The Watering Hole, Monday, November 7th, 2016: “Trouble sleeping?”

With the most consequential election of my lifetime now just one day away, a scene from Star Trek: Next Generation’s “Best of Both Worlds” Part 1″ keeps returning to my mind. It takes place before the battle with the Borg, as Captain Picard paces through the Enterprise, and finds Guinan alone in Ten-Forward:

Guinan: “Trouble sleeping?”

Capt. Picard: “It’s something of a tradition, Guinan – Captain touring the ship before a battle.”

Guinan: “Hmm. Before a *hopeless* battle, if I remember the tradition correctly.”

Capt. Picard: “Not necessarily. Nelson toured the HMS Victory before Trafalgar.”

Guinan: “Yes, but Nelson never returned from Trafalgar, did he?”

Capt. Picard: “No, but the battle was won.”

Guinan: “Do you expect this battle to be won?”

Capt. Picard: “We may yet prevail. That’s a… a conceit. But… it’s a healthy one. I wonder if the Emperor Honorius watching the Visigoths coming over the seventh hill truly realized that the Roman Empire was about to fall. This is just another page in history, isn’t it? Will this be the end of *our* civilization? Turn the page.”

I wish that I had the calmness, almost equanimity, with which Captain Picard views the possibility of approaching doom and the likely takeover of the United Federation of Planets by a heartless, merciless “race.” I cannot view a similar fate for our country without a feeling of utter dread.

“We may yet prevail” as Picard says, if by “prevail” one means that Hillary Rodham Clinton wins the Presidency. If that happens, in my humble opinion, we the sane will have only one night, possibly, to feel the relief of dodging a bullet. As long-time students of politics and human nature, particularly ‘American’ human nature, we Critters and Zoosters and other reality-based folks are all too well aware that a final election result which denies Donald Trump the Presidency is just the beginning. There inevitably will be a barrage of ‘bullets’, figuratively at best, to continue to dodge. And it may well “be the end of *our* ‘civilization’.”

Guinan offers hope of a sort:

Guinan: “This isn’t the end.”

Capt. Picard: You say that with remarkable assuredness.”

Guinan: “With experience. When the Borg destroyed my world, my people were scattered throughout the universe. We survived – as will humanity survive. As long as there’s a handful of you to keep the spirit alive, you will prevail – even if it takes a millennium.”

And while Guinan could be right, that “[t]his isn’t the end”, I wish that *our* people were able to scatter throughout the universe. “Humanity” may survive, but will it still be recognizable as “human”?

This is our daily Open Thread–talk me down?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 24th, 2016: 353 and Counting

So, another day, another mass shooting. This one took place last night at the Macy’s store in the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington. According to the info on Raw Story’s coverage of the shooting, four women were killed while shopping in the Macy’s cosmetics department. The shooter, described as a young Hispanic male, is still at large, and no motive or explanation has yet been reported.

But already, the “good guy with a gun”-lovers are out there shooting their mouths off – and I honestly wish that were literally true, so we sane people wouldn’t have to hear their idiocy. One example is from a guy named Michael Parker whom I’ve argued with before on various ThinkProgress threads:

“Michael Parker Had I been at this mall I would have engaged the shooter with my concealed carry weapon. Never mind…Washington State does not honor my Virginia concealed carry permit so I would have run for the hills like the rest of the sheep. Thank God Virginia recognizes Washington State concealed carry permits so if this happened in Virginia a visiting concealed carry Washington resident could have engaged the shooter. Last December, the Virginia Attorney General tried to limit Virginia’s concealed carry reciprocity to just 5 states. The NRA and the Virginia Legislators got involved…yada, yada, yada ….and now Virginia recognizes the concealed carry permits from all 50 states.”

Another commenter sarcastically said:

“Obviously we need more guns and fewer gun regulations. What could go wrong? Just suspend every one of the Bill of Rights except the 2nd Amendment and America will be great again.”

To which another gun-totin’ hero-wannabe replied:

“You are correct. That is PRECISELY what we need. Had there been a concealed carry weapon’s holder at the mall, like there was in Minnesota, the threat would have been neutralized. It’s stories like this PRECISELY why i carry a firearm.”

Apparently women shopping for cosmetics should only do so in states that allow the gun-carrying menfolk to protect the little ladies while they do so. Dog knows that going unarmed into Macy’s is just too fucking dangerous, so ladies, always expect the unexpected while you’re trying a new shade of lipstick–dontcha know, the real reason why there’s so many mirrors in cosmetics departments is so that we can scope out the folks behind us for possible shooters, not so that we can see how some silly makeup looks on us!

So, wait, how does this work with our big bad menfolk totin’ guns (concealed- OR open-carry) into a mall? As Bill Maher discussed last night – and Wayne and I have discussed before this – open-carry, at least, is quite honestly only safe for WHITE MEN to do. In an open-carry state, one probably won’t see too many men of color packing heat – or at least not for long, as SOMEONE will either shoot them ‘just because’, or report them to the police, who will come and shoot the ‘suspicious’ armed black man on sight.

As noted in the ThinkProgress thread, “There have been 353 mass shootings in the United States in 2016, according to the Mass Shootings Tracker.” C’mon, you crazy shooters, there’s still plenty of time left in 2016, let’s see how high you can make that number go before the new year! And you “good guy(s) with a gun”, Christmas shopping is just around the corner, and the malls will be packed, so get your gunz and ammo ready!

This is our daily Open Thread, so talk about gunz or whatever else you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 19th. 2016: The Johnson Amendment

The Johnson Amendment refers to a change in the U.S. tax code made in 1954 which prohibited certain tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates.

The Internal Revenue Service website elaborates upon this prohibition as follows:

[4] Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

The Internal Revenue Service provides resources to exempt organizations and the public to help them understand the prohibition. As part of its examination program, the IRS also monitors whether organizations are complying with the prohibition.

[4] “The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations”. Irs.gov. 2012-08-14. Archived from the original on 2 December 2010. Retrieved 2012-09-09.

Keeping this in mind, let’s turn to the main “Politics” page of The Christian Post. I noticed two articles there regarding the tax-exempt status of certain religious organizations. However, since one of them purports to prove through Biblical scriptures that churches are supposed to get involved in politics – “Preaching on Politics Is Biblical”, By Rev. Mark H. Creech: “To argue that pastors should avoid all politicking and just stick to preaching, I suggest, is not only unbiblical but un-American” – which is a ridiculous pile of horse manure, I’ll focus on the other one.

