The Watering Hole, Monday, May 25, 2015: Memorial Day and Its Disputed Origins

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Under different circumstances, after different choices, it could have been me. It wasn’t, of course, or I wouldn’t be here to write this. And by accident or design, depending on what you wish to believe, I was never in the circumstances, probably as a result of some of my choices, where it ever might have been me. But there have been more than one million three hundred thousand United States service members who died while serving in our nation’s armed forces, more than half of them (counting both sides) in our own civil war. I have never seen the honor of serving my country under combat, so I was never in a situation where I could expect to be killed. I honestly can’t say how I would have behaved in combat, but I’ve always thought of myself as the kind of person who would sacrifice himself to make sure others survived a situation. Maybe we all do, I don’t know. But I do know that because of the sacrifices those million brave people made, I can enjoy the freedom and luxury of being able to sit in my own home writing this blog post, and you can enjoy the freedom and luxury of reading it. Our nation, by and large, doesn’t treat the brave men and women who serve to protect our country (simply by being the biggest bad-asses on the planet) well enough, and we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice even less than we should.

The true origins of the holiday we’ve come to know as Memorial Day are in some dispute, partly because there isn’t general agreement on what is meant by “first,” and also by “holiday.” Many of you reading this blog (because many of you are Liberals like me) know of the first official ceremony to honor the war dead, known then as Decoration Day, and that it was started by African Americans in May 1865 (the month following the Civil War’s end) and is recounted by Snopes here. But as the article indicates, there is no evidence that this ceremony, wonderful as it was, had any influence on the decision by Major General Logan to hold an annual holiday. I wanted to confirm that story before posting it here as the official start of Memorial Day, but I couldn’t find any mention of it on the History Channel website, the PBS website, or even the Department of Veterans Affairs website. I wonder why that is. The Charleston, South Carolina, ceremony was certainly the first observation of Decoration Day, and its purpose was largely similar to that of today’s Memorial Day (though it was restricted to remembering the Civil War dead.) But why it’s not credited with being the first Memorial Day is unknown. Instead, Congress declared that Waterloo, NY, was the site of the first Memorial Day observance (though other places claim the title, too.)

The important thing is not how it began but that it continue. You owe the freedom you still enjoy today to them. Remember them.

Here are some pictures my wife posted last year. Please enjoy a safe and happy holiday celebration. And if you see a veteran among the parade goers today, it wouldn’t hurt to stop and thank them for their service to our country. I promise you that inside it can really help make them feel their sacrifices are worthwhile.

World War I Memorial, Washington, DC

na-WWI-Memorial

World War II Memorials, Washington, DC
ww2memorialDC
ww2 marines-memorialpacific atlantic ww2

Korean War Memorials, Washington, DC
washington-dc-korean-war-veterans-memorialKorean-WarKorean War Memorial in the Snow 04

Vietnam War Memorials, Washington, DC
vietnam-memorial-three-soldiersvietnam-war-nurses-memorialvietnam-veterans-memorial-washington-dc-ilker-goksen

Tomb of the Unknown
an american soldier

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to spend time honoring the fallen close to you, or those who, as President Lincoln put it, gave the last full measure of devotion, or anything else you wish to discuss.

Sunday Roast: The Hubris of the Huckabee

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We knew it was coming, right?  Huckabee sticks up for those poor, poor Duggars.

Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things. The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today’s blood-thirsty media does not understand—that being a minor means that one’s judgement is not mature.

Unless you’re Black or Hispanic…or from a broken home or unwed mother…or have gay parents, OF COURSE.  BTW, “mistakes” happen once or twice, not over and over again, leaving child victims in one’s wake.  A fourteen year old isn’t fully mature, but he should have a basic understanding of what’s right and what’s wrong — especially since the Duggar claim to be on higher ground than the rest of us in that area.

Those who have enjoyed revealing this long ago sins in order to discredit the Duggar family have actually revealed their own insensitive bloodthirst, for there was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims.

Hmmmm, I would argue that revealing that Josh Duggar was (is?) a child molester was not to discredit the Duggar family, but to protect any little girls in his vicinity from being sexually abused.  Frankly, the “fact” that the victims wanted their sexual abuse at the hands of their own brother “left in the past” is suspect, since the parents who failed to protect the girls in the first place were the ones influencing such a decision-making process — AND they allowed the molester to return to the home.

Huck wraps it up with a brand new shovel:

It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness. We have been blessed to receive God’s love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends. In fact, it is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up. Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends. Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support.

Awwwww, Huck didn’t really want to be presidunce anyway, but don’t worry — he’ll keep up his folksy snake oil sales/sham campaign as long as he possibly can.

Huckabee’s self-satisfied assholierthanthou attitude has caught up to him, and his minions are not amused.

