Sunday Roast: 11 Sacred and Iconic Trees

National Geographic

A car drives through the so-called Chandelier Tree in California’s Underwood Park in the 1930s. An iconic giant, this 315-foot-tall redwood was tunneled out as a novelty during the early days of gas-powered cars.

I remember driving through this tree with my family when I was 12 or 13.  We had a great big Dodge van at the time, and the door handles barely missed the sides of the tree tunnel.  It was so cool, but I remember thinking that it was too bad that whoever hollowed out that tree had no respect for such a lovely Redwood giant.  Thank goodness the tree managed to stay alive.

Check out the other ten sacred and iconic trees, such as the baobab,  the dance tree, and the Bohdi tree, at National Geographic.

This is our daily open thread — Enjoy the trees!

Rewrite the Second Amendment

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

I suggest that, for simplicity sake, Congress quickly and officially rewrite it to reflect today’s popular meme (and weed out that ‘well regulated Militia’ nonsense which the Supreme Court invariably ignores anyway), then promptly send it to the various states for ratification. My proposal for the substance of a revised version is:

The funnest right of each and every idiot — to own/use Guns and bear bare Arms — shall never be infringed.

Let me explain. A little over a month ago (August 21, 2012), I received a letter from the Center for Biological Diversity; it read as follows:

It’s as sick as it is inevitable.

This week a reality TV show is broadcasting the killing of a wolf in Montana. “It’s the funnest thing I’ve done in years,” the gleeful host crows after shooting the wolf with a high-powered rifle.

Viewers flocking to the northern Rockies to join in this “fun” will [soon] have even more chances to kill wolves . . . Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is rushing the approval to ensure Wyoming’s wolf-kill plan will be carried out as scheduled this fall, even though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected a similar plan by Wyoming last year . . . Wyoming’s plan will allow wolves to be indiscriminately killed outside Yellowstone National Park and a few other safe havens: 80 percent of the state will become a wolf-killing zone.

That means close to 200 wolves — highly social animals with intricate family structures — will be shot or trapped to death. Many of them just had pups this spring. If the government has its way, it will be open season on Wyoming’s wolf families.

The reality show host/wolf killer calls wolf advocates . . . “a bunch of wingnut screwballs” for trying to save the wolves. Apparently, in the world of reality TV, basic humaneness earns you screwball status.

“It’s the funnest thing I’ve done in years.” Right. And of course IF he might one day be disallowed the right to own a gun (much less use one indiscriminately), then there would never again be a “funnest thing” available to him for doing, and he would surely soon succumb to boredom and lack of fun, an intolerable (and absolutely un-Amurkan) consequence.

Besides, what kind of ‘wingnut screwball’ would want ‘to save the (goddamn) wolves’ in the first place? Right? Right. Them wolves is killers, right? Right (and yes, I do admit it’s true that wolves do sometimes kill cattle; my only question is, do they kill enough of the damn things!),

Yesterday I received a followup letter on the same matter, this time from Defenders of Wildlife. It points out the sobering reality that the Wyoming wolf slaughter will begin in earnest via “uncontrolled shooting, trapping and gassing starting at 12:01am September 30.” That’s tomorrow; “the funnest thing” excursion for each and every Armed Idiot in Wyoming will be underway at one minute past midnight. Tomorrow. The entire letter (minus embedded hyperlinks) reads as follows:

By this Sunday, most of Wyoming will be transformed into a free fire zone for wolves. We are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to stop the killing before it begins.

Under current Wyoming state law, wolves in 85 percent of the state will be subject to unlimited and uncontrolled shooting, trapping and gassing starting at 12:01am September 30.

Only weeks ago, Interior Secretary Salazar stripped Wyoming’s wolves of Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection. It was pure politics. We have already served notice that we are filing a lawsuit against the federal government’s removal of Endangered Species Act protection for Wyoming wolves.

But by the time our case is heard it will be too late for many of Wyoming’s wolves, unless the State abandons its indefensible plan.

Up to 60 percent of Wyoming’s wolf population could ultimately be wiped out.

