The Watering Hole: Thursday, January 31 – GOP Would Destroy Country to Win Elections

Right Wing Propaganda Has Done Nothing But Incite Fear and Hated of All Americans 

This is not to say that Republicans promote right-wing extremism with a view towards violence against the government or other Americans, but their support for policies the extremists hold near and dear to their black hearts lends legitimacy to hate movements that are becoming mainstream among conservatives and having deleterious effects on the population.”

Conservative Author Accuses MSNBC Of Suppressing The GOP Vote By Being Mean

 

Conservative author David Freddoso believes that liberal commentators like Chris Matthews, who attacked conservatives for being racist (among other things), ran a voter suppression campaign against conservatives during the 2012 election. His assertion was that these tactics were used “to tar conservatism and shame conservatives out of participating in politics.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, January 30 – Mad Men

Cool. Makes you wish for the good old days. Or not? How was it really in the 1960s for:

Women

One in 5 women with children under 6 and nearly one fourth of women whose children were over 16 held paid jobs in the Sixties. Their pay, however, was 60 percent of the male rate.

I guess we are still fighting over that equal pay thing.

Gays

Police activity against gay men was rife throughout the 1950s. Many homosexuals were blackmailed, although only a fraction came to the attention of the police. The film Victim of 1961 brought these issues to a mainstream audience. It starred Dirk Bogarde as a repressed, married homosexual taking on the blackmailers who drove his partner to suicide.

African Americans

On May 2, 1964, Dee and Moore were hitchhiking from Meadville, Miss. and were picked up by James Seale. Seale and other Klansmen took the two men into the surrounding Homochitto National Forest and tortured and interrogated them about a possible influx of guns in Franklin County meant to arm blacks against their white attackers. Later the same day, several of the Klansmen put Dee and Moore in the trunk of a car and hauled them across the Louisiana state line, 100 miles north to a spot on the Mississippi River. Then they dumped the men into the river, weighting their bodies down with a jeep engine block and pieces of railroad track.

Environment

Despite many efforts to keep the environment clean, some 200 million tons of pollutants were filling the air each year, and clean air in many cities had been replaced by smog. The earth, air, and water were deteriorating as construction of highways, malls, and housing developments caused the destruction of fertile, irreplaceable farmland. Disposal of wastes was another dilemma to be dealt with. Burning could release poisonous gases into the air, and burial could cause harmful decay.

People with Disabilities ?

[…]In the mid-1960s, most of the developmentally disabled patients admitted to large state facilities were children under the age of 12. States offered virtually no support to families hoping to keep their sons and daughters at home and no education for those children living outside institutions.

So Mrs. Burns handed over her son to an institution in Gainesville, Fla., two hours from Daytona Beach, where she and her husband were living at the time. He was screaming and crying and clinging to her legs. She was crying, too. He was just 8 years old.

 

We have come a long way since I was growing up in rural Bavaria.To me it was not paradise. I welcome the changes that happened since and am glad that I do not have to refight the battles that got us here and which were only started then. Color me paranoid, but I think shows like “Mad Men” set the atmosphere for taking us back where we do not want to go. I enjoy watching, but sometimes I shudder at the thought.

This is our Open Thread. Add your thoughts!

Watering Hole: Tuesday January 29, 2013

So the gun shows in the northeast are becoming a little unpopular. Imagine that.
http://connecticut.cbslocal.com/2013/01/05/northeast-gun-shows-being-cancelled-after-newtown-shooting/
My take on America is that this is a temporary condition. The public memory lasts about 15 minutes, before Lindsay Lohan takes over the headlines for something to titillate the crowds in the infotainment news.

More interesting is the gun nuts rock solid embrace of weaponry to the point that 200 of the dealers in this show in Harrisburg PA withdrew because the organizer wanted to keep it family-like by keeping assault weapons out of the booths.
http://washingtonexaminer.com/nra-boycott-kills-outdoors-show-that-banned-assault-weapons/article/2519579

This is actually big news because a week long gun show in Pennsyltucky would be considered the ultimate in cold blue steel viewing. Ladies and gentlemen… ready, fire, aim!

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 28th, 2013: Glory and Wonder

“First light at Daytona brought in heavy fog.” Thank you, houseofroberts, for inadvertently (and somewhat circuitously) inspiring this post. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the respite from the perpetual political perturbations in this refreshing pool of nature’s glory and wonder.

"Sunrise on Flowers" - source webmastergrade.com

“Sunrise on Flowers” – source webmastergrade.com

After I read house’s comment yesterday morning, I went to TheWeatherChannel.com to check our forecast. After finding that it was just a chilly 7 degrees out – brrrrr! – I found my inspiration.

Let’s start with, appropriately, Sunrises. The first photo in the group, “…taken by johndhard at Smith Rock State Park in central Oregon…”, brings to mind the style of artist Maxfield Parrish, i.e.:

"Arizona", Maxfield Parris

“Arizona”, Maxfield Parris

Winter Sunrise", Maxfield Parrish

Winter Sunrise”, Maxfield Parrish


Feeling more human now? Then let’s learn a little about clouds, including, but not limited to “Hole-Punch Clouds”, as seen here:
Hole Punch Cloud (source, picemony.com)

Hole Punch Cloud (source, picemony.com)


This is today’s open thread. Well, that was good for me, how about you?

Sunday Roast: January 27, 2012 – Seriously!

It is my favourite of all times:

Get yourself a shoulder of Pork, some veggies, a glass of beer, more beer for yourself and don’t hurry it up, it wants it’s time.

1 l of Chicken Stock
1.5 kgs Pork Shoulder with skin.

(The more fat the better, unfortunately the pigs they breed over here for meat are almost as lean as athletes. You don’t ge a really porky pig anymore and while people think it’s good for your health in my humble opinion it sucks from a yumminess point of view)

3 large white onions
1 small carrot
150 g of celeriac
1 tbsp oil
400 g small potatoes
1 tsp icing sugar
1 tbsp tomato purree concentrated
150 ml red wine
Salt
1 laurel leave
1/2 tsp cumin and coriander each
1 clove of garlic sliced
2 slices ginger
pepper freshly gound
1/2-1 tsp lemon skin grated
1-2 tbsp Fleur de Sel

Now you can get going and the process leaves you quite a bit of time between the stages to either prepare side dishes or go on a run to burn off the calories about to hit you 😉

Put the roast into a pan skin side down add the chicken broth and roast in oven at 130°C for 90 minutes.

Dice the veggies (sans the potatoes) and gently roast them in a pan, add icing sugar gently caramelise, add tomato purree and red wine bring to the boil and take to the side.

After 90 minutes take the roast out of the oven, cut the skin (I do squares) add the broth to the veggies and then all the veggies, the potatoes and the sauce go back into the oven pan. Set the roast on top of it and roast for another 90 to 120 minutes at 160°C.

The Finale: Set the oven to 220°C put the roast on the lowest rung of the oven for 20 minutes.

Mix the cumin and coriander, strain sauce in a pot, set veggies aside. Bring gravy to the boil add cumin and coriander reduce for 20 minutes.

Mix fleur de sel and lemon rind. Sprinkle roast with same. Enjoy!

It’s called Sunday Roast isn’t it? So I made you one.

