Occasional Gnuz

Sorry I’ve been so absent, just too much going on at home and work..

But, here’s the Occasional Gnuz for Twozdae, August 28thish

US court says North Carolina gerrymander is illegal — seeks new congressional map by November
H/T Raw Story
So perhaps there’s hope for this democracy to survive. Courts, judges, the Constitution at work for us as a Nation.

And,
The President Is a White-Nationalist Mob Boss—and His Base Doesn’t Care
H/T The Nation
Nails it. Shut.

Finally,
Trump’s destruction: A neuroscientist explains what happens when a narcissist begins to lose power
H/T Raw Story (Again)
Sorry to scare the living feces out of you, but this is worth digesting.

Open Thread, take the baton hand off and run with it!

RUCerious @TPZoo

The Watering Hole; Friday, January 20th, 2017: “A Date Which Will Live In Infamy.”

I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate
president. I think the Russians participated
in helping this man get elected . . .”
(Rep. John Lewis, D-GA; 1-13-2017)

Rep. John Lewis was, of course, spot-on correct when he made that statement to Chuck Todd on MSNBC a week ago (seems like a year at least; why is that?) a mere seven days before the inauguration. Lewis also said he would not be in attendance for the event, a position that infuriated Trump even as it raised the spirits of others. The only quibble I have with Lewis’s statement is a simple one: to my mind, Trump’s “presidency” is not rendered illegitimate solely because of Russian interference in the election.

“Legitimate” is defined as conforming to established standards of usage, behaviour, etc., [and] based on correct or acceptable principles of reasoning.”

I cannot, even in my most generous mood, see how ANY of that definition can be applied to that which is about to happen to the highest elective office in this country. In my seventy-four-plus years on this planet, presidents FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Poppy Bush, Clinton, Dubsy Bush, and Obama have occupied the head chair in the Oval Office. Two of them — FDR and Obama — have been among the greatest Presidents the country has ever had, and while Ike, JFK, and Carter stood tall as they grandly overshadowed the marginal and/or less than marginal others, the dude that will ascend to that chair somewhere around noon EST today stands out as that pinhole of dimmest light which may well prove to be the herald of our nation’s darkest hour. How did that happen? As William Wordsworth put it a couple of hundred years ago,

Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

Where is it now indeed. We have, just  now, “elected” as “president,” a man who is clearly the LEAST qualified for that office in at least the last 85 years, and likely the most unqualified person ever in the country’s 240 year history. As of today, we have a president who . . .

  1. Is a certifiable Narcissistic Egomaniac,
  2. a bigot,
  3. a misogynist,
  4. a xenophobe,
  5. and a chronic liar.
  6. He has zero political experience, also offers no clue that he’s ever read even a word of the Constitution (or that he even COULD read a word of the Constitution).
  7. Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, and “won” the election solely via the obsolete but Constitutionally-defined Electoral College. His popular vote defeat was the largest in history, and yet he claims to have won the election in a landslide.
  8. He attributed Clinton’s 3 million winning vote margin to massive voter fraud.
  9. He has spoken out loud that NATO is obsolete and that he has no interest in the Eurpoean Union. Small wonder that Europe is probably about as worried as we are in re Trump’s “election” to the most powerful governing position in the world.
  10. Trump is a climate change denier and has indicated that he’ll work to nullify the Paris Agreement, also to increase coal and other fossil fuel production in the US.
  11. A major contingent of the Republican Party (including Trump, I presume) believes that all Federal Public Lands should be turned over to the states so they can be made useful; Trump has offered no indication that he will support protection of National Forests, National Parks, Monuments, Refuges, Wilderness, or any other category of Public Land.
  12. Trump has often spoken of his admiration for Putin, and has either denied or minimized the fact that Russian cyber-hackers worked diligently to influence the US election in 2016 with the goal of swinging enough voters to elect Trump — apparently because Putin thinks he can manipulate Trump, something he couldn’t manage with Obama and knew wouldn’t happen with Hillary Clinton.
  13. Intelligence has revealed that Putin may indeed have the means at hand to essentially force Trump to do what Putin asks, via alleged hotel camera videos of Trump interacting with Russian Prostitutes; Trump, of course, denies everything.
  14. Since Trump’s election, White Supremacists/Nationalists, neo-Nazis, the KKK, and other hate groups have dramatically increased their anti-Jewish/Black/Latino/Muslim activities; hate crimes have increased nation wide.
  15. Trump has said he will halt all Muslim immigration, and will also . . .
  16. Move to immediately deport all undocumented immigrants from Latin America and, presumably, anywhere else.
  17. He has even included DACA people, i.e. young folks who were brought into this country by undocumented parents when they were children, even infants, and who have grown up as Americans.
  18. Trump has refused to divest his business interests, and is very likely to be violating the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution at the very moment his swearing-in is complete.
  19. He has also refused to open his finances and financial arrangements, including via his tax returns, for examination (does he have strong financial ties to Russia? He doesn’t want anyone to know, apparently, so a best guess would be YES he does).
  20. He is threatening every American-owned company that has products manufactured overseas or outside of the US in this hemisphere that there will be a heavy tariff imposed on their products unless they manufacture them in the US and not overseas. That will apply, apparently, to every company other than his own various facilities in China, Turkey, Mexico, and various other places.
  21. When Trump’s proposed tax cuts and budgeting proposals are merged, the calculations result in a ten trillion dollar add-on to the National Debt; “conservatism” defined.
  22. He has vowed to ‘repeal and replace’ Obamacare. Right. Look for 20-30 million folks with no health care at all if Trump and fellow wingnuts get their way.

Can anyone make the argument that Trump is, indeed, a “Legitimate” president? Does he/will he ever conform to established standards of usage, behaviour, etc., based on correct or acceptable principles of reasoning? Clearly no. I do, therefore and hereby, declare Donald J. Trump to be this nation’s first totally ILLEGITIMATE PRESIDENT! whose sole purpose remains his own self-glorification, no matter the cost to others — including the nation as a whole, even the entire of the planet. He, Donald J. Trump, is, in his mind, ALL THAT MATTERS! PERIOD! — all of which brings to the forefront, once again, FDR’s description of “December 7th, 1941: A date which will live in infamy,” now become “January 20th, 2017: A Date which . . . etc.”

In closing, I’m inserting a poem I wrote and posted here last summer after the Republican Convention, after Trump’s nomination. It’s a sonnet, an acrostic quatorzain, intended to define the essence of Trump the nominee, his persona. To bring it up to date I only had to change two words: in the title, ‘Persona’ to ‘Presidency,’ and in the body, ‘nominee’ to ‘President.’ It appears to have worked. 🙂

Donald J Trump and His Egomaniacal Presidency
(via an Acrostic Fourteener Quatorzain)

Democracy allows a boundless breadth of mindless thought.
One brief glance today unmasks a President who deems to
Never claim to own the vicious speech he hopes will be bought
And sold as memes. Whilst he himself wears masks of learn’ed view,
Lengthy rhetoric from speaker thus afflicted reveals
Dismal platitudes, each expressed as if nonsensical
Judgment of those who are more sane, of those whose thought appeals
To wisdom, not to ignorance of issues topical.
Racial bigots find curious relief in hate and fear
Until they are themselves dismissed by soft and passioned dreams.
Misogyny as well appeals to minds that aim to smear
Perspectives based on common goals of life — with bogus schemes.
Deliv’rance of this nation’s soul and heart is thus on hold
Till egomania’s greed and sloth are disappeared — or sold.

One has to wonder, I suppose, if the theses and conclusions implied in the sonnet will still be valid after, say, a full four-year term of a Trump presidency. My best guess is HELL YES they’ll still be valid! That’s assuming, of course, that the country can survive four years with a Narcissistic, Egomaniacal, Bigoted, Misogynistic, Xenophobic and Illegitimate nutcase at its helm. I, for one, have my doubts, but time will surely tell; it always does.

Footnote: Here are a couple of links that provide a few revealing details from both sides of the Trump-Putin topic:

Paul Krugman: With All Due Disrespect

Vladimir Putin defends Donald Trump, says critics trying to “undermine the legitimacy” of the president-elect

******

A darting fear — a pomp — a tear —
A waking on a morn
To find that what one waked for,
Inhales the different dawn.
(Emily Dickinson)

******

OPEN THREAD

 

The Watering Hole; Th/Fr December 22/23 2016; “Precedent” Elect Trump: A Potentially “Unpresidented” Disaster

“Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest –
and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure,
it’s not your fault.”
(Donald J. Trump Verified account
@realDonaldTrump)

One might easily describe the above quote as being “unpresidented” — coming, as it did, from the current “Precedent” Elect of the United States.

******

In four weeks — on Friday January 20 2017 — the occupancy of the White House will be radically changed, as will the tenor of the country. The President will no longer be an educated and highly intelligent Moderate Liberal Progressive; it will be, instead, an Unintelligent and Egomaniacal Narcissist, a Pathological Liar who cares nothing about anything in the world other than the admiration he manages to garner for himself from others, from those of low intelligence to those viewed as rich and/or powerful, from any corner of the earth and anywhere in between. The sad reality remains, however, that Donald J. Trump is little more than a uniquely unqualified stooge of corporate and political interests, both local and global, a thesis supported by his selections of his Cabinet chairs and advisory staff.

There is but one bottom line to all of this: we do not know just how severe will be the consequences of this, our greatest political blunder in at least the last 100 years. The only thing that we can be assured of is that those consequences will be nasty, possibly even fatal, to our Democratic Republic unless we the people can somehow find the means of curtailing the process, quickly, in each and every instance. Anything short of that and our collective regret will be the equivalent of that once famous “shot heard round the world” redirected, this time, at ourselves.

