Weekendish Gnuz

Tis the weekend, and here’s the GNUZ!

P.S. On vacation for a week starting Sunday, hope to read y’all when I get back.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders: VA Restaurant Kicked Me Out ‘Because I Work For POTUS’
H/T TPM
I’m pretty sure they had their RUC Lying-Bastard-o-Meter on, and turned up full blast.
With the Klaxons, bells, explosions and fou-gasse, the regulars probably insisted she leave them in peace.

And,
Chinese leaders ‘absolutely confused’ by Trump’s demands on trade
H/T Politico
Yes, well… As we all are confused about his mental state, childish rants, incomprehensible fog on every issue.
Welcome to the club, expect CHAOS.

Finally,
Senate left in limbo by Trump tweets, House delays
H/T The Hill
Hey! Better off in limbo, the rest of us are living through this HELL!

Open Thread, send the mutt out to pick it up and deliver it with your slippers!

RUCerious @TPZoo

Daily Gnuz

Monday Edition, Gummint shutdown, President shows great leadersh!t

Department of Homeland Security: Trump administration didn’t consult us for ‘DHS study’ on terrorism
H/T Raw Story
Of COURSE they didn’t consult their own department. Why would they do that? They are just making sh!t up as they go. You know, fake governing!

And,
McConnell Pushes Back Funding Vote But No Deal With Dems Announced Yet
H/T TPM
Turtle stuck between rock, hard place and his soft shell. Thinks he’s going to shame the Dems into caving by holding daily roll calls. Not gonna happen. Why would the Dems hark to the call of false promises of ‘debates’ next month?

Finally,
House GOP warns: We’re no rubber stamp for Senate DACA fix
H/T The Hill
Translation: We’ve got our own pack of nutjobs ready to keep the gawdam gummint shutdown if’n you don’t cave into our effing deemans!

Open Thread, slice it ‘n dice it!

RUCerious @TPZoo

Daily Gnuz

Mundane Munday, and herein be the Gnuz…

States preparing for children’s health insurance program to run out of funding: report
H/T The Hill
Salient quote: Nearly a dozen states are readying for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides insurance to low-income children, to run out of funding, according to a report from The Washington Post.
Five states are at risk of running out of funding for their individual programs by late December, according to the report. Other states reportedly have enough money to keep their programs afloat for a few more months at least.

Tax cuts for the rich, lumps of effing coal for the children. Republican’ts

And,

Congress stares down shutdown amid December deluge
H/T Politico
Lessee, Tax reform, gummint shutdown over budget, CHIP, DACA, Hurricanes, all in a septic stew of sexual abuse and groping allegations, a special pervert election in Alabama, Corker, Flake, Johnson, McCain, Collins not happy, what could possibly go awry>?

Finally,
‘Some actions can’t be forgiven’: Strategist says GOP will pay dearly for supporting Roy Moore
H/T Raw Story
Salient quote: Republican strategist Rick Wilson published a blistering essay at The Daily Beast on Sunday in which he said the GOP is committing an unforgivable sin by supporting “child-molesting, law-breaking, edge-case whackjob” Roy Moore.
Moore, he said, “will stain the Senate and the Republican party with his creepy sexual predilections, his contempt for the rule of law, his thinly-veiled racial animus, and his role in the firmament of Bannonite political arsonists.”

Just another day in wingnuttia, as the sexual predator prezidunce gives the sexual predator candidate a lift. How low will the Alabama electorate go, that is the question.

Open Thread, chew thoroughly then take a cleansing breathe.

RUCerious @TPZoo

Daily Gnudez

Just checking to see if you’re paying attention. No actual Gnudez used in this post. (most viewers now click elsewhere)…

Odds of government shutdown rise after Trump threat
H/T The Hill
Blame game again! It seems as though the only tactic the prezidunce knows is bullying. Perhaps he might take another look at Teddy Roosevelt’s description of the ‘bully pulpit’ and realize it isn’t actually about bullying…but then he’d actually have to read something, so,…never mind…

And

Agitated Trump lashes out at McConnell, Ryan, Clapper, media
H/T Politico
He’s losing it. Salient quote
“The morning missives come just two days after Trump told the crowd at a Phoenix campaign rally, “I don’t do Twitter-storms.””
Or, more aptly, has LOST it. If he ever actually HAD it. Onset of dementia…???

Finally,

More Alt-right Terrorism
H/T Raw Story

Open Thread, enjoy one nightmarish episode at a time
RUCerious @ TPZoo

Daily Gnuz

Some interesting stuff going on today, hump-day, second day of August 2017…

I asked 12 legal experts if the latest Trump-Russia news showed obstruction of justice
h/t Vox
The thought plickens…

And

GOP Chairman opens door to Democrats on ObamaCare
h/t The Hill
Yes, it takes abject failure for the Repbullykins to dump Trump and go back to legislating with normal order.

Finally,

Mulvaney: We still might dump Obamacare subsidies h/t Politico
Dimwitted Prezidunce and OMB director think this threat is going to give them leverage over who/m????…Idiots

And…, A Bonus Round today! Found at Raw Story, even Norwegians can be hysterical bedwetters!
Right-wingers pitch screaming fit over ‘terrifying’ Burqa women — who turned out to be just bus seats
Taking lessons from the Trumpistas – busloads of women going to New Hampshire to vote illegally, we’re sure…

Open Thread, enjoy one byte at a thyme
RUCerious @ TPZoo

Daily Gnuz

And here’s the gnuz for the day, even some that isn’t worth printing, or typing, or exposing to oxygen…

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/343379-senate-healthcare-bill-appears-headed-for-failure
h/t The Hill
Failure. Pretty well describes the entire ‘Republicans try to govern’ last six months of blah.

And

Jeff Sessions: I didn’t talk with Russians about the Trump campaign. New report: Yes, he did.
h/t Vox
Just another Trumpscumbag appointee, lying every time his lips move.

Finally,

‘You know that’s not true’: ABC host nails Sanders for lying minutes after she vows to ‘absolutely’ never lie
h/t Raw Story
Just another Trumpscumbag appointee, lying every time her lips move… (echo)

Open Thread, enjoy one byte at a thyme
RUCerious @ TPZoo

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 28th, 2016: Warning Signs of a Dictatorship

From November 23rd in Foreign Policy Magazine, “10 Ways to Tell if Your President is a Dictator”, by Stephen M. Walt, here’s a brief [believe it or not] summary. (You’ll need to register in order to be able to read the entire article. Registration is free, and allows you access to five articles per month.)

An excerpt from the opening:

“…if you live in the United States, what you should really worry about is the threat that Trump may pose to America’s constitutional order. His lengthy business career suggests he is a vindictive man who will go to extreme lengths to punish his opponents and will break a promise in a heartbeat and without remorse. The 2016 campaign confirmed that he has little respect for existing norms and rules — he refused to release his tax returns, lied repeatedly, claimed the electoral and political systems were “rigged” against him, threatened to jail his opponent if he won, among other such violations — and revealed his deep contempt for both his opponents and supporters. Nor does he regret any of the revolting things he did or said during the campaign, because, as he told the Wall Street Journal afterward, “I won.”[**] For Trump, it seems, the ends really do justify the means.

[**Tweet from WSJ: “When asked if he thought his rhetoric had gone too far in the campaign, Donald Trump told WSJ: “No. I won.”]

“Given what is at stake, one of the most important things we can all do is remain alert for evidence that Trump and those around him are moving in an authoritarian direction. For those who love America and its Constitution more than they love any particular political party or any particular politician, I offer as a public service my top 10 warning signs that American democracy is at risk.”

1) Systematic efforts to intimidate the media.

A free, energetic, vigilant, and adversarial press has long been understood to be an essential guarantee of democratic freedoms, because without it, the people in whose name leaders serve will be denied the information they need to assess what the politicians are doing.