The restoration of wolves in the lower 48 is one of the greatest success stories of the Endangered Species Act. The withdrawal of ESA protection and approval of an indefensible wolf management plan turns the clock back on decades of conservation progress.

We have already seen what can happen if the fate of wolves is turned over to states with extreme anti-wolf plans in place. The 2011 delisting of Idaho’s wolves was disastrous and deadly — more than 400 of that state’s wolves were killed within the first year of delisting. And more than 100 of Montana’s wolves have met the same fate.  Now Wyoming is poised to follow suit with an even worse wolf plan.

No other animal has gone from protected wildlife to predatory  “pest” status overnight — until now. Under Wyoming’s plan, wolves that wander beyond the invisible border of the northwest corner of the state can be shot, gassed or trapped by anyone at any time. No license required. It’s open season on wolves, plain and simple.

No other animal — not bears, not mountain lions — are subject to the double standard that permits wolves across much of the state to be shot as vermin.

In only hours, Wyoming’s extreme wolf-killing plan will go into effect, and Defenders is calling on our supporters to shine the spotlight on this shameful management plan.

Guns. More than 150 years ago, American poet Emily Dickinson wrote, in one of her many moments of brilliance, a poem which speaks from the point-of-view of a Loaded Gun, a hunting rifle.

My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun —
In Corners — till a Day
The Owner passed — identified —
And carried Me away —

And now We roam in Sovereign Woods —
And now We hunt the Doe —
And every time I speak for Him —
The Mountains straight reply —

And do I smile, such cordial light
Upon the Valley glow —
It is as a Vesuvian face
Had let its pleasure through —

And when at Night — Our good Day done —
I guard My Master’s Head —
‘Tis better than the Eider-Duck’s
Deep Pillow — to have shared —

To foe of His — I’m deadly foe —
None stir the second time —
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye —
Or an emphatic Thumb —

Though I than He — may longer live
He longer must — than I —
For I have but the power to kill,
Without — the power to die –

Can’t help but note how brilliantly she summed up the concept of armed idiocy in the last two lines: “For I have but the power to kill, / Without — the power to die.”  In today’s uninformed but popular vernacular, that would undoubtedly (and sadly) be viewed as “the funnest thing” of all.

Save the wolves!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cross posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain.

The Watering Hole: September 28 — Ask a Stupid Question Day

Happy Ask a Stupid Question Day, all y’all!!

This awesome day came about because teachers wanted kids to ask more questions in class.

According to, “[a]t the time, there was a movement by teachers to try to get kids to ask more questions in the classroom. Kids sometimes hold back, fearing their question is stupid, and asking it will result in ridicule.”

Actually, I think asking a stupid question, even on Ask a Stupid Question Day, might result in ridicule.

What’s your favorite stupid question?  Wait, is that a stupid question?  If I have to ask, is that a “yes?”  Oh dear…I think I’ve cornered myself.

Here’s my favorite stupid question:  Do we have any wine?

Srsly?  😉

This is our daily open thread — It’s Friday!!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, September 27th, 2012: Presidential Speed Dating Debating

Most of us liberal political junkies suffered dutifully through some or all of the 20 or so Republican Presidential candidate debates, from May of 2011 – yes, MAY OF 2011! – through February of 2012. Our months and months of exhaustive study of the Republican Presidential wannabes revealed (fairly early on, actually) that, once the true crazies made themselves obvious, the Republicans would be stuck with Willard Mitt Romney as ‘the best of a bad bunch.’ (See this Wiki page for a recap of each debate, with each one’s highlights, lowlights, weird quotes, and squabbles.) But still, we watched for hours and hours in fascinated horror. In fact, those of us who sat through most of the debates did so for a total of more than 24 hours of coverage, some of us even more. Mitt Romney attended all but one of those debates, but we still endured at least 20 hours that included a large amount of Mittspeak.

Now compare those interminable hours of coverage of the Republicans choosing their nominee, with the three 90-minute Presidential debates and the one 90-minute Vice-Presidential debate, scheduled for October.

