The Watering Hole, Friday May 31 2013; Atooi, The Newly Emergent Polynesian Kingdom

I  recently ran across and re-read an old book that I had purchased a few decades back whilst visiting the Hawaiian Islands. It’s titled, “An Account of the Sandwich Islands; The Hawaiian Journal of John B. Whitman, 1813-1815.” In the Foreward, John Dominis Holt writes,

These “notes” of an unknown early visitor to Hawaii who we know as John B. Whitman are unique and certainly they contain observations both incisive and authentic which create an unmistakable atmosphere of old Hawaii perhaps still to be found in some of the untouched places of these Islands. . . . If you can ignore Whitman’s irksome and fanatical views common to American Calvinists of the time, the “notes” or “Journal” . . . presents a unique view of Hawaii . . . a few years before the death of Kamehameha. (highlight mine)

What actually caught my eye as I reread the book were the place names cited by Whitman. He spoke of islands named Owhyhee,” and “Mowee,” also “Woahu, Morokie and Attooi,” and he noted that on Woahu stood “the busy little village of Hanoruru.”  Whitman also noted that “Woahu is situated between Morokie and Attooi about thirty miles from the former and seventy miles from the latter.” He was, of course, using the phonetic spelling of the various islands (and place names) in the Hawaiian group. The American missionaries hadn’t yet arrived, and since the Polynesians had no alphabet and no written language, phonic spelling was the tool the westerners used on their maps and in their writings.

In later years, after the (American-Calvinist) missionaries who were assigned to the Hawaiian Islands had managed to construct the means of writing the local Polynesian lingua, the alphabet they collectively devised contained only thirteen letters: the five vowels, plus consonants h, k, l, m, n, p, and w, plus the “uina”, where the embedded () indicates a glottal stop. After the alphabet was devised and assigned, Whitman’s Island and place names became (resp.) Hawai’i, Maui, Molokai, Kauai, and Honolulu; i.o.w., both the letters “T” and “K” became “K” only, and the letters “R” and “L” became “L” only. It was a matter of phonics, of trying to accommodate/insert the implicit (and variant) local pronunciation(s) into the English alphabet. So, in the Hawaiian corner of Polynesia, the word ‘Tahiti’ became ‘Kahiki’, and ‘Attooi’ (variously spelled, by others, as Atooi, or Atoui) became ‘Kauai’ (what happened to the ‘A’ on the front end, I have no clue).

Anyway, enough of that. Suffice to say that today’s island of Kauai was once known as Atooi, and was apparently considered to be a very sacred spot in the Hawaiian Islands as well as definitive of the northern apex of the so-called ‘Polynesian triangle’. Today, ‘Atooi’ is the name of a new and fresh Polynesian Kingdom. This Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi is a United Nations recognized indigenous sovereign nation that is headquartered on the Island we call Kauai, and led by a descendant of ancient royalty, the Ali’i Nui (king) Aleka Aipoalani who currently reigns over the Kingdom from on the west side of Kauai, which is one of the most sacred and royal areas of the Hawaiian islands. The PKOA [Polynesian Kingdom  of Atooi] is composed of peoples from diverse cultures whose relationships share the mission of ho’opono aina (to make right with the land).

I have to wonder: is this newly-emergent Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi possibly the forefront of that above-referenced unmistakable atmosphere of old Hawaii perhaps still to be found in some of the untouched places of these Islands ?? If so, I wanna go there! Again! Maybe stay this time!

Ah, well, ok then, and speaking of ‘untouched places’, following are a handful of photos, shot circa 1978 on my first visit to what has now become the Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi. There were still, way back then, some ‘untouched places’ on those islands . . . well, barely touched at least. But then, beauty remains forever embedded . . . in the beautiful — right? (see below!)

Hanakapiai, Atooi                                     Makapu'u, WoahuHanakapiai (Atooi)                                  Makapu’u (Woahu)


Owhyhee 4Hanalei Bay, Atooi                                   Sunset, Mowee

Hanalei Bay (Atooi)                                     Ka’anapali Sunset (Mowee)


Owhyhee 9Windward Shores (Owhyhee)


Owhyhee 7Halawa Valley and North Shore (Morotai)


Owhyhee 8Kalalau Overlook (Atooi)                              Petroglyph (Mowee)


Owhyhee 6Tiki carvings at Pu’uhonua O Honaunau (City of Refuge), Kona (Owhyhee)


Owhyhee 5Kalihiwai Falls (Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi)


Owhyhee 3Waterfall in Waimea Canyon (Atooi)     The Painted Church at Kona (Owhyhee)


So there you have it, the northern tip of the Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi. As of today, it consists of:

Not a bad combo! And (just guessing), NO REPUBLICANS OR OTHER WINGNUTS ANYWHERE TO BE SEEN!!

Paradise, anyone?

Closing tidbit: Membership in the Kingdom of Atooi is open to anyone. We recognize the potential of all mankind.

Works for me!

And last but not least: Old map(s), but interesting:

Owhyhee Map

Owhyhee Atooi MapThis is Today’s Open Thread. Aloha!

The Watering Hole; Thursday May 30 2013; “What Can We Learn From Denmark?”

Earlier this week I received an email letter from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a letter which I thought effectively defines the elusive concept of a societal ideal, one which makes perfect sense. In it, he speaks of Denmark and its governmental-societal relationships, and in effect proposes that ‘we the people’ of the United States should seriously consider restructuring our own society along similar tracks. I couldn’t agree more. And all we’d have to do in order to begin the process would be to dismiss and dis-empower the entire outhouse basement in which resides America’s Wingnuttistanian movement . . . including each and every Republican plus each and every “conservative” (aka Blue Dog) Democrat. If only we could engage instead in the process of building a ‘we the people’-oriented governing body, i.e. a (so-called) “leftist” “Socialist” construct that sees more virtue in helping people and in protecting the environment than it sees in enabling greed, i.e. wealth and power accumulation by only the few. The ultimate beneficiaries would indeed be we the people (well, with a small handful of exceptions, perhaps including about 1% of the population . . . who would still be likely able to live quite well anyway. No big deal, i.o.w.)

