Watering Hole: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 – Mandela

This a man that I greatly admire.  He was brave while he was imprisoned and even braver after he was elected President.  Nelson knew that in order for South Africa to move forward, it could not dwell in its past sins and atrocities.

President Mandela celebrated his 95th birthday on July 18th and he was hospitalized for a lung infection back in June.  Even though he is showing improvement, his situation remains critical.

Just like everyone else, no leader is perfect.  What is important is the legacy that their leadership gives to us.  Here’s to you, Mandiba.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!

Anatomy of a coat hanger abortion

This is what the anti-choice crowd is creating for women all over this country. Laws against abortion do not stop abortion; they guarantee unsafe abortions.

Dr. Jen Gunter

The coat hanger isn’t sterile. It isn’t even clean.

If the woman, or girl, is alone she thrusts it blindly upwards into the vagina. She’s hoping it will get into her uterus and do something. She may or may not know that to get into the uterus the coat hanger has to navigate the small opening in the cervix called the os.

A coat hanger is technically narrow enough to get through a pregnant cervical os, but the end is sharp not tapered so it can lacerate and perforate. Getting any instrument through the cervix safely also requires visualization and knowledge of the correct amount of force.

If she’s lucky enough to get the coat hanger through her cervix it could easily sail right through the back or side walls of the uterus. The uterine wall is soft and easily perforated with the wrong instrument or unskilled hands. If…

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The Watering Hole, Monday, July 29th, 2013: Saint Ronnie? I Don’t Think So!

I have always had great admiration for President James Earl Carter. I confess that I did not start voting until 1988, after I married Wayne (so Clinton was “my first.”) But my parents were pretty staunch Democrats who voted for Carter, and in those times we actually did sit down to watch the evening news every night, and I watched the Sunday political shows with my dad each weekend – which, of course, usually ended with me taking a nap. So I was not completely ignorant of political machinations, especially with dad filling me in on the background issues.

President Carter’s administration covered some troubled times, but he always spoke to the nation in a unique combination of down-home-folksy Sheriff Andy and subtly eloquent professor. That he is still, and always will be, derided by Republicans as one of the worst Presidents in history, just proves how little the Republicans respect intellect and integrity.

President Jimmy (as I like to call him) differentiated himself from too many other former Presidents by, after leaving office, continuing for decades to serve his planet, his country, and humanity in general. Jimmy and Rosalynn remain wonderful examples of “public service” at its most noble.

Here’s a selection of interviews, articles, and videos, all from the last year or two, which include President Carter’s views on America’s dysfunctional democracy and the effect of Edward Snowdon’s NSA leaks; his speech at the Carter Center’s “Mobilizing Faith for Women” conference on June 23, 2013; and an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan from January 2012 on a wide range of topics, but mostly about the Middle East.

And saving the best for last, here’s Part 1 and Part 2 of President Carter’s appearance on The Daily Show, April 9th, 2013.

In my opinion, no other President has acted so Presidential after leaving office as has President Jimmy Carter. The right-wing can criticize and ridicule him all they want, but Jimmy deserves beatification to sainthood much more than their much-vaunted but historically inaccurate Saint Ronnie.

jimmy and rosalynn

This is our Open Thread. What’s your opinion about President Jimmy Carter? Or on anything else, for that matter.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 27, 2013: The Acerebralists™ Are Still Among Us

I own a great book (thank you, Jane) called “The Superior Person’s Book of Words”, by Peter Bowler (1985). It’s very funny and has definitions (or explanations) of a bunch of great and, almost always, actual words that describe things perfectly. Not quite Ambrose Bierce, but chosen to effect an air of superiority when the occasion calls for it. Words like

CONTRADISTINCTION n. Why say “in contrast with” when you can say “in contradistinction to”?

There’s another great entry for

EREPTION n. Snatching away. Do not confuse with EREPTATION (creeping forth). Snuggling up to your beloved at the drive-in, you say, “I sense an ereption coming on,” and suddenly snatch the M&Ms from her lap. If it transpires that she has put the M&Ms somewhere else, you will be compelled to perform an ereptation.

The whole book is like that. It’s great. On the back cover can be found this:

ACEREBRAL a.Without a brain. A word for which there would at first sight appear to be no use, since no entity to which there would be any point in applying the term could in fact possess this attribute. (There would be no point in speaking of an acerebral windowsill.) However, recent researches into the central nervous system of the wire-haired terrier have conclusively demonstrated the need for such a word.

I then (technically improperly, I think) applied a suffix to indicate a person who practices or is concerned with something (“-ist”), and came up with

ACEREBRALIST n. A person who tries to think without having the capacity to do so. (i.e. A person without a brain who insists on trying to use it.)

You’ll probably derive your own variations on the theme, but it’s one of those words that you either get it and know to whom it applies or you don’t, and probably never will. Remember, you heard it from me first. Don’t go trying to steal it, Colbert!

[The above was part of a post first published more than six years ago on my original blog.]

