The Watering Hole; Friday July 31 2015; This Weeks Nutcasearrhea

I was originally going to place the week’s dumb in descending order from least dumb to totally dumb, but since these’re all on a precisely equal plane, they’re listed in no particular order. Note that once again, the titles pretty much say it all. If you should decide to click on any one of the links, I do, once again, recommend keeping a barf bucket nearby.

Michael Savage: Donald Trump Is ‘The Winston Churchill Of Our Time’

Self-Proclaimed Prophet: God Using Donald Trump To ‘Expose Darkness And Perversion’

Pat Robertson: Gays Can Become Straight If They ‘Start Acting Like Men’

Alabama governor names public school-hating Christian fundamentalist to oversee public education

Michael Savage: Obama May Seek A Third Term By ‘Nullifying The Election’

Rick Wiles: Obama Will ‘Slaughter Millions Of American Resistors’

Anti-gay Oregon baker thinks he’s defeating Satan — but his bigotry is actually helping Satanists

John McTernan: Gay Pride Events Cause Earthquakes, Abortion Causes Hurricanes

Louie Gohmert: Tens Of Millions Of Americans May Die Due To Iran Nuclear Deal

Cruz: Obama And Clinton ‘Snuggle Up To Radical Islamic Regimes Who Hate America’

There, That’s ten. Should keep everyone busy for at least a minute. Meanwhile, to assuage my guilt for posting the above links, here are three photos of critters with brains, with functioning minds — and clearly not a Republican amongst them!

Bright-eyed Grackle

Bright-eyed Grackle

Rocky Mountain High Chipmunk

Rocky Mountain High Chipmunk

Hummer Hovering

Hovering Hummer

There is clearly a huge difference between critters with small brains and critters with small minds! But we already knew that, right? Right!

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday July 30 2015; Travesty and Religious Freedom

“It’s our sacred land — it’s where we come to pray.”
Carrie Sage Curley, an Apache woman

Religious Freedom is, on its surface, a relatively simple concept, one which implies the freedom to believe as one chooses, one which implies the freedom to practice said beliefs without interference by others. Sounds simple enough, but is readily complicated if or when the practice of a given set of religious beliefs requires the imposition of such beliefs on others. One of the more common examples of such imposition is the current thesis that those who believe gay marriage to be evil are, by virtue of their religious freedom, implicitly permitted to publicly discriminate against those who do not share their same beliefs. There is, obviously, more than a little resistance to that particular belief.

At the same time there’s this, the other side of the ‘religious freedom’ coin, a situation where the ‘religious freedom’ concerns of Native Americans are either overlooked or completely disregarded. A current and ongoing example began last December when Arizona’s pair of Republican Senators (John McCain and Jeff Flake) attached an 11th hour rider to the “must pass” National Defense Authorization Act. The rider authorized the ‘swap’ of 2400 acres in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest in exchange for 5300 acres of Arizona land privately owned by a consortium of multinational corporations (British and Australian) whose sole interest in Arizona is copper mining. The problem is, the land which McCain and Flake effectively handed over to the multinationals contains a portion known locally as Oak Flat, an area considered by the Apache People to be sacred. Their reaction is detailed and discussed in the Think Progress essay entitled Citing Religious Freedom, Native Americans Fight To Take Back Sacred Land From Mining Companies. Here are some appropriate excerpts which discuss both the impacts on the Apache People as well as their ‘religious freedom’ based reactions to same.

Arizona’s Native American population was outraged by the deal, having fought against several efforts by Republicans in Congress to broker similar agreements over the years. Some locals have argued that the land grab shortchanges American taxpayers, since profits will go primarily to companies rooted outside the United States. In addition, environmentalists and the Apache people have repeatedly expressed fears that, since the mining industry is often exempt from portions of environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act, the invasive copper mining project could damage the area’s water — a resource many Native Americans claim a spiritual obligation to protect.

“I have a great-grandmother who is buried at Oak Flat — we want to respect her, let her rest in peace,” said Sandra Rambler, an Apache woman from San Carlos, Arizona. “My granddaughter had a [religious] dance there last year, and I’m hoping that my future grandchildren will dance there as well.”

