The Weekend Watering Hole, December 10th/11th, 2016: Good-ish? News

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To start this weekend off, here’s a few stories that I found a bit heartening. Or perhaps I should say ‘less disheartening than most news.’

First, a story by Jen Hayden from Thursday’s Daily Kos says that General Barry McCaffrey no longer supports Trump’s choice for national security advisor. Quite the opposite, in fact. An excerpt:

General Barry McCaffrey tells NBC News that he was initially supportive of Donald Trump’s decision to name Lt. General Michael Flynn as his national security advisor. But, a closer look at Flynn’s social media use shows that he sent out at least 16 different fake (propaganda) news stories via social media and General McCaffrey pulled no punches, bluntly calling the tweets and stories “demented.”

The Trump transition team is also rightly getting criticism for allowing Lt. General Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, to not only take part in the transition team, but to seek out security clearance for him when his own social media has shown him to be prolifically disseminating utterly false and outrageous politically motivated news. (You can watch a smarmy Mike Pence evade Jake Tapper’s pointed questions about Flynn, Jr.’s security clearance six different times by clicking here.) One of those fake stories prompted a man to walk into a pizza place and fire his high-powered gun to personally “investigate” the child sex trafficking ring run by Hillary Clinton that Flynn was tweeting about to his followers. Which, of course, wasn’t happening.

General Barry McCaffrey went on to say that “we need to aggressively examine what was going on” with Lt. General Michael Flynn and his son.

Next, Trump’s “Ego Trip Tour” brings him to Maryland, and he’s attending today’s iconic Army-Navy football game in Annapolis,  He will also be visiting Baltimore, and the Baltimore City Council made it clear that they are not exactly laying out the “Welcome” mat for him.  According to the Baltimore Sun:

In its first official act Thursday, the new Baltimore City Council voted unanimously to condemn statements made by Donald J. Trump, days before the president-elect is expected to visit the city.

The resolution formally opposed Trump’s “divisive and scapegoating rhetoric, rooted in hate and prejudice,” a measure political scientists say flies in the face of new Mayor Catherine E. Pugh‘s goal of persuading the next president to funnel federal investment to the cash-strapped city.

Some Baltimore officials think that the City Council’s resolution will work against efforts by Mayor Pugh to wheedle funds out of Trump, and believe it was a stupid – one said “boneheaded” – thing to do. I strongly disagree: I want to see more cities like this stand up for character values like ethics, integrity, civil rights, and compassion. (According to the article, San Francisco is the only other city to put out a message like this against ‘Trumpland.’) I agree with this last part of the Sun article:

Veteran Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, of North Baltimore, said the action sets a tone for the new council and sends a signal to residents.
“I am very proud that we are one of the very first city councils in the United States of America to push back and say, ‘Time for respect, again, in America,'” Clarke said. The resolution is “a great way to start off this new term of office in that manner by pushing back, ‘Ain’t gonna do it that way. We’ll do it our way: respect, justice, fairness, balance.'”

And finally: FINALLY, President Obama is ordering an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Of course, while the Washington Post “Breaking News Alert” that I received said “Obama Orders Review of Russian Hacking During Presidential Campaign”, obviously various investigations and studies had been going on for several months.  Just one brief excerpt (but you really should read the entire article, there’s lots more):

“The CIA shared its latest assessment with key senators in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill last week, in which agency officials cited a growing body of intelligence from multiple sources. Agency briefers told the senators it was now “quite clear” that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.”

Although the Obama Administration and several Senators and Congressmen from both parties had some of these reports by “mid-September”, according to the Washington Post article, they had trepidations about announcing it publicly and/or officially ordering an investigation so close to the Election. IMHO, their concerns over the likelihood of being accused of using an investigation as a political ploy on behalf of the Clinton campaign should have been swept aside by the undeniable fact that ANY foreign country, and especially one with whom we have historically had a tenuous and cautious relationship, actively worked to influence the United States Presidential Election. In addition, if they thought that the Trumplanders would have been really pissed off if they brought this out BEFORE the election, didn’t any of them realize how much worse the “deplorables” would react AFTER their Fuhrer won the election? But at least now the Russian elephant in the room is getting official attention, and that’s a good thing, regardless of the timing. This Washington Post article discusses some of the GOP reaction, as well as reaction (more idiotic conspiracy-theory BS) from Trump and his ilk.  Trump can deny it all he wants, but all of the research so far shows that Russia put a ‘YUGE’ thumb on the election scale for Trump

I realize that these little “good news” tidbits are set in the context of the new, horror/sci-fi reality of an upcoming Trump presidency, at least they’re more positive than negative. And right now, that’s all that I find I can hope for.