Senator Sanders’ entire (and yes, a bit lengthy) letter is included below. I decided that rather than try to excerpt and summarize I’d simply post the whole thing so as to not miss or ignore any of the significant details included therein. Personally, I could not find a single issue with which I don’t completely agree, but then I’m not a wingnut or a Republican or a Blue Dog. I am, like Senator Sanders, a Progressive Socialist, one who believes in the well-being of everyone and everything, and NOT solely in the accumulation of wealth and power.


What Can We Learn From Denmark?
By Senator Bernie Sanders
May 26, 2013

Danish Ambassador Peter Taksoe-Jensen spent a weekend in Vermont this month traveling with me to town meetings in Burlington, Brattleboro and Montpelier. Large crowds came out to learn about a social system very different from our own which provides extraordinary security and opportunity for the people of Denmark.

Today in the United States there is a massive amount of economic anxiety. Unemployment is much too high, wages and income are too low, millions of Americans are struggling to find affordable health care and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider.

While young working families search desperately for affordable child care, older Americans worry about how they can retire with dignity. Many of our people are physically exhausted as they work the longest hours of any industrialized country and have far less paid vacation time than other major countries.

Denmark is a small, homogenous nation of about 5.5 million people. The United States is a melting pot of more than 315 million people. No question about it, Denmark and the United States are very different countries. Nonetheless, are there lessons that we can learn from Denmark?

In Denmark, social policy in areas like health care, child care, education and protecting the unemployed are part of a “solidarity system” that makes sure that almost no one falls into economic despair. Danes pay very high taxes, but in return enjoy a quality of life that many Americans would find hard to believe. As the ambassador mentioned, while it is difficult to become very rich in Denmark no one is allowed to be poor. The minimum wage in Denmark is about twice that of the United States and people who are totally out of the labor market or unable to care for themselves have a basic income guarantee of about $100 per day.

Health care in Denmark is universal, free of charge and high quality. Everybody is covered as a right of citizenship. The Danish health care system is popular, with patient satisfaction much higher than in our country. In Denmark, every citizen can choose a doctor in their area. Prescription drugs are inexpensive and free for those under 18 years of age. Interestingly, despite their universal coverage, the Danish health care system is far more cost-effective than ours. They spend about 11 percent of their GDP on health care. We spend almost 18 percent.

When it comes to raising families, Danes understand that the first few years of a person’s life are the most important in terms of intellectual and emotional development. In order to give strong support to expecting parents, mothers get four weeks of paid leave before giving birth. They get another 14 weeks afterward. Expecting fathers get two paid weeks off, and both parents have the right to 32 more weeks of leave during the first nine years of a child’s life. The state covers three-quarters of the cost of child care, more for lower-income workers.

At a time when college education in the United States is increasingly unaffordable and the average college graduate leaves school more than $25,000 in debt, virtually all higher education in Denmark is free. That includes not just college but graduate schools as well, including medical school.

In a volatile global economy, the Danish government recognizes that it must invest heavily in training programs so workers can learn new skills to meet changing workforce demands. It also understands that when people lose their jobs they must have adequate income while they search for new jobs. If a worker loses his or her job in Denmark, unemployment insurance covers up to 90 percent of earnings for as long as two years. Here benefits can be cut off after as few as 26 weeks.

In Denmark, adequate leisure and family time are considered an important part of having a good life. Every worker in Denmark is entitled to five weeks of paid vacation plus 11 paid holidays. The United States is the only major country that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation time. The result is that fewer than half of lower-paid hourly wage workers in our country receive any paid vacation days.

Recently the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that the Danish people rank among the happiest in the world among some 40 countries that were studied. America did not crack the top 10.

As Ambassador Taksoe-Jensen explained, the Danish social model did not develop overnight. It has evolved over many decades and, in general, has the political support of all parties across the political spectrum. One of the reasons for that may be that the Danes are, politically and economically, a very engaged and informed people. In their last election, which lasted all of three weeks and had no TV ads, 89 percent of Danes voted.

In Denmark, more than 75 percent of the people are members of trade unions. In America today, as a result of the political and economic power of corporate America and the billionaire class, we are seeing a sustained and brutal attack against the economic well-being of the American worker. As the middle class disappears, benefits and guarantees that workers have secured over the last century are now on the chopping block. Republicans, and too many Democrats, are supporting cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, nutrition, education, and other basic needs — at the same time as the very rich become much richer. Workers’ rights, the ability to organize unions, and the very existence of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are now under massive assault.

In the U.S. Senate today, my right-wing colleagues talk a lot about “freedom” and limiting the size of government. Here’s what they really mean.

They want ordinary Americans to have the freedom NOT to have health care in a country where 45,000 of our people die each year because they don’t get to a doctor when they should. They want young people in our country to have the freedom NOT to go to college, and join the 400,000 young Americans unable to afford a higher education and the millions struggling with huge college debts. They want children and seniors in our country to have the freedom NOT to have enough food to eat, and join the many millions who are already hungry. And on and on it goes!

In Denmark, there is a very different understanding of what “freedom” means. In that country, they have gone a long way to ending the enormous anxieties that comes with economic insecurity. Instead of promoting a system which allows a few to have enormous wealth, they have developed a system which guarantees a strong minimal standard of living to all — including the children, the elderly and the disabled.

The United States, in size, culture, and the diversity of our population, is a very different country from Denmark. Can we, however, learn some important lessons from them? You bet we can.

Can we, indeed, ‘learn some important lessons’ from Denmark? Sure. But can/will we ever take them to heart and DO SOMETHING positive with that which we’ve learned? Nope. Not so long as greed rules; i.o.w., not as long as Republicans remain in control of political aspects within our midst. Why? Because the Danes recognize and accept THE  REALITY – the reality designed to enhance the well-being of EVERY person under their roof, and because of their driving thesis which Sanders clearly states, the (obviously anti-American) thesis that reads, “while it is difficult to become very rich in Denmark no one is allowed to be poor.” To any inhabitant of the American Wingnut crowd, that’s about as UNAMERICAN (probably, in their view,  TREASONOUS!) a thesis as could ever be imagined, much less proposed and implemented. Which explains, of course, precisely why this nation is no longer the model to which other nations aspire, and why it’s become, rather, an example of that which MUST be, by all of good will and by all who care about anything and/or anyone other than the already rich and powerful, eternally avoided.