The religious connections to Oak Flat are so powerful that mining the land could constitute a violation of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. That law, which was passed in 1978, stipulates that the federal government has an obligation to protect the religious liberty of Native Americans — including guaranteeing access to sites they hold sacred.

“It’s the same thing as a church,” Curley said. “We protect these temples, why can’t we do the same for our sacred land?”

Representatives from Resolution Copper have rejected such claims . . .

[. . .]

The campaign crescendoed this week in Washington, D.C., when a group organized largely by Native American advocacy organization Apache Stronghold staged a series of protest actions over the course of two days. In addition to a procession at Rock Creek Park, Native Americans embarked on a spiritual “run” throughout the city on Tuesday that concluded with a prayer service in front of the White House. And on Wednesday, a hundred or so supporters rallied on the West Lawn in front of the U.S. Capitol building to dance, chant, and give speeches expressing their frustration with the mining project.

“We have a freedom of religion,” Wendsler Nosie Sr., an Apache elder and former tribal chairman, told the crowd. “Congress shouldn’t ignore rights of people … It’s not right. Congress should repeal the law.”

Participants at the rally hailed from a number of different tribes, but they were unanimous in their condemnation of efforts to mine Oak Flat.

“I feel violated — I feel like I’ve been raped,” Rambler said, choking back tears as she spoke about the possible destruction of a place she calls holy. “I feel that the earth has been raped. The Native American people are the caretakers of Mother Earth. When she’s violated, we’re violated. When you desecrate the land, you desecrate us.”

“When you take that away, you take away the identity of the Apaches,” she said.

My guess is that there are few reasons for optimism amongst the Apache People and other sympathetic Native Americans. First of all, the Oak Flat corner of the Tonto National Forest is federal land, and is NOT parcel to the adjacent San Carlos Apache Reservation. Second, there’s undoubtedly lots of money to be made in the mining project, and we all know what THAT means. Third, the land is sacred only to the Apache, and even though there’s that 1978 Native American religious freedom law, there’s gotta be a way around it, right? I mean, what kind of ‘religious freedom’ could a bunch of heathen Apaches ever want anyway, much less deserve? They’re not Christians, after all. Heck, they’re not even white!

As the cited article further notes,

It remains to be seen whether Congress will repeal what Rambler called the “sneaky rider” that McCain and Flake used to create the controversy. There is ample reason to be skeptical, as American history is rife with examples of Native Americans consistently losing fights with the federal government over land. As the Huffington Post noted this week, Native Americans in Hawaii and California are currently embroiled in efforts to keep outside groups from developing on their sacred spaces.

In the final analysis, I can’t help but recall the words of a long dead aboriginal chieftain who summed up a huge segment of his world in one brief paragraph, when he said,

“We know that the white man does not understand our ways.
One portion of the land is the same to him as the next, for he is
a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever
he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy —
and when he has conquered it, he moves on.”
~Chief Seattle (Suqwamish and Duwamish)

 Chief Si’ahl (Seattle) spoke those words more than 150 years ago. Sadly, they’re as true today as they were then, as the ongoing travesty involving 2400 acres of land, sacred to the Apache People, demonstrates.

Meanwhile, it seems only fair to apply the word “travesty” to the concept of ‘religious freedom’ both in the current Christian and Apache issues, but for completely different reasons. Travesty is defined (Dictionary.com) as: a literary or artistic burlesque of a serious work or subject, characterized by grotesque or ludicrous incongruity of style, treatment, or subject matter.” Seems to me that’s a close fit in both cases because (a) to the Apache People, ‘religious freedom’ is presumed to disallow the desecration of land which they consider sacred, land in which ancestors are interred. In case (b), however, no land, no resources, nothing sacred is destroyed or at risk; the ‘religious freedom’ case is based strictly on their presumed “right” to discriminate against those whose beliefs and/or lifestyles are considered to be in conflict with alleged biblical premises.

It seems a safe bet to thereby point out that if (a) Apache concerns are unheard or disallowed, or if (b) the right to discriminate against people of different lifestyle/viewpoint is heard and eventually upheld, then the most descriptive word that suits and describes probable outcomes in both cases is a simple one. TRAVESTY. Dare we hope that such will not be the case in either instance? Maybe, but I’ll not hold my breath in anticipation.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, July 29th, 2015: Must-Squeee!

