Sunday Roast: Giving the unemployed the finger

In the face of empirical evidence that unemployment benefits help boost the economy, Congress went ahead and let the benefit expire for 1.3 million people — with another round of cuts coming right up.

Yes, I said “people.”  Not slackers, takers, losers, or lazy fucks, as Republicans and Tea Party morons like call the long term unemployed.

Officially, there are three people applying for every job in this country, but with so many people off the official unemployment roles (like me) — because their benefits ran out long ago, they’re so discouraged and depressed they don’t even look for work anymore, or they’re elderly or disabled — the actual number of people applying for each job is probably eight to ten.  Far too many of those jobs have absolutely no benefits, and don’t pay enough to keep a roof over your head AND keep the lights and heat on AND eat halfway decently.  Pick one!

But listen to the GOP/Tea Party, and you’ll hear patronizing statements that unemployment benefits make people lazy, shiftless slobs, who will feed off the government teat forever — this from career politicians who feed off the government teat.  Apparently, the best way to get people off unemployment is to just let the funds run dry, and accuse hard-working Americans of being lazy, blood-sucking shits, rather than actually passing a jobs bill (hey, the President has one!) or a sufficient stimulus bill.  Oh yes, they’ll extend unemployment benefits, but children, veterans, the elderly, and the hungry are damn well going to pay for it — unlike in the Bush years, where nothing was paid for EVER, and the GOP were happy as clams.

And gee whiz, where did all this unemployment come from anyway?  Let’s all ignore the FACT that George W. Bush crashed the economy in 2008, and had been hemorrhaging jobs out of this country long before the crash.  No no no, all this unemployment is because of President Obama’s socialist, fascist, Marxist, commie, pinko, nazi policies — again, flying in the face of actual evidence to the contrary — not because of constant Republican obstruction and blatant refusal to do the work they were sent to Washington DC to do.

Do you know how long they’ll keep doing this to the people of this country?  Yes, the people — do you actually think YOU are immune to GOP policies?  They’ll keep doing it as long as the people stay silent; as long as the people stay out of the voting booth; and as long as they can keep the people fighting among ourselves over things like the “War on Christmas,” so-called religious persecution, taxes (except the taxes of the top 1% aka the “job creators”), and other social issues that are only the business of those actually involved.

Pay no attention to the 97 days the millionaires in the House of Representatives will work this year — naming post offices, repealing Obamacare again, and railing against dirty, dirty women who want unfettered access to birth control, because they just don’t want to push out an unwanted baby every year — or their rapist’s baby EVER.  No, of course, lazy blood-sucking GOP/Tea Partiers aren’t the problem — it’s the unemployed.

Right.

This is our daily open thread — Discuss whatever.

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 18th, 2013: Profit Contest to Photo Contest

Even though most of the people who need Obamacare have not yet taken advantage of it, other interests are poised to board the Obamacare money train. The Wall Street Journal’s Howard Gold is encouraging investment in the health care industry. A few snippets:

“This diverse sector, which includes red-hot biotechnology, Big Pharma, medical device makers, hospitals, health insurers, and other services, is profiting from structural shifts far beyond the changes brought in by the Affordable Care Act…In fact, health care stocks may have entered a new secular bull market, which is why you should take some profits on cyclicals and other market-sensitive stocks and reinvest the money into this group.”

“We’re clearly in a favorable environment,” said Andy Acker, manager of Janus Global Life Sciences fund since 2007. “I think this is a question of when this gets resolved, not if,” Acker said. “Millions of people will sign up for health care.”

In an earlier (March 2013) article from conservative moneynews.com, entitled “How Companies are Cashing in on Obamacare”, author Michael Kling wrote:

“Although its critics say Obamacare will increase business costs, some companies are cashing in on the healthcare reform law…CNNMoney reviewed six companies that might reap huge benefits from Obamacare.

Take, for instance, Health Recovery Solutions, a New York City-based start-up that helps hospitals avoid Medicare penalties for readmitting patients. To decrease preventable return visits by Medicare patients, Obamacare levies high cuts to Medicare reimbursements to hospitals that have a certain percentage of these return visits.

Health Recovery Solutions furnishes tablets full of educational videos and information patients can use to care for themselves. Using the tablet, patients send information, such as medications they are taking, to the hospital care team for review.

Eligible, another start-up, takes care of the complex wiring insurers need to quickly answer customer questions about coverage and eligibility, one of the many Obamacare requirements.

GoHealth offers an online tool that enables people to compare health care insurance plans. Consumers can use the platform to enroll in plans or just compare plans before contacting an insurance broker.

QuantiaMD offers a website where doctors can offer presentations, hold private discussions with each other and hold virtual consultations. Pharmaceutical and insurance companies and hospitals sponsor the content on the site.

Obamacare limits the proportion of premium revenue insurers can spend on salaries, overhead and marketing. That’s where Connecture comes in. The Brookfield, Wisc., company provides software that helps insurance companies cut costs through automation. It also helps states with technology needed to create insurance exchanges, another Obamacare requirement.

Another company getting involved with the state exchanges is hCentive, which has built a platform the exchanges can use.

Many of the companies saw their sales jump after the elections. Healthcare companies were not sure Obamacare would be enacted, and state officials were not sure they would still be required to create exchanges by this October…“Many states were waiting to decide to set up their own exchanges — they kept thinking maybe this wouldn’t happen,” Sanjay Singh, an hCentive partner, told CNNMoney.

“they kept thinking maybe this wouldn’t happen” No, they kept HOPING this wouldn’t happen. Because despite their hatred of all things Obama-related, despite all of the conservative hyperbole about “job-killing”, “bankrupting businesses”, “the end of freedom as we know it”, “it’s socialist Obama’s anti-capitalism agenda”, etc., ad nauseum; and despite the 40+ failed efforts by Congressional Republicans to kill Obamacare, every single one of those nay-sayers HAD to realize, deep down, that Obamacare is a boon to the private, capitalistic, for-profit healthcare “industry.” (spit!)

Okay, since you were all good enough to put up with the above drivel, here’s your justly-deserved palate-cleanser…

It’s that time of year again: the National Geographic Photo Contest is open, but only ’til the end of November. I know quite a few of our Critters and Zoosters who should submit a few entries! Here’s last year’s “Nature” category winner, photographed by Ashley Vincent:
busaba-indochinese-tiger_62797_600x450
Here’s two ways to view some or all of the current entries: The Atlantic picked 39 of the photos, and you can just scroll through them. Note that you can also switch from 1024 pixels to 1280 (I chose 1280.) Or you can go directly to the National Geographic 2013 Photo Contest webpage, where there are links to the photos entered to date, as well as links to 2012 winners and other photo galleries. Here’s one of the 2013 entries, by Sam Morris:

Photo Copyright Sam Morris, 2013 National Geographic Photo Contest entry

Photo Copyright Sam Morris, 2013 National Geographic Photo Contest entry

This is our daily open thread, what do you have to say today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 21, 2013: Pru Too Big, Too

The Financial Stability Oversight Council, a US Treasury Dept agency created with the passage of Dodd-Frank, has designated insurance giant Prudential Financial as “too big too fail,” a move that forces the third non-banking institution so designated to undergo additional oversight and stress testing to avoid the kind of financial crisis we endured before. The Pru joins American International Group (better known as AIG) and General Electric Capital Corporation (better known as GE Capital) as non-banks to earn the distinction, and it’s one they don’t want. The FSOC “determined that material financial distress at this company — if it were to occur — could pose a threat to US financial stability,” but they stressed that there were no signs of trouble at the moment. The Prudential said in a statement that it is “reviewing the rationale for the determination and our options.” The rationale, I’m sure, has to do with the fact that Prudential has over a trillion dollars in assets worldwide. If they were to engage in extremely risky behavior they could bring about global financial ruin. They should be scrutinized more closely.

