The Sunday Roast: 2012 – The Best Line…and The Worst

I have been thinking a lot about what stuck in my mind from last year and, of course, there are numerous occasions that are memorable. In my own life and in politics. Not all good memories, but that was 2012 for me. Not all good. Let’s stick to politics.

Here the best line in politics of 2012. Hint: A door painted on a rock…

And there was in my humble opinion the worst:

The only way is to take away the guns from the bad guys. Period!

So, what are you thinking? There are some really great quotes out there you are welcome to post the best, funniest, most thoughtful, most thought provoking and most uplifting lines that come to your mind. I think we might as well end this year on hope. Heaven knows we can all use it.

To All Critters and Regulars and the Occasional Lurker. I wish you a very Happy, Healthy and Successful New Year. Let’s get 2012 behind us, we have been spared another Republican President, yes it affects us over here as well. But there is still a lot of work to do on both sides of the Atlantic. I wish us all the best for it.



Sunday Roast: We


Republicans, what part of this do you fail to understand?  No, we’re not asking you if you like it or think it’s good (by your standards) — that’s been decided.  Whether or not you like, accept, or understand it, Barack Obama is still our President.

“We” includes you, Republicans, so lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way, because we’re still trying to clean up your messes.

This is our daily open thread — Who else is beyond done with the WHINING?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, November 17, 2012: Go Away, Mitt

It seems many in the Republican Party are not too happy with their most recent presidential nominee. A report in yesterday’s Washington Post, titled “Romney Sinks Quickly in Republicans’ Esteem,” quotes many prominent Republicans denouncing Governor Romney’s recently recorded comments to supporters in which he blamed his loss, in part, on President Obama’s “gifts” to his constituents. The comments were, of course, highly offensive, especially considering Romney was trying to win by promising “gifts” to what he viewed as his own constituency (such as tax breaks for people in his income class, people who make their money through unearned income and who pay a lower tax rate on that income than the people who work for them.)

Romney’s remarks, coupled with his “47%” comments, portray a man clearly out of touch with the average American. (Thousands of Americans have sent their own sons and daughters to compete in Olympic Games, but how many have sent their own horses?) By all accounts, he was actually shocked that he lost the election. This is only possible because of a failure on his part to recognize his lack of connection to average voters, and because of a character defect which made him believe the hundreds of lies he told throughout the campaign. But the one thing he never blamed was the fact that his message was rejected by a majority of American voters. You lost, Willard, fair and square.

The president campaigned on building up the middle class in part by asking those in the upper income brackets to pay a little more, and you campaigned on promising those in the upper income brackets that they would pay less at the expense of those in the middle class. The rich are not, no matter what any Republican tells you, “job creators.” It’s the rest of us in the lower incomes who create jobs. Why does an employer hire someone, anyway? Usually, it’s because business has picked up so much that the employer’s current staff can’t service the company’s customers. It’s not just for the sake of hiring someone, or as an excuse to spend some of his personal wealth. When you give lower income people a tax break (such as on their payroll tax), it puts extra money in their pockets that they can spend to meet their day-to-day living expenses. When middle income people have extra money in their pockets, they buy themselves things that they really need, like food, clothing, and shelter. That extra spending is what drives the economy. But when wealthy people get a tax break, the extra money is just that – extra money. They don’t need it to survive, and they don’t spend it. They put it trust funds or overseas tax havens, or they pass it on to their children and grandchildren. But Mitt Romney doesn’t understand this. And I doubt he ever will. Which is why he should just STFU and go away. The American people have had enough of his lies, and we’re not interested in anything he has to say.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Mitt Romney’s social cluelessness, or anything else that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, 11/14/12: A postlude on the election

Today’s Open Thread is brought to you by our guest blogger, SpiritKat.

When Enough Is Enough

It’s time for Republicans to face the fact that the majority of American people just don’t want what they’ve been trying so hard to sell. Can you imagine what the voting numbers would have been in the recent Presidential election if the Republicans had not tried so hard to cheat and rig the election in their favor? Yet, despite all their disreputable attempts to steal the election for themselves, the American people rejected them.

In spite of the fact that the Republicans tried to give the election to Romney by disenfranchising voters with their unnecessary voter ID laws, or maybe even because of this very action, the number of people who made sure they got out and voted was still enough to defeat the Republican Presidential candidate. Then they attempted to cheat their way into the Presidential office when their rich corporate employers tried to extort votes for Romney through threats of job loss to their employees. Yet in spite of this there were still enough votes to reelect Obama.

