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.

The Watering Hole; Friday July 24 2015; Tidbits of Political ‘Pottage’

“[Man] was born and equipped as an excellent animal,
but he sold his birthright for a mess of pottage called culture
and took on fear and a whimper as a part of the bargain.”
~John C. Van Dyke

Below is one of the most bizarre things I ever recall reading (and I’ve read LOTS of bizarre stuff over the years). This one has to do with Frank Gaffney’s National Security Action Summit in New Hampshire this coming weekend (at which some Republican Clown Car candidates will be in attendance, namely Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum and George Pataki). One of the scheduled speakers is a guy I’ve never heard of before; his name is John Guandolo, himself a former FBI agent who got canned because of a bit of an over-anxious libido with a Virginia businesswoman, an FBI “confidential source.” Among others.

I’ve run across some weird and perverse accusatory theses before, but not sure I’ve ever read or heard anything quite as wild as Guandolo spits out. This an excerpt from a RWW blog entitled GOP Presidential Candidates Will Appear Alongside Disgraced Conspiracy Theorist John Guandolo — baseless garbage all, but undoubtedly part and parcel to this country’s ascendent Ignoramus Ignoranus political pottage.

According to Guandolo, [former CIA Director John] Brennan decided to “convert to Islam” in Saudi Arabia as “the culmination of a counterintelligence operation against him to recruit him.” He alleged that Brennan is now aligned with Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood, despite the fact that the Saudi government is one of the region’s chief opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood and bankrolled the Egyptian government’s suppression of the group.

While speaking with conspiracy theorist radio host Rick Wiles, Guandolo said U.S. government officials like Brennan want to “aid and abet the enemy, and that is a criminal act,” adding that Obama is similarly “an individual who is significantly sympathetic to the cause of our enemies.”

Guandolo has repeatedly called for Obama and Brennan to be removed from their offices for their “treasonous” ties to Saudi Arabia, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, Guandolo even believes that Obama is actively aiding Al Qaeda.

Guandolo wants the police to arrest members of Muslim-American affinity groups, claiming that anyone associated with such groups are “terrorists,” and believes Muslims “do not have a First Amendment right to do anything.”

As the myth-busting outlet Snopes said, “Guandolo markets the idea of an imminent, pervasive threat to security in the United States [that] has resulted from a conspiracy by Muslims to infiltrate the government at its highest levels, and [Guandolo] is paid for his ‘expertise’ through his being hired to provide lectures and training classes on the subject.”

All I can say is those Muslims must be really cool to have found the means to pull all that off! Either that or Guandolo is one more stupid and ignorant American who is willing to effectively offer “aid and comfort to our enemies” via his preposterous theories.

Speaking of bizarre, I decided the other day to get a better look at Donald Trump’s hair (I have no idea as to why, actually), so I googled Donald Trump Photos. Came up with a site that had a bunch of them, and wow, was I surprised with what I found there! Both of these are identified on that site as “Donald Trump,” but with no info as to date or circumstance, etc. Still, talk about bizarre!Trump3Hard to believe those are two pics of the same dude. Still, the eyes, mouth, and ears all seem to fit. I do have to wonder how much he spends on hair each month, and how many servants it takes to keep it looking exactly the same every time he goes out somewhere. Oh, and I wonder how often must they do the bleach job on his topknot and his eyebrows?

Maybe we’ll find out all about the hair thingee once he’s our POTUS. I, of course, will never learn the answer, whatever it might be. I’ll be too involved in learning how to get along in whichever country I happen to wind up in if “Hair Trump” should happen to prevail in 2016.

Enough of the bizarre — I’m about up to my tear ducts in political horse hockey. Thank all gods for “out there” — pictured here in a couple of brief “episodes” from the last week.

Sunflower and buds

Sunflower and buds

Reflections

Reflections

There. I feel better already.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday July 23 2015; Ignorance in Politics

Courtesy of dictionary.com:

Ignorance: “lack of knowledge, information, or education.

Politics: “use of intrigue or strategy in obtaining any position of power or control.”

In other words, neither politicians nor their brand of politic need be motivated exclusively by ignorance (politician ignorance not disallowed, also not a requirement). Ignorance does remain, however, a primary tool in the task of making their perceived “position of power or control” politically popular enough to become the political norm. To accomplish that goal, an appeal to and support from those who are otherwise burdened by lack of knowledge, information, or education is mandatory. Bottom line: Politicians who promote FALSE premises as their platform (no matter their own level of ignorance) NEED a mass of ignorant voters who willingly accept the lies and falsehoods before they, the political aspirants, can ever succeed.