The first Presidential debate will be on Wednesday, October 3rd, and, according to a release by CNN, will cover the following topics:

Economy – 45 minutes
Health Care – 15 minutes
Role of Government – 15 minutes
Governing – 15 minutes

(I like the fact that “The statement also acknowledged that the topics could change “because of news developments.” Heh.)

So, the first debate is going to take on the topics of ‘Health Care’, ‘Role of Government’, and ‘Governing’ for a whopping 15 minutes apiece, and those 15 minute blocks are divvied up between the two candidates – just how much are potential voters going to learn in such little time?

The second Presidential debate, scheduled for October 16th, will be a “Town meeting format including foreign and domestic policy”, where “The town meeting participants will be undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization.”

The third debate, on October 22nd, will cover foreign policy, and “The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate…” Hmmm, does that mean that, say Iran gets 45 minutes, Pakistan 15 minutes, Israel 15 minutes, and oh, how about Russia gets the last 15 minutes?

This election (as so many are) is described on both sides as “the most important election in the history of our country” – then why is so little time devoted by the major networks to helping voters make an informed decision? A total of four-and-a-half hours, to try to figure out who should be the leader of the free world for the next four years, is way too little, but hopefully not way too late.

This is our Open Thread. You may speak Up on any topic that you choose – just speak up!

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, September 26, 2012: Romney’s Reboots Revealed!

Tweeter took time off from following Invisible Obama to sit down with Invisible Mitt for a candid, bird on Etch-a-Sketch interview.

T: I understand you’re rebooting your campaign.

IM: Yes. It’s what I do best.

T: A month ago, going into the Republican Convention, you were looking to reboot your campaign then, too, weren’t you?

IM: Well, as a matter of fact, I was. You see, at that point in time I had come in second to so many of my worthy opponents that I had to reinvent myself as the front runner.

T: To capture the ‘anybody but Romney’ vote?

IM: Right. You see, I thought that by taking every position on every issue, everyone would like me. Now, I wouldn’t say I was wrong, but the voters kept voting for everyone but me. I was kind of like that old Avis Rent-a-car commercial — I’m number two, but I try harder. Well, I don’t exactly try harder, but I do have more money, so when my opponents would ride the wave and get knocked off, I was still there, waiting for the tide to turn in my favor.

T: And when it did, you became Mr. Etch-a-Sketch?

IM: Right. What better way to illustrate to my base than use a simple child’s toy to show folks how easy it is to start with a clean slate, to erase everything I said going into the convention and start over.

T: But you didn’t get the bounce you expected out of your convention.

IM: No. But I don’t fault Invisible Dirty Harry for that. I blame the liberal media for focusing more on Invisible Obama than on me.

T: Well, you have to admit, bringing Invisible Obama on the stage at the Republican Convention did give him quite a boost in the polls.

IM: I don’t have to admit anything. And just because my tax forms state the United States is a foreign country, it doesn’t mean I’m from the planet Kolob.

T: O…kay… So, after the convention you re-booted your campaign, again. How did that go?

IM: Forty-seven percent of the people didn’t like it. So I’m re-booting again.

T: Again?

IM: Sure! Why not? If at first you don’t succeed, just shake the Etch-a-Sketch and start all over. I’m sure that sooner or later, I’ll find a message that resonates with the voters.

Walker, The Zoo’s underground reporter

“Walker here,” the Mole interrupted, “I just got back from my latest assignment, to find the dirt on Romney’s latest re-boot. My sources tell me he’s going to put a lot of boots on the ground. There’s a huge voter supression effort going on across the country. I managed to get this photo of one of their election-day training camps, at great peril to myself, I might add:

Romney’s Re-Boot


Open Letter to the 53%

Dear 53%,

Congratulations. You are the rugged, self-made enterpreneurs who made it to where you are without accepting any goverment handouts. You built everything yourself. You pay taxes that support the 47% do-nothings, and have yet to receive anything from the government.

Or do you?