If the Trump administration begins to enact policies designed to restrict freedom of the press, or just intimidate media organizations from offering critical coverage, it will be a huge (or if you prefer, yuge) warning sign.

Trump has already proposed “opening up” libel laws so that public figures can sue the press more easily. This step would force publishers and editors to worry about costly and damaging lawsuits even if they eventually win them, and it would be bound to have a chilling effect on their coverage.

His administration could deny access to entire news organizations like the New York Times if they were too critical of Trump’s policies or just too accurate in documenting his failures. Just because the First Amendment guarantees free speech doesn’t mean some parts of the media can’t be stampeded into pulling punches or once again indulging in “false equivalence.”

2) Building an official pro-Trump media network.

“…While trying to suppress critical media outlets, Trump could also use the presidency to bolster media that offer him consistent support. Or he could even try to create an official government news agency that would disseminate a steady diet of pro-Trump coverage.

In Trump’s ideal world, Americans would get their news from some combination of Breitbart, Fox News, and the president’s own Twitter feed…”

3) Politicizing the civil service, military, National Guard, or the domestic security agencies.

“One of the obstacles to a democratic breakdown is the government bureaucracy, whose permanent members are insulated from political pressure by existing civil service protections that make it hard to fire senior officials without cause. But one can imagine the Trump administration asking Congress to weaken those protections, portraying this step as a blow against “big government” and a way to improve government efficiency.

But if the president or his lieutenants can gut government agencies more or less at will, the fear of being fired will lead many experienced public servants to keep their heads down and kowtow to whatever the president wants, no matter how ill-advised or illegal it might be.

And don’t assume the military, FBI, National Guard, or the intelligence agencies would be immune to this sort of interference. Other presidents (or their appointees) have fired generals who questioned their policy objectives, as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld did during George W. Bush’s first administration when he removed Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, who had the temerity to tell a congressional committee that the occupation of Iraq was going to need a lot more people than Rumsfeld had claimed. Other generals and admirals got the message and stayed out of Rumsfeld’s way for the rest of his disastrous tenure as defense secretary. There have also been fights in the past over control of the National Guard, but a move to assert greater federal authority over the guard would give Trump a powerful tool to use against open expressions of dissent.”

4) Using government surveillance against domestic political opponents.

“This step wouldn’t be entirely new either, insofar as Nixon once used the CIA to infiltrate anti-war organizations during the Vietnam War. But the government’s capacity to monitor the phones, emails, hard drives, and online activities of all Americans has expanded enormously since the 1960s.

As far as we know, however, no one has yet tried to use these new powers of surveillance to monitor, intimidate, embarrass, deter, or destroy political opponents.

…an ambitious and unscrupulous president could use the ability to monitor political opponents to great advantage. He would need the cooperation of top officials and possibly many underlings as well, but this only requires loyal confederates at the top and compliant people below. The White House had sufficient authority, under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, to convince U.S. government employees to torture other human beings.”

5) Using state power to reward corporate backers and punish opponents.

“A hallmark of corrupt quasi-democracies is the executive’s willingness to use the power of the state to reward business leaders who are loyal and to punish anyone who gets in the way. That’s how Putin controls the “oligarchs” in Russia, and it is partly how Erdogan kept amassing power and undermining opponents in Turkey…

…I know, I know: Corruption of this sort is already a problem here in the Land of the Free —whether in the form of congressional pork or the sweet deals former government officials arrange to become lobbyists once they leave office — so why single out Trump? The problem is that Trump’s record suggests he thinks this is the right way to do business: You reward your friends, and you stick it to your enemies every chance you get.”

6) Stacking the Supreme Court.

“Trump will likely get the opportunity to appoint several Supreme Court justices, and the choices he makes will be revealing. Does he pick people who are personally loyal and beholden to him or opt for jurors with independent standing and stellar qualifications? Does he pick people whose views on hot-button issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and campaign financing comport with his party’s, or does he go for people who have an established view on the expansiveness of executive power and are more likely to look the other way if he takes some of the other steps I’ve already mentioned? And if it’s the latter, would the Senate find the spine to say no?”

7) Enforcing the law for only one side.

“…given the nature of Trump’s campaign and the deep divisions within the United States at present, a key litmus test for the president-elect is whether he will direct U.S. officials to enforce similar standards of conduct on both his supporters and his opponents.

If anti-Trump protesters are beaten up by a band of Trump’s fans, will the latter face prosecution as readily as if the roles were reversed? Will local and federal justice agencies be as vigilant in patrolling right-wing hate speech and threats of violence as they are with similar actions that might emanate from the other side?…If Trump is quick to call out his critics but gives racists, bigots, and homophobes a free pass because they happen to like him, it would be another sign he is trying to tilt the scales of justice in his favor.”

8) Really rigging the system.

“…given the promises he has made and the demography of the electorate, Trump and the GOP have every incentive to use the next four years to try to stack the electoral deck in their favor. Look for more attempts to gerrymander safe seats for House Republicans and more efforts to prevent likely Democratic voters from getting to the polls in 2018 and 2020.”

9) Fearmongering.

“Stoking public fears about safety and well-being is a classic autocratic tactic, designed to convince a frightened population to look to the Leader for protection. Trump played this card brilliantly in the campaign, warning of “Mexican rapists,” foreign governments that “steal our jobs,” “scores of recent migrants inside our borders charged with terrorism,” and so on. He also hinted that his political rivals were somehow in cahoots with these various “enemies.” A frightened population tends to think first about its own safety, and forget about fundamental liberties, and would be more likely to look the other way as a president amassed greater power.

The worst case, of course, would be an Erdogan-like attempt to use a terrorist attack or some other equally dramatic event as an excuse to declare a “state of emergency” and to assume unprecedented executive authority. Bush and Cheney used 9/11 to pass the Patriot Act, and Trump could easily try to use some future incident as a — with apologies for the pun — trumped-up excuse to further encroach on civil liberties, press freedoms, and the other institutions that are central to democracy.”

10) Demonizing the opposition.

“Trying to convince people that your domestic opponents are in league with the nation’s enemies is one of the oldest tactics in politics, and it has been part of Trump’s playbook ever since he stoked the “birther” controversy over Obama’s citizenship. After he becomes president, will he continue to question his opponents’ patriotism, accuse them of supporting America’s opponents, and blame policy setbacks on dark conspiracies among Democrats, liberals, Muslims, the Islamic State, “New York financial elites,” or the other dog whistles so beloved by right-wing media outlets like Breitbart? Will he follow the suggestions of some of his supporters and demand that Americans from certain parts of the world (read: Muslims) be required to “register” with the federal government?

Again, these are the same tactics Erdogan and Putin have used in Turkey and Russia, respectively, to cement their own authority over time by initiating a vicious cycle of social hostility. When groups within a society are already somewhat suspicious of each other, extremists can trigger a spiral of increasing hostility by attacking the perceived internal enemy in the hope of provoking a harsh reaction. If the attacked minority responds defensively, or its own hotheads lash out violently, it will merely reinforce the first group’s fears and bolster a rapid polarization. Extremists on both sides will try to “outbid” their political opponents by portraying themselves as the most ardent and effective defenders of their own group. In extreme cases, such as the Balkan Wars in the 1990s or Iraq after 2003, the result is civil war. Trump would be playing with fire if he tries to stay in power by consistently sowing hatred against the “other,” but he did it in the campaign, and there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t do it again.”

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

“This list of warning signs will no doubt strike some as overly alarmist. As I said, it is possible — even likely — that Trump won’t try any of these things (or at least not very seriously) and he might face prompt and united opposition if he did. The checks and balances built into America’s democratic system may be sufficiently robust to survive a sustained challenge. Given the deep commitment to liberty that lies at the heart of the American experiment, it is also possible the American people would quickly detect any serious attempt to threaten the present order and take immediate action to stop it.