One could  critique for days on end the lies and untruths politicians typically spout in order to tap the vast reservoir of ignorance that defines a substantial percentage of ‘we the people.’ It’s also not difficult at all to pull most any political (or religious) needle out of most any political (or religious) haystack and use it as an example. So with that in mind, here’s but one incidence of a political Appeal to Ignorance, based on the fundamental thesis that “whatever has not been proven false must be true.” Mike Huckabee provided the near perfect ‘lesson’ when he recently said, in re the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage (highlights added):

When people say the train left the station, it’s the law of the land, there’s nothing we can do, let’s move on. I want to say, ‘Have you guys read the Constitution, did you pass 9th grade civics?’ The court can’t make law. We pretend that it can and I’m convinced that a lot of people give that sort of response because they don’t want to have to deal with the complexities of the constitution, which says that there are checks and balances. If we surrender to the judicial branch as if it is the last, final and ultimate word, then we have surrendered to judicial tyranny which is what Jefferson warned us about and the reason that he rejected some Supreme Court arguments as simply being something he couldn’t accept and he didn’t…as did Jackson, as did Lincoln. This notion that the Supreme Court ruled it and therefore it’s the law of the land bypasses the only entity in our government that can make the law of the land: the legislative branch, and it’s not even law until the president signs it and agrees to enforce it. And first of all, a president, if he’s not going to uphold that part of the constitution, get out of the race because you’re going to be lying when you take the oath and say you’ll uphold and defend the constitution because on its face, you’re not defending it, neither are you upholding it when you surrender to the god of judicial supremacy so we’ve got to start there and I certainly would start there.

Huckabee’s premise is that the Supreme Court violated the Constitutional separation of powers by ‘making law’ when it ruled in favor of, essentially, equal access to the ‘rights’ guaranteed under the Constitution to all citizens, regardless of sexual preference. His resentment of the decision is, I suspect, primarily motivated by his religious beliefs which, to his mind, disallow equality to people that are not biblically correct in their behavior. He apparently believes (in spite of the Constitution’s total and complete avoidance of the issue) that America was founded upon biblical principles because Pilgrims et al. sailed to the New World in search of religious freedom. And his (and other religiously-motivated) inferences of that particular topic essentially constitute the old and overused Appeal to Ignorance thesis that whatever has not been proven false must be true; ergo since there is no proof anywhere that our founders did NOT intend this to be a Christian nation that clearly means we ARE a Christian nation. The first Amendment was written to deny only the establishment of OTHER religions. Maybe.

That argument does have wide appeal, however, especially amongst fundamentalist/evangelical Christians of whom there are many, most of whom are apparently ignorant of Constitutional context on virtually any issue. The consequence is, then, that even IF Huckabee is ignorant enough of the Constitution himself — or IF he knows full well that NO religious protocol is ‘established’ in the document — the appeal of his argument to the susceptible, to the ‘ignorant,’ will most certainly take hold and gather in huge numbers of votes.

And therein lies the ‘secret’ of the usefulness of massive ignorance in a given population who are unaware of Constitutional mandates, including the following (highlights added):

Article III. Section. 1:

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.

Article III. Section. 2. Clause 1:

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution . . .

Huckabee is correct when he says the Supreme Court can’t make law. He’s also incorrect when he implies that the Supreme Court, when ruling on a Constitutional issue in what to him is the wrong fashion, IS ‘making law’ even though it’s simply carrying out its Constitutional duty and evaluating a point of Law . . . arising under this Constitution.

Which ‘point of law’? There are at least two amendments that clearly apply:

Article IX.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Article XIV.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

ALL citizens have equal rights, and No State is permitted to selectively violate the Constitutional rights of citizens. It is written.

It should also be pointed out that, in spite of what numerous political and religious voices suggest, marriage is NOT defined in the Constitution as the union of one man and one woman; the word ‘marriage’ is not, in fact, even mentioned in the Constitution, as amended. The definition of marriage is therefore NOT a Constitutional issue on any plane, and in its decision the Court did NOT redefine the word. The issue considered and ruled upon was, rather, equality of rights for ALL citizens. So clearly, the Supreme Court did NOT ‘make law’ in its decision; it simply honored the Constitution’s foundational precepts.

Is Huckabee too ignorant to know and understand Constitutional reality? Or is he speaking lies and falsehoods in order to attain the support of the ignorant, of the uninformed? Both? Not that it much matters, given that in either case Huckabee’s theses are incorrect, that the Supreme Court did NOT “make law.” Period.

In my considered opinion, Huckabee and his ilk (himself an ordained Baptist preacher) were all perfectly described (defined?) by Emily Dickinson more than 150 years ago when she wrote:

He preached upon “Breadth” till it argued him narrow —
The Broad are too broad to define
And of “Truth” until it proclaimed him a Liar —
The Truth never flaunted a Sign —

Simplicity fled from his counterfeit presence
As Gold the Pyrites would shun —
What confusion would cover the innocent Jesus
To meet so enabled a Man!

Ignorance in Politics is most certainly one of the most expansive “industries” in today’s USA. Huckabee is admittedly little more than a fleck of dust on an otherwise dirty window, but in that sense he (unfortunately) defines politics in general, and the Republican 2016 Clown Car occupants in particular — even as the word “ignorant” defines a huge portion of the American electorate. My guess is that if this ignorance epidemic is not contained and eventually curtailed, the country’s survivability will very soon emerge as an extremely debatable prospect.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 20th, 2015: Iran Nuclear Deal Fallout

Last week, it was announced that the long-awaited Iran Nuclear Deal was finally agreed to by the negotiating parties. The EU High Representative and the Iran Foreign Minister issued a joint statement, which included the following:

“With courage, political will, mutual respect, and leadership, we delivered on what the world was hoping for: a shared commitment to peace and to join hands in order to make our world safer.’

Apparently conservatives don’t understand most of the words and phrases in that statement. As we have seen throughout the Obama presidency, their idea of “negotiation” means “you give us everything we want, or else.” FoxNews gives a rundown on the ‘highlights'(?):

Jeb Bush: “This isn’t diplomacy – it is appeasement.”

