The Watering Hole, Monday, April 29th, 2013: Tending the Garden

I’m taking off from work today and tomorrow in an effort to, if not resurrect, clean up and replant my poor neglected garden. At one time I had had a nice little garden, nothing big or special, but a garden nonetheless.
GARDEN0305GARDEN0309GLAD7GARDEN031I had started major renovations at one point, expanding the area, installing a trellis/gate with climbing roses on either side, changing the crushed-marble walkway to a wooden one encircling a center planting area, salvaging what plants I could and slowly adding more. Then 2004 came along, with its ever-increasing, time- and heart- consuming care of my dying parents. During, and after this time, I only made half-hearted attempts at maintaining the garden, which usually ended, due to lack of will, right after raking and weeding the area. This year I am trying to muster up some continued impetus to re-create something that I can be proud of, instead of the mess that’s out there right now.

It’s kind of like a miniature version of our country – it’s a big mess, and strangling weeds are doing their best to kill off what was once beautiful. It needs a lot of diligent work and constant attention, but it’s definitely worth trying to salvage.

This is your Open Thread. What’s on your mind today?

In a nutshell….

All cartoons are posted with the artists’ express permission to TPZoo.
Paul Jamiol
Jamiol’s World


Although the sequester is litterally killing Americans by depriving them of much needed healthcare, Congress did take swift action to alleviate one major inconvenience to the leisure class by restoring air traffic controllers.

Thus it is as it has been, poor people die so that rich people won’t be inconvenienced.

Sunday Roast: April 28th, 2013 – Three Myths about England

Myth # 1: It rains. Always.

Well it does at times, but when it does, it is still awesome. The world looks as if someone painted it:

Myth # 2: The Food sucks:

If you can’t get something decent to eat out of this at home…

You can still suffer through this in your local pub…

Myth # 3: They have a wicked sense of humor:


That’s right.

I’m back from there and wish I wasn’t. So I will reminisce a bit and plan my next trip.

This is your Open Thread. All Yours.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 27, 2013 – The White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner Tonight

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner is tonight, April 27, 2013, with most coverage beginning at 9 PM ET on the cable news channels. C-SPAN cooverage begins several hours earlier. As a preview, here are last year’s performances by President Barack Obama, followed by host Jimmy Kimmel. Note how the president’s joke about hockey moms versus pit bulls goes over.

Jimmy Kimmel’s bit begins with my favorite feature from, his show, “This Week in Unnecessary Censorship.” He says a joke about Boston that wouldn’t be attempted this year. Enjoy his performance, including his opportunity to tell off a teacher who once told him he wouldn’t amount to anything. “I’m about to high-five the President of the United States.”

This year, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner host will be Conan O’Brien. I know I’ll be watching. Will you?

This is our daily open thread. Talk about anything you want.

The Watering Hole; Friday April 26, 2013: “Xeric Xanadu”

Monday, April 22, was Earth Day.

For some, at least.

For me, though, Earth Day is every day, of every month, of every year, century, millennium . . . I mean, I live here. I live here, exactly as do all those weeds, flowers, wolves, grizzly bears, dolphins, whales, birds, tuna, perch, minnows, mosquitos, cockroaches . . . apes . . . idiots . . . Republicans . . . humans?? . . . amongst each and all of those various multitudes of other. Life. Forms.

Like that.

No ‘humans’ . . . in our own curious lingo . . . are anything other than yet one more of Earth’s multiple hundreds of thousands of millions of billions of trillions of life form entities, nor is any single one of ‘us’ of any more cosmic import than a bee, or a flower, or for that matter even a virus . . . or an IDIOT! . . . billions of ‘them’ . . . idiots. People. Humans. Not cockroaches, not houseflies, certainly not flowers. IDIOTS. The proof is everywhere. It fouls the air. It pollutes ALL the waters, every drop. It’s everywhere across the land, across ALL land, all water, and in the sky. It. Is. Everywhere!!

I mean, here’s the question: will cockroaches ever decide to go ahead and build something like, say, the Keystone XL Pipeline? That yet one more human-erected gizmo which will surely aid in the killing off of all life on this otherwise remarkable little chunk of cosmic rock? Nah. Cockroaches are way too SMART to engage in anything THAT stupid.

