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.

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The Watering Hole. Hump Day. 5-30-12. Giving up.

Why don’t you just give up. You know you’re gonna lose.

The bad guys win for most of the movie. Yeah, in the end, the good guys prevail, but look at the relative portions of joy v. angst. The last few seconds v. 2 hours? And how many good guys die in the process.

Thus is the weighing of good v. evil in our story telling. It has been so for thousands of years. We miss the lesson, that good prevails, and, instead, learn that bad guys have the most fun.

Sociologists have noted that attractive girls are drawn towards the baddest boys. Think cheerleaders & football players in high school/college. The “nerds” are left on the sidelines, in the band. It’s in the genes.

Bottom line is – good will win out – eventually. Meanwhile bad enjoys a hell of an opulent life style. The sad thing is, this has played out since, at least, the time of the Pharoahs.

99% serve, and die, for 1%.

Oh… and Romney clinches the Repuklican Abnomination with his “win” in Texas.


The Watering Hole: Tuesday May 29 – Learning.The Hard Way.

Diane Tran.

She is too young to vote.
She is too young to drink alcohol.

She’s old enough to work her butt off to support her siblings and old enough to be thrown in jail if she misses school, because of that.

So please tell me. What is the difference between a third world country and Texas again? Well, she may not have faced jail, there they wouldn’t bother.

I am not glorifying her as a hero. She is a strong kid, but I want to stress the cruelty of a society that doesn’t provide for her and her siblings, so they can finish school. Just imagine, what she could achieve if she was allowed to put all this energy and strength she shows into her own education.

And don’t get me started on her parents.

This is our Open Thread. Check in!

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 28th, 2012: Memorial Day

When I was younger, and my parents and relatives got together, they would often refer to various brothers, uncles, cousins, friends and neighbors who were “lost in The War.” “The War”, of course, meant World War II. Back then, most of the names mentioned in those conversations had little meaning to me: I had never met them; they had died before I was born; and, while I had heard of “World War II”, I had no inkling of its scale, its horrors, or its impact on the world, the country, and on my family.

Dad (Stephen R. Sechny) in uniform

My dad served in the Navy during The War, but he never served overseas. I don’t know (he never said) why this was so; his role in The War was as secretary/chauffeur/aide to the bigwigs stateside. I am ashamed to say that none of us kids never really asked, as dad tended to tell long, drawn-out stories, drifting off onto tangents so often that we usually lost interest or lost track at some point.

Speaking of going off on tangents, yesterday’s “UP with Chris Hayes” had several segments that should be revisited today. Unfortunately, I could not figure out how to embed the videos, so here’s the link. I highly recommend watching the first three segments.

This is our daily open thread — share your thoughts on today’s topic, or discuss what you want to.

The Watering Hole – Saturday May 26th – We Don’t Need Grover Norquist

One of the most powerful people in this country isn’t an elected official, has never been an elected official, and will never be an elected official. It shouldn’t be surprising that he’s never been a public servant because he knows nothing about what’s in the best interest of the People, and only operates to serve himself and his rich friends. His one claim to fame is based on an idea that he had when he was twelve years old. His name is Grover Norquist and if you haven’t heard of him by now, well, you haven’t been to our blog before, that’s for sure.

In addition to a pledge he requires Republicans to sign promising not to raise tax rates, and not to close tax loopholes without a matching reduction in spending, Norquist has a fairly simplistic idea of what he’s looking for in a candidate for President of the United States.

All we have to do is replace Obama. … We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. … We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate.

. As David Frum put it, “His requirement for president?

Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.

Now, Norquist is always quick to point out that his pledge isn’t to him, personally, but to the American people. The thing is, he’s the only one trying to enforce it. We never asked Norquist to make candidates sign a pledge conceived by a twelve-year-old. Norquist appointed himself head of Americans for Tax Reform; he wasn’t elected to the position. And yet it’s because of him that our country faced a debt crisis for so long that it resulted in our nation’s credit-rating being downgraded.

We don’t need people like Grover Norquist in this country. We need people who don’t think like twelve-years-olds.

