid published in the United States from 1979 to 2007, renowned for its outlandish cover stories often based on supernatural or paranormal themes and an approach to news that verged on the satirical. Its characteristic black-and-white covers have become pop-culture images widely used in the arts. It continues to exist as a website.”

I abandoned my search for lesser rags published in New York City (WWN had been published in Florida, anyway–why am I not surprised? Sorry, Florida!) and headed straight for the WWN website. A couple of “articles” from Friday included a few with sideways pokes at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (and had nothing to do with the GWB!):

First, did you know that the “God particle” was discovered in New Jersey?

“…Physicists have been trying to find the “God particle” (the Higgs boson) for over forty years, so it’s no real surprise that they finally did it. But what IS a surprise is it was found it in an abandoned bank depository in Camden, New Jersey. And it was found by singer-actress, Taylor Momsen…”

““Of course the universe began in New Jersey,” said Governor Chris Christie. “Everyone who lives here has known it all their lives. That’s why so many want to live here. They may not know it, but they are drawn to the universal source. It’s official now – New Jersey is the center of the universe.”

I’m sorry, but you’ll just have to read the rest for yourselves.

This one, titled “Hugging Banned in New Jersey” pokes fun at New Jersey, RWNJs, and Christie:

“We are a no hugging state,” Governor Chris Christie reportedly told reporters yesterday. “If we catch anyone hugging it will be a $100 fine for the first offense, $250 or the second offense and $1,000 for the third. After that, it’s jail.”

“…Christie got the idea from Matawan school district that decided that middle school children shouldn’t hug each other. “It’s not normal or natural,” said school superintendent John Jacobus. “If kids hug, then the next thing you know there having babies and we can’t have that happen in our school.”

“…Governor Chris Christie isn’t budging and it’s not because he “can’t” budge, he just doesn’t want to go back on his decision. “Hey, that’s the new law, get used to it.”

If you wish (proceed at your own risk), you can also check out the “World’s Biggest Butt”, read up on “The Moonshine Diet” (“You can flush out fat fast without pesky dieting or exercise, on the flabulous new Moonshine Diet!), or find out why the “End of the World [was] Postponed.”

Bat Boy, of course, is probably the most famous character(?) from WWN.

"Bat Boy" (photo courtesy of wikipedia/Weekly World News)

“Bat Boy” (photo courtesy of wikipedia/Weekly World News)

They even put together a Bat Boy “ancestral tree” – from wiki:

“According to the Weekly World News, the discovery of Bat Boy’s family tree on a genealogy chart recently stunned evolutionary scientists who used to think the famed imp was a pitiful, one-of-a-kind mutant – but now believe he belongs to a race of creatures who have interacted with humans for at least 400 years. In the tabloid’s account, the chart itself was written on vellum and found in the same Ozark Mountains cave where Dr. Ron Dillon, a biologist, rescued Bat Boy after he was trapped by a falling rock in 1992 (it should be noted, however, that the Ozark Mountains are nowhere near West Virginia). Carbon dating revealed the chart to be over a hundred years old.”

One Bat Boy “article” from April of 2013 teases with “BAT BOY UNCOVERED…Mitch McConnell discovered Bat Boy at a convenience store in Wisconsin.” However, most of the article references a “Mitch O’Connell, not the mutant-but-not-in-the-same-species-as-Bat-Boy Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Turtle/Human Hybrid.) It has not yet been determined whether Bat Boy and Governor Rick Scott (?-FL) share the same DNA; Governor Scott is known to have refused to provide a urine sample for testing.

Hard to tell 'em apart, huh? (photo courtesy of totallylookslike.com)

Hard to tell ‘em apart, huh?
(photo courtesy of totallylookslike.com)

For a few more laughs, check out this Bat Boy photoshop contest at freakingnews.com. And on the WWN website, the brief video montage of “Bat Boy: Going Mutant” “Breaking News” posted by Frank Lake in June of 2013 is fun, too.

This is our daily open thread–try to have a good laugh today!