Through Citizens United, with our own Republican stacked Supreme Court’s help, the Republicans thought they had the perfect solution for rigging the election, but they underestimated the American people, who clearly said a resounding NO on November 6, leaving the Republicans to swallow their own crud when they found that even they with all their wealth could not buy this election after all. That is, perhaps, one of the greatest things to come out of this election. Yes, money may talk, but clearly it doesn’t always talk loud enough, and certainly not enough to sway the voters in this election.

Then there was, of course, the embarrassment of their Presidential candidate, himself, who was so blindly egotistical that even Joe Scarborough dropped his face in his palms. Throughout the campaign, the stances of the Republican candidate changed practically every time he spoke. Mr. “Etch-a-sketch” gave us nothing concrete, just the “same old, same old” tired plan that got our country into this mess in the first place, and to make matters worse, he riddled the rhetoric with lie after lie after lie. “How can such a man be trusted with the welfare of our country?” we asked. By the close of the campaign, it was made even more clear when Romney made his comment about “not caring about the poor”, and even worse later on with his “it’s not my job” to care about the “freeloading” 47% comment behind closed doors with his rich cronies. Ah, at last we saw clearly his true colors.

It was my own great hope that the American people would finally wake from their apathy and beaurocratic induced stupor to take a stand against its tyranny in this election. Thankfully, enough of them did just that. It is also my hope that the Republicans, themselves, will have an epiphany and realize that we, the people, won’t accept what they keep peddling so hard. Perhaps, in light of this loss, they will begin to understand that the American people need, and won’t accept anything less than, honest industry, fruitful employment, personal freedoms, healthcare, a stable economy, and genuine concern for our welfare. We need these things far more than we’ll ever need the unconstitutionally forced religious beliefs of others, or a make-believe “Leave It To Beaver” society. Today, I feel that my faith has been restored, for though they tried, even a Diebold couldn’t win enough votes for the Republicans this time.


The Watering Hole, Monday, November 12th, 2012: Wallowing in Filth

Thinking that I would just check the Patch local newspapers online to see the local reaction, if any, to the Obama re-election, I somehow ended up wallowing in the filth on the Washington Times.

Not that there wasn’t any filth in the local online ‘news’ – there were plenty of stupid, ignorant, and racially intolerant comments following the above article.

The second piece that I found in the Patch talked about the author’s experiences at the polls in Rockland County, NY (across the Hudson River), where, he alleged, poll workers were wrongfully denying certain non-white and younger voters’ rights to vote, and/or giving voters incorrect information. A woman commenter responded by listing several instances of alleged hanky-panky by Democratic pollworkers, among other things. Then the commenter threw in a link to The Washington Times, and I gave in and clicked on it. Naturally, I wish that I hadn’t. Reading many of the comments following that article made me want to shower, at the very least. However, I did at least run across a possibly useful site which includes a map of which States have, or are considering, photo ID voter laws.

Here’s a few more articles from the Washington Times that ought to raise one’s blood pressure:
“The Rising Number of States Seeing One Party Rule”; and,
“Companies Plan Massive Layoffs as ObamaCare Becomes Reality;

And if all this wasn’t enough, here’s some more crap from Fearmongering about “Currency Wars”; plus, just take a look at some of the “articles” listed on the home page at “FBI Suppressed Petraeus Scandal to Protect President“, and “Norquist to Newsmax: Don’t Surrender Bush Tax Cuts.”

This is our daily open thread–Had enough? I know I did!

Tripping (OVER) Luz: The Light Fantastic

I’ve always enjoyed metaphor, particularly when discussing politics. Today, with the 2012 General Election still wafting in the illume of its afterglow — and given its rather profound and popular (well, profoundly UNpopular to some) assertions — the notion came to me that it might be fun, maybe even worthwhile, to ponder the concept of light and dark as they have come to define today’s American political system. As is readily apparent to the enlightened mind, the Republican Party has come to define, for all practical purposes, the darkness implicit in the regressive side of the human persona. Meanwhile and in starkest possible contrast, a Black (of all things!) American Democrat(!) was stunningly reelected to the office of President of the United States!  Out of Darkness . . . comes Luz? The Light?

Far out! Right?

Well, not really. ‘Tis a fairly common phenomenon, actually, both in scientific reality and in the human persona, in human existence/occupation. Common, yes, but still intriguing, interesting to explore. So, without further ado . . .

Luz: The Light Fantastic

Red — is the Fire’s common tint —
But when the vivid Ore
Has vanquished Flame’s conditions,
It quivers from the Forge
Without a color, but the light
Of unanointed Blaze.
(Emily Dickinson)

Light is, quite literally, the stuff of life.