For you it’s an open thread as well, so enjoy!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 26, 2013: ALEC and the Ag Gag Bills

We Americans have an amazing ability, bordering on out-and-out hypocrisy, to turn a blind eye toward unpleasant subjects. Nowhere does this talent demonstrate itself more than in the area of how our food is produced. They say that Politics is like sausage-making – you don’t want to see how either one is done. But it’s not just sausages, it’s also the bacon, pork chops & ham, the eggs, wings & thighs, or the milk, butter and cheese. Animal cruelty in the farm business has been a well-documented scourge on our food supply, but thanks to legislation sponsored by ALEC (the very pro-business, conservative American Legislative Exchange Council; ALEC describes themselves as “non-partisan,” but that doesn’t mean they’re non-ideological), documented cases of animal abuse on farms will be a thing of the past. Because it will be illegal to document such abuse.

According to a report published by GlobalPossibilities.org and Alternet.org, three state legislatures are considering bills to consider any attempt “to investigate animal cruelty, food safety or environmental violations on the corporate-controlled farms that produce the bulk of our meat, eggs and dairy products” as an “act of terrorism.” Now known as “Ag Gag” laws, they were passed in the early 90s in Kansas, Montana, and North Dakota before the term was coined. In the past two years they were joined by Iowa, Missouri, and Utah, and now Nebraska, New Hampshire and Wyoming taking up the issue. (There is hope. Similar legislation failed to pass in seven states: Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York and Tennessee.

Ag-Gag laws passed 20 years ago were focused more on deterring people from destroying property, or from either stealing animals or setting them free. Today’s ALEC-inspired bills take direct aim at anyone who tries to expose horrific acts of animal cruelty, dangerous animal-handling practices that might lead to food safety issues, or blatant disregard for environmental laws designed to protect waterways from animal waste runoff. In the past, most of those exposes have resulted from undercover investigations of exactly the type Big Ag wants to make illegal.

One bill would make it a crime to fail to report documented animal abuse within 24 hours, despite the fact that multiple abuses, needed to document a pattern of abuse, can take weeks to collect. Another bill would make it a crime to get a job with the “intent to disrupt the normal operations,” and would require animal abuse reports to be filed within 12 hours. The third is designed to prevent activists from exposing animal cruelty at corporate-owned farms, and was introduced by a State Representative planning to build horse slaughterhouses in several states.

From the article (the petitions are only for people who live in those states):

It was public outrage that killed proposed bills in seven states last year. Here are the three latest bills to be introduced, and links to petitions telling lawmakers in New Hampshire, Wyoming and Nebraska to reject the proposed laws:

New Hampshire: HB110

Primary sponsor: Bob Haefner (R) ; Co-sponsors: Majority Leader Steve Shurtleff (D), Rep. Tara Sad (D), Senator Sharon Carson (R), and Bob Odell (R)

This is a 7-line bill written to look as if its main concern is the protection of animals. However the bill would require whistleblowers to report animal abuse and turn over videotapes, photographs and documents within 24 hours or face prosecution – a clear attempt to intimidate and deter people from conducting undercover investigations. Lawmakers know that in order for anyone to prove a pattern of abuse in factory farms, they must document repeated instances of cruelty. A video or photograph of only one instance will be dismissed as a one-time anomaly, which will get the agribusiness company off the hook.

If you live in New Hampshire, sign the petition to stop New Hampshire’s Ag-Gag bill.

Wyoming: HB0126

Co-sponsors: Rep. Sue Wallis (R), Sen. Ogden Driskill (R)

Introduced within weeks after nine workers at a Wyoming factory farm were charged with abuse. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sue Wallis, is planning to build horse slaughterhouses in Wyoming and other states. If this bill had been law in 2012, it would have prevented activists from exposing horrific acts of cruelty at Wheatland, WY-based Wyoming Premium Farms, a supplier to Tyson Foods.

If you live in Wyoming, sign the petition to stop Wyoming’s Ag-Gag bill.

Nebraska: LB 204

Introduced by Sen. Tyson Larson (R), Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh (R), and Sen. Ken Schilz (R)

The bill would make it a Class IV felony for any person to obtain employment at an animal facility with the broadly defined “intent to disrupt the normal operations,” It would require animal abuse reports to be filed within 12 hours. Co-sponsor Sen. Launtenbaugh has advocated in the past for horse slaughtering.

If you live in Nebraska, sign the petition to stop Nebraska’s Ag-Gag bill.

This is our daily open thread. Talk about ALEC, animal cruelty, Ag Gag bills or any other topic you choose. And don’t forget to sign the petitions.

Friday Night Music Night – Something New, I Think.

Once again, Nonewhere asked me to get tonight’s music started.  Since this was asked of me at 8:00 am today, I was lost for ideas so I contacted my oldest daughter.  Next week, she and her husband will be seeing this group in concert.  From what I understand, this group is becoming quite popular and that is why I am posting music from these up and coming artists.  For all I know, they may already be famous.

May I present to you, The Lumineers performing Ho Hey:

I think I like this group.  They are fresh and exciting.

Here’s a link to their bio.

Are you listening to any new performers and if so, who are they?  There are so many new artists to choose from.

The Watering Hole, Friday January 25, 2013; Of Geese, Guns, and Slaves

This is today’s open thread . . . speak up, speak out!

Canadian Geese in various poses along the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies in the foothills of the Sierra Mojada (aka the Wet Mountains) of Pueblo County.

Canadian Geese in various poses along the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies in the foothills of the Sierra Mojada (aka the Wet Mountains) of Pueblo County.

Last Sunday (January 20, 2013) was a gorgeous day along the Colorado Front Range. It was bright and sunny, warm (for January), a perfect day for a nice long walkabout. It was close to 2:30 PM and we were homeward bound from our five miler; had less than a mile to go. The stretch of road underfoot was one that meanders across an open patch of prairie — a sizeable swath of treeless grassland with only a handful of houses randomly situated around its periphery; the bulk of it is just grass. The local golf course borders it on two sides, and the local lake is a few blocks up the road. Canada geese are everywhere, but they’re particularly numerous on the lake (naturally) and the golf course where they enjoy the water hazard ponds as well as to wander on the fairways/greens (I’ve asked them why the fairways, but so far no response besides “honk”). Overall, the goose population clearly outnumbers that of humans in this tiny town, probably by at least two to one — a most pleasant factoid given that even though they might honk a lot, nary a single goose owns or drives a damn pickup!

All was peaceful and quiet until suddenly a BLAM!! BOOM!! interrupted the soliloquy. We stopped dead in our tracks and looked around. WTF? About a quarter mile off the road to our left were the only people in sight. They were standing in an open stretch of prairie, maybe a block from the closest house. As we stared and gaped, two geese fell like rocks from the flock overhead; immediately the pair of armed killers (being kind here) quickly picked up the dead geese and carried them away. Not certain as to where they went, maybe to their car or truck parked somewhere on the graveled road nearby. We couldn’t tell for sure, but saw no more of them.

