The Watering Hole, Monday, October 15th, 2012: Presidential Debates, Part Deux

With an eye towards tomorrow night’s Presidential Debate, here’s a transcript of the first debate, along with the Washington Post’s fact-checking of that debate.

Since the second debate, a town-hall style hosted by Candy Crowley of CNN, will focus on both domestic and foreign policy issues, take a look at the transcript of Mitt Romney’s recent foreign-policy speech at Virginia Military Institute (VMI.) (I’ll have a bit more on this in my upcoming post on Thursday, October 18th.)

Lest we forget the full content of Mitt Romney’s “47-Percent” talk with his $50,000-a-plate donors, I suggest a review of the entire transcript, which contains both domestic and foreign-policy comments.

And in the meantime, back in the real world, ThinkProgress discusses how President Obama is actually dealing with the “thorny issue” of a nuclear Iran. The President is considering an agreement with Iran (i.e., diplomacy) as suggested by a couple of Israeli security experts. This shall, no doubt, be seen as “weakness” by Romney/Ryan and all other Republicans.

This is our daily open thread–start studying, or talk about whatever’s bugging you lately.

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 8th, 2012: To Vote or Not to Vote

Last week a friend at work brought in a recent copy of the Norwalk (Connecticut) Community College’s campus newpaper, TheVoice, so that I could read one of the opinion pieces. This particular piece, written by James Marchese and originally published on September 17th, was entitled “Why I think voting is a waste of time.”

While I agree with some of the reasons that Mr. Marchese puts forth, he demonstrates a lack of knowledge which undercuts his premise:

“Our politicians have no accountability for what they say. To get elected they are willing to bend the truth about what they will do in office. Most often, it is promises to “change” whatever is ailing our society at the time. Though how often does a fundamental change take place? There is often talk of it, but when push comes to shove, things often stay the way they are; politicians normally take that as the safest route.”

The lack of accountability for what politicians say stems from three main problems:
1), when a politician speaks, it is usually either in front of a friendly audience of supporters who don’t care whether the politician is factually correct; or it is in front of journalists who may or may not question the politician’s “facts”, and the journalists who do dare to question a politician who is obviously lying receive short shrift or are simply told that they are just plain wrong.
2) The quality of what passes for journalism in this country, particularly on the televised “news” shows, is sorely lacking any interest in researching the background or the veracity of a politician’s claims. The internets are not just a “series of tubes”, they are a trove of information which can be accessed in a matter of seconds. In addition, many “journalists” are more than willing to trade fact-finding for access to an influential politician, particularly when that politician is a Presidential candidate.
3) Once a politician does get into office, even with the best intentions in the world, he or she is immediately faced with the Borg-like mentality of ‘be assimilated or die’ (the ‘die’ part meaning that none of the politician’s ideas will ever see the light of day), otherwise known as “go along to get along.”

“I see lots of back-and-forth over trivial subjects, but the aspects of our country that need to be scrutinized the most are entirely left alone. For this I mostly blame lobbyists, who are people employed to persuade politicians on certain decisions. How they persuade them exactly, I am not sure. Still I believe someone voted into office by the people should stand with the people they represent, not the people schmoozing them.”

I agree wholeheartedly with the writer’s first and last sentences in this paragraph, but the rest of it betrays his naivete about what has been going on in Washington, DC, for decades. How do lobbyists persuade politicians to do what the lobbyists want? MONEY, MONEY, MONEY. If the writer has not grasped this concept, it is certainly an indication that he has never, ever been paying attention.

“I believe if politicians really cared about the people they would make more decisions based on what is best for them, and not on what their party’s standing is. In some cases our elected officials reject new bills and policies just because a rival created it. Our government should not operate out of spite, they should be setting an example and learning to cooperate to really decide what is best for the country.”

This, too, I agree with. However, again, while Mr. Marchese seems to be aware of at least the idea of obstructionism in today’s Congress, he apparently has no idea of which party is doing the obstructing. If he did even the most minimal research, he would find that the Tea Party Republicans have been doing their utmost to prevent ANY legislation which might compromise their own etched-in-stone ideas about minimal government, or which might allow the Democratic President anything that resembles a victory, even at the cost of hurting American Citizens.

“I have been called un-American, an idealist, and even a communist on occasion. [Try being a Liberal, the name-calling is even worse.] The fact of the matter is, that I refuse to participate in something that I value as having no merit. I personally refuse to give people power over me when there is no way to guarantee they will act in the best interest of the people. Politics is often too dirty a game for my taste.”

So, Mr. Marchese believes that exercising his Constitutionally-given right to vote has no merit. And while he “refuse[s] to give people power over [him]“, his very refusal to do so actually gives politicians and government the ultimate power over him, i.e, ignoring him completely. Yes, politics is a dirty business, but it is NOT a game. It can be, literally, the difference between life and death for some, and the difference between keeping your rights or losing them. With so many people being purged from voter rolls, along with other voter-suppression tactics going on in so many Republican-governed states, the right to vote should not be tossed aside so readily. In my opinion, Mr. Marchese’s decision to not sully his hands by participating in the electoral process implies not only a lack of concern for the future of this country, but also an innate selfishness that belies his supposed concern for “the best interest of the people.”

This is our daily open thread — got anything to say?

The Watering Hole – Saturday, October 6, 2012 – Republican Denial of Reality

Rep. Paul Broun, M.D. (R-GA) is member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. At a recent banquet in Georgia, Rep. Broun had this to say: [WARNING: The following transcript and video may precipitate an episode of irritable bowel syndrome.]

From Rep. Paul Broun’s (R-GA) remarks at the Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman’s Banquet on September 27, 2012, in Hartwell, Georgia:

BROUN: God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.

And what I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason as your congressman I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.

Rep W. Todd Akin (R-MO), a candidate for the U.S. Senate running against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), is another member of this committee. Rep. Akin rose to national attention when he brought the phrase “legitimate rape” into the political conversation. One could call it a public service since it helped bring attention to the well-documented Republican War on Women. [In Arizona, Gov Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that could declare a women pregnant before she even had intercourse.]

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) refuses to believe that man-made Global Warming is happening. He prefers to think that solar flares are contributing more to the problem than Man.

This is just a sampling of the way Republicans approach their Constitutional responsibilities to govern. They choose people to write legislation on topics they deny need regulating, in order to to solve critical life-threatening problems they deny exist. They refuse to accept the facts as proven by scientists and prefer to write scientific legislation based on their Biblical beliefs. These people are, by definition, unqualified to sit on any committee with the word “Science” in its name. Until the Republican Party begins choosing qualified people to sit on committees overseeing various areas of our lives, they should have no voice on any legislation writing body. They can vote against the bills when they come to a floor vote, but they should be the authors of none of them.

This is our Daily Open Thread. Feel free to discuss this or any other topic you’d like to bring up. It’s okay. We’re open-minded people here. :)

[Cross-posted at Pick Wayne's Brain.]

The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 29, 2012 – Ann Romney, Surrogate Liar

In a recent interview with a Nevada television station, Ann Romney, in addition to confessing should her husband outdo the more heavily favored snowball in Hell and actually win the election this November, said that her main concern would be for his “mental health.” But she also said something that reinforces a common right-wing lie. She said, “This economy has been under his control for the last four years, and we have seen no jobs,” Romney said. “It’s been a jobless recovery.” That is not true.

Most Americans do not know how their U. S. Senate operates. It is not exactly a democratic (small-”d”) institution. A minority of Senators, even a single Senator, can stop legislation from even being debated, let alone voted on. The Senate operates primarily through unanimous consent. A Senator will rise and say, “Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to consideration of the bill such-and-such.” The presiding President of the Senate asks, “Is there objection?” If any Senator stands up and says, “I object,” the motion is not agreed to and nothing further happens with the bill. The objecting Senator not only does not have to state the reason for his or her objection, they do not even have to be personally present to object. It can be done through a proxy. This maneuver can even be used when the other 99 Senators favor passing the motion in question. And if that doesn’t work (and it often has), there is always the threat of a filibuster to block action.