This is our Open Thread – what’s on your minds?

The Watering Hole; Th/Fr December 8-9 2016; “Make Christmas Great Again;” HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

This is a photo of a billboard designed and displayed by the “American Atheists”:

As a result, Fox Friends Are Outraged Over Atheists ‘Making Christmas Great Again’. Here’s a sample of their “discussion” on the matter:

STEVE DOOCY: One of the country’s largest atheist organizations is using his slogan to target Christmas!

AINSLEY EARHARDT: The organizers claim that their message is not anti-Christian!

BRIAN KILMEADE: I’m scratching my head right now.

DOOCY: Why is it making America great skipping church?

EARHARDT: Why do you care if people go to church and why are you offended if people go to church? Why are you telling people to skip church?

Why do you care if Christians find hope and love and peace when they go to church? Why do you spend all your time worrying about them?

Meanwhile,

The program director for the group American Atheists, Mr. Nick Fish, did his best to explain the billboard pictured above. He seeks to take the religious aspect out of the Christmas holiday and stress the other positives that a non-religious person can appreciate as well. One of the reasons he ascribes to the billboard is the increase in the number of self-professed atheists. Their numbers have grown in the last few years from 15% to 25% of Americans. Fish estimates that 40% of college-aged Americans are irreligious.

Think of it; Mr. Nick Fish is attempting to bring ALL people, even non-Christers, to have them come forward and celebrate the Holiday regardless of their beliefs or their non-beliefs. One might think that, in the spirit of the birth of their ‘savior’ Jesus Christ, that all Christians everywhere would welcome any and all to participate in their Holiday Season, that they might recall their Savior’s admonition to “Love they neighbor as thyself.” Apparently that’s way too tall of an order for American Christers these days; apparently they’d rather stick to hating and fearing non-Christians, and to take offense at any of ‘them’ attempting to ‘celebrate’ their Happy Holidays. Oh, the horror.

Then there’s this:

Corey Lewandowski: ‘You Can Say Merry Christmas’ Cause ‘Trump Is Now The President’

Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager and CNN pundit, jumped on the ‘war on Christmas” nonsense that’s been promoted for over a decade on Fox News and told Sean Hannity, “…which you can say again, ‘Merry Christmas’ because Donald Trump is now the president. You can say it again.”

YeeHaw! Thank all gods for the (s)election of Trump as our next “president”! Now we can say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays, or Happy Chanukah, or Happy Kwanzaa, or Happy Saturnalia, or happy-any-other-blasphemous-day! With Trump as our Führer, we no longer have to fear being imprisoned for saying Merry Christmas! The War on Christmas endete (oops) is over, it’s ended! Thank you Donald!

But always remember this: SANTA IS NOT BLACK, HE’S WHITE!!!

Racists Freak Out Over Black Santa At Mall Of America

Oh how awful. How un-Christer. How un-White Supremacist. How un-Neo-Nazi. Thank god for Trump! He can fix it! Cuz he’s gonna

Make Christmas White Again!

Yeah!

I’ll not hold my breath in anticipation of such nonsense ever being imposed, however. Instead I’ll celebrate the idea, the fact, and the reality that each and every day — holiday or not — belongs to EVERYONE! (Even Republicans. blah). No exceptions!

There remains one thing I’ll never understand, though: why are so many of my fellow Amurkkkans so possessed by fear, by hate, by phobias of every imaginable sort? It makes absolutely no sense, no sense at all. Especially now, during the Holiday Season. Myself, I have NEVER felt that Christmas was a time to express and/or practice hate and fear, and when I see evidences all around, everywhere I look, I really have to wonder if National Sanity has finally fallen off the edge, that it’s gone for good. One thing I do know for certain, however, is that Sanity will NOT return just because Trump is president. The opposite will, much to the delight of wingnuts everywhere (and to the pain of functioning gray matter), prevail.

