The Watering Hole, Monday, October 5th, 2015: Mixed Bag Monday


Let’s start off with a bang:  According to Foreign Policy magazine, the same idiots in Congress who tried to stop the Iranian Nuclear Agreement now want to ‘make it up to Bibi’ by giving Israel bunker busters.  An excerpt from this excellently-written article by Jeffrey Davis:

Since the battle over the Iran deal was largely fought over the question of whether proponents loved Israel or not, both sides are talking loudly about providing the country with a big arms package. Those who supported the deal are eager to make it up to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, while those opposed have to find ever more extreme proposals to prove they love Israel more.

This absurd competition — which is primarily about political posturing, not Israeli security — has reached an almost perfect level of absurdity. There is now a growing chorus of people arguing that the United States should give Israel the Massive Ordnance Penetrator — a huge conventional bunker-buster bomb — and a fleet of heavy bombers to drop it.

Israel’s air bases don’t even have runways that can accommodate heavy bombers, though apparently one base — Nevatim — could be modified.**

[**Personal note:  the engineer for whom I used to work had earned the money that enabled him to buy a nice house and start his own business from a contract constructing the Negev Air Base runways.]

Next, let’s go back to the Pope’s meeting with Kim Davis.  Although most news reports agree that the Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S., Carlo Maria Vigano, arranged the visit, so far none seem to have specifically asked or answered “Why?”  Was it solely Reverend Vigano’s idea?  Or – yeah, I’m the suspicious, cynical type – did someone with a stake in a Papal stamp of approval of Kim Davis and her ilk, someone perhaps running for the Presidency, arrange this very, very quietly?  Yeah, I’m looking at you, Huckabee.

Only the Washington Post appears to be curious about the backstory of this now infamous meeting:

Church leaders in the United States and in Rome have been resolutely tight-lipped about the meeting, perhaps concerned about the prospect of appearing to publicly rebuke or challenge the pope, particularly on such a sensitive issue. At the same time, church-watchers have debated and swapped rumors about who set up the meeting, whether it was at the behest of the pope himself, or whether it was an idea pushed by other bishops or religious freedom advocates or donors.

Among those who declined to comment was the Rev. Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States, at whose residence the meeting took place.

Rev. Thomas Rosica, an English-language spokesman for the Vatican, told the Associated Press. “And in the pope’s characteristic kindness and warmth and hospitality, he shook people’s hands and gave them rosaries. We should understand it as that. In terms of why this person was invited, you have to ask those questions of the nunciature.”

A controversial figure both in Rome and in the United States, Viganò has gone further than other church leaders in his campaign against same-sex marriage. Among other things, he appeared at an event this year with the National Organization for Marriage, a group that vocally opposes same-sex marriage and with which U.S. bishops typically don’t publicly ally.

And, of course, Liberty Counsel, and through them Kim Davis, are more or less calling Pope Francis a liar.  According to Christian Today’s article, “Kim Davis denies Vatican account of her meeting with Pope, says she was invited”:

“Disturbed by statements coming from the Vatican, gay marriage nemesis Kim Davis would like to set the records straight that it was the Vatican that extended an “unsolicited invitation” for her to hold a “private meeting” with Pope Francis at the Vatican embassy in Washington D.C. last Sept. 24.

Liberty Counsel, the group representing Davis, said the Kentucky county clerk—who spent six days in jail for defying a court order for her to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples—had spoken with papal representative Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano before she met the Pope.

“This meeting was a private meeting. No other members of the public were present,” Liberty Counsel said.

Davis, accompanied by her husband Joe and lawyer Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, arrived in Washington on the night of Sept. 23, the Liberty Counsel statement said.

The following day, the Davis couple were met by people with “heavy Italian accents” who led them to the Vatican embassy.

“Kim and Joe Davis were placed in a room with no one else present. Later Pope Francis arrived with only Vatican or Embassy personnel and security,” the Liberty Counsel statement said.

“He stretched out his hands. Kim clasped his hands, and he asked her to pray for him. She said she would, and she asked the Pontiff to pray for her, to which he said he would.