The filibuster was the reason why Ann Romney was repeating a lie. In order to get anything done in the Senate, you have to have 60 votes to bring cloture, an end to debate. Despite having a majority in the Senate, the Democrats have not had the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster for most of Obama’s term. In fact, he’s only had the 60 votes (counting two Independents, one of which was not reliable) for about four months, not two years. The Republican Party has used the filibuster many times this Congress to block legislation that would actually benefit average Americans. They even used the filibuster to block the Veterans Jobs Bill. That bill now must go back to committee and won’t come up for another vote until after the election. And don’t get me started on the GOP’s refusal to even consider raising taxes on anyone, even those who could easily afford it and wouldn’t miss it.

There is no honor in the Republican tactics used to block legislation from passing. Oftentimes, the motion in question would have the support of a majority of Senators (true, most of them Democrats, but that’s how Democracy works), but Republicans would band together to prevent it from coming to a final vote just because they would lose and President Obama and the Democrats would win. No other reason. It’s not a question of what’s morally right or wrong, it’s simply a refusal to let the democratically-elected majority do what the country sent them to Congress to do. We can’t let them have even forty Senators in the next Congress, or President Obama will achieve nothing in his second term. A term, by the way, the Republican strategy was designed to prevent. Do they have any ideas that will work?

This is our daily open thread. You can talk about the harm the Republicans are doing to this country, or any other topic you wish. Let us know what you think.

Cross posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, September 20th, 2012: Veterans for Romney?

So far, the one and only yard sign for Mitt Romney that I’ve seen read “Veterans for Romney.” Since I cannot imagine any reason why any veterans would support Romney, I started looking for further information.

The website vetsforromney.com only leads to more confusion: it consists of a photo of Romney with some people dressed in military garb, and a section entitled “Our Platform”; here’s a few bits of said “platform”:

A Responsive Department of Veteran Affairs (VA): As with most government agencies, the VA is growing to become a behemoth…

[sigh - Mitt, keep ignoring those eight years increase in the size of the government under George W. Bush, and keep ignoring the provable fact that President Barack Obama cut several hundred thousand government jobs.]

National Defense: The strength of this nation is built on the bedrock of a strong national defense. They call it low hanging fruit. It’s easy to target defense spending as the first area of cuts. unchecked spending threatens the sovereignty of our nation. Excessive levels of debt disrupt all financial units – whether it be a family, a business or a local, state or federal government. But, the knee jerk reaction can not be to axe away at defense spending while the current administration is unwilling to even mention, let alone seriously consider, reductions in entitlement programs. The strength of this nation is built on the bedrock of a strong national defense.

[Okay, yeah, yeah, strength, bedrock, defense, enough! Mitt, quick question: how do you reconcile this sentence with the one that immediately follows? "It’s easy to target defense spending as the first area of cuts. unchecked spending threatens the sovereignty of our nation."

However, that site led me to some interesting places. Clicking on “ISSUES” at the top brought me directly to…a page on Mitt Romney’s website. There is not one single word on this page regarding veterans, nor in the available links to a variety of “issues” (including “Human Capital”, a disgusting and degrading term.) So, Mitt, what about those veterans and military families?

Next…at the bottom of the “Issues” page is a box that says “Paid for by Romney for President, Inc.” I tried looking into “Romney for President, Inc” and found two sites: one which, oddly, lists Romney’s campaign staff along with brief bios of each; the second appears to be a business search site, simply listing the corporation, its address and a little contact info. Nothing there about veterans and their families, either.

One of the other tabs on the Romney site was labeled “COMMUNITIES”, which was where I found “Veterans and Military Families for Romney.” Aha! I thought: now I’ll find something about why veterans would support Mitt Romney. However, the page does not seem to have any actual Veterans and/or Military Families writing or speaking in support of Mitt Romney. Aside the usual requests for donations, and offers to purchase “Veterans for Romney” merchandise, the only mention of the military is a story about “National Military Voter Readiness Day”, which apparently occurred this past Saturday, September 15th.

The “NEWS/BLOG”, linked from the ‘Veterans for Romney’ website, appears to be a work that’s not in progress. Underneath its amateurish appearance, it at least gives a sort of time-capsule, there are some gems of information about Romney’s reign in Massachusetts, such as a 2007 report by the Gun Owners’ Action League (GOAL). Here’s an excerpt:

General Comments:
In the first months of the Romney administration the Governor isolated himself to all but a handful of close advisors most of whom came from the business community. This caused the Governor to make some rather serious political missteps that could have been avoided through better communications. However, relations dramatically improved and in the end, GOAL had more access to this administration than any other since the days of Governor Ed King in 1979.

Okay, STILL no mention of veterans and their families, jobs, the V.A., etc.

Either Mitt Romney doesn’t have a plan for America’s veterans and military families, or it is extremely well hidden.

I want someone to ask Mitt Romney to tell America’s veterans whether he approves of the Senate Republicans’ filibuster of the bipartisan Veterans Jobs Corps Bill killing it until next year. I want someone to ask Mitt Romney why he refuses to cut a dime from the bloated Defense budget, yet will be happy to cut “entitlements” and the “behemoth” V.A., which benefit veterans and active military personnel.

Again I ask, why “Veterans for Romney”?

This is our Open Thread. Speak Up on any topic that you choose.

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 10th, 2012: Romney’s Ramblings

I’ve been reading through the transcripts of Mitt Romney’s campaign speeches, and I’ve noticed that he has several recurring themes and lies about President Obama:

- “President Obama sees a different America and has taken us in a different direction.”

- “A few months into office, he travelled around the globe to apologize for America.”

- “Ronald Reagan rallied America with “Peace Through Strength.””

- “We must pass a torch to the next generation…”

- “It’s really an election about the soul of America.”

- “Three years ago, Candidate Obama promised to address the problems of illegal immigration in America. He failed. The truth is, he didn’t even try.”

- “American strength rises from a strong economy, a strong defense, and the enduring strength of our values. Unfortunately, under this President, all three of those elements have been weakened.”

- “This President’s first answer to every problem is to take power from you, your local government and your state so that so-called “experts” in Washington can make those choices for you. And with each of these decisions, we lose more of our freedom.”

This particular speech from January, 2012, in New Hampshire, probably has the most out-and-out lies of all the speeches I’ve read so far (read for yourself.)

Here’s the most hypocritical lie (and one that he reiterated at the RNC):

- “At the time, we didn’t know what sort of a President he would make. It was a moment of crisis for our economy, and when Barack Obama came to office, we wished him well and hoped for the best…”

I’ve also run across various and sundry WTF? lines:

- “As President, on Day One, I will focus on rebuilding America’s economy. I will reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts. Time and again, we have seen that attempts to balance the budget by weakening our military only lead to a far higher price, not only in treasure, but in blood.”

- “Barack Obama has failed America. It breaks my heart to see what’s happening in this country. These failing hopes make up President Obama’s own misery index. It’s never been higher. And what’s his answer? He says this: “I’m just getting started.”

- “If a couple has a baby, the government will actually give them more support—in the form of food stamps, welfare, or other benefits—if they do not marry than if they do. Our safety-net programs penalize the decision to marry, instead of rewarding it. That’s just wrong. And that’s why I will eliminate these marriage penalties.”

- “God did not create this country to be a nation of followers.”

Romney’s campaign speeches also contain myriad Republican-hot-button-buzzwords, repeated ad nauseum, such as “freedom”, “opportunity”, “exceptionalism”, “entitlements”, “failure”, etc. In addition, Romney makes plenty of promises to uphold or strengthen various rights: States’ rights; corporations’ rights to conduct their businesses unfettered by Federal regulations; and, of course, the overarching rights of a collection of zygotes.

However, thus far in my research (ten speeches), one very important topic stands out which Mitt Romney completely ignores: Women’s issues and rights. Romney’s only mention of women:

- “We live in the most powerful nation that ever existed. And it all goes back to a few men and women who had the courage to stand – and even die – for their belief in liberty and equality.”

and

- “…I will hold fathers financially responsible for their child, whether or not they have married the mother.”

As I mentioned, I’m only ten speeches into a collection of about forty-five, so there’s a possibility that Romney may have discussed support for women’s rights in a later speech. But I’ve got the feeling that that possibility is slim-to-none.