Meanwhile, to any and all regardless of belief, race, color, nationality, etc. etc. —

Happy Holidays!
Happy Chanukah!
Happy Kwanzaa!
Happy Saturnalia!

Oh, and

Merry Christmas!

******

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, 12/7/16

THE PRINCE

CHAPTER XXIII

HOW FLATTERERS SHOULD BE AVOIDED

I do not wish to leave out an important branch of this subject, for it is a danger from which princes are with difficulty preserved, unless they are very careful and discriminating. It is that of flatterers, of whom courts are full, because men are so self-complacent in their own affairs, and in a way so deceived in them, that they are preserved with difficulty from this pest, and if they wish to defend themselves they run the danger of falling into contempt. Because there is no other way of guarding oneself from flatterers except letting men understand that to tell you the truth does not offend you; but when every one may tell you the truth, respect for you abates.

Therefore a wise prince ought to hold a third course by choosing the wise men in his state, and giving to them only the liberty of speaking the truth to him, and then only of those things of which he inquires, and of none others; but he ought to question them upon everything, and listen to their opinions, and afterwards form his own conclusions. With these councillors, separately and collectively, he ought to carry himself in such a way that each of them should know that, the more freely he shall speak, the more he shall be preferred; outside of these, he should listen to no one, pursue the thing resolved on, and be steadfast in his resolutions. He who does otherwise is either overthrown by flatterers, or is so often changed by varying opinions that he falls into contempt.

I wish on this subject to adduce a modern example. Fra Luca, the man of affairs to Maximilian,[*] the present emperor, speaking of his majesty, said: He consulted with no one, yet never got his own way in anything. This arose because of his following a practice the opposite to the above; for the emperor is a secretive man–he does not communicate his designs to any one, nor does he receive opinions on them. But as in carrying them into effect they become revealed and known, they are at once obstructed by those men whom he has around him, and he, being pliant, is diverted from them. Hence it follows that those things he does one day he undoes the next, and no one ever understands what he wishes or intends to do, and no one can rely on his resolutions.

[*] Maximilian I, born in 1459, died 1519, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. He married, first, Mary, daughter of Charles the Bold; after her death, Bianca Sforza; and thus became involved in Italian politics.

A prince, therefore, ought always to take counsel, but only when he wishes and not when others wish; he ought rather to discourage every one from offering advice unless he asks it; but, however, he ought to be a constant inquirer, and afterwards a patient listener concerning the things of which he inquired; also, on learning that nay one, on any consideration, has not told him the truth, he should let his anger be felt.

And if there are some who think that a prince who conveys an impression of his wisdom is not so through his own ability, but through the good advisers that he has around him, beyond doubt they are deceived, because this is an axiom which never fails: that a prince who is not wise himself will never take good advice, unless by chance he has yielded his affairs entirely to one person who happens to be a very prudent man. In this case indeed he may be well governed, but it would not be for long, because such a governor would in a short time take away his state from him.

But if a prince who is not inexperienced should take counsel from more than one he will never get united counsels, nor will he know how to unite them. Each of the counsellors will think of his own interests, and the prince will not know how to control them or to see through them. And they are not to found otherwise, because men will always prove untrue to you unless they are kept honest by constraint. Therefore it must be inferred that good counsels, whencesoever they come, are born of the wisdom of the prince, and not the wisdom of the prince from good counsels.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, December 5, 2016: Deadly Force Is Not Always Justified