My first impressions were those of anger, of disgust, and even of fear for other living creatures in the vicinity. Such impressions marched in lock step with the enduring suspicion that the perpetrators had to have broken multiple laws, including discharging a weapon within the city limits and within a quarter mile of a residence or occupied building, plus the killing of waterfowl not ‘in season.’ All were incorrect, as I later learned following a few minutes of investigative digging. First of all, this little town is unincorporated and is therefore ‘only’ part of the County and not really a town, so ‘in town’ shooting rules apparently do not apply. (When is a town not really a town? When it’s not formally incorporated – nothing else counts). And of course it’s OK, in unincorporated areas, to discharge a weapon if the shooter is 150 yards or more from any residence or occupied building. That’s 450 ft, or 0.085 miles, about one-third of a quarter mile. Oh, and yes, goose hunting season is in full swing here in Colorado between Nov. 17 and Feb 10, so no violations there. All. Perfectly. Legal. And, on any reasonable plane, also nonsensical. Killing waterfowl for sport, with shotguns, in a residential area . . . an unincorporated residential area . . . means there’s no danger. Obviously. Besides, the Second Amendment says . . . etc.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Still can’t. One question lingers: WHY are idiots allowed to own, much less carry or shoot a gun, any gun, at any place, at any time? WHY!? Because of the Second Amendment, most will say. It gives everyone that right, right? Right. If you say so. It 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.

Word salad. I’ve long wondered why it was written as it is, with so little definition of, e.g., ‘well regulated Militia,’ or ‘security,’ or ‘free State,’ or ‘Arms.’ What am I missing? What did the author(s) really mean to say?

Enter Thom Hartmann. Last week I ran across an essay by Mr. Hartmann posted on truthout.org and entitled, The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery. Bingo. On came the lights, poof went the darkness, and suddenly the true intent of the Second Amendment became clearly visible. Mr. Hartmann sums it all up in his opening statement (emphasis added):

The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says “State” instead of “Country” (the Framers knew the difference – see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia’s vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that . . . and we all should be too.  

He continues his exploration of the thesis and in the process draws heavily on statements written by prominent Virginians including Patrick Henry, James Monroe, and George Mason who were concerned that Article 1, Section 8 (Clauses 15 and 16) of the proposed Constitution might well endanger the ownership of their ‘property’ to the extent that one day, slaves might even be freed. Horrors. The clauses read:

[The Congress shall have Power . . .]

Clause 15: To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

Clause 16: To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

Scary stuff, right? Patrick Henry voiced his concern(s) over these provisions as expressed in the new Constitution when he said,

“If the country be invaded, a state may go to war, but cannot suppress insurrections. If there should happen an insurrection of slaves, the country cannot be said to be invaded. They cannot, therefore, suppress it without the interposition of Congress . . . . Congress, and Congress only, can call forth the militia.”

Henry later voiced his concern to Founder (and slave owner) James Madison who was, at the time, writing (at the behest of fellow Founder and slave-owner Thomas Jefferson) amendment drafts. Henry said,

“In this situation, I see a great deal of the property of the people of Virginia in jeopardy, and their peace and tranquility gone.”

The “property of the people” Henry thought to be “in jeopardy” was, of course, the slaves.

So today we’re left with an amendment that was written to help cover the collective asses of slave owners in Virginia and elsewhere in the South, to essentially “protect” them from already drafted clauses in the Constitution which they found to be extremely worrisome because the ‘power’ to manipulate and use state Militias would now be delegated to the Congress rather than to the individual states.

In consequence, this day virtually ANY nutcase can own any gun he wants to own, buy as many bullets as he can afford, and kill anything he cares to kill . . . from school children in Connecticut to movie goers in Colorado to members of a Congresswoman’s staff in a public outdoor meeting in Arizona to a black teenager in Florida who was thought to be a ‘threat’ because he wore a hooded sweatshirt to wild birds in flight along with all unprotected wild critters anywhere . . . and ANY effort to restrict or control the tools of such nonsense is met with screams of ‘unconstitutional!’ and ‘treason!’ And the murderous beat goes on, and on, and on as we the people honor the legacy of language designed only to offer comfort to slave owners.

Meanwhile, the Thirteenth Amendment (1865) specifically states that:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

And while it’s true that the Thirteenth Amendment did, indeed, retroactively and permanently do away with slavery and involuntary servitude (in the USA), it unfortunately did NOT also correct and clarify the Word Salad of the Second Amendment. Any killer can still own a gun. And use it whenever his ‘pleasure’ demands. Therefore, I do herein and hereby offer free of charge my recommendations to overwhelm the Second Amendment’s Word Salad, to make it speak in crystal clear fashion the original intent of the Framers:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to  control the antics of uppity Negro slaves and thus ensure  the security of a free State, the right of the  white male slave-owning  people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

There. Fourteen words added, no more Word Salad. Ratify, and problem(s) solved.

A final statement:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo all victims everywhere of needless gun-enabled bloodshed; to each and every creature lost in fashion cruel, in violence due solely to the gift of political privilege entrusted by our Founders to 18th-century slave owners:
Requiescat In Pace
R.I.P.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, January 24th, 2013: A Brief Glimpse into FauxGnus

I decided to hold my nose and take a look at some of the recent stories on foxnews.com, to see what the current spin looks like. While Media Matters is the best source for the real low-down and dirty lies from Fox, I’m just going to skim a bit of the scum off the surface of their cesspool:

First, so-called journalist Wayne Allyn Root discusses “Why I am a newly-minted Member of NRA” (basically because he believes the right-wing hype, and that he’s always been anti-Obama), and uses ‘facts’ and ‘statistics’ helpfully provided by Gun Owners of America, along with referencing a Rasmussen poll. A brief, but telling, excerpt:

“I want to protect the Second Amendment. And I don’t want government telling me what to do. And if any of those rights are going to be threatened, then I realized it’s time for me to stand up for the NRA…Leftist, big government, Nanny State politicians always come to the wrong conclusion about most issues.”

and, after the obligatory Hitler reference:

“The reality is that throughout history, the first thing all tyrants do is disarm the citizens. Then the mass killings begin.”

In another reverse-reality story by entitled “Crabby Obama Caught in Budget Trap” by Chris Stirewalt, the author, who must have come out of a coma after the Bush Administration, unblushingly pulls this bit of hypocrisy out of his posterior:

“But it was the political calculation by Democrats to spend without budgeting – to avoid the process by which the pleasure of spending and pain of borrowing and taxing are intertwined – that has left the president in this bind.”

In “Barack Obama–our Imperial Emperor In Chief”, Cal Thomas shows the depths of his delusion:

“At his news conference Monday [January 14th], a petulant, threatening and confrontational President Obama spoke like an emperor or supreme ruler. All that was missing was a scepter, a crown and a robe trimmed in ermine.
This president exceeds even Bill Clinton in his ability to evade, prevaricate and dissemble. I didn’t think that possible.”

“Judge” Anthony P. Napolitano brings us his particular and somewhat unique interpretation of the Constitution and, in particular, the 2nd Amendment in “Guns and the Government.” Here’s something I’ve never heard floated before:

“The opening line of the Constitution contains a serious typographical error: “We the People” should read “We the States.”

and then the tired old right-wing bullshit (and this man was a JUDGE?):

“The Constitution expressly prohibits all governments from infringing upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms. This permits us to defend ourselves when the police can’t or won’t, and it permits a residue of firepower in the hands of the people with which to stop any tyrant who might try to infringe upon our natural rights, and it will give second thoughts to anyone thinking about tyranny.”

Just for fun, we have crazy ol’ Tom Tancredo promising to smoke a joint.