Around the globe and especially in its more arid reaches, light is ubiquitous, and light is defining.  The common clarity of overhead sky allows the light of both day and night to constantly illuminate by degree, and illumination refines the activities of life.

The first time one encounters severely illuminated aridity, the impression is likely to be strong, seldom tentative.  There is the landscape – typically rugged, jagged, harsh, angular, never overtly delicate or soft.  The endless dome of blue overhead is very often without a single cloud, or sometimes it’s masked by roiling, dark, and fearsome clouds and storms – or, by gentle cumulus, or high and giddy cirrus streaks.  But always, no matter the conditions, there is something magical in the interplay of light and landscape, in pockets or splashes of intense color in rock, or sky, or springtime wild flowers sprinkled across an otherwise drab, tan, and often convoluted surface.

After a time, either of two possible outcomes seems inevitable: one is a wish to leave, quickly; to escape the heat, the thorns, the always sharp edges of aridity, and the blinding light of the midday sky. The other is to seek the unerring beauty intrinsic to form, to subtle color, and to ponder the sheer paradox of a land where everything genuinely is harshly delicate, to become captive to the realization that in the unique, there is no equivalent anywhere.  The urge to explore the subtleties soon can overwhelm, demand immersion.  How can it be?  Why is it thus?  What is it that underlies the mystique of the land, the mystery of the soul — the light — of life itself? How can either be best explored?  Where to begin?

On the nature of light

To the physicist, light is a wave, a photon which races through the cosmos at constant speed, a speed which, in and by itself, establishes limits on all relationships of mass and energy.  The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has located a distant dot in deep space, and each time its orbital coordinates intersect with the coordinates which mark the precise location of that dot, the Hubble gathers another photon or two which have traveled from that source.  With each encounter, the ‘image’ of the dot becomes more refined.  It’s now been calculated that those occasional photons which the Hubble detects emanating from that source have been traveling from that source for approximately 13.5 billion earth-years, or from a time when the universe itself had existed only a scant 300 million years beyond its moment of origin, the so-called Big Bang.

Much closer to earth, approximately 9000 light years distant, lies the Trifid Nebula, a gigantic cloud of gas surrounding a massive star which is hundreds, possibly thousands of times the size of our own tiny sun. The Trifid Nebula is a place where new stars are being created even we speak – as if a fundamental testimony to the endless ‘life’ of light intrinsic to the universe.

Figure 1:  A “Stellar Nursery” area in the Trifid Nebula (HST photo).

The photons that scald and illuminate the earth’s arid regions originate much closer to the earth, of course, but aside from that little detail they’re identical to those already traveled 13.5 billion light years, or 9000 light years, and, in a simple sort of way seem less mysterious.  ‘Our’ photons – generated in the nuclear furnace we call the sun – have a relatively short travel time of seven minutes, give-or-take, and collectively their impact on earth-bound light is a lot more predictable, more useful by sheer weight of numbers.  Sun-generated photons continuously bathe, at any given moment, half of the earth’s surface, with intensities dependent upon both the angle of attack and the migrating atmospheric patterns which stand between the earth’s surface and the sun-weather patterns.

Overall, the temptation amongst the modern throng is to assume things skyward have always been as they are today, that we have a sun, and a moon, and at night, stars arranged in connect-the-dot patterns descriptive of bears, bulls, hunters, etc.  But that which we observe today is far from constant.  True enough, eclipses and comets, though relatively rare, are generally predictable because they are also predictably cyclic, as are the annual migrations of constellations across the night sky.

But there are, sometimes, unexpected and unpredicted perturbations in the observable cosmic ‘norm’.   On July 4 of the year 1054, C.E., people in Asia and in the Americas – including the indigenous peoples of what is today the American Southwest – duly recorded their observation of the sudden appearance of a new ‘star’, a star bright enough to be seen, at first, even at midday.  What they witnessed was not the ‘birth’ of a star, however, but rather the sudden death – an explosive supernova and gravitational collapse – of a star perhaps ten times the mass of our sun, situated nearly 7000 light years distant from earth.  The supernova initially blazed with the light of 400 million of our suns and, had our solar system been positioned within fifty light years of the explosion, it would have been burned to a crisp.  Today, the Crab Nebula has tamed substantially but can still be observed as a glowing mass of gas and dust.

Figure 2:  HST image of the center of the Crab Nebula. The Crab Pulsar is located in the vicinity of the two bright spots near the center of the ‘red’ cloud.

