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, March 18th, 2013: Ezra, Budgets, and Photographic Wonders

I’m hoping to hear that Ezra Klein will be taking over the “UP with Chris Hayes” weekend show. Ezra has his own wonky way of explaining things so that a topic which would normally make one glaze over becomes understandable and interesting. His ‘I can explain blank in 20 seconds or less (sic)’ bit is something that I now look forward to when he subs for one of the other MSNBC regulars. Ezra’s writing is just as eloquent as his speaking: here’s an excerpt from one of his recent WP posts regarding the Paul Ryan budget proposal (once again called “The Path to Prosperity”):

“Ryan’s budget is intended to do nothing less than fundamentally transform the relationship between Americans and their government. That, and not deficit reduction, is its real point, as it has been Ryan’s real point throughout his career”.

Speaking of budgets, both Bill Maher and Chris Hayes recently brought up the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s Budget Proposal, which previously hadn’t had much mention anywhere. That fact is surprising to me, as the CPC’s budget is one that every liberal would support. Matthew Yglesias has a good article about it in Slate; here’s the pdf of what the CPC calls the “Back to Work Budget.” For the rest of the budget options: you can check out the official White House budget page here; the Senate Democrats’ budget, prepared by Patty Murray, can be reviewed here.

In the meantime, on a local level, the Brewster School District (which all of Wayne’s family attended), despite a budget increase (to be paid for by a school tax increase), is cutting staff, programs, etc., partly due to the loss of stimulus funding, the effect of sequestration, and unfunded State mandates. Too bad that the only budget proposal from Congress which really invests in education is the CPC’s.

Enough about budgets…time to look at some spectacular photos, brought to you by The Weather Channel: first, a slideshow of unusual landscapes by photographer Marsel Van Oosten; then photographer Martin Rietz captures volcanic lightning in this group of photos.

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

The Watering Hole, Friday March 1, 2013; Gone, Wasted, Broken — and Sequestered?

 Gone, Wasted, Broken –
An Elegy on America

Gone now, America’s halcyon days
Where Reason stood tall and grand in the sun;
Brilliance defined Her equanimous ways –
Gone now, expunged, all Her triumphs hard won.
E. pluribus unum: Her goal was clear;
One chosen from many, She alone rose
Reflecting the grandeur of cause sincere,  
Gone now, forever corrupted by woes.
Environments  Poisoned with gas and fume;
Waters  Mercurial, deadly as wars;
Broken  A people, too cold to exhume;
Uberty  Transposed to desolate shores;
Society  Crushed, then forced to concede
Hegemony – now become pow’r . . . and greed.     

We have to face the reality that we who call the United States of America our home reside in a nation that is either on the brink of a rapid decline or is already well on its way down that ever-steepening slope. Why is that? Why is it happening? What’s happened to ‘bring it on’?

The sonnet above is an acrostic attempt on my part to not only poetically summarize elements implicit in America’s national demise, but at the same time to surreptitiously name one of the recent major players in the process. Note the first letters in each of the three words in the main title: G_W_B; also note the first letters of each of the sonnet’s fourteen lines, in order: G_W_B_G_E_O_R_G_E_W_B_U_S_H.

George W. Bush and his administration were not, of course, the first shots fired in support of America’s national demise, nor were they the last. But when one recalls the upsurge in the nation’s status during the Clinton years and the almost immediate fall from grace following the ‘selection’ by the US Supreme Court of GWB as president in December of 2000, it’s not much of a stretch to presume that the Gone, Wasted, Broken premise picked up a lot of speed at that moment, and that the steepness of the downhill slope increased dramatically as well. Political corruption in support of greed and power — and war — has a way of slowly but surely not only causing havoc and suffering, but also of revealing itself as the culprit.

An obvious question remains: what’s the genesis? Why? Why should there ever develop — in a Constitutional Democratic Republic such as the United States — a movement designed to overturn and disparage the very things that make it possible for the nation to maintain a semblance of freedom and economic prosperity for all? Historically, the standout reasons most often reflect the intent on the part of the body politic to use the talents and ethics of The Many as tools, with but one single purpose in mind: to further enrich The Few.

When did America’s downhill slide commence? Technically, on the day of her founding. She was, after all, a nation built by fair-skinned European invaders on a “new” continent inhabited by aboriginals who were, by virtue of their dark-skinned nature, easy to spot, easy to hate, and, thanks in no small part to the slightly elevated technology brought to the continent by the European immigrants, they were also relatively easy to kill, to overwhelm, to control. And too, there were the Africans, brought by the Europeans to do the hard and demeaning work in the agricultural fields of the South — black slaves who were officially defined, in the US Constitution of 1787 (Article I, Section 2, Clause 3), as being the equivalent of three fifths of all other Persons. Historically, in other words, the United States did not get off to a particularly equanimous start . . . racial hatred and distrust were, in effect, parcel to her character and remain, to this day, as major players in her political profile.

