So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish

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Our dear friend Paul Jamiol has officially hung up his ‘editorial cartoonist’ hat for the election season, and will be focusing more on his photography, his wife, and his dogs. To keep up with his future endeavors, you can visit Jamiolsworld.com.

Paul’s ‘toons have graced TheZoo’s pages for most of our 16 years, and his custom header artwork depicting the original Critters was a wonderful and thoughtful gift to us.

Here are the last few ‘toons from Paul’s mind and hand. Note, the Kanye one is actually from August, but I forgot to post it – it still fits in with the current events.

No, Paul, “Thank YOU!”

Open Thread, say whatever you want.

Are You Ready for IMPEACHMENT?

US-POLITICS-INVESTIGATION-WOMEN-RUSSIA

With the Senate’s Impeachment Trial of “donald john trump” beginning tomorrow, here’s some light reading to prepare yourselves regarding each team’s basic arguments, should you wish.

Okay, it’s not really “light reading” – well, the trump team’s “Answer” to the House impeachment managers’ “Trial Memorandum” was “light reading” as far as substance and credibility go. It’s also literally light in weight: at a mere six pages, maybe an ounce?, vs the weightier (in all aspects) 110-page House Trial Memorandum.

Since I haven’t actually read the House’s tome, let’s start with the trump team’s “Answer.”

“Ridiculous” is the best way to describe it, starting with its heading:

IN PROCEEDINGS BEFORE
THE UNITED STATES SENATE

ANSWER OF PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP

Seriously, they won’t even use the word “impeachment” in the heading, as if not saying it means it didn’t happen.

The opening paragraph repeats the tired arguments that the Dems have been trying to impeach trump since his inauguration, and trying to “overturn” his election:

The Articles of Impeachment submitted by House Democrats are a dangerous on the right of the American people to freely choose their President.  This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election – now just months away.  The highly partisan and reckless obsession with impeaching the President began the day he was inaugurated, and continues to this day.

It has already been argued by smarter people than me that, if an election were to be “overturned” (and the second paragraph also mentions “nullifying an election”), then the candidate who lost would become the winner, and all of the current president’s actions would automatically be null and void.  This idea is just as impossible as it sounds, and no one except an idiot would believe it.  Therefore, trump’s minions all subscribe to this notion.

The trump team’s arguments continue by stating that Article 1 of the Impeachment doesn’t indicate any “crime or violation of law whatsoever”, and claims that “At all times, the President has faithfully and effectively executed the duties of his Office on behalf of the American people.” At this point, they go into the so-called “perfect call” to Zelenskyy, trying to push that the call was about corruption and about other countries “not carrying their fair share.”

Here’s the fun part (and from this and other details included in trump team’s arguments, you can see why many say that trump had direct input or wrote some of this himself):

…the transcripts of the April 21 call and the July 25 call disprove what the Article alleges.  When the House Democrats realized this, Mr. Schiff created a fraudulent version of the July 25 call and read it to the American people at a congressional hearing, without disclosing that he was simply making it all up.”

Anyone who watched the first impeachment hearing knows that Chairman Schiff both preceded and followed his ‘mob’ parody of trump’s call with a disclaimer stating that he was paraphrasing.  Conservatives simply don’t get ‘irony’, ‘sarcasm’ or ‘satire’.

In trump team’s argument against Article 2 of the Impeachment, regarding obstruction of Congress, they state, in part:

…the notion that President Trump obstructed Congress is absurd.  President trump acted with extraordinary and unprecedented transparency by declassifying and releasing the transcript of the July 25 call that is at the heart of this matter. [emphasis theirs]

This is an out-and-out lie.  The actual “transcript” is still hidden in the ultra-secret server (gee, I can’t imagine why) and all we have seen is the call memo, which is damning enough.

Here’s one part that I really don’t get:

Following the President’s disclosure of the July 25 call transcript[sic], House Democrats issued a series of unconstitutional subpoenas for documents and testimony.  They issued their subpoenas without a congressional vote, and, therefore, without constitutional authority.

Huh?  AFAIK, a congressional committee doesn’t need a full vote of the House in order to issue subpoenas.  I have no idea whose ass this came out of, but it smells pretty bad to me.

You can read the rest of the trump team’s arguments and see for yourself how pathetic and, indeed, ignorant they sound.

Now the House’s “Trial Memorandum”: as I said, I haven’t read it yet, but here’s a brief synopsis from Raw Story.:

The document divides the argument by the House of Representatives into three points.