What if we privatize the national highway system? That way, your taxes wouldn’t go to build and maintain roads you don’t use. Of course, you would have to pay tolls for every road you do use, whether you’re personally driving on them, or the goods you buy are trucked on them.

Next, we can eliminate the Small Business Association. Privatize all small business loans, and, at the same time, let’s eliminate those pesky regulations against monopolies. How many businesses shut down in your town when WalMart moved in?

Eliminating food stamps is a must. That saves $30 billion of your tax dollars. Of course, that means 1 in 7 households must either cut back on what they eat, or cut back on what the spend on other things, to the tune of $30 billion. So, about $30 billion what was getting spent on non-food items will now go to agri-business, instead of your business. Oh, and speaking of agri-business, can we also get rid of their subsidies? Yes, milk, meat and grains will cost more, but you don’t want to benefit, even indirectly, from government handouts, do you?

And speaking of government subsidies, let’s eliminate them across the board. Pay more at the pump? Who cares? Shut down research and development by the drug companies? So what? It is more important that you, the 53% remain untainted by any help from the government.

So, congratulations, 53%. You built it all by yourselves. You never received any help from the government at all. That’s why you can be swayed to support Romney – you want to make sure that those behind you won’t receive the same kind of help you didn’t get.


One of the 47%.

(The views expressed in this letter are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Zoo.)

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 24th, 2012: Monday Morning Mix

First up today, an article from Foreign Policy Magazine entitled “Why Mitt Romney Can’t Talk About Iraq”. An excerpt:

“According to a University of California, Santa Barbara archive of formal campaign speeches by both candidates, Romney has used the word “Iraq” seven times on the trail (usually in the context of military service) while Obama has referenced the country 76 times (often as part of a stump-speech line about keeping his promise to end the war). The same pattern held true at the conventions: Republicans mentioned Iraq seven times, while the Democrats did so 34 times. Romney didn’t talk about Iraq in his convention speech and made only a passing reference to it in his biggest foreign-policy address of the campaign in South Carolina.

Romney might argue, as he has in defending his failure to mention the Afghan war in Tampa, that it’s his policies that matter, not how many times he mentions particular words in speeches.”

(So, it appears that others have been studying the information at The Presidency Project, to which I had linked in a recent post.)

The article finishes with, “The Romney campaign isn’t about to give the president any more ammunition.

That line sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Ann Romney, when stating that “you people” weren’t going to be allowed to see any more of the Romneys’ tax returns than what was ‘legally required’ – a phrase that both she and Mitt seem to be fond of – because it would just give “more ammunition” to the pundits and political opposition. Too bad…if the TRUTH would give your opponents ammunition against you, then you really aren’t Presidential material.

Next up: I had also recently mentioned an effort by two Catholic groups, Catholics United and Faithful America, to keep politics out of Sunday Mass. Faithful America’s website has an interesting listing of other political causes, working against the radical right-wing religious zealots.

And lastly, a piece from our local Patch online newspaper, which discusses a poll taken of ‘New York GOP Insiders’ regarding Romney’s chances post-“47%” remarks from the recently surfaced Romney fundraising video. Some of the comments here are worth reading.

Speaking of the Romney fundraising video, I would like to thank James Carter IV for his efforts in finding the video and for getting this amazingly damning revelation of Romney’s character into the public arena. And, of course, special thanks to whoever actually made the video.

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

Sunday Roast: Hello, Autumn

(photo source)

On Fields O’er Which the Reaper’s Hand Has Pass’d

On fields o’er which the reaper’s hand has pass’d
Lit by the harvest moon and autumn sun,
My thoughts like stubble floating in the wind
And of such fineness as October airs,
There after harvest could I glean my life
A richer harvest reaping without toil,
And weaving gorgeous fancies at my will
In subtler webs than finest summer haze.

~Henry David Thoreau

This is our daily open thread — Talk amongst yourselves…

On the Campaign Trail with Invisible Obama


Tweeter, The Zoo’s premier investigave journalist, has been following Invisible Obama around the country as he continues his campaign. Today he found the transparent candidate speaking in front of an Alamo car rental in San Antonio.