After posting some cryptic messages on his Facebook page on the morning of November 28, 2016, 18-year-old Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a refugee from Somalia, drove his car over a curb at Ohio State University into a crowd of people, then exited the car and began attacking people with a butcher knife. Officer Alan Horujko arrived on the scene within a minute and, as a police spokesman put it later, “eliminated the threat.” That’s cop-speak for “he killed him.” But did he really have to? Was killing Artan the only option available to “eliminate the threat”? You and I weren’t there but, even so, I seriously doubt Officer Horujko had no other option to “eliminate the threat.” And what exactly does “eliminate the threat” mean? Which was the “threat”? Artan himself or the butcher knife he was using on people? If Artan was disarmed of the knife, can one automatically assume he was still going to continue to try to kill people? It’s certainly possible, I agree, but can it be automatically assumed, and therefore used as justification to say that killing him was the only option available? Don’t cops carry several kinds of weapons? Don’t they have batons with which to beat down on someone’s arm to knock a knife out of his hands? Don’t they have tasers? Don’t they have any other options besides guns? And even with the guns, do they always have to shoot to kill? Is it because they’re such bad shots that the only chance they have of hitting a suspect is to aim for the torso? That’s what some argue. Well, they don’t call them bad shots (which many street cops appear to be based on the news reports of how many shots were fired versus how many times the suspect was hit), but they seem concerned that having to shoot at a knee or leg would be too chancy, and might result in a missed shot. They miss anyway, so I don’t understand that argument.

Ross Elder is a military veteran (he served in Operation Enduring Freedom) and freelance writer for Soldier of Fortune Magazine. Thank you for your service to our country, Mr. Elder. He believes that Americans simply do not understand why it is justifiable for police to use deadly force against even unarmed people. As he puts it, “The problem with the public outcry and the rioting in pursuit of “JUSTICE” is that most people know exactly nothing about physical combat and life threatening situations. They assume that if a person is unarmed that deadly force cannot and should not be employed. And they are wrong.” I couldn’t disagree with him more because there are several things wrong with what he said. First of all, we understand that there will be times when deadly force must be used, but they should always be as a last resort, not the first option, which is what appears to be happening with many of these cops killing unarmed black men. Second is his framework. He equates the situation of a police officer confronting an unarmed person (male or female) behaving in a potentially dangerous way with that of a soldier in a war facing an enemy in combat. They are not at all equivalent. The soldier has a duty to kill, distasteful as I find it. The police officer does not. The cop is not a soldier in a war, no matter how often you may hear some describe themselves as such. Their duty is to protect the public from the bad guys.

But that doesn’t mean their job is to find the bad guys and kill them. They’re supposed to stop the bad guys from doing any bad things they’re doing, and then bring them to justice for the bad things they did. By law there’s a process to which everyone is due, and it’s called “due process.” So important is due process that it’s enshrined as a guaranteed right in the US Constitution. That process involves many different people working in many different roles across many different government agencies. There are checks and balances along the way to ensure that the guarantee of due process is not ignored with impunity. And there’s a point early on in the process where the role of the police officer who first encountered the suspect no longer involves protecting the public from him, or even physically handling him in any way. He may testify against him during the trial, where his proper role is to present evidence. But he does not determine if the suspect is guilty of violating the law. And he does not determine what punishment the convicted will face. And he does not carry out that punishment. And even if the charge was “Failure To Obey The Lawful Orders Of A Police Officer,” the punishment would not be execution. Sadly, that has often been the punishment meted out for just such a crime, but without the whole due process thing.

Mr. Elder’s argument goes further astray when he starts equating the situation of a police officer confronting an unarmed person (male or female) behaving in a potentially dangerous way with that a civilian being attacked by a mugger or rapist, or even a killer. Again, the two are not equivalent at all. As a private citizen, you do have the right to defend yourself. And if you have a REASONABLE belief that your life is in danger, you can justify using deadly force. But civilians are not police officers, and do not have to concern themselves with protecting the rights of their attacker during the attack. And, yes, they do have rights. Once there is no longer a threat to your life (a real threat, not just a hypothetical one, or the old standby of the existential threat), there no longer exists a justification for the civilian to use deadly force. He’s not allowed to go after the attacker and kill him. Now some may say that states with so-called Stand Your Ground laws do allow such behavior if you continue to believe your life is in danger. But, again, it has to be a reasonable belief. And that’s part of the problem. People who are frightened, especially when they think their life is in danger, are usually unable to think reasonably.