The bottom line: I am by no means predicting the collapse of democracy in the United States under a President Donald J. Trump. What I am saying is that it is not impossible, and there are some clear warning signs to watch out for. Now, as always, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Or to use a more modern formulation: If you see something, say something.”

 

This is our Open Thread – feel free to talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 6, 2016: Stumbling Bloc

When catching up on recent political issues yesterday (after having been focused a bit too much on that goddamned Bundy clan and their terrorist cohorts), I ran across this piece on ThinkProgress about the House “Freedom” Caucus. One of my first thoughts while reading it was “the term  ‘Freedom’ has absolutely no connection with the group’s raison d’etre“; after reading it, I grokked that ‘raison’ – reason – didn’t enter into the equation either. An excerpt:

[House Speaker Paul] Ryan spoke about the divisions in the Republican Party at a policy forum hosted by Heritage Action in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, pointing to groups within the party which demand things that are unachievable and refuse to work across the aisle in any way.
“When voices in the conservative movement demand things that they know we can’t achieve with a Democrat in the White House, all that does is depress our base and in turn help Democrats stay in the White House,” Ryan said. “We can’t do that anymore.”

Just a few hours later, four members of the roughly 40-person House Freedom Caucus, a faction of hardline Republicans, said that they will not work with the president and that realism and compromise will cause Republicans to lose elections.

Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) directly addressed Ryan’s comments, saying that the measures the Speaker thinks are “unachievable” are actually just practical, “small things.”

“On the omnibus, the big spending legislation that happened at the end of last calendar year, our group went to leadership and we asked for a couple small things,” he said. “We said do something on this pro-life issue — after all we have this organization that gets your tax dollars and does all kinds of disgusting things. We said it doesn’t have to be defunded completely, but let’s just do something that’s going to protect the sanctity of life.”

According to a Roll Call piece from September 10th, 2015:

“The House Freedom Caucus has spoken.
On Thursday, the conservative HFC took their seventh official position: They will oppose any spending bill that doesn’t defund Planned Parenthood.

“Given the appalling revelations surrounding Planned Parenthood, we cannot in good moral conscience vote to send taxpayer money to this organization while still fulfilling our duty to represent our constituents. We must therefore oppose any spending measure that contains funding for Planned Parenthood.”

Apparently Rep. Jordan and his group are unaware – or willfully ignorant – of the fact that every investigation into the alleged “disgusting things” Planned Parenthood has been wrongfully accused of have found absolutely no evidence to back up those allegations. FFS, even Texas, after exonerating PP, is now prosecuting the criminals who produced the doctored video “proof” that Planned Parenthood was ‘selling baby parts for fun and profit.’ We all know that Texas HATES Planned Parenthood, so one would think that the turn of events there would give the Caucus pause. But, again, ‘reason’ doesn’t seem to enter into the collective mind of the Freedumb Caucus. But I digress…

The ThinkProgress excerpt continues:

“Another “small thing” Jordan pointed to was a request that legislation to reject Syrian refugees be tucked inside the must-pass omnibus spending measure. The bill would have temporarily halted Obama’s plan to bring roughly 10,000 refugees to the United States because of the persistent threats they face in Syria…
…Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) also implied Wednesday that he is not willing to compromise with others in his party, let alone with Democrats. He said that while he knows he has to be realistic with his expectations, “when you have the will of the people and their voice behind you, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.”

I love the way these (in reality) extreme policy shifts are described as “small things.” And it’s particularly ironic that what the House Freedom Caucus considers to be “small things”, which Speaker Ryan called “unrealistic”, are the same things that the current Republican Presidential candidates are running their campaigns on: overturning Roe v Wade, immigration – along with their favorite hopeless cause, repealing Obamacare. Yes, they’re still wasting time trying to overturn Obamacare, now for the 63rd time. I guess that the Repubican’s motto is “if at first you don’t succeed, keep trying and the hell with real governing.”

Pew Research has an interesting piece from October of 2015 on Congress’s “Freedom Caucus.” Here’s a snippet that I found insightful:

“…the Freedom Caucus does not officially disclose who belongs to it (aside from its nine founding members)[**], though various unofficial lists have circulated. Membership is by invitation only, and meetings are not public.”
What most distinguishes the Freedom Caucus from other House Republicans has been their willingness to defy the wishes of leadership…and to band together with like-minded Republicans who threaten to block any temporary measure to fund the government that didn’t also defund Planned Parenthood.”

**Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ) issued a “press release” on January 26th, 2015, announcing the formation of the House Freedom Caucus and its mission statement:

“The House Freedom Caucus gives a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them. We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans.
The HFC’s founding members are Rep. Scott Garrett, Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. John Fleming, Rep. Matt Salmon, Rep. Justin Amash, Rep. Raúl Labrador, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, Rep. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Mark Meadows.”

Along with another 30-odd (very odd!) hard-right Republicans who joined the HFC, after John Boehner decided to give up the position (I suspect mainly so that he could just go home and get drunk,) this small bloc of ultra-conservatives nearly derailed their own party’s contest for the House Speakership by issuing a list of demands questions for Speaker hopefuls. A couple of their “questions” include:

“Would you ensure that the House-passed appropriations bill do not contain funding for Planned Parenthood, unconstitutional amnesty, the Iran deal, and Obamacare?”

~ and ~

“Would you commit to impeach IRS commissioner John Koskisen and pressure the Senate to take it up?”

So they also still believe that the IRS was unfairly targeting conservative groups, despite investigations showing that both religious-right AND non-religious left tax-exempt organizations were audited by the IRS? Paul Ryan is right, they DO need to be “realistic.”

This “freedumb” caucus apparently has zero interest in actual freedom, or governing, or anything beyond their own pseudo-christian-induced tunnel vision. And they’re more than happy to not only fuck with their own party, they’re delighted to fuck with the entire country. As many parents have said to erring children, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

This is our daily Open Thread–have at it!

The Watering Hole, Tuesday December 8, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Maybe it is just me, but these climate summits have been happening for a while yet very little seems to be accomplished. Mr. Peadbody’s coal trains still chugging past former West Virginia mountaintops. Climate summits seem a lot like Earth Day. Feel good for a little while, but there will be no sense of urgency until the officials at the meetings sit around the tables knee deep in water. Climate deniers, while in a vast minority in the scientific community, rule the roost in political circles, where money sets the agenda. A part of me thinks that Republican/Libertarian support of marijuana law changes in the various states is a cultural shift away from ‘religion is the opiate of the people’ to ‘cannabis is the opiate of the people’.

Read on, if you dare.  

 

The Watering Hole; Thursday March 12 2015; Elections Have Consequences

The Congressional election in November 2014 was, in effect, a massive Republican landslide that gave the GOP a numerical majority in the Senate and expanded their majority in the House. The only virtue is that the Senate is controlled only by a simple majority and NOT by a filibuster-proof majority which would imply deadly consequences.

Here in Colorado, the liberal-progressive Senator Mark Udall (son of last century’s Arizona liberal-progressive Rep. Morris Udall) was defeated by a relatively unknown former Colorado (4th district, rural/eastern Colorado) Congressman, Cory (not Chauncy) Gardner. Gardner was a typical right wing candidate. He was anti-abortion and pro- “personhood”; he voted 50 times in the House to repeal the ACA; he supported the proposed secession by five rural Colorado Counties along with their goal of forming a 51st state that would be free of left wing politics; he was financially supported by the Tea Party and was at one time designated the tenth most conservative Republican in the House. Gardner managed to defeat Udall in the 2014 mid-term, an election which saw low voter turnout both nationwide as well as in Colorado — where the voter turnout was the lowest in 70 years.

The Senate reconvened in January, and ever since I’ve been following its (predicted) inaction, and in the process have communicated with my new Senator on issues which deeply concern me, all via appropriate petitions issued by groups to whom I pay special attention. I do this for two reasons: (1) to add one more voice to said issues, and (2) to see what response, if any, I might get from Senator Gardner.