Fast forward six years later and a word with what seemed like limited application then is almost indispensable in describing large segments of our society today. What other word best describes the faithful and believing viewers of Fox News Channel? I’ve written about Fox News in my song parodies (here, here, here, and especially here), and yet despite my efforts people still watch that network to get their news. And the sad part is that the Acerebralists™ in America (their target audience) believe every lie they’re told. Whether it’s about Benghazi or polls based on the lies about Benghazi, misinformation about the recent Supreme Court ruling striking down one section of the Voting Rights Act (not all of it), or denying that racism is still a major problem in this country, Fox News knows their audience lacks the brain power to think for themselves (or do their own internet research). If it weren’t for brainless people, Fox News Channel wouldn’t have enough viewers to stay on the air. (BTW, all of the examples I linked to were just from the past few days on Fox News Channel. The rest of the year is no better.)

But cable TV news is not the only place dependent on Acerebralists™ to make a living. Right-wing talk radio not only counts on them for their audiences, they even employ some Acerebralists™ as on-air hosts. I’m not talking about Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. Those guys aren’t stupid, they’re just plain evil in all sorts of ways. I’m talking about people like Bryan Fischer, who once regaled his audience with tales of his bravely fighting off demons, who thinks Liz Cheney isn’t anti-gay enough to be a US Senator, and who thinks it’s your patriotic duty (as Americans) to worship God. You can read about soem of the others at Right Wing Watch (A Project of People For the American Way).

And maybe all of that wouldn’t be so bad, wouldn’t be so detrimental to the country, if there weren’t any Acerebralists™ in Congress. Unfortunately for us as a nation, there are. On just the anti-immigration front, there’s Rep Michele Bachmann, who predicted that if any kind of immigration reform legislation passes, the Republicans will lose the House of Representatives because President Obama “will wave his magic wand” and declare that all immigrants have the right to vote (he can’t and won’t); Rep Louie Gohmert, who thinks that not only are black people “embracing” the Republican Party, but that “Hispanic voters will do likewise once they understand that the GOP wants them to learn to speak English and assimilate so that they don’t have to work as ditch diggers.”; and Rep Steve King (IA), who thinks that most of the undocumented immigrants are “130-pound” drug mules with “calves the size of cantaloupes.” [Not to be confused with Rep Peter King (NY), the famous terrorist supporter.] Acerebralists™ can truly feel they have one of their own (or, in this case, at least three) representing them in our Congress.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss the Acerebralists™ in your life, the ones who watch Fox News Channel, or even the ones in Congress, or anything else you wish to discuss. I only ask that you use your brain, which I know you have because you’re here at The Zoo right now.

The Watering Hole, Friday July 26, 2013; That Other World . . . ‘Out There’

Heard a “joke” the other day, courtesy of a charter member of the Front Range’s assemblage of Wingnuttistanians. It went like this:

“Did you know that under Obamacare, the price of aspirin is going to skyrocket because of an unbelievable tax on the stuff?”

“No, hadn’t heard that. Why a huge tax on aspirin?”

“Simple. Because it’s white, and it works.”

My intent for the last week has been to make this post a statement on the racism that’s currently contaminating a substantial portion of this country’s population. I’ve plowed through article after article, post after post, on various related topics including the aftermath of the Zimmerman “trial,”  more Scalia nonsense, the ignition of the voter suppression firestorm currently raging across North Carolina, Texas, and Florida all thanks to the “contributions” to voter suppression by the US “Supreme” (yeah, right) Court, and last but not least, an article entitled The Racist Roots Of The GOP War On Obama.

Wading through each and all of those swamps caused me to feel unclean, so I said hell with it, I’ll wait awhile on the matter, wait for the crud to wash off (assuming that’s even possible). So instead of dealing with right wing disease and grime, I decided instead to focus on that other world: that world “out there” where honor stands tall, where intent is never driven by greed or lust, that world inhabited by Critters . . . where humans appear only as occasional (and mostly uninvited) guests.

Dug through some of my old photo archives accumulated over the last few years and selected the following examples of innate ascendency of spirit. No need to caption or identify most of the participants, their identity is probably fairly obvious. With maybe one exception (I’ll save it for last).

Meanwhile, hope you enjoy the voyage, the momentary sojourn in that ‘other world,’ that sprawling paradise in which WINGNUTTISTANIANS can only ever be unwelcome intruders.



Beetle at Butterfly Cienega



Tucson Dove



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere. As John Keats once noted, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty; that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” Indeed, indeed. And examined through a slightly different prism:

How sad that eyes so seldom see
Earth’s beauties, which abound,
For beauty known turns wisdom free
In measures that astound.

And if ‘tis fact that beauty be
As truth, except in name,
What, then, is served but perfidy
When bird or beast is slain?

Yet minds of men seem safely free
Of senses which perceive;
Not truth nor beauty do they see –
For them must wisdom grieve.

Oh, and one last shot, added only to show that in Nature, even the most icy and cold-hearted SOB out there anywhere — though it may seem to at least superficially resemble the soul of any given Wingnuttistanian — the final truth is that, as opposed to wingnuts, its beauty is embedded, and persists.

Keats was, of course, right.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd no, that is NOT the physical manifestation of a wingnut’s nonexistent soul. It’s a Colorado icicle. Truth. 😀

Open Thread. All Critters Welcome.

The Watering Hole, Thursday July 25, 2013: Say No More . . .