Though I have no legal training, I don’t understand how a state law can override your federal right to not be deprived of life, liberty or property with out due process of law. It doesn’t matter that we may be talking about a civilian doing the killing and not the government. That’s irrelevant. The power to deprive someone of their life is not the government’s to give away to civilians. You can’t say that enumerated right only applies to police and judges trying to take your life and not to civilians. That’s stupid! It doesn’t say anything about to whom that power is denied, and it certainly would not be the framers’ intent that civilians be allowed to go around killing each other for whatever reasons they wish. So letting a state write a law that specifically allows someone to do that would clearly be unconstitutional. So, no, Stand Your Ground laws must be struck down and the old standard of Duty To Retreat must be reimposed.

Perhaps you’ve seen this meme:

americadoingitwrong

Mr. Elder says this meme “is not only misleading, it’s just plain stupid”. He writes, “First, let’s talk briefly about combat and self-defense.” Well, no, let’s not. A police officer on Main Street, USA, is not a soldier in Afghanistan. But he continues, again, based on the very false idea that what the cop is doing is exactly the same as what the soldier is doing. “When it comes to shooting an attacker, there is no school of training that directs you to take one shot then wait to see the reaction of the person you just shot. Then, if they are still a threat, if you actually hit them, take one more shot and, again, wait to see the reaction of the attacker before repeating this process until the threat is no longer present. If there IS such a school of training out there, please let me know. Then, run screaming from the building because you are being improperly trained by really stupid people.” No, they are not. It’s only stupid if you believe your one and only objective should be to kill the person you’re confronting. But it’s not. The street cop’s job is not to kill. That’s usually left to SWAT teams and Hostage Negotiating Teams. The street cop is there to make sure as many innocent lives are protected as possible while making sure the suspect is not denied his rights under the Constitution. He’s supposed to arrest the perpetrator, not skip the arrest, decide he’s guilty, sentence him to death, and then carry out the execution. All within a minute of arriving on the scene. Or in the case of Tamir Rice, two seconds. What gave those police officers the right to claim a life-threatening danger existed anywhere outside their own minds? And therein lies the crux of the problem. We allow someone’s frightened state of mind to become a justification for using deadly force in a situation where it clearly ought not be warranted. And with Stand Your Ground laws, sometimes the killer only has to tell the cops, “I swear, I thought he was going to kill me,” and the questioning of him as a murderer stops, no arrest is made, and he never has to prove that what he said was true.

I realize the law may be written differently, but it should not be so that merely believing your life is in danger justifies the use of deadly force. What if it’s not? What if it never was in danger? Are you still going to say that the use of deadly force was justified when in reality no actual threat to your life existed? How? To defend it is to say that you imagined a situation that just wasn’t real, and then acted on that false belief to take another person’s life. And you think that should be a valid, legal defense? “I swear, I thought he was an alien from outer space, and I had to kill him before he returned to his natural form and killed us all. It’s okay. We’re all safe now. You’re welcome.” What if he really, truly believed that? And what if, just what if, he was actually right? I know, it’s highly unlikely, but you have to agree it’s not totally impossible, is it? But, no, he probably killed that guy because he’s a murderous asshole who just didn’t like the guy he killed for some other reason having no connection to reality. But why give him some potentially legal excuse at all? Why not make the law say he has a Duty To Retreat, and can use deadly force only when confronted with no other options? Stand Your Ground laws pretty much make deadly force your go-to option, since they allow you to assume the other person is going to kill you if you don’t kill him first. What if, in your twisted little mind, you assume the other guy will kill you because of the color of his skin or the religion you believe he practices? Because there are people out there who will kill another person for those reasons. And it doesn’t matter if they’re made to answer for them or not, because their victims will still be dead.

The average police officer on patrol is not a combat soldier in a wartime situation. Nor is that officer a civilian under assault without the benefit of a police officer nearby to assist. They are trained in self-defense techniques, including unarmed combat. Are they unable to utilize those techniques, or feel they are just not good at them? Then why are they graduating the academy? And because they are not in a combat situation, they can’t think of themselves as soldiers whose goal is to kill. Their job is to subdue the suspect (thus eliminating the threat to public safety), arrest him, and bring him to face the due process of law to which he is entitled. We say that people in America are innocent until proven guilty. It may surprise many Americans to know that’s not how it works even in some of our “friendly” foreign countries. If enough evidence exists to believe you might have done the crime, it’s up to you to prove you didn’t. You should feel lucky we do it the right way here, assuming the right way means not convicting innocent people for crimes they didn’t commit. Assuming, of course, you live long enough to enjoy that due process of law. Your chances of enjoying that due process are better if you’re white. Which is a whole other side to this problem into which I do not wish to go.