“We must all remember The Alamo” Invisible Obama spoke, “where Americans from all across the country banded together to fight an army of illegal immigrants from Mexico determined to come into this great country to take jobs away from the African-American slaves in the deep south.”

Invisible Obama

When someone from the gathering crowd pointed out that the battle of The Alamo was to free Texas, Invisible Obama explained, “I know that, but what can I say? The Republicans who invented me don’t exactly have the greatest grasp on history, and I say whatever they want me to say so they can then attack President Obama.”
“Is that why you’re speaking in front of a rental car place instead of the real Alamo?” Tweeter asked.

“Exactly.” Invisible Obama explained.

Lynched chair

Chair lynchings in Texas and Virgina demonstrate voter outrage over the Invisible Obama campaign.

When asked about the recent spate of chair lynchings, the transparent candidate paused for a moment of silence. “It is most unfortunate that some people choose to take their displeasure of me out on innocent chairs. While I defend their right to political speech, no matter how offensive, I believe we must not forget the real victims here. I mean, folding chairs? They have picked on the weakest amongst us, those who, when pressed, are unable to stand on their own four feet, and strung them up from the highest tree. To me, the individuals who hung those chairs are no better than someone who destroys a step-stool.”

Invisible Dirty Harry

“I have something I’d like to say about that.” The crowd parted as Invisible Dirty Harry approached the podium. “Now, frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass about people that go around lynchin’ chairs. These clowns must not have seen High Plains Drifter. If they had, they’da known better than to just go and lynch the first chair they see.”

Invisible Mitt

“You’re never going to change the mind of 47% of the people when it comes to chairs.” A voice from the back called out.

“Well, if it isn’t Mister Etch a Sketch Himself.” replied Invisible Dirty Harry. “You still all shook up about me taking away your limelight at the Convention?”

“You bet I am!” stormed Invisible Mitt. “Do you know how hard I work at saying things that will get me the national attention I deserve?”

Invisible Dirty Harry looked down on Invisible Mitt. “I know what you’re thinkin’…did I tell five jokes, or was it six. You know, in all the excitement, I lost count. Do I have another one-liner in me? Well, do I? Ya feelin’ lucky, punk?”

Invisible Mitt began to shake.

Invisible Mitt Romney

“I…I…I… don’t know what to say.”

“Yeah,” replied Invisible Dirty Harry, “and you’ve been not sayin’ it for months now. C’mon, make my day.”

Invisible Obama interrupted the pair. “I’d like to thank everybody for coming out to this press conference. You all can catch up with me next on the Colbert Report. I’ll be there, sitting in the guest’s chair until the regularly scheduled guest arrives.”

The Watering Hole – Saturday, September 22, 2012 – Red Lines

According to a report on Raw Story, Israel is trying to “thaw the frosty relationship” between Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and the White House. They are trying to set up a meeting between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama to discuss how far they will let Iran go in developing its nuclear capability. Obama is said to be angered by Netanyahu’s repeated calls for him “to set unambiguous ‘red lines’ for Tehran,” especially in the lead-up to the election. I have to say I agree. Netanyahu should keep his mouth shut until after the elections. Iran isn’t going to be building any nuclear weapons before then, and Netanyahu knows that. He lived and studied in the U.S., so he has seen how our election system works.

Jumping off into personal opinion land, I wonder what right Israel has to boss the United States of America around? When did the people of Israel elect our President? Israel does indeed have as much right to defend itself as anybody, but the criteria used for determining what constitutes a threat has to be the same as everyone else’s: Imminent danger. You can’t use the excuse that just because Iran “claims” they simply want a peaceful nuclear energy program, they’re really lying and trying to build a nuclear weapon to be used against Israel, as the rationale for attacking them, which is what Israel wants to do.

In essence, Israel is saying this: We “know” that ultimately this nuclear program will be used to build weapons that will be used against Israel, so we reserve the right (a right they don’t have, by the way), to strike at what we feel is an existential threat. An existential threat is really nothing more than a theoretical threat, and not an imminent threat. They want our approval (an approval they sometimes say they don’t really need) to attack Iran over what they might do down the road, not what they are actually about to do right now. This kind of thinking has to stop.