Over just the last few days, numerous articles on numerous websites have turned up, each and all of which speak to and describe what are perceived to be various consequences of the upcoming Donald J. Trump “presidency.” The essays include detailed discussions of reasons why we find ourselves embedded in our dilemma, plus a handful of suggestions of means to alleviate said dilemma. Below, in no particular order, are a number of links that each discuss varying aspects of the overall question: Why/how Trump? I’ve selected and included a quoted portion of each link to help tweak imaginations, quotes which, taken together, paint a rather dismal picture of America’s new homemade dilemma. Continue reading

The Watering Hole; Friday May 20 2016; Conservative(?) Visuals

Thought today might be a good day to switch focus a bit, away from the verbal and more to the visual — cartoon style, for the most part. Near as I can tell, I’ve collected these things off-and-on across the last ten years, snagging most (if not all) from internet posts, maybe the occasional tweet. I’m not sure about attribution — the names are either really hard to read or absent completely. Oh well, I must say that whatever the case, I’m extremely grateful to whomever it was that produced each and all — they never fail to bring forth at least a chuckle, and occasionally a raucous laugh!

The first two are editorial cartoons from the (Phoenix) Arizona Republic, drawn by their long-time (progressive) ed. cartoonist Steve Benson back in 2006. Subjects obvious. 🙂

Benson-pledge

This next one is at least as apropos today as it was ten years ago!

Benson - Iran

Land of Oz revisited:

Oz

From some unrecorded moment following the passage of the ACA:

Obamacare

This one pretty much defines (much to their collective distress) wingnut gun owners:

Assault Rifles

Jesus making the rounds, courtesy of Betty Bowers:

Salvation for dummies

Nazi vs. YeeHaw, philosophically defined (more or less):

Achtung v Yeehaw

Onward to current times and Paul Krugman’s analysis of Donald Trump:

Krugman on Trump

Cartoon in ref. to Trump’s tweet in Dec 2015 when he went full Schmuck on Hillary, used the word ‘Schlong:

Schlong

GOP’s favorite way to “govern”:

gop tax crap

 

Here’s the perfect summary of the GOP’s view on the Paris Climate summit outcome:

Climate

And finally, this fabulous summary of what many of us wish would have been the reaction of Native American Peoples to the arrival of all those ‘illegal aliens’ and ‘undocumented immigrants’ from Europe:

Plymouth Rock wall

That one’s somewhat reminiscent of the first Benson cartoon up top, speaks volumes that I’m sure no living wingnut could ever comprehend because, as John Stewart Mill noted many many years ago,

“Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most
stupid people are conservatives.”

OK, one more to make a Baker’s Dozen:

Aliens

Touché.

“We’ll have to leave it there.”

OPEN HREAD

 

Sunday Roast: What the…what??

via RawStory

At a rally in Florida, the GOP front-runner, Donald “Drumpf” Trump, encouraged people to raise their right hands with a promise to  vote for him in the upcoming primary.  Yes, the photo above is real, and people didn’t have a problem, or didn’t understand the horrible historical significance, of a large crowd raising their hands in such a way.

Yeah, I know, Godwin’s Law and all that, but COME ON.  Doesn’t the photo of the Drumpf rally make you all squirmy inside — and not in a good way?

Is Drumpf just trolling these ignorant people, so he can have a laugh later on with the wife and kids?  Or is Drumpf actually that friggin’ stupid?  And do I really want to know either way…?

Here’s what Drumpf said, while wagging his stubby little finger, after he got all the rubes to do their clueless Nazi imitations:

“Don’t forget you all raised your hand,” Trump said at the conclusion of the pledge. “You swore. Bad things happen if you don’t live up to what you just did.”

He’s finished talking to people at a fourth grade level — now he’s down to speaking on a pre-school level — which seems appropriate since toddlers, much like Drumpf, tend to “say what they think,” too.

I weep for this country…

This is our daily open thread — Sorry, not sorry.

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, Monday, August 10th, 2015: Make It Stop!

Make it stop - Teh Stupid will make my ears bleed!

Make it stop – Teh Stupid will make my ears bleed!

Only one Republican debate down, and already the incessant fallout of Teh Stupid is taking its toll. Pretty soon I’ll be curled up in a ball with my eyes tightly closed and my ears covered, otherwise what’s left of my brain will start leaking out.

How’re your brains holding up?

This is our daily Open Thread–discuss anything you want!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 11th, 2015: OMG, We’re Missing the Bundy Reunion!

Yes, it’s been a year since the Cliven Bundy Ranch standoff – time flies when your country’s going crazy, doesn’t it?

Since the standoff at the Bundy Ranch, it appears that Cliven has found enough like-minded idiots in the Nevada assembly to have had one Assemblywoman, Michele Fiore (R-duh!) introduce a “Bundy Bill” last month. According to an AP story on the local CBS affiliate Channel 8 NewsNow, KLAS:

“The original proposal would require the federal government to obtain permission to use land within the state’s borders. The proposal also strips the federal government of state water rights and would allow county commissions to parcel out state land for commercial use.”

After wasting time and taxpayer money on an obviously unconstitutional bill, the final version supposedly “…deletes core proposals and instead says local sheriffs can enter into an agreement to patrol federal lands. It also states that sheriffs are the primary law enforcement officers in unincorporated parts of their counties.” Oh, yeah, that’s MUCH better, because everyone knows that Federal law enforcement just LOVES to take orders from the local LEOs. KLAS’s 8NewsNow investigative “I-Team” also provides a brief rundown of the ten other States who are producing similar legislation. Yesterday’s ThinkProgess thread on this topic lists those States as: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. TP links to “Keep Our Land American” at www.americanpubliclands.com for more details and a petition.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Bundy family and their fellow miscreants are celebrating the anniversary with a “Freedom Reunion” aka “Liberty Celebration.” (I guess they couldn’t figure out a way to squeeze both “Freedom” and “Liberty” into the name without sounding redundant – oh, who am I kidding, they don’t know what the word “redundant” means. [“Hey, who ya callin”redundant’? Take it back!”]

Take a look at the actual invitation and its accompanying re-written idealized “history.”

From the Bundy Ranch Facebook page:

THERE ARE PLENTY OF PLACES TO CAMP OR MESQUITE HAS LOTS OF ROOMS TO STAY IN – COME AND ENJOY BUNDY RANCH LIBERTY CELEBRATION

Date: April 10-12, 2015 (Fri, Sat, Sun)
Location: Bundy Ranch – Bunkerville NV 89007 – Exit 112 off of I-15, follow the American flags
Purpose: To gather in celebration of our liberties, agency and stand with God, for our U.S. Constitution, State sovereignty, Property rights and to enjoy access to our lands.
Who is Invited: All people who enjoy freedom
Activities: Camping, Off Roading, Hiking, Playing in the River, Evening BBQ (Bundy Beef), Shooting- Come camp all weekend if you would like.
Stage Activities: Slide/Video Show, Live Band, Cowboy Poetry, Guest Speakers
Program: Friday & Saturday Evening; Stage activities and BBQ
Sunday; Testimony meeting, share your feelings for God and country

Special Invitation: Those who express music, poetry, words, documentaries and other arts. Those who hold political office. The cowboys. Those who supported with prayers and finances. The militia who keep us safe. [emphasis mine] Media outlets both friendly and unfriendly (TV, radio, internet, books, magazines and other). All those who have invited the Bundy family to speak and teach around the world.

*If you would like to be a participant in the stage activities please contact the Bundy family at rancherbundy@gmail.com

Some of the replies/comments:

Janae Hutchins: Wish I wasn’t so far away now. I’d love to come. enjoy the anniversary of your victory against tyranny! God bless America! 🇺🇸

Scott Saragoza: I will be there to stand with all of you for our Liberties…………. Absolutly!!!!!!!! Thank you.

Robert Brooks Bob: God Bless yall from N.W.Ar…Wish we could be there.

Shirley Pitcher: I wish I was heading back to Utah.
I would love too.
Good bless the Bundys

Ray Herrera: This Sounds like a lot of Fun !!! God Bless the Bundy Family !!! They are my Hero’s

William Morgan: Great thing here Mr. Bundy I wish I could be there to support you and Our freedom

Now, c’mon, don’t you wish that you were there?

 

This is our daily open thread – talk about whatever you’d like.

The Watering Hole; Friday the Thirteenth (March 2015); Idiotica

Since it’s Friday the thirteenth and I’m having to spend the entire day working to keep myself free from bad luck, I thought maybe it would be appropriate to take another look at stupidity (“idiotica” is my new word for it) by pointing to some of the fresh “thoughts” emanating these days from Wingnuttistan. Here are nine of the better ones, and as is typical for stuff like this the titles pretty much tell the stories Click on them only at your own Friday-the-Thirteenth risk, i.o.w..

1. Sandy Rios Says White House Is Behind Petition To Try GOP Senators For Treason

Hey, I signed that petition! I resemble that remark!

2. Franklin Graham Says That Obama’s Mother ‘Must Have Been A Muslim’

She was from Kansas. Isn’t everybody from Kansas a Muslim?

3. Bryan Fischer: Homosexuality Causes Blindness

Really? Hmmh. I always heard it was something else caused it.

4. Bachmann: DHS Extension Guarantees ‘Obama Phones’ And Voter Fraud For Undocumented Immigrants

I wonder if she didn’t mean that DHS guarantees a Phone Extension for Obama?

5. Tony Perkins Links HHS Contraception Mandate To Religious Persecution In Middle East

Finally, a wingnut headline that makes absolutely no sense at all!

6. Cruz: Marriage Equality Decisions ‘A Real Danger To Our Liberty’

I personally think wingnuts like Cruz are more the ‘Real Danger To Our Liberty’, but that’s only an opinion.

7. Rick Perry: God’s Candidate For President, This Time…

I mean, really, what could go wrong? Besides, this time he has glasses — if he gonna be impotent he gonna act impotent!