Ran across this just the other day, a most able summation of . . . of what? I suspect the answer is obvious. Anyway, courtesy of Daily Kos, and From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…


…you engage in an IRS witch hunt even when your information is proven false, you believe rape kits prevent pregnancy from rape, you accuse anyone who starts a debate on race relations of being a reverse-racist, you claim the solution to the environmental effects of fossil fuels is to drill wider and deeper for them, you compare gays to pedophiles, you shout “global cooling!” on individual snow days in the winter but ignore record-breaking heat year after year, you openly and proudly call for secession, you believe economic expansion depends on economic contraction, you think alternative energy means switching from regular to premium, you want more tax breaks for the wealthy but not the middle and lower classes, you thought voting for the Iraq war was good judgment and you’d do it all over again, your idea of healthcare reform is “take more vitamins,” you insist that the primary role of Congress is to repeal laws, you think it should be more difficult for minorities to vote, you spend most of your time naming new post offices at the same time you’re trying to strangle the Postal Service, you keep funneling billions of tax dollars to Big Oil but starve green energy, you see commies behind every bush, you think it’s fine that women earn 77 cents for every dollar men make, you compare European immigrants’ “Secretariat DNA” to Mexican immigrants’ “donkey DNA,” you believe regulations on massively-predatory corporations are tyranny but regulations on ordinary workaday individuals are necessary to prevent “moochers,” you preach “abstinence only” to a demographic group that’s at the peak of their biologically-wired horniness, you can’t stomach the idea of a minimum living wage for people on the lowest rungs of society at the same time you can’t stomach a billionaire paying a few extra bucks in taxes, your response to the obscene level of gun violence in America is more guns, you bicker and dicker over funding for disaster relief, you scream “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!” but do nothing about jobs except slash them, and you act all rough and tough yet you’re too frightened to ever criticize a conservative radio entertainer because you’re afraid he might destroy you with some words…

…then tell me again, Republicans: why should anyone listen to you?

Ok.  So: WHY? Why DOES ANYONE — anyone blessed with a functioning brain, that is — ever listen to, much less vote in favor of, such nonsensical bull-cookies? WHY? What is it? Lack of education? Lack of ability to think? Is it cultural? Genetic? Is it _____________? (You choose).

Or perhaps we now have a new definition of “functioning brain”? Interesting question. Leads to another question, I guess, at least in re the concept of “functioning brain.” I offer two alternatives; again, you choose.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAScaliaSo, OK, that part’s done with proof that not all snakes look alike. Next up:

Open Thread for Functioning Brains. Hisssssssss! Etc.

The Watering Hole: Hump Day, July 24, 2013: fergetaboutit



House Republicans voted, again, to repeal Obamacare. Republicans, wherever they are in charge, enact legislation to regulate wombs; deregulate corporations; and eliminate unions.


It’s what they do.

Slowly but surely, people are becoming more tolerant. Slavery was once legal. Bi-Racial marriages were once illegal. Gay marriages are becoming legal.

Socially, the United States is gradually becoming more and more tolerant; more and more liberal.

Economically, the United States, as is much of Europe, is still in the grasp of the few people that control most of the money. But history shows they, too, are doomed to be replaced.

So fergetaboutit.

The real question, the only question that matters, is, when those that control the money and power now are replaced: what will fill that vaccuum?

Nature abhors a vaccum.





Watering Hole: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 – Open Thread, Other Opinions

Today, I’m going to share a few links to other blogs that are worth mentioning.  Since these are blogs, I won’t be copying any of the content.

Can shareholders have an impact on fossil fuels?  Corporate Social Responsibility seems to think that shareholders can influence the future of drilling for gas and oil and investment in renewable energy.

As for those corporations that are fighting to prevent coverage for birth control and to make all abortions illegal because of ‘religious’ reasons, a study shows that the number of abortions decrease when contraception is free.  Addicting Info has more on this topic.

Tom Tomorrow has a posting at Democratic Underground.

State Impact is not a blog.  It is a reporting project of NPR stations.  This news story involves the dumping of fracking waste into the Allegheny River, upstream from Pittsburgh.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 22nd, 2013: “Someone’s Got a Case of The Mondays”

Yes, even though I’m writing this on Sunday night, I’ve already got “a case of the Mondays.” The cumulative effect of the idiocy, racism, and total regression of our country into savage barbarism has caused me to become overwhelmed by depression, anger, hatred, frustration, despair and hopelessness. I’m at the point where I can’t even form a coherent rant. So I’ll just put up a photo or two that might help soothe the soul of others who are suffering from a “case of the Mondays.” Forgive me if I’ve used any of these before.

Looking west across Hudson River

Looking west across Hudson River

Fading Sunset Reflection

Fading Sunset Reflection

Skyfire Sunset

Skyfire Sunset

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

Sunday Roast: Prairie Dogs

Photo by Zooey

Prairie Dogs are sooooo cute!!  I could watch them for hours.

Highly social, prairie dogs live in large colonies or “towns” – collections of prairie dog families that can span hundreds of acres. The prairie dog family groups are the most basic units of its society. Members of a family group inhabit the same territory.

As cute as they are, prairie dogs are tough little critters!  Watch them take on a rattlesnake, with their cute squeaky bark, cooperation in the community, and earth-moving skills.