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 6th, 2014: Odds and Ends

First, the weather: Here in southeastern New York, just a few days after two separate storms brought us 6+ inches of snow apiece, all that’s left of the snow are a few small scattered patches. Sub-frigid temps have given way to, well, right now it’s 55 degrees, according to my computer. Despite overnight temps in the mid-to-upper 40s, a band of freezing rain (which I could hear during one of my ‘up’ phases at around 3:00am) passed through during the night. Tonight, we’ll be dropping back to sub-freezing again. We’ve got some pretty strong wind gusts right now – the wind actually opened our front door a few minutes ago! And in the meantime, other parts of the country will be experiencing killer record-low temps and wind chills. Think warm thoughts, folks!

Second, our neighboring Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT): ICYMI from TP a few days ago, Senator Murphy spent a day with a local homeless man, and his account of the day and the Catch-22 in which so many homeless people are caught up in should be plastered across the country. (Senator Murphy is also one of the few senators who spent a week trying to live/eat on $4.50/day.) Every state should have at least one of their two senators be a hands-on, down in the trenches with the 99%, guy like this. I’m glad that he’s only 40, and should have a good long career as a true public servant ahead of him.

Lastly, to perhaps lift the spirits a bit, here’s The Weather Channel’s Top 100 photos of 2013. Enjoy!

This is our daily open thread–how is the weather affecting you? Speak up, about this or anything else on your mind.

The Watering Hole, Monday, December 23rd, 2013: Less Than 48 Hours ’til Christmas…

At this point before Christmas during most years, I’ve got everything done with just a few exceptions. This year, however, I still haven’t done any of this:
christmas-ornament-01
~ or this ~
christmas-wrapping-paper-1024x919
~ or this ~

Wrapped Presents

Wrapped Presents


~ or this ~
Baked Cookies

Baked Cookies

Good thing I don’t have to cook Christmas dinner!

This is our daily open thread–how are your Christmas preparations going?

The Watering Hole; Friday December 20 2013; Of Mice . . . Of “Men”??

I’ll be brief. In his poem “To a Mouse” Scottish poet Robert Burns summed up a big pile of ‘stuff’ more than two centuries ago when he wrote:

Still thou are blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

He also, around the same time, wrote “To a Louse” in which he enumerated the essence of most everything else:

O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An’ ev’n devotion!

Burns wrote those words in the late 1700′s, circa 1785. That’s roughly 225 yrs ago, and yet he somehow summarized the very pile of crap we still, on this very day in December of 2013, find ourselves having to deal with. Photo evidence follows; first, the Mouse (photo by Denny Green, Tempe AZ, December 2013):

Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!

MouseStill thou are blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee . . .

And then there is, too and of course, The Louse:

Ha! whare ye gaun, ye crawlin ferlie!
Your impudence protects you sairlie . . .

Bon erYe ugly, creepin, blastit wonner
Detested, shunn’d, by saunt an’ sinner . . .
Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner
On some poor body

So: even though the answer is invariably OBVIOUS, apparently that always eternal question forever remains: “Whereto from here”??

Burns proffers those two options: a Mouse, or a Louse. The choice remains, apparently, up to each and all of us.

Me? I’ll take the mouse. He be cool. The Louse? Not so much.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, December 2nd, 2013: Happy As A Pig ‘n’ Sh!t

First, here’s the Happy Pig:

Happy Pig

Happy Pig

Now, here’s the Shit: I received another pamphlet from our friendly neighborhood Jehovah’s Witnesses. Luckily for you, gentle readers, I have not had the chance (or inclination, yet) to read the whole thing, so I’m limiting this to a few excerpts based on the topic of the pamphlet’s blow-in:

“Can the dead really live again?”