“Pope Francis then thanked Kim for her courage. They embraced. The Pope said, ‘Stay strong.’ He then presented Kim and Joe with two rosaries. There was no line of people or other members of the public seen anywhere,” the statement said.

Liberty Counsel said the Vatican requested Davis to keep the meeting a “secret” until the following Tuesday.”

Really?  In this particular case, I have to say that, since Liberty Counsel and Kim Davis are already proven liars, I tend to doubt their account of the “meeting”, which seems to be just another pathetic attempt to keep Liberty Counsel’s pet martyr for Christianity in the limelight.  But I still want to know, who really arranged this on Davis’s behalf with the Papal Ambassador?

Last, a belated birthday present for our resident Turtle:  from National Geographic, glowing sea turtle!

“The critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle is the first reptile scientists have seen exhibiting biofluorescence—the ability to reflect the blue light hitting a surface and re-emit it as a different color. The most common colors are green, red, and orange.”

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

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.

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?

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 14th, 2015: ICYMI Grab Bag

While the “Christian” flavor of the right-wing-religious-nut-jobs have been hogging the limelight lately, there’s been more of ‘teh crazy’ happening over in the Mormon corner. According to an article by Peggy Fletcher Stack in last Thursday’s Salt Lake Tribune, many Mormons, in the belief that the signs are about right for doomsday to arrive, are starting preparations (these Mormons are referred to as “preppers.) Here’s a couple of excerpts from the article, titled “Some Mormons stocking up amid fears that doomsday could come this month”:

“Jordan Jensen, a salesman at Emergency Essentials, said his Bountiful store has been “crazy busy, sales up by definitely a large amount.”
Those 72-hour emergency kits are “almost impossible to keep on the shelves,” Jensen says, “and we get a shipment every day.” A lot of customers, he says, believe “this is the month it will all happen — with a ‘blood moon’ and a currency collapse and everything.”

Here’s how the doomsday scenario plays out: History, some preppers believe, is divided into seven-year periods…In 2008, seven years after 9/11, the stock market crashed, a harbinger of a devastating recession. It’s been seven years since then, and Wall Street has fluctuated wildly in recent weeks in the wake of China devaluing its currency. Thus, they believe, starting Sept. 13, the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days, there will be another, even larger financial crisis, based on the United States’ “wickedness.” That would launch the “days of tribulation” — as described in the Bible. They say Sept. 28 will see a full, red or “blood moon” and a major earthquake in or near Utah. Some anticipate an invasion by U.N. troops, technological disruptions and decline, chaos and hysteria.

Some of these speculations stem from Julie Rowe’s books, “A Greater Tomorrow: My Journey Beyond the Veil” and “The Time Is Now.” Rowe, a Mormon mother of three, published the books in 2014 to detail a “near-death experience” in 2004, when the author says she visited the afterlife and was shown visions of the past and future. Though Rowe rarely gives specific dates for predicted events, she did describe in a Fox News Radio interview “cities of light,” including scores of white tents where people will live in the mountains and sometimes be fed heavenly “manna.” She saw a “bomb from Libya landing in Israel, but Iran will take credit.” And “Gadianton robbers” of Book of Mormon infamy, meaning secret and corrupt leaders, are “already here.”

Okay, that’s the crazy part–now for the scary-crazy part:

Her purpose in speaking out, Rowe told interviewer Kate Dalley, was “to wake more of us up. … We need each other as we unify in righteousness and continue to build a righteous army. When we need to defend the [U.S.] Constitution, we will be ready.”

Oh, great, another right-wing-religious-nut-job cult that doesn’t understand that the Constitution proscribes the very idea of their “righteous” religious rule. Then again, this particular zealot who is trying to build her “righteous army” may not have a whole army of followers:

“For the past year, the popular writer has been sharing her experience and visions at Mormon venues nationwide, drawing crowds of eager — and worried — listeners. Her two books have sold more than 20,000 copies apiece.”

Uh-huh, and probably all 40,000 books are sitting in a Newsmax warehouse or its religious-literature equivalent.

Next, from TheWeatherChannel, cool photos of volcanic ‘blue’ lava, taken by photographer Reuben Wu in East Java, Indonesia.