This is our daily open thread — What would YOU like to ramble about?

A Culture of Hate

President Bill Clinton gave an outstanding speech at the 2012 Democratic National Committee Convention (DNC). Early on in his speech, he mentioned the hate that some Republicans, particularly the far right, feel towards President Barack Obama and Democrats.

Though I often disagree with Republicans, I never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate President Obama and the Democrats. After all, President Eisenhower sent federal troops to my home state to integrate Little Rock Central High and built the interstate highway system. And as governor, I worked with President Reagan on welfare reform and with President George H.W. Bush on national education goals. I am grateful to President George W. Bush for PEPFAR, which is saving the lives of millions of people in poor countries and to both Presidents Bush for the work we’ve done together after the South Asia tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake.

According to Merriam Webster, the definition of hate is:

1: a : intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury
b : extreme dislike or antipathy : loathing
2: an object of hatred

Thomas Aquinas equates hatred of another person as a sin. You can hate the actions but not the person.

“Consequently it is lawful to hate the sin in one’s brother, and whatever pertains to the defect of Divine justice, but we cannot hate our brother’s nature and grace without sin. Now it is part of our love for our brother that we hate the fault and the lack of good in him, since desire for another’s good is equivalent to hatred of his evil. Consequently the hatred of one’s brother, if we consider it simply, is always sinful.”

This Wiki link offers different perspectives on hate.

My view on hate is that it is like love, a very personal feeling. Hate can easily be directed towards another’s actions or policies.  To hate someone as a person involves some type of interaction with that person.  With that in mind, the generalized hate that the extremists in the Republican party feel towards Obama is irrational as they have not had a personal interaction with him.  It’s illogical to hate a person that you don’t know.  Examples:

I don’t hate Paul Ryan.  I hate his policies.  I don’t hate Republicans.  I hate what they want to do to America.  I don’t hate the Koch brothers.  I hate their greed.

So what is it about President Barack Obama that makes these extremists hate him personally?  They never met him so they don’t know him and they don’t mention that they hate his policies.  Tea party members and other extremist will say things like, they hate him because he is a socialist or he is a muslim or he is Kenyan etc… .  The key word here is “him”.  They don’t mention his policies.  Instead they focus on Obama personally.  Their personal attacks can only be based on prejudice and their hatred for people that look and act different from them and that is why I say that their hatred is based on a black man holding the title of President of the United States.

That’s my opinion and until someone can provide a convincing argument against it, I am sticking with it.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, September 6th, 2012: Speech! Speech!

Over the last several days, through the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention, most of us political junkies have seen way too many speeches. There have been good speeches, bad speeches, and ugly “speeches”. And there have been a couple of great speeches. Tonight, President Barack Hussein Obama will need to give a great speech when accepting the nomination.

I ran across a treasure-trove of other historical political speeches at a site called “The American Presidency Project.” This website is just chock-full of archival information – check out the varied offerings on the “Document Archive” sidebar – including but not limited to:

- All of Mitt Romney’s campaign speeches, from June 2nd, 2011 through August 14th, 2012;
- All of President Obama’s campaign speeches, from July 5th, 2012 through August 22nd, 2012;
- Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speeches, from Abraham Lincoln’s letter of acceptance in 1864, through Mitt Romney’s speech on August 30th, 2012 (the site will be updated to include President Obama’s acceptance speech);
- Transcripts of all of the Republican Presidential Candidates debates – yes, all twenty of them!

For pure historical fascination alone, this website is invaluable; but I believe that its value for us today, during this Presidential election, is its usefulness for fact-checking, quote-verifying, and flip-flop tracking.

This is our Open Thread – enjoy!

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 3rd, 2012: Mitt, Mitt, and More Mitt – PLUS a Shout-at from Gramps McCain

Romney Channels GW Bush

We all know what a tactless, undiplomatic person Mitt Romney is, whether on the campaign trail (“You didn’t bake those cookies”) to his London Olympic visit and his fundraising trips to Israel and Poland. For today’s thread, I’m focusing on the viewpoints of other countries on Mitt’s abysmal diplomatic skills. Presenting a trio of recent pieces from Foreign Policy magazine regarding Mitt Romney’s “foreign policy”, or lack thereof.

First, an article by Josh Rogin which discusses Romney’s labeling of Russia as America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe.” An excerpt:

“Russia is a significant geopolitical foe. Governor Romney recognizes that,” Romney advisor Rich Williamson said at a Tuesday afternoon event hosted by the Foreign Policy Initiative. “They are our foe. They have chosen a path of confrontation, not cooperation, and I think the governor was correct in that even though there are some voices in Washington that find that uncomfortable…” “Russia is calling itself a democracy but it is not behaving like a democracy,” he [Williamson] said. “When is the last time we have seen Russia on the side of peace? When is the last time we have seen Russia on the side of humanity?”

Hmmm, I could ask the same about the U.S.

Next, from “A Dangerous Mind” by Bruce W. Jentleson and Charles A. Kupchan, a couple of insights:

“Whereas President Barack Obama has claimed the middle ground and crafted a strategy based on principled pragmatism, Romney is following in the footsteps of George W. Bush, relying more on bluster than strategy and veering to ideological extremes….Romney’s view of the changing global landscape rests not on a sober assessment of the world that is emerging, but on the same neoconservative myths that led George W. Bush astray. Like Bush, Romney seems to fixate on the wrong threats — and dangerously inflate them.”

“It is worrying that Romney pledges to reinstate a foreign policy of reflexive toughness just four years after Bush’s assertive unilateralism left the United States mired in Iraq and estranged from much of the world… The Republicans would do better to heed the wisdom of their own Robert Gates, the former defense secretary, who has warned that a president who wants to take the nation into another major war that is not absolutely necessary should “have his head examined.””

Of course, Republicans would argue that it is “absolutely necessary” to attack Iran on behalf of the U.S.’s BFF, Israel.

Last (for this post, anyway), here’s a few quotes from Uri Friedman’s “Russian Press Rips Romney and His Promise of Republican Hell“:

From Pravda:

“They [the Republicans] refer to Russia as a traditional rival of the United States along with North Korea, Iran and China…. To crown it all, Mitt Romney expressed his willingness to be the godfather of the Russian opposition and organize the training for opposition activists at American educational centers.”

From Voice of Russia‘s John Robles:

“Cold war thinkers have drawn up Mitt Romney’s foreign policy stance and it does not look good neither for the U.S., nor for Russia or the free world. Continuing the rhetoric that Russia is geo-political enemy number one and promising to confront and make Russia cow to U.S. interests the Republicans have once again proven their complete disregard for diplomacy.

and

“Whether or not the Republicans are just playing for their base or are seriously proposing such policies, they have proven that they will be force for more instability and conflict in the world.”

and

“To say that Romney and his Republican brethren are a danger to world peace would be an understatement. Their “ultra-conservative” views and stances on a number of issues will bring about another era of neo-conservative subjugation for the American people and the world and their backward thinking and confrontational posturing will destroy much of the delicate compromise that has kept the world stable for the last four years.”

Consider that, according to boston.com, “Almost all of Romney’s 22 special advisers held senior Bush administration positions in diplomacy, defense or intelligence. Two former Republican senators are included as well as Bush-era CIA chief Michael Hayden and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.” (The article doesn’t even mention John Bolton, aka ‘Worst…Ambassador…Ever.) If Romney somehow manages to win this election, get ready for four more years of Dubya.

This is our Open Thread. Nostrovia!


O/T:
Don’t remember if anyone else posted this, but another old man has been rambling on at an imaginary President Obama. It’s long, and painful/aggravating to read, but…

The Watering Hole, Thursday, August 30th, 2012: GOP Elephant Lies

On Tuesday night, Fudgie the Whale New Jersey Governor Chris Christie heaved himself onto the stage at the Republican National Convention, and proceeded to spew more lies than I could count. I don’t have the time to go through all of them, so I’m providing the transcript here, while focusing on the lines and lies that truly pissed me off. I’ll keep my own comments brief:

“Dad grew up in poverty. After returning from Army service, he worked at the Breyers Ice Cream plant in the 1950s. With that job and the G.I. bill he put himself through Rutgers University at night to become the first in his family to earn a college degree.”
Really? The G.I. Bill, a highly-successful Government program?