Ok. So then, that’s it. Enough already. I’ve said my piece. I’ll leave it there and proceed, instead, toward that other realm . . . that vast span of life on Earth which does NOT see itself as ‘created in the image of a god’ . . . that vast span of life which simply exists in context thus enabled by nature . . . that realm of life which embraces all but us. Humans, I mean. “Intelligent” life. You know. “Intelligent” (??).

What follows is a diversion of sorts, one which includes a few shreds of poetry presented alongside a handful of old photographs, the combination of which . . . with luck, with hope . . . will demonstrate that, when abject ‘beauty’ comes to define the case in point, then the sole purpose of any human is to record, via words and (again, with luck) images, the reality that is ‘out there’ . . . that pure and unadulterated . . . Beauty. Or, as William Wordsworth put it (in his poem, Lines Written in Early Spring)

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Bee on Saguaro Cactus Flower

Bee on Saguaro Cactus Flower

The Flower-Bee Song

A bee upon a flower did light,
With curious eye, I watched it;
And after moments passed, it flew
Away with nectar’s booty,
Life’s sustenance for bee,
From flower’s heart.

I asked the flower, in whispers hushed
(Lest uninvited ears might hear)
If such intrusion to its heart
Were injur’ous to softnesses
As which, I thought, must linger there.

The flower replied, “No, of course,
For bee and I depend upon
His forays, he for food and I
For life; Future’s generations
On his excursions do rely.”

“May I, too, then, such pleasures seek
Within your golden heart?”  I asked.
The flow’r said, “No, for you are man,
Not bee. Your footsteps weigh too heavily
On softnesses.”

Reflective, then, I walked away
Through desert’s springtime scented air
With heightened sense that I, myself,
Might someday find – like bee and flow’r –
A sustenance in Beauty — there —
Plus in this life, alone.

Desert storm, springtime bloomsXeric Xanadu:
A Paradise of Paradox

Paradise is Paradox:  When silence
Affords the wistful mind a sense of soft
Rapture born of sand and rock; when intense
And windblown multi-colored clouds aloft
Drop scant rains on arid lands, life begins.
O’er deserts vast,  beyond the winter’s edge,
Xanadus of Xeric Floral Xanthins — 
Profusive sprawls of hue-struck landscape — pledge
Another season rich of life, a year
Reduced in size and scope, till moment when
Aridity and heat-waves reappear.
Determined though it is to thrive again,
On withered wing, on waves of blist’ring heat,
Xanadu joins Paradise – in retreat.

Mexican Poppy -- Golden Barrel Cactus -- Globe Mallow

Mexican Poppy — Golden Barrel Cactus — Globe Mallow

 Of Life; Of Death

On arid plains and hillsides in the Spring,
Resilience savors warmth and gentle breeze.
In desert silence filled with buzzing wing,
Life’s essence bridles forth, though never sees
Black clouds which roil beyond the summered hill.
There, darker fates, with patience, trace their prize,
And silently as cougar stalks to kill
The fawn, each holds its breath  — in Cold surprise.
None can rescind that fate which serves all fates.
Though life and love each glory in the bloom
Of life, no soul alive e’er hesitates
Upon its road, in journey toward its tomb.
Each disavows, like flow’r as petals fall,
That final death — which lives within us all.

Saguaro Cactus Skeleton

Saguaro Cactus Skeleton

The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.
[ . . . ]

Flowers of Ocotillo and Yucca

Flowers of Ocotillo and Yucca

Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
by William Wordsworth, circa 1802)


(written by T. R. Nissle, circa 1972)

Praying SaguaroThou, whoever art above, hear me die,
Hear my silent, lonely prayer,
For tongueless creatures everywhere.

We neither savage, jest, nor boast of soul,
But flower unmaliciously,
Disjoin us from humanity.

Springtime on the Sonoran Desert

Springtime on the Sonoran Desert

Oh, and lest we forget, the George W. Bush Presidential “Library” opened. Yesterday, I think. Somewhere. Wherever. Interesting that at least one order of magnitude MORE information is embedded in a single springtime desert flower . . . than there has ever been, or ever WILL be, in the total earthly experience of the entire Bush family . . . since it first evolved from its predecessor Apes (probably in the late 1800’s, give or take a month or two).