And here’s a tweet I sent him last night. His figures are, as usual, wrong.

Later, when someone tweeted that the pledge was losing its power in Washington, Grover tried to say that his pledge was gaining strength. If you actually read the article (the link in the tweet works), you’ll find that HE was the one saying that the pledge is strengthening.

I love getting snarky with Grover. Especially when he fights back. I wish he would again. He did before, and if he responds to me, I’ll add his reply to this post.

This is our daily open thread — feel free to discuss this topic, or whatever’s on your mind!

The Watering Hole: May 25 — Toile

Photo by Zooey

One of the fabrics I’m always drawn to is toile, or more exactly Toile de Jouy, which translates to “cloth from Jouy-en-Josas“, which is a town of north-central France.  Toile’s simple color scheme — usually a red, black, or blue on cream — is easy to look at, and the longer you look at the various pastoral scenes, the more you see.

Toile de Jouy, sometimes abbreviated to simply “toile”, is a type of decorating pattern consisting of a usually white or off-white background on which a repeated pattern depicting a fairly complex scene, generally of a pastoral theme such as a couple having a picnic by a lake or an arrangement of flowers.

The peaceful scenes in the bag pictured above feature families going to market, planting a garden, washing clothes in a stream, and fishing.  Very nice.  I’m looking forward to working with this lovely fabric again.

This is our daily open thread — Happy Friday!!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, May 24th, 2012: Aaarrrgghhh!

The Orchard Scream

– “The Scream”, Orchard Style

(original photo by Jane E. Schneider; reproduction of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” man by Brian Pendley)

Up is down.
Black is white.
Lies are gospel truth.
Video and audio recordings do not exist.
Greed is a virtue.
Jesus Christ said hate your neighbor, steal from the poor, starve the hungry, and only the rich and intolerant will get into heaven.
Avoiding taxes is patriotic.
Dick Cheney “is a man of wisdom and judgment.”
Corporations are people.
Gays and women are NOT people.

Am I the only one who feels like they’re screaming silently in a nightmarish, surreal landscape?

This is our daily open thread — feel free to scream if you want to!

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, May 23, 2012: Ha’e ye had yer Haggis today?

Harriet Michaels: Do you actually like haggis?
Charlie Mackenzie: No, I think it’s repellent in every way. In fact, I think most Scottish cuisine is based on a dare.

So, what was it like, way back then, when the first haggis was served?

“Hey there, McPhearson, I dare ye ta eat this?”

“What is it, Scotty”

“It’s Haggis! I made it myself!”

“What’s in it?”

“Oh…left overs.”

“Leftover what?”

“Ev’ry thing what’s left over after th’ lassies take the edible parts out.”

“Like what?”

“Like…lungs and kidneys and heart and liver.”

“That’s disgustin’. Ya expect me ta eat that?”

“It gets better….I chopped all that stuff up and mixed it with blood and oatmeal.”

“That’s better?”

“Then I stuffed it all in a sheeps stomach and boiled it.”

“Oh…well, in that case, here goes!”


“Now that I’ve had yer Haggis, I dare ye to drink this.”

“What’s that?”

“Ya know that barley and hopps and stuff we piled up last fall over in the peat bog?”


“Well, I saw this fluid oozin from th’ bottom o’ the pile.”


“And I boiled it in a big pot.”

“Oh, well then…”

“That’s not all.”

“Then what?”

“I put a lid on the pot and attached this looooong tube…ta’ catch the steam and let it cool down to a liquid again.”

“An’ ye want me ta drink that?”


“Hey, this is good!”

“It sure kills the taste o’ th’ Haggis!”

“Oooh, my head. It feels like someone’s poundin’ on it with golf clubs…and I gotta take a whizz. Gimme th’ key ta th’ outhouse!”

“Hey, that’s what I’ll call it…Whiz-ky!”


An’ now we return to th’ present, an’ a Scotsman visits the U.S.of A….