The article by Samuel Smith discusses a survey which found that the vast majority of Americans (79%) feel that “pastors should not endorse political candidates.

Nearly eight out of 10 Americans believe it’s inappropriate for pastors to endorse political candidates at church, while over seven in 10 Americans feel it’s inappropriate for churches to endorse political candidates.
As part of a LifeWay Research survey released last week, 1,000 randomly selected Americans were asked over the phone about their views on whether or not it’s appropriate for clergy and churches to endorse politicians for political office.

The survey comes as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has vowed to repeal the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which puts churches at risk of losing their tax-exempt status if they endorse political candidates or if their pastors endorse political candidates in church.

According to the survey, which has a plus-or-minus 3.6 percentage point margin of error, 79 percent of the respondents either somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with the sentence: “I believe it is appropriate for pastors to publicly endorse candidates for public office during a church service.”

Meanwhile, 75 percent of respondents said they somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with churches endorsing political candidates for public office. Additionally, 81 percent of respondents somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with churches using their resources to campaign for political candidates.

As it does not violate the Johnson Amendment for a pastor to endorse a political candidate outside church as a citizen, 53 percent of respondents somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with pastors endorsing candidates outside of their role in the church. Only 43 percent somewhat agreed or strongly agreed with it being appropriate for a pastor to endorse a candidate for public office outside of the church.

Although many Americans might not think it’s appropriate for pastors or churches to endorse political candidates, 52 percent of respondents felt that churches should not be stripped of their tax-exempt status for endorsing candidates.

“I don’t think pastors should endorse candidates and I don’t think churches should endorse candidates,” said Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary and a member of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board, to The Christian Post on Tuesday.

“They should be looking for candidates who endorse them, but I believe that should be a decision that is left to the churches, not dictated by the government,” added Land, who is also CP’s executive editor. “I favor the repeal of the Johnson Amendment but at the same time, I don’t think that churches ought to endorse political candidates. That ought to be a decision made by the individual church, not dictated to them by the government. To me, that is a violation of the First Amendment. How does that fit with the free** exercise of religion?”

Dr. Richard Land is “President of Southern Evangelical Seminary and a member of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board“, as well as being the Christian Post’s executive editor.  To quote The Church Lady, “How conVEENient!”  Of course you favor the repeal of the Johnson Amendment.  I find it highly unlikely, however, that you “don’t think that churches ought to endorse political candidates.”  Your idea that it “ought to be a decision made by the individual church, not dictated to them by the government”, and that it’s “a violation of the First Amendment”, is totally ludicrous.

Left up to the individual churches, how long will it be before (at least) thousands of dioceses gleefully dive into the political cesspool?  And how would this NOT be a religious entity’s version of Citizens United – rather than a corporation, it’s a “church” that is now a “person” with the same expansive “free speech” rights, (i.e., to take up a special collection during Mass or its equivalent, a ritual which can be used to shame any who do not contribute towards influencing political outcomes and policies.)

The survey data was broken down into religious demographics and found that Protestants (20 percent) are more likely than Catholics (13 percent) to agree with it being appropriate for pastors to endorse candidates. About 27 percent of self-identified evangelical Protestants feel it’s appropriate for pastors to endorse candidates.

About 33 percent of self-identified evangelical Protestants said it’s appropriate for churches to endorse political candidates, while only 27 percent of Protestants and 18 percent of Catholics agree.

“My main concern would be that churches would end up being embarrassed by the later behavior of politicians they have endorsed. Richard Nixon comes to mind,” Land said. “When Billy Graham heard the Watergate tapes, he went into the bathroom and vomited because he was so upset that Nixon was so different than the person he had presented himself to be.”

So, Dr. Land, when was the first time that Donald Trump’s shady dealings, incessant lying and boasting, badly-cloaked hints to his Trumpkins to exercise their Second Amendment rights to “stop Crooked Hillary”, etc., etc. – when was the first time all of that made YOU run into the bathroom and vomit? I’m willing to bet NEVER. And I can’t even (don’t want to) imagine just what it will finally take, what ever-more-hideous and dangerous idiocies, pronouncements or behaviors, will finally open your eyes to the fact that you are supporting a monster who is lying through his teeth about being a Christian in any sense of the word. FFS, Trump actually says that he doesn’t ask god for forgiveness, because he doesn’t feel that he has done anything that needs divine forgiveness! The arrogance and ignorance of Charlatan Trump make a well-deserved mockery of your craven acceptance of all of Trump’s evil, decidedly un-Christian “moral values.” You sold your soul to play a fool for Trump, and I hope that you puke your rotten guts out when the realization hits you.

Land added that when churches and pastors get involved in endorsing candidates, that can “turn off people we are trying to reach.”

“If you endorse Republican candidates, you are going to seemingly make it more difficult to reach Democrats with the Gospel,” he said.

Another thing that Dr. Land doesn’t realize is that many of the religious folk who actually try to follow Christ’s teachings are Democrats. But you’d never reach them with the kind of “Gospel” that Evangelicals preach. Don’t forget that “gospel” meant “good news”, which is something that, IMO, Evangelicals don’t talk about much – too busy trying to frighten their flocks of sheep.

Land concluded that the church’s role is to make sure that their congregants understand the biblical positions on political issues. However, it is up to each voter to “connect the dots” at the voting booth.

“I think that the church, we are commanded to be salt and light, so we can get involved on issues and we make it clear where the Bible stands on issues,” Land said. “But, we have to leave it to the people to connect** their own dots.”

**The word “free” was highlighted as a link in this story at CP’s site, as was the word “connect” noted below. Instead of providing further enlightenment of what defines the ‘”free” exercise of religion, it actually links to a Pizza Hut(TM) coupon/deal offer. How sacred!

Hey, don’t forget to check out the Christian Post’s “Most Popular” threads (lower right sidebar), the subjects of which do NOT do anything to disabuse me of the conclusion that “Evangelical” “Christians” are ghoulish nosy perverts.