I have to wonder: in whose Presidential “Library” will the grand story of the magnificent Keystone XL Pipeline reside? At this moment in time, I guess I’m really not all too sure I want to know the details. I mean, destroy the world for PROFIT? Really? But then, of-course-and-as-we-all-KNOW, “Corporations are people, my friend,” and . . . well, you know, us poor people, we of the 47%, are basically useless . . . as useless as . . .

Flowers. On the Desert. In Spring.


This is Today’s Open Thread. Cast Your Pearls Before . . . ummm

The Watering Hole; Thursday, April 25, 2013: “YES” for Keystone!

Soon we’ll know. The Keystone Pipeline will either be approved, or not. Tar Sand Oil . . . nice stuff, lotsa MONEY in it, etc. All it takes to snag it is to cut down Canadian arboreal forests and then contaminate millions of acre feet of water in the clean-it-all-up process!  YeeHaw!!!! Etc.  After that, no worries: pump it into a pipeline that runs from Canada to Houston, and VOILA! INDEPENDENCE! YAY! AMURKA! IN GOD WE TRUST!!!!!

I read that somewhere (well, most of it at least).

So: what if the pipeline should ever spring a leak? NO WORRIES! Because HEY!! Only birds will die, and heaven only knows we’ve got way too many birds out there anyway, buzzing around, pooping on stuff, etc.

Yeah, right. So: here are, courtesy of my old college buddy (and naturalist) Denny Green, three of his recent photos of those intrusive goddam birds. You know the type . . . they poop EVERYWHERE, and don’t contribute even a DIME toward either reducing our national debt or toward blowing up Arab stuff. Birds are WORTHLESS!

See for yourself:

Brown Pelican, La Jolla Cove, Feb. 2013; Photo by Denny Green

Brown Pelican, La Jolla Cove, Feb. 2013; Photo by Denny Green

Avocets, Mating Pair; Gilbert AZ, March 2013; Photo by Denny Green

Avocets, Mating Pair; Gilbert AZ, March 2013; Photo by Denny Green

Stilts, Mating Pair, March 2013; Photo by Denny Green

Stilts, Mating Pair, Gilbert, AZ; March 2013; Photo by Denny Green

So there you have it: FIVE (bird) reasons for humans to destroy this planet! I mean, imagine it. Once we destroy THEM, there will be NO MORE BIRD POOP! Only lots of oil – oil — OIL!!! Diesel fuel! Gasoline! SMOG!!! YeeHaw!


It’s really tricky to pretend Wingnuttistanian heritage. I tried, but . . . well, I hope . . . I blew it. Etc. . . .

Final question: Could a Pelican, or an Avocet, or a Stilt . . . ever find the means to define EVIL? Or is that a concept — a gift of maybe a god? — that only we of superior intelligence (////) can manage???

This is today’s Open Thread. Have at it . . . and Shayne, get well soon, OK?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, April 24, 2013: De-Regulation, Texas Style

From the Way-Forward Machine: Date, October 24, 2013:

One of the primary arguments against more gun regulations was the argument that only law-abiding citizens will abide by the new regulations – that criminals will ignore the law and still get guns. That gave Texas Governor Rick “Oops” Perry an idea.

Six months ago, to the day, Gov. “Oops” Perry made a startling announcement, which, on its face, seemed quite obvious. “Only criminals break the law.” He then went on. “Law-abiding citizens don’t commit crimes. Only criminals do. And no law has ever stopped a criminal from committing a criminal act. The NRA is right. We don’t need more laws turning more things law-abiding citizens do into crimes. And I’m asking my fellow Republicans in the State Legislature to get a bill on my desk that repeals all criminal laws that have not prevented a crime, because those laws, obviously, don’t work. There’s enough that doesn’t work in big government without having laws that don’t work, either.”

Before the end of the month, the Republican-controlled Texas State Legislature had a bill on Perry’s desk repealing the entire criminal code. Perry signed it immediately, saying, “There’s three things I like about this bill. One, it gets rid of laws that don’t work. Two, it shrinks the size of government. And three…three….I forgot….oops.”

Shortly thereafter, the word got out. Nothing was illegal in Texas anymore. Within a couple of weeks, every bank in Texas had been robbed once….per day. Mom and Pop stores were robbed blind, while the larger chain-stores hired armed security.

Insurance companies couldn’t cancel policies fast enough, as drivers soon found out they could speed, run stop signs and traffic lights without fear of getting a ticket.