Open Thread for Socialists; NO FASCISTI ALLOWED!


The Watering Hole: Wednesday, May 29, 2013: Not Again!

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

“It was like re-living the Vietnam war all over again, only this time without the trees and swamps and jungles.” remarked John McCain after returning safely from Syria. “I was held, basically, as a Prisoner of War for what seemed an eternity.”

McCain spent a total of two hours in the complete mercy of terrorist rebels hell-bent on overthrowing the righteous government of Syria. “Make no mistake about it,” McCain continued, “some of those rebels are more extreme than the Taliban.”

McCain’s mission, undertaken with the full knowledge of the Obama Administration, was to deliver a message of support to the rebels. “Well, actually, I got the messages mixed up. In all the haste and security and confusion, I grabbed a note I got from Paul Ryan instead of the note from the President. So, when I got there…well, you can imagine their reaction when I read Ryan’s note. So. There I was, face to face with armed radical Islamists when I read “If you will accept the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart … That’s as far as I got before my security guards picked me up by the armpits and hightailed it out of Syria.”


OPEN THREAD: Guns don’t kill people, pressure cookers kill people.

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

Good morning, Zoosters.

This is the open thread of the day, until a better one comes around.

So, have a cup of your favorite brew, sit down and unload whatever comes to mind.

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 27th, 2013: Untitled*

*I could not possibly honor the day anywhere near as well as frugalchariot’s Memorial Day post does, so I will not even try. To anyone who missed it, take the time, it’s a must-read.

Instead, I thought that I would check the local on-line newspapers in the hopes of finding some fodder. I went to the Opinion page of the Poughkeepsie Journal. One title looks promising: “Energy Policy is National Security Issue: Column” “by Merrill Matthews, USA Today.” As I read it I noted the author’s right-wing point of view, and wondered where he was going with it. After some discussion of Russia, Iran and Venezuela, with their “totalitarian regimes” and great big gobs of oil and natural gas, Mr. Matthews came closer to his point. An excerpt:

“Many energy-dependent countries would like to be free of that oil and gas stranglehold to pursue their on[sic] foreign policy interests and alignments. The good news is that the old paradigm is shifting; the better news is that we can accelerate those changes. [emphasis mine]

For one thing, the oil and gas production boom, especially in the U.S., has dramatically increased energy supplies and pushed down prices. That means that some of the “energy captives” now have options available to them, including coal, they may not have had in the past, helping to break the stranglehold.

But this shift is not necessarily permanent; much of it depends on expanded U.S. production, made possible by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and the ability to export some of that energy.

Which takes us to the better news: how to accelerate the current trend. The U.S. must move forward with plans that will turn cheap and abundant natural gas into liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export. We are only now building the liquefaction facilities to undertake this venture on a large scale, and the private sector is investing the money to make it happen — as long as the Obama administration will allow it. [emphasis mine]

The ability for the U.S. to extract and export energy is a national security issue. Energy self-sufficiency, which could be attainable in a decade or so, would mean that U.S. foreign policy wasn’t held hostage to energy policy.”

Not one word about wind, solar, hydroelectric, nothing about renewables at all. Still oil and gas, with a side of coal. At this point I’m wondering who this dinosaur is and, more to the point, who’s paying him. At the end of the “Column”, there it is:”Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation.” Hmmm, that name rings a bell, IPI, yup, ding-ding-ding! The conservative think-tank and member of ALEC which was, as per sourcewatch, “founded in 1987 by Congressman Dick Armey to “research, develop and promote innovative and non-partisan solutions to today’s public policy problems.”” Yeah, right. Dick Armey is as slimy and partisan as they come, and cannot help but leave his oily fingerprints on everything he touches.

Moving on…I guess I should have known better than to try the “Online Extra: Obama Scandals Overlap and Drain his Authority” – it turned out to be a rancid piece of pink slime meat by George Will. I couldn’t read the whole thing, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t subject you to some of it:

“Liberalism’s agenda has been constant since long before liberals, having given their name a bad name, stopped calling themselves liberals and resumed calling themselves progressives, which they will call themselves until they finish giving that name a bad name.”

[Fuck you, George, I’m still proud to call myself a liberal.]

“The agenda always is: Concentrate more power in Washington, more Washington power in the executive branch and more executive power in agencies run by experts. Then trust the experts to be disinterested and prudent with their myriad intrusions into, and minute regulations of, Americans’ lives. Obama’s presidency may yet be, on balance, a net plus for the public good if it shatters American’s trust in the regulatory state’s motives.”

It gets worse after that, and should only be read by someone with an iron stomach.

After noting that John Stossel was another featured columnist, and that other links were to pieces such as “Michelle Malkin: Top Obama donor a fox in health records hen house”, “Slippery slope to accepting atheist Boy Scouts”, and “Punchlines: Prom Season for Obama”, I gave up entirely on the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Palate cleanser: here’s a Blue-Footed Booby (one of my all-time favorite bird names) from National Geographic:

Blue-Footed Booby, photo by Tim Laman, courtesy of National Geographic

Blue-Footed Booby, photo by Tim Laman, courtesy of National Geographic

This is our Open Thread. Go ahead, talk amongst yourselves!

Sunday Roast (for want of another title)

Face of a predator?

In the unlikely case that you haven’t heard about Kaitlyn, here is a recap:

Kaitlyn Hunt faces felony charges after the mother of her girlfriend, aged 14, notified police of the relationship as soon as she turned 18.

She has been charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious battery of a child 12 to 16 years of age and has been expelled from Sebastian River High School, in the town of Sebastian, Florida.