8. Lawyers Try To Rescue Anti-Obamacare Lawsuit By Comparing Justice Kennedy To Confederate Slaveholders

aka What Could Go Wrong, Part II

9. Portland Homeless Woman Charged With Theft For Charging Her Phone

The comment at the end of the article says a lot: “‘Jackie’ [the victim] has muscular dystrophy and is living on the street while waiting for a housing slot to open up. What a great country we are. (underline added)

In honor of THAT “great country,” the following rewrite of the Pledge of Allegiance is hereby offered to all right wingers and especially to RED states and REDnecks everywhere, to use whenever they feel the urge. There is no charge.

I pledge allegiance to the GREED of the United States of Amurka, and to the dollars for which it stands, one zillion, undervalued, with liberty and justice for the one percent.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Friday January 23 2015; The Land Of ‘Az’ — A State Of Mind?

Last Monday on Martin Luther King Day, I posted as a comment here some stuff I’d written a long time ago about Arizona’s concerted effort(s) to overturn former Governor Bruce Babbitt’s MLK-Day proclamation. What really fascinated me way back then was how much popular support the bigoted viewpoint had managed to muster. The “opinion” I posted here consisted of five verses from a topical poetic “essay” I’d worked on and written some 25 years ago in the early months of 1990, my summation of the local political stupidity of the day, a task which eventually wound up consuming a LOT of five-line metered stanzas, each with a defined rhyming pattern. I did separate them into various topic categories — ranging from the English-Only movement to the official attempt to regulate Dildos plus everything in between — but I mean Jeebus, how many layers of stupidity can stupid politicians come up with in a relatively short amount of time? Answer: LOTS!

Anyway, while looking for the MLK verses I read the whole thing once again and actually had to laugh. I mean, here we are twenty-five years later and we’re still surrounded by political stupidity — even MORE of it today than back then. These days it seems more concentrated in D.C. than in the several states, although certain states today most assuredly have advanced the ‘dumb’ to new levels. And even more fascinating is the fact that a great many of the issues back then remain issues today, everything from racist bigotry to crooked politicians to uninformed (uninformable?) voters to toxic waste disposal to air quality to . . . etc., ad infinitum.

So here it is, my nearly ‘ancient’ poetic essay titled “The Land Of ‘AZ’ / A State Of Mind (???).” I suspect most readers today won’t recognize too many of the names (nor did I, actually), but I’m willing to bet everyone will spot a familiar (and current!) political issue that’s mired in the same muck as was spread all over the place twenty-five years ago. So take a look at 1990 Arizona and compare any or all to most everywhere out there today. Has anything really changed?

*** 😀 ***

ARIZONA: The Land of ‘AZ’
A State Of Mind (???)

An Exploration of Issues Confronting the
Grand Canyon State

(With parenthetical explanations added to assist
the uninitiated and/or uninformed)
and,

With Unabashed Gratitude to Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
Who Once Wrote:

Sir, I admit your general rule,
That every poet is a fool,
Though you yourself do serve to show it
That every fool is not a poet.

 *** 😯 ***

Arizona’s Canyons, Grand,
Are more than scars upon our land,
For canyons here are metaphors
Which well-define those classic bores
That we anoint to guide our lives;
Thus, empty-headedness now thrives
And open spaces do equate
With minds in our ‘Grand Canyon State!’

Frank Baum, with perspicacity,
Created Oz for all to see;
Since lands like Oz we know about
(‘Cause Arizona’s Oz’ redoubt),
We stoop to honor Baum’s creation
And give you “Az” as assignation!

For Az, you see, has lots of lizards,
Plus its fair share of mindless wizards,
(Those folks whose hearts pump blood that’s blue,
But won’t pay Principle her due);
Here thinking folks with minds, constrained,
Watch common sense flushed down the drain,
So let’s examine, case by case,
What fills Az up with empty space!

*** 👿 ***

On Official English:

(Most Gringos need not ever fear,
For “English-Only’s” spoken here!)

A man from Az seems quite upset
By voices which he deems unsound
(They come from those whose backs are ‘wet,’
Whose culture might suggest a threat,
For, after all, their skins are brown!)

Then after checking ’round the State
He noticed more that wasn’t right,
For others, too, did not equate
That English ‘speak’ has made us great,
While foreign tongues are but a blight!

He set upon a private quest
To mandate Az’ official tongue,
And, as most readers might have guessed,
‘Official English’ finally passed:
Thank voters from the bottom rung!

On Dr. King and His Holiday:

(“Let’s vote on it,” the bigots say,
“We hate the spooks, so we’ll vote ‘nay.”‘)

Some liked the Reverend, some did not,
To many, Martin lived in sin,
But while most rednecks have a pot,
(Above the belt, you know the spot)
It’s clearly not for pissin’ in!

Now, Julian Sanders, Architect,
Hates Martin’s foibles; deems himself
As our ‘White Knight,’ to help reject
King’s day (black sin, we can’t accept!)
But white sin? Hide it on the shelf!

Thus, drawing strength from Fascist Right,
King’s holiday he did rebuff,
Though ignorant, to our delight,
That Kings are always Kings, despite
The fact that once a “Knight’s” enough!

Still, lawmakers, in reverie
(Like babes in woods with no foresight),
Enjoy their own soliloquy
While fearing their constituency,
With little ken of what is right.

With stroke of pen, they could defuse
Az’ image, seen as quite retarded
By those with more enlightened views;
But still, they say, they must refuse,
Since ‘think’ in Az ain’t well-regarded!

On the Politics of Sex:

(Our solon’s minds are queer, it seems,
They fear both hetero-sex and ‘queens.’)

Our legislators oft’ convene
(While resting on well-trussed behinds)
To censure sex, while we, serene,
The ‘Great Unwashed,’ now deemed unclean,
Them re-elect: blame empty minds!

So now it’s not correct, you see,
For youths to fondle budding breasts,
And with our Courts’ proclivity
To not endorse indecency,
It’s jail for kids who flunk the test!

On Dildos:
(Sex aids are bad, as we should know,
Thus, all but the five best must go!)

We recognize the bad effect
That dildos might create, for whores,
So solons seek new laws; in fact,
The “Regulate The Dildos” Act
Suggests we stuff ours in our … (drawers?)!

On Evan Mecham:

(There’s still a lot to say ’bout “Meek,”
Since it’s a fact he’d run next week.)

Old Ev’s upon us once again,
His mind’s a-lyin’ on the table,
The ninth floor chair, he’d like to win,
To spite Ed Buck, who lives in sin,
Ev’s vision’s unimpeachable!

He claims that he’s Republican
(Though many don’t believe it’s true),
It seems an insult to Abe Lincoln
That Ev espouse such lowly thinkin’
Reflective of a ‘ short’ I.Q.!

Ev proved to Az some time ago
That nonsense gets us nowhere fast,
Still, ‘Mechamistas’ join the flow
While dancing Evan’s do-si-do,
Determined Az rejoin the past!

We are, they say, a Christian Nation,
That pickaninnies, we embrace,
That if we heed John’s ‘Revelation’
We’ll pave the way for our salvation,
Creating, here, a State of Grace!

Yet, still remains a simple task
Much like the one we gave to Custer,
For one more question’s there to ask:
Pray, Evan, what’s behind your mask?
Savant or simply mindless bluster?

Az’ future’s here for us to read:
Expel the past or else relive it,
Yet some folks, born of mutant seed,
Still think that Evan’s what we need;
If he returns, we’ll sure deserve it!

On Air Quality:

(Though “brown clouds” visit every day,
Our solons look the other way.)

While desert air turns shades of brown,
Officials oft’ don’t seem to know it;
They’re usually more involved, downtown,
With things to make the voters frown,
Like naming AZ’ ‘Official Poet!’

On Deck Park:

(An Irish cottage soon will grace
Our Central Phoenix Homeless Place.)

The freeway’s buried ‘neath the ground,
For just about a country mile,
The deck’s the neatest park around
Say City Fathers who have found —
Some Irish eyes that still can smile!

A patch of garden, Japanese,
A ‘Central’ bridge where beggars squat,
An Irish farm with piggeries,
And here and there, some grass and trees,
But master plan? Pray, what is that?

On Charles Keating:

(Seems Charlie Keating’s really miffed,
Says, “Uncle Sam stole Lincoln Thrift!”)

Charlie Keating stormed the West
With love of bucks, disdain for sin,
So decency became his quest
While dollars filled his treasure chest;
“Morality,” he preached, “must win!”

He rode his White Horse ’round the town
While bilking folks with little ken
Of millions; yes, he let them down,
Now even ‘Lincoln’ wears a frown,
Morality, you lost again!

On Our Senators:

(Two Senators, we have elected,
Az’ special interests, now protected!)

While big shots waltz around the state,
Our John McCain and DeConcini
Both dance along, while they berate
Those interests we all love to hate,
While slipping us the silver weenie!

For Dennis made big bucks, you see,
While cleverly, in Real Estate,
Investing dough where C.A.P
Canals (he knew) were going to be;
Guess we all know his interest rate!

And John McCain’s spouse (Cindi) made
A pile (or so the pundits say);
Built shopping centers, unafraid,
While teamed with Keating’s Silver Spade
As John helped Charlie pave the way!

On Voters:

(With no-show votes notorious
Some issues aren’t victorious.)

Some covet bus and rapid rail
To speed the Valley’s stop-and-go,
(Most surface streets can slow a snail);
Yet ValTrans, there to pass or fail,
One-quarter showed and said, “Hell No!”

The old Salt River bed’s a scar
As it traverses, east to west;
Still, visioned parks did not get far
Since nihilists alone did star;
Again, three-quarters flunked the test!

On Power Companies:

(Five billion bucks to save us dough
With nuke plants? Let’s all laugh: “Ho, Ho!”)

Our Palo Verde nuke plant stands
On desert flats outside of town,
The slickest plant in ninety lands,
(Built by local power brigands)
It seldom works, it’s always down.

So, lights are lit by older plants
Not burdened by this nuke plant’s schism,
But power brokers still can dance
While lifting wallets from our pants;
So, where’s old Santa when we need’im?

On Drug Law Enforcement:

(Who says it’s not completely fair
For cops to trap kids, in a snare?)