And just last week there was an incident where a citizen called to complain about his neighor’s music being way too loud. The responding officer told him “There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s not like it’s against the law or anything.” The citizen replied, “It’s so damn loud, all day and all night! I can’t get any sleep. I’m so mad I could just go over there and shoot him!” To which the officer said, “Well, there’s no law against that, either.”

Six months later, Perry is re-thinking his de-regulation of criminal laws. “It seems” he said at a recent press conference, “that law-abiding citizens are law abiding only when there are laws to abide. So I’m asking my collegues in the State Legislature to get me a bill reinstating the criminal code.”

When asked if this experience changed his mind about background checks for gun purchases at gun shows and over the internet, the Governor replied, “Hell no. That’s the kind of law that only law abiding citizens will abide, leavin’ criminals free to break the law and still get guns without background checks. I will not stand for requiring law abiding citizens to have to go through a background check just to buy a gun.”

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, a man on the FBI’s Terrorist Watch List was able to legally buy guns at a gun show and promptly opened fire in the convention center, killing 14 and wounding 16 others before being mowed down in a hail of bullets from all directions. Only 39 bystanders were killed by stray bullets from the good guys with guns, that number including several police who were first on the scene.




The Watering Hole, Monday, April 22nd, 2013: Last Chance

I have written off and on about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and the many reasons why building it should not even be considered. Thousands of people have protested (and been arrested) against the proposed pipeline, and, thus far, the State Department has yet to decide on it.

Today is the last day for public comments on this proposal. If you have not yet submitted a comment, please, please, send an email to This is too important to our nation, our planet and our future.

Here’s the email that I sent:

I am writing this letter in objection to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Advocates of the pipeline say that it will create thousands of American jobs. This is a lie. While it may create a certain number of temporary jobs in the construction stage, fewer than 50 permanent jobs will be created.

Advocates of the pipeline say that, once the pipeline is finished and the tar sands oil is refined, it will provide the U.S. with a plentiful supply of oil, lowering oil prices and lessening our dependency on “foreign”, i.e., “Middle Eastern” oil. They say that because of this, our “national security’” will be enhanced. This is a lie. The tar sands oil, once refined, will be sold on the world market, not directly to the U.S.

Advocates of the pipeline say that the pipeline will safely bring tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, through several U.S. States, to refineries in Texas. This is a lie. Keystone’s own track record as regards previous spills, i.e., in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River (which to date, several years later, still has not been ‘cleaned up’) belies this notion. Tar sands oil is the filthiest form of oil, and the pipeline’s route would take it through hundreds of ecologically sensitive areas; most importantly, it will run through, or perilously close to, the largest aquifer in the country, which provides drinking water to several states.

Any claim that Keystone may make to guarantee that the pipeline will be safe would be a lie. Regardless of anything that the final Environmental Impact Statement may say, there is no technology on this earth that can clean up the kind of disaster that a tar sands oils spill would cause. Consider the ineffective efforts to contain the BP Deepwater oil spill in the Gulf, and the ridiculouis use of paper towels to attempt to clean up the recent Mayflower oil spill.

Are even 50 permanent U.S. jobs worth even the slightest possibility of a pipeline leak and the subsequent ecological and human disaster? Are 50 jobs worth ruining the drinking water of millions of Americans? I say NO, and I would hope that anyone with any critical thinking skills would have to agree.

Please, I implore you, just say NO to Keystone.


Jane E. Schneider
Pawling, NY

This is our open thread — what will you say to the State Department?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 20, 2013 – Do Guns Really Make Us Safer?

The important thing to remember is that nobody gets hurt, so watch the whole thing.

The National Rifle Association (or NAMBLA) likes to claim that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” The kindest thing I can say about that is that it is demonstrably untrue. But since I don’t feel like being kind where the gun nuts are concerned I’ll call it what it is – a flat out bullshit lie. Patricia Maisch didn’t have a gun, but she didn’t need one to stop the Tucson, AZ, shooter (why glamorize him by using his name?) from killing more people. The two men who tackled the gunman didn’t have guns, either, nor did they need them. The fourth one, Joseph Zamudio, did have a gun and he almost used it – on one of the two guys holding the gunman down! Fortunately, he hesitated and realized he was mistaken, then rushed over to hold down the gunman’s legs. Being “a good guy with a gun” was completely irrelevant in this case, as his gun had nothing to do with the restraint or capture of the gunman.