Last, NASA has some new photos of Pluto to share from New Horizons’ flyby of the “dwarf planet.” Photos of Pluto’s moons will be coming along soon.

This is our daily Open Thread–enjoy!

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 7th, 2015: Buzzwords

I ran across the following comment by “Lando Thig” on a recent ThinkProgress thread about Donald Trump. I thought it was a wonderful snarky compilation of Republican/conservative/TeaParty/racist talking points, lies, and general idiocy.

Lando Thig

I am a Black Republican because:

There is Legitimate Rape, California is a state sponsor of terror, Corporations are People, Ban gay marriage, Obama brought Ebola to kill whites, Jews control the liberal media, Evolution is a myth, End birth right citizenship, Obama will run for a 3rd term, The earth is only 6,000 years old, People are only poor because they are lazy, Illegals will self-deport, Hitler was a good man, School teachers need guns, Global Warming is a myth, Abstinence Only Education works, Blacks are the real racists, Harry Potter teaches Satanism, Al Qaeda has camps on Mexican border, Lower the minimum wage, Voter ID laws allow double voting, I can see Russia from my back porch, Benghazi was Hillary’s crime, Liberals declared war against Christianity, I listen to Rush Limbaugh, Reagan is God, Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, Homosexuality can be cured, Repeal and Replace ObamaCare, Mission Accomplished, Oops!, Birth Control coverage hurt religious freedom, Tax cuts pay for themselves, I’m against Affirmative Action, Welfare equals Communism, We love the NRA, Deport blacks back to Africa, I only watch Fox News, Obummer is a Muslim, Pro-Choice is Pro-Death, NSA spying started under NoBummer, No Pathway to Citizenship, God told me to run for president, US Army plans to invade Texas, Tea Party are patriots, Open Carry by Gun by God, Obama created ISIS, Food Stamps is Fascism, Michelle Obama is a man, ObamaCare will create Death Panels, We need prayer in school, Dems hate the military, Jesus is a Republican, Obummer wants to give Texas to Mexico, Eliminate the EPA, I demand more military spending, NObama was born in Kenya, Democrats are socialists, Obama didn’t kill Osama Bin Laden, We must privatize Public Education, Putin’s a better president than Obama, Stop pensions now, More tax subsidies for the job creators, 47% of Americans are takers, Money is free Speech, Saddam attacked us on 9/11, Reagan proved deficits don’t matter,  Ban citizenship for anchor-babies, Unions kill jobs, Bill Clinton caused 9/11, Companies cross-breed humans and animals, God will close the IRS, Shutdown the government, We need a flat tax, Government’s plotting to take your guns, The Confederate Flag is not racist, Build a border fence, Impeach Obama, Joe the Plummer’s one of us, Bailing out GM was wrong, I support Iraq’s invasion, Libturds hate Freedom, The South Shall Rise Again.

I’ll bet that we could add a few more lines/lies to that list!

This is our daily Open Thread–talk about anything you want.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015: Watery Tart, Eh?

Hmm…do some of these lines from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” seem familiar?

Woman: Oh. How do you do?

King Arthur:  How do you do, good lady? I am Arthur, King of the Britons. Whose castle is that?

Woman:  King of the who?

King Arthur:  King of the Britons.

Woman: Who are the Britons?

King Arthur:  Well, we all are. We are all Britons. And I am your king.

Woman:  I didn’t know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective.

Dennis:  You’re foolin’ yourself! We’re living in a dictatorship. A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working class…

Woman:  Oh, there you go bringing class into it again.

Dennis:  Well, that’s what it’s all about! If only people would…

King Arthur:  Please, please, good people, I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?

Woman:  No one lives there.

King Arthur:  Then who is your lord?

Woman:  We don’t have a lord.

Dennis:   I told you, we’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to be a sort of executive officer for the week...

King Arthur:  Yes…

Dennis:   …but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting…

King Arthur:  Yes I see…

Dennis: …by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs…

King Arthur:  Be quiet!

Dennis: …but by a two thirds majority in the case of…

King Arthur:   Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!

Woman:  Order, eh? Who does he think he is?

King Arthur:  I am your king.

Woman:  Well, I didn’t vote for you.

