The Watering Hole, Wednesday, 3/4/15: War of Words

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Yesterday saw Boehner playing presidential vis-a-vis Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, at Boehner’s invitation. You see, the Constitution, ya know, that document that conservatives love to waive around when it comes to original intent and proving we’re a Christian Nation, says that the President has the power to make treaties, not the Speaker of the House.

The Executive Branch, not Congress, takes the lead on foreign relations. Netanyahu just gave the Jewish stamp of approval to Congress going behind the President’s back. The phrase “be careful of what you wish for” comes to mind.

For Article Two of the Constitution also gives the President the power to convene both Houses of Congress, or either of them. It’s high time the President exercised his power to keep Congress in session until they pass legislation to help we, the people, instead of catering to the wishes of the 1%. It’s time for Congress to give up its spring breaks, holidays, vacations and campaign season until we have full employment, tuition-free college, universal health care, equal pay for women, marriage equality, etc., etc., etc.

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The Watering Hole, Tuesday March 3, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics

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Last week’s post was such a downer. Let’s look for some good environmental news.

Three good stories:

1. There are more tigers in Nepal.

2.There are more pandas in China.

3. Norwegian Pension funds divest of unsustainable entities (mining, deforestation, etc…).

 

Think clean and beautiful.

 

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 2, 2015: How The Right Gets Net Neutrality Wrong

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This past Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to change the way the nation’s internet service providers are regulated. After their proposed regulation, Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet, is published on the federal register in a few weeks, it will take effect sixty days later. This has some prominent right wing luminaries upset, even though it’s apparent they have absolutely no understanding of what net neutrality is. All it means is that all internet content must be treated equally by the internet service providers (ISPs). Comcast can’t slow down your Netflix streaming video just because they would prefer you use their subsidiary company’s product, Hulu. The ISPs aren’t happy, but you should be overjoyed. Don’t listen to these people.

People like Pat Robertson. Like many Conservatives, Robertson calls the new FCC regulations a “takeover” of the internet, and he adds that this is all part of a socialist agenda to take control of everything. As with most things Pat Robertson says, nothing could be further from the truth. The government is not taking over the internet which it created (and which Al Gore helped bring into the civilian world.) The government is simply making sure no private corporation can take over the internet and deprive you of content that might come from a competitor, or charge you extra to get higher speed internet for some content, and slower speeds for content like the blog you’re reading right now.

Robertson says the government wants to regulate the internet using a law written in 1934. That is false. They are using a law written in 1996 which updated the law written in 1934. He’s also wrong about the PP/ACA being a takeover of the healthcare industry. Conservatives frequently mischaracterize things in order to scare you into thinking something is happening which isn’t. And the goal of the fear mongering is the fear itself. People who are afraid often make bad decisions, and one of those bad decisions is voting for Conservatives.

Don’t listen to people like Rush Limbaugh, either. Limbaugh also thinks the government is trying to take over the internet it once created, but for a completely different reason. He thinks the government wants to ban bullets. I know it just flows so logically. You see, Rush is afraid of ISIS, and he’s afraid because they’re recruiting from all over the United States and Rush says “the government must have control of the Internet if we are to be safe.” (Projection.) Rush thinks the government is going to resort to extraordinary measures to fight ISIS, and that will include the banning of bullets. Except the government is not trying to ban bullets, they are trying to regulate armor-piercing bullets. And they won’t ban the ones that are “primarily” used for sporting purposes, so if a bunch of sovereign citizens decide today is the day the government is coming for their guns, they’ll still be able to shoot them with armor-piercing bullets.

And don’t listen to people like Ted Cruz, either. (It could result in brain damage. For you, not Ted. He’s already gone.) Somehow, Ted has it in his tiny little mind that regulating the internet will deprive you of your freedom.

“We do that fundamentally by standing with the people and not with Washington.”

For all their talk about Freedom, Conservatives still do not understand the concept that our federal government IS “We the People.” Then again, they never liked that from the beginning. It was Conservatives, those heavy on the “States’ Rights” idea (even though the Articles of Confederation proved the concept unworkable), who objected to the first three words of the Constitution. They felt it should have read “We the States.” And they haven’t given up that fight since.

“Washington wants Obamacare. The people want liberty.”

