The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 31: Speaker of the Tea House

If anything unfortunate (as in “fatal”) were to happen to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, the man who would become the 45th President of the United States is a man beholden to some of the most extreme conservative radicals in recent American history. This past Thursday, Republicans in the United States House of Representatives chose as its 54th Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for Vice President in the 2012 elections. The American people rejected both him and his running mate, Willard “The Mitt” Romney, a venture capitalist who made millions by buying corporations, restructuring or selling off their parts, then extorting the banks who lent them money into refinancing their debts under threat of taking all the company’s cash and paying it out as bonuses to his investment partners. You know, the rags-to-riches American dream. (Actually, his father was already a millionaire, and Romney never wanted for anything growing up.) Speaker Ryan should best be remembered (if he’s to be remembered at all) as a hard-line devotee of Ayn Rand, a hypocritical selfish woman who championed an unworkable philosophy of “Objectivism” which wrongly divided the world into “takers and makers” and which proposed the incredibly simplistic and fantastical idea that all government programs are evil, that altruism was a terrible concept, and that rich people should be left alone by the government because they are the true job creators without whom civilization would perish. Thanks to our altruism, she was able to collect Social Security from an evil government, apparently because, like Paul Ryan, his mother, and millions of other Americans, she didn’t make enough money to not need it to survive. But I digress.

Paul Ryan is provably a humongous hypocrite. He rails against “big government” (a phrase that only has meaning to people who can’t explain what it really means), yet his family has been dependent on government for his entire life. Their construction business has relied on government contracts. He has spent his entire career as a government employee of one kind or another. He favors cutting or eliminating programs that help the poor, but he married a woman who inherited millions. He thinks his mother was solely responsible for her own success after his father died (Paul was able to go to college only because of the Social Security benefits his family received upon his death), yet she had to take a government-run bus, driving on government-built roads, to attend a government-run institution of higher learning. This is the aspect of our partly-Socialist society that Conservative Libertarians (such as Ryan and Senator Rand Paul) refuse to see when they talk about getting government out of our lives. People who talk about our government not following the Constitution should remember that it specifically tasks Congress with maintaining postal roads (which are just about all of them), so they should be 100% behind spending on infrastructure. But they aren’t.

Remember how we all thought Ryan was too conservative to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency? What makes Ryan a dangerous choice to be Speaker is that despite his extreme conservatism, the people responsible for his being Speaker think he’s too liberal. The House Freedom Caucus (as they call themselves) believe that this country can only be saved from the horrible rightward direction it has been turning by becoming even more conservative. That’s right. They actually think the United States is not conservative enough. And who are these people in the House Freedom Caucus? There’s about 40 of them, but no one is absolutely sure because some Members of Congress refuse to admit their own membership in the caucus. They’re dangerous because they aren’t just the type who say if they can’t get their way, they’ll take their ball and go home. They’re the type who say if they don’t get their own way, they’ll buy the stadium, bulldoze it to the ground, and replace it with a nuclear waste dump site. And they want Speaker Ryan to stake out a conservative position on every issue and then unflinchingly stick to it. But they won’t compromise.

And that is why they are such a danger to the American People. They refuse to compromise, and governing is all about compromise. Neither ideological side is going to get everything they want, but these people refuse to accept that fact. Personally, I feel the worst thing a country could do to its citizens would be to govern from a Conservative perspective, and I know that’s not just me and the vast majority of people reading these words. They seem to think that Conservatism is all about “freedom”. It’s nothing of the sort. Conservatism, at its root, is about Selfishness. If Conservatism were truly about freedom, then why aren’t Conservatives in the vanguard fighting for the right of women to make their own reproductive choices? Why aren’t Conservatives standing up for black citizens who routinely get harassed and sometimes killed by the police for no other reason than the color of their skin? Why aren’t conservatives fighting to expand government assistance programs that help people enjoy more of what this great country has to offer? Because they don’t believe in “freedom” for everyone at all. They only believe in freedom for people who think like they do. But I state the obvious.

Finally, on an unrelated topic, watch the student in the red and yellow hat visible just over Bernie Sanders’ left shoulder. He seems totally disinterested in what Bernie is saying right up until he hears Bernie mention ending the federal ban on weed.

“Oh, shit” indeed. I had the same reaction when I heard we now have Speaker Paul Ryan. 🙂

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Speaker Ryan’s future disastrous turn as Speaker, Bernie’s great plan to end the federal ban on weed (or his not-so-great idea that the states should decide the issue), funny hats or anything else you wish to discuss. I won’t bother you. And Happy Halloween.