Following are text excerpts from four Gardner replies [all highlights and underlines my own], each sent via (staff-generated) email, on issues concerning wildlife protection (specifically wolves), land preservation (specifically via the Antiquities Act), the Netanyahu-Iran issue, and the Cotton ‘open letter’ to the Iranian government. Note that Gardner’s right wing political philosophy as well as his presumed legislative priorities are clearly evident and in plain view for all to see and read.

February 13 2015; Subject: Wolf Protection

“Colorado has been blessed with great natural beauty and an abundance of wildlife, including occasional populations of wolves. Wolves are rarely found in Colorado and according to the Division of Wildlife, these animals are most likely to be seen in the western part of the state.

“While avoiding extinction is important, it is also necessary to take into account agricultural losses that may impact working families as a result of predatory wolves in residential areas. At present, no legislation concerning wolves has been brought to the Senate floor for a vote in the 114th Congress.”  [According to Defenders of Wildlife, “Recently, two bills were introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to strip wolves in four states, including Wyoming, of any protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).” It’s on its way, i.o.w.]

March 9 2015; Subject: Antiquities Act

“On January 21, 2015, Senator Mike Crapo introduced S. 228, the National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act. This legislation would limit the President’s ability to designate national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906 and make any such designation subject to Congressional approval. Additionally, S. 228 would require the state in which the monument is to be located to pass legislation authorizing the monument. This legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, on which I sit.

“The Antiquities Act has been used in Colorado to protect and preserve some historically significant places. Still, I am extremely skeptical of unilateral action by the President and believe that the American people deserve to be involved in determining what landmarks are most in need of protection.”

March 9 2015; Subject: Netanyahu and Iran

“On January 21, 2015, Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner (R-OH) invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on March 3, 2015. I attended the speech with many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I am a strong supporter of Israel. Israel is one of our strongest friends and allies, and our only democratic ally in an extremely volatile area of the world. As Israel faces continued threats from hostile nations, such as Iran, it is imperative that the United States support Israel in its right to self-defense and preservation.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized the threat that a nuclear Iran would pose to Israel and America, and made it clear that any deal that gives the Iranian regime a path to nuclear weapons is unacceptable. His clear-headed analysis of Iran as the world’s leading sponsor of terror dedicated to the destruction of Israel and America provides crucial context for ongoing negotiations. The United States must make the safety and security of our ally Israel a top priority of our foreign policy. We cannot allow the tentacles of terror the appearance of an opportunity to do harm to America and its allies.”

March 11 2015; Iran, and Cotton’s letter:

“(. . .) The leaders of Iran’s regime, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, need to know that no deal with the United States will be considered permanent without the approval of the Congress which is why I joined 46 other United States Senators in signing an open letter to the leaders of Iran regarding negotiations with the United States about their nuclear program. . . . The American people, through their representatives in Congress, will reject any deal that does not completely eliminate the threat of a nuclear Iran.

“I believe that Iran cannot be allowed to develop nuclear weapons and additional action may be required to stop the progression of its nuclear program. On January 27, 2015, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced S. 269, the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015. I am a cosponsor of this legislation . . . It is imperative that we do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and from becoming nuclear-capable. We must also continue to provide all the support we can toward Israel. Standing by Israel is one of my top priorities in Congress.”

I’m sure I could write a series of multi-page rants on each of the topics listed above, and in the process point out the fallacies implicit that are invariably supported (even cheered) by the far right fascist movement in America. I’ll save those rants for another day, however, and simply restate here the thesis which should be of common knowledge: Elections do, indeed, have consequences. And when the far right political movement gains legislative control, the consequences quickly become SERIOUS. The far right political movement is, of course, the Reagan-inspired GOP that has today become concerned ONLY with acquisition of money and power, and in result cares NOTHING about the environment, about wildlife, about land preservation, even about historically-established international protocol.  it’s the political movement that invariably sees war and combat as the ONLY solution to international disagreement, even as it leaves no stone unturned in its attempts to discredit or destroy the entire of its constitutionally loyal and “We the people” -oriented opposition. Oh, and if I read Gardner correctly, even Israel is of higher priority than (most of) Amurka. Right?

As Herr Gardner has so effectively illustrated, he is indeed one of ‘them’ and will undoubtedly work fervently — and, when the moment demands, seditiously — to thwart anything that is people- or environment-oriented, while at the same time he’ll surely work tirelessly to further enrich the already rich by any and all means possible, including yet another needless war. And “standing by Israel,” of course.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Wednesday: Hump Day, November 19, 2014

Welcome to deregulation  2.0. Republicans are giddy at the prospects of controlling both houses of Congress. Only one thing is certain, come January 2015: Congressional gridlock will be a thing of the past. Staffers and aids will be working overtime this Christmas season, drafting bills to deregulate everything from the workplace to how many peanuts must go into a jar of peanut butter.

That makes this next bit of news even more alarming. Yet, as serious as this is, it has gotten no mention in the mainstream media. So, once again, we at The Zoo bring you this exclusive.

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. (Amendment XIII to the Constitution of the United States of America)

Thanks to three-strikes laws and drug laws falling disproportionately on the poor and minorities, the for-profit prison industry thrives on slave labor. [note: since this post was wrintten on Sunday, this story broke about prison labor in California.] But come January, there will be a seismic shift, as the Republican-led Congress moves to rid the nation of all laws that enforce the 13th Amendment. Not only will owning a slave no longer be a criminal offense, Republicans plan on stripping the jurisdiction of the federal courts to hear cases where someone claims a violation of constitutional rights under the 13th Amendment.

The move is expected to be hearalded as a major blow to terrorism. “They hate us for our freedoms” President Bush observed. By deregulating slavery, terrorists will no longer have a reason to hate us.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 6, 2014: No Nukes for You!

As usual, I found the topic for today’s thread while researching something else: in this case, looking for info on the time frame when Bush wouldn’t let the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) finish its inspection for WMDs in Iraq, just prior to our heedless and headstrong invasion. I never finished that research, as I was distracted by more timely news.

The first IAEA link that came up was, surprisingly, from a Chinese news site, from which I learned that the IAEA is sending a team to Iran shortly for talks on Iran’s progress in meeting certain deadlines regarding its nuclear program. In addition, the National Journal says “The IAEA has sought information on the “potential military dimensions” of the Iranian nuclear program, in particular information about Iran’s extensive research and development of a nuclear explosive device.”

From the Chinese site, xinhuanet.com:

“Iran and the IAEA agreed to implement five practical measures including the cooperation of resolving two points of Iran’s nuclear program related to the alleged nuclear weapon plan, so- called possible military dimensions (PMD) to Iran’s nuclear plan by deadline Aug. 25 in order to provide greater transparency of Tehran’s nuclear program.However, the IAEA said Iran missed the deadline in implementing three measures, and two measures related to PMD issues have yet to be implemented so far.”

Then in an article from Arutz Sheva, Israel National News, the headline shouts “353 US Reps to Kerry: Iran ‘Stonewalling’ on Nuke Detonator”, followed by the opening line, “Stunning bipartisan congressional letter focuses on Iran’s ‘refusal to fully cooperate’ with IAEA over Parchin.”   Hmmm, well, here’s the letter, which I didn’t find particularly “stunning.” The article continues:

“The Congressional Letter’s signatories included almost all of both parties’ leaderships, and was greatly aided by Republican Congressman Peter J. Roskam (R-IL-06) of Illinois, a stalwart, and tireless, advocate of Israel as a vital strategic asset of the United States.”

“This Congressional warning follows a similar warning from Israel Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, who issued a statement last week that emphasized that “credible sources” alleged that “internal neutron sources such as uranium were used in nuclear implosion tests at [Iran’s] Parchin.”

I also found this ^^ article interesting as it includes a diagram of a “neutron initiator” by the infamous AQ Khan – KHAAAAAAANN!  (Sorry, I had to.)