When you need a break from the lunatic asylum from which the Republican – gulp – Presidential hopefuls have escaped, here’s some peace and love amongst various species to ease your minds and soothe your souls.

From “Adorable Animal Friendships: Unlikely Pairings Will Melt Your Heart”, by Michele Berger and Edecio Martinez, courtesy of TheWeatherChannel, a gallery of 81 awwws, eeks, and squeees.  Just one to start:

tiger cub and piglets~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ll just bow out quietly and let you enjoy the calm…

Open Thread – take a deep breath and, um, let go?

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 27th, 2015: The (R) Debates

A little over a week from now, the first of the planned nine 2016 Republican Presidential debates, this one being held in Cleveland, Ohio, will kick off the start of the season. Fox will be airing the August 6th debate, which will be limited to the the top ten candidates, their inclusion being based on an average of several national polls.

Wait a second, that’s not exactly true. Fox will also air, prior to the ‘main event’, an hour-long debate amongst the second-tier candidates, according to AP via YahooNews. As of yesterday, those ‘also running’ will be: Carly “I tanked Hewlitt-Packard” Fiorina, Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, Elmer “George” Pataki, Rick “Frothy” Santorum, Lindsey “The Vapors” Graham, and possibly John “Republicans don’t like to wait in line” Kasich, Chris “Sit down and shut up!” Christie, and Rick “Oops!” Perry.

A few excerpts from the article:

Frank Luntz:

“If you’re not on the stage [in the first-tier debate] you’re irrelevant, you don’t matter. Unless you have some serious ad dollars, it’s not a glass ceiling. It’s a concrete ceiling.”

Well, we all know that if there’s an election coming, Frank Luntz is always going to be involved.

Rick Perry:

“Perry unloaded on Wednesday when he called Trump’s campaign a “barking carnival act” and “toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense.”

OMG, I think that’s the one time we can all agree with Rick Perry on something!

Jindal campaign:

“Curt Anderson, a strategist advising Jindal’s campaign, wrote in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal that the Republican Party was sabotaging itself by controlling the debates too much, after concluding that marginal candidates dragged 2012 nominee Mitt Romney too far to the right.”

Now hold on there, Anderson, Romney wasn’t pulled ‘too far to the right’, he tanked his chances all by himself with his own words.

I think that both debates should be highly entertaining. However, one thing I’m wondering: with all of the recent racial issues that have occurred in Cleveland, in particular the “Black Lives Matter” conference and protest, during which a white cop decided to pepper-spray protesters, will ANY of the candidates be asked about race relations and/or police violence? I don’t know who the moderator will be in either debate, but if they’re airing on Fox…well, we’ll just have to see.

All I can say is, after the 25+ debates during the 2012 election season, I am SO glad that there’s only supposed to be nine this time!

This is our daily Open Thread–go ahead, discuss things!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 25, 2015: We Told Us So

In January 2009, the Strategic Analysis Group, Homeland Environment and Threat Analysis Division of the Department of Homeland Security issued a report on Left Wing Extremism. The purpose of the report was to “to facilitate a greater understanding of the emerging threats to the United States. The information is provided to federal, state, and local counterterrorism and law enforcement officials so they may effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States.” It said that the primary concern over the next ten years would be non-violent cyber-terrorism targeting chiefly economic entities. The report clearly stated right at the beginning that it was one of a series of reports on threats to homeland security. Nobody appeared to pay it much attention. In fact, DHS had to remind people of its existence when they followed up three months later with a report on Right Wing Extremism. And in typical right wing fashion, Republicans and Conservatives went ape shit and bullied the DHS to retract the report (as if that would make the words in it go away.) Because that’s what bullies do – they scream and shout and stamp their feet and threaten violence if they don’t get their way. They mischaracterized the report’s recommendations in a number of ways. One was by taking the suggestion that disgruntled military veterans (note the word “disgruntled”) were prime recruiting targets for extremist groups looking to use violence. It did not in any way, shape or form say that ALL veterans were candidates for extremism, but that is how the right wing portrayed the report’s findings. They demanded an apology to veterans (which Secretary Napolitano eventually gave) even though she insulted none of them (except, perhaps, the extreme white nationalist, anti-immigration kind – IOW, people just like today’s Republican Party). And they demanded that the report, the one that said people just like them might resort to physical violence, go away because they said it wasn’t true. Except it was. And the fallout was that DHS eventually reduced to one person the number of people following left or right wing extremism in America. Way to keep us safe, Republicans.