This is our daily open thread — Squeak among yourselves.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 20, 2013: I Worry ‘Bout It

Time for another parody, what d’ya say? This one was inspired by a friend of mine, Frank, who said he really liked this song. Frank may actually help me record some of these things (I’m the hold-up, not him; stage fright); so this is for him. I hope you all enjoy this one about arguing with political opponents, or anyone who you think hasn’t a clue what he or she is talking about, but insists it’s right anyway. I’m sure some of us won’t agree who needs to hear it. (I know who I think needs to hear it. :))

I Worry ‘Bout It
Original Words and Music “Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me)” by Sandy Linzer and Denny Randel, 1966
Additional Lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2013

Ahhhh, I can see
This ain’t no fun for me-
You’re only showing in your heart no empathy
If there’s another plan
That I don’t understand
Go on and tell me, Man
‘Cause now I worry ‘bout it

It’s so true
That you’ve been lying, too
The world all knows we only want what’s best for you
What good are facts denied
If your whole point’s implied
Go on and be decried
And hope I worry ‘bout it

Say you’re wrong
And I’ll just move along
Although you’ll think about it when you hear this song
I’ll always think that you
Intend to take the view
That somehow it’s all true
And that I worry ‘bout it

Ooooooooooh bay-ay-by.

See this guy
Before he says goodbye
Remember if they ever let him spin and lie
Don’t hide your own disdain
Don’t ever feel to blame
‘Cause he’ll do that again
That’s why I worry ‘bout it

I thought you
Know better than you do
You’ll spend your whole life saying what you want is true
And so this is goodbye
I know you’d rather lie
But don’t you tell me why
‘Cause then I’d worry ‘bout it

This is also our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss arguing with political opponents/idiots, brilliant song parodies you’ve read recently, or anything else you want to discuss..

Music Night: Past is Present

My daughter and her family visited Eugene for something called the Oregon Country Fair last week. It is what I would describe as a counter culture hippie fest with lots of music, vendors, and costumed participants. At one point they made it over to the stage where Peter Yarrow was performing. He asked all the young children to come on stage before breaking in to ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’. My four year old granddaughter was right up front, next to Peter, when he stopped in the middle of the song and took the mic down to her, as she was mouthing the words. He says to her “I wrote this song fifty years ago. How do you know this song?” She turns to him and declares. ” I don’t know, I just know it.”

Priceless moment.

The Watering Hole; Friday July 19, 2013; Crayfish Transfer Amongst Grebes

Every now and then it seems reasonable to set the world of humans and all its silly and contrived turmoil aside and visit, instead, that far more sane realm, the one that exists “out there.” In this case, we could call “out there” the Realm of the Grebes, or something close to that. Below are four photos taken my my old college buddy Denny Green of Tempe Arizona. The photos were taken in metro-Phoenix’s Papago Park, a large desert park area east of Phoenix, west of Scottsdale, northwest of Tempe, Arizona. Papago Park has a long and varied history. It began as simply a sizeable patch of raw desert, highlighted by a pair of red sandstone monolithic and eroded, windblown (sort of) buttes. During the 1940’s there was, believe it or not, a military P.O.W. camp which was the temporary “home” for numerous captured German Officers. Later came a National Guard facility, then a municipal golf course, the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden, and finally, the Phoenix Zoo. Somewhere in the midst of all of that is a pond which has become home for families of Grebes (among various other water-critters).

The photos which follow don’t really need any captions; suffice to say that a mother Pied Billed Grebe has retrieved a crayfish from the bottom of the pond, and transfers it to her youngster. Enjoy the moment, the (temporary I’m sure) reprieve from that “other” world, the one that drives even sane people nuts!

Grebe 1*****

Grebe 2*****

Grebe 3*****

Grebe 4*****

😀 Life can, indeed, be sweet, no? 😀

Open Thread. Quack Quack Quack!

The Watering Hole, Thursday July 18, 2013; “The Zimmerman Mindset” and its Potential Aftermath: Whereto From Here?

I happened across a Facebook comment (via a link on Think Progress) a day or two ago. It was written by Michelle Alexander, Associate Professor of Law at Ohio State University and author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” She wrote:

If Trayvon Martin had been born white he would be alive today. That has been established beyond all reasonable doubt. If he had been white, he never would have been stalked by Zimmerman, there would have been no fight, no funeral, no trial, no verdict. It is the Zimmerman mindset that must be found guilty – far more than the man himself. It is a mindset that views black men and boys as nothing but a threat, good for nothing, up to no good no matter who they are or what they are doing. It is the Zimmerman mindset that has birthed a penal system unprecedented in world history, and relegated millions to a permanent undercaste. Trayvon, you will not be forgotten. We will honor you – and the millions your memory represents – by building a movement that makes America what it must become. RIP

I added the bold highlight and underline to indicate the single point made by Ms Alexander with which I disagree, at least in part. It is, of course, absolutely true that what she refers to as “The Zimmerman mindset” — the concept that any young black male in a hoodie is automatically a criminal — has “birthed a penal system” which has “relegated millions to a permanent undercaste.” I can’t imagine any sort of cogent argument that could counter the concept. I disagree, however, that such is “unprecedented in world history.”