Russia is more of a threat to Israel’s security than Iran will ever be. Russia has nuclear weapons and often sides with Israel’s political enemies. Why isn’t Israel worried that Russia might give a nuclear weapon to Iran and preemptively bomb them? After all, by their logic they have every right to. And Russia isn’t theoretically building nuclear weapons, they already have, and way more than they need (since they are willing to discuss arms reductions with the U.S.) The United States needs to stop enabling Israel’s warmongering behavior, before innocent people die.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Israel or any other topic you wish. It’s a free country.

Music Night: Oh Brother…

Back in the late 1940’s and through 1950s there were a ton of brother bands mostly in country and bluegrass – the Louvin Brothers, Everly Brothers, Stanley Brothers, Monroe Brothers (Bill teamed up with brother Charlie for a short while) and the Osborne Brothers are a few that come to mind. Fewer brother acts arrived in the 60’s. Though their discography has several LP’s and live recorded performances, most thought of the Chambers Brothers as one hit wonders with their Time Has Come Today . The Smothers Brothers, more of a novelty act than serious performers ended up hosting their own variety show, pushing limits at the time, which got them canned by the network. The Neville Brothers are the only recent act that I can think of that retained the ‘Brothers’ in the name, though there have been other bands featuring brothers. This is where you come in. Go to the well for the better known or esoteric brother bands. You have 4:17 to come up with something while these pseudo brothers cover the classic.

The Watering Hole: September 21 — Happy Friday!

Timelapse Montage, by Mike Flores

I totally spaced doing my Friday post, and it’s almost midnight, so here’s a cool video!

I’m off to help my dad’s wife with a ginormous yard sale, for which she’s going to owe me a ginormous bottle of wine.  I’ll see ya for music night!

This is our daily open thread — TGIF!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again I ask, why “Veterans for Romney”?

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

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, September 19, 2012: On the Campaign Trail With Invisible Obama

From Left to Right: Invisible Obama, Clint Eastwood & Invisible Dirty Harry

Tweeter, The Zoo’s top investigative journalist, caught up with Invisible Obama and Invisible Dirty Harry in the high desert of the south western part of the United States as they prepared for the upcoming debates.


As luck would have it, Tweeter arrived just in time to watch as Clint Eastwood joined the two for a rare photo op. After posing for several photos, Clint retired back to Carmel where he could reminisce about his days as Mayor of the enclave-for-the-wealthy-by-the-sea. Invisible Obama and Invisible Dirty Harry escaped from the blistering desert heat high above one of LA’s busiest freeways to sit in air conditioned conditioned comfort as they exchanged barbs.

Invisible Obama

IO: Can we agree to be reasonable in our disussions of what is best for this country?

IDH: I tried being reasonable, but I didn’t like it. Extremism is so easy. You’ve got your position, and that’s it. It doesn’t take much thought.

Tweeter: Let’s talk about gun control. Invisible Dirty Harry, I know that’s a topic near and dear to your heart.

IDH: I have a very strict gun control policy: if there’s a gun around, I want to be in control of it.

IO: I want to take people’s guns away. In fact, one of my greatest failures was my inability to capitalize on the shooting of Rep. Giffords to get legislation passed overturning the Second Amendment. Sales of guns and ammo have skyrocketed during my administration.

Tweeter: What about the shooting of Rep. Giffords, and the the theater shooting? Shouldn’t we do something to make it more difficult for one unbalanced individual to shoot several innocent people?

IDH: Nothing wrong with shooting…as long as the right people get shot.

IO: Are you saying it was right to shoot Rep. Giffords?

IDH: Nag, nag, nag.

Invisible Dirty Harry

As Invisible Dirty Harry started to reach for his shoulder holster, Tweeter decided to change subjects.

Tweeter: How do you feel about marriage equality?

IO: I support the rights of people of the same gender to get married.

IDH: There’s only one way to have a happy marriage and as soon as I learn what it is I’ll get married again.