[This post originally appeared on Pick Wayne’s Brain on December 4, 2016.]

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss anything you wish.

The Weekend Watering Hole, December 3rd-4th, 2016

As George W. Bush so eloquently stated all those years ago, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

There are countless numbers of people who should have taken to heart even Dubya’s garbled version (perhaps he had been listening to The Who on his way to that day’s event) of the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”, during this past Presidential campaign and election. The vast majority of those people belong in that huge conglomeration known as “The Media”. Subgroups include, but are not limited to: cable and other news channels, their corporate owners and news division heads, “journalists”, “reporters”, newspundits aka talking heads, political strategists, and official spokeswhores for political candidates. I’m not even going to bother going into the internet “media”, that would be like peeling away every layer of the world’s largest onion (and would bring tears to your eyes, too.) Better to focus on the main offenders.

On Thursday, a “postmortem session” was held at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, attended by representatives of several of the above subgroups. Apparently this is a traditional event that’s held following Presidential elections. As described in general in this article in The Washington Post, this year’s event quickly devolved into a “shouting match.”

A lot of lies were told, and false narratives put forward; too many for me to address all at once, so I’ll limit myself for now and add further commentary as the weekend progresses and time allows.

Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri condemned [Steve] Bannon, who previously ran Breitbart, a news site popular with the alt-right, a small movement known for espousing racist views.

“If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I am proud to have lost,” she said. “I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.”

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, fumed: “Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform?”

“You did, Kellyanne. You did,” interjected Palmieri…”

Yes, you did, Kellyanne. Trump’s rants freed the voices and actions of a legion of bigots, including and especially white supremacists. But you and other Trump campaign spokeszombies denied, deflected and disowned reports of rising anti-Muslim anti-immigrant, anti-minorities threats and violence, along with Nazi-related graffiti, etc., often in Trump’s name; you did everything but denounce it in the strongest of terms. Forfuckssake, your candidate actually gained ground when he refused to tone down his violence-condoning rhetoric.

“Do you think you could have just had a decent message for white, working-class voters?” Conway asked. “How about, it’s Hillary Clinton, she doesn’t connect with people? How about, they have nothing in common with her? How about, she doesn’t have an economic message?”

Well, Kellyanne, Secretary Clinton DID have a “decent message for white, working-class voters” – the problem was that Trump’s unsubtle dog-whistle message stripped away the veneer of decency from certain segments of “white, working-class voters.” Maybe if Clinton had couched her economic message and policies in lurid hyperbole instead of measured, factual terms, the “media” would have given her more coverage, and more “white, working-class voters” might have paid attention. Or not. I think that once Trump opened his campaign with his lying anti-Mexican slurs, the inner xenophobe in too many Americans sat up and proclaimed “now, that guy speaks MY language.” (Yes, when your language is ‘limited vocabulary/poor grammar’ Americanese.) Trump’s angry shouting drowned out any more mundane, pragmatic offerings from Hillary Clinton. And “the media” simply ran with the loudest “monster-shouter” (H/T Stephen King’s “The Stand.”)

Trump officials said Clinton’s problems went beyond tactics to her weaknesses as a candidate and the deficits of a message that consisted largely of trying to make Trump unacceptable.

[Clinton campaign manager Robby] Mook posited that the media did not scrutinize Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns as intensively as the issue of Clinton’s private email server.

Conway retorted: “Oh, my God, that question was vomited to me every day on TV.”