Ted Cruz: This is a “fundamental betrayal of the security of the United States.”

Ben Carson: “A historic mistake with potentially deadly consequences.”

Scott Walker: “Will be remembered as one of America’s worst diplomatic failures.”
[According to Raw Story, Walker also stated that:

“He would terminate it as soon as possible and persuade U.S. allies to join Washington in imposing more crippling economic sanctions on Tehran…

He would dramatically increase U.S. military spending after budget cuts that military officials have complained about…

“The United States needs a foreign policy that puts steel in the face of our enemies,” Walker says.”]

Marco Rubio: The President made “concession after concession to a regime that has American blood on its hands.”

Now, the above presidential wannabes mainly focused their criticism on the ‘evil’ Iran, with a minor mention of our bestest friend ever in the whole wide world, Israel. Huckabee, on the other hand, is pretty much all Israel, with barely even a mention of OUR country, the United States.

Mike Huckabee: “Shame on the Obama administration…

“Shame on the Obama administration for agreeing to a deal that empowers an evil Iranian regime to carry out its threat to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ and bring ‘death to America.’
John Kerry should have long ago gotten up on his crutches, walked out of the sham talks, and went straight to Jerusalem to stand next to Benjamin Netanyahu and declared that America will stand with Israel and the other sane governments of the Middle East instead of with the terrorist government of Iran.

As president, I will stand with Israel and keep all options on the table, including military force, to topple the terrorist Iranian regime and defeat the evil forces of radical Islam.”
[emphasis mine]

Mike, why don’t you just move to Israel and run for president there?   ‘Cause there will be no “As president” for you here.  You do realize that this agreement is about limiting Iran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon, not the unHoly war you’re salivating over.

Donald Trump: “Iran gets everything and loses nothing.”

[The Donald was also quoted by FoxBusiness as saying, without elaboration, “I think the deal is absolutely horrible for us, but it’s really, really bad for Israel”]

Rick Perry: If elected, I will “fully rescind this accord.”

“President Obama’s decision to sign a nuclear deal with Iran is one of the most destructive foreign policy decisions in my lifetime. For decades to come, the world will have to deal with the repercussions of this…”

Seriously, Rick? You think that signing a deal that means peace, that signals a willingness to negotiate instead of starting WWIII, is more destructive than deliberately and cavalierly lying our country into a wasteful quagmire of an unnecessary war?

Perry also stated: “As President, one of my first official acts will be to fully rescind this accord.”

There’s more, including comments from the lower-tier lineup of Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, and…wait, is that it? Oh, yeah, and Elmer Pataki. But there’s no need to continue wallowing in the their ignorance, I think you get the idea.

Do any of those responses reflect “courage, political will, mutual respect [or respect of any kind], and leadership”? I think it’s abundantly clear that the (R) presidential field has none of those qualities.

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 18, 2015: White Be Not Proud

When the Confederate Flag was finally removed from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds, we saw how racists (who often do not understand why they are racist) in that state reacted – with more racism. A petition to remove the African-American Monument has garnered nearly 40,000 signatures so far. Their stated reason for wanting the monument removed? Because “this monument can and does serve to invoke in the white community feelings of shame, humiliation and offense, serving as a constant reminder of the dark history of slavery.” Which is, of course, the entire point.

Keith Harmon, the petition’s author, said the flag shouldn’t have been removed in response to a white supremacist’s massacre of nine black churchgoers. He said, “I think killing nine innocent people was completely and totally wrong, (but) it has nothing to do with the flag — nothing at all.” He could not have been more wrong. The Confederate Flag had EVERYTHING to do with this crime of despicable hatred. Like many lovers of the Confederacy who have been taught an alternate reality of history, Harmon thinks the flag can’t be a symbol of hate because his ancestors fought under it. “My great, great, great grandfather and ancestors fought in this war for this state,” Harmon said. Well, Harmon, your great, great, great granddaddy fought to preserve Slavery and the oppression of the black man.

Since you mentioned “this state,” Harmon, perhaps you should read up on your history. “This state” (South Carolina) seceded from the United States specifically, unequivocally, and indisputably because they believed in Slavery, and they were very upset that President-Elect Lincoln might want to end it in America. In fact, many of the states that seceded cited this very reason. And not only did they believe in Slavery, they believed that white people were superior to black people, and that the natural state of the black man was as a slave to the white man. It’s no coincidence that the people who primarily fly that flag today do so out of racism. In fact, the very thing that has Harmon so upset – the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse – was done to correct a wrong done about fifty years ago. The flag was intentionally put on the statehouse in protest to the Civil Rights movement, so there is ample reason to believe that today, in the 21st century, the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia is primarily a symbol of racism and white supremacy.

So the African-American Monument makes you feel ashamed as a white person? Good, it’s doing its job, because you should be ashamed of what your ancestors did in defense of Slavery. There is not and never was anything noble about Slavery, no matter who’s doing it or to whom. I sincerely hope that South Carolina’s official reaction to this petition is three simple words: “Go to Hell.”

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss whatever you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole; Friday July 17 2015; “. . . I love America. But I also despise America.”