You can speculate all you want about why the gun nuts think having a gun makes everyone safer. It doesn’t. To say that the solution to the problem of too much gun violence (besides admitting there is one) is to have more guns is like saying the solution to the problem of too many car accidents is to have more cars. Wrong! Just as the solution to having too many car accidents is fewer cars and more better-trained car owners, so it is with guns – fewer guns and more better-trained gun owners. Besides, why do these people insist that guns are the ONLY answer to the problem? If someone had come up behind the Tucson gunman and hit him upside the head with a two-by-four, would the gun nuts think he did it wrong?

I agree that the world is a dangerous place but, unlike conservatives, I believe it can be made better if we stop dividing ourselves by how we’re different from each other, and reach out to each other through what we have in common. And that is that we are all human beings on this planet. Please remember that.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to talk about guns, gun nuts, nuts in general (I like almonds in my chocolate) or anything else you want. Just don’t shoot anybody.

The Watering Hole; Friday April 19, 2013: “@Judgment . . .”

Today — April 19th, 2013 — is the 238th anniversary of the first battles of the American Revolutionary War, fought at Lexington and Concord in 1775. In Massachusetts it’s called Patriot’s Day, and even though Patriot’s Day has been, since 1969, celebrated on the third Monday in April (the 15th, this year) rather than on the 19th, its significance is not in any way diminished.

Nationwide, Patriot’s Day has become visualized over the last couple of decades as more than just a celebration of that 238 year-old ‘shot heard round the world’ event. As noted in a recent article on, the week in which Patriot’s Day falls . . .

“. . . does contain a number of unhappy anniversaries: the Oklahoma City Bombing (April 19, 1995), the Waco assault (April 19, 1993), the Columbine School Shooting (April 20, 1999), and the Virginia Tech massacre (April 16, 2007), for starters.” 

They add that The Waco event has apparently “inspired some anti-government activists to mark something of a shadow version of Patriot’s Day” . . . which is of course true, and also stands as a sad commentary on the emerging state of this nation, exemplified yet again this year by terror bombs, deaths, and mutilations on Patriot’s Day. Celebrations on Monday, April 15, 2013 in Massachusetts were shattered by twin explosions of homemade bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon where three innocent bystanders, including an eight year-old boy, were killed. There were also 180 who were injured, and at last count nearly two dozen remained hospitalized in critical condition. Since no foreign terrorist group or government has taken credit, it’s assumed that the perpetrators are Americans. Patriots? So far no one knows.

There is too, of course, a chorus of alternative voices, the first and most vocal among them being that of kook “journalist” Alex Jones. His April 17th show is described on (I decided not to tune in, for some reason or other) as one in which . . .

 “. . . Alex examines the tell-tale signs that point to the Boston Marathon explosions in all likelihood being a false flag attack perpetrated by our own government to take our freedoms, from denials of a drill by appointed officials, to eyewitness accounts of people told prior to the race to stay calm because bomb-sniffing dogs and beefed-up security were part of a ‘training exercise.’ Alex also analyzes attempts by the liberal press and certain politicians to predictably blame the bombing on ‘domestic terrorists,’ specifically ‘right-wing extremists. . . .’”

So according to Jones, the Boston Marathon bombings were, clearly, part and parcel of the Obama government’s socialist plot to destroy the America so beloved by right wing patriots everywhere across the land, and any suggestion that the perpetrator(s) might have been right wing “patriot” extremists is simply government propaganda being spread by complicit ‘liberal’ media.

Also on Wednesday the 17th of April — a date dead centered between the (alleged) ‘false flag’ bombing of the Boston Marathon and the respective anniversaries of Waco and Oklahoma City — those same anti-freedom ‘socialists’ were handed a major setback when the U.S. Senate disgraced itself by voting to DISALLOW any modification or additional imposition of universal background checks on gun purchases. The final vote was 54 in favor, 46 against which easily fell within the Senate’s somewhat spurious requirement that for a bill to escape filibuster and be voted on for passage, sixty votes to proceed are required, and only 41 are needed to halt consideration.

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, herself a victim of a point blank gunshot to her head, had this to say following the vote in the Senate (highlights mine):

“Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.