Oopsy.  Huck forgot to consider that some of his followers had been in the Duggar girls’ position.  Of course, he’s pretty consistent in forgetting unpleasantness.

Brava, Carisa!!  Critical thinking!  Keep up the good work.  Huck’s going to miss your subscription to “Learn Our History” most of all…

Montel Williams chimed in with this tweet:

And continued on facebook, with a nasty dose of Tony Perkins, as seen on RawStory.

In short, Mike Huckabee thinks he’s a brilliant, intelligent, compassionate Christian, who’s promoting excellent family values and sticking by his friends in hard times, but he’s actually a slimy bigoted skeev, who thinks anyone who DOESN’T believe what he believes is “less than,” and anyone who DOES believe what he believes can molest little girls (including his own sisters) and it’s just a “mistake” awaiting forgiveness from “god,” and we big meanies just need to get over.  He doesn’t give a shit about the harm done to John Duggar’s sisters, and I highly doubt he cares about the Duggar family at all, except for the weird political boost and associated publicity attached to them, and he’s stupid enough to believe we don’t know it (I’m pretty sure the Duggars are completely clueless when it comes to Huck — and everything else, except money).  Even worse, Huck KNOWS most of his followers are stupid enough not to know it, but is too filled with hubris to see past the end of his self-centered, hateful, bigoted agenda.

Buh bye, Mike.  I’d ask that you return to the underside of the rock from which you crawled, but I know the money’s just too good for a “good” “Christian” “man” like you to resist.

This is our very late daily open thread — I’m cranky.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 23rd, 2015: From One to Infinity?

Last night I was doing an extremely necessary cleanup of my emails, and was about to delete some recent ones from our local Republican NYS Assemblyman, when I decided to take a look to see what he was writing about. Here’s one of them:

Cuomo’s Undemocratic Minimum Wage Hike Will Kill Jobs

East Fishkill, NY – (5/7/15) – Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor (R,C,I – East Fishkill) issued a statement today criticizing Governor Cuomo’s decision to unilaterally move to raise the minimum wage for some businesses without legislative approval.

“Dictating new regulations outside the legislative process is a recklessly undemocratic decision by Governor Cuomo,” said Lalor. “We have a process for passing new laws and the governor has chosen to bypass it because he was only able to get part of his job-killing minimum wage through the legislature. It seems he’s taking a page from President Obama’s playbook and simply dictating new laws when he can’t do what he wants through the legislature. Impaneling a wage board gives Cuomo’s action a veneer of unbiased approval, but is there any doubt that the board will simply follow Cuomo’s directions? We know how closely Cuomo has controlled previous ‘independent’ commissions.”

Lalor added, “This isn’t just undemocratic, it’s a job killer. San Francisco’s recent minimum wage hike is pushing small businesses to the brink of closure. [emphasis mine] This will hurt minimum-wage earners when businesses that can’t afford the increase start cutting jobs. Studies have shown entry-level job opportunities decline with minimum wage increases. The governor can’t simply mandate a better economy. Small businesses are struggling with New York’s high taxes and never-ending regulations. New York’s economy is struggling because of those taxes and regulations. The only way for government to increase wages and opportunities is to cut taxes and regulations across the board. We need to open up opportunities for businesses to thrive and create jobs in New York.”

“It’s also inappropriate for the governor to target just one industry,” Lalor added. “Governor Cuomo says he wants to raise fast food wages because fast food CEOs are millionaires. But, many fast food restaurants operate as franchises. They’re small businesses. This isn’t just hitting big corporations, Governor Cuomo, this is hitting small businesses. Cuomo’s dictate is so vague, we don’t even know how far this will go. It’s up to his wage board to decide what jobs will be defined as within the ‘fast food industry’. Pizzeria and deli owners, among other small businesses, don’t know if they’ll be included. They might not even know that this regulation could affect them until it’s already passed, missing the chance to voice their opposition.”

###
Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, a former teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes in Poughkeepsie, is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel…”

I started to search for any information regarding what problems have been caused by San Francisco’s recent minimum-wage raise. The Google brought up several articles referencing “a San Francisco newspaper says that some restaurants and grocery stores in Oakland’s Chinatown have closed…” Okay, that’s Oakland, which, as far as I know, is still a separate city across the bay from SF. And my search for even that one “San Francisco newspaper” story yielded nothing but references to it from right-wing sources, i.e., The American Spectator and World Net Daily. As you can see, Thomas Sowell of The American Spectator has apparently coined (or at least emphasized) a new buzzword for the right, “ruinous compassion” – don’t be surprised if you start hearing that phrase in conjunction with any minimim-wage-raise arguments.