I recently happened across an article that was originally published in The (Amman) Jordan Times, and was re-posted on C&L under the title Oh, America! The author was unnamed, but in the body of the article he pointed out his background as a journalist in the USA, as follows:

I left England to do my master’s degree in America. I worked on the staff of Martin Luther King. I wrote a foreign policy column for nearly 20 years for a famous American paper and was selected for that role by one of the greatest editors of modern times, an American Jew who told me the day he took me on, at the age of 33, to “write what I wanted, when I wanted”.

He then describes America as he sees it. The entire of the article is quite compelling, and is as able a summary of today’s American “dilemma” as I’ve seen anywhere. The author’s opening salvo reads:

The United States of America has a “culture of ignorance”. Around half of all Americans appear to feel no shame about that being so.

In the south the total probably goes up to around 65 per cent, whereas in the north (and including California), it goes down to 35 per cent.

It is a rough and ready way of putting it, but it is the other 50 per cent who voted for Obama.

Obama-types are less religious, more scientifically orientated, less racist, more pro healthcare for the poor, more aware of the world outside, more convinced that war solves little, and knowledgeable to the extent that they know their immediate neighbour, Canada, does a much better job of making a good life than their country does.

It’s the “culture of ignorance” half that is now pushing for a tougher military response to the menace of Daesh, of pumping up military muscle power vis-à-vis Russia and of persuading itself that more troops in Iraq could sort out what eight years of military occupation did not and could not.

It is this half which tried to sabotage America’s economic recovery after the 2008-9 crash by demanding tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts in social welfare for the poor, and refusing to study or countenance Keynesian uplift economics.

[. . .]

“So I love America. But I also despise America.”

He ends the article by stating what is to my eyes the obvious conclusion:

America teeters on the edge of abandoning reason.

Obama has tried to fight this. He has partly won and partly failed.

Sad to say, it is doubtful that any successor will do better.

The bottom line is that as far as I can recall, I have never run across a more precise and concisely written analysis of this nation’s dark side, the side which presents itself daily as the political movement — the Republican Party — that is born of and supported by our “culture of ignorance.” The devolution of the American politic across the last 35 years is most certainly stunning to those who have dared to pay attention, and the ultimate consequences clearly are of devastating impact to any who are not blinded by ignorance, greed, and/or irrational hatreds.

The sad fact remains that America’s dark side is on full display virtually ever day of every year, and for all the world to see. Just yesterday I took a quick peek at a couple of websites and quickly found this small handful of darknesses attributable to both the “culture of ignorance”  and the culture of political corruption which together so often motivate the conservative right side of our political spectrum. Here, in no particular order, are examples of what would be seen, by any sane culture, as pinnacles of nefarious behavior. I’ve included a few pertinent lines from each of the links, lines which serve to clearly demonstrate the ignorance and corruption that is on such wide display all across this nation.

Avi Lipkin: Satan-Worshiping Obama Hopes To ‘Destroy The Human Race’

“President Obama is a Muslim. If you’re a Muslim, your god is Satan; if you’re a Muslim, then you are criminally psychotic. This is the plan to destroy the human race. This is something that Allah wants. (T)he only way for Allah to be greater than the God of the Jews and the Christians is to kill every last human being on the face of the earth, that’s the plan of Islam.”

BarbWire Pundit: United States Is ‘A Spiritual Cesspool’ Led By Satan

“Ultimately, he [Satan] will enable you to be sexually ensnared and enslaved in a web of perverse bondage and spiritual peril. You will be a slave to Satan and his minions. You will be left empty, broken and destitute. This is where we are…

“We’ve … found a secret memo coming out of the Justice Department. They’re now going to go after 12 new perversions. Things like bestiality, polygamy, having sex with little boys and making that legal” ~ Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

“I’m sorry to say this, but it’s over. Satan has control.”

Court Orders Prosecutors To Stop Investigating Scott Walker’s Alleged Illegal Coordination

In a major victory for Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s Supreme Court ruled early Thursday morning along partisan lines to halt the investigation into whether the newest Republican presidential candidate illegally coordinated with right-wing advocacy groups during his 2012 recall campaign.

Saying they want to “prevent the chilling of otherwise protected speech,” the Court’s four conservative justices ordered that the probe be terminated, and that those working on the case “permanently destroy all copies of information and other materials obtained through the investigation.” They also emphasize that anyone connected with the alleged crime is not longer obligated to cooperate with investigators.

Kevin Swanson Nostalgic for Time when Homosexuals faced Death Penalty

Pastor and radio host Kevin Swanson of Generations with Vision [has] expressed nostalgia for the Pilgrims’ approach to homosexuality, when it was punishable by death.

“A Christian perspective ultimately brought the death penalty upon homosexuality between roughly 350 AD and roughly 1850 or so, for about 1,500 years that form of life had pretty much been eliminated except here and there, it was in the closet, but it was almost unheard of for over 1,000 years, until recently. Of course, now you have a massive, massive increase in this kind of thing.

“I say this is a really bad idea for somebody to stand up against the laws of God. Realize that this is a brave venture, this has been about a 30 year plan, a 40 year plan maybe, to completely consume America with a pro-homosexual agenda, and I just don’t think it’s going to last, I think you are going to see Jesus Christ coming up against this kind of thing . . .”