“I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.”

Quite a difference from all those Wingnuttistanians who invariably seek to find a government ogre and plot in every mass murder, every bombing . . . even as they love their guns (and perhaps now their pressure cookers as well?) more than anything or anyone else on this earth.

This emergent and increasingly violent scenario invariably brings to mind a couple of scenes from 1961’s Academy Award-winning movie, Judgment at Nuremberg. The setting is in a 1947 German courtroom before a tribunal of American judges who are hearing the case(s) against four German judges in re their supposed irresponsible judicial decisions made during the Nazi years. Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster), one of the accused, maintains a stoic silence throughout most of the trial but finally speaks his mind as in raised voice he begins his monologue (highlights mine):

“There was a fever over the land. A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger. We had a democracy, yes, but it was torn by elements within. There was, above all, fear. Fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, fear of ourselves. Only when you understand that can you understand what Hitler meant to us. Because he said to us: ‘Lift up your heads! Be proud to be German! There are devils among us. Communists, Liberals, Jews, Gypsies! Once the devils will be destroyed, your miseries will be destroyed.’ It was the old, old story of the sacrificial lamb.

“What about us, who knew better? We who knew the words were lies and worse than lies? Why did we sit silent? Why did we participate? Because we loved our country!  What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later. ‘The country is in danger.’ We will ‘march out of the shadows.’ ‘We will go forward.'”

As Janning continues in his monologue, he confesses his guilt, even points fingers at the other three judges, defendants, in the dock.  At one point, one of the other Germans on trial — Emil Hahn (Werner Klemperer) who is, according to Janning “a bigot obsessed with the evil within himself,” stands up and yells, “TRAITOR!  TRAITOR!”

The grand irony in the movie — and remember, it was released in 1961 as a film version of the play (script by Abby Mann) first staged in the mid-fifties — is the almost uncanny description, by Ernst Janning, of today’s political environment in the United States, now more than fifty years down the road. Janning speaks of a “democracy . . . torn” and of “above all, fear. Fear of” virtually everything, including “of ourselves.” As Janning continues, he asks those quintessential questions which remain as pertinent in today’s America as they were in 1930’s Germany: “Why did we participate? Because we loved our country!  What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights?” One might also dare ask, today, ‘What difference does it make that three are dead, that 180 are injured — many of whom have lost limbs — simply because two terrorist bombs were detonated in Boston on Patriot’s Day???

Still, it seems altogether uncanny that Janning’s words so perfectly describe such a substantial portion of 2013’s America, of her political spectrum, of her right wing, her Republican Party along with its millions of adherents. It’s almost as if Ernst Janning is looking directly at Alex Jones and/or the entire staff of Fox News as he speaks.

Near the end of Judgment at Nuremberg, at the conclusion of the trial, the American Chief Tribunal Judge Haywood (Spencer Tracy) makes a statement in which he says, just prior to handing down sentences:

“There are those in our own country . . . who today speak of the protection of country, of survival. A decision must be made in the life of every nation, at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way.

“The answer to that is: survival as what?

“A country isn’t a rock. It’s not an extension of one’s self. It’s what it stands for. It’s what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult. . . .”

And just what, one might dare ask today, does this country really stand for? In the movie, Tribunal Judge Haywood closes his final statement with the words,

“Before the people of the world – let it now be noted in our decision here that this is what we stand for: justice, truth . . . and the value of a single human being.

Right. Maybe then. But not now. We have changed; we’re well along the path of becoming that which we once despised, that which we once fought to destroy.

For further clarification (?), follow Alex Jones and/or watch Fox News.

PostScript: There is one other notable event that occurred during April’s third week, on April 20, 1889. It took place in Braunau am Inn, Austria, with the (at the time unheralded) birth of Adolf Hitler. I can’t help but wonder . . . how many in the United States will celebrate that event? Tomorrow. Two-hundred-thirty-eight years, plus one day, after ‘the shot heard round the world,’ at a time in our history when the concept of Germanic Fascism appears to have near universal appeal, at least amongst those of the far right wing, i.e. those who seem enveloped in fear. Fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of [their] neighbors, fear of [them]selves.