When Paul McCartney came to town
To play a concert, in Tempe,
(A place, we’re sure, where drugs abound,
Since college kids, there, hang around)
AZ’ D.E.A. stopped by to see.

The night, it’s true, had some success,
For sixty thousand fans were there
While fifty cops in ‘funky’ dress
Sold thirty kids some pre-rolled ‘grass:’
Some charged, “Entrapment!” Cops asked, “Where?”

On Child Molesters:

(Two child molesters, swathed in sin,
Are punished, based on tint of skin;
For one man has a year to do,
The other? Hundred forty-two!)

Herr Mueller has a heart that’s cold,
As does Señor Martinez,
For each enjoyed girls ten years old
Whose souls, to Devil’s Hell, they sold;
So now, Az’ juris prudence says:

“Mueller gets a year in jail, plus
His pension from our City’s purse;
Martinez gets a one way bus
To prison: now, before you fuss,
Recall he’ll leave there in a hearse!”

Herr Mueller was a fireman, see,
As such, his union did prevail,
To act as his fiduciary
To salvage said pecuniary,
Which he can spend when out of jail!

And, what’s Martinez’ greatest sin?
Molesting children? Yes, perhaps,
But maybe, also, dark brown skin
Has come to haunt a life, again,
While Az’ “Blind Justice” takes a nap.

On Toxic Waste Disposal:

(The town of Mobile’s quite remote,
So solon’s said (I’ll try to quote),
“Let’s put a firery furnace there,
Burn toxic waste and foul the air!”)

Az needs a place to lose its trash,
With such a theory, we can’t argue,
Though now, perhaps, we should rehash
The premise that for lots of cash
We’ll burn dioxins in our venue.

Some folks think burning toxic stuff
Is not a great idea, because
Our State’s already fouled enough
With dirty air that makes us cough;
Such plans give many people pause.

So Az folks, at a public meeting
(Who came in force to air their views),
Received our State’s official greeting
By way of an official beating
At hands of Az’ jackbooted crews.

Yet, in this land of rock and sun
Just who condones such crass behaviours?
The County Sheriff’s force, for one,
Plus politicians who’ll soon run
For one more term as our State’s Saviours.

A year ago, in Beijing’s Square
Most freedoms fled in just a wink,
And, though Red China’s ‘over there,’
Some acts in Az make us aware
Of thoughts that we don’t like to think.

The Land of Az, Summation:

(Agendas shroud the Land of Az,
Most seem to make scant sense, because
There’s little else they do, you see,
Than fracture Az’ fraternity!)

Clear vision’s not a force in Az
As witnessed by vignettes, declaimed
In verse preceding; thus, ‘Great Cause’
Is now interred: Its headstone says,
“INCISIVENESS, HEREIN, DETAINED!”

For silliness, in Az, pervades;
Those charged with making great decision
Are loathe to garner passing grades
(Insightfulness, in darkness, fades,
Hence, they view ‘light’ with great derision!)

Yet, Az folks still will not admit
They’ve chosen leaders who beguile ’em
(For leaders here have half a wit,
And most of them seem full of shit!):
Are inmates runnin’ Az’ asylum?

The present here reflects the past,
And future’s scant consideration,
Our ‘Ship of State’ sails without mast
While others wonder, minds aghast,
If Az’ll e’er rejoin the nation!

So now, for Az, a eulogy
From Burns, ‘The Bard’ who pointed out
That, “… thou art blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:”
Which Az defines, without a doubt!

AFTERWARD

(To those fair minds entombed herein,
‘The Bard’ now speaks to you again,
So read this script wherein he says
Some able thoughts: perhaps of Az?):

When from my mither’s womb I fell
Thou might hae plung’d me deep in hell
To gnash my gooms, and weep, and wail
In burning lakes,
Whare damned’ devils roar and yell,
Chained to their stakes.
(Robert Burns,
from Holy Willie’s Prayer)

OPEN THREAD

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 4th, 2014: Peculiar Podiatric Political “Humor”

At our office, the content of our ‘Sales’ emailbox is usually comprised of orders, queries, requests for catalogs, etc. Occasionally we still get offers for misspelled Cialis, Viagra, etc., as well as the internet version of the letter from a Nigerian prince. Once in a while, for reasons beyond my comprehension, we get anti-government rants from a group called (I believe) The American Land Rights Association. But last week we got a very unusual (and pretty weird) political email. Here it is in its entirety:

From: Martin Marks [mailto:drfootsie@cox.net]
Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:01 AM
To: drfootsie@drfootsie.org
Subject: PODIATRY to POLITICAL CARTOONING

Hi: PLEASE SHARE

Taxed Enough Already
Tired of CORRUPTION
ABOLISH IRS

We AIM to PLEASE ……….

GRID LOCK – gov’t waste

If you like your ……..

ILL Eagle - The  Barak Stops Here 01

While none of these made any sense or fell into the category of “humor” such as we understand it, the editor of the Virginia News Source (which touts itself as “Tidewater Virginia’s ONLY source of reality based news. We are professional muckrakers, politically incorrect, and equal opportunity offenders”) absolutely loves them. Here’s an excerpt (I recreated the misspellings, etc.) from the editor’s July 25th blurb about Dr. Footsie:

“I love ‘whack jobs and I connected with him and stuck up a a great relationship nstantly. My kind of person. Of sound mind. Off-beat humorous.

Dr. Footsie has enough of a whacky outlook, and the creative, artistic ability to articulate the wrongs of the world in a delightfully humorous way. That’s not to say that his cartoons aren’t biting. They are. They are effective. In one upcoming cartoon, he depicts Obama in a cartoon entitled “a black eye on America”, combining all that wrong about Obama’s failed presidency. Subtle meanings are hidden throughout his work.”

Well, they certainly fit in with the crap on the Virginia News Source website. They are NOT, however, either “delightful”, nor “subtle”, nor “humorous”, at least in MY opinion. Don’t quit your day job, “Dr. Footsie.”

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

Dear John Boehner

Dear John Boehner:

You know how you get those little postcards in the mail sometimes telling you that you’re part of some class action lawsuit because you bought a malfunctioning Pez dispenser between 1995 and 2003 or something? You’re told if you want to be part of the lawsuit, you need not do anything. If you want to opt out of participating in the lawsuit, you must say so in writing.

So I am writing to tell you I’m opting out of the lawsuit you’re filing against President Obama.

This has nothing to do with the fact that on CNN tonight they showed you and some of your fellow Repubs mocking Obama while readying your lawsuit. I’ve grown accustomed to you folks acting like a bunch of spoiled brats each time you don’t get your own way about something. No, this is all about money. My money.

I can’t get a definite figure on how much you’re going to spend of taxpayer money for this. Whatever it is, it’s too much. You haven’t earned a cent of your pay for quite a few years now. So you’re going to sue the President for trying to earn his.
Pardon my denseness, but I’m somehow missing the logic in that.

You and your fellow Repubs spent $2.3 million worth of taxpayer money trying to defend the indefensible Defense of Marriage act. You did this even though poll after poll indicates that most Americans really don’t feel the need to stick their noses into someone else’s personal life. You and your fellow Repubs are spending an estimated $3.3 million on your most recent Benghazi investigation. Courtesy of the taxpayers of course. Once again, excuse me for my denseness, but I’m still not getting why you were silent when several thousand Americans were killed in the 9/11/2001 attacks–despite the fact that the Bush administration had received warnings that indicated such an attack was coming. And I’m also a bit befuddled about your silence when Bush took us into Iraq looking for non-existent WMDs. How many people died because of that little jaunt into fantasyland? If silence is golden, you and your fellow Repubs have a whole Ft. Knox worth of silence on that one.

So. I’m opting out of this lawsuit. When you get a ballpark figure on how much this latest exercise in ignorance will cost, please divide that amount by the number of taxpayers in the country and send me the refund I have coming. Also, I would like this in cash. No offense, but I don’t want to be left holding a worthless check when you’ve finally managed to bleed my country dry with all your “fiscal conservatism”.

I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next on your agenda. If I recall, Michele Obama was wearing a blue dress in that beautiful photo making the rounds a while back. Maybe you could sue her for discriminating against Repubs by not wearing a RED dress. Just a suggestion. I’m sure that, even as I write, the Republican Nitwit Committee is brainstorming more ways to spend lots of money on all these vendettas you’ve tried to pass off as being in the interest of the American people.

So. Please remove my name as a plaintiff in your lawsuit. I am looking forward to receiving my cash refund, which I will immediately take to the supermarket to have it examined with their nifty money scanner to be sure it isn’t as bogus as you are.

Sincerely,

<name>

The Watering Hole; Friday, November 1, 2013; “Conservatives” Quote Unquote

I remember it well: Dumbya’s first inauguration in January 2001. I was real lucky on that particular day, bein’ that I was in hospital intensive care recovering from cranial surgery and I slept through the whole damn inaugural ceremony. Never felt so good about brain surgery as I did that day.

The downside came over the next number of years, however, with year after year of one stupid medical problem after another, on and on and on. In short, there wasn’t a whole lot I could do except sit around and read, write, explore the WWW, etc., and in the process I collected more than a thousand pages of quotations on most any subject imaginable, but still fairly well focused on political stupidity. Following are a couple dozen quotes, by various people (some well known, others not so much) which, seem even more pertinent today than when I first encountered them.