“The Senate should convict President Trump of abuse of power,” is the first section.

“The Senate should convict President Trump of obstruction of Congress,” is the second section.

“The Senate should immediately remove President Trump from office to prevent further abuses,” is the third section.

Raw Story also includes the outlines for the House’s arguments regarding each point.  If you’re like me, and watched or otherwise kept up with the impeachment hearings, their arguments should be familiar to you.

I’ll stop here in order for there to be time to read more of the details.

And while I was finishing up this thread, the House Impeachment Managers issued their own response to the trump team’s “Answer.” I should have waited a little longer!

Edit:  For reference, here’s White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s “fuck you” letter to Gerry Nadler.  I think he used trump’s Sharpie to sign it:

THIS IS AN OPEN THREAD – FEEL FREE TO COMMENT THROUGHOUT THE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL.

Sporadically Gnuz Special

Howdy Critters.
Sorry for the lengthy absences, but life, family and work seem to take up 105% of my time these days.

Not to mention the miserable state of our dis-union.

But, here’s another episode of Sporadic Gnuz, pried from the cold dead hands of the Guttenberg digital press.

Supreme Court on 5-to-4 vote blocks restrictive Louisiana abortion law
H/T Wa Po

A big fat up yours to the tiny horde of internet trolls predicting a swift end to Roe v. Wade.
And, not just up yours, but perhaps with a yard long strand of rusty barbed wire.

And,
Young People Really, Really Want a Green New Deal
H/T The Nation
More heartening Gnuz.
Now we just need to get the hell out of their way and kick out all the azzhole politicians in their way.

Finally,
AOC Lays Bare How Dark Money Corrupts Everything
In Thursday’s hearing on HR 1, Democrats’ ethics bill, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used her time to demonstrate how dark money corrupts everything.
H/T C&L

Open Thread, cherish it and tuck it into bed tonight!

RUCerious @TPZoo

Daily Gnuz – New and Improved!

Well, at least New, as in New Year.
Sorry about the hiatus, been buried at work and raising the two kids…

Anyhoo, here’s what appears to be passing as Gnuz these days.

Here’s Trump’s latest offer to end the shutdown — and why Democrats aren’t interested
H/T Vox
The TrumpShutdown now at historical length, baby making doodoos in his Depends to get his WaLL.
Sad.

And,
Internet brutally mocks Trump after he claims the wall worked in San Antonio — which is nowhere near border
H/T Raw Story
No mocking of this fake Prezidunce is brutal enough.

Finally,
Immigration hardliners blast Trump’s shutdown deal offer
H/T Politico
Poor T.Rump. Caught between the CoulterBaugh and the Nuck&Chancy nightmare. Most likely consoling himself with mountains of cold Big Macs.

Open Thread, pick it up and run with it!

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

Thurzday, and here’s the Gnuz!

Shutdown drama grips the Capitol
H/T The Hill
The House TeaPartiers are holding up the process by demanding a vote on an idiotic piece of legislation that has no hope of ever becoming law. The incompetent Republicans unable to govern. Sad!

And,
Vox Sentences: The Democratic momentum continues in Wisconsin
H/T Vox
Another Democratic win by 9% in a state district that went for Trump by 17%. Jig’s up incompetent TrumpLickers.

Finally,
Trump says privately that a terror attack could save him and GOP from 2018 election bloodbath: report
H/T Raw Story
Beware the false flag red alert…He would do it…

Open Thread, Get your boots on and head for cover!

RUCerious @TPZoo

Daily Gnuz

It’s finally Friday, this week felt like a month and a half…Here’s the FriGnuz

The GOP is trying to pass a super-unpopular agenda — and that’s a bad sign for democracy
Political science (and common sense) says they ought to pay a price at the polls. They might not.

H/T Vox
We now live in a pluto/kleptocracy, where corporations rule the people, money is speech, and elections are bought and paid for by PACs funded by the 1%.

And,
Russian social media exec reached out to Scavino, Trump Jr. during campaign: report
H/T The Hill
Just a matter of time until they connect the micro targeting of the Russki ads on social media to the Trump campaign, digital wing and the bastards at Cambridge Analytics…

Finally,
Congress clears spending bill, averting shutdown
But Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on a broader budget agreement.

H/T Politico
Can has been punted two weeks down the road. Let’s kill the gummint for Xmas! (Note: Picture of Nancy Pelosi surrounded by white male assholes and their body language is bizarre

Open Thread, Hope you survive the weekend!