This is our daily Open Thread – what’s on your mind?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 23, 2016: Ego

The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of ego:

Noun:

1.      A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance

1.1    Psychoanalysis The part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity

1.2    Philosophy (In metaphysics) a conscious thinking subject.

Synonyms: self-esteem, self-importance, self-worth, self-respect, self-conceit, self-image, self-confidence;

Now, let’s take a brief look at Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s ego:

1. Trump’s self-esteem? Off the charts–his self-descriptions include being “the greatest” this, the “best” that, the “most” whatever. Anyone who claims otherwise is just “wrong” or “stupid”, or has some imaginary personal beef against Trump, because in no way will Donald Trump admit to any ignorance, mistake, lie, or out-and-out wrongdoing. Which leads to…

1.1 Trump’s ego cannot “mediate” between the conscious and unconscious. Reality testing?! Trump’s conscious and unconscious create their own reality, and it’s a reality that he seems to feel no need to test. His “reality” is part-and-parcel of his personal identity, and it is impenetrable by truth, facts, and even Trump’s own previous words or deeds.

1.2 While Trump may be “conscious” in the literal sense of the word, he is not a “thinking” subject.

With his penchant for superlatives, Trump might possibly think that he has a “superego“, but the OED’s definition of superego leads me to believe that Trump’s ego vanquished his superego a long time ago:

Noun:
Psychoanalysis The part of a person’s mind that acts as a self-critical conscience, reflecting social standards learned from parents and teachers

“Self-critical”?  Rarely and barely.  Hell, Trump told evangelicals that he didn’t feel the need to go to confession, since he doesn’t think that anything he does is wrong.  And I learned things like manners, respect and intellectual curiosity from my parents and teachers, apparently unlike Trump.

Trump has a dysfunctional relationship with the truth. According to Politifact, only 8.4% of Trump’s statements have been factual.  Their review of Trump’s statements shows that a whopping 70% of Trump’s statements are rated “Mostly False”, “False”, or “Pants on Fire.” Here’s one of the “Pants on Fire” stories:

“The day after the 2016 Republican National Convention, Trump said his vanquished Republican rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, had never denied that his father was in a 1963 photo with Lee Harvey Oswald, who went on to assassinate President John F. Kennedy that November.

Trump said: “All I did is point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast. Now, Ted never denied that it was his father. Instead he said, ‘Donald Trump.’ I had nothing to do with it. This was a magazine that frankly, in many respects, should be very respected.”

[The idea that ‘the National Enquirer should be very respected’ should rate a “Pants on Fire” of its own.]

Politifact gave Trump the “2015 Lie of The Year” award to The Donald.  An excerpt:

“…a little hyperbole never hurts,” Trump wrote in his 1987 best-seller The Art of the Deal. “People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

[Ah, and that explains “Trump University.”]

Next, here’s a glib, almost superficial, and often sickeningly fawning article from the Washington Post, by AP “reporter” Nancy Benar, titled “For Trump, it’s about America’s ego — and his own.” Some key excerpts:

“Almost every deal I have ever done has been at least partly for my ego,” the billionaire declared in a 1995 New York Times piece titled, “What My Ego Wants, My Ego Gets.”

“The same assets that excite me in the chase often, once they are acquired, leave me bored,” he told an interviewer in 1990, as his boom years were sliding toward bust. “For me, you see, the important thing is the getting, not the having.”

Trump,[sic] stresses his Ivy League education and revels in juvenile jabs, labeling his adversaries “stupid,” ‘’dumb” and “bad.”

“I know words,” he declared at a December campaign rally where he criticized the Obama administration. “I have the best words. But there’s no better word than stupid, right?”

Wrong, Mr. Trump. As a Presidential candidate, now nominee, some of the “best words” that you should memorize the meanings for are:  honesty, integrity, class, civility, respect, humility and responsibility. I know that these terms and ideas are foreign to you, but you should familiarize yourself with them – there might be a quiz between now and November.

This is our daily Open Thread–feel free to talk about this or any other topic.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 16th, 2016: ICYMI – The Only Good News This Week

Not only will Bill Maher be covering the Republican National Convention, but we’ll also have the king of political comedy, Jon Stewart, joining Stephen Colbert to cover both the RNC and the DNC. IMHO, this is the best news in a long time, and I’m looking forward to (hopefully) having some good laughs before weeping at the terrible decline of this nation on ugly, garish display.

In the meantime, I collected some happy gifs that commenters at Raw Story posted. Enjoy!

colbert and jon stewart drink tea

colbert popcorn

jon stewart popcorn

colbert yes nice you like

jon stewart happy moves

calvin and hobbes happy dancing

the doctor oh yes

This is our daily Open Thread, so go ahead and talk about stuff.

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 27th, 2016: “You Keep Using That Word…”

To paraphrase Inigo Montoya, with the word in question being “Liberal” instead of “Inconceivable!” (you have to read “Inconceivable!” in Wallace Shawn’s voice, of course): “You [conservatives] keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

The premise of the following three Christian Post articles is a discussion of recent books about the various authors’ [mistaken] ideas regarding liberals. I started out trying to keep this somewhat brief, but in the interests of keeping the salient points in context, it took on a life of its own. I’ll just share a excerpt of each.

In the earliest of the three articles, “Is Free Speech Just for Liberals?” CP guest contributor Susan Stamper Brown sez:

In the biography, “Churchill: A Life,” author Martin Gilbert writes how Winston Churchill loudly voiced his grave concerns about the apathy shared by those seemingly impervious to the malevolent National Socialist Movement’s intention to steam through Europe like volcanic lava, destroying everything in its way, including free speech.
In direct response, Hitler began warning Germans about the “dangers of free speech” and said, “If Mr. Churchill had less to do with traitors … he would see how mad his talk is …”

History revealed whose talk was really mad.

Truth is, Churchill’s words touched a nerve the annoying way truth always does. Hitler was incapable of engaging in intelligent debate, so he changed the subject, lied, and attacked Churchill’s character. Hitler knew his movement couldn’t stand on its own for what it really was, so the only alternative was to silence opposing views.

Throughout Germany books were banned and ceremoniously cast into blazing bonfires intended to squash divergence of thought and stifle man’s God-instilled unquenchable thirst for truth.

Historical accountings provide a glimpse into the warped psyche of those behind a movement that wrongheadedly believed they could build something worthwhile by shutting down debate, then dividing a nation by race and ethnicity.