American Conservatism’s Distinctive Qualities

“On the right, there’s an almost lethal refusal to consider the problems of suffering of others.”   ~Paul Krugman; October, 2007

    COMMENT:  “First of all, whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children, I tend to think it’s a good idea. I’m happy that the president’s willing to do something bad for the kids.”   ~William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, commenting in advance of Bush’s veto of the children’s health care funding bill; October, 2007

        COMMENT:  “Last weekend  … Bill Kristol made some joke about how he wants Bush to veto SCHIP, because anything that hurts children is a good thing. Of course, it’s a joke, but the underlying premise of the joke is, only wimps actually care about the suffering of others.”   ~Paul Krugman; October, 2007

“[F]rom the Reagan ‘revolution’ on, the American conservative movement that first took power over a quarter of a century ago never meant to throttle the state, only the capacity of the state to deliver any services except ‘security’ to its citizenry.”   ~Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com; September 4, 2007

“Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.”   ~John Stuart Mill

“Conservatism makes no poetry, breathes no prayer, has no invention; it is all memory.”   ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”   ~John Kenneth Galbraith

“Mr. Bush … is the true representative of what modern conservatism is all about. And it’s the movement, not just one man, that has failed.”   ~Paul Krugman, NYT; March 19, 2007

“The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.” ~Patrick Moynihan

“The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected.”   ~G. K. Chesterton

“Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they’ve stolen.”   ~Mort Sahl

“Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear.”   ~William Gladstone

“A conservative is a man who believes that nothing should be done for the first time.”   ~Alfred E. Wiggam

“A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward.”   ~Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“A conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they’re dead.”   ~Leo C. Rosten

“A conservative is someone who makes no changes and consults his grandmother when in doubt.”   ~Woodrow Wilson

“A conservative is a man who sits and thinks, mostly sits.”   ~Woodrow Wilson

“With one foot planted firmly on the wrong side of American ideals, conservatives have forsaken their own beliefs, failed our Founding Fathers, and diminished America.”   ~Steven Sacco, July 1, 2006

“Let me be straight with you – I like George Bush.  I think he’s a man of principle, a man of faith. I think he’s got a backbone of steel and he’s a real, genuine, big-time leader … He’s a consequential figure for his time. We don’t see it right now.”  ~Sean Hannity, Fox News pundit

    COMMENT:  “Good God, if brains were lard conservatives would lack the means to grease a skillet. How reassuring to know the country is being run by people whose collective intellectual wattage couldn’t illuminate the inside of a refrigerator.”  ~David Podvin, essayist

“His [George W. Bush’s] brand of conservatism is the expression of a commodity-based oligarchy rooted in Texas, deeply hostile to the New Deal, dedicated to neglect of public services, seeking to maintain class and racially based hierarchies. Using the rhetoric of limited government and states’ rights these Texas conservatives claim control over government in order to consolidate power and wealth.”   ~Sidney Blumenthal; September 19, 2006

“What exactly is being conserved by policies of expansive militarism and environmental and imperialistic plundering? That is — other than conserving policies of expansive militarism and environmental and imperialistic plundering?”   ~Phil Rockstroh; October 12, 2006

“[L]et us never forget that the departing Congress has given Bush dictatorial powers, through the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the John Warner Defense Authorization Act which allows the President to order the Armed Forces to quell civil ‘disturbances’ within the US. In addition, he has effectively repealed habeas corpus and at least four of the articles of the Bill of Rights. The Democratic Congress must act immediately to rescind these extraordinary powers.”   ~Ernest Partridge, The Crisis Papers; November 14, 2006

“Why is there such a strong family resemblance between the Reagan years and recent events? Mr. Reagan’s administration, like Mr. Bush’s, was run by movement conservatives – people who built their careers by serving the alliance of wealthy individuals, corporate interests and the religious right that took shape in the 1960s and 1970s. And both cronyism and abuse of power are part of the movement conservative package.”   ~Paul Krugman, NYTimes; March 19, 2007

So there you have it; an honest and time-honored summation of American political vapidity, stupidity, and . . . well, take your pick of suitable descriptors! And lest we forget, it’s tricky to define the consequences of rampant conservatism without the words of one very famous American thinker. So: here’s a rather immense ‘tidbit’ courtesy of a fellow named Mark Twain:

“But it was impossible to save the Great Republic. She was rotten to the heart. Lust of conquest had long ago done its work; trampling upon the helpless abroad had taught her, by a natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home; multitudes who had applauded the crushing of other people’s liberties, lived to suffer for their mistake in their own persons. The government was irrevocably in the hands of the prodigiously rich and their hangers-on; the suffrage was become a mere machine, which they used as they chose. There was no principle but commercialism, no patriotism but of the pocket.”   ~Mark Twain in Letters From the Earth

Final note: Twain perfectly summed up what flashed through my mind the day that Ronald Reagan was laid to rest:

“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday October 31, 2013; Things I Never Knew

Today’s Halloween. OK, enough of THAT particular silliness; I mean, really, there’s far more nonsensical silliness waiting out there, thumbing a ride as it were. Yah, well, what the hell. OK. Noblesse oblige. I mean it is Halloween, after all . . .

So OK, yep, I did learn some really neat new stuff over the last day or two. Nothing big mind you, but then stupid seldom is ‘big’ — or so I’ve been told. Anyway, for all those who hunger for whatever it is that lies just beyond that ever-persistent Wingnut horizon, here it is: NEW STUFF! 

.• A Sangerite is a person or group gripped in the Culture of Death. A Sangerite places little or no value on human life, whether for relief from responsibility; vengeance; labor, racial, or ethnic domination; experimentation; or environmental purity. Killing, thinking one is doing one’s God a service, is also death worship.

• A Sorosian is an individual or group enticed and funded by a convicted felon (in France in 2002), international currency manipulator and hedge fund manager George Soros, whose goal through his Open Society Institute is creating a one-world government after destroying the American economy.

The original Sangerite — Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood — and the world’s first Sorosian — George Soros, Felon-Atheist-Jew-Commie-Fascist-Nazi-Socialist-Billionaire — they’re after me. Not sure why, but yep, I can sorta smell ’em, off there in the dark where they’re lurking, waiting to POUNCE!! I mean, hey, “ENVIRONMENTAL PURITY”?? “OPEN SOCIETY”?? “Oh, Ick!!” (also sprach Radar O’Reilly)

Yah, OK, yep, I know. Onward.

So: in other news, on Halloween here along the Front Range the sun is due to rise at 7:22 AM, to set at 6:02 PM; Shadow the cat will wake me at 5:00 AM. Then, on Sunday next, everything changes. I’m not sure how to help Shadow reset her bioclock when DST (a Sangerite/Sorosian plot???) goes bye-bye for a few months, but surely there’s a way. Right? I mean, I don’t mind getting up at five, but at four? Nah. Not THIS time of year. Summer maybe, but . . .

Bloody Sangerites! Sorosians!

So. Just who is in charge of this clock change BS? Anyone know? I suggest we find out who it is, then drop the bugger(s) a note and explain how easy it would be to fix the problem once and for all and for good, and by so doing to keep the Shadow off my back (sotospeak) for the foreseeable future! YAY!! I do hereby cast my vote for Daylight LOSING time!! YES and YAY!! Earlier sunrise, earlier sunset, twelve months per year. I mean hey, ‘Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.’ Right?

Margaret?? George?? Hello?

OPEN THREAD; Sangerites and Sorosians, YEEHAW! Etc.

The Watering Hole, Friday October 25, 2013; Yesterday’s “Biggest” News and Views

Lots of really big stories hit the headlines yesterday. First, there was this one: Rep. Pallone Rips Healthcare Hearing: ‘I Will Not Yield to This Monkey Court’ wherein New Jersey Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone (accurately) referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s hearing on HealthCare.gov’s launch as a “Monkey Court.” Finally someone spoke the absolute and unadulterated TRUTH — and in Congress, of all places!

Next up, another barn-burner: Herman Cain speculates the Devil was behind all those sexual harassment allegations. Cain ‘insisted all three women who accused him [of sexual harassment during the 2012 campaign] are “liars.” […] Then he speculated as to who may have orchestrated the allegations: the Devil. “It made me realize that there was a force bigger than right,” Cain said.’ He did not clarify as to whether he thinks the Devil is a larger force than even the American political “right” wing; that’s left to, again, speculation.

Then there was this little goodie: Allen West Attacks Alan Grayson For Comparing Tea Party to the Klan. This from the guy who has said (among numerous other really stupid things) that the people sporting Obama bumper stickers are “A threat to the gene pool.”

That was enough for one day. Besides, the sun was out; the air was a little chilly, but at least here it overlays an interesting landscape. So, I grabbed my Olympus, stuffed it in the bag on the back of the mountain bike, and headed for the wilderness (about two miles from home, give or take a few yards). There’s a place out there, a spot from which sprawls an uninterrupted view of not only the Front Range of the Rockies, i.e. the Wet Mountains aka Sierra Mojada, but also (on a clear day) a portion of the Sangre de Cristo range is visible some fifty to sixty miles to the S.W. And today, with a few high clouds dancing over the mountains — plus the autumn foliage along Greenhorn Creek, plus the browning prairie and the obvious isolation — well, all I can say is to hell with the Monkey Court, to hell with Herman Cain and with what’s-it’s-name, the idiot from Florida . . . oh yeah, former Congress ‘person’ Allen West.  A pox on all their houses.

Below are three photos from today’s trek. The first is a long lens shot of the autumn foliage along Greenhorn Creek with the snowcapped Sangre de Cristos way off in the distance. The second is a very wide angle view of  our corner of the Front Range, the Sierra Mojada. Its highest peak, Greenhorn, is “only” a few hundred feet above 12000, so there’s not nearly the amount of snow there as on the much ‘taller’ Sangres. The third photo again shows the Mojada in the background, plus the prairie and a dusty little access trail, along with my favorite means of getting there!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mojada 4 shot pan 10-24 2013OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANotice there was not a single politician anywhere to be seen in any of the immensity of the land’s sprawl here at the foot of the Front Range. I’m hoping it stays just that way!

Open Thread. Monkey Court, Herman Cain, The Debbil, even Allen West (Oh, wait. I mentioned The Debbil twice. Three times? Ach, no worries.)