The Watering Hole; Friday October 30 2015; The “Wisdom” of Ben Carson,

‘All’ Rogues ‘shall have their part in’ what —
The Phosphorous of God —
(Emily Dickinson)

Rather than spend all the time it would take for me to explain everything about the origins of the universe, of earth, life, and whatever, I’ve instead decided to take the day off and have Ben Carson do it. He does take somewhere in the neighborhood of 49 minutes to cover the entire gamut, but still his efforts are truly . . . ummm . . . can’t think of the word.

So there you are — now you know (or should know, maybe) that though there might be questions that SCIENCE can’t yet answer, there are NO questions that Doc Carson can’t handle, and there are no mysteries anywhere in the entire of the universe . . . make that the creation . . . that are not easily and readily explicable. Really folks, with Ben Carson as the model, it’s all so simple!

Curiously enough, it was back in 1793 that Robert Burns wrote of Ben Carson, summed up the neurosurgeon’s own neuro-capacity in one short four-lined verse.

“Lord, to account who dares thee call,
Or e’er dispute thy pleasure?
Else why, within so thick a wall,
Enclose so poor a treasure?”

Yea verily, it is written. Etc.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday October 29 2015; Ignorance? Insanity? Debates?

Safe in their Alabaster Chambers —
Untouched by Morning
And untouched by Noon —
Sleep the meek members of the Resurrection —
Rafter of satin,
And Roof of stone.

Light laughs the breeze
In her Castle above them —
Babbles the Bee in a stolid Ear,
Pipe the Sweet Birds in ignorant cadence —
Ah, what sagacity perished here!
(Emily Dickinson)

Ignorance: Lack of knowledge, information, or education; the state of being ignorant.

Insanity: Relatively permanent disorder of the mind; state or condition of being insane.

Originally I was going to pen a lengthy essay on how the distinct qualities we call ignorance and insanity are affecting and afflicting today’s politics and policies.Then last night came the third GOP presidential candidate debate from Boulder Colorado, and suddenly my focus seemed to shift.

I’d already been pondering those issues for a couple of days, and in the process managed to take a look around with the goal of researching, perhaps finding some of the finer points that aptly demonstrate what might be reasonably interpreted as the ignorance / insanity blend. What I came up with, however, seemed to better answer that other question, the one that reads What if someone who’s definably ignorant is also definably insane? Or, phrased another way, what if someone who’s insane is also ignorant? Are those possibilities realistic? Maybe?

Sounds possible, right?  But then comes the biggee: How the hell can you differentiate between ignorance and insanity when politics and religion (and Republicans) are involved? Is it possible that all one really needs to do to sift through the quagmire is to note the subject-at-hand’s respective affiliations and consider those to be THE defining line(s) in the sand? Maybe? Mind you, I’ve only seen a few snippets from last night’s debate, but as of this moment I would most certainly agree — with NO equivocation — that yes, the ‘line(s) in the sand’ ARE very likely THE points which actually demonstrate for all to see the new and defining Republican mantra. Ignorance HAS mated with insanity, in other words, and with end result?

Ah, what sagacity perished here!

To my eyes, even a quick peek at some tidbits of my recently gathered data confirms each and all of the underlying theses which have forced political sagacity’s dismemberment. So go ahead, check out the following and see if you can come up with ANY other conclusion (and please, pass it/them on!).

OK. Here. Republican. Fundamentalist. Ignorance. Insanity. Merged?

Michael Savage Warns That SNL And Larry David Are Ushering In Sharia Law

Michael Savage: Obama Acting Like Hitler, But Attacking White Men

BarbWire Pundit: Armed White People Must Stop Obama Before He Sparks Nuclear War Against America

The Pre-Palin GOP Was A Scholar’s Paradise, And Other Lies We Tell Children

Ken Ham Worries That If We Allow Gay Marriage People Will Just Stop Wearing Clothes

Intent on discrediting climate scientists, witch-hunting House committee chairman subpoenas NOAA

Ben Carson believes the world was literally created in 6 days

Ben Carson’s Budget Plan Makes Absolutely No Sense

Rick Wiles: Arrest ‘Mentally Unstable’ Obama Before He Starts

Rick Wiles: God Is Making Liberals Go Insane

Right-Wing Pundit Prays God Will Punish Hillary Clinton Since Republicans Failed To

So. The difference between ‘ignorance’ and ‘insanity’ is . . . ?? Seems to be rather a moot point, actually, at least when the only wedge between them is the suggestion that right wing politics don’t or won’t allow ignorance to mate with insanity. I suppose that in a civilized world, for one to propose — much less recognize — that such a mating has clearly occurred would automatically presume bias, even agenda. Maybe so. BUT — toss in, on top of everything, a large and vocal dose of religious fundamentalism and THEN ask the same question over again.

As the French would say, Voila!

Reminds me of Shakespeare, who wrote, in Macbeth —

“Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten on the insane root
that takes the reason prisoner?”