Lastly (since even I couldn’t stand any more), more fantasy about the United Nations, this time regarding gun control, in “Does UN Arms Trade Treaty Figure in Obama Administration’s Gun Control Plans?” This piece includes the lie:

“The Administration first agreed to take part in the U.N. arms treaty negotiations in 2009—the same year in which it launched the now-notorious Fast and Furious operation, which provided weapons to illicit gun traders, ostensibly to track gun-running operations to Mexican drug cartels.”

[The FandF operation started in 2006 under the Bush Administration.]

This is our Open Thread. Try not to catch teh Crazy!

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, January 23, 2013: Breaking Gnus! Obama to do a 180 on Guns!

Twitter, The Zoo's Top Investigative Journalist

Twitter, The Zoo’s Top Investigative Journalist

This just in: President Obama plans to announce a new White House Policy on gun control. In response to Republican calls for his impeachement even before he takes the oath of office for a second time, President Obama has decided to do a stunning about-face in his stance on gun control. Twitter managed to get an advance copy of the draft of the President’s upcoming speech.

     “My fellow Americans. And that includes you old white guys that voted for the other guy.

     “It is time to acknowlege that our government has failed you, the honest, hardworking, God fearing American Citizen. We can no longer keep you safe in your homes, on your streets, in malls and movie theaters, and in your schools.

     “A few days ago, I introduced a package of Executive Orders and legislation I thought would help. You responded with outrage, and calls for my impeachment. I got the message. You don’t want any restrictions on your right to bear arms.

    “Now I know there are a great number of Americans who hold President Ronald Reagan in high esteem. But lately I’ve heard that they believe he was senile when he signed the bill outlawing machine guns. So, effective immediately, I am ordering law enforcement to stop enforcing all laws that impinge on your right to bear arms. If you feel you need a fully automatic machine gun to protect yourself from criminals, outlaws, or a takeover by your government, feel free to go out and buy one.

     “I am ordering the Justice Department to draft a legal challenge to those laws, to have the Supreme Court strike them all down as unconstitutional.

     “And I am asking all members of Congress to join with me in bipartisan support and pass a new, revised version of the Militia Act of 1792. As you might know, the Militia Act of 1792 required all able bodied men to buy muskets and keep a store of musket balls and gunpowder. Well, we’re beyond the days of muskets. I want every able-bodied adult, not just you men, but women-folk too, to own at least one assault rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition. And I want Congress to pass this legislation immediately.

     “We cannot wait. The bad guys have had this kind of firepower for far too long. It is time we, as a nation, come together and stand united in our support for the Second Amendement, united in protecting ourselves and our loved ones, and united in gun ownership.

     “Thank you, and God bless America.”

A spokesperson for the NRA merely said, “It’s about time.” But, as Twitter was leaving, he heard the man pick up his phone and say, “Bud? Yeah, it’s me. You know that national chain of funeral homes you want to start? Count me in.”

Foreign car makers Aston-Martin and BMW are quietly working up plans to introduce commercial versions of their “Bond Cars” for the American market. They will come as fully armed as their movie counterparts. Prices are expected to start at over $2.4 million for the BMWs and over $6 million for the Astin Martins.

Democrats, by far and large, applauded the President’s move. One aide spoke, on condition of anonymity, “The President knows that Republicans cannot help but oppose everything he wants, and will propose the exact opposite.”

Republicans, when asked for comment, were uniformly outraged. “He can’t do this!” said one, who wished to remain anonymous. “It’s unconstitutional! He has to enforce the laws we have! And who is he to order everyone to go out and buy guns! We can’t have everyone armed! The Second Amendment was all about State’s Militias! If he dares to have someone introduce this legislation on the floor of Congress, I will file articles of impeachment the very same day…the very same minute!” With that the Congressman rushed to his office to begin drafting articles of impeachment.

READY, AIM, POST!

 

UPDATE:

Ok. So I wrote this over the weekend and scheduled it for today. Who knew?

Tea Party Congressman: Citizens Should Have Same Weapons As The Military

Yes. Sadly, there are those who want an arms race here in America, with civilians lining up to buy the latest and bestest killing machines available. Fear begets fear. Carnage on an unimaginable scale awaits. Will calmer, saner heads prevail?

Sorry to bring in a downer on what was supposed to be a lighthearted satire…..but, really…civilians with military grade hardware?

This is My Body, Not Yours

Transcript:

This is my body.
I do what I want with it.
This is my body.
I make my own choices.
This is my body.
I use it as a canvas, tattoo it, decorate it, and pierce it.
I take medicine if I want to and only undergo medical procedures I choose.
I eat what I want, exercise for my health, and wear what I like.
I fall in love with whomever, fuck/sleep with whomever and marry whomever I choose.
I decide when and how to become a mother.
This is my body, not yours

These decisions have nothing to do with you. If I’m not hurting you or stopping you from pursuing your inherent right to happiness, it’s none of your business. This is my body, not yours.

Almost one in eight women in the United States will have breast cancer, the most invasive cancer for women worldwide. If I am black or white, rich or poor, married or single, gay or straight, formally educated or not, I have the right to be screened for this killer of women, whether I go to my doctor or rely on the services of clinics like those run by Planned Parenthood. Your desire to stop the funding of abortions has nothing to do with my right to defend myself against cancer. This is my body, not yours.

If I choose to have sex, I have the right to birth control and to be spared your demeaning insults you’d never want leveled against your daughter or mother. My pursuit of orgasm is neither unnatural nor dangerous nor scary nor an infringement of your religious liberty. My sexual activity is for my benefit, not your pleasure. And it’s never my fault if you rape me. I am done being excluded from decisions about my sexual and reproductive health. This is my body, not yours.

I determine who or what goes inside of my vagina and when. I make all decisions regarding my pregnancy. I will access prenatal care whether or not you agree with the choices made resulting from that care. I have the right to an abortion without facing intimidation, harassment, burdensome parental consent laws, or prejudicial taxes. If I decide to have an abortion, I will not undergo unnecessary, invasive medical procedures for the purposes of your moralizing and personal edification. I’m entitled to all health information from my doctor. And allowing myself to be penetrated once doesn’t assume your right to do it again on your own prerogative, for your own reasons. This is my body, not yours.

It is time for you to accept that I am fully aware, capable, and accountable for myself. I don’t need a hero or saving because I’m not in distress. I’m not defined by my need of a man or partner, but I have the right to be made happy by one, in a safe and supportive relationship. I’m not defined by my weight, hair, make up, skin color, or breast size. I do not exist to be your play toy. I won’t wait my turn nor be quiet nor heed you. I know my physical and mental strength and I do not fear you. I’m beautiful, despite what you think, with or without your approval. This is my body, not yours.

This is my body.
I’m through with legislators telling me what to do with it.
This is my body.
Keep your salacious, aggressive, sexist insults to yourself. I’m not listening.
This is my body.
I have the right to marry my partner, woman or man.
To equal pay
To health care
To education
To divorce
To safety
To protection of the law
To respect and dignity
To complete equality
This is my body, not yours.

Do not be afraid of a world in which women know themselves, their voice, and their power. That world has arrived.

————

Don’t like it?  We aren’t asking you if you like it; we’re telling you how things are.