“The greatest lesson Mom ever taught me, though, was this one: she told me there would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected. She said to always pick being respected…”
Sure, dictators, tyrants and bullies can be respected (read “feared”) without being loved.

“Our leaders today have decided it is more important to be popular, to do what is easy and say “yes,” rather than to say no when “no” is what’s required…It’s been easy for our leaders to say not us, and not now, in taking on the tough issues. And we’ve stood silently by and let them get away with it.” Which ‘leaders’ is Christie blathering about? And who has “stood silently by and let” who “get away with” what? Republicans have certainly been vocal enough against President Obama since before Day 1, as well as being extremely vocal when saying “no”, because “no” is all that the Republicans require to “make President Obama a one-term President.”

“But tonight, I say enough.”
Okay, Christie’s emphasis was on “enough”, but I felt that he had already said more than enough. And at this point in his spewch, I was ready to “say enough”, too.

“I say, together, let’s make a much different choice. Tonight, we are speaking up for ourselves and stepping up.” Speaking up for yourselves, instead of simply calling President Obama every dog-whistle name and label you could think of?

“We are beginning to do what is right and what is necessary to make our country great again.” So, you admit that never really did “what is right” before now?

“We are demanding that our leaders stop tearing each other down, and work together to take action on the big things facing America.” I can’t wait to see Christie call Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, the Tea Party contingent, the Republican Governors, Paul Ryan, and Mitt Rmoney on the carpet…oh…d’oh!

“Tonight, we choose respect over love.” I think “love” already rejected you, and one doesn’t “choose” respect, one earns it.

“We are not afraid. We are taking our country back.” Damn, after years of telling us to “be afraid”, now the Republicans aren’t afraid anymore?! And, for the umpteenth time, FROM WHOM OR WHAT ARE YOU TAKING OUR COUNTRY BACK?

“I know this simple truth and I’m not afraid to say it: our ideas are right for America and their ideas have failed America.” Simple-minded, maybe, at least simple enough not to remember that their “ideas” are pretty much the same as BushCo’s “ideas”, which, in the real world, failed America: cut taxes, eliminate regulations on big corporations, drill anywhere and everywhere, and start another war.

Now for the really big lies. My comments would be superfluous:

“Let’s be clear with the American people tonight. Here’s what we believe as Republicans and what they believe as Democrats:

They believe that the American people don’t want to hear the truth about the extent of our fiscal difficulties and need to be coddled by big government.”

They believe the American people are content to live the lie with them.”

They believe seniors will always put themselves ahead of their grandchildren. So they prey on their vulnerabilities and scare them with misinformation for the cynical purpose of winning the next election.”

Their plan: whistle a happy tune while driving us off the fiscal cliff, as long as they are behind the wheel of power.”

“We believe that we should honor and reward the good ones while doing what’s best for our nation’s future – demanding accountability, higher standards and the best teacher in every classroom.”

They believe the educational establishment will always put themselves ahead of children. That self-interest trumps common sense.”

They believe in pitting unions against teachers, educators against parents, and lobbyists against children.”

They believe in teacher’s unions. We believe in teachers.

“We believe that if we tell the people the truth they will act bigger than the pettiness of Washington, D.C.”

“We believe it’s possible to forge bipartisan compromise and stand up for conservative principles.”

“It’s the power of our ideas, not of our rhetoric, that attracts people to our Party.”

“We win when we make it about what needs to be done; we lose when we play along with their game of scaring and dividing.”

“For make no mistake, the problems are too big to let the American people lose – the slowest economic recovery in decades, a spiraling out of control deficit, an education system that’s failing to compete in the world.”

“It doesn’t matter how we got here. There is enough blame to go around”

“Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to end the debacle of putting the world’s greatest health care system in the hands of federal bureaucrats and putting those bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor.”

“It’s time to end this era of absentee leadership in the Oval Office and send real leaders to the White House.”

“There is doubt and fear for our future in every corner of our country. These feelings are real.”

“There’s only one thing missing now. Leadership. It takes leadership that you don’t get from reading a poll. You see, Mr. President – real leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls. That’s what we need to do now.”

“A second American Century where our military is strong, our values are sure, our work ethic is unmatched and our Constitution remains a model for anyone in the world struggling for liberty.”

Damn Republicans ruined my Acme(TM) Mass-Projection Particle Meter! Of course, my Acme(TM) Wireless Lie-Detector blew up at the sound of Governor Ultrasound’s voice Monday night. :(

This is our Open Thread. Have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 27th, 2012: Monday Mitt Medley

Mitt Headspin

Today’s offerings are almost completely about Mitt Rmoney, via recent pieces on ForeignPolicy.com and ThinkProgress.org.

Here’s a few excerpts from the first FP article, titled “PIPE DREAMS – Why Mitt Romney can’t free America from Middle East oil.”, authored by Michael Levi:

“Republicans have frequently criticized Obama for his admittedly hodgepodge energy strategy, a charge repeated in the new plan. The Romney plan solves that problem by substituting a narrow fossil-fuel production strategy for a genuinely comprehensive plan. Much in that fossil-fuel strategy is reasonable. Romney would shift more power to the states by allowing them to approve drilling on their lands and near their coasts without federal intervention. He would streamline environmental reviews, in part through clear deadlines, and in part by handing more control to the states.

“If that were accompanied by more federal capacity to process permit applications — something that Romney has decidedly not promised to do — the result could be a win-win for business and the environment.”

That’s a HUGEIf…”, especially if it’s something that Rmoney “has decidedly NOT promised to do.”

“The plan is also mum on the other grave energy challenge the country faces: climate change. Reasonable people can differ on how much emphasis to place on climate change in U.S. energy policy, but it isn’t reasonable to ignore it entirely. The Romney plan does not mention climate at all. To be certain, surging production of natural gas can help curb U.S. emissions, but it will come nowhere close to delivering the reductions the country needs alone. Romney likes to quip that people “do not call [climate change] America warming, they call it global warming,” his way of saying that climate change can’t be confronted unilaterally.”

Yet Dubya Bush, supported by the Republicans, refused to sign the Kyoto Protocols, which would ‘confront’ climate change ‘globally.’ Rmoney’s “quip” is yet another example of how warped his sense of humor, his character and his logic are.

The article continues…

“There are many good reasons to embrace rising U.S. oil and gas production and to reform the way government regulates their development.”

If ‘reforming regulation’ involves eliminating regulations, then NO, there are no good reasons.

…and finishes with,

“The Romney strategy for fossil-fuel development has some reasonable proposals on both fronts. But when it comes to comprehensively exploiting energy opportunities and confronting energy-related risks, the strategy falls woefully short.”

Michael Levi’s article links to “The Romney Plan For a Stronger Middle Class: Energy Independence“, which sounds like a non-sequitur to me. But the “Executive Summary” seems even more ludicrous, i.e.:

“An affordable, reliable supply of energy is crucial to America’s economic future.
I have a vision for an America that is an energy superpower, rapidly increasing our own production and partnering with our allies Canada and Mexico to achieve energy independence on this continent. If I am elected president, that vision will become a reality by the end of my second term.” -Mitt Romney

Of course, Rmoney’s basic premise on which he builds some of his so-called “Energy Policy” is a lie:

“In the midst of the energy revolution taking place on state and privately-held lands across America, oil and gas production on federal lands somehow plummeted last year. This was no accident. President Obama has intentionally sought to shut down oil, gas, and coal production in pursuit of his own alternative energy agenda.”

In addition, Rmoney’s “Energy Policy” is extremely vague, with many of the ‘power points’ in some sections appearing to contradict other points within the same section. And quite a bit of the policy appears to be based on studies by Citigroup (“Citi GPS: Global Perspectives & Solutions, “Energy 2020: North America, The New Middle East?” Citigroup, 3/20/12″), investment company Raymond James (Raymond James U.S. Research, “Yes, Mr. President, We Believe We Can Drill Our Way Out of This Problem,” Raymond James, 4/2/12), and the Manhattan Institute (Mark P. Mills, “Unleashing The North American Energy Colossus: Hydrocarbons Can Fuel Growth And Prosperity,” Manhattan Institute, 7/9/12.)