First the only weaknesses candidate Clinton had were that she’s center-right (which means dangerously left to the impaired judgment of the right-wing), her name is Hillary Clinton, and she’s a woman. She was not “the most crooked politician ever to run for President”, or anything even close to it. She did not murder anyone, despite all of the “body count” conspiracies. And, despite millions of dollars and thousands of hours of fruitless investigations, she did not cause the deaths in Benghazi. Hillary stayed on message the majority of the time, but how could she NOT point out all of the myriad reasons why Trump made HIMSELF unacceptable? Especially since “the media” wasn’t doing a damn thing to inform voters of those reasons?

Second, yes, Kellyanne, you were asked about Trump’s tax returns every day, because neither you nor Trump ever answered the fucking question. As with so many other important questions, you were the one who was projectile-vomiting nonsensical talking points, redirecting the interview right back to Hillary and her emails, or Benghazi, or whatever the current Clinton faux-scandal was on your agenda.

“Conway accused Clinton’s team of being sore losers. “Guys, I can tell you are angry, but wow,” she said. “Hashtag he’s your president. How’s that? Will you ever accept the election results? Will you tell your protesters that he’s their president, too?”

Well, ‘hashtag’ FUCK YOU, Kellyanne, would Trump have accepted the election results if he had lost? You know the answer to that one, you slimy harpy twat. And fuck every goddamned Republican who dares to demand that we kowtow to Donald Trump and his minions, after every word and deed from the right wing for the last eight years were meant solely to stop duly-elected President Obama from actually acting as the American President. Donald Trump is incapable of giving any dignity or credence to the Office of the President of the United States; IMO, he doesn’t even aspire to do so. “Sad.”

Kellyanne, you’re a paid professional liar, and you sold your shriveled, empty soul to an amoral selfish greedy disgusting excuse for a human being. If there really is a Hell, I’m sure that you’ll eventually end up being the spokeswhore for Satan.

There was so much more that I hope to address eventually. Plus, there’s a more detailed account of the discussions at the Harvard event here.

“The media” seemed to feel that its job was to sit back and let Trump be his deplorable self, almost idly marveling in wonder as to how Trump got away with telling the out-and-out lies that he did. It took until the last month or so before the election for “the media” to, to a small degree, come out of its collective catatonic state and finally challenge some of the lies, but there were too many and it was too late. “The media” owns a yuge chunk of the blame for this election’s horrific outcome. But that’s a topic that also needs more time than I have at this moment. But an important part of that discussion involves both Jeff Zucker and CNN’s endless and usually uncritical coverage of all things Trump, along with the insidious, duplicitious role of Trump campaign advisor/CNN political “pundit” Corey Lewandowski and his current role in the Trump transition.

This is our Weekend Open Thread – discuss whatever you’d like.

The Watering Hole; Th/Fr December 1 and 2, 2016; “Thou, Whoever Art Above . . .”

I’ll admit it. I’m DISGUSTED!

I know I’m not alone in this, but I can say with heavy duty authority that in the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential (s)election, my disgust has peaked at levels I’ve never known before, levels that, until November 9, I would have never guessed attainable, much less even possible. But it happened. Somehow, the most narcissistic, egomaniacal, misogynistic, xenophobic, bigoted, racist, fascistic and ego-driven presidential candidate in American history has been (s)elected (at least via Electoral College terms), and will become POTUS on January 20, 2017.

My initial reaction was to rant (which I did), then attempt to listen to those voices of ‘moderation,’ those voices that try to convince us “radicals” that hey, this is America where the voice of “the people” — not of the tyrant — is heard, is determinative of the nation’s (and the world’s) future. Those voices of moderation are, of course, nonsensical in that they ignore the obvious consequences that invariably occur when the entire government of a nation is turned over to what is, effectively, a far right wing politic, a Fascist majority. And sadly, that is precisely what ‘we the people’ did on November 8, 2016; we “elected” a Fascist president, and left in place right wing majorities in both the Senate and the House along with a vacancy on the Supreme Court which will now be filled by an extreme right wing appointee, thus granting control  of the entire of our federal government to the American Fascist Movement.