America has indeed become a nation that is, it seems, far easier to despise than to love. Is it possible to reverse the trend? To reorient the politic? To educate the ignorant? I have my doubts.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday July 16 2015; Ham and Dregs

Bulletin:

Creationist Ken Ham: Richard Dawkins isn’t an atheist because the Bible says so

Ham, the founder of Answers in Genesis, said the Bible taught that everyone was endowed with an innate knowledge of God, even if they choose to deny it. In his blog post he promoted Monday on Facebook, he wrote that Dawkins had “made an interesting admission” during a 2013 appearance on The Daily Show.

“I don’t know what happens to us” when we die, Dawkins told host Jon Stewart, “but I know that our consciousness is wrapped up in our brains. I know that our brains rot.”

Ham, whose group operates the Creation Museum in Kentucky and is building a Noah’s Ark-inspired theme park, concluded that Dawkins couldn’t “prove his atheism.”

“So Richard Dawkins, a man who is so certain there is no God, is not totally certain about what’s going to happen to him when he dies. And yet he speaks with certainty as he tries to indoctrinate people to believe in his religion of atheism!”

Ham added that the “Bible clearly teaches there are no atheists,” citing Romans 1:18–21.

“God’s Word clearly states that He has put the knowledge of God within each of us. We all know there is a God. There are no atheists!”

Of course. Silly me for questioning him. It’s in the Bible which God wrote (I’d like to see some evidence of that as well). There is further support of Ham’s thesis, however, from Si Robertson of Duck Dynasty who told the Christian Post that he doesn’t “believe there’s such a thing as an atheist. Because there’s too much documentation. Our calendars are based on Jesus Christ,” adding that “Whether you believe in him or not, every time you write down the day’s date you’re saying he’s here.”

So that’s it then. I mean, who could ever doubt the theses of the founder of a Noah’s Ark Theme Park and one of the Duck Dynasty characters? Clearly we’re witnessing deeply embedded and inspired knowledge here, are we not? Proof that God is EVERYWHERE, right?

Well, no, not really. There are other alternatives, after all, and sometimes even the most simplistic make much more sense than the biblical.

I have, e.g. and thanks my untold numbers of days and weeks spent wandering around “out there,” occasionally run across what some might see as profound “evidence” that their biblical theses also do — certainly and clearly — apply to ALL of life. I mean hey, what are we to think when all of a sudden one stumbles upon something like this?

Cholla skeleton feb 1978 001Or this?

July 12 cruciform yucca flowers 1752If there be cruciform shapes embedded in the natural world — and since atheists clearly do not exist — what other conclusion could there be? Are they ‘proof’ of the biblical admonition that God is everywhere? Are they THE sign?

Nah. The top photo is of a cholla cactus skeleton on the Arizona desert, the second a cluster of yucca flowers in the Colorado foothills. And even though the cholla photo dates to February 1978 (A.D.) and the yucca to July 2015 (A.D.), there remains for consideration — in spite of Ham and Si — the far more logical option of total randomness where no God is required and where no “antique volume written by faded men” (Emily Dickinson) is needed to support anything other than various religious mythologies.

Seems to me that somehow Emily Dickinson also precisely defined both Ham and Robertson (and many many more like them) when she asked,

Can the Dumb — define the Divine?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and answer her question: No, they clearly and obviously can NOT, no matter how hard they try. As to why they endlessly KEEP ON trying? Well, that remains more baffling than anything I can imagine — save for this one simple and obvious non-baffling reality:

Tumacacori - Rear WallAtop the dome a cross of life
Points toward what man aspires;
But on each grave, the cross of death
Reveals what he acquires.

-Amen-

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, 7/15/15: Scientists discover strange features on Pluto

Pluto, first discovered in 1930, looked nothing like it looks today:

Pluto, 1930

Pluto, 1930

Oh. You were expecting this?

Pluto, 2015

Pluto, 2015

And, amazingly, we now have our first historic glimpse of what are believed to be carbon-based biological life-forms on Pluto, photographed by the New Horizons mission:

So, which clowns still have (humorously large) cold feet?

No one knows yet if these specimens, dubbed “Plutonicons“, are sentient beings, as we only have photographs to go by.  While they do look a little like smiling humanoid heads, the project’s scientists’ initial cautious analysis says, in part, “…it could be just a trick of the light and shadows.”

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 13, 2015: What Should Be Done About The Confederate Flag?

Charleston Conservative Examiner Kyle Rogers posted a column claiming Lynyrd Skynard fans were “outraged” after the band’s sole remaining original member, Gary Rossington, announced they would no longer display the Confederate Flag at their performances saying that they didn’t want to offend anyone. Since the author of that article referenced a CNN appearance by Rossington it’s safe to assume that part of the story is accurate. As for the rest? Well, it’s clear the author is not a journalist. He writes, “However, there is a growing outrage among fans. Many say they have attended Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts for decades, but will never buy a ticket again. Twitter and Facebook have exploded with condemnation. Many are now calling the band a “fake,” who just own the right’s to the original band’s name.” He does not include any examples, however. Nor does he provide any links to this so-called “outrage.” Nor does he know the difference between plurals and possessives or how to use the apostrophe correctly. But he is clearly upset that the Confederate Flag is being rejected once again.