On ThinkProgress, several recent articles demonstrated Mitt’s cluelessness and lack of ability to hear or comprehend what comes out of his own mouth. In this one, Mitt insanely states that “I am very proud of what we did [Romneycare in Massachusetts - which included an 'individual mandate] and the fact that we helped women and men and children in our state… And then with regard to contraceptives, of course Republicans, myself in particular, recognize that women have a right to use contraceptives.” Huh? Since when, and for how much longer?

Then Rmoney gives a shout-out to the Birthers, telling an audience in Michigan, “Nobody has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that I was born and raised.” Apparently Mitt can’t understand how much this one comment legitimatizes the Birther ignorati, especially in conjunction with the fact that seven (count ‘em, SEVEN) Birther conspiracy advocates will be speaking at the RNC in Tampa.

While these are just a few examples of what’s been going on with Rmoney’s campaign, there’s sure to be a whole lot more interesting goings-on during the Republican National Convention, which may or may not start today. Should be fun!

This is our daily open thread — got anything to say about anything?

The Watering Hole, Thursday, August 23rd, 2012: Roe v. Wade, “Personhood” Laws, and Colonial Times

What I started out researching for today’s thread, and what follows, bear little relation to each other. I had wanted to explore the history of Presidential nominees whose campaigns included promises to repeal Roe v. Wade, and any resulting attempts at legislation. That effort met with little success (though there was plenty of other fascinating information, too much for me to do more than a cursory scan), but luckily I got distracted by this bright shiny object: Footnote Number 6 on Wikipedia’s Roe vs Wade page:

Wilson, James, “Of the Natural Rights of Individuals” (1790–1792): “In the contemplation of law, life begins when the infant is first able to stir in the womb.” Also see Blackstone, William. Commentaries (1765): “Life … begins in contemplation of law as soon as an infant is able to stir in the mother’s womb.”

So, am I wrong in interpreting those quotes as: before the American Revolution, and continuing after the establishment of the United States of America, life in a woman’s womb did not legally begin until the fetus starts moving?

WebMD says, “You should feel your baby’s first movements, called “quickening,” between weeks 16 and 25 of your pregnancy. If this is your first pregnancy, you may not feel your baby move until closer to 25 weeks. By the second pregnancy, some women start to feel movements as early as 13 weeks.”

Even if one uses the figure of 13 weeks, or let’s say even 12 weeks, it appears that it was settled law, way back during the era of our Founding Fathers, that an embryo was not legally a living human being until three months into the pregnancy. Hmmm…if this was the generally accepted definition of ‘when “life” begins’ back in the 18th century, how can the Teapublicans in Congress reconcile this with their (false) claim that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, and should therefore be ruled by the Bible? How can they justify – or even implement – “Personhood” legislation? And just which exactly is the United States citizen, the woman or the not-legally-”life” zygote or embryo? Which comes first in the hearts of those Teapublicans, their Oath to their country, or their Old Testament god?

Footnote Number 6 led me to more fascinating reading in James Wilson’s “Of the Natural Rights of Individuals.” Here’s some excerpts:

“The opinion has been very general, that, in order to obtain the blessings of a good government, a sacrifice must be made of a part of our natural liberty. I am much inclined to believe, that, upon examination, this opinion will prove to be fallacious. It will, I think, be found, that wise and good government — I speak, at present, of no other — instead of contracting, enlarges as well as secures the exercise of the natural liberty of man: and what I say of his natural liberty, I mean to extend, and wish to be understood, through all this argument, as extended, to all his other natural rights.”

“…what [my description of] natural liberty is:
“Nature has implanted in man the desire of his own happiness; she has inspired him with many tender affections towards others, especially in the near relations of life; she has endowed him with intellectual and with active powers; she has furnished him with a natural impulse to exercise his powers for his own happiness, and the happiness of those for whom he entertains such tender affections. If all this be true, the undeniable consequence is, that he has a right to exert those powers for the accomplishment of those purposes, in such a manner, and upon such objects, as his inclination and judgment shall direct; provided he does no injury to others; and provided some publick interests do not demand his labours. This right is natural liberty.”

If this description of natural liberty is a just one, it will teach us, that selfishness and injury are as little countenanced by the law of nature as by the law of man. Positive penalties, indeed, may, by human laws, be annexed to both. But these penalties are a restraint only upon injustice and overweening self-love, not upon the exercise of natural liberty.

“Let the constitution of the United States…be examined from the beginning to the end. No right is conferred, no obligation is laid on any, which is not laid or conferred on every, citizen of the commonwealth or Union — I think I may defy the world to produce a single exception to the truth of this remark. Now…the original equality of mankind consists in an equality of their duties and rights.

Duties and rights” – note that he puts “Duties” first. An idea which the Teapublicans either have deliberately abandoned, or are too ignorant or oblivious to understand. Or perhaps both. (sigh)

This is our daily open thread — got something to say about something?

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 20th, 2012: New York, The New Battleground State?

It’s always been pretty much a given that New York State’s electoral votes in a Presidential election go to the Democratic candidate. While most of the state is Republican-leaning, the heavily-populated centers of New York City and Albany tip the electoral scales in favor of Democrats. And despite the recent redistricting, which lost the state two of its electoral votes, its 29 votes should still be reliably blue. Okay, while not an actual guarantee, New York should still be able to be counted on for President Obama in the upcoming Presidential election. Regardless, I don’t expect to see either Presidential candidate, or their surrogates, doing any campaigning in New York.

On the other hand, some of the Congressional races within the state are now, frighteningly, likely to remain in the grasp of the Republicans. Our own district, now redistricted as The Fightin’ Eighteenth (as Stephen Colbert would say), went from Democrat John Hall to Tea Party Republican Nan Hayworth in the 2010 Tea Party tempest. According to Salon.com:

“In 2010, no state was stung by the Republican sweep of the House more than New York. Before the election, New York had three Republican representatives. After the dust settled, Republicans increased their numbers in the New York delegation nearly three-fold — eight of New York’s 29 seats were Republican.”

Those eight Congressional seats are now in play again, and, as Salon puts it:

“For Republicans, simply retaining the gains of two years ago would be a major win, both in the state and nationally. And they’re confident that they’ll even pick up new seats. “They’re more likely to pick up two than lose two at this time,” said New York Republican consultant Susan Del Percio.”

However, the website ballotpedia.org, paints an even more dire picture in New York. The site references the New York Times race ratings, which indicate that 10 New York congressional districts could go Republican: “the 1st, 11th, 18th, 19th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th and 27th districts.”

If Republicans retain their current eight Congressional seats, that would be bad enough news for us and for President Obama. If they gain any more seats on top of those eight, it bodes even worse for all of us. And if you combine such a scenario with the fact that so many Republican-governed states are doing their utmost to suppress Democratic votes, well…do I need to draw a map?

This is our daily open thread — got any good news?

The Watering Hole – Saturday, Aug 18, 2012 – Soledad O’Brien, GOP Lie Detector

It’s been a while since I had any desire to tune into CNN, but thanks to Soledad O’Brien, there’s a chance slightly better than a snowball’s in Hell that I might start watching again. Soledad has been doing something lately you don’t often see on the TV machine – challenging Republican lies. And boy, do they get testy when you do that. This past Tuesday she nailed former NH Gov John Sununu, a former GHW Bush Chief-of-Staff who resigned after misusing government resources to conduct personal business, over his lie that the Romney Medicare plan is not being turned into a voucher program. Apparently the word “voucher” must not have tested well with focus groups when used in conjunction with Medicare (as opposed to when used with “school choice”) because the Republicans insist that it is not a “voucher program,” it’s a “premium support program.” The government will give seniors a fixed amount so they can go out on the free market and buy their own Medicare plans. That fixed amount in known in reality-based circles as a voucher. Notice how testy Sununu gets when Soledad points out the facts. He starts name-calling, and saying she’s just mimicking the White House. (Actually, she’s mimicking the CBO.) How mature.