If she had chosen to accept the plea deal, she would have been under house arrest for two years, and would have been labelled a sex offender.

The state attorney’s office now says she will face trial on 20 June, and could face up to 15 years in prison, if she were to be found guilty of the offences.

Over at Think Progress, I read a long list of comments on Kaitlyn’s case. Most of them wrote of her as heroic and essentially a political victim. As always there are a few right wing trolls who consider Kaitlyn a pervert along with anyone who suggests she’s being treated unfairly.

I am plagued by mixed feelings. Although her attorney points to one case where a boy got a much lighter charge for essentially the same behavior, lots of young men are also stamped as sexual predators for having a physical relationship with a girl a few years younger than they are. As the attorney says, there would be no media attention at all if Kaitlyn was a boy — true, because it would be too common to be newsworthy. The cases we have heard of lately were very different — primarily gang rape of girls who were incapacitated by drink or drugs.

Does Kaitlyn get a pass because she’s a girl? Because she’s a lesbian? Or could this be a wakeup call that not all statutory rape cases are simple and clear cut. What is an appropriate age difference for teens, or is age an appropriate marker at all?

I’ll cop to it: when I was in my late teens I had sex with several girls under age 18 (although the marker was 16 in those days where I lived). I believe to this day that no coercion was ever involved or that any of those girls were incapable of making the choice to be sexual. But maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m simply justifying selfish behavior.

I don’t think Kaitlyn should be singled out for praise because she’s a girl, but I support her fighting back at a ridiculous interpretation of the law. But that’s just me. This is, after all, an Open Thread.

UPDATE: From ThinkProgress

Conflicting reports, including an investigation by the Windy City Times (WCT), suggest that Kaitlyn was 18 before her relationship began. State Attorney Bruce Colton also suggested that the offered plea deal would have spared her from registering as a sex offender, a detail which does not correspond with previous reporting on the story from various outlets.

Music Night, May 24, 2013

Continuing our theme, tonight’s video is a hat trick. Not one female singer belting it out, but three! If you do not know who Lou Ann Barton, Angela Strehli and Marcia Ball are, it’s time to find out. And the fourth woman is Sarah Brown.

Proving that not everything coming out of Texas is bad.

The Watering Hole; Friday May 24, 2013; In Memory of . . . Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. . . . Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May.

Monday, May 27 2013 will be my 71st Memorial Day, although I confess that I don’t celebrate (and never really have) the occasion a whole lot, given that no one in my extended or immediate family was ever injured or killed in any war. In fact, only a scant handful of the two to three generations that preceded me and my time in this country have ever served in its military at all. As my dad and his brothers liked to say, each was “too young for the First World War and too old for the Second.”

War. During my lifetime, there have been far too many of the damnable things: nine at least, and if one should care to count American-orchestrated and subversive insurrections around the globe, there would undoubtedly be many more. And that’s only what’s gone down since the day I was born in 1942, ten months plus a couple of weeks after Pearl Harbor. That (aptly named) “Second World War” ended in early September, 1945, and was soon followed by a pair of ‘big’ wars, first in Korea, then in Vietnam. After Vietnam, there was a near ten year hiatus prior to Reagan’s “heroic” adventure in Grenada which was followed a few years hence by Poppy Bush’s similarly “heroic” adventures in Panama and the Persian Gulf. Then came Bosnia, and early in this century up popped both Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, more than ten years following the first shots, we’re STILL in Afghanistan — and still dying there; it’s now the longest war in American history (and also probably the stupidest as well . . . if, of course, all wars aren’t equally stupid). And sadder yet, in Washington there remains the hue and cry from the (mostly) right wing warmongers for even MORE wars; Syria, Iran, North Korea . . . choose one, choose all. I suspect “all” would be the safest bet amongst that bevy of fools.

Q: Why? What is it about war that so intrigues so many, so often?

A: There’s money in it. Lots of money. And of course with money comes power. Money and power: the two major factors that constantly drive the human species to the cliff’s edge. Some will proclaim, of course, that war’s sole purpose is ‘the defense of liberty,’ but they are, each and all, filled to the brim with not much that’s useful. Money and power ALWAYS come before the ‘defense’ of virtually anything honorable, ‘liberty’ included.

I was just a little feller when the Second World War ended, and I don’t remember much if anything about it at all, other than a visage or two from the aftermath. There was the fellow who lived a few doors up the street who was missing both legs, who maneuvered around town in rain, snow, or shine in his wheelchair, that sort of thing. “His legs got blown off in the war,” was the only answer I’d ever get.

My recollections of the Korean War are foggy, and largely consist of memories of listening to names of state (Minnesota) casualties on the radio each morning before school, during breakfast. I do recall, however, the end of the war in Korea. It happened (as promised during the 1952 election campaign) no more than six months after Eisenhower’s January 1953 inauguration. I also remember, quite vividly, the list of names that were judged to be ‘turncoats’, i.e. servicemen who were captured and held in N. Korea during the war and who, after the cease fire, claimed that no, they didn’t wish to go home to the USA again. I remember that particular event because one of the ‘turncoats’ was the uncle of one of my boyhood best buddies, the brother of his dad who was our neighbor directly across the street.

Then came Vietnam. MY war. Well, sort of at least. I was ‘scheduled’ by the Selective Service to be tossed into the middle of it early-on (summer of 1965) had I not managed to beat the draft by dropping out of graduate school and taking a job in the Research Department of a company that dealt exclusively in Defense Department R&D programs on biological and chemical warfare weaponry. My boss called it a “critical industry deferment.” It worked. Any port in a storm, someone once said.

Tens of thousands of other young men were not so lucky, however. The final (American) death toll in The Nam was just shy of 60,000, and that doesn’t count the much larger number of those who were wounded, maimed, disabled, and victimized by all of the other horrors implicit in war. Nor does it count the million (or more) Vietnamese who lost their lives, or the other millions wounded, disabled, crippled, or worse, genetically impaired thanks to some of the chemical agents used by the US in Vietnam . . . including some stuff that I worked on in a weapons R&D environment. It sickens me to even think about it.