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS[**] “There is going to be a resurrection.” – Acts 24:15, New World Translation[**]
WHAT THAT CAN MEAN FOR YOU
-Comfort when loved ones die – 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4
-Freedom from a morbid fear of death – Hebrews 2:15
-A real hope of being reunited with your dead loved ones – John 5:28, 29

CAN WE REALLY BELIEVE WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS? Yes, for at least three reasons:
-God is the Creator of life. The Bible calls Jehovah God “the source of life.” (Psalm 36:9, Acts 17:24, 25) The One who gave life to all living creatures is certainly capable of restoring life to someone who has died.
-God has resurrected humans in the past. The Bible reports eight instances of humans – young, old, male, and female – who were brought back to life on earth. Some had been dead for a short while, but one had been in a tomb for four days! –John 11:39-44
-God is eager to do it again. Jehovah hates death, he views it as an enemy. (1 Corinthians 15:26) He has “a yearning” to conquer that enemy, to undo death by means of the resurrection. He longs to bring back those who are in his memory and to see them live on earth again.–Job 14:14, 15.

Who will go to heaven, and why? Millions long for life in heaven. Jesus said that his faithful apostles would live there. Before he died, he promised to prepare a place for them with his heavenly Father.–Read John 14:2. Why will people from earth be resurrected to life in heaven? What will they do there? Jesus told his apostles that they would be kings. They will rule over the earth.–Read Luke 22:28-30; Revelation 5:10.

~~~ and the last one, I promise ~~~

Do all good people go to heaven? In most lands, only a few people are rulers. Since Jesus resurrects people to heavenly life so that they can rule over the earth, we would expect those chosen to be few. (Luke 12:32) The Bible says exactly how many will rule with Jesus.–Read Revelation 14:1. Those going to heaven will not be the only ones rewarded. Faithful subjects of Jesus’ Kingdom will enjoy life without end in a restored paradise on earth. (John 3:16 [or, as Wayne and I call it "Johnny on the Spot" - one so often sees cardboard signs with just "JOHN 3:16" held up toward the camera at televised baseball, football, and other sports competitions.]) Some will enter Paradise by surviving the destruction of the present wicked system of things. Others will enter by resurrection.–Read Psalm 37:29; John 5:28, 29

[**] Since the JWs use their own Bible “translation”, I suggest that, if you’re interested, go to biblegateway.com, you can choose which bible flavor you want to see each one’s translation of a particular quotation. Since the choices do NOT include the “New World Translation” indicated above, the links that I used were the American Standard Version. Just keep in mind that the JWs believe that every word in their re-written/re-translated version of the ‘original’ bible (both of which were likely written solely by enterprising males) is factually true, simply because the bible that they wrote says it is.

BTW, I copied (re-typed) the inconsistent all-caps, boldfaces, references, etc., exactly as they were printed in the ‘literature.’

Now you can go back and look at the cute pig again.

This is our daily open thread–please feel free to air your thoughts on pigs, Jehovah’s Witnesses (or any other religious group), etc.

Sunday Roast: For Some Folks, Life is a Hill

Trail_to_Red_Hill_Summit

Having been off for a week, listening to crashing Pacific waves, breathing salt air, reading, reading, more reading, and getting my head straight (kinda, sorta, pretty much), Mr Blow asked me, via facebook, to read his column for tomorrow.  I agreed to do so, and, for me, this column is very powerful.  What do you think?

Charles M. Blow, The New York Times

I strongly reject the concept of respectability politics, which postulates that a style of dress or speech justifies injustice, and often violence, against particular groups of people or explains away the ravages of their inequality.

I take enormous exception to arguments about the “breakdown of the family,” particularly the black family, that don’t acknowledge that this country for centuries has endeavored, consciously and not, to break it down. Or that family can be defined only one way.

I don’t buy into the mythology that most poor people are willfully and contentedly poor, happy to live with the help of handouts from a benevolent big government that is equally happy to keep them dependent.