I git to this grrreat country o’ yers, an’ th’ first thin’ I see is a Scottish restaruant…How great kin that be? So I go in therre, and I orders me some Haggis. An’ they say they dinna know what Haggis is. An, I looked, all over they’re menu….they dinna ha’e any Haggis. An’ I said, ‘What th’ fok…an’ yeu call yerselves a McDonalds?

They asked me ta step aside.  Thennnn, I realized th’ craftiness o’ the place. Th’ man standin’ behind me I recognized as none other than yer famous singer, Glen Campbell. Now, ta’ unnerstan’ this, ye need ta look up th’ history o’ the Campbells and th’ McDonnalds. But once ya do, this is priceless….Campbell orders hisself a McRib! Ya, right, like he’s gonna git any “ribs” in that! Th’ jokes on him!

Now, yeu ‘Merikans all turn up yer noses at “Haggis”, but ye’ve ne’er tried it. But you’ll eat “hot dogs”. Ye e’er look up what goes into “hot dogs”? lips..snout…cheeks…eyelids…scrotum…  Think about that when you go do Der Wienersnitzel an’ order yer next “weiner”.

At least yer President was honest – he ate real hot dogs. I dinno if he’s had Haggis, though. His loss if he hasn’t.

An’ fer the rest o’ ye. Git real. Ya eat hamburgers made wid “pink slime” fer Gawds sake. Th’ least ye could do is give Haggis a shot.

An’ remember th’ whisky…we invented it because it kills th’ taste o’ th’ Haggis!



The Watering Hole, Monday, May 21st, 2012: DoD Noise Machine?

PROPAGANDA:prop·a·gan·da: [prop-uh-gan-duh]
1. publicity to promote something: information put out by an organization or government to promote a policy, idea, or cause
2. misleading publicity: deceptive or distorted information that is systematically spread

(Synonyms: slanted, distorted, one-sided, polemical, partisan, extremist, manipulative)

While perusing the recent threads at ThinkProgress, I came across this brief piece with the disturbing headline: “Congressmen seek to ‘legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences.”

The piece referenced an article from BuzzFeed, part of which states:

“In a little noticed press release earlier in the week — buried beneath the other high-profile issues in the $642 billion defense bill, including indefinite detention and a prohibition on gay marriage at military installations — Thornberry warned that in the Internet age, the current law “ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way.”

[Note: While every article that I found on this issue used the phrase, “…in a little-noticed press release…”, not one article linked to the press release itself; so, here is the press release from co-sponsor Rep. Mac Thornberry’s (R-Texas) website.]

The text of the bill, H.R. 5736, (an amendment to the NDAA) co-sponsord by Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), can be found here. I confess to be somewhat confused about the conflicting wording in Section 208, “CLARIFICATION ON DOMESTIC DISTRIBUTION OF PROGRAM MATERIAL.”

`(a) In General- No funds authorized to be appropriated to the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors shall be used to influence public opinion in the United States. This section shall apply only to programs carried out pursuant to the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (22 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.), the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (22 U.S.C. 6201 et seq.), the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act (22 U.S.C. 1465 et seq.), and the Television Broadcasting to Cuba Act (22 U.S.C. 1465aa et seq.). This section shall not prohibit or delay the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors from providing information about its operations, policies, programs, or program material, or making such available, to the media, public, or Congress, in accordance with other applicable law.

`(b) Rule of Construction- Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors from engaging in any medium or form of communication, either directly or indirectly, because a United States domestic audience is or may be thereby exposed to program material, or based on a presumption of such exposure…”

According to a Daily Kos piece,

““It removes the protection for Americans,” says a Pentagon official who is concerned about the law. “It removes oversight from the people who want to put out this information. There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false.”

Another article that I came across during my search mentions:

“The Pentagon spends some $4 billion a year to sway public opinion already, and it was recently revealed by USA Today the DoD spent $202 million on information operations in Iraq and Afghanistan last year.”

[Makes ya wonder where the rest of the $350+ billion is spent “to sway public opinion.”]