They coldly chose their target, the Jewish race, and purged some of the greatest minds in history from all levels of teaching. Schools and universities suffered.

Before the movement decided to burn bodies as well as books, Historyplace.com cites that “Jewish instructors and anyone deemed politically suspect regardless of their proven teaching abilities or achievements including 20 past (and future) Nobel Prize winners” were removed from their professions, among them Albert Einstein.

I would’ve been one of those “purged professionals,” based on what I’ve heard lately from some disgruntled left-leaning readers. Because of my personal opinion about the president, one reader called me “a racist,” a “religious bigot,” and “a political terrorist.” While calling me a “political terrorist” is noteworthy at least, most telling is this poor man’s statement that my column, as offensive as it was to him, “was permitted” in his newspaper.

Apparently, free speech is just for leftists.

After that, the author continued to talk more about herself, so I tuned her out. I probably should have done so when she first mentioned Hitler, but her description of Hitler’s reaction, which I highlighted above, sounded so much like Trump that I had to share it with you.

In the next article, “If Intolerant Liberals Succeed, ‘Conservatives Should Be Very Afraid,’ Expert Says”, by CP’s Napp Nazworth, the breaking point came after this bullshit:

Conservatives would have much to fear if intolerant liberals succeed in their goal of transforming America, says Kim R. Holmes, author of “The Closing of the Liberal Mind: How Groupthink and Intolerance Define the Left.”
The illiberal, or intolerant, Left has come to define liberalism in the United States today, Holmes told The Christian Post, and if these liberals gain control of the Supreme Court and other levers of government, conservatives will be punished for their views.

Then these portions of the interview with the author:

CP: Why did you want to write this book?
Holmes: Like a lot of people I saw how closed-minded and intolerant progressivism had become. Whether it was speech codes or “safe spaces” on campuses, or attorneys general issuing subpoenas against so-called climate change “deniers,” abuses in the name of progressivism were getting worse.

I wanted to understand why. I wanted to tell the story of how a liberalism that had once accepted freedom of speech and dissent had become its opposite — a close-minded ideology intent on denying people their freedoms and their constitutionally protected rights.

CP: Liberalism was once defined by tolerance and open-mindedness, but liberals have become increasingly intolerant and closed-minded. We are beginning to see this phrase “illiberal liberal” more often, which gets confusing. How are we to make sense of what liberal means today?

Holmes: A classic liberal is someone who believes in open inquiry, freedom of expression and a competition of ideas. Its founders were people like John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and Alexis de Tocqueville. Among its most important ideas are freedom of conscience and speech; individual (as opposed to group) rights; and checks and balances in government.

Although progressives are sometimes referred to as “liberals,” they are not classic liberals in this sense. They are philosophically more akin to socialists or social democrats. Classic liberalism as defined here is actually closer to the views of American conservatives and libertarians than to progressives and leftists.

The term “illiberalism” is the opposite of this classic style of liberalism; it represents a political mindset that is closed-minded, intolerant and authoritarian. Although illiberalism can be historically found on the right (fascism) and the left (communism), it is today not commonly associated with American progressives. Nevertheless, it should be.

Progressives are becoming increasingly illiberal not only in their mindset but in the authoritarian methods they use to impose their views on others.

~~ and ~~

CP: Last week, President Barack Obama sent a letter to all public schools threatening to withhold federal funds if they don’t change their bathroom and locker room policies to allow use based upon gender identity rather than biological sex. Does the Left’s new intolerance help us understand Obama’s actions?

Holmes: Yes. Obama comes out of this illiberal strain of the left.

Last, this misleadingly-named piece of utter drivel written by CP’s Brandon Showalter, “Liberals Use Gov’t Power, Intimidation, to Silence Christians, Author Says.” It doesn’t take long to realize that by “Christians”, both the author of the article and the author of the book actually mean “conservatives”, and the complaint is about the fight against “Citizens United”:

WASHINGTON – Conservatives and Christians are being intimidated by the Left and an increasingly abusive government, says Kimberly Strassel, author of The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Waging War of Free Speech.
In a Thursday presentation at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Strassel told The Christian Post that overt hostility and harassment of people of faith “is clearly a big issue.”

In light of the 2013 IRS scandal where it was discovered that conservative and Christian groups were unfairly targeted, CP asked Strassel how many people she interviewed had experienced an overt assault on their faith.

While “the people that I talked to generally felt as though all their views were under attack,” Strassel said, “they certainly felt as though one aspect of them, was in fact their faith.”

“We are seeing this a lot, obviously, in the war on faith out there that we have had with the battles over Obamacare and contraception,” she added.

In her book Strassel examines the Left’s penchant, particularly in the Obama years, for bullying their opponents and their use of government agencies to silence citizens from participating in the political process.

Although she touched on several facets of the Left’s intimidation game in her presentation, the core issue she covered was the right of Americans to form associations and participate in representative government. This the Left cannot abide when conservatives do it successfully, she argued.

“The reality is that money is a proxy for speech,” Strassel contended, and Americans have always formed groups to get their message out. To the incredulity of the Left, she argued we we need more money, not less, in politics. More money means more speech. More free speech yields a more vigorous debate and a healthier democracy.

Let me repeat those last two lines: More money means more speech. More free speech yields a more vigorous debate and a healthier democracy.”  What happened to the “FREE” part of “FREE SPEECH”?

Money CANNOT equal speech – the poorest man can still speak and vote – well, vote ONCE; on the other hand, the richest man can buy as many votes as he wants.  The whole argument of Citizens United was and is specious, and the Supremes fucked us over real good when they decided on that piece of shit.

Here’s a pretty picture to give your mind a break.
GLORY10

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 11th, 2016: Front Pages

While “news”papers in New York run the gamut of “journalism” from the gutter (New York Post) to the “elite” (New York Times), we’ve always had The New York Daily News somewhere in between. As a lifelong New Yorker, I grew up with the Daily News and the NYT in my house, as my dad would read both: the DN mainly for the sports, and the NYT for ‘real’ news. Back then, the Daily News didn’t usually use the kinds of front covers that the New York Post has been famous for, but the times they are a-changing, and “New York’s Hometown Paper” has lately been going all out on the 2016 Presidential election.