Better yet, they should be broken up into smaller companies that can’t be bring down the entire global financial markets should they fail. “Too big to fail” is the same as “too big to exist.” No person and no corporation (they are not the same thing) should ever be so big and financially powerful that they could bring down the world economy should they stumble. That is not a sound financial footing. I’m neither an economist nor a person educated in the field of Economics, but I can promise you this: No economy can work if the money within it doesn’t circulate. If all the money is in the hands of too few people, then it stands to reason there isn’t enough leftover for everyone else to use. Hoarding more money than you’ll ever need to use in your lifetime is not just selfish, it’s actually harmful to everyone else. In order for society to function, people need to have money to spend to get the things done that they need done. For example, I’ve got a gutter that needs to be repaired. Money’s a little tight right now so I can’t get it done. If I could, the gutter repair company would not only fix my broken gutter (which could save me money down the road form damages caused by the broken gutter), but they could take the money I pay them and use it not only to pay their workers, but also to pay for the materials they used to fix my gutter. Their workers, in turn, would take their paychecks and go to the store to buy groceries, and the companies from which they bought their supplies to fix my gutter would use their money in a similar way. And the money would move from one business to the next, into the hands of the workers, who in turn would circulate the money around getting the things done that they need done. None of us are getting rich off the one or two transactions we have with that money, but we’re all getting what we need. That doesn’t happen when rich people sit on money they don’t need. (And, no, their investment into more stocks does not help the economy nearly as much.) What good is having more than you need? How do you benefit from excessive selfishness? And why do we treat the philosophy of Selfishness as something positive?

To paraphrase Aaron Sorkin, the Republican Party has been so busy trying to keep their jobs that they forgot to do their jobs. The Tea Party faction (a project of the Koch Brothers and their ilk) has got the semi-normal members of the party so frightened of losing their jobs that they cave in out of fear of being primaried out of Congress. The result is forty-one pathetic attempts to defund Obamacare. I keep hearing them say how Obamacare is “destroying” the country, yet I never once gear exactly how this is happening. No one ever truthfully explains how the law is harming our nation. What I do hear is example after example of how conservative business owners are trying to get around Obamacare by cutting employees’ hours so they won’t have so many full-time workers who are eligible for health insurance. In other words, because some people will be selfish, everyone has to suffer. Instead of denouncing the greedy business owners, conservatives have held them up as examples of what could go wrong with healthcare reform. “Obamacare is bad because greedy, selfish people like me can take advantage of it and my workers.” Maybe the law needs to be strengthened, not repealed.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to talk about Prudential, the Koch Brothers, your greedy, selfish Republican relatives or anything else you wish to discuss.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lastly, getting back to Texas:

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

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

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

And, according to religioustolerance.org:

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

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

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

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

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

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

irs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is our Open Thread. Have at it!

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, July 10, 2013: The Handwriting on the Wall

47% of this country will not vote for Republicans. Or so Mitt Romney said behind closed doors when speaking to his wealthy benefactors. Yet Republicans are hell-bent on alienating even more of the country, attacking women’s rights, attacking immigrants, attacking minorities, attacking everyone who is not white and rich.

Why? Don’t they see the handwriting on the wall?

Yes. The do see it. And they ignore it. And rightfully so.

They are taking full advantage of the power they have to gerrymander districts and to restrict the ability of anyone who might vote against them to cast a vote. And they’ll succeed, thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling striking out portions of the Voting Rights Act. Republicans wasted no time pushing for the very restrictions they were prevented from implementing these past 40 years. They will ram them through, just as they have rammed through new ways to legislate women’s uteruses.

Tea Party Republicans in the House signaled they are willing to hold the country in economic hostage – again – if they don’t get their way and privatize Medicare, Social Security, gut food stamps, etc.

They do all this because they firmly believe they will get re-elected. And they most likely will, no matter how many people disagree with them. Because they get to choose who votes.

The Republican efforts to “eliminate voter fraud” is itself the greatest fraud on voters – their restrictions, if successful, will allow a shrinking minority to continue to wreck havoc on the rest of this once-great country.

The only way to combat their tactics is to educate the masses to do whatever it takes to jump through the Republican-made hoops to get registered to vote, and to vote.

If we don’t, if we cannot affect change at the ballot box, what is happening in Egypt and Syria will happen here. And that is the handwriting on the wall.

OPEN THREAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Watering Hole- Saturday, April 6, 2013: Republican Lies: Smaller Government

If there’s one phrase that makes me cringe when I hear it from Republicans it’s “smaller government.” It’s been so overused and so misused that I really have no idea what they mean by it. To what does “the size of government” refer? Is it how much money the government spends? Under the George W. Bush Administration, our government spent more than it ever had before, yet I never heard Republicans complaining about deficits or the debt. Is it how many federal agencies there are? Under the Bush Administration, that also grew with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. I’ve never been a fan of the term “homeland security.” Maybe because it’s too close to “Motherland” or “Fatherland,” terms we don’t feel comfortable using in this country. Is it how many employees the federal government has on its payroll? Well, with the federalization of all airport security screeners and the expansion of our military and mercenary forces, that also increased under the Bush Administration. So where were the Republicans to complain about the “size of government” growing under the last Republican president? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if George W. Bush really were the last Republican president? But I digress.

People argue over who is responsible for the federal spending, and because Washington budget politics are a scam that’s almost impossible for the average American to decipher and detect, there’s little point in trying to assign blame. You hear Members of Congress talking about “cuts” in federal spending. But did you know that when they refer to a “cut,” what they’re really referring to is a decrease in the amount of money by which they previously planned to increase spending? In other words, Program A has a budget of $100 billion. The budget passed the previous year calls for increasing this year’s spending on Program A to $104 billion. But after fighting about how much the government is spending, they agree to rein in this spending and change that to only $103 billion. They’re still increasing spending by $3 billion, or 3% in this case, but as far as Washington lawmakers are concerned, this counts as “cutting” spending by $1 billion. They’re still going to spend more than they did before, but since they’re not going to spend as much as they intended to spend, they pat themselves on the back and claim they reduced federal spending. That’s something both parties do when it suits their argument. The thing is they know this is disingenuous, so both parties lie about “cuts” in federal spending. But I digress.