I finally found one article from Yahoo! Finance titled “Minimum Wage Hike Closes San Francisco Bookstore.” Although I had seen other stories from 2011 on about several booksellers such as the Borders chain losing business or closing, none of those seemed to be as a result of minimum wage hikes; it’s been pretty much a given for several years now that any bookseller would be in tough competition with current technology, with which one can access any book one wants with a few clicks. However, even this particular bookstore in San Francisco isn’t exactly going out of business entirely:

“Borderland Books, which specializes in science fiction and horror, says it has withstood a host of challenges since it opened in 1997, including the rise of Amazon.com and e-books, a landlord who supposedly doubled their rent while dotcoms were first booming, and a deep recession that the owners say “hit us very hard.” A higher minimum wage, though, would take the business from being modestly profitable to being a money loser, the owner says. “Although all of us at Borderlands support the concept of a living wage in principal and we believe that it’s possible that the new law will be good for San Francisco — Borderlands Books as it exists is not a financially viable business if subject to that minimum wage.”

But according to the article:

“The blog post went on to say that the Borderlands café business will stay open and should have “no difficulty at all” with the new minimum wage because it will be able to raise prices as needed. The bookselling business is different, the blog post argued, because book prices are set by the publishers and clearly printed on the books.”

So, although the owner wasn’t making much of a profit anyway from selling books, he’s still going to do just fine with the cafe associated with his bookstore. The last paragraph of the article itself links to this survey of economists who are mostly supportive of minimum-wage raises.

Hmm…So why is this one bookstore being used as, it appears, the definitive argument against all minimum-wage hikes, and why does it sound like the Ronald Reagan “Cadillac-driving welfare queen”? And since when does ONE = ALL?

I think I’m going to have to write to Assemblyman Lalor about his research team – if he has one.

This is our (very late) Daily Open Thread–what’s on your mind?

The Watering Hole; Friday May 22 2015; Cool Critters v. Clown Car Creepoids

In these days where political insanity seems to rule the world in which we’re stuck, it’s most enjoyable to head out and commune with critters that have never heard the word ‘Wingnut,’ and most certainly would head for the tall weeds if ever they should happen to encounter one — a concept with which I happen to be totally sympathetic.

Ergo, whenever the opportunity shows itself, I grab at the chance to turn my back on the ‘madding crowd’ and head for a more peaceful surround — assuming the weather cooperates, a rare happenstance so far this year (I could make some sort of snide comment concerning the science of climate change, but won’t because I don’t want to come across as really arrogant).

So here are a couple of critters that share the lake with the local flock of Canadian Geese. First up is what I’m guessing to be a Western Painted Turtle. He likes to hang out on an old bleached beaver-felled log that lies in the shallows very near the shore. He’s a fairly good sized fella, shell about 12″ in diameter, plus or minus one or two. He’s also a very peaceful dude; was sprawled on the same log on both days last week that we spotted him. We watched him for close to a half-hour each day, and he was the most statuesque critter I’ve ever seen — never moved a single muscle.

Beckwith turtle 1197Beckwith turtle 1227In the turtle’s general neighbood we spotted this other fellow as well. S/he is one half of a mating pair of Great Blue Herons which appear to have set up houskeeping at the lake this year. At least they’ve been hanging around for several weeks — time will tell if they choose to settle in. They are, however, very elusive, very secretive, and quite skilled at avoiding people. I got lucky with this one — spotted it standing near the shore a hundred yards or so distant. Fortunately, the camera’s 60X zoom was ready and willing to do its job!

Great Blue Heron 1192In the immortal words of Robert Burns,

“Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!”

That’s a very fair summation of what rolls about in the back of my mind every time I leave “we the people” behind and venture out for a mingle with the Higher Animals. The main downside to the whole process is the inevitable return to “civilization” and all of the noise that keeps it operational. Such as current political news, even little tidbits thereof. I think it was just yesterday morning, for example, when I heard that Rick Perry is going to announce on June 3rd or thereabouts that he’s decided to become the first Presidential candidate in US history to enter the race while under criminal indictment. WOW! He’s also just recently made it clear that nobody will worry about jade helm-type conspiracy theories when HE is president. Double WOW! For some odd reason, those two headlines, along with recollections of his brief candidacy in 2012 B.G. (Before Glasses),  reminded me of an old joke which, if based on genuine fact, would explain a lot of that WOW stuff:

A few decades back, a Texas family – mom, dad, and son – moved to another state. Come fall, mom and dad enrolled their son in first grade in the local school and told him that from the first day onward they wanted to hear all about what school was like, how things were going, etc. Dad said, “Son, always remember one thing: we’re from TEXAS and proud of it! And being from Texas means we got a heads up on everybody else, cause that’s what happens when you’re born in TEXAS!”

Son nodded and smiled. “Yes, daddy, I know. We’re from TEXAS!”

Over supper the night after the boy’s first day in school, dad asked, “So, son, how was school today? What’s it like?”