Okay, Congress and Israel, don’t get all freaked out and start shouting “mushroom cloud.” Remember the last time that we had “credible sources” about possible nukes, purportedly in Iraq, and went off half-cocked and half-assed? As Donald Rumsfeld (spit) so insultingly told under-provisioned U.S. troops to their faces, “…you go to war with the army you have—not the army you might want or wish to have…” How many thousands of American and coalition troops died, how many maimed, how many innocent Iraqis were killed? How much of their “sovereign nation” did we destroy? Seriously, do you macho politicians ever remember history, because you seem quite willing to repeat it.

Moving along…again from israelnationalnews.com, blogger Batya Medad writes about the following news:

“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Israel Radio late Thursday that he had agreed to an American framework proposal whereby Israel would negotiate peace with the Palestinians on the basis of the ’67 cease-fire lines with territorial swaps. (Jerusalem Post)”

Ms. Medad then writes:

“American policy is American policy. They promote what they think is good for the United States of America, and they want the support of what they perceive as “moderate Arab states.” The fact that such a phrase is an oxymoron has nothing to do with anything. Let the USA do whatever it wants. My complaints are against the Israeli Government, Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu’s government coalition.

Israel is supposedly an independent country and has been since the 1949 Armistice, which ended the active fighting between the newly established State of Israeli[sic] and the surrounding Arab countries, which had attacked it.

Although the State of Israel has been victorious in all of the wars against us by our Arab enemies, we have had successive governments that beg the United States for support and friendship. Bibi’s acquiescence to American demands is just the latest in a long series of bad policy steps over the decades.”

Oh, my, where do I start with this bit?

How about, if it weren’t for the U.S. and its allies, the State of Israel would not exist?

Or, AIPAC is the biggest and probably most powerful lobby in the United States?

Or, how much money and military equipment and assistance has the U.S. given to Israel throughout its existence?

Or, didn’t you guys actually start some of those “wars against us by our Arab enemies”?

Or, Israel doesn’t “beg the United States for support and friendship”, it demands it unconditionally and unswervingly, then spits in our faces. And when we politely ask that Israel restrain itself a tad when they’re violating the conditions of the 1967 agreement by bombing their neighbors and taking their neighbors’ land, Israel considers it an affront to their sovereignty. Bite me, Israel, you can stop taking our money and assistance, we can certainly use a few extra billion dollars right here.

As to Israel’s worry over the possibility of Iran hiding the development of a nuclear weapon, all I can say is, how big is Israel’s nuclear stockpile that Israel denies exists?

Okay, rant over…for now.

This is our daily open thread – don’t mind me, feel free to discuss whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, HumpDay, June 4, 2014: Breaking Gnus: Obama to Offer New Prisoner Bargain With the Taliban

Tweeter calls in another Zoo Exclusive

Tweeter calls in another Zoo Exclusive

THIS JUST IN: PRESIDENT OBAMA TO ANNOUNCE NEW PRISONER BARGAIN WITH THE TALIBAN

With polititians and pundits heating up over the prisoner exhange that saw the release of 5 Taliban leaders in exhange for one American Soldier, President Obama is taking a bold step by conducting further discussions aimed towards the release of the remaining 149 or so prisoners still held in Guantanamo. Early reports by annonymous sources indicate that the President is on the verge of making yet another deal with the Taliban.

According to low-level interns in the White House document shredding room, Obama has struck a hard bargain with the renegade Taliban government: for every Republican Senator they agree to take, Obama will release 2 prisoners held at Guantanamo; should the Taliban accept all of the Republican Senators, the remaining prisoners will be exchanged on a one-for-one basis with Republican members of the House of Representatives.

Republicans expressed immediate outrage. “If an American Soldier is worth 5 Taliban, a Senator should be worth at least 10!” one eexclaimed. On the other side of the aisle, a Democratic aide observed “It’s about time we got rid of those terrorists once and for all. They’ve caused more damage to the United States than all the prisoners in Guantanamo put together.”

Senator McCain reportedly commented, “I’ve been a prisoner of war, and I can tell you it is pure hell. Whatever I can do to relieve the suffering of those poor men, I’ll do it.” After an aide whispered in his ear, the Senator continued, “But I’ll be damned if I let this President, or any other President, for that matter, negotiate with Congress, I mean, Terrorists!” His aide then quickly whisked McCain out of the room.

Calls to the White House were met with the standard “The White House can neither confirm nor deny these reports.”

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 17th, 2014: Pick an Issue?

I’m sure that I’m not the only one among us Critters and Zoosters who received this email survey from Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) asking, “What should Congress focus on in 2014?”

Which issue matters most to you in 2014?

__Keeping Our Promise to Seniors by Protecting Social Security & Medicare

__Strengthening Our Manufacturing Economy

__Raising the Minimum Wage

__Protecting Women’s Health and Freedom

__Tax Reform That Rewards Hard Work

__Working to Lower Healthcare Costs

__Supporting Small Business Startups

__Investing in Innovation, Science, Research and Technology

Other:

I went with “Other”, more or less:

While most of the above are important issues in my view (“Protecting Women’s Health and Freedom” and “Investing in Innovation, Science, Research and Technology” in particular), I believe that the single most important issue that impacts the future of this country is EDUCATION. We need children who are taught critical thinking, in order to have the ‘Innovation, Science, Research and Technology’ in which to invest. Stressing the basics in: reading (especially reading comprehension); spelling (because words are spelt the way they are for good reason); vocabulary (because words mean what they mean due to their evolution through history); math skills; and the basics in the sciences and technologies, are all paramount. Investing in the future means investing in schools, teachers, and (most importantly) young citizens’ minds.

Really, with all of the problems that our country faces, there are so many important issues to be addressed that it’s impossible to say which is MOST important. And some issues which I would have thought were important are not even on the list, i.e, gun control, environmental issues (climate change, fossil fuel pollution of several sorts, etc.), our failing infrastructure…(sigh) I could go on, but you get the idea.

How would you respond to Senator Baldwin’s survey?

This is our daily open thread–you can answer the survey if you wish, or talk about whatever you want!

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 18th, 2013: Profit Contest to Photo Contest

Even though most of the people who need Obamacare have not yet taken advantage of it, other interests are poised to board the Obamacare money train. The Wall Street Journal’s Howard Gold is encouraging investment in the health care industry. A few snippets:

“This diverse sector, which includes red-hot biotechnology, Big Pharma, medical device makers, hospitals, health insurers, and other services, is profiting from structural shifts far beyond the changes brought in by the Affordable Care Act…In fact, health care stocks may have entered a new secular bull market, which is why you should take some profits on cyclicals and other market-sensitive stocks and reinvest the money into this group.”

“We’re clearly in a favorable environment,” said Andy Acker, manager of Janus Global Life Sciences fund since 2007. “I think this is a question of when this gets resolved, not if,” Acker said. “Millions of people will sign up for health care.”

In an earlier (March 2013) article from conservative moneynews.com, entitled “How Companies are Cashing in on Obamacare”, author Michael Kling wrote:

“Although its critics say Obamacare will increase business costs, some companies are cashing in on the healthcare reform law…CNNMoney reviewed six companies that might reap huge benefits from Obamacare.

Take, for instance, Health Recovery Solutions, a New York City-based start-up that helps hospitals avoid Medicare penalties for readmitting patients. To decrease preventable return visits by Medicare patients, Obamacare levies high cuts to Medicare reimbursements to hospitals that have a certain percentage of these return visits.

Health Recovery Solutions furnishes tablets full of educational videos and information patients can use to care for themselves. Using the tablet, patients send information, such as medications they are taking, to the hospital care team for review.

Eligible, another start-up, takes care of the complex wiring insurers need to quickly answer customer questions about coverage and eligibility, one of the many Obamacare requirements.

GoHealth offers an online tool that enables people to compare health care insurance plans. Consumers can use the platform to enroll in plans or just compare plans before contacting an insurance broker.

