The Watering Hole, Wednesday, September 30, 2015: We Hold These Truths to be Self Evident

Rights. What rights do we, as citizens of the United States have? Not a whole lot.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”–(Declaration of Independence)

The Constitution itself does not confer any rights. Any Constitutional rights are implied. They don’t get spelled out until you get to the amendments:

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Ok. So there’s the right to peaceably to assemble. That’s why we have “free Speech Zones” far away from anywhere the President may actually be appearing.

Amendment II
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

And the right to bear arms. But not military grade hardware. So if you’re actually going to fight it out with the United States Military forces in a firefight…good luck. One drone and you’re toast.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…

Can you say “Homeland Security”?

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed,…and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Unless, of course, you are accused of being a terrorist.

Amendment VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved…

Do you even know the difference between a suit at common law and a suit in equity? Bottom line, in the former, you can have a jury, in the latter, a judge decides your fate.

Amendment XV
Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Finally, the Constitution mentions the right to vote. Up to now, it’s been an implied right. And, to the extent it is a right, this amendment allows men to vote, even if they were once slaves. The right to vote still doesn’t extend to women, however.

Amendment XIX
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Four amendments later and the implied right to vote finally extends to women.

Amendment XXVI
The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.

In reaction to the Vietnam war, where we were drafting 18 year-olds to die ‘for their country’ the inherent unfairness of sending young men (women weren’t drafted into military service) to fight and die, without their having a voice in politics gave rise to the 26th amendment.

What’s missing here?
The right to drinkable water.
The right to breathable air.
The right to food.
The right to an education.
The right to health.

In short, a whole lot of rights guaranteed (or at least promised) to people living on other industrialized nations are not guaranteed rights in the United States of America.

Here in the U.S. of A. we have the right to life – and some people would take this to mean the right to life of a fertilized egg as being more important than that of a living, breathing human being (the impregnated female).

We have the right to liberty – if your rich. The poor can get incarcerated for petty, non-violent crimes. The rich can rob and kill without fear of incarceration.

And we have the right to the pursuit of happiness. As long as your happiness doesn’t challenge the status quo.

Water rights, on the other hand, are bought and sold. And food? Ask Monsanto.

There’s no right to clothing, but you will get arrested if you do without.

And there’s no right to shelter. And, again, you can get arrested for being homeless.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that Nature’s God abhors imbalance; and that chief among the imbalances in Nature is the disparity in wealth between the haves and the have-nots.

Balance will be restored. The only questions are how, and at what cost.

OPEN THREAD.

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The Watering Hole, Tuesday September 29, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Alarming Report on the Health of Our Oceans

“According to the World Wildlife Fund‘s (WWF) recently released Living Blue Planet Report, marine populations have declined by an astonishing 49 percent between 1970 and 2012, with with some fish species, including tuna, declining by almost 75 percent.”

I think our first Earth Day was in 1970. Our awareness of the earth’s problems has increased dramatically, but our actions to correct them are but a minor blip on the radar.

Pretty alarming numbers. What will the oceans look like in another 40 years?

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 28th, 2015: It’s Autumn, Isn’t It?

It’s week 3 of football season, baseball only has another week in the “regular” season, both of which are normal clues that we’re into fall. Normally, by the end of August, we have at least some trees starting to change their leaves as the first harbingers of the spectacular foliage show to come, but…

With a very few exceptions (certain vines, etc.), our tree-covered hillsides are as green as ever.
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According to the official “I Love NY” foliage report,

“Hudson Valley foliage change will remain minimal this weekend, according to foliage spotters. Look for up to 25 percent change in Rockland County, where green still predominates, but some purple, orange and red leaves are beginning to emerge. Dutchess County spotters in Poughkeepsie expect 15 percent color change, with more bright yellow leaves coming into play. Spotters in Columbia, Westchester and Orange counties expect just about 10 percent color change this weekend.”

For some reason, Putnam County, where Wayne and I grew up, is never mentioned, even though there’s plenty of scenic and historic areas in Putnam. And Dutchess County, where we live now, has the longest pedestrian bridge in the world, the Walkway Over the Hudson.