Lest we forget, the USA has a long history of racial hatred, one that changes/evolves in various ways over the decades, but one which remains as omnipresent as ever. Only the focal points have changed; maturity of view remains elusive at best. Nor can we ignore other histories of nations which carried racial hatred to the extreme, countries in which their “penal system . . . relegated millions to a permanent undercaste” . . . a system which in one instance “relegated millions” of the “permanent undercaste” to concentration camps, and eventually to gas chambers and crematoria . . . a system which undoubtedly began with a type of “Zimmerman mindset” prior to evolving to its endpoint, the “Himmler mindset,” aka “The Final Solution.”

The United States is rapidly sinking into an authoritarian mire, one which appears to have alarming similarities to regimes familiar in recent history, a system which seems designed to punish all but the rich and powerful . . . who, in turn, gather in reward after reward after reward. Some call it the GOP, others identify it more with the exceedingly radical far right wing authoritarian entity, the Tea Party. No matter the current name, however, extreme right wing authoritarian governing philosophy is classically called Fascism. In the words of one who absolutely knew and understood:

Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power. . . . [and] . . . The Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State. It is opposed to classical liberalism [which] denies the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual.

So wrote Benito Mussolini early in the last century. It’s probably a stretch to use Mussolini’s description(s) as a means of explaining the “Zimmerman Mindset,” although the heinous racial/religious hatreds and the mass murders undertaken by European Fascist regimes in the 1930’s and 40’s certainly gives pause to those who see or sense a similar political evolution taking place on these shores.

I’m reminded, once again, of words from the 1961 movie, Judgment at Nuremberg, from screenwriter Abby Mann’s Academy Award-winning screenplay, words spoken by American tribunal judge Dan Haywood.

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  . . . it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient . . .

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

Perhaps we once did indeed “stand for justice, truth . . . and the value of a single human being.” But do we still? The conservative majority on the Supreme Court has, in just the last few years, ruled that corporations are, in effect, people in the Constitutional sense; it also recently overturned a major section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, thus enabling certain states to officially enact the means to, in effect, revisit the old Jim Crow era and introduce new and creative measures designed only to prevent minorities from voting, a process well under way. The right wing-controlled House of Representatives has, to date, attempted to overturn and get rid of the American Healthcare Act, aka “Obamacare,” some 39 times at last count; in conservative-controlled states all around the country, legislation allowing interference in women’s health care and reproductive freedom progresses at breakneck speed; and last but not least, the House of Representatives appears to be doing everything possible to deny immigration and citizenship opportunities to some 12 million people, mostly of Hispanic heritage, who have come here to seek that (generally legendary) “better life” for themselves and their families.

The “Zimmerman mindset” appears to be driving a substantial portion of the nation’s body politic; one can only wonder . . . and perhaps fear . . . the possibility that one day in the near future the corrosive far right wing just may wind up with majority positions not only on the Supreme Court and in the House of Representatives, but also in the Senate, perhaps control the White House as well. Add to that right wing control of at least half the states, and . . . what then? Will we follow the authoritarian path to the point where we no longer stand for justice, truth . . . and the value of a single human being” ?? Will the new authoritarian majority reassert “the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual” ?? And whereto from there?? Ultimately to a system that has, indeed, “relegated millions to a permanent undercaste” ??

Or worse ??

Open Thread.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, July 17, 2013: GET A JOB!

I once ate at a McDonalds where the placemat doubled as a job application. I kid you not. Made me wonder about the food I was putting into my face – that it had been prepared by someone eminantly qualified for the job because he could connect the dots on Ronald McDonald’s nose. (ok, so the job application was a bit more complicated than that, but you get the point.)

Well, it seems the job creators running the clown outfit really do care about their rank and file line workers. So much so that they produced a booklet “Practical Money Skills Budget Journal.”

Page 4 has a sample budget

Let's start with getting 2 jobs, ok?

Let’s start with getting 2 jobs, ok?

This budget assumes you have 2 jobs. So, let’s do the math. To get a net of $2060 per month you have to gross more than that because of things like social security, and other taxes. But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume you work in a State that has no other taxes, and you don’t have to pay any income tax, just the 6.2% Social Security tax. So, you’re going to have to gross about $2,200 per month.

Two jobs. Minimum wage. $7.25 per hour. You’ll only have to work 303 hours per month. No problem. You’ve got 30 days to work all that in, so that’s just….hmmm 303 hours divided by 30 days….10.1 hours a day, every day of the month.

But wait! You’re working in a fast-food establishment – so the most you can count on from the Clown is a 30 hour work week. So, just put that together with your other minimum wage job and you’ve got a …. 60 hour work week….Still need 10.7 hours more. No problem! Just get another job!

Ok, so we’ve figured out the first couple of lines – we’ve all got three part-time jobs paying minimum wage and putting in 10 hour days, seven days a week. We can now afford to rent a $600/month abode. With the average rent running a bit over $1,000 a month, we’ll have to settle for something a little below average.