Mediaite, Dan Abrams’ website, has an article about this as well, along with a related article which states:

“United States Central Command (Centcom) is working with a California-based company, called Ntrepid, to produce new software that would help military service people create fake online accounts (known as “sock puppets”) with the intent of spreading pro-America propaganda (or, alternately, quash anti-American sentiment) across various online comment threads, such those found on blogs or message boards. The military has said that the accounts won’t publish comments for American audiences (as that would be illegal) or even in English, but, rather, in Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto. The accounts would also steer clear of U.S.-based social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.”

[Oh, goody, they’re creating more sockpuppets and trolls?

It already bothers me that our country has been using propaganda overseas for, well, forever; it already bothers me that taxpayer money pays for such bullshit. But taxpayers having to pay to be lied to by our own military? I realize that this occurs already, with so many TV commercials encouraging young men and women to join the armed services, but this amendment appears to want to broaden those efforts to a scope closer to indoctrination than simple recruitment.

We were already lied to far too many times by the Bush administration in order to fulfill Dubya’s wet dream of invading Iraq. We already hear enough lies from politicians, corporations and other interest groups; whether through various news outlets, media commercial advertising, or opinionated pundits. It is hard enough now to sort through and fight all of the lies, both of commission and omission, that permeate our ‘news’ media. With so few real investigative journalists of integrity out there, how much of the truth will still be able to get through to citizens and voters?

This is our daily open thread — feel free to discuss this topic, or whatever’s on your mind!

Sunday Roast: Public vs Private Morality

I love the way Robert Reich explains things — words and pictures really work!

Get this, people:  Who we love, sleep with, or want to marry is our PRIVATE BUSINESS.  As in, stay out of other people’s business unless you want us in your business.  Ya know, the “golden rule?”

What people do in public, like looting the country, plunging the country into a depression, trashing teachers, lying about the motivations of the President, lying in general, destroying the social safety net, and gutting the education system is EVERYONE’S BUSINESS.

Read carefully:  The morality that really matters is PUBLIC MORALITY.  Understand?

Listen up, you so-called Conservatives aka Whacked-out Fucking Nutters:  I don’t give a shit what you do in your private life, so long as it doesn’t involve minors, abuse, or innocent animals — you know, stuff that’s against the law — and anything that goes on in my private life is — again — none of your business.  Guess what?  Whether or not a woman takes birth control or needs/wants an abortion, is PRIVATE.  So unless you want us to unleash the Viagra police, you better just can it.  Please do all of us a favor, and mind your own fucking business — and I do mean fucking business.  I used to be a legal secretary, so I know what you weirdos have on your computers.  You might think you’re fooling people, but you ain’t fooling your wives!

I am SO done with this bullshit.

This is our daily open thread —
Tie a knot in the end of the rope and hang on.

The Watering Hole: Saturday, May 19, 2012 Armed Forces Day

Today is Armed Forces Day, a day when we honor those who serve our country in uniform.

President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country.

On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days.
The single day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense.

We are all one, big happy service.

But in addition to thanking our active duty service members for their sacrifices to our country (as well as the sacrifices of their families), I would like to ask people to remember the costs of going to war, and not just in terms of dollars and cents, but in lives lost. And I’m not talking about those lost in combat, of which there have already been far too many, but those who came back from war and found civilian life too unbearable. It is estimated by the Veterans Administration that about 18 vets commit suicide each day!. The VA has a Veterans Crisis Line and they do work hard to help returning veterans who find life difficult. If any of you know a veteran struggling to cope, please tell them about the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 Press 1). They risked their lives for us; let’s do all we can for them. Thank you.

This is our daily open thread —
If you see any active duty service members today, please thank them for their service.

I fought the law and (you know what happens next…)

The folk tradition is filled with social deviancy, mostly in the form of ‘he killed her, but he didn’t get away with it’. In our more current tamer times, she runs with the wild one until the law catches up with him. Here’s two modern folk tales, the first being what I think is the best interpretation of The Road Goes on Forever with Joe Ely performing the Robert Earl Keen tune.