And why shouldn’t it be? I’ve been trying to find what the justification for continuing to fly that flag is. I read a lot that it represents “Southern Pride” and “Southern Heritage,” but I’ve been having a hard time finding reliable definitions of those terms. I found this from a Texas Progressive who claims that this heritage is based on white supremacy. And considering that it took a century for black people to even have civil rights because of opposition from the former states of the Confederacy, and considering that many Southern states STILL don’t want black people to vote and have said as much, it’s hard to see anything noble about the Southern Cause. A pro-General Lee Civil War buff, Joe Ryan, opened his excellent timeline of debates in Congress that led to the Civil War with teh assertion that it was caused by Racism, “plain and simple.” I have not had the opportunity to research this further, but the author of this article says that many Northerners did not feel it was possible to live with black people, and actually wanted the slaves to be free but to stay in the South. He says that had more Northern Members of Congress supported the Abolitionists and spoken up about how to resolve the issue of ending Slavery, the war might have been avoided. I honestly don’t know what the truth is on that subject. But one thing that is indisputable is that the Confederate States of America fired upon the United States of America, and their flag is the flag of Traitors. It does not belong on the public property of the United States of America. Despite all the hysteria from the right (including Conservative Democrats), we are not looking to ban the flag outright. Our primary goal at this point is to eliminate the Confederate Flag from public property, except inside museums. I’m conflicted on allowing an exception to any actual Confederacy Museums our govt maintains. If there are any, a small replica of it on the front yard sign would be okay. But not an actual flag flying from a pole. Not on public property.

As for flying it on private property, I’ll fully support your right to do so when you admit to me that it stands for White Supremacy and Enslavement of Black People, because that is historically undeniable. I’m not at all sure what the “pride” and “heritage” of the South is that the flag is supposed to represent. If it’s all about manners and hospitality then, yeah, but only toward white people. Jim Webb, who wants to be the Democratic nominee for President, but who will likely get no further than the short list of VP running mates, thinks the talk of taking down the flag is an attack on “Southern White culture.” Some wavers of the Rebel Flag, like the KKK and Neo-Nazi groups, freely admit that’s why they fly it. I just want any other citizen who flies it to publicly admit they’re doing it for the same reason. Then I’ll exercise my First Amendment rights and tell them what idiotic assholes they are. And, yes, I’m prepared to die for saying it. As a nation, we need to stop treating every opinion as if it’s a valid one, worthy of respect. Even mine if you find no factual basis in it. But an opinion on what to do with the Confederate Flag (General Robert E. Lee said it belongs in a museum) means nothing if the person holding it believes Slavery had little or nothing to do with the Civil War, or that it was just a side issue. Because that is not an opinion based on facts.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to ridicule racist assholes who still fly the Confederate Flag, or anything you else you wish to discuss.

Sunday Roast: Confederate Flag Removed in SC

That’s what I call an excellent start.

I’m sure some you out there in the Land of the Interwebs are wondering to yourselves and others, “Why all the pomp and circumstance around removing the heinous Confederate flag?”

I’ll tell you why:  Because we were brought up with manners, and it’s best to remember that — always.

Wait…what?  Yeah, you heard me — manners.

Had the horrible, shameful Confederate flag been removed from the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse by the on-duty maintenance man, who promptly tucked it under his arm, walked to the nearest garbage bin, deposited said horrible flag, and then kicked over the bin — the way we all wish it had been done (or worse) — the ENTIRE story in the media would be the weeping and wailing over the lack of respect given to an important part of our history.  Which would give rise to us missing the damn point.  AGAIN.  STILL.

The Confederate flag is a part of U.S. history — like it or not.  History that is not kind or good, nothing to be proud of, nor is it remotely humane — like much of our history.  But like so much of our history, a story was built up around the Confederate flag and the Civil War, and it became romanticized through novels, movies, television series, and even our history books.  We found a way to live with ourselves — to generously forgive ourselves — for perpetrating the unforgivable crime of enslaving our fellow human beings to lay the foundation of our promising new nation, and enrich ourselves in the process.

The flag became a fanciful imaginary symbol of “Southern Pride,” whatever that is, and Southern “heritage,” which is claimed to be in no way racist or hateful.  But here’s the problem with such notions:  They. Are. Not. Reality.  The Confederate flag was created and acknowledged as a symbol of the Confederate States of America, whose purpose was to continue slavery and enforce white supremacy, along with other treasonous ideas.  More info in this article on Vox.

So the shameful Confederate flag has had more than its fair share of exposure and misplaced pride/nostalgia, and it’s time to put it in the Smithsonian museum with all the other relics, where we’ll teach and learn (re-learn, if necessary) the facts about one of the most terrible times in our history and the fall-out that continues to this very day.

If it takes remembering our manners and a bit of pomp and circumstance to achieve that with a minimum of fuss (or what counts as a lack of fuss these days), I can live with it — because it’s an excellent start.

This is our daily open thread — Let’s brace ourselves for the backlash…

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 11th, 2015: The Planet Killers

Over the last few days, several related and intertwined articles are pulling together more and more evidence that Exxon-Mobil, BP, Chevron, other fossil-fuel giants, and the Koch Brothers, along with their front groups, have deliberately and willfully been funding a disinformation campaign denying global climate change reports that they have known about since the early 1980s.