I’ll readily accept the first line as absolute fact, and then agree that yes, THEY have undoubtedly eaten on the insane root / that takes the reason prisoner — and let it go at that. I wouldn’t want to make anyone any more mad than they already are, dontcha know.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, October 28, 2015: U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments

So many folks claim the U.S. Constitution is based on the Bible that I thought I’d check it out. Using “The Google” and other advanced research tools, I discovered a rare unpublished U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. McCarthy (1958) 357 U.S. 579, that examined the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments.

In this case, Roe, an unnamed Godless heathen atheist suspected of ties to the Communist Party challenged a subpoena issued by McCarthy’s Communist witch-hunt committee. The Supreme Court largely sided with Roe. Fortunately for McCarthy, he died about a year and a half before the decision was handed down.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the Supreme Court’s holdings. Continue reading

The Watering Hole Hole, Tuesday October 27, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics

100 Mayors Sign Milan Urban Food Policy Pact

The industrial food complex has not had rival competition, but could this new food initiative lay the groundwork for nutritional integrity, fair prices, and fair labor standards? It might take 50 years to overcome the present dominance, but the diet for a small planet has to have political stakeholders to effect change.

A new food infrastructure?

From the article…

The Framework recommends 37 actions, among them

  • Identify, map and evaluate local initiatives
  • Develop or revise urban food policies and plans
  • Address non-communicable diseases associated with poor diets and obesity, giving specific attention where appropriate to reducing intake of sugar, salt, transfats, meat and dairy products and increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables and non-processed foods
  • Develop sustainable dietary guidelines to inform consumers, city planners (in particular for public food procurement), food service providers, retailers, producers and processors, and promote communication and training campaigns.
  • Explore regulatory and voluntary instruments to promote sustainable diets involving private and public companies as appropriate, using marketing, publicity and labelling policies; and economic incentives or disincentives; streamline regulations regarding the marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages to children in accordance with WHO recommendations.
  • Those aimed at social and economic equity (cash transfers, school feeding programs, employment, education, training, research).
  • And those aimed at improving food production and reducing waste.

Urban Agriculture

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 26, 2015: Why Is Ben Carson Still Running For POTUS?

He is Dr. Ben Carson. He is running for President of the United States of America. He doesn’t believe in Evolution.

Listening to him talk about it it’s clear he doesn’t understand how Evolution works, which might contribute to why he doesn’t believe in it. I guess to be more accurate, I should have said that Ben Carson doesn’t believe in Evolution as he understands it. He might be pleased to know that most scientists don’t believe in Evolution as Ben Carson understands it, either. Carson thinks that species changed into other species, which then changed into other species, and so on. Of course that’s not how it works. They didn’t “change into” other species, they were born of other species but with slight genetic variations that gave them advantages over others of their kind born without it. I’m not going to waste good intelligent people’s time with a defense and explanation of how Evolution works and why the vast majority of scientists still recognized as scientists by their peers believe that Evolution is how we came to be the creatures you see standing before you in the mirror each day. And I’ll never convince those who argue that because we can’t as yet explain how it all works right down to the tiniest detail that it can’t possibly be true and so we must have been created just as we are just like the Bible says. Those people do not wish to engage their critical thinking skills and, you know, think critically about something. I believe Ben Carson to be one of those people. We’ll see why later.

About a week ago, Carson suggested that we could have caught bin Laden sooner if we had declared that we would be energy independent. Not, as our good Friends at Raw Story put it, if we had been energy independent, but simply if we declared we would be energy independent within five-ten years. And I know this because he said the Arab countries would be come so concerned they would have…I won’t spoil it. Read what he said:

“Declare that within five to 10 years, we will become petroleum independent. The moderate Arab states would have been so concerned about that, they would have turned over Osama bin Laden and anybody else you wanted on a silver platter within two weeks.”

Pressed on how that would work in real life, Carson added:

“Well, I think they would have been extremely concerned if we had declared — and we were serious about it — that we were going to become petroleum independent, because it would have had a major impact on their finances,” Carson offered. “And I think that probably would have trumped any loyalty that they had to — to people like Osama bin Laden.”

When it was pointed out that the Saudis had no loyalty to bin Laden and had kicked him out of their country, Carson countered with that standard Conservative tactic of denying Reality:

“Uh, well, you may not think that they had any loyalty to him, but I believe otherwise,” Carson said without further explanation.

I know Carson doesn’t like those who think critically because a couple of days ago he told Glenn Beck he would use the Department of Education to “monitor our institutions of higher education for extreme political bias and deny federal funding if it exists.” You can listen to him give rapid fire yes or no answers that prove he’s on the wrong side of most issues.