“It was ok, daddy. We all got told by the teacher where we should sit and I’m in the front row! Then she asked if anybody knew the alphabet and I raised my hand and she called on me, had me go to the blackboard and write it out, and I did! And I got all the letters wrote just right and teacher said I was the only one in first grade that ever knew all the alphabet on the first day! Is that cause we’re from Texas, daddy?”

“Yep, son, that’s cause we’re from TEXAS!”

The next night at supper, daddy asked again how school went. The boy smiled big and said, “It went great, daddy. Today the teacher asked if anybody could count all the way to twenty, and I raised my hand and she had me stand up and do it, and I done it! She was really happy, cause most kids can’t even count to ten and get it right. Is that cause we’re from Texas, daddy?”

“Yep, that’s cause we’re from TEXAS, son.”

On the third night, daddy again asked the boy how school went.

“Well daddy, today we went to the gym and they gave us shorts and a shirt to wear when we learnt how to do exercisins on the gym floor.”

“How’d you do, son?” Daddy asked.

“Oh, I done good. But afterwards we all had to take a shower get cleaned up afore we went back to class, and in the shower I noticed that all them boys had little bitty weenies compared to me.” The son paused, then asked, “Why is that, daddy? Is that cause I’m from Texas?”

Daddy thought a minute, then finally said, “No, son. It’s because you’re seventeen.”

The following year the Perry family moved back to the cotton farm in TEXAS.

Yep, that would pretty much define the Rick Perry with which I’m familiar. And I should add that while I’m definitely NOT a Democrat who has ‘sold my soul’ for immigrant votes (in spite of what one of the potential Clown Car Creepoids proclaims), it remains a FACT that I’d happily vote for either a turtle of a Great Blue Heron — immigrant or native, no worries —before I’d vote for ANYONE in said Clown Car!

Ok, that’s enough for now. The OPEN THREAD  is now . . . ummm . . . open.

The Watering Hole; Thursday May 21 2015; “Difficult standards for people to live up to.”

“Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections,
predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal.
Difficult standards for people to live up to.”

Alfred A. Montapert

About two weeks ago, I posted here a series of ten photos, taken on May 2 and 3, of a Canadian Goose “family” which included three newly hatched goslings, probably out on one of their very first forays into their new world.

3 sibling goslins 1126-cr

Then a week ago and for no apparent reason, those three little guys were nowhere to be seen. I noted here our fears that the “odds against them being somewhere — even in the nest — unsupervised are quite high. Dare we hope? In any case, time will tell if they’re still around or gone for good. We do intend to keep a close eye on the situation and will report back if anything happens to pop up.”

Later that same day, fellow bird-watcher Woody-the-Goose-Guy stopped by late in the afternoon to say he’d spotted the little ones in another corner of the lake. So last weekend when the weather finally cleared up long enough for us to go take a look, we got lucky. There they were!

Here’s the “family” as of May 16, pretty close to exactly two weeks since the goslings first left the nest (note that the newbies have grown a bit in those two weeks — apparently there’s adequate chow available!).

Goose and goslings 1231Goose family 1235Goslings 1237crGeese & gosling 1233Goose family 1245So all is well, at least with what appears to be the ONLY local Canadian Goose family that has managed to reproduce this year, and that’s out of an overall population where potential mating pairs likely number in the hundreds. Also curious, there are only three goslings; usually in years past the number is typically more like six, maybe seven goslings per family. So what’s up with that?

I asked Woody-the-Goose-Guy the same question, and he explained that “they” (Homo sapiens sapiens) who monitor and control the local goose population are sending their people out during spring nesting season with instruction to locate eggs and coat them with vegetable oil. That prevents the embryos from developing (by disallowing the eggs to “breathe”), and when most eggs don’t hatch there are obviously going to be far fewer goslings and, as a result, far less goose crap on the lake’s paved walkway come late summer/early fall — which means far less complaining by people who are offended by goose crap. Problem solved. More or less. Humans are SO clever, aren’t we?

One thing I have to wonder when I ponder these human-inspired “lower” animal birth control agendas is highlighted by this pair of recent ‘headline’ links:

Trent Franks: 20-Week Abortion Ban Will Make Americans Realize Legal Abortion Is Like Slavery

Anti-Choice Leader Admits Rape Exceptions Are ‘Political,’ Goal Is To Outlaw All Abortion ‘From Conception’

So “fundamentally” it’s OK to control birth rates in (and numbers of) every other species of life on the planet, but it’s NOT permissible to allow the same or similar privilege to fellow humans? Why the difference? Just curious.

Stephen Jay Gould once wrote,

“The fundamentalists, by ‘knowing’ the answers before they start examining evolution, and then forcing nature into the straitjacket of their discredited preconceptions, lie outside the domain of science —
or of any honest intellectual inquiry.”

I think I agree.

OPEN THREAD