The straw man argument is a tactic the right wing uses a lot in political discourse, especially when they’re wrong from the beginning. They made it seem as if the report was saying that every veteran returning from war was going to commit acts of terrorism. Nothing of the kind was true, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone with an IQ in the three-digit range. When the Affordable Care Act was being debated, the right decided that the section which said Medicare would pay for your doctor’s time to sit down with you and discuss your end-of-life options really amounted to a “Death Panel.” This, BTW, was one of several things they referred to falsely as a Death Panel – you and your doctor discussing what happens if you get a terminal illness. Another was a board that would look for ways to spend taxpayer money more effectively and efficiently. That was also a Death Panel. That there is nothing even remotely describing a Death Panel in the PP/ACA never once deterred them from saying there were several. In his dissent in the recent Obergefell v. Hodges decision, Justice Thomas said, “It appears all but inevitable that [civil marriage and religious marriage] will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.” Again, this is a straw man argument. In the first place, marriage in the United States is a civil arrangement, not a religious one. You can be married without it having any connection to any religion. (As in the case of my marriage by a Justice of the Peace at the restaurant where we held the reception.) Second, no individual has to participate in any wedding if he or she doesn’t want to participate. And third, in every state where marriage equality was enacted by a state legislature, an exemption was written into the law stating that no religious entity could be forced to perform a same-sex marriage if it violated their religious beliefs. Not one state was going to force churches to perform same-sex weddings if they thought gay sex was icky. Yet here’s Justice Thomas (who, BTW, ought to be removed from the bench for voting on issues before the court where he had a clear conflict of interest, such as one side paying his wife to be their advocate) claiming that churches were now going to be forced to participate in same sex weddings even if they don’t want to do it. Totally untrue. Conservatives seem to have a hard time with options. They act as if the choice to do something is equivalent to it being a government mandate to do that something. They have a binary way of thinking that tells them everything is one way or the other, there’s no in-between. Except life is filled with in-betweens and there’s rarely that many black-or-white, yes-or-no options. As former President George H.W. Bush once said, “Either you’re for it or you’re against it.” I forget what the “it” was but it makes no difference because that’s how the right feels about everything.

So because the right was all butthurt over the Right Wing Extremism report, they demanded that it not only be retracted, but that no further discussion of the subject by the government could take place. And so insufficient resources were devoted to tracking the rise of right wing extremism, and more and more people died as a consequence. The same month the report was released, Joshua Cartwright (who was “severely disturbed” that Barack Obama was elected president) shot and killed two sheriff’s deputies. The next month Scott Roeder (an anti-abortion extremist connected to the sovereign citizens movement) shot and killed Dr. George Tiller in the entrance to a church. The very next month James von Brunn (a neo-Nazi and white supremacist) walked up to the Holocaust Museum and shot and killed a guard. And the violence by right wing extremists continued month after month. Since the criminal attacks of 9/11 (they were crimes, not acts of war), anti-government, racist and non-jihadist extremists have killed nearly twice as many people as those by Islamic jihadists, yet the right would have you believe ISIS is more of a danger to us than they are. It is simply untrue. As this last Thursday showed.

John Russell Houser, who Little Green Footballs’ Charles Johnson described as “an anti-government loon who admired Adolph Hitler, Timothy McVeigh, white power groups, the Westboro Baptist Church and the “scientific racism” of Charles Murray’s “The Bell Curve,”” opened fire inside a Lafayette, LA, movie theater using a hand gun he legally purchased from a pawn shop, killing two women and injuring nine others. It’s exactly the kind of violent act our own government warned us was likely to happen. But did we listen? No. Even worse, the right wing told us to shut up and act like it couldn’t happen. Except it did. If only we had listened to ourselves.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss the dangers of right wing extremism or any other topic you wish.