Here, and in the subsequent sentences, Cruz is using the term “The people” to refer only to Conservative Americans, and “Washington” to refer to everyone else. Conservatives do not view non-Conservatives as being “true Americans.” In fact, they see us as the Enemy, much as they did in 1776 when Liberals decided they wanted to explore the freedom of not being British citizens. Conservatives wrongly believe the individual mandate is both unprecedented and unconstitutional. (This despite the fact that President John Adams wrote a law requiring all mariners to buy health insurance, and despite the fact that SCOTUS ruled the law constitutional.) They don’t like it precisely because it does bring us incrementally closer to having Single Payer which, in their minds, equates to a total loss of freedom for everyone. Completely untrue, of course. It would only deny corporations the right to cheat you out of your life savings. But since corporations are not really poeple, that shouldn’t matter.

“Washington wants amnesty. The people want rule of law.”

This is a reference to the president’s immigration policy, announced in the wake of House Republicans refusing to do anything (like pass the bill the Senate did.) It’s not an amnesty program, like the one announced under President Reagan, no matter how many times they say it is. And even if it was, it wouldn’t be unconstitutional because the president has the constitutional authority to grant amnesty. And it’s not illegal, which they’ll learn when the SCOTUS upholds it. They just hate seeing anyone get help from the government. They don’t believe government exists to serve the people of which it’s comprised.

“Washington wants power over the internet. The people want freedom online.”

Conservatives have a hard time believing that anyone in government would want to do something that protects people from unscrupulous corporations. That’s because they believe the purpose of government is to protect unscrupulous corporations from the people. They want ISPs to be able to set up a multi-tier system of various speed options. They want it to be possible for ISPs to block content that competes with their own. The only possible way one could interpret net neutrality as taking away your freedoms is if you think corporations are people with the same rights as people. But to believe that, you would have to believe that corporations should have the right to terminate the existence of a subsidiary corporation still in the process of being created without government interference. IOW, to have an abortion.

This our daily open thread. Thanks to Obama’s FCC, you’ll still have access to this blog at the same speed as the big name corporations get. Use it wisely, and talk about anything you want.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 28th, 2015: Geek Grins & Groaners

A friend ‘from at work’, as we say in our families, provided the topic for today’s thread – which was particularly nice and thoughtful of her, as she was home recovering from surgery. As she put it, “Thought you might find these entertaining. Or I just found them funnier then normal because they gave me the good drugs!”

So today we present: GEEK JOKES, or, more properly titled, “26 Jokes That Only Intellectuals Will Get.” Here’s a couple of my favorites:

HOW MANY SURREALISTS DOES IT TAKE TO SCREW IN A LIGHT BULB?   A FISH.

and,

SODIUM, SODIUM, SODIUM, SODIUM, SODIUM, SODIUM, SODIUM, SODIUM, BATMAN!

or how about,

WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN YOU PUT ROOT BEER IN A SQUARE GLASS?   BEER.

Okay, so they’re mostly groaners, but I found them amusing. Enjoy!

This is our daily Open Thread. Go ahead and grin, groan, grimace, gripe, or, sadly, grieve.

Rest In Peace, Leonard Nimoy. Now that your soul has “slipped the surly bonds of Earth”, may it travel among the stars and galaxies unencumbered, your immortality ensured.

The Watering Hole; Friday February 27 2015; “Conservascism”

Back in September of 2007 John W. Dean posted a FindLaw.com article entitled Why Authoritarians Now Control the Republican Party: The Rise of Authoritarian Conservatism, Part Two in a Three-Part Series. In it, he wrote,

“. . . I prepared a list of the additional traits that [people] . . . who test high as right-wing authoritarians often evidence: highly religious, moderate to little education, trust untrustworthy authorities, prejudiced (particularly against homosexuals, women, and followers of religions other than their own), mean-spirited, narrow-minded, intolerant, bullying, zealous, dogmatic, uncritical toward their chosen authority, hypocritical, inconsistent and contradictory, prone to panic easily, highly self-righteous, moralistic, strict disciplinarian, severely punitive, demands loyalty and returns it, little self-awareness, usually politically and economically conservative/Republican.”

That same month, Jonathan Chait, in a New Republic article entitled “How economic crackpots devoured American politics; Feast of the Wingnuts” (sorry, the link I have is no longer valid) noted that,

“American politics has been hijacked by a tiny coterie of right-wing economic extremists, some of them ideological zealots, others merely greedy, a few of them possibly insane. The scope of their triumph is breathtaking. Over the course of the last three decades, they have moved from the right-wing fringe to the commanding heights of the national agenda. Notions that would have been laughed at a generation ago — that cutting taxes for the very rich is the best response to any and every economic circumstance or that it is perfectly appropriate to turn the most rapacious and self-interested elements of the business lobby into essentially an arm of the federal government — are now so pervasive, they barely attract any notice. The result has been a slow- motion disaster … Government is no smaller — it is simply more debt-ridden and more beholden to wealthy elites.”