King Arthur:  You don’t vote for kings.

Woman:  Well how’d you become king then?

[Angelic music plays… ]

King Arthur:  The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.

Dennis:  [interruptingListen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony…Oh, but you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.  [emphasis mine]

I dunno – right now in these “United” States, it seems as good a system as our own.  So…

watery tart

This is our daily Open Thread – go ahead, sound off!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 29th, 2015: Let’s Get Away From It All

This ought to take your minds off of the insanity of the Republican “presidential hopefuls”, if only for a little while.

The Weather Channel has posted the finalists for its 2015 “It’s Amazing Out There” photo contest. So enjoy some cool photos and forget about Teh Stupid.

Here’s one of last year’s photo finalists, a cool shot taken by Dwayne Kear:
2014 Its Amazing Out There photo submitted by Dwayne Kear

So go ahead, refresh your sense of wonder at something other than jaw-dropping idiocy.

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 22nd, 2015: (T)Rump Droppings

First, here’s several nut-filled nuggets from Trump’s interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN:

“Hillary’s record as secretary of state was a disaster…She was in favor, totally in favor, of the Iraq War, which is obviously not a good soundbite.”

Immigration word salad:

“You know, this country is so politically correct. Nobody wants to take a stance on anything…Now they like to use the word undocumented because it’s more political — I don’t use that word. They’re illegal immigrants. They came over illegally. Some are wonderful people, and they’ve been here for a while. They’ve got to go out. They’ve got to leave…These people — the really good ones, and we have some great ones — we’re going to try and expedite so they can come back.  But they’re going to come back legally.”  [According to the article, Trump “said he wouldn’t need to amend the Constitution to do it.”]

“No. 1, the 14th Amendment is very questionable as to whether or not somebody can come over, have a baby and immediately that baby is a citizen. OK?”

“Amending is too big a deal. It’s going to take — it’ll be two terms. I’d be in my second term or my eighth year by the time — assuming everything went smoothly. … I believe you can win it legally.”

According to the article, “He said people can’t be allowed to just “walk over” the border to give birth.”

“You have people on the border and in one day they walk over, have a baby. And now all of a sudden we’re supposed to pay the baby … medical, Social Security…”

“Trump defended his comments [on getting his military strategy by watching current and retired generals on TV]…saying it allows him to get a lot of advice quickly.”

“I watch your show. And I watch other shows. And you have the best generals, the best everything … frankly probably better than I could get,” Trump said. “What do I know? I’m a man that made a great fortune. I’m gonna make our country rich and I’m gonna make our country great.”

“I think that I would be a great sleeper on the military, because people wouldn’t think it’s my strength, but I think it would be one of my strengths…One of the things I noticed in your poll, I came out way, way ahead of everybody on the economy, and a lot of people weren’t surprised to see that, but I also came way out ahead on the military … and ISIS. I would build up our military so strong, so powerful that nobody will mess with us.”

Trump was asked “how he would respond if Pope Francis told him that capitalism can be toxic.”

“I’d say, ‘ISIS wants to get you. You know that ISIS wants to go in and take over the Vatican? You have heard that. You know, that’s a dream of theirs, to go into Italy.”

“I’m gonna have to scare the Pope because it’s the only thing…The Pope, I hope, can only be scared by God. But the truth is — you know, if you look at what’s going on — they better hope that capitalism works, because it’s the only thing we have right now. And it’s a great thing when it works properly.”

It gets worse, as seen in last evening’s thread on ThinkProgress about Trump’s rally in Alabama.

“Oreos. Oreos. I love Oreos, but I’ll never eat them again.”

“Women’s health issues. We’re gonna fix it.”

[According to the CNN article, Trump “said his wife and daughter both encouraged him to talk more about women’s issues after the (Jeb Bush “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues”) controversy.”

“They said, you know, ‘The one thing you should do is talk a little bit about women’s health issues, because you’re so good on it, [y]ou know about it. And you cherish women. You want to protect women’. … I will protect women more than anybody.”]

“I swear to you I will never ever ride a bicycle.”

Had enough Trump for one morning? Yeah, me too.

This is our daily Open Thread…so talk about anything you want.