A review of more recent history — roughly the last 100 years or so — exposes the up and down cycle which is defined by the relentless clash between (a) the never-ending quest on the part of The Few for MORE power, for MORE wealth, and (b) those charitable programs designed to appease the needs of We the people — The Many — those who are embraced by the Constitution’s first three words. A cursory review of history quickly reveals that the consequences of (a) are, almost without question, eventual (and potentially severe) economic recession and/or depression, often war, whereas the consequences of (b) are far more beneficent and include relative prosperity for The Many, attainable without the imposition of any level of “suffering” upon The Few — who nevertheless remain obsessed with their lust for wealth and power.

During his State of the Union Address on January 11, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt suggested that the nation should implement a second bill of rights to include, for all Americans:

  • The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
  • The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
  • The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
  • The right of every family to a decent home;
  • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
  • The right to a good education.

Roosevelt’s concept has since been labeled “Socialist” and “Redistributionist” (by representatives of The Few) and “Unfinished” (by spokesmen for The Many). Interestingly, Roosevelt included, when he characterized that which is commonly viewed as classic “rightist reaction,” words which were, indeed, predictive of America’s current dilemma. He said:

“One of the great American industrialists of our day—a man who has rendered yeoman service to his country in this crisis—recently emphasized the grave dangers of ‘rightist reaction’ in this Nation. All clear-thinking businessmen share his concern. Indeed, if such reaction should develop—if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called ‘normalcy’ of the 1920’s—then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home.” (bold highlight added)

Roosevelt equated “rightist reaction”  and the “‘normalcy’ of the 1920′s” with “the spirit of Fascism.” Imagine it. Then take a quick look around at the obtuse politics of America today. Consider the extreme Protofascist right wing’s so-called Tea Party and the notables amidst them, including, among numerous other “favorites,” newcomer Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas. Note also spokespeople for ‘the cause’ such as Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and virtually the entire broadcast staff at Fox “News”, and don’t ignore the nearly fifty members of the House of Representatives and its Tea Party Caucus, including such (presumed) luminaries as Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Steve King of Iowa.

FDR was spot-on correct when he equated the grave dangers of ‘rightist reaction’ in this Nation” to “the spirit of Fascism here at home.” We are surrounded constantly by both, and though they are not (yet) in the majority, their obstructionism has effectively brought the government of the United States to a standstill, and their threat to both the national and global economies is as immediate as it is pervasive.

Next up — scheduled for this day, March 1, 2013 — the latest effort on the part of the American Protofascist movement’s extreme right wing is to impose political minority control on the US Government. Popularly called the Sequester, it’s an economic abomination designed and intended (a) to derail any potential success America’s first Black President might ever hope to achieve in resurrecting the plundered economy and the overall National Failure brought forth by the previous administration, and (b) to return to the so-called ‘normalcy’ of the 1920’s” by the forced diminishment of financial/banking regulatory procedures as well as by the eventual destruction of each and every remaining vestige of that “Socialist” President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Greed and Lust for Power have, again and as usual, quite literally devoured the American Right Wing. The overall consequence is surely to be the continuation of their implicit intention, i.e. the immutable national destructions noted above In Gone, Wasted, Broken, brought forward yet again by the errant economic philosophies embedded within the eternally negative “rightist reaction” to any and all legislative attempts designed to improve the quality of life of The Many, of We the people.

Also on the Protofascist agenda and currently surfacing as an issue in various states is the proposed modification of existing rules of Electoral College vote distribution. The goal is to take advantage of Article II (Section 1, Clauses 2, 3, and 4), plus Congressional District gerrymandering in a way which will shift the outcome of presidential elections to the Protofascist side of the ticket, potentially to guarantee election of a right wing President even if the popular vote goes the other way by virtually any margin, landslide included. Some might dare consider the concept to be parcel to suppression of the ‘one man, one vote’ ideal, and they’d be correct. But still, the issue would almost certainly be deemed ‘Constitutional’ by the nation’s highest court — although instead of ‘Constitutional’, the word “Putsch” may well be the more appropriate, more descriptive choice.

Perhaps in final analysis it was, indeed, George W. Bush himself who said it best of all the day that he announced:"This is Historic Times"

“This is Historic Times.”

Or, perhaps it would more behoove us to heed the words of Thucydides, who wrote, circa 400 BCE . . . The strong do as they can, while the weak suffer what they must” . . . and then proceed from there to explore whatever means might prove necessary to restructure and repair that reality once and for all. I suggest the latter course, noting that Thucydides also pointed out that “Praise is due to all who . . . refuse dominion, yet respect justice more than their position compels them to do.” Are We the people prepared to “refuse dominion”? Willing to respect justice”? Compelled to act to save our country, and then do it? Sadly, I have my doubts.

**************

This is today’s open thread — have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, December 3rd, 2012: Conservative BS on Taxes

Since I forced myself to wallow in some of the crap on Newsmax, I figured that I should share some of the sliminess with you all. Let’s start with the arrogantly delusional George Will, who manages to squeeze a lie into each paragraph of his dementia-driven article. Here’s just a few examples of Will’s drivel; he starts off with:

“With a chip on his shoulder larger than his margin of victory, Barack Obama is approaching his second term by replicating the mistake of his first. Then his overreaching involved healthcare — expanding the entitlement state at the expense of economic growth. Now he seeks another surge of statism, enlarging the portion of gross domestic product grasped by government and dispensed by politics. The occasion is the misnamed “fiscal cliff,” the proper name for which is: the Democratic Party’s agenda.”