At it’s core is a neutron star which has a diameter of approximately six miles, a mass at least as great as that of our sun, and rotates 30 times each second.  In so doing it unleashes pulses of intense radio emissions – 30 pulses per second – and this “pulsar” acts as a cosmic generating station which produces enough electromagnetic energy that the nebula today shines brighter than 75,000 of our suns.  It is dim to us only because of its distance from the earth, and though it no longer contributes substantially to the light which today blankets the American Southwest, when it was ‘new’, in July of 1054 C.E., the Anasazi were impressed enough to depict the event in pictographs in at least two separate locations including Chaco Canyon and a cave at White Mesa.  Follow the ‘instruction’ in those pictographs today, and each time in each 18½ year lunar cycle that the moon is positioned as it was on July 4th or 5th, 1054 C.E. point a telescope toward the spot in the heavens relative to the lunar crescent as indicated in the Anasazi rock inscriptions, and the Crab Nebula will come into view.

The ancients understood light, that it was central to life itself.  They understood and measured the lunar cycle, and knew how to predict exactly the moments in the solar cycle we now call the equinoxes and solstices, and they understood, precisely, the impact each had on life, on their lives.

Over the entire course of human civilization, light – as it emits from the great darkness – has been understood to enable survival and persistence of not only humankind itself, but of the entire spectrum of life. Over the billions of elapsed years since life first appeared on planet earth, light has been its primary source of energy, the energy which enables the one primary event upon which all life depends for success, i.e. reproduction of kind, and in persistence which, ever present, accepts myriad modification to allow the incredible variety of form and species present today, each and all of which share an interdependence with all of life, hence with light.

It’s generally agreed amongst astrophysicists that the overwhelming percentage of mass which makes up the known universe is matter that cannot be observed directly, appropriately designated as “dark matter.”  Dark matter itself emits no light, but its mass and resultant gravitational effect enables the formation, evolution, and ‘functions’ of galactic clusters, of galaxies themselves, and components therein/thereof.  In that sense, it is dark matter – that metaphoric eternal darkness – which enables the formation of light-emitting sources, stars of every description and which in turn enable the formation and function of life itself.

From the Dark, Luz: Light, Life, and Vision

Light enables life, and life enables vision.  Vision is bifurcate: there is the record of that which exists in the immediate surround, evidenced by ‘sight’, and there is the intellectual extension of sight, often called ‘insight’ which is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “Internal sight, mental vision or perception, discernment; in early use sometimes, Understanding, intelligence, wisdom.”  John Ruskin spoke of insight when he noted that “Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see.”

Ruskin was very concise as he pointed to one of humankind’s most common shortcomings, i.e. an inability to ‘see’ beyond the moment because of an overall lack of insight – or at least an overall resistance to practice same. Today, we sometimes refer to that dilapidation of vision, that darkness of purpose, as Politics.

Nevertheless, the truism remains: to ‘see’ allows comprehension and understanding.  The ancient peoples scattered around the globe understood, and used their intellectual vision to enable their survival – even to prosper – for thousands of years, often in harsh and unforgiving lands.  One could hope, perhaps should hope, that across the breadth of humankind, illumination, not darkness, serves to reveal, to light the way of life on journey toward its own ultimate destiny.  And still, the pages of human history are crowded with evidences of fluctuation: from the light of Ancient Greece to the darkness of the Crusades; from the light of the Renaissance to the Black Hole of German death camps; from the victory over tyranny by the Great Democracies to the impending darkness of a new Imperial age set amidst the unenlightened clash of Capitalist and Cleric; the lessons seem all too difficult to learn, to obey.  But always, when the light dims and when, as the poet Dickinson describes, “. . . the vivid Ore Has vanquished Flame’s conditions, / It quivers from the Forge / Without a color, but the light / Of unanointed Blaze,” the black hole of shallow intellect shatters and life persists, even in, or perhaps because of “. . . the light Of unanointed Blaze.”

Perhaps this “unanointed Blaze” is the light which emanates from that which astronomer Carl Sagan commonly referred to as “star stuff,” and is not encumbered with or otherwise distilled through the faculty of intelligent examination?

In any case, it should be noted that when the “Red of the Fire’s common tint” of the star stuff which defines the gas cloud at the center of the Crab Nebula (Fig. 2) is vanquished by the vivid ore of the neutron star called the Crab Pulsar, the result might become not an unanointed Blaze, but instead a black hole from which no light can e’er escape again.  The choice well may, in that instance and in fact, have already been made – we’ll not know till some 7000 years have passed after the conclusion of the event, because it will take that long for the message to arrive, even as it travels at the speed of light itself.