Last night I was reading a very interesting Daily News political opinion piece, written by conservative Tom Nichols, regarding Hillary Clinton’s recent “foreign policy” speech in which she focused on how dangerous Donald Trump’s so-called “foreign policy” could be. At one point in the article, a shot of one of the pertinent Daily News covers was included, which led to the Daily News 2016 campaign covers photo gallery that I’m offering for your entertainment today.

Some of them are priceless, including several referencing Ted Cruz’s idiotic “New York values” line, such as “Take the F-U Train, Ted!”, which includes a small inset that starts with “WE GOT your NY values right here, Ted!”, so very typical of New Yorkers.
Some are just plain groaners, such as the recent “Weak End at Bernie’s”, or (regarding Bernie Sanders’ ‘meeting’ with the Pope) “He Said, See Said”.

But the best ones are about NY’s own (to our eternal shame) Donald Trump. The Daily News and New Yorkers have known The Donald for a very long time, and, as the saying goes, “familiarity breeds contempt.” I won’t spoil it for you. Just enjoy the covers (and skip through the obnoxiously ubiquitous ads, sorry about those.)

This is our daily Open Thread–what’s on YOUR minds?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 21st, 2016: Contents Under Pressure

Yesterday at work, after glancing at my calendar, I did a mental double-take, thinking, ‘holy jeez, it’s May 20th already, 2016 is going by too quickly!’ Later, after some Trump BS refocused my attention on the upcoming election, my thoughts changed to, ‘holy jeez, there’s still nearly six months until the election, I wish we could just jump ahead to November and get it done and over with!’

I doubt if any of us, during the campaign season that led up to King George being anointed by the SCOTUS, and even during the eight years that we (and the rest of the world) suffered through under the BushCo maladministration, ever thought that any candidate for the Presidency could come along who was even more unqualified than Dubya, and just as amoral as Darth Cheney. The stress of those years pales in comparison to what we, and everyone else in the reality-based world, are experiencing during this unbelievably mind-numbing Trump campaign.

A continual state of stress is unhealthy for an individual both physically and mentally, as we all can attest to. Is it any wonder that the heightened stress of these last several months is having an even worse impact on so many Americans than that of the Bush years, even with the never-ending war(s), the “you’re either with us or against us” mantra, and the economic crash that affected every American except those who caused it?

And after BushCo, the undercurrent of American racism, which slowly became ‘acceptable’ when President Obama won in 2008, turned into the norm in an ever-growing and ever-more-violent tide that has eroded the foundations of the Republic nearly to the point of collapse. Even if Donald Trump doesn’t win the Presidency, will the added pressure and stress of the national and international turmoil brought about by Trump’s – and his followers’ – jingoism, ignorance and hatred be too overwhelming to keep this Union intact?

Personally, I think something’s got to blow under all of this pressure, because it’s not going to ease anytime soon. It only leads one to question: when, how big, and how toxic will the fallout be?

This is our daily Open Thread – what’s on YOUR mind?

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 9th, 2016: Are We There Yet?

Here’s two (well, sort of – you’ll see what I mean) predictions about frightening futures, which we seem to be fulfilling here in the largest superpower on the planet.

First, an interesting article entitled “Neil Postman Predicted Trumpocalypse 30 Years Ago”, by Dr. Richard D. Land at the Christian Post. Dr. Land discusses a 1985 book by Neil Postman called Amusing Ourselves to Death. Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. An excerpt:

Postman started off his book by contrasting the two most dystopian visions of modern civilization’s future, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932).
Postman’s contrast of the two dystopian visions of the future is chilling:

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies . . .”

The Internet has changed the basic DNA of our culture, including our social and personal relationships and our information access. It has radically democratized communication, while at the same time condemning any effective editorial or verifying filter as the unwelcome control of a hated elite. Consequently, we are being engulfed not only in a sea of moral relativism, but information relativism as well. The immersion of our culture in Internet speak has brought us perilously close to a denial, if not a revocation of the late, great, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s statement that “you are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” Now, opinions too often masquerade as facts, and fewer and fewer know the difference and increasingly fewer care.

As Postman pointed out, Huxley was trying to warn the future “that what afflicted people in Brave New World was not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did not know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now a more pithy prediction in a similar vein, from Carl Sagan’s 1996 “The Demon-Haunted World”:
sagan hauntedHave we arrived at any – or all of – these future visions?

This is our daily Open Thread – you know what to do.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 30th, 2016: The View from Outside

We’re all tired of the U.S. media’s love/hate minute-by-minute coverage of The Donald, so I thought that ThinkProgress’s article on Trump’s international coverage might be interesting.

Occasionally humorous, i.e.:

MEXICO: “…the man who managed to make us miss the Bush clan” and “El Deforma, a satirical news site similar to The Onion…has included articles about Canada building a wall in case of a Trump victory and Pink Floyd building the wall if Mexico doesn’t pay for it.”

SOUTH AFRICA: “South Africa’s the New Age called Trump “arguably the most successful internet troll in today’s political spectrum,” noting that much of his social media commentary “reads like a laundry list of troll tactics.”

Sometimes insightful:

CANADA: “…the Globe and Mail’s conservative columnist Margaret Wente noted that a majority of Americans “would rather swallow arsenic than vote for Mr. Trump” and predicted his fall. “If Donald Trump were a stock, my advice would be to sell it now,” she wrote. “The one thing that has to happen is that Mr. Trump will have to change. And he can’t. His most deadly foe is himself. Mr. Trump has no situational awareness. He has no ability to take advice, or build bridges, or learn from others, or direct a team.”

Some surprisingly self-serving and hypocritical:

ISRAEL: ““As an Israeli Who Loves America, I Am Worried by Trump,” wrote Ari Shavit in the liberal publication Haaretz after a series of Trump victories in February. “After the astounding victories of the vulgar populist in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, it is clear to all that America is no longer the country we have known. It is no longer a nation with a prudent economic establishment, a contented middle class and a stable political system. It is no longer a nation confident in itself, its identity and its future. It is a frightened, angry America. An America that has lost its way,” he wrote. “To an Israeli who spends considerable time in debates about Israel between Boston and San Francisco, Trump is a relief. Suddenly Israeli politics seem a little less embarrassing.”

“…in March, Naomi Zeveloff published a piece in the Forward on how Trump’s offensive style was actually winning many Israeli admirers. “If America elects a person who advocates discrimination and condescension and even resentment toward minorities, maybe we won’t be so criticized by the West,” Yaron Ezrahi, a professor emeritus of political science at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, explained to Zeveloff regarding Israeli right-wing thinking on Trump.”