Ah yes, government is “more beholden to wealthy elites.” September 2007 was almost eight years ago and yet both Dean’s and Chait’s descriptions are as precise and as accurate today as they were the day they were written. And today, the ‘conservatives’ have since retaken the majority in both congressional houses and are preparing each and every day to lay claim to 2016’s presidential election as well — with a list of candidates that each and all fulfill that “more beholden to wealthy elites” requirement more effectively than at any point in this country’s history.

Question of the day/week/month/year/decade is a simple one: WHY is this former democratic republic so absolutely willing to sacrifice each and every quality it was born with and instead WILLINGLY turn itself over to the billionaires, the corporate goliaths, and the bigoted fascist power-mongers?

Today, the Republican party’s principle agendas are (1) to authorize the Keystone XL Pipeline in spite of Obama’s veto; (2) to overturn Obama’s Executive Orders on immigration; (3) to overturn the FCC’s Net Neutrality decision. Why? Because they’re CONSERVASCISTS (read: Conservatives-fascists) and their owners demand it.

I have only two questions remaining: Whereto from here, America? -and- Do you still exist, and if so, why?

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The Watering Hole; Thursday February 26 2015; Weird Week Weather-Wise

It’s been a weird week, weather-wise, both in Colorado and across much of the country. Here at the foot of the Rockies, we literally went from temps in the 70s and 80s — and a completely thawed lake — to heavy snow and temps near zero, then back into bright sunshine and warming days, then back to more cold and more heavy snow.

Following are six photographs that pretty much summarize the weird weather’s week. It begins on Thursday the 19th — a bright sunny and warm day at the local lake with a scene that definitely doesn’t look like mid-winter. It’s a lake view on an incredibly still afternoon. The water was glassy smooth and after looking at the photo, I thought the reflections of the bare and leafless trees looked better when the scene was inverted — a touch of Monet, maybe? Oh, and that white stuff at the waterline is the remnant of the snow that fell a couple of weeks earlier.

Beckwith reflections 899The next day, Friday the 20th, not too much changed. It was cooler, and by afternoon the wind had picked up. Something was definitely in the air, though, and the weather forecast was looking pretty grim — this time they got it right. The following five shots show the progression of the storm; in order to avoid freezing my delicate shutter finger, each and all were taken through my front window.

First, Saturday morning, the gathering storm as it wrapped its arms around Mt. St, Charles, a 12.000 ft peak in the Front Range, the Wet Mountains.

Mt St Charles 904The snow started falling Saturday afternoon and was still coming down on Sunday morning, with close to a foot on the ground by 8AM. In the photo below, note the two almost buried cars, parked on what was once a passable road.

Snowy day 909Monday morning, the sun was out, the sky was blue, and the snow was covering everything in sight, trees included. The Front Range was still shrouded in an ice fog, however, and remained that way the entire day.

Snow scene 917Tuesday morning, the fog had dissipated and the sky over the mountains was crystal clear, and COLD!

Roundtop & St Charles 926The sun was still shining on Wednesday until around noon when the next weather front started coming over the front range. Dark clouds hailed the front’s arrival over Mt. St. Charles.

Mt St Charles 929Within the hour the Front Range was completely immersed in low clouds and fog, and by mid-afternoon the snow started to fall here. By seven PM Wednesday night, several inches had already fallen and the wind was blowing it all over the place; visibility was down to a few feet at best.

The bad part of the story is that, according to the National Weather Service, it’s likely to be Monday-next before things calm down again. So here’s some advice to everyone living east of the Rockies: don’t put your snow shovels away just yet!

I guess Emily Dickinson sort of summed it all up some 160 years ago when she wrote this little gem:

The Sky is low — the Clouds are mean.
A Travelling Flake of Snow
Across a Barn or through a Rut
Debates if it will go –

A Narrow Wind complains all Day
How some one treated him
Nature, like Us is sometimes caught
Without her Diadem.

Sure am glad all that climate change bunkum is nothing but a giant hoax. I mean hey, if it was for real, then various corners of the country might be getting some really goofy weather now and again!

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