A Rose by Any Other Name

would still smell…
 
SpiritKat
Guest Post by SpiritKat
 
I was driving to church this past Sunday morning, and as I often do, turned on the radio to a talk show. It was in the middle of a program, and, unfortunately, I reached my destination before the program’s close, so I didn’t catch what program it was or who the speaker was. I didn’t recognize the speaker’s voice, but his message centered around the recent school shootings. It became very clear to me when this speaker began telling how all of the shooters in these recent incidents were either Democrats, or children of Democrats and “Liberals”, that he was indulging in the worst kind of hate speech. But does this person realize he has just put a target on the back of the people he is maligning? In his rant, he asked where the Republicans and Tea party activists were in this, and I couldn’t help but shout at the radio, “They’re right there coming out of your mouth you idiot!”
 
I find it very disturbing when people in such public forums use it for hate speeches. Yes, I certainly understand that they have the right to free speech, and I respect that right, but there is a particularly sinister insidiousness to it when a speaker does so in way that incites others into hatefulness. In my opinion, it is this inciting of hatred that is at the root of a great deal of the violence we’re seeing, including the recent school shootings. This broadcast was solely a pathetic effort to place blame on a particular group of people, and incite people to hate them–and that is just plain wrong. It actually says far more about what kind of person the hate speech broadcaster is than it does anyone else.
 
During the time I was listening, this radio speaker did not give any facts to support his contention that all these shooters were connected to Democrats, but it matters little, for the fact is, no matter what party, all party members are NOT alike. Granted, Republicans appear to have done their best to “purify” party leadership (kind of reminds one of Hitler’s purification efforts doesn’t it?), but while they’ve done a fair job duping the masses, they haven’t gotten to everyone.
 
Not all Republicans are conservatives, for example. I happen to have a Republican friend who is an intelligent, reasonable person; what some might call “old school Republican (those folks back before the party became corrupted by the pseudo religious right), or what might today be called moderates.
 
So, too, all Democrats are not liberals, or even progressives. In fact, not all who are registered as Democrats are even Democrats. Joe Lieberman is a good example of that kind pseudo Democrat. I, myself, am registered as a Democrat, but I absolutely am NOT a Democrat. I am very liberal when it comes to women’s rights, but on many other issues I am very much a moderate, and on a few, even somewhat conservative. But with all the attempts by the ultra conservatives to disenfranchise voters, I simply decided not to bother with changing it.
 
It takes all kinds to make a society, and it is from that societal “melting pot” that political parties are formed. Every party contains extremes on both ends of the spectrum, along with a wide range of diversity in between. So, even if this radio speaker were correct about the shooters’ political connections, it doesn’t mean a hill of beans, as my mama used to say, because those who in some way carry the label of Democrat are as diverse as the population stuck on this wobbling globe.
 
I leave you with this thought: perhaps the hate mongers would be wise to reconsider their hate messages. After all, you know what they say about shooting the messenger…
 
 

Watering Hole: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 – And So It Begins

Monday, January 21, 2013 was a historic day.  It was the 50 year anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr’s famous “I got a dream” speech and it was the second Inauguration of America’s first African American President.  If someone would have suggested that history would merge on that date 12 years ago, I would have laughed at the idea.

Anyhow, I hope that you got to hear President Obama’s second Inauguration speech.

Congratulations to President Obama and Vice President Biden.  America is fortunate to have such strong and intelligent leaders.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!  It’s your First Amendment right.

Across the Pond: January 20th, 2013 – Sunday Round Up

Right. Well, I’m up anyway, so let’s check the webs.

The Hostage Crisis in Algeria seems to be over. But it ended in a bloodbath. The situation is still not quite resolved while I am typing this, but one thing is clear: All attackers and the hostages remaining in the hands of their captors are dead.

The Algerian government seems to not have thought twice about getting this done, never mind the cost. It reminds me of the Beslan massacre where a hostage taking by Chechen rebels in a school was ended by the Russian forces without any consideration of the hostages’ fate.

“The terrorists were prepared to commit a collective suicide; the army’s intervention led to their neutralisation. Unfortunately, the hostages were executed,”

said El Watan a local newspaper. Well, the public will hear the truth about this at some point.

There is, of course, the war in Mali headlining over here in Europe. You can find a very useful summary of the players involved on the BBC News website. The French are involved in a situation, which, in my humble opinion, may land them in their own version of Afghanistan. Germans are discussing what kind of contribution they can make but there’s the fact that this is a super election year which will be kicked off today in Lower Saxonia. Chancellor Merkel will, obviously, not be getting into any military adventures this year if she can help it at all. President Obama does not show any inclination to get the US involved either. 

Neu ist, dass die USA nicht instinktiv zu einer Führungsrolle innerhalb einer solchen «Koalition der Willigen» drängen. Bereits im Libyen-Krieg hatten sie nach aussen hin den Franzosen den Vorrang gelassen. Die Amerikaner übernahmen damals aber, ohne dies an die grosse Glocke zu hängen, einen beträchtlichen Teil der Lufteinsätze und halfen den Europäern aus, als diesen die Munition ausging. Obama nannte dies «Führung von hinten», was ihm einigen Spott eintrug – aber um einen Führungsanspruch handelte es sich gleichwohl. Davon kann in Mali keine Rede mehr sein.

(It is new, that the US does not instinctively claim a leading role in such a “coalition of the willing”. In the Libya war they had already let the French have the leading role, at least outwardly. The Americans, however, have at that time without making any fuss about it taken over a considerable number of airstrikes and helped out when the Europeans were running out of ammunition. Obama called this “leading from behind” which caused some ridicule, but – nevertheless – included the will to lead. In Mali there is no mention of it. Translation by yours truly

When it comes to foreign politics, looking at it from our side of the pond, New Obama, is naturally a topic of interest. The sudden change in his handling of the Republican opposition does not go unnoticed:

After being widely criticised in his first four years for a lack of savvy during negotiations with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Obama has suddenly taken a much harder line. In debates over the so-called “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes and spending cuts at the end of last year, Obama’s team secured a deal widely seen as a victory. That tougher stance has also been matched by Obama staking out a strong position on forthcoming talks with the Republicans in Congress over raising the debt ceiling. Indeed, only days after Obama gave a speech on the issue marked by stern language the Republicans last week appeared to cave in and moved to extend the ceiling for another three months. (read the whole post here)

About time, I’d say.

Have you finished your coffee? Not yet? Well, there’s more for reading found in the old world:

Oil and the interests of Canada’s First Nations

Catholic Hospitals refuse Aid to Rape Victim (Germany has its own bible belt, methinks)

Boeing’s Dreamliner is grounded

and

The Swiss are fretting over what will happen to their banks.

I hope you’ll enjoy your Sunday Morning reading.

This is an Open Thread! Join in. What is important to you today?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 19, 2013: Will Republicans Ever Get It?

Republicans met this week in Williamsburg, VA, to discuss how they could improve their image as a party. They recognize that they are not very popular with women and minorities and they decided that this would be one of the discussion topics at the retreat. Unfortunately for them, their utter cluelessness led them to schedule a discussion of the subject in the Burwell Plantation Room. Yes, that’s right. The “Discussion on Successful Communication with Minorities and Women” took place in a room named for a wealthy Virginia family that owned many slaves. The irony wasn’t lost on everyone. A Congressman interviewed about it said that though the panel discussion would include three white men, it would also include several women. Sadly, he could only identify them as “a woman from CNN” and “Sean Duffy’s wife.” Is it any wonder the Republicans’ approval rating is only 27%?