RUCerious @TPZoo

Daily Gnuz

Wednezday, Humpf Day, and Here’z the Gnuz!

Senate GOP Hold-Outs Moving To ‘Yes’ On Tax Bill After Promises From Trump, Leadership
H/T TPM
Here we go, down the primrose lane…with thorns for the 99% and gilded lillies for the 1%

And,
North Korea’s latest missile test went more than 10 times higher than the space station
H/T Vox
Looks like they are almost nuclear capable…Scary sheiss considering the two leades are 40 years apart chronologically, but are mirror images of themselves egotistically and emotionally.
Trump retorts… “I will only tell you, we will take care of it”. Hopefully he will do something more productive than shatting himself.
Finally,

Trump Says He’ll Blame Democrats If The Government Shuts Down
H/T C&L
It doesn’t matter what the Prezidunce calls it, or who he blames for it. The Republicans control the government, and they will own it. All the way to November 2018.

Open Thread, Glad hand it, then put it back on the shelf!

RUCerious @TPZoo

Semi-Daily Gnuz

And, in today’s not so top stories…
Trump: ‘I just don’t want a poor person’ in top economic roles h/t The Hill
No Shit Sherlock. What happened to ‘drain the swamp’? Oh…Right… Except for cronies, Wall Street barons and the rest of the One Percenters

And

Three Ideas to Check Trump and Revive the Democratic Party h/t Paul Glastris @ Wa Mo
I personally like #3. Your take?

Finally,

Senate GOP to bring Obamacare repeal bill out of the shadows h/t Politico
My best guess is that it’s close enough to the disaster that the House rolled out to get a conference compromise done.
As much as it’s going to hurt, it may be necessary for the nation to feel the excruciating pain that is coming, in order to kick the R’s out of office in ’18 and/or 2020.

Open Thread, feel free…

RUCerious @ TPZoo

Daily Gnuz

Good Solstice Day Morn to you all.

And, as the seasons turn, here’s the gnuz…

A frantic scramble before possible healthcare vote next week h/t The Hill
Yes, a frantic scramble to CYA before the feces hits the proverbial wall of shame.

And

Corker: ‘I Cannot Possibly Imagine’ Trump Would Fire Special Counsel (VIDEO) h/t TPM
That’s weird, because I can totally imagine it…. Hmmmm…

& Finality wise

Georgia special election: 7 things to watch h/t Politico
Could this be the beginning of the turn around? Or, will we see yet another close call that tries desperately to get spun as a moral victory?

Open Thread for today

RUCerious @ TPZoo

The Daily Gnuz

It’s Monday.

Yes, I know, that’s not gnuz, that’s just depressing.

However, here are a few tidbits to chew on…

NSA Chief Mike Rogers ‘May have his own bomb to drop’ Wednesday   –ht/ C&L

Which brings up the question, would the orange jumpsuit go better with gold or chrome bracelets?

 

And

Filed under ‘do as I say, not as I doo(sic)

 After Calls To ‘Get Down’ To Business, Trump Goes On 23rd Trip To Golf Course –h/t TPM

23 Golf Excursions in 19 weeks of feebly Preziduncing. Some kind of record.

 

Finally,

 Trump: I am calling it a ‘TRAVEL BAN!’ –h/t The Hill

Almost tragicomical that this Prezidunce doesn’t get it. Yes, Mr. Prezidunce, it is a travel ban…applied only to predominantly Muslim nations. Nations whose citizens have no record of committing terrorist acts here in the USA. Your intent is abundantly clear, dumbkoff.

 

Open Thread (300 count), Have At It.

RUCerious @ TPZoo

Daily Nuze

Good Morning Zoosterians.

This is my first attempt at a daily thread, hope it works.
Well, aside from the new editor page not working to show the anchors, I guess this is OK. I’ll try to get the HTML working for the next post. Let me know if the links don’t work…

I will have several posts a week if all works out, including topics such as Daily Nuze, The Jobs Aren’t Coming Back, and What the H*ll.