And for what? “Defense of Liberty”? Hardly. We simply inserted ourselves into the middle of what was a Vietnamese Civil War, a war between the north and the south (sounds vaguely familiar, for some reason or other). We were there for only two reasons: to benefit those who stood to gain . . . to gain Money. To gain Power. One of Lyndon Johnson’s first actions as President was apparently to rescind the National Security Action Memo proffered by his predecessor, John F. Kennedy just one month prior to his assassination; it was an order to, in effect, stand down in Vietnam, to pull out all American “advisors” by the end of 1964 or ’65. Johnson chose the other option: escalation, a process which moved into fast-forward mode in August 1964 with the (entirely bogus) Gulf of Tonkin (so-called) “Incident.” One has to wonder just why that was. Could it be that JFK was assassinated because of his apparent unwillingness to go to war with Cuba to overthrow Castro? Or to engage the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis? Or maybe because he wanted to cease involvement in Vietnam before it really got started? Before anyone could profit from it? Or gain power? Perhaps history will one day reveal, but I’ll not hold my breath in anticipation.

So here we are once again on the edge of the Memorial Day weekend, awaiting that day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. In remembrance of the dead, the wounded, the maimed, of those who themselves never started a war, but chose or were chosen to engage nevertheless, including the hundreds of thousands of victims of MY War, victims who included boyhood and college friends and acquaintances . . . victims whose names are inscribed on that Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. What follows is for them. Each of them, all of them. R.I.P.

The Vietnam Memorial
Washington, D.C.

Embedded in the ground, a blackened stone
Pays tribute to the fallen – those described
As hallowed dead – their souls departed, gone,
Now ashes in the wind. Their names – inscribed
Precisely – carved as if by hand of God
To ornament the rock, still whisper words
Of love to friends who seem to find it odd
That stone can weep,  and too, the songs of birds.
There is no glory buried here beneath
This blackened stone, nor flesh, nor bones.  But still,
One feels that sculpted names did each bequeath
A challenge only living can fulfill –
Exist in peace with all upon your Earth,
Since you won’t know, till death, what Life was worth.


The Vietnam Memorial II
a whisper from the wall

The flowers in the vase allay my fears.
She placed them, quite precisely, near my name
Here etched in stone.  Her eyes are filled with tears,
Full knowing that it’s I who’ve lost the game
Of life, my place on Earth reduced to this.
I pray she knows our Spirits still are one,
That touch, and tears, and even winsome kiss
Remain forever locked, though breath is gone.
It’s peaceful here despite the constant pain
Of losing her.  How easier for birds
To sing, for blackened clouds to spill their rain,
Than through this stone it is to speak these words:
   I love you still, you’re always part of me
   And that can’t change – in this Eternity.

As a final thought, a suggestion: by all means, may we always and forever keep Memorial Day as that day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. In turn, maybe we might add another facet and, by our remembrances perhaps we could also dedicate ourselves — each and every one of us — to finding the means of FOREVER ENDING ALL WARS!! I know, we’ll never get the power-vested moneybags to go along with us, nor will we ever convince the warmongering wingnut fools that ‘defense of liberty’ via mass murder of others is really not much of a virtue; but still, aren’t those fools substantially outnumbered by people who care for others, who care for this earth, their home? If not, if ’tis true that the power hungry money-changers do indeed ‘own’ the temple, then it’s too late in any case . . . at which point we may as well simply ‘celebrate’ “In Memory of . . . Memorial Day.”

Open Thread. Speak Up. Speak Out. END ALL WARS, or whatever.

The Watering Hole; Thursday May 23, 2013: “Racism and the American Right”

I happened across a compelling essay by Robert Parry on Consortium News the other day, one which filled several gaps in my admittedly limited understanding of various racist issues, including especially the racist motivation that apparently underlies the Second Amendment. I’ve mentioned the suspicion before, as described by Thom Hartmann, that the amendment was written to satisfy slave owners in Virginia and the South that the new Constitution would not put their “property” in jeopardy, thereby to garner Constitution ratification support. It appears as though Hartmann’s thesis is, indeed, not at all ‘hollow’ as I’m sure the NRA and any number of gun nuts would maintain. As Parry puts it,

Since the Founding, the Right has decried government interference with the “free market” and intrusion upon “traditions,” like slavery and segregation, as “tyranny” or “socialism.”

This argument goes back to 1787 and opposition to the Constitution’s centralizing of government power in the hands of federal authorities. In Virginia, for instance, the Anti-Federalists feared that a strong federal government eventually would outlaw slavery in the Southern states.

Ironically, this argument was raised by two of the most famous voices for “liberty,” Patrick Henry and George Mason. Those two Virginians spearheaded the Anti-Federalist cause at the state’s ratifying convention in June 1788, urging rejection of the Constitution because, they argued, it would lead to slavery’s demise.

The irony of Henry and Mason scaring fellow Virginians about the Constitution’s threat to slavery is that the two men have gone down in popular U.S. history as great espousers of freedom. Before the Revolution, Henry was quoted as declaring, “Give me liberty or give me death!” Mason is hailed as a leading force behind the Bill of Rights. However, their notion of “liberty” and “rights” was always selective. Henry and Mason worried about protecting the “freedom” of plantation owners to possess other human beings as property.

Given the nefarious origin of the Second Amendment, I have to once again ask WHY has it not been REPEALED? What kind of nutcase country are we when guns and bullets are more important than virtually anything else, including life itself? Let me be blunt as I climb into broken record mode and say IT yet one more time:


This is Today’s Open Thread Where Anything Goes . . . Hopefully to One Day Soon Include the Second Amendment!

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, May 22, 2013: Did the Government Create the Tornado that Hit Oaklahoma?

