February is what? Over? Music Night Feb. 28, 2014

Last week I watched Twenty Feet from Stardom, a brilliant documentary on some of the greatest American backup singers. If you have not seen the film, stop what you’re doing and order up a copy from Netflix. Seriously. We’ll wait…. Ok. All of these women will knock your socks off, guaranteed, but for the moment we’ll focus on Lisa Fischer, who was a complete revelation to me. There is a point in the film when Mick Jagger goes on about how he and Keith decided in the midst of recording that they needed a female voice on account of how they were all masculine and stuff so they had someone bring this woman in in the middle of the night. What he doesn’t say is that they didn’t need a woman, they needed this woman because suddenly they had one of their biggest hits. So this is a Rolling Stones video, but you really want to pay attention at about 2:30 min. And go get that movie.

The Watering Hole; Friday February 28 2013; Fear: A Look Back

I don’t imagine that I’m alone in my puzzlement in re the antics of the political world these days. I don’t pretend to understand (or even want to, I’m thinking) the subterranean motivations that clearly are designed to induce as much irrational FEAR of anything and/or everything in the minds of certain segments of the population (read: Republicans, Right Wingers, Tea Partiers). Still, I doubt few can deny the unfortunate reality that FEAR is one of the most effective political motivators out there. Brings to mind a remarkably prescient article written by Paul Krugman in 2006, halfway through the G.W. Bush administration’s second term. Krugman wrote (highlights mine):

“In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration adopted fear-mongering as a political strategy. Instead of treating the attack as what it was — an atrocity committed by a fundamentally weak, though ruthless adversary — the administration portrayed America as a nation under threat from every direction.

“Most Americans have now regained their balance. But the Republican base, which lapped up the administration’s rhetoric about the axis of evil and the war on terror, remains infected by the fear the Bushies stirred up – perhaps because fear of terrorists maps so easily into the base’s older fears, including fear of dark-skinned people in general.  And the base is looking for a candidate who shares this fear.

    “Just to be clear, Al Qaeda is a real threat, and so is the Iranian nuclear program. But neither of these threats frightens me as much as fear itself — the unreasoning fear that has taken over one of America’s two great political parties.

Nothing has changed, except maybe the focus of the fear-induced wrath. Below are three publicly published citizen comments, also from 2006. The writers are clearly of right wing persuasion, but I have a sneaking hunch that were they commenting today on current events their collective attitude might be a wee bit different?

“Recent poll numbers show President Bush’s popularity at an all-time low of 32 percent.  I would like to be counted as a staunch Bush supporter and a member of 32 Percent Club.  In my eyes, no matter how educators, the press, TV commentators and so-called ‘experts’ twist the facts, distort the news and bash my president with accusations and blame, you can not obscure reality and that is:  the economy is solid; Osama bin Laden is holed up in a rathole somewhere, and Iraq is doing its best to shake off the shackles of terrorism while reaching out for a piece of freedom and democracy.  ~Kenneth Server, Prescott Valley, AZ, in a letter to the Ed., Arizona Republic, April 28, 2006

“Our president has sworn to uphold the Constitution and to protect its citizens.  The National Security Agency’s program to wiretap international communications of some Americans, without a court warrant, is one of those protective measures.”   ~Ben Swank, Glendale AZ, in a letter to the editor published by the Arizona Republic, August 21, 2006

“I have had it with Sen. John McCain and his new political gambit.  He is directly undermining the president of the United States, intelligence agencies and our national security for his own political gain.  The next attack on the United States is on him and Sens. John Warner, Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham.  If we can’t get information from our prisoners by means that have been successful in the past, we will be attacked in the future.  Sen. McCain and the others want to protect the rights of the terrorists and make America less safe.  Benedict Arnold was an American hero and ended up being a traitor for the British during the American Revolution.  Sen. McCain was an American hero during the Vietnam War and now is a traitor for the terrorists.”  ~Robert R. Jacobs, Glendale AZ; September 20, 2006 ‘letter to the editor’ published in the Arizona Republic

So. Times have changed. No more bin Laden, no more distorting of the news, no more bashing of the President, and with McCain now largely relegated to multiple appearances on the Sunday talk circuit, all is well. Right? I mean, the NSA’s warrantless spying on citizens is STILL protecting us . . . something like that. All of which means that today, there is no reason for the Republican base to fear anything!! Right? Right.