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 21st, 2013: Mixed Nuts

First, Foreign Policy Magazine got a little ‘spacy’ towards the end of the shutdown, with author Michael Peck penning a pair of fantasy articles titled “The Empire Shuts Down” and “One Starship to Rule Them All”

Next, this piece from moneynews.com, features the always-wild-looking “economist” Jim Cramer prognosticating – and perhaps precipitating, if anyone pays attention to him – the shakiness of the dollar. An excerpt:

As the world laughs at Washington’s antics, CNBC’s Jim Cramer says smart money should look for any possible means to flee the dollar.

The United States is “a laughing stock around the world, maybe worse than Italy in some ways when I look at benchmarks,” he said on Squawk Box. “We have obviously lost the faith of a lot of countries.”

If there is a way to take your money out of this country, Cramer suggests putting it in Germany. If he were in the shoes of China, Kuwait, Brazil or Japan, “I would do it immediately,” he claimed.

Third, from Newsmax.com, Amy Woods has a piece on another peanut gallery member: “Sen. Coburn: ‘We’re Drunk’ on Government Spending.” Here’s a bit:

“Special-interest groups, and not the tea party, caused the 17-day government shutdown, Sen. Tom Coburn said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“We didn’t do anything except create a big mess in Washington, and I’m not so inclined to think it was the tea party as much as it was outside interest groups and a few individuals within our party that took advantage of that situation,” Coburn said. All the bickering about the Affordable Care Act distracted Americans from the fact the government spends too much, he added.

Next, an October 19th article from Alternet brings us “Right-Wing Lunacy Never Sleeps: 10 Nutty, Vile and Absurd Utterances From the Fringe This Week.” In this round-up, Justice Antonin Scalia reaffirms his racism, Tony Perkins babbles some nonsense about Democrats wanting a theocracy, Glenn Beck and Pat Buchanan continue to howl in the wilderness, and more.

Finally, also courtesy of Newsmax, the other gum-flapping self-important Limbaugh, David, proves that he is just as delusional as his louder brother in “GOP Poised for Post-Shutdown Comeback”:

“Obamacare represented not only one of many policy setbacks under Obama but also the ever-acquisitive government’s consumption of another one-sixth of the formerly capitalist and robust American economy.”

[That’s a load of horseshit, David, enough with the fake “government takeover of healthcare” bogeyman. Last I looked, the U.S. is still a capitalist nation, and the last time we had a “robust American economy” was under a Democrat, President Bill Clinton.]

“Then Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee ratcheted it up a notch, going to the Senate to call Obama out on his destructive agenda and promising to do everything they can to defund and derail Obamacare. Cruz’s 20-plus-hour floor speech was a seminar in the eloquent communication of conservative principles.”

[“…eloquent communication of conservative principles”? ‘Green Eggs and Ham‘? I don’t think that David Limbaugh (or his louder brother, for that matter) watched the entirety of Cruz’s rambling and sometimes incoherent “seminar.”]

“Just as my brother, Rush, gave millions of conservatives hope through his radio show by validating the legitimacy of their beliefs, Cruz, Paul, and Lee let us know that we have people in office fighting for us, as well.

“I reject the conventional wisdom that Cruz and his warriors hurt our cause by increasing the likelihood of our defeat in 2014. To the contrary, they enhanced our cause by energizing the base and fighting. And they laid serious gloves on Obama; his approval rating has never been lower. They also gave him an opportunity, which he fully embraced, to demonstrate his mean-spiritedness, his pettiness, and his dishonesty for all to see.

“The shutdown was not the disaster he promised any more than sequestration has been; he was hyper-partisan and gratuitously punitive during the ordeal; and his egregious misrepresentations about Obamacare were manifesting themselves throughout.”

[Sorry, but to Rush Limbaugh, the word “hope” is part of a punchline, certainly not something that Rush ever gave to his Rushbots. You can “reject conventional wisdom” all you want, but that doesn’t mean that conventional wisdom, in this case, is wrong. Obama’s approval rating is currently around 50%, according to a recent Rasmussen poll; on the other hand, according to the Gainesville Times, a new poll puts Congress’s approval rating at an all-time low at 5%. I’m not sure exactly what planet David Limbaugh, along with the other mixed nuts listed above, inhabits, but it must be a particularly miserable place to dwell.]

This is our Open Thread. Go ahead, get cracking!

The Watering Hole; Thursday October 17, 2013; “Democracy Under Assault”

In a recent Op-Ed on Truthout.org concerning the GOP-Tea Party economic agenda, longtime Professor of Economics Richard Wolff made note of an obvious and history-verified truism, that “Many Germans in the years before 1933 dismissed the little man with the mustache: He could never take power, let alone keep it.” They were, of course, woefully mistaken, and millions from around the world died in result. Are we about to find ourselves on that same cliff edge? True, we don’t seem to have, at least at this point in time, any little man with the mustache, but we surely do have far too many who appear to think much as he did. They call themselves the Tea Party, and to at least the casual eye they do indeed have a very similar agenda embedded within the shallowness of their self-imposed political and religious fanaticism, one that reads something like . . .

“An evil exists that threatens every man, woman, and child of this great nation. We must take steps to ensure our domestic security and protect our homeland.” (1)

It May Be Hard to Believe, But GOP Will Become Even More Extreme, Respected Political Forecasters Say.  So reads the title of an article written by Stephen Rosenfeld in which he discusses the conclusions reached by Stan Greenberg, James Carville and Erica Seifert in their recent analysis of a series of focus groups from three red states. Rosenfeld summarizes their findings by noting that the resulting “Democracy Corps report is an illuminating profile of the GOP’s three main factions: the Tea Partiers leading today’s brinkmanship, the evangelicals lining up behind them, and overlooked but still significant moderates. At the front of this stampede are right-wingers who believe they are fighting for political survival in an era where white-run America is vanishing and they’ve lost the culture war.” He also remarks with no equivocation that the “analysis portends that the Tea Partiers and Evangelicals, comprising more than half of the party, will ramp up the rhetoric, accuse Obama of tyranny and possibly even pursue impeachment.

On the broadest scale, it doesn’t require a lot of imagination to grasp the fact that the Tea Party’s Evangelical faction is a major driving force behind much of today’s GOP intransigence; attitudes can be contagious, after all, especially when goals are so simple to define. Their primary operating premise seems to be, simply stated, that the government should, and in fact must, accept that

“. . . its first and foremost duty [is] to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life.” (2)  [underscore added for emphasis]

Amanda Marcotte carries the Evangelical intransigent attitude thesis forward in her essay entitled, Four Reasons Right-Wing Christians Salivate for the End times.  She begins by noting that “While there’s much about the Christian right that’s difficult for the rest of us to understand, the preoccupation with the ‘end times’ is close to the top of the list.” She points out that Three out of four evangelicals believe Christ will return soon. This is, of course, mostly wishful thinking—they believe they’re seeing the end of the world because they want to see the end of the world. Why . . . ?”   According to Marcotte, their Four Reasons are:

1. They don’t think they’ll be around for the worst of it.
2. The end of the world would mean they get to have the last word.
3. It provides a distraction from and an excuse to avoid the real problems in the world.
4. They want to see the non-believers punished and themselves instated as the rightful rulers of all mankind.

After a brief analysis of each point, she posits that their “eagerness to see the non-believers punished is so strong in the Christian right that many are unwilling to wait until the so-called “Tribulation” described in the Left Behind books, and to a lesser degree the Bible, is upon us. That’s why, after any great tragedy, there is a rush of eager-beaver pastors willing to say this is what people have coming for being sinners . . .”

“If . . . we are decent, industrious, and honest, if we so loyally and truly fulfill our duty, then it is my conviction that in the future as in the past the Lord God will always help us.” (3)

“Democracy Under Assault”  is the title of a book (published in September of 2004 and summarized here) by author Michele Swenson. Its subtitle reads, “Theopolitics, Incivility and Violence on the Right.” The book is based on the not-so-elusive thesis that theology-based politics invariably see  Christianity as the foundation of our national morality and in so doing, disavow/dismiss science entirely — especially the science which underlies and defines evolution, environmentalism, the thesis that intelligent life may exist elsewhere in the universe than on the Earth — or, for that matter, any other ‘inconvenient’ (read: anti-Christian) science-based premise. Interesting that the book is every bit (if not more) ‘current’ today than it was upon its publication nine years ago; that fact tells a rather gruesome tale, it would seem.

A pair of 2006 reviews of the book on Amazon.com vividly demonstrate the intellectual divide that continues to run rampant in this country. A five-star review proclaims the book to be . . .

“An in-depth examination of the war against pluralistic democracy waged by an unholy alliance of religious nationalists, the hard-core gun lobby, corporate plutocrats and anti-tax, anti-government activists. The book describes the fractured church-state divide, assaults on the independent judiciary, resurrected nineteenth-century science and socioeconomic Darwinism, as well as the revisionist history marking the U.S. rightward political turn.”

And then there’s this one, a one-star review:

“This book saddened me to the depths….I finally had to discard it. I love my country and am heavy-hearted to read such hatred toward people of faith.”

In summary, who knows but what many might one day soon agree that the Tea Party and other factions defined as extreme right do indeed see themselves as convincing evidence that

“It makes no difference whatever whether they laugh at us or revile us, whether they represent us as clowns or criminals; the main thing is that they mention us, that they concern themselves with us again and again, and that we gradually in the eyes of the workers themselves appear to be the only power that anyone reckons with at the moment.” (4)

The last nearly three weeks of government shutdown — along with, of course, the technique of holding the nation’s economic future hostage (simply as an attempt to force the hand of those in government who actually understand they serve ALL of ‘We the people’ rather than just the Evangelical and Neofascist factions) — demonstrate with no hesitation that the United States finds itself, this day, in serious and perhaps even ultimately fatal trouble. Stated another way,

“The greatness of every mighty organization embodying an idea in this world lies in the religious fanaticism and intolerance with which, fanatically convinced of its own right, it intolerantly imposes its will against all others.” (5)

Time will tell.