The TP article is very long with loads of links, and overall it’s pretty disturbing. But I recommend wading through it.

This is our daily Open Thread–okay, it’s the now-usually-Late-Afternoon Saturday edition. Go ahead and talk about stuff.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 27th, 2016: Antidote

I’ve been up all night wallowing in the dregs of American “humanity”, IOW, reading headlines and comments on various internet sites. Right now I don’t even want to think about what a despicable, bigoted, uncaring, brutish devolution of a formerly (somewhat) civilized society we’ve become.

So, since I’ve blown right through sunrise here in the east, missing it completely, I’m putting up someone else’s glorious and unusually-tinted sunrise photo as an antidote to the darkness in my mind and soul. I hope it soothes your souls, too.
Golden Sunrise

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

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 25th, 2016: All-“Christian” Edition

Today’s offerings are from two sites whose only thing in common seems to be that they both have the word “Christian” in their names.

First, let’s look at a few things from the Christian Post website (the more ‘persecuted-RW-Christian’ site.)

The Christian Post has sent the 2016 Presidential candidates a list of 12 questions which they feel are most important for the candidates to answer. So far, only two Republican candidates, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, have responded.

Here’s Ben Carson’s responses, a few of which I’d like to comment upon:

2. What is marriage, and what should be the government’s interest and role in marriage?
Like many Christians, I believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman in the witness of God. The government’s interest and role in marriage should be to protect and sanctify this institution[emphasis mine] because it is the cornerstone of our society. Raising families with two parents is key to a child’s development, and marriage is a strong institution that solidifies this crucial social structure. Marriage combines the efforts of two people to provide for and raise children, and gives children two parental figures to love and care for them.

Okay – First, define “sanctify”. According to Wikipedia:

“Sanctification is the act or process of acquiring sanctity, of being made or becoming holy.[1] “Sanctity” is an ancient concept widespread among religions. It is a gift given through the power of God to a person or thing which is then considered sacred or set apart in an official capacity within the religion, in general anything from a temple, to vessels, to days of the week, to a human believer who willingly accepts this gift can be sanctified. To sanctify is to literally “set apart for particular use in a special purpose or work and to make holy or sacred.”

So Carson believes that the U.S. Government has role in every citizen’s marriage, and that role is to make it “holy or sacred”? Does that make the U.S. Government a god?   Doesn’t that conflict with the Establishment Clause?  If Ben Carson believes that marriage is such a strong institution, why not rail against divorce? Christians get divorced at the same – or higher – rate as any other group, not to mention that divorce is said to be a big sin in the eyes of Jesus. If Jesus thought divorce was so wrong, but didn’t mention homosexuality, why can’t the “key” two-parents-must-raise-a-child be in a same-sex marriage?

10. What are your priorities related to both protecting the nation’s natural resources and using those resources to provide for the nation’s energy needs?

Energy is the life-blood that keeps our economy growing. It fuels the tractors that plow America’s fields. It powers the trucks, trains and planes that deliver American products. And it drives the American people in their everyday lives. If we want to return America to its former prosperity, we need to ensure that America’s energy grid is not only reliable, but affordable. That means looking into all potential energy sources to find the most efficient, most effective and more reliable energy grid possible.

We can’t afford to mandate unrealistic fuel standards or price-inflating renewable mandates. But as these energy sources compete head to head, technological advancements and innovations will help drop costs and raise efficiencies even further.

[and the money quote]

When it comes to the environment, we should be good stewards of God’s resources, but the best way to do that is through market-based mechanisms and private efforts, not via government edicts that destroy businesses and intrude into citizens’ lives.

Yeah, because I’m sure that “God” was thinking of “market-based mechanisms and private efforts” when he told mankind to be good stewards of Earth. And wasn’t Carson just talking about how “government” should have an “interest” and “a role” in a couple’s marriage, i.e., “intrud[ing] into citizens’ lives”, and very personally, I might add? But the “government” shouldn’t be involved in determining how the entire country uses its natural resources, because that would “intrud[e] into citizens’ lives”?  Carson has very mixed, and incorrect, notions of what government’s priorities should be.

12. What caused the Great Recession, and what should be done to ensure it doesn’t happen again?

A number of factors contributed to the global financial crisis, but what became clear was that when bankers engaged in highly leveraged financial bets, ordinary taxpayers ended up footing the bill for the big banks’ bailouts.

I believe that certain types of regulations are reasonable for regulating financial markets. For instance, Glass-Steagall was a reasonable piece of legislation after the 1929 stock market crash, and perhaps should be re-imposed in a modified form.

This does not mean that the regulations imposed after the financial crisis were appropriate. In fact, Dodd-Frank is a monstrosity that does not address the root cause of the crisis, imposes heavy burdens on community banks, severely limits the freedom of financial institution to engage in ordinary business and saps economic growth with restrictive government controls.

I believe that when such government regulations choke economic growth, it is the poor and the middle class that are hurt the most.

Carson (or whoever wrote his ‘responses’ for him) must have just skimmed the “U.S. Economic History, Late 20th – Early 21st Century” Cliff Notes(TM), latching on to just enough topical buzzwords and meaningless phrases to put together a few sentences. Too many points there to elaborate on, I’ll let you all pick them apart if you wish.

And here’s Carly Fiorina’s responses. I’m just going to comment on one of them.

10. What are your priorities related to both protecting the nation’s natural resources and using those resources to provide for the nation’s energy needs?

Fiorina: As president, I will ensure that the United States is the global energy powerhouse of the 21st century.

That means reinstating the Keystone XL Pipeline that President Obama rejected. It also means rolling back the regulations from this administration that limit our ability to find resources by imposing regulations on hydraulic fracturing and our ability to be energy independent by regulating drilling on federal lands. As president, I will make America an energy leader through technology and innovation.

No, no, no! Fiorina is just so wrong, it’s hard to believe that she could possibly be serious. Keystone XL, fracking, and drilling, and on OUR federal lands, no less? How does one become an “energy leader through technology and innovation” while relying solely on finite, filthy fossil fuels? Aaarrgghhh!

Let’s turn to the Christian Science Monitor for a few things that are more reality-based and inspiring.