These are all arguments based on shame, meant to distance traditional power structures from emerging ones, to allow for draconian policy arguments from supposedly caring people. These arguments require faith in personal failure as justification for calling our fellow citizens feckless or doctrinally disfavored.

Those who espouse such arguments must root for failures so that they’re proved right. They need their worst convictions to be affirmed: that other people’s woes are due solely to their bad choices and bad behaviors; that there are no systematic suppressors at play; that the way to success is wide open to all those who would only choose it.

Any of us in the country who were born poor, or minority, or female, or otherwise different — particularly in terms of gender or sexual identity — know better.

Please read the rest of the article here.

(photo source)

This is our daily open thread — How is everyone?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, November 16, 2013: Taylor Swift and The Gettysburg Address

From the website “Learn the Address“:

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, documentarian Ken Burns, along with numerous partners, has launched a national effort to encourage everyone in America to video record themselves reading or reciting the speech.The collection of recordings housed on this site will continue to grow as more and more people are inspired by the power of history and take the challenge to LEARN THE ADDRESS.

The site features this mashup of all five living presidents and a slew of politicians and celebrities, including Taylor Swift, who ABC considered the most important of the celebs to be featured in the video. (Each recorded his or her own.)

At the site you are invited and encouraged to share your own Gettysburg Address reading. You can upload a YouTube video of yourself, then give them a link to it. If accepted, they’ll post it at their site along with the presidents, politicians, and celebrities already featured there. Here is the complete Gettysburg Address, which takes about two minutes to read Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, 11/13/13: Stopping Bad Guys With Guns.

The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Recently someone (a good guy?) fired off some celebratory shots at a birthday party in a house crowded with teenagers. Someone else (another good guy) took it upon himself to open fire in response. Result: 2 dead and more than a dozen injured. By a good guy with a gun.

With so many guns per capita in the U.S. you’d think good guy vigilanteism would stop most of the mass killings. But, no. A survey of mass murders over the years reveals a surprising number of “bad guys with guns” kill themselves.

Two good guys with guns kill each other. oops.

2013: A bad guy with a gun opens fire at a Naval Yard, kills a dozen people before he is killed.

2012: Sandy Hook Elementary; 27 killed; gunman commits suicide.

2012: Aurora, Colorado; 12 killed; gunman dressed in head-to-toe protective gear is taken into custody.

2011: Seal Beach, California; 8 killed; gunman wearing body armor is arrested without incident trying to leave the scene.

2010: Manchester, Connecticut; 8 killed; gunman commited suicide.

2010: Appomattox, Virginia; 8 killed; gunman surrenders to police the next morning.

2009: A bad guy with a gun kills 13 people at Ft. Hood. Lots of good guys with guns. Bad guy not shot, is sentenced to death. Hmmmm….the death penalty didn’t stop this guy.

2009: Binghamton, New York; 13 killed; gunman commits suicide.

2009: Alamaba; 10 killed; gunman commits suicide.

2009; Carthage, North Carolina; 8 killed; gunman convicted of second degree murder, sentenced to 141 to 179 years in prison.

2007: Virginia Tech. 32 killed; gunman commits suicide.

2007: Omaha Nebraska; 8 killed; gunman commits suicide.

2005: Red Lake High School, Minnesota; 8 killed; gunman commits suicide.

1999: Columbine High School; 13 killed; gunmen commit suicide.

1999: Atlanta, Georgia; 12 killed; gunman commited suicide.

1993: San Francisco; 8 killed; gunman commits suicide.

1991: Killeen, Texas; 23 killed; gunman commits suicide.

1989: Louisville, Kentucky; 8 killed; gunman commtis suicide.

1984: San Ysidro, California, McDonnalds; 21 killed; Police sharpshooter kills gunman.

1984: Manley Hot Springs, Alaska; 8 killed; gunman is killed in a shootout with police.

1982: Miami Florida; 8 killed; gunman shot in the back by a witness who pursued him.

1982: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; 13 Killed; gunman committed to mental institution.

1973: New Orleans; 9 killed; police snipers kill gunman.

1966: University of Texas; 18 killed; police officers killed gunman.