Where Republicans prove they don’t mind expanding government is by their intrusion into the personal lives of females. Despite the continued, if somewhat eroded, affirmation of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court, Republican legislatures across the nation continue to pass laws intended to eliminate the possibility of any abortion taking place within their borders. And even though Mississippi thinks it will have banned all abortions within its borders, the only thing they’ll have banned is safe abortion. Abortions have been going on since long before the safe methods used today were developed, and if abortion is outlawed again, it will continue to happen. It just won’t be safe. But perhaps even more insidious than the outright banning of abortion is the deliberate misrepresentation of facts mandated by law to scare women into not pursuing an abortion. In Kansas, doctors must now tell women that the risk of breast cancer is increased by having an abortion. It simply is not true. It’s bad enough Republicans lie about so many things (have I mentioned I once wrote a song parody about just that?), but now they want other people to lie to advance their warped and baseless belief system. Not to mention unconstitutional. No matter how much they hate it, it is settled law that a woman has the right to have an abortion in the first trimester of her pregnancy without any interference from the the government. Yet they continue to defy it, knowing that they’ll lose in the end. It’s almost pathological. Not just the lying, but the pointless pursuit of an unachievable goal. But I digress.

Kansas Republicans aren’t the only ones who think the government needs to get more involved with our personal lives. In North Carolina, Republicans want couples seeking divorce to wait twice as long, two years, before they can get their divorce finalized. And they have to attend classes and counseling sessions intended to save the marriage, no matter how futile the effort. This followed their attempt to override the First Amendment and introduce a bill “intended to allow county officials to open their meetings with a prayer to Jesus.” The bill was so broadly written that it even declared that states had the right to establish an official religion. Article VI of the Constitution clearly states

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

so you’d think people taking an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States would read it once in a while. But I digress.

No matter what Republicans say tot he contrary, they do not believe in “smaller government” of any kind, at any level. They want to deny women their reproductive freedom rights, and they want you to become a Christian, no matter what your religious beliefs, or beliefs about Religion, are. They want to deny people the right to marry the one person they love. And it somehow all ends up being a discussion on bestiality. But I digress.

This is our daily open thread. I apologize for its lateness, but I digress. Feel free to discuss anything you want. I’m not a Republican.

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, Monday, March 11th, 2013: From Morons to Marvels

Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has been in the news a lot lately, in part for having been one of the select few Republicans who were invited to the recent dinner meeting with President Obama. In an appearance yesterday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Senator Johnson stated,

“If we’re going to really get to an agreement, this is a good step…You have to start meeting with people. You have to start developing relationships. You’ve got to spend a fair amount of time figuring out what we agree on first.”

[Especially when the Republican "leaders" won't tell their flock the truth about what the President has offered, and the flock and the media are too dumb or brainwashed to lift a couple of fingers and check whitehouse.gov!]

The same “This Week” appearance also saw Paul Krugman, in his inimitable manner, school Senator Johnson on the Social Security program.

Prior to that, in the debate over authorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Senator Johnson was one of a group of “…Republicans [who] have objected to new provisions in the law, including one allowing tribal courts for the first time to prosecute men who aren’t American Indians when they’re accused of abusing an American Indian woman on a reservation. . .”, according to ThinkProgress, which also quotes Senator Johnson as saying:

“the Senate has approved a piece of legislation that sounds nice, but which is fatally flawed. By including an unconstitutional expansion of tribal authority and introducing a bill before the Congressional Budget Office could review it to estimate its cost, Senate Democrats made it impossible for me to support a bill covering an issue I would like to address.”

Coincidentally and fortuitously (or not), when searching for a link on a completely different topic, I ran across this one about Ron Johnson from 2010. It includes a video of Johnson, demonstrating the average conservative’s love of fetuses but not actual children, while “…testifying against the Wisconsin Child Victims Act, which would have eliminated the statute of limitation on lawsuits brought by victims of abuse by priests against the Catholic Church.

Okay, as a palate-cleanser, I believe that there’s something for everyone in these photo slideshows from The Weather Channel.

For all of us who love space science and/or who have experienced various types of mind-enhancement, here’s (now think Muppets “Pigs in Space” voice) “Light Trails from Space.”

Staying in space for the moment, the Comet Pan-STARRS is in the ‘hood, and should start to be visible to the naked eye tomorrow. The chart shown in this article indicates where the large comet can be located (in the western sky at sunset) over the next two weeks or so.

Last from TWC (and getting back to ‘trails’…you’ll see): unusual (and occasionally claustrophobia-inducing) tunnels are highlighted in this feature. Although the first tunnel shown only has the one photo – see below – the rest of them have some amazing shots. Tunnel #18, Shanghai’s Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, described as “senseless, yet fabulous“, could likely induce trails even for persons who have never seen trails before. A youtube video of the entire ride is linked to under the description of the Shanghai tunnel, but I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet. Who’s gonna go first? :)

Enjoy!

Ukraine "Tunnel of Love"

Ukraine “Tunnel of Love”

This is our Open thread – what topic would you like to discuss?

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 25th, 2013: Who The Fuck is Ted Cruz?

I’ve been wondering just who the fuck this junior Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, thinks he is. I know, everyone’s been comparing him to the late Senator Joseph McCarthy, due to his disrespectful and appalling attempt to besmirch former Senator Chuck Hagel’s reputation.

The Wikipedia bio of Cruz immediately provides some clues:

Cruz served as a law clerk to William Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States, and J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Cruz was the first Hispanic ever to clerk for a Chief Justice of the United States.

In the landmark case of District of Columbia v. Heller, Cruz assembled a coalition of thirty-one states in defense of the principle that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms. Cruz also presented oral argument for the amici states in the companion case to Heller before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In addition to his victory in Heller, Cruz has successfully defended the Ten Commandments monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools and the 2003 Texas redistricting plan.

Cruz also successfully defended, in Medellin v. Texas, the State of Texas against an attempt by the International Court of Justice to re-open the criminal convictions of 51 murderers on death row throughout the United States.

Cruz was endorsed by David Barton, founder and president of WallBuilders; the Club for Growth, a conservative political action committee; Erick Erickson, editor of prominent conservative blog RedState; the FreedomWorks for America super PAC; Princeton University professor Robert P. George; nationally syndicated radio host Mark Levin; former Attorney General Edwin Meese; Tea Party Express; Young Conservatives of Texas; and U.S. Senators Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Pat Toomey. He has also been endorsed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, and former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum.

Now there’s an all-star lineup of right-wing idealogues (shudder.)

Jane Mayer provides more information in her piece in the New Yorker:

Two and a half years ago, Cruz gave a stem-winder of a speech at a Fourth of July weekend political rally in Austin, Texas, in which he accused the Harvard Law School of harboring a dozen Communists on its faculty when he studied there…Cruz made the accusation while speaking to a rapt ballroom audience during a luncheon at a conference called “Defending the American Dream,” sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a non-profit political organization founded and funded in part by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch. Cruz greeted the audience jovially, but soon launched an impassioned attack on President Obama, whom he described as “the most radical” President “ever to occupy the Oval Office.”…He then went on to assert that Obama, who attended Harvard Law School four years ahead of him, “would have made a perfect president of Harvard Law School.” The reason, said Cruz, was that, “There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were twelve who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.”

In a follow-up article, Jane Mayer discusses the response from Cruz’s spokeswoman (who actually responded in an interview with The Blaze-I provided the link if you want to hold your nose and dive in, the comments are psycho, too.)

And a couple of articles from Politicus.com provide some slightly more tongue-in-cheek descriptions Cruz’s recent spotlight-hogging performances.