And we can budget $150 per month for a new car! We’re quite the shopper, and we got a 5 year car loan at zero interest, meaning we can buy any car we want, up to $9,000! Ok, so that’s somewhat less than the $31,000 average price of a new car these days. In fact, that won’t even get you the cheapest new car, coming in at a bit over $12,000. So, we’re going to have to make payments on a used car, and hope to heck it doesn’t need any repairs, ‘cuz that’s not in the budget. For that matter, neither is gas.

But the clown’s budget does have us saving a whopping $100 a month. And we get $25.00 per day for food, gas and entertainment. As long as we never get sick, never miss a 10-hour shift, never have a major repair on our car, etc. We even have $100 a month to buy appliances, furniture etc. What a great budget!


The only thing the Clown’s budget truly shows is the fallacy of working hard and living the American Dream.

It used to be that part of the American Dream was class mobility – the ability to move up the socio-economic ladder – to be better off than your parents were. We still have class mobility, but now it is in the opposite direction. Many of us are not better off than our parents. Our children most likely won’t be better off than us. And our grandchildren and/or great-grandchildren will face struggles not seen since the industrial revolution.


Bonus: This is a MUST WATCH!</p>

An open letter to whites about the black community and the Trayvon Martin case

Very moving open letter to white people by a brilliant young man. Please give it a read, because you will learn something.

The Molinist

This morning, I woke up to this. Like many, many people within and without the black community, I followed this case intently and had (continue to have) definite opinions on them (the justice of those opinions is another matter) and, like many, I received the news not with anger or frustration but a sort of quiet sadness that is difficult to explain. I’m going to try, though, in the hopes that I can share some insight into what this case, and this verdict, mean for communities of colour in and outside the United States.

I wasn’t present when George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, so I don’t know what transpired. I cannot peer into George Zimmerman’s soul, so I don’t know what he was thinking or with what intent he followed Martin down the street. What I do know is what it’s like to be a Trayvon Martin. To be…

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Watering Hole: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 – What is this?

I spent a little time in Northwest Colorado with a friend that took me to a cemetery in Pagoda.  Now, I’m not sure if Pagoda is a town or a county or a township.  All I know is that there is a cemetery in the middle of nowhere with a sign with this name on it.

Is this an outhouse?  Or is this a shed?  I didn’t venture close enough to examine it.


Some people like to dress up the grave site with artificial flowers and other trinkets.


This is the Open Thread so Speak Up about anything.

And for the curious, Nonewhere and I are staying in Sammamish, Washington.  We had a safe trip across the continent and we are still homeless.

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 15th: FFS, There is NO Scandal!

While visiting ThinkProgress the other day, I noticed on the sidebar a photo of President Obama, with the following emblazoned over it: ‘OBAMA APPROVAL PLUMMETS – Is the IRS Scandal The Final Straw?

I couldn’t help myself, I had to click on it, and ended up at the following petition, sponsored (somewhat to my surprise) by Citizens United:


“Tell Attorney General Eric Holder To Appoint A Special Counsel To Investigate The IRS
Sign the Petition : 8,045 Signers So Far

Washington is embroiled in scandal and those at Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department cannot be trusted to conduct an independent investigation because there is a conflict of interest.

In a case this inflammatory – the politicization of the IRS – people serving at the pleasure of the President at the Department of Justice cannot be trusted to conduct an independent investigation because there is an inherent conflict of interest. How can you ask someone to fairly investigate their boss or others who work for their boss? The answer is you can’t.

The American people will not and should not stand for a political investigation into the politicization of the IRS. Please sign the below petition to tell Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a Special Counsel to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal. Make your voice heard!

Thank you for signing this petition, we will keep you informed on the developments related to the fiscal cliff and additional content from Citizens United and the Presidential Coalition.”

[For more on the “Presidential Coalition”, here’s what SourceWatch and OpenSecrets have on the group.]

For your reading pleasure, here’s a selection of some of the dumbass comments posted by signers of the petition:

Lucy B. from Philadelphia, PA writes:
This was implemented to make sure Obama’s reelection would be secure and his opposition (Conservatives) would be denied money to carry on a political fight.

Robert B. from Chesapeake, VA writes:
Enforce the law on these lawleess jerks!!

Shirley H. from Pearland, TX writes:
Mr. Holder you need to appoint a special counsel to investigate the IRS. You have proven yourself unreliable and dishonest. Someone else should have investigated Fast and Furious and Bengahzi. You need to be fired and charged with several crimes.
Take yourself and the DOJ out of IRS investigation.

Herb P. from Boulder City, NV writes:
Repeal the income tax; our economy was better before the income tax.

larry b. from West Palm Beach, FL writes:
Shut Down the irs!!!!
flat tax NOW!!!

Geraldine R. from Milwaukee, WI writes:
Eric Holder needs to be investigated too.

robert w. from Hilliard, FL writes:
for this and bengazzi

Jan M. from Overland Park, KS writes:

Irv P. from Burbank, CA writes:
Your corruption breeds more corruption. It and you are putrid.

Everett S. from Darien, CT writes:
We want a AG that is fair , balanced and Just. Our nation needs and depends on this

[Note: I agree with this, but obviously, for reasons which are probably not the same as Everett’s.]

Laine P. from Austin, TX writes:
There is nothing to say that the “thought police” will not use against anyone with a brain left after these five years of oppression.