He explained to talk show radio host Dana Loesch (who has joined Chuck Todd, Erick Erickson, Eric Bolling, Liz Cheney, Dana Perino, and Sean Hannity as Famous Conservatives Who Have Blocked Me On Twitter) that he would only block Liberal speech on campuses because he believes only Liberals engage in “extreme” speech. (If that doesn’t tell you how extreme his conservatism is, what will?) He says, “And it’s not appropriate for public funding to be used to indoctrinate students in one direction.” First of all, education is not “indoctrination.” Any candidate for POTUS who refers to education this way is unfit to be POTUS, for they are saying they wish the American people to remain ignorant and not learn new things. Second, Liberalism is not “one direction,” but rather the expansion of the mind to look in many outward directions where things don’t have the sameness that looking inwardly only shows. It’s called being “open-minded” and it is the very definition of being Liberal. You don’t go to college to be told what you already knew. You go to college to expand your mind and learn things you never knew before. For example, I went to college to learn why one plus one equals two. Not to learn that one plus one equals two. I mastered that the year before. But why does it equal two? Why doesn’t it equal three or four or some other number? I’ll save you several thousand dollars in education costs and reveal the answer: One plus one equals two because “two” is what we call the number you get when you start with one and add one to it. And “three” is what we call the number you get when you start with “two” and add one to it. And “four” is what we call the successor of “three.” And so on. Rather anticlimactic, I suppose. I bet you were wishing it was some really cool story about word origins or something but, no, it’s simply a matter of definitions. We had to call these numbers something, so we called them what we did. One was going to be the first number after Nothing. And Two was whatever came after One. And Three whatever came after Two. That’s also why they’re in the order they are. Two follows One because Two is what we call whatever follows One. I won’t get into how we’re actually referring to symbols, because that would only confuse the matter. The point is I never would have learned that had I not gone to an institution dedicated to opening my mind and teaching me things I didn’t already know. And to hooking me up with people who could get me LSD.

And if religious extremism, foreign policy naivete, and a complete misunderstanding of the purpose of an education don’t convince you he’s unfit for any public office, perhaps his paranoia will. Buzzfeed is reporting that Carson has been told (and therefore believes) that he is “in great danger” because, and pardon me if I am unable to get through this because it’s so absurd, he challenges “the secular progressive movement to the very core.” How is? What is? Where the? Why would he think he is “in great danger” from the “secular progressive movement”? I can’t speak to whether or not there are threats that pose a great danger to him, but I hardly think any such threats would come from the “secular progressive movement” (whatever that is.) I’m atheist (secular) and a Liberal Libertarian (sort of progressive), but no form of opposition to his political views I take would involve physical harm to his person or family. Whoever told him that was projecting his own framework of the world onto the suggestion. He told Carson this because he believed that’s what he would do if he were on the other side. But he has no idea how the other side would think or else he would be ON the other side. They simply don’t get this. I can’t speak for any racist or white supremacist groups, but I won’t dispute he may be in danger. But let the experts in law enforcement who know more about what’s going on than we’ll ever know pinpoint the source of the dangerous threats. I’m sure it will surprise you, Ben.

“But, Wayne, you incredibly handsome and intelligent guy,” you say, “Carson is a man of medical training who must surely understand the medical reasons why an abortion might be necessary. Might he be open-minded enough about that to see why a woman should ultimately be the one to decide if she will have an abortion?” Well, I’d say you were right about me but wrong about Carson. No, he opposes abortion and wants to see Roe v. Wade overturned (never going to happen.) As he said just this past Sunday, he doesn’t even think there should be an exception for cases of rape and incest. The problem is his internal framing of the issue. He likens the collection of cells that is on its way to probably being a human to being a slave, and equates the slave owner’s right to do whatever he wanted to with his property to a woman deciding to kill her own baby (which is not what it is at the point in the pregnancy of which we speak.) Remember the little talk before about Evolution? He doesn’t believe in that, so he doesn’t believe it’s possible that the pregnancy could produce the next species after Homo sapiens sapiens. Or it could produce a mutation that isn’t genetically beneficial to survival of the species, such as the inability to breathe oxygen into your bloodstream. If you believe in Evolution, it is arguable that we’re not necessarily talking about a “human” baby, since we’re talking about something that is only weeks along in its development. And if you believe Women are equal citizens under the law, and if you believe that Everyone should have the right to decide what to do with his or her own body, and if you believe that these choices are just that – choices – that you have the right to make, then you cannot believe Ben Carson would make a good President. Not for this country. Take it from a handsome, intelligent guy. So why is he still running for POTUS?

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Ben Carson, Ben Carson’s fitness or lack thereof to be POTUS, how much less handsome and intelligent Ben Carson is than me, or anything else you wish to discuss.