The next day, she got in to a heated discussion with Romney Surrogate Liar Tim Pawle-zzzzzzzz.

I’m sorry, with former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawle-zzzzzzzz.

I’m never going to get this post finished if I keep doing that. Try again.

She got into a discussion with T-Paw, who tried to milk an old Washington trick to “prove” his point. The controversy centered around the Washington definition of the word “cut” in relation to spending and budgets. For those who don’t know, whenever someone proposes reducing the amount of money by which a government program will increase spending, it is called, by both political parties, a “cut.” They do it so they can say, “The other guy wants to cut Medicare!” (Or Education, or Defense, or whatever.) They say this even if the actual amount of money to be spent increases! And, of course, both sides do this because they know the American public doesn’t understand what they’re really saying. They hear “spending cuts,” and they think spending will actually go down. It doesn’t. It just goes up by less.

Which brings us to yesterday and an interview with Rep Jason Chaffetz. This time they were back to whether or not the Romney plan is a “voucher” program or a “premium support” program. Like his fellow Romney surrogates before him, Chaffetz just flat out denies the meaning of words in order to claim he’s right and she’s wrong. It’s another favorite tactic of Republicans – just say the opposite of the truth and claim that whatever the other person is saying is “simply not true.” Keep in mind that their goal is not to win the argument, which they can’t because they don’t have the facts on their side. Instead, the goal is to confuse the American people enough so they don’t believe the side that is telling the truth. The fact is that Obama’s plan saves money by reducing fraud, waste and abuse in Medicare spending. So the Republicans want to make people believe anything but that. And that’s pretty much how they approach any political argument.

If Soledad O’Brien keeps this up, I may just start watching CNN again. At least, I will when she’s on.

[H/T Pete, who brought Soledad O'Brien's exploits to my attention.]

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss any topic you want.

[Cross-posted at Pick Wayne's Brain.]

The Watering Hole, Thursday, August 16th, 2012: FOCUS!

Okay, so last weekend, presumptive Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney introduced Paul Ryan as his Vice-Presidential running mate. While this does open up a whole new can of worms – or can of whoop-ass, depending on one’s political leanings – it does NOT change the fact that it is MITT ROMNEY who could become the next President of the United States of America. This solid rock of a fact is still the absolute center of the widening ripples caused by last weekend’s announcement. Those ripples will slowly fade, but the rock will remain: Mitt Romney, a lying, shallow, amoral and characterless opportunist, might end up as the “leader of the free world.”

So our focus must remain on Mitt Rmoney and his obvious weaknesses:

- Rmoney has changed his mind on (or out-and-out denied that he ever held) nearly every policy position that he ever professed as Governor of Massachusetts (abortion rights, his own ‘Romneycare, LGBT rights, etc.);

- Rmoney’s record as Governor of Massachusetts was dismal at best: as was pointed out several times during the Republican debates, Massachusetts was 47th in job creation under Rmoney (of course, you won’t hear Mitt’s former challengers pointing that out ever again.)

- Rmoney’s career at Bain Capital was marked more by bankruptcies, lost jobs and outsourcing than by job creation and helping businesses;

- Rmoney’s “saving” of the Salt Lake City Olympics involved lobbying and outsourcing jobs (U.S. Olympic uniforms made in Burma?!)

- Rmoney’s complete lack of foreign policy ideas or experience (with the sole exception of bombing Iran on behalf of Israel), as evidenced by his recent disastrous trip abroad;

- Rmoney’s refusal (insultingly reinforced by Ann Rmoney) to release additional tax returns – and I think that the Mittster probably believes that his announcement of Ryan as his Veep pick put an end to that topic (as our “journalists can’t hold more than one thought in their collective heads at once) but we CANNOT let this issue go away!

The big boys with the big money are ready, more than willing, and able to prop up the Rmoney campaign in order to ensure themselves a kindred spirit in the Oval Office. Thanks to Citizens United, those people with even deeper pockets and more self-centered motives than Rmoney (Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers, etal) are pouring millions upon millions of dollars into SuperPACS in their efforts to sway those oddly undefined but key “independent” voters. On the State level, Republican governors and state legislatures are passing Voter ID laws specifically designed to disenfranchise certain voter groups who tend to vote Democratic. This Presidential election is the culmination of strategies which were begun months, years, decades ago by those deep-pocketed people (and corporations, who are ‘people’ too, my friend), and they are not going to give up now.

That is what we, as liberals and as Americans, have to focus on from now until November. Mitt Rmoney CANNOT become President of these United States.

This is our daily open thread — go ahead, have at it!

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, August 8, 2012: Hump Day! Now What!

This post is being written as NASA gives its first press conference following the successful landing of Curiosity on Mars.

At this point, this author will look into his crystal ball and report the following stories now, ahead of them happening in real time, to be revealed later, when they have already occured.

Republicans were quick to give George Bush full credit for the Curiosity landing. This program began 8 years ago, when Bush was President, therefore He gets full credit for its success.

Republicans were also quick to blame Obama for Curiosity’s failure. Two days have gone by, and Curiosity failed to find proof of life on Mars. Christian leaders across the evangelical spectrum blamed Obama for seeking out new life forms, when God only created life on Earth. “Life on Mars goes against the Bible.” one editorial proclaimed.

But this Mars landing has created a bit of a rift within the extremes of the Right Wing. On the one hand, many consider this to be part of a plot to bring Communism to the United States. Mars is the Red Planet, and by going to Mars, Obama has aligned himself with the Red Menace, i.e. communism.

But others take a different view. Mars is Red, just as Conservative States are Red. Bush, in sending this Rover to Mars has staked out a new frontier for conservatives in our solar system. These forward-looking conservatives look to the day when Mars’ electoral votes secure a permanent conservative majority in the solar system forever. However, it did not escape their notice that all of the NASA scientists were wearing blue…

Meanwhile, Republicans in the House and Senate have introduced bills to eliminate funding for the Curiosity program. We need jobs here in the United States, not on Mars. People working in goverment jobs such as NASA aren’t working in real jobs. One alternative bill seeks to privatize NASA, with Halliburton purportedly backing the effort.

THIS IS OUR OPEN THREAD, WE GO BOLDLY WHERE NO BLOG HAS GONE BEFORE, TO REPORT THE NEWS BEFORE IT HAPPENS, AFTER IT HAPPENS

The Watering Hole, Thursday, July 26th, 2012: The Tortoise Turtle is Hare-Brained

Not to insult any tortoises, turtles, or hares who happen to be reading this; because, honestly, most tortoises, turtles and hares are more intelligent and have more integrity than the subject of this post, but…

MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY-TURTLEWAX) IS A MANIPULATIVE, DESPICABLE, LYING AND YES, TREASONOUS, UGLY BAG OF MOSTLY WATER. (As Wayne would say: ‘There, I said it, and I’m glad.’)

Yesterday’s “Quote of the Day” in the Washington Post:

QUOTE OF THE DAY
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) defending his decision to drop the threat of a filibuster on a proposal to preserve tax cuts soley[sic] for the middle class:

“By setting these votes at a 50-vote threshold, nobody on the other side can hide behind a procedural vote while leaving their views on the actual bill itself a mystery to the people who sent them here…”

The Washington Post article states:

“McConnell acknowledged the unusual nature of his decision — Democratic aides could not recall another occasion when McConnell permitted a simple majority vote on a contentious issue. McConnell said his goal was to force vulnerable Democrats to support a plan to raise taxes less than four months before the Nov. 6 ballot.”

“By setting these votes at a 50-vote threshold, nobody on the other side can hide behind a procedural vote while leaving their views on the actual bill itself a mystery to the people who sent them here,” McConnell said.

Moreover, McConnell said, the tax bill cannot advance because it is a Senate-originated tax measure. The Constitution requires all tax measures to originate in the House.

“The only reason we won’t block it today is that we know it doesn’t pass constitutional muster and won’t become law,” McConnell said. “What today’s votes are all about,” he said, is “showing the people who sent us here where we stand.”