Unfortunately, Senator Cruz has the backing of some people with deep pockets and too much power. Maybe that’s why he seems to feel that he can say anything, regardless of the truth, with little impunity. So far, the only good thing Cruz has done is to make John McCain and Lindsey Graham look almost honorable.

This is our Open thread, what’s on your minds?

The Watering Hole, Thursday, January 24th, 2013: A Brief Glimpse into FauxGnus

I decided to hold my nose and take a look at some of the recent stories on foxnews.com, to see what the current spin looks like. While Media Matters is the best source for the real low-down and dirty lies from Fox, I’m just going to skim a bit of the scum off the surface of their cesspool:

First, so-called journalist Wayne Allyn Root discusses “Why I am a newly-minted Member of NRA” (basically because he believes the right-wing hype, and that he’s always been anti-Obama), and uses ‘facts’ and ‘statistics’ helpfully provided by Gun Owners of America, along with referencing a Rasmussen poll. A brief, but telling, excerpt:

“I want to protect the Second Amendment. And I don’t want government telling me what to do. And if any of those rights are going to be threatened, then I realized it’s time for me to stand up for the NRA…Leftist, big government, Nanny State politicians always come to the wrong conclusion about most issues.”

and, after the obligatory Hitler reference:

“The reality is that throughout history, the first thing all tyrants do is disarm the citizens. Then the mass killings begin.”

In another reverse-reality story by entitled “Crabby Obama Caught in Budget Trap” by Chris Stirewalt, the author, who must have come out of a coma after the Bush Administration, unblushingly pulls this bit of hypocrisy out of his posterior:

“But it was the political calculation by Democrats to spend without budgeting – to avoid the process by which the pleasure of spending and pain of borrowing and taxing are intertwined – that has left the president in this bind.”

In “Barack Obama–our Imperial Emperor In Chief”, Cal Thomas shows the depths of his delusion:

“At his news conference Monday [January 14th], a petulant, threatening and confrontational President Obama spoke like an emperor or supreme ruler. All that was missing was a scepter, a crown and a robe trimmed in ermine.
This president exceeds even Bill Clinton in his ability to evade, prevaricate and dissemble. I didn’t think that possible.”

“Judge” Anthony P. Napolitano brings us his particular and somewhat unique interpretation of the Constitution and, in particular, the 2nd Amendment in “Guns and the Government.” Here’s something I’ve never heard floated before:

“The opening line of the Constitution contains a serious typographical error: “We the People” should read “We the States.”

and then the tired old right-wing bullshit (and this man was a JUDGE?):

“The Constitution expressly prohibits all governments from infringing upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms. This permits us to defend ourselves when the police can’t or won’t, and it permits a residue of firepower in the hands of the people with which to stop any tyrant who might try to infringe upon our natural rights, and it will give second thoughts to anyone thinking about tyranny.”

Just for fun, we have crazy ol’ Tom Tancredo promising to smoke a joint.

Lastly (since even I couldn’t stand any more), more fantasy about the United Nations, this time regarding gun control, in “Does UN Arms Trade Treaty Figure in Obama Administration’s Gun Control Plans?” This piece includes the lie:

“The Administration first agreed to take part in the U.N. arms treaty negotiations in 2009—the same year in which it launched the now-notorious Fast and Furious operation, which provided weapons to illicit gun traders, ostensibly to track gun-running operations to Mexican drug cartels.”

[The FandF operation started in 2006 under the Bush Administration.]

This is our Open Thread. Try not to catch teh Crazy!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 19, 2013: Will Republicans Ever Get It?

Republicans met this week in Williamsburg, VA, to discuss how they could improve their image as a party. They recognize that they are not very popular with women and minorities and they decided that this would be one of the discussion topics at the retreat. Unfortunately for them, their utter cluelessness led them to schedule a discussion of the subject in the Burwell Plantation Room. Yes, that’s right. The “Discussion on Successful Communication with Minorities and Women” took place in a room named for a wealthy Virginia family that owned many slaves. The irony wasn’t lost on everyone. A Congressman interviewed about it said that though the panel discussion would include three white men, it would also include several women. Sadly, he could only identify them as “a woman from CNN” and “Sean Duffy’s wife.” Is it any wonder the Republicans’ approval rating is only 27%?

Then there’s the debt ceiling. Setting aside the issue of whether or not a debt ceiling violates the 14th Amendment, for years the Republicans have been trying to forcefully tie spending cuts to increases in the debt ceiling. No spending cuts, no debt ceiling increase. This is ludicrous because future spending has nothing to do with past debts, and there are plenty of unpaid bills that can be directly linked to GOP policies and laws. For example, the Republicans passed a Medicare prescription drug bill that not only prohibited the government from negotiating with drug companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients (like the Department of Veterans Affairs can), it also did not raise any taxes to pay for the new debt this bill brought. Add to that both the War in Afghanistan (which I refuse to describe as a “War on Terror” because that’s like having a “War on Fear”) and the War of Revenge in Iraq (which had nothing whatsoever to do with the people who committed horrific crimes on our soil on 9/11/01), wars that were kept off budget until President Obama put them in the budget (which is why right-wingers often like to falsely say that Obama increased the deficit) and you’ve got a huge mountain of IOUs. Some like to say the GOP spent like drunken sailors, but even sailors have credit limits on their credit cards, and the GOP happily increased the debt ceiling to cover their unfinanced spending without raising a peep about the effects on the nation’s credit rating. Their last standoff over the debt ceiling resulted in you and I paying billions of dollars more in interest on our existing debt. And just about everybody expected the Republicans to announce that they were drawing a line in the sand (again), putting their foot down (again), and refusing to raise the debt ceiling (again). So it was a bit of a surprise when GOP Leader Eric Cantor announced in a press release that next week, “We will authorize a three month temporary debt limit increase to give the Senate and House time to pass a budget.” I had always thought that this was a matter of some kind of principle (ill-defined and unspecified though it may be) with the GOP, but apparently they think nobody is paying much attention to what they’ve done in the past compared to what they’re doing today. I am.

For some reason, the GOP acts as though the American people want the GOP running the country, even though they know this isn’t true. They’ve even admitted that the only reason they currently control the House of Representatives is because of gerrymandered districts. Nationwide in 2012, the Democrats got more than a million votes more than Republicans. And despite this attempt at cheating (when, since 1980, has the GOP done anything honestly?), the GOP lost seats in both chambers of Congress. If the American people really wanted the country to be run by Republicans, wouldn’t both the White House and Congress be in GOP hands come Monday? So why do they continue to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, despite its constitutionality and popularity? Why do they continue to restrict women’s reproductive rights even further? Why did they hold a meeting to discuss how they can reach out to minorities in a room named for a slave-owning family? Maybe it’s time the Republican Party face the facts. They have no idea what they’re doing and they’re just no good at governing.

An amusing side note, on Wednesday night, the GOP had blind mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer give an inspirational speech. Mr. Weihenmayer did something amazing despite being blind, and that was to climb to the top of Mt Everest a decade ago. (Well, they told him it was Mt Everest.) I did not recall hearing about the story when it happened, but I do remember this classic blooper from a news program where he was about to be interviewed.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss clueless Republicans, pointless debt ceiling fights, or blind and/or gay mountain climbers.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 12, 2013: There’s Truth, and There’s What Some People Believe

We have a serious problem in America. Too many of our fellow countrymen believe things that are just plain demonstrably untrue. I’m not referring to religious beliefs, which presents its own set of misguided believers (did you know that over the past thirty years, Gallup polls have consistently shown that around 45% of Americans believe that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so?), I’m talking simple facts. It sure surprised me to learn that about one in five Americans believes the Sun revolves around the Earth. I always thought that one was a “no-brainer” and I guess for those one in five, it’s true – they have no brain.