- and -

“…he surely understands that the entitlement state he favors requires raising taxes on the cohort that has most of the nation’s money — the middle class.”

- and -

“Republicans…respond that because lower rates reduce incentives to distort economic decisions, they promote growth by enhancing efficiency. Hence restoration of the higher rates would be a giant step away from, and might effectively doom, pro-growth tax reform…Furthermore, restoration of the Clinton-era top rate of 39.6 percent would occur in the very different Obama era of regulatory excesses and Obamacare taxes. Hence Republicans rightly resist higher rates.”

On to forever-lugubrious John Boehner:

“I would say we’re nowhere, period,” Boehner said on a taped segment of the “Fox News Sunday” program that aired today. “We’ve put a serious offer on the table by putting revenues up there to try to get this question resolved. But the White House has responded with virtually nothing.”

Yet, from the same article:

“Obama has proposed a framework that would raise taxes immediately on top earners and set an Aug. 1 deadline for rewriting the tax code and deciding on spending cuts, according to administration officials. It calls for $1.6 trillion in tax increases, $350 billion in cuts in health programs, $250 billion in cuts in other programs and $800 billion in assumed savings from the wind-down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Next, we’ve got the ubiquitous Grover Norquist. Norquist, despite a growing number of Republicans attempting to put some daylight between themselves and the Norquist pledge, stated last week:

“Well, the Republicans also have other leverage. Continuing resolutions on spending and the debt ceiling increase. They can give him debt ceiling increases once a month. They can have him on a rather short leash, you know, here’s your allowance, come back next month…Monthly if he’s good. Weekly if he’s not.”

In the Newsmax article, Norquist continues in the same childish vein, threatening “Tea Party 2“:

“Republicans want to continue the Bush tax cuts, and the extenders and the AMT [Alternative Minimum Tax] package . . . it’s the president who’s threatening to raise taxes if he stamps his feet and doesn’t get his way.”

And in case you aren’t sickened enough by those three, there’s the Sue Ann Niven of the Republicans, Peggy Noonan, saying:

“The election is over, a new era begins — and it looks just like the old one…A crisis is declared. Confusion, frustration, and a more embittered process follow. This is the Obama Way.”

Got your blood boiling yet?

This is our daily open thread — it’s Monday, wake up and start discussing something!

The Death of a Nation (a retropspective on the W. Bush era, Part 3: FISCAL)

Mitt Romney is sounding so much more like the worst side(s) of George W. Bush with every passing day, with every ‘new’ political forum/event, that it’s starting to get freaky out there! In the following overview (written in late 2004 and early 2005) of the fiscal policies brought into play during George W.Bush’s first term, there are — everywhere embedded — highly visible shades of Mitt Romney, 2012; the dilemma, the curse of conservatism, remains, apparently a long way from its own demise. Stated another way, The Death of a Nation remains on schedule. Conservatively speaking, of course.  (Part 1 & Part 2)

**********

Fiscal:

“A modern gentleman is necessarily the enemy of his country. Even in war he does not fight to defend it, but to prevent his power of preying on it from passing to a foreigner.”  ~ George Bernard Shaw

In his first address to Congress on the budget, on February 27, 2001, not yet six weeks into his first term, George W. Bush said: “My pan plays down an unprecedented amount of our national debt.”  Perhaps the obvious dyslexia in his statement should have warned the nation that he had no “pan” to ‘play down’ anything at all, nor did he have a ‘plan’ to ‘pay’ anything down; but he did have a plan to pay back those who had financed his campaign, those who paid big money to elect a Texas dyslexic who had never succeeded at anything he’d ever tried across the entire span of his life.  If ever there were questions as to why corporate power interests were willing to finance the election of what has been, in effect, a literary nitwit to the top seat of power, they’ve probably all been answered in the four years that have since passed.  Let it be noted that when George W. Bush took office, the fiscal figures he inherited from his predecessor Bill Clinton were among the rosiest the US had seen in half a century: the budget was actually running a surplus, and the huge national debt burden was being reduced.  It took Bush only a few months to turn things around completely. Continue reading

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 Post-Debate Detox

Happy Hump Day!

Ok, The Presidential Debates, Round Two, is now history.

Who won?

Obamny?

Rombama?

The President certainly brought his A game this time, and closed on a slam-dunk with bringing up Romney’s 47% remark behind closed doors.

The moderator did a credible job of moving things along, but could have been better in cutting Romney off after the TV monitor showed his time was up, then not allowing Obama a chance to rebut.

Romney’s Etch-a-Sketch was in full play…again…in this author’s perspective.

What do you think? Think the President regained his Mo-Jo? Think Romney will continue to add to his momentum? Think Fox News will go apoplectic over Mitt telling the President, basically, to not interrupt Romney’s interruption, that he’ll get his turn?

OPEN THREAD.

GO FOR IT.

MAKE MY DEI.