Then there’s the debt ceiling. Setting aside the issue of whether or not a debt ceiling violates the 14th Amendment, for years the Republicans have been trying to forcefully tie spending cuts to increases in the debt ceiling. No spending cuts, no debt ceiling increase. This is ludicrous because future spending has nothing to do with past debts, and there are plenty of unpaid bills that can be directly linked to GOP policies and laws. For example, the Republicans passed a Medicare prescription drug bill that not only prohibited the government from negotiating with drug companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients (like the Department of Veterans Affairs can), it also did not raise any taxes to pay for the new debt this bill brought. Add to that both the War in Afghanistan (which I refuse to describe as a “War on Terror” because that’s like having a “War on Fear”) and the War of Revenge in Iraq (which had nothing whatsoever to do with the people who committed horrific crimes on our soil on 9/11/01), wars that were kept off budget until President Obama put them in the budget (which is why right-wingers often like to falsely say that Obama increased the deficit) and you’ve got a huge mountain of IOUs. Some like to say the GOP spent like drunken sailors, but even sailors have credit limits on their credit cards, and the GOP happily increased the debt ceiling to cover their unfinanced spending without raising a peep about the effects on the nation’s credit rating. Their last standoff over the debt ceiling resulted in you and I paying billions of dollars more in interest on our existing debt. And just about everybody expected the Republicans to announce that they were drawing a line in the sand (again), putting their foot down (again), and refusing to raise the debt ceiling (again). So it was a bit of a surprise when GOP Leader Eric Cantor announced in a press release that next week, “We will authorize a three month temporary debt limit increase to give the Senate and House time to pass a budget.” I had always thought that this was a matter of some kind of principle (ill-defined and unspecified though it may be) with the GOP, but apparently they think nobody is paying much attention to what they’ve done in the past compared to what they’re doing today. I am.

For some reason, the GOP acts as though the American people want the GOP running the country, even though they know this isn’t true. They’ve even admitted that the only reason they currently control the House of Representatives is because of gerrymandered districts. Nationwide in 2012, the Democrats got more than a million votes more than Republicans. And despite this attempt at cheating (when, since 1980, has the GOP done anything honestly?), the GOP lost seats in both chambers of Congress. If the American people really wanted the country to be run by Republicans, wouldn’t both the White House and Congress be in GOP hands come Monday? So why do they continue to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, despite its constitutionality and popularity? Why do they continue to restrict women’s reproductive rights even further? Why did they hold a meeting to discuss how they can reach out to minorities in a room named for a slave-owning family? Maybe it’s time the Republican Party face the facts. They have no idea what they’re doing and they’re just no good at governing.

An amusing side note, on Wednesday night, the GOP had blind mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer give an inspirational speech. Mr. Weihenmayer did something amazing despite being blind, and that was to climb to the top of Mt Everest a decade ago. (Well, they told him it was Mt Everest.) I did not recall hearing about the story when it happened, but I do remember this classic blooper from a news program where he was about to be interviewed.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss clueless Republicans, pointless debt ceiling fights, or blind and/or gay mountain climbers.

The Watering Hole, Friday Jan. 18 2013; Drought and Heat vs. Civilization(s)

Sinagua Petroglyph Collage, a few of the more than 1000 ancient glyphs carved on a sandstone cliff face at theV-Bar-B site near Wet Beaver Creek in the upper Verde Valley of Arizona

Sinagua Petroglyph Collage: a few of the more than 1000 ancient glyphs carved on a sandstone cliff face at theV-Bar-V site near Wet Beaver Creek in the upper Verde Valley of Arizona

Drought-reduced precipitation typically goes hand in hand with elevated temperatures, and the consequences to impacted civilizations can be, and usually are, devastating. Case in point: a thousand years ago, what we today call the American Southwest was home to essentially five different (and advanced) cultures. In the area commonly referred to as the Four Corners, the Anasazi culture embraced today’s SW Colorado, NW New Mexico, NE Arizona, and SE Utah. In eastern Arizona, western New Mexico, and probably extending into northern Mexico as well, the Mogollon people dominated. In the southern Arizona deserts lived the Salado and the Hohokam, and between Hohokam and Anasazi lands, the Sinagua. The Sinagua (name based on historical Spanish records which described the aboriginal inhabitants’ desert surround as sin agua, i.e. ‘without water’) are considered by most archaeologists and anthropologists to be the precursors of the Hopi people of northern Arizona, a premise with which the Hopi are in general agreement. It’s also believed, at least in some quarters, that the Sinagua persisted longer than the other four major cultures, although dates of ‘departure’ or disappearance are extremely difficult to ascertain with any precision. Suffice to say that all five cultures had disappeared at least a century, possibly two centuries, prior to the arrival of the Spanish (in Arizona) circa 1539.

What caused their collective (and more-or-less ‘sudden’) disappearance? Until recently, the presumed most significant factor was the enduring and severe drought that blanketed the Southwest in the late thirteenth century. Speculative dates of disappearance range from the early 1300’s to, in some cases, as late as 1450. One could surmise that, since the people were dependent upon both crops and wild game for their food, a crippling drought would likely have played a significant role both in crop production and in the quantity (and quality) of food and materials available to hunters and gatherers; modern tree ring data generally confirm those suspicions.

There are, too, other considerations that have arisen in archaeological and anthropological studies over the last couple of decades, particularly in re the disappearance of the Anasazi. These new theses involve emergent evidences of an apparently severe and divisive religious ‘crisis’ of some sort alongside an obvious infestation of internecine conflicts between different subgroups, with ensuing cultural demise brought to logical conclusion by the encroachment of severe drought. The archaeological and anthropological evidence is, of course, scant and largely speculative; the evidence of a severe drought and its likely impact remains a far more unchallengeable reality.

What tweaks the imagination is the reality that today, we here in the US (along with peoples of other countries throughout humankind’s emergent global society) are on the apparent leading edge of extreme anthropogenic global warming and its consequent climate changes that predict not only severe droughts and untenable temperature elevations, but also profoundly destructive storms as well. In addition, the US finds itself confronted by divisive local and global religious conflicts, intermingled with malignant cultural subgroups including such bizarre “cults” as the National Rifle Association in league with gun manufacturers and sellers as well as with innumerable and heavily armed individuals and deviant “militias” (none of which are EVER ‘well regulated’).  Add to that our myriad numbers of absurdly severe political AND religious extremist and/or racist entities and suddenly the problem becomes clear — obvious, in fact, to the point where, after one reflects on historical precedents, the question: what could possibly go wrong? answers itself in a single word: everything!

The Hopi, descendants of at least the Sinagua and perhaps also the Hisat’sinom (Anasazi), have a word that essentially describes the human predicament, both ancient and modern: Koyaanisqatsi. According to the Hopi Dictionary: Hopìikwa Lavàytutuveni, Koyaanisqatsi means “life of moral corruption and turmoil” or “life out of balance”.

[NOTE: Koyaanisqatsi is also the title of a 1983 film (a Francis Ford Coppola Production) which is presented in ‘mystical’  fashion as . . .

time-lapse photography, often shown in hyperspeed, and shot primarily in the desert of the Southwest and New York City, (and) shows the contrast between the pace of the natural world and the one that man has made.

It does, indeed, point toward the ‘life out of balance’ and ‘life of moral corruption and turmoil’ memes which are so frighteningly commonplace in today’s USA. It’s available on DVD, and well worth a watch.]