From yesterday’s ThinkProgress thread written by Joe Romm, “Oil Company Exxon Knew About The Scientific Reality of Climate Change in 1981”:

“…despite a growing understanding of the scientific reality of climate change in the 1980s and 1990s, Exxon became one of the biggest funders of scientists and think tanks and others who do little but deny and cast doubt on the scientific understanding of human-caused global warming.
Over the years, fossil fuel company executives have funneled tens of millions of dollars into this disinformation campaign. The top funder was ExxonMobil for a long time. But the company was overtaken years ago by Koch Industries, run by billionaires Charles and David Koch, who spent more than $48.5 million from 1997 to 2010 to fund disinformation. From 2005 to 2008, the Kochs outspent Exxon-Mobil well over 2-to-1 in funding the climate denial machine.”

From Huffington Post’s July 8th article, “Internal Documents Show Fossil Fuel Industry Has Been Aware of Climate Change for Decades”, written by Elliott Negin:

“Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse created a stir recently when he speculated that fossil fuel companies may be violating federal racketeering law by colluding to defraud the public about the threat posed by carbon pollution.”

~~~

“Exxon Recognized Carbon Emissions Problem 34 Years Ago
The collected documents reveal the fossil fuel industry campaign has relied on a variety of deceptive practices, including creating phony grassroots groups, secretly funding purportedly independent scientists, and even forging letters from nonprofit advocacy groups to lobby members of Congress.

ExxonMobil’s duplicity is perhaps the most remarkable. Internal documents and public statements stretching back decades show that ExxonMobil’s corporate forerunners Exxon and Mobil, which merged in 1999, acknowledged the threat posed by global warming as far back as the early 1980s.”

~~~

In November 1988…Mobil President Richard F. Tucker cited the “greenhouse effect” in a list of serious environmental challenges during a speech at an American Institute of Chemical Engineers national conference.

“Our strategy must be to reduce pollution before it is ever generated — to prevent problems at the source,” he said. “That will involve working at the edge of scientific knowledge and developing new technology at every scale on the engineering spectrum. …Prevention on a global scale may even require a dramatic reduction in our dependence on fossil fuels — and a shift toward solar, hydrogen, and safe nuclear power. It may be possible — just possible — that the energy industry will transform itself so completely that observers will declare it a new industry.”

Fossil Fuel Companies Disregard Their Own Scientists

Tucker’s warning went unheeded even by his own company. A year later, in 1989, 50 U.S. corporations and trade groups created the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) to discredit climate science. Its founding members included API, British Petroleum (now BP), Chevron, Exxon, Shell, Texaco and … Mobil.

Until it disbanded in 2002, GCC conducted a multimillion-dollar lobbying and public relations campaign to undermine national and international efforts to address global warming. One of its fact sheets for legislators and journalists, for example, claimed “the role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood” and emphasized that “scientists differ” on the issue.”

From a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), titled “The Climate Deception Dossiers: Internal Fossil Fuel Industry Memos Reveal Decades of Corporate Disinformation” (also linked to within the HuffPost article):

“Containing 85 internal memos totaling more than 330 pages, the seven dossiers reveal a range of deceptive tactics deployed by the fossil fuel industry. These include forged letters to Congress, secret funding of a supposedly independent scientist, the creation of fake grassroots organizations, multiple efforts to deliberately manufacture uncertainty about climate science, and more.
The documents clearly show that:
– Fossil fuel companies have intentionally spread climate disinformation for decades.
– Fossil fuel company leaders knew that their products were harmful to people and the planet but still chose to actively deceive the public and deny this harm.
– The campaign of deception continues today.

The UCS report includes links to all of the memos, emails, and other documentation. While I haven’t had the chance to delve into it much, a quick glance at the titles of the seven “Deception Dossiers” includes “Deception Dossier #6: Deception by the American Legislative Exchange Council”.

Gee, whodathunk?

As Inspector Kemp [played by Kenneth Mars] said in Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein”, “A riot is an ungly thingk… undt, I tink, that it is chust about time ve had vun!”

This is our daily Open Thread–get your pitchforks and torches ready!

The Watering Hole; Friday July 10 2015; One Week, Two Worlds

Circa 1803, British poet William Blake wrote, in Auguries of Innocence, four lines which to this day invariably catch my eye and tweak my imagination.

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

He said a lot with those twenty-nine words about that other world, the world ‘out there’ that is within but still separate from the world ‘in here,’ the world where H. sapiens rules with both an iron fist and a shriveled soul.

So, to be brief, following are a handful of this last week’s episodic moments from each of the two realms. To my eye, there’s no question as to which allows an eternity in an hour and which does not, and the choice is extremely simple. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!

******

Last week in the world ‘Out There’

Reflection Idyll

Reflection Idyll

     Wild Thistle Flower and Buds

Wild Thistle Flower and Buds

Wild Buffalo Gourd Flowers

Wild Buffalo Gourd Flowers

Late last week while taking a leisurely stroll around a lake, I spotted a Cormorant standing on a rock some fifty yards from the shore. He looked photogenic, so I got the camera out and zoomed in on him, hoping he wouldn’t notice. Below are three shots: the first, a peaceful profile. He must have heard something, though, and started looking around. Then he caught me, barehanded, looked me square in the eye. I guess I must not have been perceived a threat, given that after a moment’s glance he looked away, stayed put on the rock, and continued with Cormorant routine business.