That’s not to say that intelligent people can’t believe something highly unlikely or, in the opinion of some people, highly implausible. A National Geographic poll from last year found that about 80 million Americans (about 36%) believe UFOs exist. Scientists will tell us this is highly implausible. They are certain no intelligent, sufficiently advanced life exists elsewhere in our own solar system, so any extra-terrestrial life forms must come from another star system. But because of the vast distances between stars (our nearest neighbor is roughly 25 trillion miles away), it would require faster-than-light travel to get here, and that, they claim, is scientifically impossible. FTR, I am not of this belief. I believe that vast distances can be traveled, but we just haven’t figured out a practical way to do it yet. And while I am not one of those who believes aliens crashed landed in Roswell, NM, over 65 years ago and our government covered it up, I do believe we are not alone in the universe and that it is entirely possible that we have been visited before by extra-terrestrial life. When I was a kid, my mother and sister came home from shopping saying there were three green lights in the sky that seemed to follow them home. Of course, many people perceive lights in the sky to be following them, especially when those lights are far away. I looked outside and could see them myself. To this day, I have no idea what they were, but since there were three of them, and not one, and they were much bigger than a small dot, I knew they couldn’t be the object most commonly mistaken for a flying saucer.

The good news is that while roughly 36% of Americans believe that UFOs exist, only about a fourth of that number (8%) identify themselves as Tea Party people. This is way down from April 2010 when 24% proudly called themselves Tea Party people. The things they believe make no sense at all, and what’s worse is that they’ll desperately hang onto those false beliefs no matter what we try to tell them. One of their heroes is a charlatan named David Barton. Barton is a self-professed “historian” who looks for ways to distort the historical record in an attempt to convince people that the United States of America is not a secular nation but a Christian one, not simply because three-quarters of our citizens self-identify with some form of Christianity, but because the Founding Fathers were Christians, not Deists, who wanted everybody to practice Christianity. (Which version is never made clear.) His most recent book, “The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson,” was so full of errors that the publisher withdrew the book from publication. (Barton apparently bought back all his books from there original publisher, Thomas Nelson, and then tried to pass them off as coming from Barton’s own publishing company, Wallbuilders.) Barton claims that “much of the disputed material within his book could easily be clarified if not for the editing performed by publisher Thomas Nelson. Much of the removed material, Barton argued, contained supporting information for those facts which have been questioned.” Did that deter Barton or his followers? No. One of his most ardent supporters, one who quoted him all the time and gave him a forum to spew his lies, is Glenn Beck. Beck has decided that his publishing company, Mercury Ink, will publish Barton’s book. Barton said the new edition “will not include any substantive changes, but I will rephrase some things to remove any potential confusion.” I’m pretty sure the only confusion that exists is in your own mind, David, where you believe yourself to be a legitimate historian. It doesn’t help your case that Newt Gingrich, a known distorter of facts and reality, thinks highly of your work as an historian. I also wouldn’t be proud to have Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas and presidential candidate, introduce you with comments like, “I almost wish that there would be something like a simultaneous telecast and all Americans would be forced, forced—at gunpoint, no less—to listen to every David Barton message.” Gee, I should be forced to listen to David Barton at gunpoint? And this from an ordained minister?

David Barton is just one glaring example, but there are others. Sadly, some of them walk the Halls of Congress in between writing and voting on laws that govern the entire nation. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), when asked in an interview with GQ magazine, “How old do you think the Earth is?” ducked the question and gave a lame answer which simply proved he had no idea and couldn’t be bothered to find out:

I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.

Rep. Paul Broun, speaking at the 2012 Sportsman’s Banquet, which was held in a church, told the crowd, “God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, the big bang theory; all of that is lies straight from the pit of hell.” The article goes on to say, “Broun, a Republican from Oconee County, is a medical doctor and running unopposed in District 10 on the November ballot. He serves on the Congressional science and technology, and homeland security committees.” A medical doctor who thinks that stuff he was taught about embryology was a lie serves on a Science committee.

Worse still is the right wing denial of climate change, which is unquestionably real and caused by human activity, something about 97% of climatologists who took part in an online surveyed confirmed. Let me try to explain this as best I can. Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been burning a hell of a lot more coal and oil than they did before. When the coal and oil stays in the ground, the carbon within it stays in the ground with it. When you burn it, the carbon dioxide goes up into the atmosphere and eventually comes down into the Earth’s oceans. Carbon dioxide holds heat very well (which is why it’s called a greenhouse gas), and this means the Earth’s oceans are warmer. When storms form out over the ocean, they get energy from warm waters, so as they pass over warmer waters, the storms tends to pick up in intensity. This is what produces those intense summer and winter storms we’ve been seeing in recent years. It’s not that climate change is causing the storms (which is one way right wing climate change deniers distort the facts), it’s that climate change is making the storms we get stronger. Climate change is one reason why Hurricane Sandy was so devastating. But having climate change deniers sit on Congressional committees that deal with Science is a recipe for a nation ill prepared to deal with the effects of climate change, which include rising sea levels that threaten everybody who lives on the coasts. It’s almost as if these people equate having an opinion with having a valid opinion. Science, and reality, don’t work that way.

So what can we do? I don’t know. The challenge we face is that telling people the truth doesn’t seem to work, especially when it comes to political matters (which ought to be based on facts and science). Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt (whose great paper “What Makes People Vote Republican?” I highly recommend) said in a recent interview

Political views aren’t like views about factual matters. If you believe that it’s faster to drive to the airport than take mass transit, and I give you evidence that mass transit is faster, there’s a good chance that I’ll change your mind, because your goal is actually to get to the airport more quickly. With political and moral questions, our goal isn’t “the truth.” That’s why it’s always vital to bear in mind the importance of group membership when trying to understand political differences. Political beliefs act as badges of membership, badges that say who we are and give us a sense of meaning and purpose. They’re badges that we display to show our moral character. So simply refuting someone’s views about global warming or needle-exchange programs or abortion or anything else will have little effect, because people aren’t going to betray their team because you show them evidence that they’re wrong.

The only solution I see is to not vote for Republicans until they start accepting that Reality is not what you decide it is, but what it actually is, no matter how much it contradicts what you would like it to be.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Reality, climate change, Republican refusal to accept facts, or any other you choose. Just don’t lie to me.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, January 3rd, 2012: Thank You, Mr. President

Gee, I feel so special: the President’s Campaign Manager wrote directly to ME! Yeah, I know, everyone on their mailing list received this email, but…anyway, here’s Jim Messina’s email, featuring President Obama’s explanation of the deal that he made to ruin John Boehner’s career keep middle-class Americans from being hit with a tax increase:

Jane –

The President reached an agreement with Republicans and Democrats in Congress on the “fiscal cliff” that prevents a tax hike on 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses, while fulfilling the President’s promise to ask the wealthiest Americans to begin to pay their fair share to reduce the deficit.