QuantiaMD offers a website where doctors can offer presentations, hold private discussions with each other and hold virtual consultations. Pharmaceutical and insurance companies and hospitals sponsor the content on the site.

Obamacare limits the proportion of premium revenue insurers can spend on salaries, overhead and marketing. That’s where Connecture comes in. The Brookfield, Wisc., company provides software that helps insurance companies cut costs through automation. It also helps states with technology needed to create insurance exchanges, another Obamacare requirement.

Another company getting involved with the state exchanges is hCentive, which has built a platform the exchanges can use.

Many of the companies saw their sales jump after the elections. Healthcare companies were not sure Obamacare would be enacted, and state officials were not sure they would still be required to create exchanges by this October…“Many states were waiting to decide to set up their own exchanges — they kept thinking maybe this wouldn’t happen,” Sanjay Singh, an hCentive partner, told CNNMoney.

“they kept thinking maybe this wouldn’t happen” No, they kept HOPING this wouldn’t happen. Because despite their hatred of all things Obama-related, despite all of the conservative hyperbole about “job-killing”, “bankrupting businesses”, “the end of freedom as we know it”, “it’s socialist Obama’s anti-capitalism agenda”, etc., ad nauseum; and despite the 40+ failed efforts by Congressional Republicans to kill Obamacare, every single one of those nay-sayers HAD to realize, deep down, that Obamacare is a boon to the private, capitalistic, for-profit healthcare “industry.” (spit!)

Okay, since you were all good enough to put up with the above drivel, here’s your justly-deserved palate-cleanser…

It’s that time of year again: the National Geographic Photo Contest is open, but only ’til the end of November. I know quite a few of our Critters and Zoosters who should submit a few entries! Here’s last year’s “Nature” category winner, photographed by Ashley Vincent:
busaba-indochinese-tiger_62797_600x450
Here’s two ways to view some or all of the current entries: The Atlantic picked 39 of the photos, and you can just scroll through them. Note that you can also switch from 1024 pixels to 1280 (I chose 1280.) Or you can go directly to the National Geographic 2013 Photo Contest webpage, where there are links to the photos entered to date, as well as links to 2012 winners and other photo galleries. Here’s one of the 2013 entries, by Sam Morris:

Photo Copyright Sam Morris, 2013 National Geographic Photo Contest entry

Photo Copyright Sam Morris, 2013 National Geographic Photo Contest entry

This is our daily open thread, what do you have to say today?

The Watering Hole; Friday, The Ides of March, 2013; Requiem: America

“Beware the ides of March,” said the Soothsayer to Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, (Act I, Scene ii):

Caesar: Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry ‘Caesar!’ Speak; Caesar is turn’d to hear.
Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March.
Caesar: What man is that?
Brutus: A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
Caesar: Set him before me; let me see his face.
Cassius: Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.
Caesar: What say’st thou to me now? speak once again.
Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March.
Caesar: He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.

According to Plutarch’s historical Life of Julius Caesar, “. . . when the day had come and Caesar was on his way to the senate-house, he greeted the seer with a jest and said: “Well, the Ides of March are come,” and the seer said to him softly: “Ay, they are come, but they are not gone.” And thus it was that two thousand and fifty-seven years ago this day, on the Ides of March in the year 44 BCE, Julius Caesar was, as the Soothsayer had predicted, murdered. He was at the Theater of Pompey where he was stabbed to death by his ‘friend’ Brutus, himself parcel to an extensive conspiracy of Senators built around the growing suspicion that Caesar’s intent was to do away with ‘republican’ Rome and instead create a Monarchy with himself as Monarch. Shakespeare’s epic play, Julius Caesar, written circa 1599, takes a few liberties with the details of the moment as recorded by Plutarch, but still it accurately portrays the anxiety implicit in leadership succession, a reality both in 44 BCE and on the horizon again in Elizabethan England at the time the play was written.

A year or two later, in what has proven to be Shakespeare’s most enduringly popular and oft-performed Tragedy, Hamlet speaks of similar fears, though in completely different context:

Hamlet: To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.
To die—to sleep,
(. . .)
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pausethere’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’oppressor’s wrong . . . the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?
(. . .)
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.

More than 400 years have passed since Shakespeare penned those masterpieces, but the implicit human dilemma remains constant. Here in the United States of America, as well as in various elsewheres around the globe, people of serious mind and conscience find themselves concerned with the political evolution: the ‘succession’, if you will, of that well-known and constant tyranny, invariably designed to further empower the powerful, to further enrich the wealthy, and always at the expense of the common folk, the children, and the already poor.

In the United States this day, on 2013’s Ides of March, the government is, in effect, hostage to the immense wealth — and the power implicit in such wealth — held by the smallest handful of people in consort with their bought-and-paid-for lackeys in the US Congress. Thus the House of Representatives, marginally controlled by a (gerrymandered) ‘republican’ majority, patently refuses to do ANYTHING to help solve the nation’s current (and of their own devise) financial dilemma. Instead, they stand in the way of virtually every proposal, preferring to exacerbate rather than address the fiscal problems in order to find the means of blaming everything on their Democratic opposition, including especially the President. They refuse to take ANY actions which might assist in job creation, or education, infrastructure maintenance, health care, dealing with climate change, etc., et al., through and including ANY action that might help ANYONE other than their already rich and powerful owners, and themselves. They have proven to be exceptionally willing, however, to fabricate and vote on myriad bogus proposals designed to eliminate such horrors as contraception and pregnancy terminations; to defund Planned Parenthood; to weaken and eventually destroy labor unions; to prevent any effort to legitimize full and equal rights for the LGBT community; to never allow passage of any and all gun control legislation; to halt any effort at reasonable immigration reform; to inhibit the voting rights of selected ethnic groups typically loyal to the opposition; to defund by any means possible each and every human assistance program; to NEVER allow any tax increase on the already wealthy and/or corporate profits. They have, however, demonstrated unusual alacrity when it comes to finding clever ways of increasing military spending, and of officially naming Post Offices and other federal buildings; with this regard their currents turn awry and lose the name of action.

The Senate is no better. There, the Democrats hold a working majority but thanks to insidious filibuster provisions, they’re unable to pass more than the occasional (and typically unimportant) legislation even as significant proposals seldom if ever even make it to the floor for a vote. Meanwhile, Senate ‘republicans’ support virtually the same regressive agendas as do House ‘republicans’ — all the while the whips and scorns of time, Th’oppressor’s wrong . . . the law’s delay, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit of th’unworthy takes, when he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin continue unabated. How did Hamlet know? How could he predict the antics of today’s US Congress?

Perhaps because their intent is eternally simple — to do whatever might be necessary to ensure the failure of their opposition’s goal of assisting the poor and the middle class, to force the failure, in effect, of the President and the nation that elected him twice — a repeat of those “leadership succession” events in Rome, 44 BCE, and again in Elizabethan England, circa 1600 CE. One is forced to ponder, yet one more time, the question that has plagued mankind since it first evolved: where are the people of Conscience when we need them?

This day, the Ides of March are come yet again, for the 2057th time since the death of Julius Caesar, but they are not gone — as yet another proscribed death appears to be on the horizon: the death of a nation. This nation; the nation where — thanks in no small part to the efforts of its ‘republican’ faction, the political movement which values ONLY the accumulation of wealth and power as means of accession to the throne — the predictable consequences of her errant politics are slowly  becoming perceivable, because:

Requiem, as dirge of sophistic love,
Exposes destinies which nations earn.
Quoth Hamlet: “conscience does make cowards of
Us all – that is, till We the People learn,
Implicitly, that human Cowardice
Exudes contempt for Rationalities.
Meanwhile, mankind’s destiny – Avarice –
Appears in service to those Vanities
Most shallowed minds presume to be their right,
Enabling failure thus of Self, of State.
Repression blooms and quickly dims all light
Intrinsic to the heart of Freedom’s Fate –
Consumed – whilst words of Truth, now specious, Moan . . .
And stand as lifeless slogans . . . etched in stone.