The second is by the master himself.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, May 17th, 2012: The Republican War on Women, Part GGPLX**

**GGPLX = Googolplex

Sad to say, I wasted way too much time yesterday arguing with idiots (see below) on the ThinkProgress thread about Kansas Governor Brownback signing legislation allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription for a medication which, in the pharmacist’s view, could result in an abortion.

An article in the Kansas City Star quotes the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Lance Kinzer, as stating, “…the right to an abortion does not include within it the right to require someone else to participate in or facilitate your abortion.” [So, is a woman supposed to perform the abortion herself? In Mississippi, apparently one State Representative, Bubba Carpenter (R-Idiot) thinks so.] The KC Star article goes on to say that “Kinzer has also said that the bill is intended to cover the abortion drug RU-486, not contraceptive medications — although he would be OK if conscience protections extended that far.” [Yeah, I’ll bet he’d be more than okay with that!]

Luckily, not all Republicans are against women’s reproductive health. GOPChoice, a pro-choice Republican group, says on its website,

“this bill exists under the assumption that a doctor’s prescription may jeopardize a pregnancy, and a pharmacist is better equipped to determine whether or not an individual can safely take said medication…The bill also raises the question, “How does the pharmacist know the individual is pregnant?” Either the pharmacist must have access to private medical information, or receives the legal allowance to make medical assumptions based on appearance.”

– and –

“The radical conscience clause measure states that health professionals cannot be forced to supply any prescription or device they, “reasonably believes may result in the termination of a pregnancy.””

To me, the key phrase here is “reasonably believes.” Just how reasonable is someone who is allowed to let his or her religious beliefs override medical training and scientific fact?

And now, just a brief selection of the commentary at TP:

Vincent: “Pharmacists have the right to refuse to fill ANY prescription. They have to exercise professional judgment on a case by case basis. Patients abuse, doctors prescribe incorrectly or frivolously, some patients fill the Rx and turn around and sell it on the black market. Just because most pharmacists work where you buy shampoo and toilet paper doesn’t make them less of a health care professional. The government getting involved on either side, whether requiring pharmacists to fill or allowing them to refuse, is intrusive.”

My response: “Vincent, there’s a big difference between a pharmacist refusing to fill a prescription because the doctor prescribed incorrectly, and a pharmacist refusing to fill a prescription because he/she feels that filling it is against their personal beliefs. And I have to point out, this ‘conscience clause’ SOLELY applies to a medication that ONLY WOMEN need.”

Greg: “There are several types of birth control , and they will not be outlawed! Chill!”

My response: “First, the birth control pill is not (yet) being outlawed, but its dispensation is being left to the moral whims of your local pharmacist. If access to birth control of any type is up to one’s pharmacist, why aren’t condoms behind the pharmacy counter, where one’s pharmacist can determine who gets to buy them? And, since the birth control pill is often prescribed for other women’s health problems, not just for birth control, why should it be up to the pharmacist, rather than the DOCTOR, to decide whether or not to dispense the prescription?”

Greg: “It will never be outlawed. (the pill) But a drug that serves as an abortion pill or could be used as such could be. Right now it is not , but the pharmacist is given the choice whether or not to provide it, which means some WILL and some will not. So quit trying to project your insane radical belief that if everyone doesn’t share your morals or values they are trying to harm YOU in some way. GEEZ!!”

My response: “Greg, I am way beyond the point where I need birth control, so this issue does not harm me in any way. So quit trying to project your insane belief that I think they’re trying to harm ME in some way. And what is so insanely radical about believing that, if my doctor prescribes the birth control pill for, say treatment of ovarian cyst (one of the pill’s uses), a pharmacist shouldn’t have the right to refuse to fill that prescription?”

And I loved this one, but simply couldn’t respond to such idiocy:

“glad that Gov Brownback is defending the constitutional right of these pharmacies to run their own business the way they see fit — girls who want drugs to kill their babies can go stand in line at WalMart & buy them there.”

Oy! Attitudes like this may be explained in this article that I found by chance. Enjoy!

This is our daily open thread — feel free to discuss this topic, or whatever’s on your mind!