Oh, and by the way, I purposely left the quotes numbered 1-5 above unattributed when presented in order to make perhaps a larger case, to ultimately offer a broadened summation, as it were, of the “Democracy Under Assault” thesis. In that vein, suffice to say that each and all are the verbatim words of one person only. And no, that person is not Pat Robertson, not Jerry Falwell, it’s not even Rafael “Ted” Cruz or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin. Nope. The words belong solely to that “little man with the mustache,” Adolf Hitler. Political fanaticism, stoked by religious fanaticism, is apparently a permanently-recurring human condition/affliction, one that is currently underway in the United States courtesy of the melding of the Evangelical biblical literalists with the Fascist contingent of the GOP, those far right fanatics that proudly call themselves the Tea Party. Thus, the history of power acquisition via fear, via greed, is in the process of repeating once again. Here. Here where the attitude of the masses remains the traditional, where the process of “Democracy Under Assault” by political radicals and religious fanatics is by and large “dismissed” by we the people on the basis that they “could never take power, let alone keep it.”

And lest we forget or choose to ignore, here stands a rather vivid statement of method, words which will, with luck, serve to remind:

“(T)he determined gangster is always in a position to make political activity and efforts impossible for decent people. In the name of law and order, the state authority gives in to the gangster and requests the others please not to provoke him.  –Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf   [underscore added for emphasis]

Or, as above-noted Economics Professor Richard Wolff put it,

“The Republican-Tea Party alliance operates a weapon of mass deflection, protecting capitalism from criticism. Sadly, the Democrats neither expose nor attack the Republican project.[underscore added for emphasis]

For further information on the undercurrents which predict and precurse the evolution of democracy to fascism, see: Actung, sie verlassen JETZT den Americanischen Sektor.

OPEN THREAD

CLOSED FOR BUSINESS

Christmas came early for hundreds of thousands of federal workers as the Tea Party Caucus successfully shut down the Federal Government. This, to be sure, is a White Christmas. Except for Father Christmas, John Boehner. He’s orange.

The Speaker of the House used the power of his position to prevent a clean funding bill from coming up for a vote. He is dedicated to spending any amount, incurring any hardship, just to see that millions of Americans don’t have health insurance. Except that he’s spending taxpayers’ money, and he’s not having to get by without a paycheck. The same goes for the Tea Party Caucus. They know, thanks to gerrymandering, they’ll get re-elected.

The Republican Party has long run on the mantra of a smaller federal government and now, they’ve succeeded in their goal. Only functions deemed “essential” are operating. Everything else is shut down, or shutting down. Everything else, we can get by without, on a permanent basis. National Parks? nope. Government regulators? Who needs them. Research grants? Let the free market take care of it.

If the Tea Party wants to, they can make sure that a total economic collapse, worse than the Great Depression, starts on Obama’s watch. All they have to do is…nothing. And they’ll still get their full paychecks.

Merry Christmas.

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 29th, 2013: Saint Ronnie? I Don’t Think So!

jimmycarter460
I have always had great admiration for President James Earl Carter. I confess that I did not start voting until 1988, after I married Wayne (so Clinton was “my first.”) But my parents were pretty staunch Democrats who voted for Carter, and in those times we actually did sit down to watch the evening news every night, and I watched the Sunday political shows with my dad each weekend – which, of course, usually ended with me taking a nap. So I was not completely ignorant of political machinations, especially with dad filling me in on the background issues.

President Carter’s administration covered some troubled times, but he always spoke to the nation in a unique combination of down-home-folksy Sheriff Andy and subtly eloquent professor. That he is still, and always will be, derided by Republicans as one of the worst Presidents in history, just proves how little the Republicans respect intellect and integrity.

President Jimmy (as I like to call him) differentiated himself from too many other former Presidents by, after leaving office, continuing for decades to serve his planet, his country, and humanity in general. Jimmy and Rosalynn remain wonderful examples of “public service” at its most noble.

Here’s a selection of interviews, articles, and videos, all from the last year or two, which include President Carter’s views on America’s dysfunctional democracy and the effect of Edward Snowdon’s NSA leaks; his speech at the Carter Center’s “Mobilizing Faith for Women” conference on June 23, 2013; and an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan from January 2012 on a wide range of topics, but mostly about the Middle East.

And saving the best for last, here’s Part 1 and Part 2 of President Carter’s appearance on The Daily Show, April 9th, 2013.

In my opinion, no other President has acted so Presidential after leaving office as has President Jimmy Carter. The right-wing can criticize and ridicule him all they want, but Jimmy deserves beatification to sainthood much more than their much-vaunted but historically inaccurate Saint Ronnie.

jimmy and rosalynn

This is our Open Thread. What’s your opinion about President Jimmy Carter? Or on anything else, for that matter.

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 24th, 2013: The Silence of the Dems

Pretty much every single day, Republicans do or say things that make us either laugh at their foolishness or gasp at their political machinations. On the one hand, we hear idiots like Michele Bachmann spout ‘history’ that she pulled out of her ass, or the ignorance of misogynists such as Trent Franks and Michael Burgess, or just about anything out of the mouth of Steve King. On the other hand, Republican governors and congresspersons are busily doing ALEC’s bidding, continuing and escalating their war on women’s reproductive rights, joined by the supposed “jobs, jobs, jobs”-focused Republican-controlled House. It would seem to be easy enough to just sit back and watch the Republican party descend into oblivion.

Yet, while some of their utterances can be amusing, the Republicans’ overall strategy of limiting citizens’ rights, particularly women and minorities, along with their disdain and antagonism towards the poor among us, is deadly serious. But what are the Democrats doing to stop them, or at least to draw the country’s attention to the medieval legislation being proposed and passed by the Republican governors? I, for one, am sick of the “State’s Rights” BS by which Republican governors and Congressmen swear. President Obama has talked about their divisiveness, and a few of the more left-leaning Democratic Senators have as well, but where are the majority of the Democrats?

But it’s not just Republican schemes that the Democrats need to decry: where are they on President Obama’s illegal (in my mind) drone program, or the NSA spying, or the continuation of the ill-begotten PATRIOT Act? While dinosaurs like Diane Feinstein and Chuck Schumer seem perfectly comfortable with spying on Americans, and denounce whistleblowers as traitors, where are the other Democrats speaking up for our rights as citizens? Where are the Democrats when it comes to the apparently untouchable big corporations, banks, etc.?

Since talk of the next round of elections started the moment the general election in November was over, it seems that most liberal pundits are focusing more on the self-destruction of the Republicans than on what potential Democratic candidates will offer as an alternative. Democrats need to start now to distinguish themselves from the Republicans on issues, and they’re going to need to speak loudly and carry a big stick. They cannot simply rely on pointing at Republicans and laughing from the sidelines. The time for them to speak up is now!

This is our Open Thread. What do you have to say today?

The Watering Hole; May 16 2013: The GOP, and why it MUST BE ERADICATED!

If, say, fifty years ago today — during those halcyon days when I was less than six months short of my twenty-first birthday, when I would soon (finally!) be allowed to register to vote — if, way back then, someone had told me that at some point in my life one of the two major political parties in the United States would have no other agenda than to destroy all of its opposition by any means available in its dogged pursuit of nothing less than full and total power in/of the State, I’d have shrugged, laughed, and dismissed the notion out of hand. But then, exactly one month to the day following my 21st birthday, at about 11:45 AM, MST, I was heading home for lunch when these words interrupted the music on the car’s radio:

We have an unconfirmed bulletin from Dallas, Texas; President Kennedy has been shot. There is no word yet as to his condition. Stay tuned, we will update as information becomes available.

A few minutes later I parked, walked inside, and turned on the TV. There was confusion, of course, lots of confusion. Then, suddenly, this:

Dallas, Texas; John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, is dead.

Everything changed that day. I remember first and foremost the sense of sadness, coupled with a sense of foreboding amongst the vast majority of my acquaintances and, clearly, of people everywhere. I also well remember the elation on the part of the handful of far-right-wingers that I knew back then; as one of them said upon hearing the news, “Live like a tyrant, die like a tyrant.” And of course on the larger stage there was the John Birch Society, and . . . yeah, like that.

With occasional (and, unfortunately, temporary) interruptions every now and then, it’s been a Republican-driven national downhill slope over the five decades since that fateful day. There was Nixon, of course, and Ford, then Reagan, then Bush, and Bush . . . and today the (formerly) Grand Old Party has evolved from basically a centrist organization to a neo-Fascist extreme right wing movement, one which has zero tolerance for any long-embedded ‘American’ ideals. Instead, they’re totally obsessed with three basic goals: global military dominance, money, and absolute political power. Everything and everyone else — the middle class, education, organized labor, the elderly, not to mention each and all of those ‘tired, those poor, those huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ — are to have their collective needs not only ignored, but redistributed. Upward. The rich are not (yet) rich enough.

And, worse, there’s a damn Democrat in the White House! Second term. Elected by sizable popular margins both times. And worst of all, he’s a black man. With a black wife. And black children. An obvious enemy of the people. He is, indeed, the GOP’s worst nightmare. And since day one of his first term, there has been only one, single, Republican goal: force that black Democrat S.O.B. President to FAIL! In every possible way. Especially in ways which will serve to advance their agenda of destroying the middle class, destroying public education, destroying organized labor, and relieving the tired, the poor, the elderly, the huddled masses . . . of each and every penny of public largesse. Let them eat cake. Or die. Whatever.

From the last day or two, a few headlines:

House ready to make draconian cuts to food stamps in Farm Bill

The proposed legislation would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) by almost $21 billion over the next decade, eliminating food assistance to nearly 2 million low-income people, mostly working families with children and senior citizens.  The proposal reduces total farm bill spending by an estimated $39.7 billion over ten years, so more than half of its cuts come from SNAP.  The SNAP cuts are more than $4 billion larger than those included in last year’s House Agriculture Committee bill (H.R. 6083).