So there we have it. Of the 20 deadliest shootings in U.S. history from 1965 to now, only once has a good guy with a gun taken out a bad guy with a gun (not counting the police, who are supposed to be the good guys with guns).

What’s the solution? Some throw up their hands in despair, there’s too many guns out there, there’s no way to stop it. Others point to Australia, that decided after one horrific incident that enough was enough, and had a massive gun riddance campaign. Others wrap themselves in the flag and flack jackets and openly brandish their firearms, threatening to use them if anyone dares impinge upon their “Second Amendment Rights.”

We’re coming up on the anniversary of Sandy Hook. Nothing has changed. Not enough kids have been slaughtered yet for Americans to say “enough is enough.”

OPEN THREAD

Sunday Roast: It’s finally acting like Fall

fall2

^^^Not my photo!^^^  I found it on weather.com  :)

Over the last two days, it’s finally been acting like Fall around here.  Sure, the temps were lower — thank FSM! — but while the leaves had turned color, the leaves were sticking in the trees as if they were glued.

Yesterday, the temps dropped just low enough overnight to get the leaves falling in the wind.  Fall is not my favorite season, but there’s something relaxing about watching the leaves falling out of the English walnut trees outside my windows.  Ahhhh….

Oh yeah, and it’s my birthday today.  54 years old!  :)

This is our daily open thread — what does Fall look like in your world?

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, Wednesday, October 2, 2013: BLAME IT ON FRANCE!

Guess what day it is!  Come on! You can say it!  SAY IT!!!

Guess what day it is! Come on! You can say it! Say it!!!

Government Shutdown, Day Two.

Republicans now blaming shutdown on France.

If not for France, we wouldn’t have the Statue of Liberty.

If not for the Statue of Liberty, we would not have the poem:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

If not for the poem, we would not have the wretched refuse, the tired, poor, huddled, homeless masses.

If not for the wretched refuse, the tired, poor, huddled, homeless masses, we would not have ObamaCare.

If not for ObamaCare, we would not have to shut down the government.

It’s all France’s fault.

OPEN THREAD.
POST NOW, BEFORE THE INTERNET CLOSES.

CLOSED FOR BUSINESS

Christmas came early for hundreds of thousands of federal workers as the Tea Party Caucus successfully shut down the Federal Government. This, to be sure, is a White Christmas. Except for Father Christmas, John Boehner. He’s orange.

The Speaker of the House used the power of his position to prevent a clean funding bill from coming up for a vote. He is dedicated to spending any amount, incurring any hardship, just to see that millions of Americans don’t have health insurance. Except that he’s spending taxpayers’ money, and he’s not having to get by without a paycheck. The same goes for the Tea Party Caucus. They know, thanks to gerrymandering, they’ll get re-elected.

The Republican Party has long run on the mantra of a smaller federal government and now, they’ve succeeded in their goal. Only functions deemed “essential” are operating. Everything else is shut down, or shutting down. Everything else, we can get by without, on a permanent basis. National Parks? nope. Government regulators? Who needs them. Research grants? Let the free market take care of it.

If the Tea Party wants to, they can make sure that a total economic collapse, worse than the Great Depression, starts on Obama’s watch. All they have to do is…nothing. And they’ll still get their full paychecks.

Merry Christmas.

Watering Hole: October 1, 2013 – There’s No Stopping It

That’s right.  There is no stopping children’s attraction to ‘Super Heroes’.  This may be part of a child’s developmental integration of what is considered to be “right” and what is considered to be “wrong” behavior.

Let’s face the facts.  The ‘Super Heroes’ are male with the exception of ‘Wonder Woman’.  When my girls were very young, we would watch ‘Wonder Woman’ on TV and we would cheer when ‘Wonder Woman’ would set things right.

Television producers would like to bring back ‘Wonder Woman’ but are having a difficult time finding the right script.  Linda Carter gives her perspective on this and I think she is spot on.

“I think they try to just make her a female version of a male superhero, and that’s not what she is,” Carter said. “She is an Amazon Princess and she’s got really strong sisterhood values … Maybe they need a female writer who gets it. I’ve often tried not to say that, but I think it’s the truth. It’s like, ‘Hellooooo guys, get a female that understands what that’s all about.’ You look at any society that suppresses women, and it’s violent. Look around the world. … There’s a humanity that they’re missing. There’s got to be a sweetness, a kindness, a goodness in the character. The rest takes care of itself.”