President Obama recorded a video to update supporters like you on what’s in the agreement and what it means for you — watch it and share it with friends and family:

It’s thanks to people like you who spoke up and contacted your members of Congress throughout this debate that we were able to avoid a crippling tax hike.

As we address our ongoing fiscal challenges, the President will do exactly what he said he would on the campaign trail — working for the middle class and all those fighting to get into it, and building an economy from the middle out, not the top down.

There will be more soon. For now, thanks for all you do, and happy new year.

Jim Messina
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

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

Watering Hole: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 – No Deal is Better Than a Bad Deal

I went to a rally on Saturday.  It was held in front of the local office of Representative Jim Gerlach (R).  He represents the Pennsylvania 6th Congressional District.  Of course, neither Jim nor his staff were there as they don’t work on weekends.  The Republicans in Congress want us to work until we are 70 years old before we can collect our Social Security retirement money.  On the other hand, they only want to work 1/3 of the year and still collect full pay and full benefits.

Rep. Jim Gerlach was re-elected in November and that is because he tells his constituents that he is a “moderate”.  That’s bullsh*t.  He is a placeholder for Republican votes and he votes as he is told to vote by the House Speaker, John Boehner.  Gerlach voted to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid yet the local press was silent about his vote.  His opponent didn’t have much money and he had a large territory to cover to get name recognition.  The media area is the greater Philadelphia area which makes it expensive to advertise.  Rep. Jim Gerlach refused to debate his opponent because he didn’t want anyone to know anything about his opponent, Manan Trivedi.  As for town hall meetings, they are held via the telephone because Gerlach does not want to be confronted by unhappy constituents.  Yeah, I’ll say it.  Rep. Jim Gerlach is a coward.

Enough of my rambling.  Here is a picture of the poster that I was holding.  H/T to Outstandinginthefield for the wording and thank you to everyone else for your good ideas.  I will hold onto those for possible use at another time.

http://i336.photobucket.com/albums/n347/paforchange/DontBeaGrinch.jpg

Live in your strength!

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!  Be heard!  Contact your House Representative!

(this is cross posted at Pennsylvania for Change)

Sunday Roast: We

we

Republicans, what part of this do you fail to understand?  No, we’re not asking you if you like it or think it’s good (by your standards) — that’s been decided.  Whether or not you like, accept, or understand it, Barack Obama is still our President.

“We” includes you, Republicans, so lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way, because we’re still trying to clean up your messes.

This is our daily open thread — Who else is beyond done with the WHINING?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, December 1, 2012 – There Is No Fiscal Cliff

So what’s all this talk about a “fiscal cliff”? Who’s trying to scare us about what’s happening at the end of the year? Well, it turns out that the Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, first described the coming combination of tax hikes and spending cuts as a “fiscal cliff.” He didn’t coin the term, but he was the first to apply it to what may happen. And there isn’t universal agreement that it’s the best way to describe it. There are many who prefer “fiscal slope.” I like “fiscal downshift.” Still moving forward, just a little bit slower.

Despite Republican denials, the stumbling block is clearly the tax cuts for the top-most income earners. The GOP liked the Bush Tax Cuts because it meant their rich benefactors didn’t have to shoulder so much of the financial burden of running the country that made them so fabulously wealthy in the first place. As if the way of life we enjoy had nothing to do with the money the government spent. But after giving them their first round of tax cuts in 2001 (we were running a surplus at the time – which helps pay down the debt – and they felt “people ought to be able to keep more of their own money,” so they gave the wealthiest among us a tax cut that saved many of them more money in taxes than most of us make in a year, as if they really needed it), they started two wars in the Middle East. One of those wars did not require the full force of our military, and the other did not require our military at all as it was based on total lies. Then the Republican-controlled Congress, in their infinite “wisdom” (as in “we’s dumb”), did what no country in the history of Civilization has done. They cut taxes in a time of war. In other words, they started two wars and refused to pay for them.

This ran up our huge debt, of course, but the Republicans lied to the country and told us it wasn’t adding to the deficit. That’s because they were defining the deficit as only pertaining to the actual budget passed and not as the difference between the total amount of money the government took in versus how much it spent. They funded the wars through Emergency Supplemental bills, which is money not counted as part of the budget. The concept was intended to be used for unforeseen spending. The Republicans never intended for either war to ever end, so there was no excuse for calling them “emergency spending.” Yet this is how they were able to tell voters that the deficit wasn’t so bad and deflect their attention away from the ever-expanding debt. When Barack Obama came into office he put the wars on the budget, so they weren’t being funded by emergency supplemental bills that weren’t being paid for with tax revenues, and the Republicans immediately started talking about how much Obama had increased the deficit. You gotta admit, that takes balls.

The vast majority of the political hand-wringing seems centered on the tax cuts for the bottom 98% of income earners, the folks making less than about $250,000 per year. [For the record, I live in New York State, one of the most heavily taxed states in the country. The cost of living can be high here, especially in parts of New York City, but outside of there, $250,000 per year is pretty damn good. The only way those folks would be struggling is if they were trying to live beyond their actual means. It's possible to live quite happily on that income.] The Congress can rectify that very easily. In fact, they should since it’s quite possible that close to 100% of the House Republicans want the “lower 98″ to have their tax rates extended into the new year. A bill to do that has already passed in the Senate. [Yes, a bill for raising revenue must "originate in the House." But since they're amending the Tax Act of 1986, they are amending a bill that originated in the House. It just originated there almost three decade ago.] But Speaker John Boehner refuses to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Why not? If you say you want the Bush Tax Cuts to continue but you won’t guarantee that they continue for the folks who aren’t in the top 2% of income earners, it’s pretty hard to say you aren’t trying to make sure the top 2% get their tax cuts extended, too. You can pass them for the rest of us and have a real public debate about whether or not the top 2% get to keep their tax cuts. But they don’t want to do that because the public knows that every one of their arguments in favor of doing so are bullshit. The rich are not “job creators,” and everybody with an IQ in the three-digit range knows that. But even Rick Santorum admitted they would never get the support of the smart people, and the people he said that to liked it. :lol:

But all is not lost. Famous rich people like Warren Buffett have said they want their taxes to be increased. They understand that in order to have the great country we have, you need to have a government that can sustain it. And that means paying for things like infrastructure, public schools, and police protection. Goods move to market on well-maintained roads. Businesses benefit from a well-educated work force. And people feel safer when they know there are police (and other emergency first responders) nearby to assist in an emergency. And many of us on the Left have said we’re willing to let our taxes go up if it will help the economy and the nation. So House Democratic Party Leader Nancy Pelosi has announced that if the Republicans don’t act by Tuesday, she will file a discharge petition. If 218 House members (and that number would have to include those Republicans we’re so sure want the Middle Class Tax Cuts to continue) sign the discharge petition, the bill automatically comes to the floor for a vote. And remember, there’s no such thing as a filibuster in the House. The Republicans can’t delay and stall the bill by threatening to filibuster it, the way they do in the Senate.