No matter how much some things change, the more they remain the same. I read that somewhere. In this crazy world, it all makes perfect sense.


The Watering Hole; Thursday February 27 2014; The ‘Eyes’ Have it

The political world sucks. We all know that.

There is, however, another world “out there”, and it’s different. It’s not ugly. It’s beautiful. And the critters are not to be feared. The emergent gun and fear-based “Stand Your Ground” idiocy is, ‘out there’, as worthless a concept as it is anywhere else, even in Florida. Fear? Nah. Fear is mostly a political thingee, a product of intellectual darkness. But yet, and even in spite of current human faux-reality, there still remains that other option . . . ‘out there’ . . . where, when the ‘eyes’ have it . . . well, the beat goes on and on and on.

Here’s the proof, thanks to my old friend of fifty-plus years, naturalist/photographer par excellence Denny Green, and his most recent photos of waterfowl — each one of which apparently finds the Gilbert (AZ) Water Ranch to be its home.

Note that amongst the eyes (‘ayes’??) there is not one . . . single . . . “nay” — ergo message apparent: subtract humans, subtract politics, subtract ugly . . . and ‘see’ then that ‘out there’ everything is, in a word, Beauty — which is, to each bird (and to the occasional poet), aka Truth.




Eyes-4Emily Dickinson summed it all up some 150 years ago when she wrote,

The Bird her punctual music brings
And lays it in its place —
Its place is in the Human Heart
And in the Heavenly Grace —
What respite from her thrilling toil
Did Beauty ever take —

And then came politics.


Ugly defined. But still and in spite, ‘out there’ remains unencumbered. Mostly. The Beauty of ‘out there’ — it’s everywhere, but especially it is . . .

Out There.

In. The. Eyes.

See above.


The Watering Hole, Wednesday, February 26, 2014: Republicans support a jobs bill at last!

Well, dear readers, it seems that Republicans do support a jobs bill. That’s what Defense Spending is all about: jobs. It’s not about giving the military what it wants and needs. It’s about making things the military doesn’t want, doesn’t need and doesn’t work. Because it keeps people employed. And those people in turn continue to re-elect their representatives, no matter what they do to this country.

Too bad we can’t employ those same people to make solar panels, to make desalinization plants and pipelines to move water from water-soaked regions to drought regions.

But building infrastructure to help America compete well into the future doesn’t make permanent jobs. Building weapons that don’t work, that the military doesn’t want and doesn’t need – those are permanent jobs. Why? because they help keep those in power, in power.


Tuesday February 25, 2014 Watering Hole: Environmental News and Food Politics – Open Thread

Let’s start with some of Michael Pollan’s Food Rules:

#11. Avoid foods you see advertised on television.

#19. If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.

#20. It is not food if it arrived through the window of your car.

The rest of the rules here: Michael Pollan’s Food Rules

Obama’s most effect environmental action, from High Country News: Smog in the West

Not environmental per se, but more from HCN – Failed secession movements litter the West.

Open Thread

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 24, 2014: Tom DeLay’s Bug Spray-Induced Delusion

It seems former Representative Tom DeLay (R-Greed), who ran for Congress because he felt the banning of DDT would unfairly hurt his pest control business, has been sniffing his bug-spraying chemicals again. In a recent interview with Pastor Matthew Hagee, (we all know Major) Tom claimed that God wrote our Constitution, and that it was based on Biblical principles. You know, that part of the Bible that said that if you wanted to amend the Bible, you needed the consent of two-thirds of the Congress, and three-fourths of the states. And gay men can be stoned. He also bragged about sealing off the Capitol Rotunda so that Members of Congress could pray together. I don’t think Tommy understands the concept of Separation of Church and State. Among other concepts.

Please believe me when I tell you that there is absolutely no truth to the David-Barton-fueled rumor that the United States, under its current Constitution, was founded as a Christian nation. None whatsoever. The United States is, and was since the day the U.S. Constitution was ratified (a document written by, and for, men; okay, white men; okay, white land-owning men; but not by any god), a secular nation. Let no one tell you differently. Especially if they’ve made a career of inhaling bug-spraying chemicals, and liked it.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Tom DeLay, bug sprays you’ve inhaled, or any other topic you wish.