Mike H. from Palm Beach Gardens, FL writes:
He won’t do this because it would lead right to the White House.

Dr. Jim C. from Young Harris, GA writes:
bho is anti-American and the most divisive public figure to ever live in this Great Nation.

John T. V. from Tamaqua, PA writes:
These Chicago thugs, are like satan, “MASTER OF ALL LIES AND DECEIT.”

Anne M. from Hyde Park, MA writes:
Dear AG E. Holder: Do your job. Or perhaps it was your idea to pull this off in the first place? In that case, resign, if you have a trace of honor. That being doubtful, then know that you are unacceptable as chief law-enforcement officer of this country, because you have violated the Constitution you swore to uphold. Since you have all my personal information already, I’ll simply sign my self: Anne, A Citizen

Calvin M. from Bristol, VA writes:
The IRS is to Political. It has shown time and time again that it is out of control and cannot be trusted.

Richard B. from Chicago, IL writes:
Impeach Obama and dump his socialist Obamacare witch is a big Federal scam we are all in BIG trouble if its not repealed

christopher S. from Morocco, IN writes:
Holder and Obama are both black racist crooks need to be tried , convicted and sent to prison

Caroline C. from Sioux City, IA writes:
We have a president with blood on his hands
from the babies who survive an abortion and blood on his hands from the Benghai attack. The IRS is another President’s problem with their misuse of taxpayers’ money!!!!

Lucy B. from Philadelphia, PA [again] writes:
ABSOLUTLY! IRS apologized after his reelection was secured by eliminating his feared opposition the Tea Party which he marginalized used sexually divisive terms that great grandmothers didn’t even understand. And he has no respect for the RULE OF LAW.

Jo Ann C. from Jacksonville, FL writes:
For years, honest folks were afraid of the IRS…most with good reason as an audit by them put anyone in fear…even when they had done nothing wrong! Now it is our President who puts fear in us by all the things he has done and plans to do. He acts more like a Dictator than a President! I pray to God daily for the safety and security of our USA. I hope he is impeached and removed from office in order to save the America we know and love. I am an 80 year old woman and hope and pray for our Country…whomever reads this, please forward if you are like minded. Thanks

LEONARD C. from Glendale, AZ writes:
guilty as charged.this is a no brainer for a blind man.hang them for treason. god bless america.sent them all to kenya.

Now, I’m no fan of Eric Holder and his so-called “Department of ‘Justice'”, but this IRS “scandal” bullshit is just that, BULLSHIT. Yet Citizens United (spit) is still using it to incite and bilk the ignorant.

Well, since I can’t put all of the ignorant comments that I found into this post, I’ll leave you with this final winner:

susan D. from Latrobe, PA writes:
I have never seen so much corruption ever ;they just keep doing IT and getting away with everything ;that is so not right come on Gongress do your job ;fire holden @ Obama ;and Hiliray Clinton to . .there are many corruped people in the white house it is shocking .And they are trying so hard to make Balck and White such a bad rachal thing it is terbble ;i have no probelm with black people at all ;there all the same colour is not an issue it is the GOVERNMENT THAT IS THE ISSUE .

This is our Open Thread. Have at it!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 13, 2013 – Not All Libertarians Are Alike

Before I begin I must say that this post would not have been possible without the aid of a great website called The Political Compass. I intend to quote directly from their website both to promote the website itself and to help educate all of us (including myself.) I hope they don’t mind.

From the website:

There’s abundant evidence for the need of it. The old one-dimensional categories of ‘right’ and ‘left’, established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today’s complex political landscape. For example, who are the ‘conservatives’ in today’s Russia? Are they the unreconstructed Stalinists, or the reformers who have adopted the right-wing views of conservatives like Margaret Thatcher?

On the standard left-right scale, how do you distinguish leftists like Stalin and Gandhi? It’s not sufficient to say that Stalin was simply more left than Gandhi. There are fundamental political differences between them that the old categories on their own can’t explain. Similarly, we generally describe social reactionaries as ‘right-wingers’, yet that leaves left-wing reactionaries like Robert Mugabe and Pol Pot off the hook.

Senator Randal Howard “Rand” Paul has been in the news lately because he hired someone who once made a living as a despicable character to work for him to be his director of new media. Senator Paul defended the hiring of Jack Hunter, saying that whether or not Hunter expressed white supremacist views in the past doesn’t matter because he himself (Paul) has never seen Hunter express any of those views. This is pretty weak because turning a blind eye to someone’s past is not something a United States Senator, who is, after all, a Public Servant, should do. Yes, what The Southern Avenger did was legal and constitutionally protected free speech, but that doesn’t mean you should reward him by giving him a job as an aide to a Senator. “The senator said he believed Hunter is ‘incredibly talented’ even if he doesn’t agree with things his aide wrote or said while working as a radio talk show host.” Tell us, Senator, were there equally qualified people out there who didn’t make public appearances wearing a mask emblazoned with the Confederate Flag (the flag of the army that killed more U.S. soldiers than all other armies combined), and who doesn’t think John Wilkes Booth’s heart was in the right place, or who whine and complain that white people can’t freely express themselves (I don’t want to link to Hunter’s site, but you can find it from some of the other links)? Why hire this guy? Senator Paul and Jack Hunter both say he doesn’t express views like that anymore, but that’s as far as anybody knows. Hunter also claims to be embarrassed by some of his past statements, which he also claims actually contradicted his true feelings. Yeah, people often say stuff like that when their past racist views are exposed. It doesn’t mean it was morally okay to publicly express those views, especially since you were doing it to make a buck. I mean, really, how long can you go around saying things you really don’t believe? In Hunter’s case it was more than a decade. And before he quit that gig to work for the Senator last year, he help co-write a book for Paul. The Senator wants us all to think that Hunter’s “act” was something from his youth. Hunter is 39 years old.