Ok, time to put on your tinfoil hats. This author has seen these “chemtrails” – numerous trails flowing from jets cris-crossing the sky or making long arcs. Commercial jets don’t fly in an arc – they take the shortest route to their destination.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that our government is undertaking to change the weather on a hemispheric basis, what are the consequences? Is the government trying to increase precipitation to alleviate the drought caused by global warming? Are they factoring in the fact that by creating storm systems, or drawing storm systems further south than they would have otherwise traveled, that they are also creating monster tornadoes, storms that are guaranteed to cause billions of dollars in damage & kill unknown and unknowable numbers of citizens? Is this the price we pay to maintain American Agribusiness? Would there be an even greater price if the drought caused by climate change produced massive food shortages & famines?

The Zoo presents this tip of the iceberg. It is up to you, dear readers, to look further, to inquire, to inform yourself and draw your own conclusions. Suffice to say, there is too much at stake here for the mainstream/corporate media to report on this story.

And, no, this is not a satire.



Watering Hole – Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sequestration only becomes a problem for Congress when it inconveniences them.

This is a last minute attempt to put up an Open Thread.  Speak Up!

Posted by Cats r Flyfishn.  Now, I have to get back to my packing.

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

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 20th, 2013: Dirty vs Clean

First, I’m dragging you into the down and dirty: a brief glimpse into the dark and incomprehensible sludge that passes for brains in far-right-wingers:
From a commenter on a TP thread about the new Virginia GOP nominee for Lieutenant Governor:

“What I will never understand is that Gays have no idea they are being set up for easy persecution by the Liberals. How hard do you think it is going to be to find Gays now that same sex marriages are taking place? There is a paper trail to follow! When the time comes that Islam takes more and more control of America which unless you are a moron is happening right under your nose, “Gays’ will once again be TARGETED but this time these religious nuts believe God wants them to cut the heads off of Gays…just saying”

“BTW Shari law calls for the execution of Homosexuals on the spot when found out and this administration wont even use the word Radical Islam and is arming them…keep supporting Liberals and bashing Christians fools.. right up to the day when there are no Conservative Christians left to defend the Constitution and Sharia Law comes here and explain it to them its a ” life” as they place you on your knees and cut your head off!”

From a Moneynews (aka Newsmax) article/new conspiracy theory about the IRS (to which I am NOT linking, both on general principle and for your own sakes), a couple of separate commenters:

“…a flat income tax is no more than rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. Under the flaw tax, you still have to surrender your Constitutional rights to pay the tax, you still have to place ALL your property in jeopardy or peril to pay the tax, and you subject yourself to criminal prosecution every time you fill our a return. And under the flat income tax you still have to file returns, which gives this congressionally sanctioned terrorist organization, the irs, its jurisdiction over you, your property and just about everything you do (now with the inclusion of obamacare). What is desperately needed is to sever that jurisdiction between ordinary American citizens, doing nothing more than earning an honest living from their God given talents, and this hedonist organization that has no more regard for your rights and property than a common street thug. To do that, we need replace the marxist income tax with a national sales tax. It is what the Framers intended to finance the government. Read Federalist 21.”

“- Open the White House Doors Now – Our Kids Deserve better! – That’s a travesty in itself….never mind all this other corruptness in charade! Who has gone to jail?”

“If the government doesn’t do something about the IRS, I think it’s time the american people take in in their own hands. Fed up with this communist government and the people who support them.”

WE do NOT need a federal income tax!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Now, since I forced you to get all dirty, here’s something to clean you off:
piglet enjoying shower

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to comment on any topic that comes to mind.

Sunday Roast – Eurovision 2013

I watch that every year. The Swiss get regularly booted out before the finals, but every once in a while there is controversy or even something worthwhile listening to. This year the controversy was around Turkey refusing to participate, because one song act had two girls kissing at the end. After all those little islamist willies will crumble and fall off, if they have to watch that. They didn’t miss much, though.

We had the predicted outcome. Europeans liked this song:

Sad really, when we once, in 2007, had liked this:

Ah well.

This is our Open Thread. Please proceed….

Who Cast What At The Who Now?

This past Wednesday, Rep Louie Gohmert (R-Wingnuttia) accused Attorney General Eric Holder of a charge which, to my knowledge, has never been leveled at any cabinet level officer of the United States. He said that the Attorney General was “casting aspersions on my asparagus.” No, I didn’t mishear that, though my bad hearing might have led me to think he said something almost as disjointed. Listen for yourself Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 18, 2013 – Armed Forces Day


Today is Armed Forces Day. It is a day to honor the men and women who serve in all the branches of the Armed Forces. From the Defense Department’s website:

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

On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days.

The single day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense.

So thank an active duty member of our military today. They’re serving to protect you.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss the awesome people serving in our armed forces who help ensure our freedom, or anything else you think is important.

The Watering Hole; Friday May 17 2013; The Island of St. Lucia

No politics today.

In the eastern Caribbean — on a line approximately due east of Nicaragua and in the Lesser Antilles portion of the West Indies — lies an island called St. Lucia. It’s about midway between Martinique and St. Vincent & The Grenadines, and is one of the more mountainous islands in the Caribbean. Europeans (French pirates) first arrived there in the 1550’s. The Dutch set up a camp on the island circa 1600. An off-course English vessel stopped by in 1605, but thanks to conflict with the native population only stayed for five weeks. In 1643 the French established a permanent colony, named the Island St. Lucia, and then, in 1660, signed a treaty with the native Carib People and began to develop land for production of sugar cane. In 1664 The British claimed the island, and over the next 150 years, colonial “leadership” changed hands a total of fourteen times (France 7, England 7). In 1814, Britain took charge for the duration until 1979 when St. Lucia finally became an independent state, a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. During the period of European colonization, most of the native people died from either disease or conflict, and were replaced by slaves from Africa. Today, the population of St. Lucia is predominantly of African descent; the official language is English, but most of the locals are equally if not more proficient in a French-based Patois, a language derived mainly via the combination of French and various West African languages.