Yes, Mitch, it shows the people who sent you there that you stand against them, as poll after poll indicates that the vast majority of Americans are in favor of letting the Bush tax cuts for the extremely wealthy expire. Yeah, you show ‘em, Mitch.

According to a ThinkProgress article posted after the 2011 debt ceiling hostage debacle, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) confirmed this fear [of Republicans holding the debt ceiling hostage] when he told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that Republicans will hold the debt ceiling hostage in the future, saying this debate “set the template for the future”:

MCCONNELL: “It set the template for the future. In the future, Neil, no president — in the near future, maybe in the distant future — is going to be able to get the debt ceiling increased without a re-ignition of the same discussion…”

“Discussion”? That was no “discussion”, Mitch, it was a deliberate act on the Republican’s part to undermine both President Obama and the American economy.

The same ThinkProgress 2011 post continued, “The debt ceiling has been raised dozens of times in the past without controversy, including 19 times under President Bush alone. President Reagan increasing the debt ceiling by 199.5 percent during his eight years in office — more than any executive to date — while Presidents Bush, Jr. raised it 90.2 percent and Bush Sr. increased it by 48.0 percent.” Of course, as everyone knows, IOKIYAR.

According to DailyKos, the debt ceiling fight:

“…didn’t just hurt the economy or disrupt the economic recovery, halt job growth, and wreck consumer confidence. It also cost taxpayers $1.3 billion and counting, according to the Government Accountability Office [GAO].

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office said Monday that the $1.3 billion in costs came as the result of increased borrowing costs for the Treasury Department.

Ezra Klein at The Washington Post provided a link to the GAO’s “Analysis of 2011-2012 Actions Taken and Effect of Delayed Increase of Borrowing Costs.”

As a reminder to us all, this October 2010 ThinkProgress article quotes McConnell:

MCCONNELL: The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” McConnell added, “Our single biggest political goal is to give our nominee for president the maximum opportunity to be successful. …

Apparently nothing else matters to Republicans: if trashing the U.S. economy, rising unemployment (where are the jobs, Speaker Boehner?), and undermining the rights of citizens to vote will help “to give [their] nominee for president the maximum opportunity to be successful”, well, if the Republicans spoke French (horrors!), they’d likely say, “c’est la vie” – or, more appropriately, c’est la guerre.”

This is our daily open thread — ladies and gentlemen, start your discussion!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, July 5th, 2012: Odds and Ends

Since I couldn’t come up with any one topic to write about today, I’m presenting a few articles that I’ve collected over the past couple of weeks:

From back in January, when I was researching one of my Pawling Press columns, here’s a piece from the New York Times about Sheldon Adelson (in the context of Adelson’s contributions to Newt Gingrich.)

Next, a more recent column from the New York Times; this article was published after Sheldon Adelson started throwing millions of dollars at Mitt Romney.

Now here’s a trio of articles about Mitt Romney that I thought were interesting. (I think that someone here recently linked to that last one, but it bears re-reading.)

Finally, to help wash away the bitter taste of RMoney, here’s something about President Jimmy Carter, who still serves as a shining example of an American public servant. Enjoy!

This is our daily open thread — talk amongst yourselves!

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 2nd, 2012: WEEDS

Off and on yesterday, I worked in my “garden.”

The areas in my front yard which used to comprise my garden have been pretty much derelict and overgrown with weeds for eight years now. I had laid out wooden paths within the gated section; gigantic dandelions and other weeds now hide the wood planks. The planned renovation of my old garden was halted in the spring of 2004, my year from hell. Each year since my parents died, I started spring with the intention of working hard and enjoying a real garden by summer; each year I wasted bulbs and plants as I lost the will and focus. This spring was no exception; I really wanted to get the yard and the old garden cleaned up and get some new bulbs and plants in. Then, after our loss on March 26th, grief and depression shriveled any aspirations. Yes, the old standbys still bloomed: crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, etc., but they only served to emphasize the surrounding neglect.

A few weekends ago, Wayne’s sister Judy finally (and thankfully) shamed us into working to make the yard presentable. With her hard work and constant pushing of Wayne and I, we got a very good start in that first weekend. While I have not worked quite as hard on subsequent weekends, I managed to clear and weed right up to the garden gate and trellis. So yesterday morning I tackled the inner garden, raking away a few year’s worth of matted leaves, pulling up tiny maple trees, yanking out weeds, removing sticks and branches. Turning toward the oval-shaped center, edged by the now (at least) partially cleared wooden walkway, I started raking out the insidious, pervasive “Creeping Charlie” which had completely infested the center garden. As I gleefully ripped away the ubiquitous vining weed and as much of its root system as I could, a thought struck me:

[I know, you've been asking yourselves, why is she going on and on about depression and gardening?]

REPUBLICAN POLITICAL OPERATIVES ARE A LOT LIKE WEEDS.

Weeds manage to spread and persist using many methods: putting down taproots that are difficult to dig out; disguising themselves to look like desirable plants; creeping through lawn and garden, grasping for footholds through pernicious extended root systems; choking out other plants and commandeering the nutrients in the soil, to the point where nothing else will grow, bloom, or prosper. Sounds like today’s Republicans, doesn’t it?

I’m now compelled to reclaim my once-lovely garden back from the weeds; hopefully we all can reclaim our once-lovely country back from those whose purpose is to suck it dry.

Glad in the Garden

Gladiolus in Watercolor

This is our daily open thread — comment on anything you want!

The Watering Hole – Saturday, June 30, 2012 – GOP Is Acting Out, Again

Pity the poor Republicans. They ranted and raved since the day President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law and swore it was an unconstitutional power grab by the already-bloated federal government, and that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry each other. Oh, and that abortion you wanted? Sorry, but they have about eleven hundred reasons why you shouldn’t plan on going through with it. At least, not today. But Obamacare is unconstitutional! Well, funny thing, our nation’s ultimate authority on what is and isn’t constitutional determined that, yes, indeed, Obamacare is constitutional. (Here’s a way to see the decision itself, as well as a neat word cloud of the decision.) It appears the only thing the law got wrong was on threatening states with losing their Medicaid if they didn’t comply, or something like that. Oh, and the administration’s legal rationale for why the PPACA was constitutional was wrong, too. But Chief Justice of the United States (that’s his actual title, BTW. Did you – well, all but one of you – know that? ;)) John Roberts found a way around that and said something could be collected as a tax and not under the authority of the Commerce Clause. I don’t know, I’m not trained in understanding all this legalese. All I know is that the Roberts Court just handed the Republicans a major ass-whoopin’, and they’re going all nuts saying they won’t implement the law (even though they have to), and we still think it’s unconstitutional, so we’ll just nullify it (Hello, Civil War II). And now they’re going to take a break from bashing voting citizens who are gay and/or have vaginas and repeal the entire law! Of course that’s just theater because we know perfectly well a repeal won’t pass the Democratic Senate, so why do it? I’ll tell you why. Because the Republican Party is hell-bent and determined to prove to you that government just doesn’t work, and they’ll achieve that by doing the worst possible job they can.

So, what else is on your mind? You can tell us. We’re complete strangers that you’ll probably never meet in your life. What could possibly go wrong? ;)

This is our daily open thread — comment on anything you want!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, June 14th, 2012: GOD WARS

The topic of Monday’s post was the the appearance that a local Baptist pastor had an active political agenda.

Now it’s the Catholics‘ turn.

I received this through an email from Catholics United:

Dear Jane,
I have been an active member of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Washington, D.C., for more than 31 years. My faith is my bedrock; my parish is my home.That is why I am worried and deeply saddened to see partisan politics increasingly creeping into our faith community. A few months ago, I attended a meeting at our church when a fellow parishioner publicly expressed outrage that there were cars in the church parking lot that had “Obama bumper stickers.” The intensity of his tone and the fact that I had such a decal made me so uncomfortable that I left the meeting.