That should be the point that causes any salient mind to rant and rave for hours on end about electoral national destruction, but then again, to the “salient” mind, what would be the point? As Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar noted, “The die is cast.” Besides, it does one no good at all to imagine being down in the pit, surrounded only by idiots, white supremacists, Republicans, Fascists  — assuming there’s a difference. There are, after all, other places — peaceful and quiet places, places brimming with ‘salient’ life forms — places that are far better, that inspire rather than denigrate one’s imagination.

Here’s an example: a six line poem by longtime colleague and friend T.R. Nissle, words which he penned some 40 years ago in response to a few photos I managed to ‘snap’ during my frequent and solitary sojourns “out there” on some then relatively undisturbed corners of the Sonoran Desert in southwestern Arizona. Six lines with six photos (the top three ‘inspired’ the poem), together offer a refreshing look at the living world — though not expressly through human eyes.

THE PRAYER OF THE CACTUS

ca-1972-cave-creek-wasjh-praying-saguaro

▲Thou, whoever art above, hear me die –▲

ca-1973-white-tanks-old-sentry

▲Hear my silent, lonely prayer –▲

ca-1975-mcdowells-saguaro-backlit-350pxl

▲For tongueless creatures everywhere;▲

003s▲We neither savage, jest, nor boast of soul –▲

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA▲But flower unmaliciously –▲

2004-january-sunrise-ove-salt-river-valley-022f▲Disjoin us from Humanity.▲

Those six photos are of the Sonoran Desert’s most unique life form, the Giant Saguaro Cactus, in various stages of both life and death. Curiously enough, the Saguaro’s longtime scientific name Cereus giganteus (Britton & Rose) was, in recent years, changed to Carnegiea gigantea in honor of renowned wealthy industrialist-become-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie who, in his last years prior to his death in 1919, donated (as 2015 share of GDP) some $78.6 Billion (approx. 90% of his accumulated wealth) to charities, foundations, and universities. I suppose it could simply be my naivete, but I seriously doubt that any of today’s billionaires will ever wind up with a signature cactus named after them. Trumpissonia gigantea? Probably not.

The bottom line remains: If humans would take a moment and agree to (1) abolish all war, (2) disallow greed,  hate, and irrational fear, (3) abandon their never-ending savage quest for power, and (4) agree to never again boast of soul — but flower unmaliciously, the world would fast become a livable place for all its creatures, big or small. Including even ourselves.

I remain filled with doubt, however; human history has yet to suggest that humans are uniformly capable of being earth-friendly in any context. More than two centuries ago, for example, William Wordsworth  noted that though . . .

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
the earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;–
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

To which I can only add, in MY voice to all of earth’s creatures everywhere:

Disjoin US from “Humanity.”

2005-mar-brittlebush-encelia-farinosa-022s-sharper

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OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, 11/30/16

THE PRINCE

CHAPTER XXII

CONCERNING THE SECRETARIES OF PRINCES

The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.

There were none who knew Messer Antonio da Venafro as the servant of Pandolfo Petrucci, Prince of Siena, who would not consider Pandolfo to be a very clever man in having Venafro for his servant. Because there are three classes of intellects: one which comprehends by itself; another which appreciates what others comprehended; and a third which neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others; the first is the most excellent, the second is good, the third is useless. Therefore, it follows necessarily that, if Pandolfo was not in the first rank, he was in the second, for whenever one has judgment to know good and bad when it is said and done, although he himself may not have the initiative, yet he can recognize the good and the bad in his servant, and the one he can praise and the other correct; thus the servant cannot hope to deceive him, and is kept honest.

But to enable a prince to form an opinion of his servant there is one test which never fails; when you see the servant thinking more of his own interests than of yours, and seeking inwardly his own profit in everything, such a man will never make a good servant, nor will you ever be able to trust him; because he who has the state of another in his hands ought never to think of himself, but always of his prince, and never pay any attention to matters in which the prince is not concerned.

On the other hand, to keep his servant honest the prince ought to study him, honouring him, enriching him, doing him kindnesses, sharing with him the honours and cares; and at the same time let him see that he cannot stand alone, so that many honours may not make him desire more, many riches make him wish for more, and that many cares may make him dread chances. When, therefore, servants, and princes towards servants, are thus disposed, they can trust each other, but when it is otherwise, the end will always be disastrous for either one or the other.

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