Modern day St. Lucia is a peaceful place with a population of less than 200,000. It’s a lush tropical paradise whose main ‘industry’ is tourism. In 1983, I spent a week on St. Lucia as one of a party of four Arizonans who had decided to fly as far from ‘home’ in a single day as could be managed. Suffice to say that that particular week became one of the most delightful interludes spent in my nearly 71 years of occupancy on this here planet. The accommodations at Hotel Anse Chastanet just outside of the small town of Soufriere (pronounced soo-FRAY) were comfortable and reasonably priced, and the scenery — well, the scenery was spectacular and stunning. In every way and from every vantage point. But all of that paled when compared with the people, the locals who worked the hotel, the restaurants, lounge, and beach, and the people of Soufriere. They were positively delightful. In fact, on our last night at the hotel, we were joined in the lounge for a farewell sip or two by nearly the entire hotel staff, one of whom was ‘different’ from the others in much the same way we were ‘different’ — he (the dive shop manager) was, like the four of us, a pale-skinned, light-haired . . . well, you know. Everyone else was of African descent. And amongst the entire crowd of all of us, no one . . . not a single one . . . even noticed, much less cared. The entire visit became, for us ‘white’ Americans, a genuine eye-opening and enlightening experience, one which will never be forgotten.

Anyway: below are some ‘recollections’ from 1983 in the form of old photographs, recently digitized, plus a recipe that the woman in charge of the restaurants at the Anse Chastanet Hotel — Georgianna — graciously mailed to me (pursuant to my request!) after my return to the deserts of Arizona. It’s a fabulous recipe — “local food” in Georgianna’s words. Delicious!

So, enjoy!

The Pitons; St. Lucia, Lesser Antilles, 1983The Pitons and the Caribbean; St. Lucia, Lesser Antilles, 1983


Corals, Soufriere Bay, St. Lucia

Corals in Soufriere Bay, St. Lucia


The Pitons from Soufriere Bay

The Pitons, from Soufriere Bay


Corals in Soufriere Bay

Corals in Soufriere Bay


The Pitons from Hotel Anse Chastanet

The Pitons from Hotel Anse Chastanet


Corals in Soufriere Bay, St. Lucia

Corals, Soufriere Bay


Rainbow over Soufriere Bay and Night Scene at Anse Chastanet

From Hotel Anse Chastanet, St. Lucia — Rainbow, and Night Scene


Recipe for Chicken St. Lucia
(aka “Local Food,” courtesy of Georgianna, Soufriere, St. Lucia)

This is derivative of a recipe which was graciously shared with me by the kitchen staff of the Hotel Anse Chastanet, a West Indies tropical hideaway near the small city of Soufriere, St. Lucia, within easy view of The Pitons and about halfway up the island’s Caribbean coast.  The dish is quite delicious, actually, and with its slightly sweet and spicy flavor is more than a little ‘different’ from most other chicken-in-sauce recipes; it’s also a genuine reflection of the tastes and aromas of a beautiful tropical Caribbean island.

To begin, assemble the following ingredients:

1 good-sized chicken (or equivalent in pieces*), cut up, skinless, bones ok
¼ lb (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter
2 cups chopped sweet onion
2-3 cups diced tomatoes (or 28 oz can)
1 large cucumber, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 large green Bell pepper, cut into ¼ by 1 inch slices
1 Tbsp curry seasoning
2 tsp sweet Basil
1 or 2 garlic cloves, chopped and crushed
Kosher or sea salt to taste

•    1 cup fresh orange juice
•    2 Tbsp fresh orange zest
•    1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
•    liquor from the tomatoes (canned is fine)
•    ½ cup cream sherry (optional)

*Boneless, skinless breast meat, cut into smaller chunks, can suffice – dark meat not strictly required for this dish; I do avoid using the wings, and when using leg quarters,  prefer thighs be boned and cut as is the breast meat — a service preference.  OK to leave the drums as drums.

To Prepare:
Marinate the chicken pieces in the refrigerator for at least an hour, turning once. Next, in a large pot, melt half of the butter and sprinkle in the curry seasoning.  Bring to a sizzle, stirring, then add the garlic plus 1 cup of onion and stir till everything is uniform. Next add, in order: the chicken and marinade, tomatoes, cucumbers, salt, black pepper, and sweet Basil (withhold the green pepper and 1 cup of onion). Bring to a slow boil, then stir the entire contents of the pot; cover, reduce heat a bit, and simmer for 30 minutes.  Next, add half of the green pepper strips, cover again, and return to simmer for another 15-30 minutes, or until the chicken easily yields to a fork.

Finally, with a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and as much of the vegetable chunks as possible and set aside.  Bring the remaining broth to a full rolling boil and add the rest of the butter.  Reduce the broth by about half, or until the bubbles begin to look as though they have a glassy surface, then add the rest of the onions and peppers; continue to boil until peppers and onions are softened (about five minutes), then turn off the heat and return the chicken and vegetables to the pot.  Stir well, and serve in individual portions alongside and over freshly steamed white or brown rice.

You will be surprised, and delighted, guaranteed!


This is Today’s Open Thread. Anything Goes, Even 🙄 Politics.

The Watering Hole; May 16 2013: The GOP, and why it MUST BE ERADICATED!

If, say, fifty years ago today — during those halcyon days when I was less than six months short of my twenty-first birthday, when I would soon (finally!) be allowed to register to vote — if, way back then, someone had told me that at some point in my life one of the two major political parties in the United States would have no other agenda than to destroy all of its opposition by any means available in its dogged pursuit of nothing less than full and total power in/of the State, I’d have shrugged, laughed, and dismissed the notion out of hand. But then, exactly one month to the day following my 21st birthday, at about 11:45 AM, MST, I was heading home for lunch when these words interrupted the music on the car’s radio:

We have an unconfirmed bulletin from Dallas, Texas; President Kennedy has been shot. There is no word yet as to his condition. Stay tuned, we will update as information becomes available.

A few minutes later I parked, walked inside, and turned on the TV. There was confusion, of course, lots of confusion. Then, suddenly, this:

Dallas, Texas; John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, is dead.

Everything changed that day. I remember first and foremost the sense of sadness, coupled with a sense of foreboding amongst the vast majority of my acquaintances and, clearly, of people everywhere. I also well remember the elation on the part of the handful of far-right-wingers that I knew back then; as one of them said upon hearing the news, “Live like a tyrant, die like a tyrant.” And of course on the larger stage there was the John Birch Society, and . . . yeah, like that.