Tweeter: So…if the only way to have a happy marriage is to marry someone of your same gender, would you get married again?

IDH: Ok, you did two things wrong. One is you asked a question, and two is, you asked another question.

As Invisible Dirty Harry reached inside his suit coat again, Tweeter quickly changed topics.

Tweeter: You made the movie “Flags of our Fathers”, about the American’s on Iwo Jima. What’s your stand on foreign policy?

IDH: This film cost $31 million. With that kind of money I could have invaded some country.

Tweeter: I thought it cost over $50 million?

IDH: Nag, nag, nag.

IO: I believe we should apologize to our enemies and hope they won’t do anything bad to us.

IDH: A man’s got to know his limitations.

IO: Are you saying I’m weak?

IDH: You’re a legend in your own mind.

IO: I am the first black President.

IDH: Well that’s just swell.

Tweeter: What about the birther controvery?

IO: There is no controversy. I was born and raised a Muslim in Kenya, but I got the courts to buy into my fake Hawaiian birth certificate.

IDH: I’m an American. I don’t even know why the hell I’m here.

Invisible Obama chuckled.

IDH: I don’t think it’s nice, you laughin’.

With that, Invisible Dirty Harry pulled out his 44 magnum.

IDH: Make my day.

No sooner did Invisible Dirty Harry point the gun at Invisible Obama, two invisible Secret Service Agents swarmed him.

Tweeter: How long have you had a Secret Service detail?

IO: Ever since Clint Eastwood put me in the limelight at the Republican Convention. Until then, I pretty much lived in the shadows.

As Invisible Dirty Harry was being dragged out of the building, he shouted, “Am I being paranoid, or is he busting my balls?”

“Where are you off to next?” Tweeter asked the invisible candidate.

“I may head to an in vitro clinic. I hear there’s a voter registration drive being kicked off in anticipation of giving zygotes full personhood status.”


Bonus video: Continue reading

Watering Hole: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 – Foot Soldiers in the Campaign: A Local Report

First, setting the record straight, I owe Cats a post for creating my music thread two Fridays ago (and yes Gummitch I will be on schedule for this Friday. You have the night off).

Cats and I volunteered this past Saturday for the Obama campaign. We were give a street list and a script and asked to canvas particular addresses of a cluster development in what would be regarded as a solidly middle class neighborhood in eastern Berks County (Pennsylvania). Homes go for $200,000 to $250,000, meaning that a $1500 a month mortgage is shaky if one of the two wage earners in the family looses a job, and suicide watch is on order if the single wage earner of the family stumbles. By the looks of this neighborhood, most folks had their heads above water for the time being. The ‘American Dream’ was being lived in some fashion here. The grass was green and most lawns were cut trim.

Weather affects politics as we know by the age old adage that bad weather on Election Day bodes poorly for Dems. Well good weather also bodes poorly if you are out canvassing when the temperature is 70 degrees and sparse, thin clouds number in the single digits. There were a lot of ‘nobody home’ on our check boxes. Soccer meets, biking and shopping took precedence over mowing the lawn or watching football on TV.

The strategic boiler room cooked up the following strategy (which we did not completely realize until the end of the day): we were to interview the 1 X 4 voters to see which way they leaned, and what were their hot issues. 1 X 4 voters are those who just vote during presidential elections. They are also known as ‘drop-off voters’ and regardless of party affiliation are also ‘low information’ voters. Some of these folks fail to find the time to become informed, some choose not to be informed, and others make the judgment that there vote doesn’t mean much, so voting does not hold great meaning in their lives. In the few interviews we were able to conduct face-to-face, we found folks who stated they were voting for Obama again @1/4 of the sample, some who were undecided (or did not want to revel to us) at about 50% of the sample, and those who were strong Romney supports (some of whom confessed that they were ‘going the other way’ this year back to the Republican side) filling the last quartile.