In addition to all of that, I’m sure you’ve heard about the Senator’s views on the Civil Rights Act. The Senator claims he abhors racism, but somehow feels it’s okay for a private establishment, even if it is open to the public, should not be legally barred from practicing discrimination based on race. No, Senator. If you abhor racism, then you cannot be okay with other people practicing it. And if you don’t bar it legally, they will do it. Look how long it took for states to start changing their voting laws to make it harder for non-whites to vote once the Supreme Court (in its infinite stupidity) struck down part of the Voting Rights Act.

Which brings me back to the point of this post- not all Libertarians are alike. Senator Paul and his Director of New Media are conservative libertarians. People like Nelson Mandela and Mohandas K. Gandhi are liberal libertarians. When you take the test at Political Compass, you are given a score that tells you where you rank on the liberal/conservative scale (-10 to +10) as well as on the libertarian/authoritarian scale (-10 to +10).

Back to the Political Compass:

In the introduction, we explained the inadequacies of the traditional left-right line.


If we recognise that this is essentially an economic line it’s fine, as far as it goes. We can show, for example, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and Pol Pot, with their commitment to a totally controlled economy, on the hard left. Socialists like Mahatma Gandhi and Robert Mugabe would occupy a less extreme leftist position. Margaret Thatcher would be well over to the right, but further right still would be someone like that ultimate free marketeer, General Pinochet.

That deals with economics, but the social dimension is also important in politics. That’s the one that the mere left-right scale doesn’t adequately address. So we’ve added one, ranging in positions from extreme authoritarian to extreme libertarian.


Both an economic dimension and a social dimension are important factors for a proper political analysis. By adding the social dimension you can show that Stalin was an authoritarian leftist (ie the state is more important than the individual) and that Gandhi, believing in the supreme value of each individual, is a liberal leftist. While the former involves state-imposed arbitrary collectivism in the extreme top left, on the extreme bottom left is voluntary collectivism at regional level, with no state involved. Hundreds of such anarchist communities exisited (sic) in Spain during the civil war period

You can also put Pinochet, who was prepared to sanction mass killing for the sake of the free market, on the far right as well as in a hardcore authoritarian position. On the non-socialist side you can distinguish someone like Milton Friedman, who is anti-state for fiscal rather than social reasons, from Hitler, who wanted to make the state stronger, even if he wiped out half of humanity in the process.

The chart also makes clear that, despite popular perceptions, the opposite of fascism is not communism but anarchism (ie liberal socialism), and that the opposite of communism ( i.e. an entirely state-planned economy) is neo-liberalism (i.e. extreme deregulated economy)


The usual understanding of anarchism as a left wing ideology does not take into account the neo-liberal “anarchism” championed by the likes of Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman and America’s Libertarian Party, which couples social Darwinian right-wing economics with liberal positions on most social issues. Often their libertarian impulses stop short of opposition to strong law and order positions, and are more economic in substance (ie no taxes) so they are not as extremely libertarian as they are extremely right wing. On the other hand, the classical libertarian collectivism of anarcho-syndicalism ( libertarian socialism) belongs in the bottom left hand corner.

In our home page we demolished the myth that authoritarianism is necessarily “right wing”, with the examples of Robert Mugabe, Pol Pot and Stalin. Similarly Hitler, on an economic scale, was not an extreme right-winger. His economic policies were broadly Keynesian, and to the left of some of today’s Labour parties. If you could get Hitler and Stalin to sit down together and avoid economics, the two diehard authoritarians would find plenty of common ground.

Here’s where my scores ended up:
Economic Left/Right: -7.75
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.85

So, as you can see, I’m a Libertarian, but a Liberal one, not a Conservative one like Senator Paul or his co-author, The Southern Avenger, Jack Hunter. But what about other people? Here’s where it gets interesting. (Okay, that’s a tacit admission that it may not have been particularly interesting up to this point.) Many of us on the left have complained not simply that President Barack Obama is not as liberal as we had hoped he would be, but that he’s no better than Mitt Romney would have been. Technically this is not accurate, for Romney is more conservative and authoritarian than Obama (despite his talk about “freedom”), but only slightly so. Check where Political Compass rated the presidential candidates in the 2012 election. Romney’s scores appear to be about a +7/+6.5 while Obama’s are only a slightly better (in this author’s opinion) +6/+6. As you can see, nowhere near being either Liberal or Libertarian. If you think that’s bad, check out where the European Union countries fall. All of them are in the Conservative/Authoritarian quadrant.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss RW Libertarians or any other topic you wish to discuss.