It could thus be that the lesson we might learn is more simple, i.e. better we rely on the illume from our own sun to show us the way and to provide us with the illume to proceed accordingly.  On the earth, the rocks, the plants and flowers, the animals, the mountains and clouds all know how to deal with illuminations and make them work appropriately.  Only the human animal has, it seems, the tendency to move away, to migrate instead toward the intellectual darkness his fragile ego portends — a phenomenon which today seems to have reached a zenith of sorts, particularly within the realm of Politics, American-style.

So perhaps it would be the wiser course to pay heed to the natural world, to the grand universe itself. When darkness seems pervasive it is, after all, the wise person who recalls the wisdom as (again) was perfectly expressed by the Poet Dickinson:

Those — dying then,
Knew where they went —
They went to God’s Right Hand —
That Hand is amputated now
And God cannot be found —

The abdication of Belief
Makes the Behavior small —
Better an ignis fatuus
Than no illume at all —

Better *any* light, even the glow of swamp gas, than the darkness — the black hole — of unenlightened blaze.

Someone — anyone — please feel free to pass said tidbits on to the Grand Old Party (assuming a remnant of it still exists . . . somewhere . . . in its self-imposed darkness). Meanwhile, a final personal (hopefully poetic) tribute to intellectual illumination, to Luz itself:

Luz: The Light

A thread of light persists as darkness falls;
Luz, life’s subtle flame, shines forth as beam cast
Sharp through reality’s ere darkened pall,
Revealing hints of living soul’s repast.
In darkness, too, the whispers of the muse —
Silent intonations, though heard before,
Evoke reflections of lives lived — a ruse?
Fires sensed by those who live become as cores,
Pure shafts of light. Collections of past times
Not readily dispelled arouse the Source —
The Souls of those long gone returned as mimes,
Intoning memories of Luz, a force
  No darkness can conceal, nor dare it try
  Extinguish light — with shadow, or with cry.

The Watering Hole: November 9 — Get a grip, Republicans

White People Mourning Romney

I mean really, people.  Drama Queen much?  That looks like a jewelry counter in there, I think y’all will be okay — unless potential customers just don’t like how friggin’ silly you’re being.

Hey, does anyone remember how you felt when George W. Bush won re-election in 2004?  I know I was stunned — and it was my BIRTHDAY!  Man, that stung!  I walked around in kind of an astonished daze for about a day, but I never thought this country had “died,” or was doomed for destruction (although GWB gave it one helluva try).

I shook it off, pulled up my big girl panties, and started informing myself.  I realized that, although I had always voted, I had never really been interested in politics and how or why they worked.  I got an internet connection and started looking for information — not knowing the first place to look.  I just had to read and read and read, knowing that because it’s on the internet, it doesn’t mean it’s true.

Sometime in 2005, I found Eric Alterman’s blog, “Altercation.”  He seemed to have a good head on his shoulders, so I checked all his links.  By doing so, I found David Corn’s blog.  I liked him because he was smart and snarky.  I made my first comments online on Corn’s blog.  Then Alterman linked to a brand new blog called “ThinkProgress,” and shit got real!  In a pretty short time, TP went from one or two posts a day, and maybe ten comments, to eight or ten post a day, and hundreds of comments!  I met loads of wonderful people there, and learned SO MUCH from their comments and outlook on life.  I read so much information on so many topics that I’d never heard of before, and it was awesome.  Then, in 2007, when the troll shit got so deep it was over-topping our hip-waders, we left TP and created TheZoo.  I’m still learning today!

My point is this, Republicans and assorted tea-types:  Sure, you’re disappointed.  You had high hopes and dreams that Barack Obama would be a one term President, and it just didn’t work out.  I can’t say I’m sorry about that turn of events, but I understand the feeling.  Sorta.

Here’s a video that might help you start you own journey toward educating yourself about politics in this country, and an actual exploration of facts.  It’s not Fox, it’s Rachel Maddow, but stay with me here.  It might scare you, but it’s 16 minutes of your life.  You can still be furious and hurt, but please stop thinking this country is over.  I don’t know why you think we’re such a fragile country.  I mean really, come on.

Rachel just gave you a huge number of FACTS.  You probably don’t agree with that assessment, but your assignment is to make a list of all those facts and then confirm or debunk them.  You have to be discerning in your sources of information!  No Drudge or Fox, and to be fair, no MSNBC or ThinkProgress.

Remember:  Actions speak louder than words.  John Boehner and Mitch McConnell can stand in front of microphones and say they’re all about “jobs, jobs, jobs,” but check their voting record.  It’s up to you to educate yourself, because it sticks better that way.  Do it for YOU, okay?  This bitterness and anger is going to eat you alive, and no one wants that.

Let’s work together on getting this country back in shape and working again.  Whadda ya say?

This is our daily open thread — And it’s FRIDAY!!!!