So, where’s our fall foliage? I think I’ll blame Pat Robertson and the religious right for screwing with our seasons. Damned end-timers!

This is our daily Open Thread–whom do you want to blame for something?

Sunday Roast: Spider!

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Photo by Zooey

This beautiful spider has set up an abattoir on a huge web outside my kitchen window.  He’s got about five of these little “packets” in his web at any given time, and just goes from one to another, stabbing in his sippy straw and chugging away.

It’s really rather disgusting, but fascinating at the same time — and as long as he stays on his side of the window, we will remain the best of friends.

This is our daily open thread — Anyone know what kind of spider this is?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 26, 2015: Driving Me Crazy – The Pokey and The Gapper

I have to talk about these two together, because in combination, they often create one of the biggest headaches commuters face each and every morning – the Complete Stop For No Apparent Reason. “The Pokey” is, as you may have guessed, a slowpoke. Now, I would cringe at the accusation that I am a “Leadfoot” (or “Zippy”, as I’ll talk about at a later date), but I do like to drive fast. Safely, yes, for I do not believe in that bullshit that “speed kills”, but a little fast. (Speed doesn’t kill, bad driving does. Race car drivers survive fast driving all the time.) I feel that a 55 MPH Speed Limit for interstate highways, which were built when the national speed limit was 75 MPH, is too oppressive. I even think that 65 MPH is too low, but at least it’s a lot closer to the speed at which I like to drive. I’m not going to set myself up for a conviction for speeding by saying anything more specific than that. Continue reading

The Watering Hole; Friday September 25 2015; Pope v. Wingnuts

So. Pope Francis is in the US, and he spoke to Congress. In case anyone missed it, here’s a transcript of his interesting and compelling speech:

Pope Francis’ address to Congress

From the Washington Post, this first reaction:

Pope Francis implores Congress to accept immigrants as their own

And here’s what is probably just a preview of the tone (and the intellectual desolation) the Wingnut reaction will ultimately embrace:

And then there’s this: the more-than-elegant-and-appropriate reaction to the Wingnut reaction(s) by critters who (mostly) reside “out there.” Curiously, I couldn’t agree more, nor could I have said (or portrayed) it better. Fascinating that geese and bugs both understand the problem AND are perfectly willing to toss the proper salute to each and all of the intellectually challenged hominids (aka Wingnuts).

Reminds me of an old song. Lessee: How’d go? Something like

Birds do it . . .

Sep 19 goose dive 1893Sep 19 geese dive 1888Bees do it . . .Bee in cactus bloom 2aEven educated – ummm – bugs(?) do it . . .

Bug on Sunflower 352aLet’s do it, let’s fall . . . Something like that

Glenn Beck definitely earned that standard ‘salute’ when, following Pope Francis’ speech, he tweeted:

The Popes speech was a “Mr Gorbachev tear down this wall” moment. Unfortunately, the “wall” is capitalism.

Do we dare hope? I mean, if “capitalism” is to ultimately be defined by the radical right wing in this country, then I, for one (E Pluribus Unum?), could most assuredly agree with Beck’s nonsensical ‘conclusion.’ Meanwhile, to Beck and all the others of his mental ilk,  I do hereby toss to each and all of them the ‘intelligent’ species’ version of the “signals” portrayed above — as demonstrated via George Bush’s “eloquent” (sotospeak) ass-ignation (sotospeak):

Der FingerMany of us may not agree with every one of the premises advanced by Pope Francis in his speech before Congress, but hopefully disagreement with the crapola advanced by the Wingnuttistanians will be manifest to the point where their influence on the nation’s politic will be permanently dismissed by the electorate — ASAP. Because, should those nutcases EVER gain full power of the state, the operative words will soon become those that traditionally signal the termination of a given tale: The End.

Or, stated another way,

Sep 6 Shadow in the flowers cr 1814GRRRRR!! (sort of)

OPEN THREAD