In this highly charged election season, the political attacks will only intensify. The “Fortnight for Freedom”* being organized by the Bishops because of their disagreements with the Obama administration should not be brought into our sacred space. They are asking pastors to preach about “religious liberty” and to distribute political statements inside our bulletins. ["...The Fortnight for Freedom campaign runs from June 21 to July 4. It features a variety of events designed to appeal to Catholics of all ages, from a Twitter campaign to a music festival at a winery to traditional Masses to the distribution of 10,000 car magnets promoting religious freedom. Two Kansas bishops have organized rallies in front of government buildings in Topeka and Wichita. Other dioceses are sponsoring conferences and public prayer. Bishops are also encouraging Catholics to pray briefly for religious liberty each day at 3 p.m. in a campaign they dub "A Minute to Win It!"]

But there’s hope. A group of parishioners at my church recently spoke to our pastor about our concerns and he is listening. Click here to find out what we’re doing.

We wrote our pastor a letter and asked him to reconsider our parish’s participation in the “Fortnight for Freedom”. We met with him and expressed our concern that this type of political activity was inappropriate and would cause divisiveness in our community. Our parish had always been a welcoming place where people of all different opinions joined together in worship, heard the Gospel message of Christ and found a source of spiritual strength. We are grateful that our pastor listened and feel that he has taken our concerns seriously.
As the mother of five, and the grandmother of nine, I worry whether these future generations will see the Church as a place that proclaims the expansive message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a place where they will find the abundance of God that will inspire them to go out and serve others in God’s name.
Faithfully,

Eileen Zogby
Parishioner
Blessed Sacrament Parish
Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB, “or NAMBLA”) are still getting their knickers in a twist about the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement; actually, they’re getting even more twisted. Not content with lobbying Congress, they are now marshalling their armies of pedophiles priests and their parishioners across the land. The more liberal (and Christian) folks at Catholics United believe that the bishops are wrong. But the USCCB is digging in its collective heels, just like the GOP, unless they get everything they want from The President of The United States of America.

What, the USCCB should compromise with the President of the United States of America?! “HELL, NO!”

Tax-Exempt Status?! FUCK, NO!

This is our daily open thread — comment on anything you want!

Oh, and Happy Flag Day.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, May 31st, 2012: Mitt Romney, Tabula Rasa

Lately, when I think about Mitt Romney and his multitude of verifiable flip-flops and evasions, and his campaign focus on his Bain Capital “business experience” as being his best qualification for becoming the President of the United States of America, the phrase “Tabula Rasa” keeps popping into my mind. So I decided to investigate why the phrase seemed appropriate when referring to Candidate Romney.

According to Wikipedia:

“Tabula rasa is the epistemological[1] theory that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception. Generally proponents of the tabula rasa thesis favour the “nurture” side of the nature versus nurture debate, when it comes to aspects of one’s personality, social and emotional behaviour, and intelligence. The term in Latin equates to the English “blank slate” (or more accurately, “erased slate”) (which refers to writing on a slate sheet in chalk) but comes from the Roman tabula or wax tablet, used for notes, which was blanked by heating the wax and then smoothing it to give a tabula rasa.”[emphasis mine]

This certainly explained a good bit about why, when I think of Mitt Romney, I can’t help thinking “tabula rasa.” Mr. Romney does exhibit behavior consistent with one who wants to wipe out the ‘notes’ on the wax tablet of his career as Governor of Massachusetts, during which he not only signed into law healthcare reform similar to President Obama’s “Affordable Care Act”, but also failed to deliver the promised job growth in the state; the job growth promise that he based on his “private business career” at Bain Capital. Instead, Romney took Massachusetts down to 47th place in the nation in terms of job growth. It also explains why the number of jobs that he claimed to have created at Bain went from an unverifiable 100,000 down to 10,000; and why Romney has now gone back to claiming 100,000 again.

In addition, the “Tabula Rasa” theory would explain Romney’s lack of character, empathy, and any sort of insight into the world in which the vast majority of U.S. citizens live.

[1]“Epistemology: (from Greek ἐπιστήμη (epistēmē), meaning “knowledge, understanding”, and λόγος (logos), meaning “study of”) is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope (limitations) of knowledge. It addresses the questions:

What is knowledge?
How is knowledge acquired?
To what extent is it possible for a given subject or entity to be known?

“Much of the debate in this field has focused on analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it relates to connected notions such as truth, belief, and justification…Statements of “belief” sometimes mean the speaker has faith that something would prove to be useful or successful in some sense—perhaps the speaker might “believe in” his or her favorite football team. This is not the kind of belief usually addressed within epistemology. The kind dealt with is when “to believe something” simply means any cognitive content held as true in spite of the absence of proof or even evidence. For example, to believe that the sky is blue is to think that the proposition “The sky is blue” is true even if the sky is visibly red.”[emphasis mine]

And this seems to be the pattern of not just Mitt Romney, but of most Republicans. They have no compunction about firmly stating “facts” that are so completely and patently false, one wonders just what “red-sky” world they think they’re living in. For my part, I WISH that all Republicans were living on some distant planet under a red sky, rather than fouling our own beautiful and fragile blue-sky planet.

This is our daily open thread — share your thoughts!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, May 10th, 2012: Need a Laugh?

Despite the saying “April showers bring May flowers”, here in southeastern New York these two months seem to have reversed. While our area, with its many reservoirs, definitely needed the rain after so little snow this past winter, the dreariness is starting to sink in. So here’s some items to perk up the spirits.

First, we can all poke fun at the expense of the gullible RWNJ anti-abortion crowd. Unfortunately, I have to thank one of their ilk for posting this crap in a comment at Think Progress:

Irony: Obama admin requires visitors at White House to register UNBORN BABIES babies as separate guests (PEOPLE in addition to their mothers!).

That’s not just IRONY; that is the quintessence of IMMORAL HYPOCRISY. NOT regarding prenatal babies as “legal persons” as justification for filicide, but insisting they be REGISTERED as separate persons for purposes of counting visitors to the White House!

NEVER ONCE DID THE SUPREME COURT DECLARE ABORTION ITSELF TO BE A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT! Instead the Supreme Court said:

“We need NOT resolve the difficult question of when life begins… the judiciary at this point in the development of man’s knowledge is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”

Then the High Court made a key admission: ***** “If this suggestion of PERSONHOOD IS ESTABLISHED, THE APPELLANT’S CASE [i.e., "Roe" who sought an abortion], of course, COLLAPSES, for the FETUS’ RIGHT TO LIFE IS THEN GUARANTEED SPECIFICALLY BY THE [14th] AMENDMENT.”

The fact is, the 14th Amendment couldn’t be clearer: “… nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.”

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/irony-obama-admin-requires-visitors-at-white-house-to-register-unborn-babie

Naturally, I did a bit of googling to see what this was about. The first dozen or so listings were all from sources of the same ilk as ‘lifesitenews’: rightwingnews.com, nation.foxnews.com, fosterfriess.com(!), etc., etc. Finally I found this article at Politifact. I responded to the nincompoop’s post at TP with this section of the Politifact article:

“Ed Donovan, spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service, said people misunderstood the email. Schafer’s email, he said, was an explanation of how to fill out information for pregnant women who will bring their new baby on future White House tours.

“This refers to a pregnant woman providing information for a tour in the future that will include the new family member. So when a 7-month pregnant woman is providing information for a tour that is 4 months in the future, there is a ‘place holder’ for the new baby,” Donovan wrote in an email.

In a phone call, he acknowledged the procedure may seem “a little anal.”

“I know people are construing it as an unborn child, but the visit isn’t occurring (now). If a pregnant woman shows up at the White House, we don’t count two people. It’s sort of a way of expediting (the process) so no one gets hung up at the gate,” he said.”

Typical of these right-wingers, who obviously do not excel at reading comprehension, to go ape-shit over what they believed would help them overturn Roe v. Wade. Yeah, good luck with that, RWNJs.

And second, for more light-hearted giggles, titters and groans, here’s a bunch of either unfortunate or tongue-in-cheek newspaper headlines:

Wow – the miracles of modern technology!

Must’ve been SOME camouflage!

Hmm…really? Maybe they should check the next headline.

Has the pitcher been eating “Colon Blow”? Ohh, it’s pronounced “cologne”.

I hope for the second attorney’s sake that he’s not doing this pro bono.