First, I’m sure that you’re all aware by now that Earth may have a new neighbor, as astronomers announced the possibility of a hidden ninth planet.

The evidence for the existence of this “Planet Nine” is indirect at the moment; computer models suggest a big, undiscovered world has shaped the strange orbits of multiple objects in the Kuiper Belt, the ring of icy bodies beyond Neptune.

Next, we can once again thank the Hubble telescope and NASA for showing us the amazing beauty of space, in this article about the Trumpler 14 star cluster. Just don’t let Donald Trump know about Trumpler 14, he’ll probably think that (a) the star cluster is named for him, and (b) therefore he owns it.
Trumpler 14Source: Hubblesite.org

And finally, for our Zookeeper, here’s an article discussing why the zebra has stripes. While it appears that the idea that the striping is for camouflage may be incorrect, there is still no consensus on a proven biological reason.
brown striped zebra

This is our daily Open Thread–discuss whatever you want.

The Watering Hole; Thursday January 14 2016; The White Supremacist ‘Trump’ Card

Earlier this week, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell ran a short piece concerning a robocall that was making the Republican rounds in Iowa. The caller said:

“I’m Jared Taylor with American Renaissance. I urge you to vote for Donald Trump because he is the one candidate who points out that we should accept immigrants who are good for America. We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.”

The next voice on the robocall said:

“I am William Johnson, a farmer and a white nationalist. I support Donald Trump. I paid for this through the SuperPac 213-718-3908. This call is not authorized by Donald Trump”

I did a little digging. First, I searched for “American Renaissance” and quickly came up with this link to Jared Taylor’s Iowa Robocall. When asked if Taylor thought his plea would ‘resonate with Iowans,” Taylor said,

“We’ll see how the vote goes. I think that most official Republicans have no idea how betrayed ordinary white people feel by their country bring turned into something else. Ordinary white folks are sick of having to press 1 for Spanish.”

A real thinker, that one.

Next up, ‘William Johnson,’ the self-identified Trump-supporting ‘white nationalist’ and “farmer” who paid for the robocall via a SuperPac. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:

William Daniel Johnson was born in Pinal County, Ariz., in 1954. He studied Japanese at Brigham Young University and went on to earn his law degree from Columbia University in 1981. As a young lawyer, he worked for law firms in Japan and South Korea. After a few years, he returned to the United States to live in California, though he would continue to work for Japanese clients throughout his career.

In 1985, under the pseudonym James O. Pace, Johnson wrote the book Amendment to the Constitution: Averting the Decline and Fall of America. In it, he advocates the repeal of the 14th and 15th amendments and the deportation of almost all nonwhite citizens to other countries. Johnson further claimed that racial mixing and diversity caused social and cultural degeneration in the United States. He wrote: “We lose our effectiveness as leaders when no one relies on us or can trust us because of our nonwhite and fractionalized nature. … [R]acial diversity has given us strife and conflict and is enormously counterproductive.”

Johnson’s solution to this problem was to deport all nonwhites as soon as possible. Anybody with any “ascertainable trace of Negro blood” or more than one-eighth “Mongolian, Asian, Asia Minor, Middle Eastern, Semitic, Near Eastern, American Indian, Malay or other non-European or non-white blood” would be deported under the Pace Amendment.

To smooth the process, Johnson proposed that financial incentives be offered to nonwhites who cooperate with the government in the deportation process. Nonwhites who are too old to leave would be allowed to stay, as they were past childbearing age and did not present an obstacle to long-term racial homogeneity. Johnson imagined that black Americans could be employed to help the transition. He wrote, “Because of their physical abilities, the blacks would be the ideal enforcers.” Johnson believed it critical that the amendment be enacted; if not, he said, nonwhites would strip rights from white Americans, potentially leading to a deadly “race war.” For Johnson, the deportation of nonwhites is an act of self-defense, a preemptive strike in defense of real Americans.

A more succinct way to describe him might be to simply point out that William Johnson is an educated (?) hate-filled bigot, a genuine ‘white supremacist’ who has zero tolerance for ANYONE who’s not pure “white.” Seems to me folks who thought like that in days past used the word “Aryan” to describe themselves. Also ‘Nazi.’ But of course that was a totally different era, right?

Well, at least Donald Trump did not, according to Johnson, “authorize” the robocall by the self-admitted white nationalist Jared Taylor, nor did he pay for it with his own campaign funds. He didn’t disavow the project either, a factual tidbit that might suggest, to the untrained mind, that Trump felt no need to back away from a concept with which he agrees, a point suggested and supported by his oft stated and RE-stated anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim xenophobia.

Seems to me the bottom line here is obvious: Donald Trump has snagged the imagination and full support of White Supremacy idiots across the land. Given the ugliness of attitude and the hate-fueled vitriol it took for Trump to gather in and achieve the electoral loyalty of such idiocy, the obvious question seems simple enough, i.e. WHY, in a sane world, is such an attitude not an automatic disqualifier for any public office seeker, much less for anyone seeking to become President of the United States?

I thought we were better than that. Guess I was wrong.

******

“There is a mysogonistic pretty boy endorsed by white supremacist groups
who has descended deus ex machina from his Fifth Avenue penthouse
to out-jive a field of once promising presidential prospects with
an astonishing succession of inflammatory statements . . .”
(Shaun Mullen, C&L)

Indeed.

******

OPEN THREAD

 

Sunday Roast: Dia de los Muertas

The Day of the Dead is a celebration held every year on November 1 and 2, mostly in southern and central Mexico, but celebrations are held all over the world — sometimes called “All Saints Day” or “All Souls Day.”  They are days to remember departed loved one, and celebrate their lives with prayer, food, flowers, and sugar skulls that bear the name of the departed on the forehead.

Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. Visitors also leave possessions of the deceased at the graves.

Although I have never visited a loved one’s grave after burial, and never intend to do so, I like the Day of the Dead because it’s a celebration of life, rather than a remembrance of illness, tragedy, and death.  And sugar skulls — which are amazing works of art!

This is our daily open thread — Don’t forget that annoying time change thing.

Sunday Roast: Cranberries!