Enough said.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!

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?

Sunday Roast: McDonald Creek

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Photo by Zach Meier

I was going to call this post “Babbling Brook,” because the water is so low, but since this water actually has a name, I thought I should call it McDonald Creek…because that’s what it’s called.

This is the creek that feeds into Lake McDonald, the largest lake in Glacier National Park.  The water is so clean and crisp, and doesn’t my baby take a great picture of it with my awesome camera?  :)

This is our daily open thread, and yeah, I totally admit it — I got nothin’ today, so chat among yourselves.

Sunday Roast: Lake McDonald

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Photo by Zach Meier

Early morning on Lake McDonald in Glacier Park.  It was sooooo quiet.

I’m glad we went to Glacier this last week, because certain areas in the park are closed a couple of weeks early because of bear activity.  We saw an adolescent Black Bear in the road, but he was a smart bear, and ran back into the woods as soon as he saw us.

Happy first day of Fall!!!

This is our daily open thread — Chat among yourselves.

The Watering Hole, Thursday September 19, 2013; “My Life Had Stood A Loaded Gun”

Current events, gun related, bring to mind something written by Emily Dickinson a bit more than 150 years ago. Poem 754 in Thomas H.Johnson’s chronology, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (Little, Brown and Co.) reads as follows:

My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun –
In Corners — till a Day
The Owner passed — identified –
And carried Me away –

And now We roam in Sovereign Woods –
And now We hunt the Doe –
And every time I speak for Him –
The Mountains straight reply –

And do I smile, such cordial light
Upon the Valley glow –
It is as a Vesuvian face
Had let its pleasure through –

And when at Night — Our good Day done –
I guard My Master’s Head –
‘Tis better than the Eider-Duck’s
Deep Pillow — to have shared –

To foe of His — I’m deadly foe –
None stir the second time –
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye –
Or an emphatic Thumb –                           

Though I than He — may longer live
He longer must — than I –
For I have but the power to kill,
Without — the power to die –

To me, she speaks from the viewpoint of the gun itself and, in so doing, pretty much defines America today, this day, more than 150 years down the road . . . a nation, obsessed by guns, wherein the operative slogan is simple to express: For I have but the power to kill, / Without — the power to die –

Is that, really, what we’ve become? A quick look around — Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Newtown, DC Navy Yard, to name but a handful of our most recent atrocities — suggests that yes, we, as a nation,  have indeed FAILED, miserably, and demonstrated for all to see that yes,WE have but the power to kill, Without — the power to die.

Or, stated another way: “History? We don’t know. We’ll all be dead.” (George W. Bush, 2003)

BUT IT’S OUR RIGHT! IT’S THE SECOND AMENDMENT!!!! THIS HERE’S AMURKA!!!

Right.

OPEN THREAD.

Sunday Roast: Just another Sunday

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Cape Perpetua

Photo by Zooey

When you think of Oregon, this is what you think of, right?  Well, it’s true.  The entire state looks just like this, and that’s why I need to live there.

Nah, I’m just full of crap, as per usual (but not about the ‘living there’ part).  ;)

Oregon has all sorts of geography types:  Oregon Coast (my fav), Willamette Valley, Rogue Valley, Cascade Range, Klamath Mountains, Columbia Plateau, Oregon Outback, and Blue Mountains (which are visible from my area).  All of them beautiful in their own ways, of course.

Another favorite place is the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, in the middle of the state.  Beautiful lakes and evergreens, right next to volcanic flows on the surface, located between the high desert and the Cascade Range.  The juxtaposition is a little startling!

Anyhoo, I’m off to Glacier National Park today, with my youngest in tow.  Another gorgeous place in our beautiful country!!

This is our daily open thread — You know what to do.

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!