Republican filibuster could shut down workers’ rights enforcement

Congressional Republicans are committed to breaking government one step at a time, and it’s a given that anything that attacks workers as well as the function of government will vault to the head of the line. So it is with the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB can’t function without a three-member quorum. Republicans blocked President Obama’s nominations to the board. Obama made recess appointments. Businesses sued and a Republican-appointed court overturned the recess appointments in a staggeringly broad decision. That’s being appealed to the Supreme Court. Obama nominated some more people to the NLRB and renominated the recess-appointed people. Republicans look likely to block those nominations. Meanwhile, one current member’s term expires in August, which will leave the labor board unable to function.

The IRS “scandal” — all smoke, no fire

But what about the specific targeting of Tea Party groups? Doesn’t that show that this was all just a witch hunt against groups with right wing ideologies? Uh, no. It came up at exactly the time the office was getting flooded with a bunch of hastily prepared applications spewing from the Tea Party’s messy birth. The edict went out expressly because the office was being flooded with a bunch of hastily prepared, clearly political, applications all using very similar terms. In fact, the entire group of IRS employees in question was created to address the influx of possibly political applications. If the office had suddenly received a hundred applications for exempt status all claiming to be from the Sierra Club, wouldn’t you want them to pay a bit more attention? I would. What if those applications had all been from groups using Muslim Brotherhood in their titles? Would the same pundits still be on the air screaming about the IRS getting all political?

Behind all this are the staggering numbers. Out of thousands of applications, only a handful were rejected. You know what happens while a nonprofit organization is waiting to get this approval? They get to operate as a nonprofit organization. The harm caused by this action is exactly zero, and exactly no groups have sued the IRS in response to their rejection. They simply amended the application and tried again.

Furloughs now slashing paychecks for 820,000 workers

Thanks to the Defense Department’s announcement Tuesday, the number of federal workers forced on furlough by the sequester now stands at 820,000. Other agencies had already furloughed 140,000 workers and the Defense Department is furloughing 680,000. That’s 820,000 workers and their families suffering. substantial pay cuts.

That’s a mere sampling of the nonsense being perpetrated by today’s GOP, a brief glance at just a portion of one single page from yesterday’s Daily Kos. And not a word about the other Republican ‘dramas’ currently being played out, including Benghazi, the DOJ investigation via AP phone records of serious leaks concerning an intelligence operation in Yemen (which ultimately prevented an al Qaeda plot to blow up a US-bound passenger plane).

Note, too, that despite all the Republican hoopla over the news that the IRS took a close look at some 75  applications for tax exemption status by newly-formed “Social Welfare” organizations whose name or description included the words “Tea Party,” nary a single complaint ever issued from even a single Republican politician or official when, back in 2004, the IRS investigated the tax exempt status of the NAACP . . . simply because its chairman at the time, Julian Bond, was highly critical of George W. Bush and his war in Iraq.

Scandal, scandal, scandal. Political posturing, political screeching. Over what? Why? There’s a black Democrat in the White House, that’s why! Gotta screech, screech, screech, create “scandals” at every opportunity. Yesterday, at Consortium News, Robert Parry offered an interesting perspective in his May 14 article:

The Right’s ‘Scandal’ Funhouse Mirror

The modern American news media operates like a giant right-wing funhouse mirror reflecting back some large things as small and some small things as large. The Right gets to decide which items will be misshapen in which ways – and the mainstream press then reinforces the distortions. [. . .] This funhouse effect was first noticeable during the scandals of Ronald Reagan, when it didn’t seem to matter how much evidence was compiled about his complicity in grotesque human rights crimes including genocide in Central America, his tolerance of drug trafficking by his anticommunist clients, and his support for sophisticated propaganda operations to destroy troublesome journalists and other investigators. [etc.]

The ultimate questions finally and boldly arise and stand forth, and they read thus:

When does ‘enough’ become ‘too much’?

When is it time to act to prevent a future (or present, for that matter) ‘hostile takeover’ of the government of the United States?

How about today?

Open Thread. Have At It. But Remember: TAKE NO PRISONERS!

The Watering Hole: Friday March 22, 2013; CPAC Defined

The annualized nonsense of last weekend’s 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (aka CPAC) was stimulating, although probably not in the way the country’s far right wingnuts hoped it would be. I didn’t pay that much attention, of course, caught only a snippet here, a blog there, comments now and again made by obviously sane people, plus a handful of stupid comments made by attendees. Oh, and yes, I did see that photo of Sarah Palin sipping a giant soft drink of some sort — her attempt to mock New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to limit the size of sugar-laden soft drinks. Also saw a shot of Donald Trump wearing that squirrel pelt skull cap as he spoke to a giant crowd of three or four attendees. I heard a brief clip of Romney clarifying once again — in case anyone missed it in the last two years — what an ass he truly is. And somewhere, I ran across a snippet of Rand Paul trying to sound as upside down as his father always did (and, from what I could tell, he succeeded perfectly). Oh, and I almost forgot (actually, I DID forget, till just now) — the NRA spokesperson (he is NOT a spokesman, not by any stretch of anyone’s imagination . . . in fact, using the word ‘person’ even bothers me) Wayne LaPierre was there too, spouting his incessant thesis that real men need assault weapons, ’cause if you wanna BE impotent you gottta LOOK impotent and ACT impotent! As I said: last weekend offered a brief encounter with annualized CPAC nonsense — which pretty much sums the extent of my involvement. Lucky for me, for my sanity.

But the main impact of the silliness came late last Sunday night (or maybe it was early Monday morning — I wasn’t wearing my glasses so couldn’t see the clock). In any case, I caught myself recalling something I’d read once, so I looked it up to see if it was as close to a ‘definition’ of CPAC-style conservatism as I thought it might be and lo, yes indeed it was exactly that. Here it is, a (slightly modified) summary of today’s CPAC/Tea Party/Republican/Right Wing politics, aka the conservative agenda:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

Conservatives tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights

Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in conservative regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause

The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military

Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism

The governments of conservative nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under conservatives, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6. Controlled Mass Media

Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security

Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined

Governments in conservative nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected

The industrial and business aristocracy of a conservative nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed

Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a conservative government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

Conservative nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment

Under conservatives, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in conservative nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

Conservatives almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in conservatives for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections

Sometimes elections in conservative nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Conservative nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

OK, so by now the ‘slight modifications’ I’ve made to the original document are, most likely, painfully obvious. And yes, it’s true, I did indeed make a pair of very simple adjustments: I changed every occurrence of the word “fascist” to conservative”, and every occurrence of the word “fascism” to “conservatism”. Aside from those two details, the entire balance of the original document, entitled The 14 points of Fascism, is reproduced verbatim. For those interested in further defining details, a second article on the same topic entitled What is Fascism? may also prove worthy of review.

Fascinating it is how simply changing two words can result in a detailed synopsis that most ably summarizes the obvious aims, goals, intents, and methods which are clearly implicit in and often even spoken by today’s Republican Party. The GOP was once — and not all that long ago — far less extreme in its political philosophy than it is today. In fact, today even such “conservative” political stalwarts as Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan would very likely be cast off as traitors to the party’s current . . . umm . . . fascistic philosophy.

One of the more curious aspects of today’s conservative movement in the US is its loudly professed and complete disdain for “government” — even as its adherents attempt to USE government at all levels to impose official restrictions on a wide variety of every day activities. They have, for example, gone after women’s reproductive privacy via their attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, to either restrict abortion or ban it completely, to impose totally unnecessary medical procedures (e.g. transvaginal ultrasounds) when a pregnancy termination is sought, and even to attempt either restricting or outlawing completely hormonal contraceptives, all such actions parcel to their attempt to ultimately declare the fertilized egg to be “a person”  and thereby endowed with full constitutional protection.

Meanwhile, they also work diligently to eliminate anti-poverty programs which feed children already born, along with other programs designed to provide such children (and their families) with the means of obtaining medical care; and speaking of children, conservatives refuse to work toward the banning of military-style assault weapons even as they ignore the recent murder, by military-style assault weapon, of twenty school children, each of whom was six or seven years of age, students at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut (along with six adults). Guns are more important than children, after all, except when the “child” is but a fertilized egg — at which point both gun and fetus enjoy apparently equal Constitutional protection, a protection which clearly does NOT apply once the child is born and reaches the age of, say, six years. Or so.

And on yet another front there is the movement’s attempt to overturn a major provision in the 1965 Voting Rights Act via a case which is currently under consideration by the US Supreme Court. At the same time, of course, conservatives work feverishly at the state level to pass bills which they hope might even further suppress the voting rights of minorities (who traditionally vote Democratic). They’re also attempting virtually every means possible to either destroy labor unions or to minimize their usefulness; they’re trying to defund public education even as they work to fund private school enterprises with public tax revenues; they promise to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to deny equal marriage rights to the LGBT community; and lest we forget, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court has ruled that “Corporations are people, my friend” — and are therefore free to contribute virtually unlimited cash to election campaigns, the vast majority of which is ‘invested’ in those candidates who fully support unlimited corporate power and freedom from government regulation.

So much for their “keep the government off our backs” thesis. A fascist-style government has proven to be, in fact and across the historical spectrum, far more intrusive in the lives of ordinary people (see above) than is any form of government (socialistic included) that places the needs of ordinary people FIRST, and the needs of the powerful, the wealthy, and the corporate “people” on the bottom rung.

The World English Dictionary defines fascism as:

1.     any ideology or movement inspired by Italian Fascism, such as German National Socialism; any right-wing nationalist ideology or movement with an authoritarian and hierarchical structure that is fundamentally opposed to democracy and liberalism
2.     any ideology, movement, programme, tendency, etc, that may be characterized as right-wing, chauvinist, authoritarian, etc. (boldface highlights added)

Sounds like classic American (so-called) Conservatism to me. Maybe it’s high time we start calling a spade a spade? I suggest changing the name of the Conservative Political Action Conference to something more appropriate and descriptive, maybe something like Fascists United by Conservative Know-how — Y’all come now . . . Y‘heah?!

This is today’s open thread. Speak your mind . . . I just did!