R E Q U I E M      A M E R I C A
Q.E.D.

Footnote: On the Ides of March, 1945, Adolf Hitler’s Minister of Armaments, Albert Speer, had become aware of Hitler’s pending edict that, as the Allied armies approached, everything that remained within Germany was to be destroyed via a genuine scorched earth policy. Hitler saw such destruction as a means of denying plunder to the Allies, also as punishment of the German people for losing the war. Speer took serious issue with the thesis, and on March 15 1945 he penned a 22 page document to be delivered to Hitler by Colonel von Below. In the document he wrote, “No one has the right to take the viewpoint that the fate of the German people is tied to his fate.” Or in other words, ‘just because you’ve failed as leader doesn’t mean the people have also failed.’ Hitler did still make the decree that Germany be destroyed, but he also put Herr Speer in charge of carrying out the order. Speer purposely ignored it, and though Germany was soon defeated, the scorched earth policy was avoided.

Hamlet said, “conscience does make cowards of us all,” but he doesn’t define “coward” beyond his embedded context. Causes one to speculate a bit: was, e.g., Albert Speer’s action to deny the destruction of Germany an act of conscience’, and was his refusal to carry out his leader’s orders and the policies embedded therein what one might expect from a ‘coward’ driven by ‘conscience’? Could it be that, in Hamlet’s context, the actions taken by a ‘coward’ made by ‘conscience’ are, in reality, potentially heroic acts?

The Ides of March are come again, and the beat goes on, and on, and on. Perhaps We the People should, as an act of ‘conscience’, contact our own “leadership” in Washington, D.C., and in the various states . . . and explain that we, as ‘Cowards’ who do NOT respect our “leadership’s” disdain for the poor, the elderly, the infirm, minorities of every kind, as well as the common man, will have no more of it, that we are thus prepared to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them, that we are also willing (and able) to, in Hamlet’s words, their quietus make with a bare bodkin.

I suspect the ‘republican’ majority in the Congress, acting as the Cowards WITHOUT Conscience that they constantly prove themselves to be, would immediately  pass legislation demanding that each and every sale/purchase of a bare bodkin requires both a background check AND licensing . . . followed immediately by an order for a truckload of fresh Depends.

This is today’s open thread; ‘words of Truth’ are welcome, or:  “Cry ‘Havoc!’, and let slip the dogs of war”!

The Watering Hole: Thursday, February 28, 2013 The Suppression of Economic Recovery

Image

Why is Nobel economist Paul Krugman continually ignored?

The Perils of Hoarding Cash

So, I’ve had a mild-mannered dispute with the economist Joe Stiglitz over whether individual income inequality is retarding recovery right now; let me say, however, that I think there’s a very good case that the redistribution of income away from labor to corporate profits is very likely a big factor.

Take a look at the chart on corporate profits as a share of gross domestic product. Corporations are taking a much bigger slice of total income — and are showing little inclination either to redistribute that slice back to investors or to invest it in new equipment, software, etc. Instead, they’re accumulating piles of cash.

If you put money in a bank, the bank might just accumulate excess reserves. If you buy securities from someone else, the seller might put the cash under his mattress, or put it in a bank that just adds it to its reserves, etc. The point is that buying goods and services is one thing, adding directly to aggregate demand; buying assets isn’t at all the same thing, especially when we’re at the zero lower bound.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon: ‘We Actually Benefit From Downturns’

“This bank is anti-fragile, we actually benefit from downturns,” Dimon bragged to his bank’s investors at a conference on Tuesday.

And it is true! The bank definitely benefited from the last downturn. It got to buy Bear Stearns in a government-backed fire sale, getting itself a brokerage business on the cheap in exchange for shouldering only a few tiresome legal burdens. It also got billions of dollars in government handouts, from $25 billion in TARP funds to billions in savings from low-interest-rate borrowing programs to a permanent subsidy arising from the idea that the government will bail out the bank if it ever gets in trouble.

And now we’re looking at the impending sequestration which in all likelihood will further stall economic recovery.  Do politicians just not care about citizens or are they intentionally trying to keep us down?  What do they gain by keeping us afraid of impending poverty?  Just as they frightened us with the dangers of Obamacare which will actually benefit most they now say spending to stimulate the economy will destroy us with debt.  Do out of work people really believe that the national debt is more harmful to them than not having a job and losing unemployment benefits?

Why Everything Republicans Are Saying About The Sequester Is Wrong

THIS IS OUR OPEN THREAD.  SAY ANYTHING.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, January 3rd, 2012: Thank You, Mr. President

Gee, I feel so special: the President’s Campaign Manager wrote directly to ME! Yeah, I know, everyone on their mailing list received this email, but…anyway, here’s Jim Messina’s email, featuring President Obama’s explanation of the deal that he made to ruin John Boehner’s career keep middle-class Americans from being hit with a tax increase:

Jane —

The President reached an agreement with Republicans and Democrats in Congress on the “fiscal cliff” that prevents a tax hike on 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses, while fulfilling the President’s promise to ask the wealthiest Americans to begin to pay their fair share to reduce the deficit.

President Obama recorded a video to update supporters like you on what’s in the agreement and what it means for you — watch it and share it with friends and family:

It’s thanks to people like you who spoke up and contacted your members of Congress throughout this debate that we were able to avoid a crippling tax hike.

As we address our ongoing fiscal challenges, the President will do exactly what he said he would on the campaign trail — working for the middle class and all those fighting to get into it, and building an economy from the middle out, not the top down.

There will be more soon. For now, thanks for all you do, and happy new year.

Jim Messina
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

This is our Open Thread. What’s on your mind today?

Watering Hole: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 – No Deal is Better Than a Bad Deal

I went to a rally on Saturday.  It was held in front of the local office of Representative Jim Gerlach (R).  He represents the Pennsylvania 6th Congressional District.  Of course, neither Jim nor his staff were there as they don’t work on weekends.  The Republicans in Congress want us to work until we are 70 years old before we can collect our Social Security retirement money.  On the other hand, they only want to work 1/3 of the year and still collect full pay and full benefits.

Rep. Jim Gerlach was re-elected in November and that is because he tells his constituents that he is a “moderate”.  That’s bullsh*t.  He is a placeholder for Republican votes and he votes as he is told to vote by the House Speaker, John Boehner.  Gerlach voted to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid yet the local press was silent about his vote.  His opponent didn’t have much money and he had a large territory to cover to get name recognition.  The media area is the greater Philadelphia area which makes it expensive to advertise.  Rep. Jim Gerlach refused to debate his opponent because he didn’t want anyone to know anything about his opponent, Manan Trivedi.  As for town hall meetings, they are held via the telephone because Gerlach does not want to be confronted by unhappy constituents.  Yeah, I’ll say it.  Rep. Jim Gerlach is a coward.

Enough of my rambling.  Here is a picture of the poster that I was holding.  H/T to Outstandinginthefield for the wording and thank you to everyone else for your good ideas.  I will hold onto those for possible use at another time.

https://i2.wp.com/i336.photobucket.com/albums/n347/paforchange/DontBeaGrinch.jpg

Live in your strength!

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!  Be heard!  Contact your House Representative!

(this is cross posted at Pennsylvania for Change)

The Watering Hole, Thursday, September 20th, 2012: Veterans for Romney?

So far, the one and only yard sign for Mitt Romney that I’ve seen read “Veterans for Romney.” Since I cannot imagine any reason why any veterans would support Romney, I started looking for further information.

The website vetsforromney.com only leads to more confusion: it consists of a photo of Romney with some people dressed in military garb, and a section entitled “Our Platform”; here’s a few bits of said “platform”:

A Responsive Department of Veteran Affairs (VA): As with most government agencies, the VA is growing to become a behemoth…

[sigh – Mitt, keep ignoring those eight years increase in the size of the government under George W. Bush, and keep ignoring the provable fact that President Barack Obama cut several hundred thousand government jobs.]