This is today’s open thread.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, April 17, 2013: Bushmaster to Introduce First Ever Assault Rifles Designed for Use in the Womb

Inspired by the observation of Congressman Steve Stockman (R-Texas), “If babies had guns they wouldn’t be aborted,” Bushmaster announced immediate plans to design assault rifles for the unborn.

“This is brilliant” one market analyst observed. “With a name like Bushmaster, the idea of inserting a gun into the uterus is a natural fit. And they’ll get loads of free publicity with Stockman’s campaign bumper-sticker.”

A spokesman for Bushmaster, who choose to remain anonymous, acknowledged several challenges that lay ahead in designing a weapon for use in utero. “First, there’s the question of when and how to make the weapon available to the unborn person. If we simply implant the gun in the uterus for use at some later time, it may act like an IUD and prevent the very pregnancies the gun is designed to protect. On the other hand, waiting for a fertilized egg may be too late, as those who would seek to murder the person would have a distinct advantage, not the least would be the element of surprise.”

One possible solution, the spokesman mused, would be to position the gun at or near the cervix, “so it would be there and available on a moment’s notice.”

“Everyone has a God-Given right to defend him or herself.” the spokesman continued. “That extends to the unborn person as well as any other God-Fearing citizen. If an unborn citizen’s life is threatened, he or she has an absolute right to use deadly force, if necessary, to defend his or her life.” The spokesman also boasted that Bushmaster already has 23 Senators on-board and ready to introduce legislation requiring every female over the age of 13 to have a Bushmaster implanted.

When it was pointed out that most abortions occur before the person has developed the fingers necessary to pull the trigger, the spokesperson responded, “That’s another problem we’re working on even as we speak. Our engineers are looking into smart-gun technology, where the gun recognizes the threat and fires automatically. It would be like having automated armed guards posted at the cervix, on duty, 24/7.”

Documents pieced together from shredded strips of paper in Bushmaster’s Dumpster indicate tests are already underway on the new “Bushmaster Womb 5000”. However, test results appear to raise additional concerns. Apparently the software program is incapable of distinguishing between lawful intercourse, gynecological exams and a D & C, shooting and destroying the invading object in all three instances.


The Watering Hole: April 16 — Finding Oregon

From the video caption:

Finding Oregon is the compilation of six months of timelapse photography across the state of Oregon, punctuated by a 1600 mile road trip in September. We’ve filmed the Columbia River Gorge, Mt Hood, Mt Jefferson, the Southwestern Coast, the Alvord Desert, Leslie Gulch, Blue Mountains, Crater Lake, Eagle Cap Wilderness, Deschutes River, and more. We’re proud to have touched all four corners of the state; however Oregon is the kind of place that the more you see, the more places there are to still discover.

Any questions about why I love Oregon so much?  I love everything about Oregon — except camping in the snow.  That’s just nutso.  😉

This is our daily open thread — What places do you love?

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 15th, 2013: Inspiration

While Wordsworth had the good fortune to be inspired by “a host, of golden daffodils”…

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

…I, on the other hand, amidst the increasing insanity going on in this country, must be content to find somewhat lesser inspiration in a more simple setting…

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Daffodils in sunlight (photo by Jane E. Schneider)

Daffodils in sunlight (photo by Jane E. Schneider)

This is today’s Open Thread. What inspires you these days?

Sunday Roast: April 14th, 2013 – Four Cups of Coffee

Good Morning Zoosters. Tired? I am. So this is what I found for your Sunday Morning reading over my morning coffee:

Having my first cup of coffee, I discovered that being all powerful and so full of yourself doesn’t mean people love you. Au contraire in some notorious cases, including this:

Protesters could be arrested for “alarming or distressing” mourners at the funeral of Baroness Thatcher, a police chief in charge of security at the event has warned. (full story)

In the UK this song is No 1 in ITunes Store downloads. Ah well.

Having my second cup of coffee was my “banging head on desk” moment. I have discussed some Right Wing terrorism in Germany here and it beats me, how the court could have excluded foreign newspapers, especially Turkish ones from this trial. The Verfassungsgericht ( our version of Supreme Court) set things right.

Germany’s top court has ruled that foreign media must get access to the trial of a suspected neo-Nazi charged in connection with the murders of 10 people, including eight of Turkish descent. A Turkish newspaper had filed a complaint. The row had threatened to harm Germany’s image and was overshadowing the trial starting April 17. (full story)

Cup Number Three: It won’t go away, not in our lifetimes. The Deepwater Horizon Spill has caused more damage than BP could ever pay for in damages. Can’t we, please, start taking care of our planet? It’s our home. The only one we’ve got.