But is it really such a bad thing if the deal isn’t reached and the sequestration kicks in? Not if they work out a deal right away. You see, it’s not as though all of the spending cuts happen in the first few days or weeks. They could always suspend the rules and pass a bill without it going through all the committees and pass it in January when the 113th Congress convenes. The tax hikes on the lower and middle income earners would be temporary, and the hit on our wallets not so severe. They could even make it retroactive to the beginning of the year and we’d all get that money back. And remember, no Congress can ever tie the hands of a future Congress. They can always repeal or waive existing law and do whatever they want as long as the president signs it (and it doesn’t violate the Constitution, of course.) When the Democrats had the Congress, they instituted PAYGO (Pay As You GO.) All spending had to be paid for, except in extreme emergencies. The Republicans did away with that, usually by using emergency spending bills to authorize spending that often didn’t qualify as an “emergency.” That’s how we got two unnecessary wars and an unfunded Medicare Prescription Drug Bill pass. By the way, another way to save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars is to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, the way the Veterans Administration does. Right now Medicare is prohibited from doing so. (Thank former Congressman Billy Tauzin for that one.) It would just be nice if the Republicans would publicly admit that they are primarily responsible for this nation being in such deep debt. Then we can begin to have an honest discussion about what to do about it. Otherwise, the Republicans will pretend their fiscal policies work and have nothing to do with the situation.

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss the fiscal downshift or any other topic you wish. But relax. It’s not as dire as they make it out to be.

The Watering Hole: November 9 — Get a grip, Republicans

White People Mourning Romney

I mean really, people.  Drama Queen much?  That looks like a jewelry counter in there, I think y’all will be okay — unless potential customers just don’t like how friggin’ silly you’re being.

Hey, does anyone remember how you felt when George W. Bush won re-election in 2004?  I know I was stunned — and it was my BIRTHDAY!  Man, that stung!  I walked around in kind of an astonished daze for about a day, but I never thought this country had “died,” or was doomed for destruction (although GWB gave it one helluva try).

I shook it off, pulled up my big girl panties, and started informing myself.  I realized that, although I had always voted, I had never really been interested in politics and how or why they worked.  I got an internet connection and started looking for information — not knowing the first place to look.  I just had to read and read and read, knowing that because it’s on the internet, it doesn’t mean it’s true.

Sometime in 2005, I found Eric Alterman’s blog, “Altercation.”  He seemed to have a good head on his shoulders, so I checked all his links.  By doing so, I found David Corn’s blog.  I liked him because he was smart and snarky.  I made my first comments online on Corn’s blog.  Then Alterman linked to a brand new blog called “ThinkProgress,” and shit got real!  In a pretty short time, TP went from one or two posts a day, and maybe ten comments, to eight or ten post a day, and hundreds of comments!  I met loads of wonderful people there, and learned SO MUCH from their comments and outlook on life.  I read so much information on so many topics that I’d never heard of before, and it was awesome.  Then, in 2007, when the troll shit got so deep it was over-topping our hip-waders, we left TP and created TheZoo.  I’m still learning today!

My point is this, Republicans and assorted tea-types:  Sure, you’re disappointed.  You had high hopes and dreams that Barack Obama would be a one term President, and it just didn’t work out.  I can’t say I’m sorry about that turn of events, but I understand the feeling.  Sorta.

Here’s a video that might help you start you own journey toward educating yourself about politics in this country, and an actual exploration of facts.  It’s not Fox, it’s Rachel Maddow, but stay with me here.  It might scare you, but it’s 16 minutes of your life.  You can still be furious and hurt, but please stop thinking this country is over.  I don’t know why you think we’re such a fragile country.  I mean really, come on.

Rachel just gave you a huge number of FACTS.  You probably don’t agree with that assessment, but your assignment is to make a list of all those facts and then confirm or debunk them.  You have to be discerning in your sources of information!  No Drudge or Fox, and to be fair, no MSNBC or ThinkProgress.

Remember:  Actions speak louder than words.  John Boehner and Mitch McConnell can stand in front of microphones and say they’re all about “jobs, jobs, jobs,” but check their voting record.  It’s up to you to educate yourself, because it sticks better that way.  Do it for YOU, okay?  This bitterness and anger is going to eat you alive, and no one wants that.

Let’s work together on getting this country back in shape and working again.  Whadda ya say?

This is our daily open thread — And it’s FRIDAY!!!!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, November 8th, 2012: “Political Capital”

George W. Bush appears to have had a long-term “thing” about “political capital. From Slate, November 2004:

“Bush has long been smitten with the notion of getting and spending “political capital.” In December 2000, Time asked him, “What did you learn about being president from watching your father?” Bush’s answer: “I learned how to earn political capital and how to spend it.” The interview continued:
TIME: You think he didn’t spend it well late in his term?
BUSH: I think he did not. History has shown that he had some capital in the bank that was not properly spent.”

…and…

“…during an interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press in 1999. Bush told Russert he would spend “capital” on his plan for Social Security.”  [Yes, we remember his cross-country "Privatize Social Security Tour" (sigh)]

W’s first press conference after his re-election, on November 4, 2004, has a couple of gems when viewed an eternity later (2012):

On “political capital”:

PRESIDENT BUSH:
I feel — I feel — I feel it is necessary to move an agenda that I told the American people I would move…you go out and you make your case and you tell the people, “This is what I intend to do.” And after hundreds of speeches and three debates and interviews and the whole process, where you keep basically saying the same thing over and over again, that when — when that — when you win, there is a — a feeling that the people have spoken and embraced your point of view. And that’s what I intend to tell the Congress, that I made it clear what I intend to do as the president; now let’s work — and the people made it clear what they wanted — now let’s work together. And it’s one of the wonderful — it’s one of the — it’s like earning capital. … I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That’s what happened in — after the 2000 election. I earned some capital. I’ve earned capital in this election, and I’m going to spend it for — for what — what I told the people I’d spend it on…

On the supposedly all-important Deficit:

“Q Thank you, sir. Many within your own party are unhappy over the deficit, and they say keeping down discretional spending alone won’t help you reach your goal of halving the deficit in five years. What else do you plan to do to cut costs? [emphasis mine]
PRESIDENT BUSH: (Chuckles.) Well, I — I — you know, I would suggest they look at our budget that we’ve submitted to Congress, which does in fact get the deficit cut in half in five years. And it is a specific, line-by-line budget that we are required to submit, and have done so.

The key to making sure that the deficit is reduced is for there to be on the one hand spending discipline — and I — as you noticed in my opening remarks, I talked about these appropriations bills that are beginning to move. And I thought I was pretty clear about the need for those bills to be — to be fiscally responsible, and I meant it…

The revenues are exceeding projections, and as a result the projected deficit is less. But my point there is is that — so with — with good economic policy that encourages economic growth, the revenue streams begin to increase. And as the revenue streams increase coupled with fiscal discipline, you’ll see the deficit shrinking, and we’re focused on that.”

Now, I have been puzzled about this whole “political capital” idea since I originally saw George W. Bush swagger and leer about it. Back then, the other election buzzword was “mandate”, as in “the re-election of GWB proved that he has a ‘mandate’ from the American people,” even though only a little more than half of the American people had actually voted for him. I’ve never seen Democratic Presidents utilize this reasoning; nor would I actually expect them to do so, for the same reason why I would never use the term “landslide” to describe a win of only a few percentage points.