With occasional (and, unfortunately, temporary) interruptions every now and then, it’s been a Republican-driven national downhill slope over the five decades since that fateful day. There was Nixon, of course, and Ford, then Reagan, then Bush, and Bush . . . and today the (formerly) Grand Old Party has evolved from basically a centrist organization to a neo-Fascist extreme right wing movement, one which has zero tolerance for any long-embedded ‘American’ ideals. Instead, they’re totally obsessed with three basic goals: global military dominance, money, and absolute political power. Everything and everyone else — the middle class, education, organized labor, the elderly, not to mention each and all of those ‘tired, those poor, those huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ — are to have their collective needs not only ignored, but redistributed. Upward. The rich are not (yet) rich enough.

And, worse, there’s a damn Democrat in the White House! Second term. Elected by sizable popular margins both times. And worst of all, he’s a black man. With a black wife. And black children. An obvious enemy of the people. He is, indeed, the GOP’s worst nightmare. And since day one of his first term, there has been only one, single, Republican goal: force that black Democrat S.O.B. President to FAIL! In every possible way. Especially in ways which will serve to advance their agenda of destroying the middle class, destroying public education, destroying organized labor, and relieving the tired, the poor, the elderly, the huddled masses . . . of each and every penny of public largesse. Let them eat cake. Or die. Whatever.

From the last day or two, a few headlines:

House ready to make draconian cuts to food stamps in Farm Bill

The proposed legislation would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) by almost $21 billion over the next decade, eliminating food assistance to nearly 2 million low-income people, mostly working families with children and senior citizens.  The proposal reduces total farm bill spending by an estimated $39.7 billion over ten years, so more than half of its cuts come from SNAP.  The SNAP cuts are more than $4 billion larger than those included in last year’s House Agriculture Committee bill (H.R. 6083).

Republican filibuster could shut down workers’ rights enforcement

Congressional Republicans are committed to breaking government one step at a time, and it’s a given that anything that attacks workers as well as the function of government will vault to the head of the line. So it is with the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB can’t function without a three-member quorum. Republicans blocked President Obama’s nominations to the board. Obama made recess appointments. Businesses sued and a Republican-appointed court overturned the recess appointments in a staggeringly broad decision. That’s being appealed to the Supreme Court. Obama nominated some more people to the NLRB and renominated the recess-appointed people. Republicans look likely to block those nominations. Meanwhile, one current member’s term expires in August, which will leave the labor board unable to function.

The IRS “scandal” — all smoke, no fire

But what about the specific targeting of Tea Party groups? Doesn’t that show that this was all just a witch hunt against groups with right wing ideologies? Uh, no. It came up at exactly the time the office was getting flooded with a bunch of hastily prepared applications spewing from the Tea Party’s messy birth. The edict went out expressly because the office was being flooded with a bunch of hastily prepared, clearly political, applications all using very similar terms. In fact, the entire group of IRS employees in question was created to address the influx of possibly political applications. If the office had suddenly received a hundred applications for exempt status all claiming to be from the Sierra Club, wouldn’t you want them to pay a bit more attention? I would. What if those applications had all been from groups using Muslim Brotherhood in their titles? Would the same pundits still be on the air screaming about the IRS getting all political?

Behind all this are the staggering numbers. Out of thousands of applications, only a handful were rejected. You know what happens while a nonprofit organization is waiting to get this approval? They get to operate as a nonprofit organization. The harm caused by this action is exactly zero, and exactly no groups have sued the IRS in response to their rejection. They simply amended the application and tried again.

Furloughs now slashing paychecks for 820,000 workers

Thanks to the Defense Department’s announcement Tuesday, the number of federal workers forced on furlough by the sequester now stands at 820,000. Other agencies had already furloughed 140,000 workers and the Defense Department is furloughing 680,000. That’s 820,000 workers and their families suffering. substantial pay cuts.

That’s a mere sampling of the nonsense being perpetrated by today’s GOP, a brief glance at just a portion of one single page from yesterday’s Daily Kos. And not a word about the other Republican ‘dramas’ currently being played out, including Benghazi, the DOJ investigation via AP phone records of serious leaks concerning an intelligence operation in Yemen (which ultimately prevented an al Qaeda plot to blow up a US-bound passenger plane).

Note, too, that despite all the Republican hoopla over the news that the IRS took a close look at some 75  applications for tax exemption status by newly-formed “Social Welfare” organizations whose name or description included the words “Tea Party,” nary a single complaint ever issued from even a single Republican politician or official when, back in 2004, the IRS investigated the tax exempt status of the NAACP . . . simply because its chairman at the time, Julian Bond, was highly critical of George W. Bush and his war in Iraq.

Scandal, scandal, scandal. Political posturing, political screeching. Over what? Why? There’s a black Democrat in the White House, that’s why! Gotta screech, screech, screech, create “scandals” at every opportunity. Yesterday, at Consortium News, Robert Parry offered an interesting perspective in his May 14 article:

The Right’s ‘Scandal’ Funhouse Mirror

The modern American news media operates like a giant right-wing funhouse mirror reflecting back some large things as small and some small things as large. The Right gets to decide which items will be misshapen in which ways – and the mainstream press then reinforces the distortions. [. . .] This funhouse effect was first noticeable during the scandals of Ronald Reagan, when it didn’t seem to matter how much evidence was compiled about his complicity in grotesque human rights crimes including genocide in Central America, his tolerance of drug trafficking by his anticommunist clients, and his support for sophisticated propaganda operations to destroy troublesome journalists and other investigators. [etc.]

The ultimate questions finally and boldly arise and stand forth, and they read thus:

When does ‘enough’ become ‘too much’?

When is it time to act to prevent a future (or present, for that matter) ‘hostile takeover’ of the government of the United States?

How about today?

Open Thread. Have At It. But Remember: TAKE NO PRISONERS!