July 3 Cormorant triplet

The brief encounter with the Cormorant reminded me of something Robert Burns once wrote, words that pretty much summed up my impressions on the matter.

“Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!”

(For more of the “guess an’ fear” option, see below)

******

Next up, a view of that other world, the one to which we have become slaves. No pix in or of this one — ain’t nothing much worth looking at anyway. Best to settle for only the words, and in the process be reminded that it’s too bad so many modern hominids (humanoids?) who so recklessly toss words around don’t have much if anything salient to say. Wonder why that is? Oh well, as someone once said, there are some things we’re just not meant to know. Anyway, here goes nothing. So to speak.

Last week in the world ‘In Here’

Trent Franks: Constitution Is ‘The Greatest Gospel Outreach The World Has Ever Known’

Linda Harvey: Prosecute Hillary Clinton For Gay ‘Child Corruption’

Cliff Kincaid: Gays In Military Show Influence Of Obama’s ‘Pedophile’ Mentor

Michael Savage: Liberals To Use Immigrant Gangs And Internment Camps To Kill Christians And Veterans

Michael Savage: Veterans Should Form Militia To Fight Obama

Rick Wiles: America Is Descending Into Hell

Ted Nugent: ‘Donald Trump Should Be Given The Medal Of Freedom’

‘Sodomites, Go To Hell!’: Right-Wing July 4th Event Warns Hurricanes Create ‘Sodomite Heaven’

Ted Cruz: Gay Marriage Ruling Will Spark A ‘Raging Inferno’

Louie Gohmert: ISIS Right Across The Border

And finally, last but by no means least,

Mike Huckabee: America Worse Than Sodom After Gay Marriage Ruling

******

There. Both worlds essentially summed, albeit briefly. Still, methinks the message embedded is clear — to my eyes, at least.

July 8 thistle flower 1745

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday July 9 2015; “There Hath Past Away a Glory From the Earth”

200 years ago — In 1815 — the final version of Wm. Wordsworth’s poetic masterpiece, Ode on Intimations of Immortality was completed. The first two stanzas read as follows:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;–
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

The Rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the Rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

Wordsworth was clearly prescient; one could imagine, in fact, that he wrote those words just last week, and in the process most ably summed up the atrocities that our species is currently visiting upon the earth.

If there should be any doubt of human’s global NEGATIVE impact, this recent truthout.org essay entitled Mass Extinction: It’s the End of the World as We Know It is a well-done synopsis of Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD) and the realities implicit in the atmospheric damage humans have caused as of this day. I won’t go into detail or attempt to summarize the entire of the essay, but I will quote here a single paragraph that discusses the self-reinforcing-feedback-loop dilemma that is a consequence of mankinds’ release into the atmosphere of billions and billions of tons of Carbon Dioxide.

A self-reinforcing positive feedback loop is akin to a “vicious circle”: It accelerates the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD). An example would be methane releases in the Arctic. Massive amounts of methane are currently locked in the permafrost, which is now melting rapidly. As the permafrost melts, methane – a greenhouse gas 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide on a short timescale – is released into the atmosphere, warming it further, which in turn causes more permafrost to melt, and so on.

We have already reached the point where we’re only a few degrees short of the warming that occurred some 250 million years ago — caused by massive volcanism in Siberia — that led to an increase in global temperatures of 6 degrees Celsius and caused the “Great Dying” (aka the Permian Mass Extinction) where it is estimated that 95% of earth’s life forms became extinct. This day, and according to

. . . a recently published study in Science Advances, . . . the planet has officially entered its sixth mass extinction event. The study shows that species are already being killed off at rates much faster than they were during the other five extinction events, and warns ominously that humans could very likely be among the first wave of species to go extinct.

Perhaps that’s the best news the universe has heard since the Big Bang — that humans could very likely be among the first wave of species to go extinct. Not a troubling stat to our solar system, I’m sure.

Wordsworth referred to mankind’s most egregious fault in his poem Lines Written in Early Spring when he wrote:

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

And here we are, 200 years down the road, and What man has made of man is imposing drastic effects on the entire of the earth’s biosphere, including himself. In a recent Reuters blog post, the dilemma was summarized:

Humans will be extinct in 100 years because the planet will be uninhabitable, according to Australian microbiologist Frank Fenner, one of the leaders of the effort to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s. He blames overcrowding, denuded resources and climate change. Fenner’s prediction is not a sure bet, but he is correct that there is no way emissions reductions will be enough to save us from our trend toward doom. And there doesn’t seem to be any big global rush to reduce emissions, anyway.

Sounds as though the story’s ending is already known and told. The “intelligent” species, the species ‘created in God’s image,’ the species that was ‘granted dominion’ over eacn and all other life forms — aka Homo sapiens, the most recent ape-derivative mammalian species to evolve — is soon to have as its sole legacy the mass destruction of life on the one planet known so far to contain LIFE. I suppose in some quarters the ability to accomplish such a feat will be seen as defining the word “intelligence.” I disagree, and note that William Wordsworth — in Intimations of Immortality, the final verse — summarized the attitude of those few who will lament the Sixth Mass Extinction, when he wrote:

The Clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

Respect for all of life is absent in a great percentage of minds of the species that has declared itself the planet’s dominant entity, a detail which offers confirmation of the Wordsworthian thesis That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

R.I.P. Mother Earth

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