The purpose of the activity was to bring back a list of supporters (so that they could be called right before the election to be reminded to vote) and the leaners so they could be persuaded to get in the right column on Election Day. We had a list of 100 homes, and probably knocked on 50 doors in 2 and ½ hours. Across the country there were foot soldiers like us grinding out data in the streets on Saturday so that the strategists could fine-tune the next seven weeks. As is frequent in presidential elections, the ‘undecideds’ hold the most sway, as unfair as that might sound. This is no time to sit on the sidelines.

Dog’s Mead, an old English puzzle

From the Diversions Can Be Fun Department:

I ran across this old number puzzle in a lab magazine of some sort way back in the middle-sixties when I was working in aerospace. Several of us in various labs took a shot at solving it, a task which no one managed to complete in less than a week. But we all finally got it! Some years later I gave a copy to each my dad and my nephew, and they both managed to get it as well.  But by far the majority of folks I know who’ve tried it have either given up or ripped it to shreds in frustration!

Thought I’d post it here, see if there are any takers. 😀

I do apologize for the somewhat limited quality — it’s a scan of a Xerox copy of a typewritten version of the original that one of the secretaries at Martin-Marietta typed for us over her lunch break, iirc.  It is readable, at least, maybe even printable.

The Watering Hole, Monday September 17, 2012 – Happy Constitution Day, Happy 225th USA v. 2.0

The Declaration of Independence was adopted in Congress on July 4, 1776, and for this reason it is generally considered that July 4 is our nation’s birthday. Actually, that was the birth of the United States of America Version 1.0. The first version of the United States was governed under something called The Articles of Confederation. The Articles were a States’ Rights person’s dream. Under the Articles, “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.” The Articles required that the thirteen colonies (now called “States”) would “severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever.” In Congress, each State would have one vote, regardless of the number of delegates it sent there. There was one small problem. The Articles of Confederation didn’t work.

So, in May of 1787, a Constitutional Convention was convened. The delegates to the convention, many of them the same as those who adopted the Articles, recognized that things had changed and that their country would have to undergo some changes in order to adapt. Through the summer, they came up with a Constitution that had some significant differences with the Articles of Confederation. One of the most significant of these differences is that under the constitution, there would be a strong central government rather than a weak one. I believe this is the part most States’ Rights advocates do not wish to accept.

On September 17, 1787, the Congress passed the Constitution put forth by the convention. It was ratified on June 21, 1788 and when into effect March 4, 1789. Today marks the 225th Anniversary of the birth of what is, for all intents and purposes, the United States of America version 2.0. It’s not the same country founded in 1776, and is not based on the same principles as the first one. And no matter how religious the country and states were under Version 1.0, we have a Secular government under version 2.0. People may not be aware of this, nor be able to appreciate the marvel of it, but for the first time in history, a nation was founded with no official religion. In all other countries, the official religion was whatever religion the ruler of that country practiced, and most citizens were expected to support and practice that religion, also. Along came this upstart of a republic called the United States of America, and it had the crazy, unheard of idea that people could practice whichever religion they preferred, no matter what religion the President practiced. Personally, I would have preferred that the Constitution also specify that no person’s religious beliefs would be the basis of any Law in the United States. And I would have liked the gun thing clarified a bit more.

This is our open thread. Discuss the Constitution or any other topic you wish.

Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain

Breaking Gnus: Invisible Obama Abandons Non-Existent Country


This just in: Invisible Obama Abandons Non-Existent Country.

Moments ago, Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice-President Dick of the same last name, announced Invisible Obama abandonded Czechoslavakia, a country that has not existed for approximately 20 years.

Tweeter caught up with Invisible Obama for his response.

Invisible Obama

Invisible Obama: I should have known I couldn’t keep this a secret through my campaign. It’s true. I actually abandoned Czechoslovakia when I left Kenya as a child to follow Jeremiah Wright. But that was before that great Republican President told Putin to tear down the Iron Curtain and put up some nice paisley drapes. I honestly didn’t think anyone would find out about this, so I have to give Dick’s daughter credit. I wonder what else she will dig up about my past?

With that, the transparent candidate left, looking quite disturbed at this latest revelation of his childhood missteps on the way to becoming President.