The modern Hopi people are, meanwhile, derivative of ancient culture(s). They are a people who trace their roots back, via their thesis of origins, to the emergence, at Sipapu in the Grand Canyon, of Human from the Third World of the creation into this, the Fourth World. The Hopi also believe that, by way of antecedent wanderings and explorations of North, Central, and South America, from Atlantic to Pacific and from Arctic tundra to the very tip of South America itself, the paths of the ancient nomads finally converged and crossed at the point where their three great mesas tower above the surrounding desert plains. The Hopi understand themselves to be descendants of these first inhabitants of the Americas. They remain a peaceful people, deeply religious Keepers of the Earth who believe that their progress on life’s road derives from the unspoken observation of life’s laws. Their village of Oraibi, on Third Mesa, is the oldest continuously-occupied settlement in what is, today, the United States. The Hopi people and their culture have withstood the onslaught of at least three tiers of invaders — Navajo, Spaniard, and American — and yet their culture remains intact and faithful to its beliefs, and to practices which are rooted in an antiquity few others can or will ever even attempt to comprehend.

Sinagua Ruins (Hopi ancestors) at Walnut Canyon, Wupatki, and Montezuma Castle, Arizona

Sinagua  (ancestral Hopi) Ruins at Walnut Canyon, Wupatki, and Montezuma Castle; Arizona National Monuments on the Colorado Plateau and in the Verde Valley, resp.

Perhaps it would be wise for modern societies to, for once, listen to and heed the precepts of ancient wisdom, to consider the potential consequences of Koyaanisqatsi in this modern era, perhaps even to attempt correction of those cultural practices (and foibles) which can — and have — provoked the demise of otherwise advanced civilizations. But I’ll not hold my breath in anticipation.

This is today’s open thread . . . speak up, and enjoy!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, January 17th, 2013: The NRA

Today’s thread provides a look at some recent activity from the NRA’s website, along with some background and statistical information from the ATF’s website, plus a few other odds and ends.

From the NRA’s website:

January 16, 2013
NRA RESPONSE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA’S GUN CONTROL PROPOSALS
Throughout its history, the National Rifle Association has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership. Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority.

The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law. We look forward to working with Congress on a bi-partisan basis to find real solutions to protecting America’s most valuable asset — our children.

Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.

[“inevitability?]
– and –

January 10, 2013
STATEMENT FROM THE NRA
The National Rifle Association of America is made up of over 4 million moms and dads, daughters and sons, who are involved in the national conversation about how to prevent a tragedy like Newtown from ever happening again. We attended today’s White House meeting to discuss how to keep our children safe and were prepared to have a meaningful conversation about school safety, mental health issues, the marketing of violence to our kids and the collapse of federal prosecutions of violent criminals.

We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment. While claiming that no policy proposals would be “prejudged,” this Task Force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners — honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans. It is unfortunate that this Administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen. Instead, we will now take our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works — and what does not.

Back in December, the NRA-ILA (Institute for Legislative Action) – self-described as “The Lobbying Arm of the NRA” – commented on Senator Diane Feinstein’s draft for proposed new gun legislation. And on January 4th, the NRA-ILA began to gin up fear over proposed House gun control bills.

From the ATF (which the NRA refers to as the BATFE, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), here’s a brief history of the National Firearms Act. The ATF website also includes information regarding Firearms Trace data (“state-by-state reports utilizing trace data which is intended to provide the public with insight into firearms recoveries”) as well as graphs and links for “Number of NFA Firearms Processed by Fiscal Year” Take a look at the jump in the numbers of “firearms processed” in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012, when the NRA, in the person of Wayne LaPierre, was strongly pushing the “Obama’s going to take your guns away” meme. The website also provides a list (including photos and descriptions) of firearms which are covered under the National Firearms Act and subsequent additional gun control legislation.

Let’s go back to the NRA again. Here’s a brief introductory excerpt from a fascinating Alternet article by Steven Rosenfeld entitled “The Surprising Unknown History of the NRA”:

“For nearly a century after, its founding in 1871, the National Rifle Association was among America’s foremost pro-gun control organizations. It was not until 1977 when the NRA that Americans know today emerged, after libertarians who equated owning a gun with the epitome of freedom and fomented widespread distrust against government—if not armed insurrection—emerged after staging a hostile leadership coup.

In the years since, an NRA that once encouraged better markmanship and reasonable gun control laws gave way to an advocacy organization and political force that saw more guns as the answer to society’s worst violence, whether arming commercial airline pilots after 9/11 or teachers after the Newtown, while opposing new restrictions on gun usage.

It is hard to believe that the NRA was committed to gun-control laws for most of the 20th century—helping to write most of the federal laws restricting gun use until the 1980s.”

The NRA claims to have over four million members, a number disputed in this article from motherjones.com. There have also been claims made by the NRA that, since the Newtown tragedy, the NRA is gaining 8000 new members a day, supposedly over 100,000 total. However, when I tried to find more information to back up these claims, all I found were links to Fox News, Breitbart, and to some site called “The Daily News Report” (no relation to the NY Daily News.) And since this Daily News Report article contains the sentence “Unlike many who are using the school shooting as a political club, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has been staying quiet out of respect for the Newtown victims“, I think we can safely dismiss this ‘report.’ BTW, tomorrow night, FoxNews will be presenting “Hannity Special: Inside the Gun Debate, featuring Wayne LaPierre.” I wonder if they’ll have any of the parents from Newtown on for this “fair and balanced” Hannity “Special.”

And lastly, also from motherjones.com, here’s Frank Smyth’s article “Unmasking the NRA’s Inner Circle”, as discussed last night on Lawrence O’Donnell’s Last Word.

This is our open thread…better put your reading glasses on!

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, January 16, 2013: Potpourri

Former congressman Joe Walsh (R IL) is considering a run to be the governor of Illinois. He is, apparently, abandoning the Law and Order platform of the Republican Party, suggesting that people violate laws they disagree with: ObamaCare and any new gun laws.

Hobby Lobby, a pseudo-christian corporation, is openly defying a court order to fully implement Obamacare.

At the heart of these issues is a new stance by Republicans: it’s ok to break laws you don’t want to follow. The driving forces? The Right to Life and the Right to Kill.

What are the logical consequences of implementing the Republican agenda on just these two topics?

All forms of birth control would be illegal, as would abortions. Abstinence only, which doesn’t work, would be the only sex education our children receive. The consequence: a baby boom, followed by baby boom after baby boom, as each successive generation reaches child-bearing age. The population of the United States would grow exponentially. At some point, there won’t be enough food and drinking water to sustain the population.

That’s where the Right to Kill [i.e. the Right to Keep and Bear Arms] will kick in with full force. Those with superior fire power will take food and water by force. In the mean time, the United States will be faced with mass murders on an ever increasing basis as gang wars break out, much like the romanticized version of the Roaring 20s.

*****

Meanwhile, in this morning’s paper, some rather grim statistics that can be used as a predictor of where we are headed. Only 25% of adults 25 or older have a high school education or GED. Another 7% have a 2-year college degree. 8% have a four-year college degree and 4% have an advanced degree. That accounts for 44% of the adult population 25 or older. That means 56% don’t even have a high school diploma.