Three questions:

-Using Bush’s “political capital” logic, shouldn’t President Obama have now earned some of his own, to spend on doing what he promised America he would do?
-Would Republicans and the TV cheerleaders at Faux News admit that President Obama had earned “political capital” to spend, since he had won a “mandate” from the people? …and…
-Will President Obama and the Democrats ignore the Republican obstructionists and actually try to spend that “political capital”?

This is our daily open thread–what do you think?

The Watering Hole: Saturday, October 27, 2012 – Will We See The Next Frankenstorm Coming?

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a possibility of a storm even worse than the Perfect Storm of 1991 hitting the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast next week. Dubbed a “Frankenstorm”, it could be the result of a huge hurricane striking the coast at the same time a cold front moves in from across the country. And while weather prediction is still not a perfect science, our satellites have made it possible to see and track massive storms like Hurricane Sandy. But there’s a very real danger that we could have to spend a year or more without this satellite coverage.

The fleet of weather satellites in service is at or past their life expectancy already. Unfortunately, due to mismanagement and bad planning, the launch of the next set of replacements satellites may not happen until 2017. We could be facing a one-year-or-longer gap in the kind of critical satellite coverage needed to save lives. If another huge hurricane forms and threatens to meet another massive cold front, we may not see it coming. And it’s no comfort to think that the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology could still be controlled by ignorant, Science-hating Republicans. The truly sad part is that distrust in Science is not limited to the less-educated conservatives. Even conservatives with college degrees don’t trust Science.

Every four years they say that this election is the most important one of your life, and that’s become more and more valid in recent years. The Republican Party, in its never-ending quest to deny Reality, actually appoints people to the House Science Committee who have no business opening their pie holes on the subject of Science, let alone making law on it. People like Rep Todd Akin, famous for giving us the current term “legitimate rape” (and who is still being given money by right-wing groups) and for publicly denying that Evolution is real, and Rep Paul Broun, a physician(!), who called Evolution, Embryology and the Big Bang Theory “lies straight from the pit of hell.” And they’re not the only ones. These are not people who see the value in Science, so why are they allowed to make legislation regarding it?

If our nation’s great experiment in Democracy is going to work, if we truly want to be a beacon of hope to the rest of the world, we have to vote out people who do nothing to make that happen. These Republicans are a joke, and they should be on the unemployment line not getting the benefits they always vote to cut. I urge everyone to vote and to vote for your own best interests for a change. And your best interests are served by showing the GOP the door.

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss the upcoming storm, the ignorant Republicans, or any other topic you wish.

[Cross posted at Pick Wayne's Brain]

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 22nd, 2012: Mixed Emotions

Since I’ve been wallowing in the throes of depression – Rmoney and Obama are more-or-less tied in the polls, Republicans are doing everything possible to disenfranchise likely Democratic voters, CEOs are threatening their employees if they don’t vote for/donate to Rmoney, my Jets lost in overtime to the damned Patriots, the list goes on and on – I thought I’d throw out something to start the week on a lighter note.

Our current local State Senator, Republican Greg Ball, had some issues with women (among other things) that plagued his last campaign, but still managed to win. His 2012 challenger, Democrat Justin Wagner, has been sending out a series of mailers taking advantage of Ball’s misogynistic reputation. Here’s the front covers from the four mailers that we received – enjoy!

Not so amusing is the fact that tonight is the third and final Presidential debate between President Obama and Elder Professional Liar former Massachusetts Governor Rmoney. So here’s just one more Foreign Policy article, listing 50 questions that various and sundry people would like to see asked of both candidates during tonight’s debate.

(Note: I could not figure out how to get the “Not so” out from between the pictures, so if any of my fellow Critters can edit that and put it at the beginning of the paragraph below them, please feel free to fix it for me.)

Last, but obviously not least: HAPPY 24TH ANNIVERSARY, HONEY!

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

The Watering Hole, Thursday, October 18th, 2012: Romney’s Foreign to Foreign Policy

While we’re all still on a bit of a contact high from President Obama’s excellent performance in Tuesday night’s debate, the final Presidential Debate, supposedly covering U.S. foreign policy, looms just around the corner. As a follow-up to my post on Monday, I’m offering two pertinent articles from Foreign Policy magazine.

The first is a piece of rather hawkish advice offered to President Obama by David Rothkopf, which, in part, points out the frightening fact that:

“To get to buried Iranian facilities, such as the enrichment plant at Fordow, would require bunker-busting munitions on a scale that no Israeli plane is capable of delivering. The mission, therefore, must involve the United States, whether acting alone or in concert with the Israelis and others.”

Oy!

The second, as I mentioned on Monday, is a return to Mitt Romney’s recent foreign-policy speech at VMI (Virginia Military Institute.) While I find it disturbing for a Presidential candidate to be obviously undermining his audience’s Commander-in-Chief, even more disturbing were Romney’s comments about the recent tragic attack on our embassy in Benghazi. This line in particular jumped out at me: “These mobs hoisted the black banner of Islamic extremism over American embassies on the anniversary of 9/11.” I’m still looking, but I have not found ANY independent corroboration of this little tidbit.

The following are a few more excepts. Of course, it figures that Romney is a proponent of an Obama Administration policy with which many of us liberals take great issue.

“Drones and the modern instruments of war are important tools in our fight, but they are no substitute for a national security strategy for the Middle East.”

Anyway, Romney continues…

“It is time to change course in the Middle East. That course should be organized around these bedrock principles: America must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose and resolve in our might. No friend of America will question our commitment to support them. No enemy that attacks America will question our resolve to defeat them. And no one anywhere, friend or foe, will doubt America’s capability to back up our words.”

Based on this attitude, Romney wants to pour an unnecessary and unasked-for $2 trillion-with-a-T into the Department of Defense.

“I’ll work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination. For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions, not just words, that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.
I’ll reaffirm our historic ties to Israel and our abiding commitment to its security. The world must never see any daylight between our two nations.

Why? The United States of America is NOT the same country, we don’t share the same culture or the same history as Israel; we are not geographical neighbors experiencing common challenges. The Constitution says nothing about our country’s ability to create a new country, nor about then being responsible for that new country forever. The President of the United States swears an oath to protect and defend our Constitution, and that oath does not mention protecting and defending Israel as well. Israel is fully capable of defending itself, having been greatly helped by our military and financial assistance. Isn’t it time to cut the cord and let the allegedly adult sovereign state of Israel be responsible for its own actions? But I digress…

“Finally, I will recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel. On this vital issue, the President has failed, and what should be a negotiation process has devolved into a series of heated disputes at the United Nations. In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new President will bring the chance to begin anew.”

Now, that’s the ultimate lying hypocrisy from Romney, who, in the infamous, supposedly-private “47% speech” to big-money donors, said:

“And I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way. And so what you do is you say you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that it’s going to remain an unsolved problem. I mean, we look at that in China and Taiwan. All right, we have a potentially volatile situation, but we sort of live with it. And we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve. We don’t go to war to try and resolve it.

In other words, Romney has no plan for the Middle East. Does this mean that Romney’s believes in “hopey-changey”?

I also ran across this interesting and helpful analysis on Romney’s VMI speech, by Andrew Quinn.

This is our daily open thread–what do YOU have to say?