Hundreds of beached dolphin carcasses, shrimp with no eyes, contaminated fish, ancient corals caked in oil and some seriously unwell people are among the legacies that scientists are still uncovering in the wake of BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill. (full story)

That required some lighter reading for cup four. Lest I ruin my day. Are women unrealistic when it comes to  the male of the species? I am, totally, that’s for sure, but here’s some evidence, or not.

Men have long wondered what exactly it is that women want. Some pore over men’s magazines, with their promises of “washboard abs”, for guidance. The more scientifically minded look for experimental data. (full story)

So, now I have my fifth cup, have a peek into the Formula 1 Race, then I am off to Brunch with a friend, we will then discuss what I’ve read over my fourth cup of coffee.

You all have a very pleasant Sunday, sunny happy and warm. See you all later!

This is our Open Thread. Let’s go.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 13, 2013 – Why We Should Talk About Kermit Gosnell

Who is Kermit Gosnell? Short answer: He’s a monster. Kermit B. Gosnell, M.D., ran the Women’s Medical Society in East Philadelphia for nearly four decades. He is on trial for, among other charges, murdering eight people, seven of whom were infants killed shortly after being born and one woman who died after having an abortion. Witnesses in the trial have claimed that he really killed many more (possibly as many as 100) infants by severing their spinal columns after their births. According to the grand jury report (WARNING: Contains graphic pictures), Gosnell “overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels – and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths.”

…Gosnell spent almost four decades running [the Women’s Medical Society], giving back – so it appeared – to the community in which he continued to live and work. But the truth was something very different, and evident to anyone who stepped inside. The clinic reeked of animal urine, courtesy of the cats that were allowed to roam (and defecate) freely. Furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Instruments were not properly sterilized. Disposable medical supplies were not disposed of; they were reused, over and over again. Medical equipment – such as the defibrillator, the EKG, the pulse oximeter, the blood pressure cuff – was generally broken; even when it worked, it wasn’t used. The emergency exit was padlocked shut. And scattered throughout, in cabinets, in the basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags and plastic jugs, were fetal remains. It was a baby charnel house.

The anti-choice people want this story to get more attention than it already has in the mainstream media (as of about a week ago there’s been virtually none), but their versions of what happened isn’t exactly accurate. One such activist in particular, Jill Stanek (WARNING: Contains graphic pictures from the grand jury report), asks “Why would people who believe in legalized abortion want to shed negative light on bad things that happen during legalized abortions?” This is, of course, a very disingenuous question to ask because these were not “legalized abortions,” they were murder. And what went on in Gosnell’s “clinic” had nothing to do with health and everything to do with profits. If anything, it’s less an indictment against legal Abortion and more an indictment against Capitalism.

Republican-controlled legislatures have been working very hard to make it as hard as possible for a woman to exercise her right to have an abortion because they think this will eliminate abortions in their states. But they’re wrong. They will not succeed in stopping all abortions from happening in their states, only safe abortions. Those of us who are pro-choice must make people understand that if these states go through with these laws (most of which ought to get struck down as direct violations of Roe v. Wade), it will lead to more clinics like Gosnell’s. Women who can afford it will travel to another state where they can get an abortion. Poor women will have to risk either mutilating themselves or dying in a clinic like the Women’s Medical Society. And that can hardly be called a “pro-life stance.”

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to talk about Kermit Gosnell, Abortion, Capitalism, or anything else you choose.

April 12, 2013 Music Night

I just watched a fantastic documentary, Standing in the Shadows of Motown, chronicling the incredible musicians whose skills and innovation drove the incredible sounds of Motown’s hits — and never received any recognition beyond paychecks. Their stories are fascinating and, d’oh, the film is loaded with great music (including a couple of performances by the extraordinary Bootsy Collins), much of it from a reunion concert with the surviving Funk Brothers. Rent it, buy it, just be sure to see it.

And, along the way, the film introduced me to a fantastic singer named Joan Osborne. From the film, this video features the Funk Brothers backing Osborne in a killer version of Heat Wave. (And, yes, I gots a huge crush.)