If you figure that only half of the high school graduates came out with a C average or lower, the figure adds up to 68% of the county – a super majority. These are the folks swayed more by emotion than critical thinking, because they’ve never learned critical thinking,  how to analyze, how to think.

56%. That’s a majority of the voters. That’s also the jury of your “peers”.

*****
On a different note, if we enact new gun laws to restrict access to semi-automatic assault weapons and multi-round clips, but do nothing about the ones currently in circulation now, the gun nuts will have all the best armaments…

As has been noted, gun nuts do not respond to rational arguments. They react out of fear and prejudice. Fear is a powerful motivator. And they are armed.

*****

Seen on a comments thread:

Mass shootings occur at schools.

Ban schools.

******

The argument goes: people get killed by cars – why don’t we ban cars?

Well, we require everyone who drive a car to have a minimum amount of training and be licensed by the state, but we don’t require that of people who have guns.

But, perhaps more important for this discussion: We require people to have liability insurance for their cars. Why can’t we require people to have liability insurance for their guns?

*****
I used to be a school teacher. I like the idea of arming school teachers. It sounds much more effective for classroom discipline than just handing out detentions.

OK…ENOUGH OF MY RAMBLINGS. OPEN THREAD TIME.

Watering Hole: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 – Inauguration 2009

I was there.  I saw it happen.  I was part of the crowd.  There were tears; tears of joy, tears of relief, and tears of love.  It was hard to believe that it had finally happened.

It all began when I was given two blue tickets to the inauguration of Barack Obama.  I shared these tickets with a friend whose mother owned a townhouse in Alexandria, VA.  She offered us a place to stay so that it would be easy to get into D.C. to witness this monumental event.

We started out on that historic morning by taking a taxi that was suppose to take us into D.C.  The taxi driver believed that he couldn’t cross any of the bridges to get into the city so he dropped us off at the train station in Alexandria.  Every train that stopped at the station was packed and it was impossible to get onto the train.  Since the trains traveling in the opposite direction were almost empty, we decided that we would take one of those trains and do the loop.  It would mean an extra 15 minutes but at least we were on a train.  At the end of the line, the train filled up with people that had arrived on buses from all across the nation.  The good people that stood near us on the train were from Minnesota.  It took them two and a half days of traveling to get to D.C.

When we finally arrived in D.C., we went to the area outside the entrance for the blue ticket holders.  There were hundreds of people gathered there and we became part of the crowd.  At 9:30, the gates were opened so that people could get in.  Needless to say, the crowd moved very slowly.  It was 11:35 when we finally reached the cattle chute and we were pushed in by the crowd and told to go to the scanners.  There was little time for scanning or searching our bags so security waved us through and told us to hurry.

When we got closer to the Capitol, we saw thousands and thousands of people gathered on the lawns, on the sidewalks and on the streets looking in the direction of the Capitol steps.  There had to be at least one million people crowded together looking towards Barack Obama.  From where I was standing, the President appeared to be about six inches tall. I perused the area and saw the “jumbotrons”.  These were the biggest screens that I have ever seen and they were everywhere.

Barack Obama was sworn into office and after he gave his address, the crowd went wild.  Everyone was hugging each other.  Standing next to me was a black woman who was about my age (I’m a white, young senior).  Tears were rolling down her face.  They were streaming down my cheeks, too.  We looked at each other, smiled, and then hugged each other.

This is where the real story takes place.  This stranger and myself lived through the challenge of opposing segregation during the ’60’s.  We witnessed blacks being beaten, and repelled with water from fire hoses.  We saw blacks being spit on as they walked into previously ‘whites only’ schools.  We heard the slurs and the name calling.  People died fighting for equal rights.

As a white person, I won’t pretend to know what it feels like to be a black person living in a society that dislikes you just because of the color of your skin.  I can only imagine how painful it must feel to see people cross to the other side of the street when they see you walking down the sidewalk or how hurtful it must feel when someone refuses to shake your hand or to sit next to you.  When Barack Obama became President Barack Obama, I thought that our nation had finally matured and would become integrated.  Was I in for a surprise.

Racism didn’t depart after the passage of the Civil Rights Act.  It only went into hiding.    A black man holding one of the most powerful positions in the world has brought the racists to the forefront.  This is a good thing as we now know who they are.  We are seeing faces and we have the power to stand up to them as we must speak the truth and confront them, always.

The inauguration of President Barack Obama was an exciting event.  As I was leaving the Capitol grounds and standing on the curb waiting to cross the street, two black SUV’s with the license plate number “2” on it, passed by.  We all booed because we knew that Dick Cheney was in one of those SUV’s.

Next Tuesday, we will have reason to celebrate again.  This time I will be watching the events of the day from my home.

This is our Open Thread.  That is my story.  It was long.  Now it’s time for me to let you Speak Up! Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 14, 2013: Aaron H. Swartz, Activist and Internet Icon, Dead at 26

Aaron H. Swartz, co-founder at the age of 14 of Reddit, hung himself last Friday.  While he had a history of depression the fact that the Justice Department was charging him with crimes was likely a factor in his suicide. On his show, “Up with Chris Hayes,” host Chris Hayes had this to say about the man he once knew:

You should also know that at the time of his death Aaron was being prosecuted by the federal government and threatened with up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines for the crime of — and I’m not exaggerating here — downloading too many free articles from the online database of scholarly work JSTOR. Aaron had allegedly used a simple computer script to use MIT’s network to massively download academic articles from the database that he himself had legitimate access to, almost 5 million in all, with the intent, prosecutors alleged, of making them freely available. You should know that despite JSTOR declining to press charges or pursue prosecution, federal prosecutors dropped a staggering 13 count felony indictment on Aaron for his alleged actions.

In a post he titled “Sick” Aaron wrote about his depression in an attempt to help others understand what it’s like.

Surely there have been times when you’ve been sad. Perhaps a loved one has abandoned you or a plan has gone horribly awry. Your face falls. Perhaps you cry. You feel worthless. You wonder whether it’s worth going on. Everything you think about seems bleak — the things you’ve done, the things you hope to do, the people around you. You want to lie in bed and keep the lights off. Depressed mood is like that, only it doesn’t come for any reason and it doesn’t go for any either. Go outside and get some fresh air or cuddle with a loved one and you don’t feel any better, only more upset at being unable to feel the joy that everyone else seems to feel. Everything gets colored by the sadness.

At best, you tell yourself that your thinking is irrational, that it is simply a mood disorder, that you should get on with your life. But sometimes that is worse. You feel as if streaks of pain are running through your head, you thrash your body, you search for some escape but find none. And this is one of the more moderate forms. As George Scialabba put it, “acute depression does not feel like falling ill, it feels like being tortured … the pain is not localized; it runs along every nerve, an unconsuming fire. … Even though one knows better, one cannot believe that it will ever end, or that anyone else has ever felt anything like it.”

According to the Huffington Post, by the Sunday after news of Aaron’s death got out, “hundreds of academics had begun tweeting links to their copyright-protected research as a protest in Swartz’s honor, using the hashtag #pdftribute.” The New York Times wrote of him as “A Data Crusader, a Defendant and Now, a Cause.” The world is not as bright a place as it was before Aaron took his own life. He will be missed by many, even those who never knew him.

If you have depression, Aaron would want you to know that help is available. You don’t have to go through it alone.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss the tragic loss of Aaron Swartz or any other topic you wish.