It’s getting to be cranberry season!!  Everybody cheer!!  Or whine, if necessary.  Go ahead, we’ll wait.  *looking at watch*

I luvs me some cranberries — especially since they’re grown in Oregon.  Throw a handful of dried cranberries in my morning oatmeal, and I won’t get upset.  Hand me a refreshing glass of cranberry juice, cut 50/50 with ice-cold soda water, and I will follow you around the rest of the evening — fair warning.  How about a whole cranberry dipped in chocolate — OMG!!!!

The only cranberry thing I don’t like is that wiggly jiggly can-shaped cranberry “sauce.”  It’s too sweet, and the texture makes my tongue want to slap me, and cry “Why?  How could you do this to me!?”  Then I have to sooth it with a large slice of pumpkin pie, because I’m nice like that.

Okay, enough of my raptures.  What Fall flavors are your favorites, and what are you most looking forward to preparing/eating?  Recipes are welcome!

This is our daily open thread — Mmmmm, cranberries…

The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 10th, 2015: Communication: Some Rambling Thoughts

Since Wayne is out and about working on clearing his mother’s apartment, I figured I would just throw up a few thoughts that recently came to mind regarding communication.

I think that all of us can agree, without false humility, that each of us in our little group here is well above average when it comes to communicating our thoughts and opinions on national, global, and universal topics. Whether we’re all highly educated or not (i.e., I only have one year of college, while many of you have actual degrees), we have one very basic thing in common: an understanding that each and every word we use has its own particular history and evolution, and therefore its own uniquely particular meaning. We revel in the ability to express ourselves as exactly as possible, and the fact that any one of us Zoosters is capable of writing something so eloquent that it pierces mind and heart is one of the many characteristics that brought us, and continues to keep us, all together.

Of course, searching one’s mind for that perfect word or phrase is not always easy, and I’m sure that, at times, each of us experiences the dissatisfaction of having to resign ourselves to the limitations of language.

This idea was brought home to me this morning, when I was reading an email from my sister. (Background note: none of my family has been very good about communicating with each other, and my sister and I have been the worst. In the olden days, she would talk to mum every weekend, and mum would pass the conversation along. Since our parents died [and the world became a darker and colder place – it was December of 2004, just after the Bush re-election] we’ve become even worse.) I had sent my sister, Anne, belated birthday wishes, and I had lamented that my upcoming birthday, when I will turn 60, was too depressing to think about. In part of Anne’s response to me, she wrote,

“… sixty is so far in my rearview mirror, I…admit thinking it’s right in your face that you aren’t young anymore…But it also made me think about what is important to me and how not to add to my list of regrets. Those sentences took me about ten minutes and still sound more philosophical than I intend. It was more like: YIKES! I could live to a hundred or I could be done and I better get on the case.”

Those few sentences alone told me so much more about my sister than most of our few face-to-face conversations. I realized a long time ago that we were very much alike in many ways, most particularly in our sarcastic/sardonic/sometimes waspish sense of humor, but it had never really occurred to me that we shared the same innate desire to express ourselves as precisely as possible. I won’t bore you more with personal baggage, but her phrase “how not to add to my list of regrets” truly struck home with me.

Moving on to another area of communication…

At work the other day, one of the women in Sales & Marketing was complaining about new requirements and restrictions that the chain drug stores (we deal with Walgreens, Wal-Mart, CVS, etc.) were demanding regarding the wording on our products’ packaging. As you know, the company for which Wayne and I work sell footcare products for various problems such as corns, calluses, bunions, heel pain, etc. Naturally, our packaging includes descriptions of the benefits that each product provides, along with instructions for use and care of the product. The chain stores, for some unknown reason, want us to eliminate much of this. Now, our customers range from medical professionals to dancers, athletes, everyday workers who stand all day, veterans, and so on, and they sometimes include some of the dumbest people on the face of the earth. I don’t know if the chain stores mistakenly believe that dumbing down the packaging information will broaden our products’ appeal, or what, but they pretty much want us to boil our wording down to “Use this, feet feel better” without saying how or why.

Which brought me around to a topic that we’ve much discussed, the use of language by conservatives politicians and pundits. Let me just take two examples of conservatives who have used their understanding of language to make a living in politics, William Safire and Frank Luntz.

In the before-time when my parents got the Sunday New York Times, mum and I shared two favorites: the crossword puzzle, of course – we took turns working on it, and it always irritated me that mum would use a pen while I used a pencil – and Safire’s column “On Language.” His column helped fuel my already keen interest in words and their origins which has obviously stayed with me all of my life. So regardless of William Safire’s conservative faults, and they are many, I have to thank him for his influence on my life.

Not so Frank Luntz. Luntz has been a snake-oil salesman who has used his language skills on a national level, poisoning the political conversation in order to mislead the voting populace. Luntz has taken words, language, and twisted them into meanings that they were never meant to have, using his ‘force’ for evil instead of good. At least William Safire, in his column, wanted to educate people on the use of language; Frank Luntz has no such interest, rather, he uses his power to blur the lines between good and bad, one of the best examples of which is the title “The Clear Skies Initiative.” In my opinion, this type of wordsmithing (too grand a word for what Luntz does, but technically correct), has snowballed to the point that, now, conservatives’ speeches are a combination of big words that say nothing and stone-age grunts of “left – BAD.” I hold him personally responsible for much of destruction of our political discourse which has brought our country to its present state of Idiocracy.

Okay, enough of my words, let’s hear yours.

This is our daily Open Thread – communicate!

The Watering Hole, Tuesday September 1, 2015

Away from food politics and environment for a moment, here is an essay on the presence of guns in the US with respect to other countries and the comparative murder and suicide rates. Surprised to actually find this at a CNN site.

Amerikans love their guns to death.

Papa bear, momma bear, and baby bear.

The Watering Hole, Tuesday March 31, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Back after last week’s unexcused absence.

 

Item 1

OK, let’s blame the cookie but not the gun…

Guns don’t kill, cookies do.

Item 2

Don’t know if it is true, but supposedly written on WC Field’s tombstone is the phrase “I’d rather be here than in Philadelphia.” Well, after turning up this story, I’d say he might have been on to something. But not to worry, most of the victims were lawyers.

What do you call 100 lawyers sickened at a banquet? A start.

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/03/nearly-100-people-sickened-after-attending-philadelphia-banquet/#.VRrVwI5vC1w

(With apologies to those among us who toil in the law.)

Little surprises in each morsel.

Open thread.