National Defense: The strength of this nation is built on the bedrock of a strong national defense. They call it low hanging fruit. It’s easy to target defense spending as the first area of cuts. unchecked spending threatens the sovereignty of our nation. Excessive levels of debt disrupt all financial units – whether it be a family, a business or a local, state or federal government. But, the knee jerk reaction can not be to axe away at defense spending while the current administration is unwilling to even mention, let alone seriously consider, reductions in entitlement programs. The strength of this nation is built on the bedrock of a strong national defense.

[Okay, yeah, yeah, strength, bedrock, defense, enough! Mitt, quick question: how do you reconcile this sentence with the one that immediately follows? “It’s easy to target defense spending as the first area of cuts. unchecked spending threatens the sovereignty of our nation.”

However, that site led me to some interesting places. Clicking on “ISSUES” at the top brought me directly to…a page on Mitt Romney’s website. There is not one single word on this page regarding veterans, nor in the available links to a variety of “issues” (including “Human Capital”, a disgusting and degrading term.) So, Mitt, what about those veterans and military families?

Next…at the bottom of the “Issues” page is a box that says “Paid for by Romney for President, Inc.” I tried looking into “Romney for President, Inc” and found two sites: one which, oddly, lists Romney’s campaign staff along with brief bios of each; the second appears to be a business search site, simply listing the corporation, its address and a little contact info. Nothing there about veterans and their families, either.

One of the other tabs on the Romney site was labeled “COMMUNITIES”, which was where I found “Veterans and Military Families for Romney.” Aha! I thought: now I’ll find something about why veterans would support Mitt Romney. However, the page does not seem to have any actual Veterans and/or Military Families writing or speaking in support of Mitt Romney. Aside the usual requests for donations, and offers to purchase “Veterans for Romney” merchandise, the only mention of the military is a story about “National Military Voter Readiness Day”, which apparently occurred this past Saturday, September 15th.

The “NEWS/BLOG”, linked from the ‘Veterans for Romney’ website, appears to be a work that’s not in progress. Underneath its amateurish appearance, it at least gives a sort of time-capsule, there are some gems of information about Romney’s reign in Massachusetts, such as a 2007 report by the Gun Owners’ Action League (GOAL). Here’s an excerpt:

General Comments:
In the first months of the Romney administration the Governor isolated himself to all but a handful of close advisors most of whom came from the business community. This caused the Governor to make some rather serious political missteps that could have been avoided through better communications. However, relations dramatically improved and in the end, GOAL had more access to this administration than any other since the days of Governor Ed King in 1979.

Okay, STILL no mention of veterans and their families, jobs, the V.A., etc.

Either Mitt Romney doesn’t have a plan for America’s veterans and military families, or it is extremely well hidden.

I want someone to ask Mitt Romney to tell America’s veterans whether he approves of the Senate Republicans’ filibuster of the bipartisan Veterans Jobs Corps Bill killing it until next year. I want someone to ask Mitt Romney why he refuses to cut a dime from the bloated Defense budget, yet will be happy to cut “entitlements” and the “behemoth” V.A., which benefit veterans and active military personnel.

Again I ask, why “Veterans for Romney”?

This is our Open Thread. Speak Up on any topic that you choose.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 14th, 2012: The GOP Fab Five?

Today’s thread didn’t start with Newsmax.com – in fact, I don’t actually remember where it started, but my nosing around quickly led me there.

Now that Rick Santorum has officially dropped out of the Presidential race, and with Newt Gingrich not even visible in the rearview mirrors of Mitt Romney’s Mustangs, I took a respite from Presidential politics. An article at Newsmax reminded me that November will bring other contests, one of them being my own Congressional Representative, Nan Hayworth (R-NY.) The article, “Five GOP Freshmen: Here’s What We’ve Learned”, references the original, complete piece at Politico, giving brief blurbs about New York Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY-13th), North Carolina Representative Renee Ellmers (R-NC-2nd), New York Representative Nan Hayworth (R-NY-19th), Florida Representative Allen West (R-FL-22nd), and Arizona Representative David Schweikert (R-AZ-5th.)

About Michael Grimm, Politico mentions:

A former FBI agent and Marine, Grimm credits the skills he learned in those positions with his ability to take on Washington and be a successful politician, and he says it gives him motivation to keep going. “Having served overseas, having served in combat, I’ve seen some of the darkest places in the world, and I’ve seen the look in people’s eyes when there is no humanity, when there is no hope, when there is no liberty. … What we have is fragile; our liberty, our freedom is taken for granted everyday.”

Huh? Has he seen the look in his constituents’ eyes lately?

Next, Renee Ellmers: from Politico,

…one issue she has no problem speaking out on is health care. The issue is near and dear to her heart as Ellmers is a former nurse, and her husband is a surgeon. Like many of her freshman colleagues, she came into office running on anti-“Obamacare” sentiment and still lists repeal of the health care law has her top priority.

“I’m a member of the [Republican] Doctors Caucus, and we’re very active in putting together different pieces to put into place … a free-market patient-centered program,” she said.

If healthcare is “near and dear to her heart”, how could she possibly believe that the “free market” would make healthcare better or more affordable?

Rep. Hayworth‘s blurb says, in part, “While she has moderate views about climate change and abortion, New York tea party Republicans have backed her.” Hmm…those “moderate views” include pushing for more off-shore oil drilling, and although she says that she is pro-choice, Hayworth believes that the issue of abortion should be left up to the States. Which leads me to wonder how she views what the Republican Governors are doing to abortion rights.

I love how the bit on Allen West begins: “This feisty freshman has earned a lot of attention for his strong, forthright rhetoric.” Sounds like West is being introduced on some nightmarish version of The Dating Game. “Feisty”? “Feisty on steroids”, possibly. That the delusional and psychopathic West ever got elected to public office in the first place is frightening enough, but that he’s considered to be one of the bright stars of the Republican Party is mind-boggling.

David Schweikert of Arizona blames the Senate for the gridlock in Congress. Enough said.

These five freshman representatives are just a sampling of the Republicans who will be defending their seats in November. Oh, joy, I can’t wait to go over the rest of the field. Sigh…

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole: Tuesday, February 7 – Picture of the Day

HT: Political Carnival and Twitter User @gottalaff

This goes without any comment from me.

Fellow Critter Wayne A.Schneider mentioned this in yesterday’s comments and I think it is today’s must read: The Washington Post

This is seriously good reporting and shows which lawmakers need to be replaced in Congress. Be it Democratic or Republican.

This is our Open Thread. Weigh in!

Live-blogging the State of the Union address

(photo source: whitehouse.gov)

Hello, everyone!  This evening is something more pleasant, or at least easier to take than the endless GOP clown fests — the annual address to Congress by the President regarding the state of the union.

Fun fact: You know that whole process wherein the guy says “Mr Speaker, the President of the United States,” and then the President makes his way to the podium, shaking hands along the way?  Apparently there’s a formal protocol to that process.  Very interesting!

It’s been a busy year for the President, if not for Congress, since he’s actually interested in doing his job.  It should be an interesting speech, since it will double as his first campaign speech of the 2012 election season.

If you’re wondering what President Obama has accomplished during his presidency, here’s a handy dandy list (it might be a bit dated).

If you’d like to tune in to the speech online, you can watch it on whitehouse.gov.  They’ll be providing chart, stats, and data that helped the President make policy decisions over the last year.  That could be distracting, but we’ll see.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels will be giving the GOP response this evening.  That’s always good for a laugh.  John Boehner has already declared the speech “pathetic,” and that’s a topic with which the Speaker is quite familiar.  I don’t know about you, but I anticipate misbehavior by the GOP members of Congress.

Join us in the comments section to do your own live-blogging, or simply enjoy the efforts of the other commenters, either way — HAVE FUN!!