This morning’s top articles:

Who the hell would want to work for This Guy

Trump faces shrinking talent pool for new hires. No kidding. As the new press secretary, your prelim meeting goes something like:

Now remember, the truth is what is between the Prezidunce’s ears, nothing else should concern you, now get out there and defend his misquotes and fabrications, dammit!

ht/ The Hill

 

And, in the same vein:

‘Who wants to sign up for crazy?‘: Trump looks to GOP establishment — but they want no part of him

h/t Raw Story

 

And, one more story of interest this AM

 AP: Trump Has Been Giving World Leaders His Cellphone Number

That’s one way to try to be popular, albeit a somewhat risky one…

h/t TPM

RUCerious @ TPZoo

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 24th, 2017: The Boob Tube Prez

In the same troubling vein as the recent Time Magazine interview with President trump, here’s a few disturbing articles about trump’s overriding fascination with all things TV.
A recent Raw Story article demonstrates the incompetence of both trump and his aides, and shows that trump’s is a presidency without anything resembling an “administration”:

“Some of President Donald Trump’s top aides worry that too much of his time is unsupervised, which — in the past — has led to serious unforced errors that undermine him and his administration.”

Yeah, not to mention the entire country, and world stability.

“And while some advisers support the president’s unconventional approach to the job, others worry that these holes in the president’s schedule are where he goes awry and “watches too much TV”, gets overexcited and posts inflammatory — frequently inaccurate — rants online or speaks by phone with people who encourage his worst instincts.”

What trump’s advisors SHOULD primarily be worrying about is the fact that there are so many “holes in the president’s schedule.” His aides should be scheduling tutors in remedial civics, the Constitution, presidential protocol, history, geography, oh, hell, EVERYTHING he doesn’t seem to have a clue about when it comes to the U.S. government. Maybe if they tried teaching him via videos on a big-screen TV – and kept referring to it as “Reality TV” – they might get him to learn something.

From a second Raw Story article:

“The Washington Post said Sunday that in addition to fretting over what the president will do if left alone too long, Trump’s aides and advisers struggle to keep the president from consuming too much TV or watching things that will upset him and cause him to erupt on Twitter.”

Yes, the President of the United States, the most powerful person in the world, needs a babysitter. I think it would be more helpful if they hired a boot camp drill instructor.

A few excerpts from the Washington Post article by Ashley Parker and Robert Costa:

““President Trump is someone who comes to the White House with a sophisticated understanding of how to communicate, the power of television, the power of imagery, the power of message, and how message, messenger and delivery all work together,” said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president.”

Although Kellyanne managed to actually string words together that made a somewhat coherent sentence, her seeming point that trump’s TV savvy makes him better qualified as a president is ridiculous. The crudeness and ignorance of the actual content of trump’s communications, messages and delivery overshadow any “sophisticated understanding” of the medium used.

“He is also a natural showman. During the campaign, he riveted viewers with his raucous rallies, where he often spoke for more than hour without any notes or teleprompters. And in TV interviews, he sometimes offers tips on matters including lighting and chair placement, with an intuitive sense of what makes for good TV.”

Being a “natural showman” is all well and good for magicians, game-show hosts, carnival barkers, and snake-oil salesman, but again, it is not the top qualification for running a working government. And trump’s speeches where he rambled for “more than [an] hour without notes or teleprompters” are infamous for their non-sequiturs, weird tangents, and outright made-up bullshit.

“During a small working lunch at the White House last month, the question of job security in President Trump’s tumultuous White House came up, and one of the attendees wondered whether press secretary Sean Spicer might be the first to go.

The president’s response was swift and unequivocal. “I’m not firing Sean Spicer,” he said, according to someone familiar with the encounter. “That guy gets great ratings. Everyone tunes in.”

Trump even likened Spicer’s daily news briefings to a daytime soap opera, noting proudly that his press secretary attracted nearly as many viewers.

For Trump — a reality TV star who parlayed his blustery-yet-knowing on-air persona into a winning political brand — television is often the guiding force of his day, both weapon and scalpel, megaphone and news feed.”

This is a president for whom “ratings” and appearance are more important than honesty and integrity. A president who is superficial, crass, and so limited in his ability to learn or mature that, at 70, he still bases decisions as president on what he sees on cable TV, particularly Fox, his favorite propaganda network. A frightening concept, right?

What I find almost as frightening is that the Washington Post article isn’t screaming “THIS PRESIDENT IS TOTALLY FUBAR”, or even “THIS PRESIDENT IS INCOMPETENT”, let alone “THIS IS NOT NORMAL!”

This is our Open Thread – say anything you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 27th, 2017: FAKE President/REAL Threat

Each and every day of the last 37 days since trump started his residency of the White House, we are seeing the true nature of the “policies” in the Bannon/trump agenda. Some examples from this past week follow.

Last week brought us the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference, or NAMBLA (well, they might as well be, as far as ‘family values’ goes.)

Acting President and White Supremacist Steve Bannon, hand-in-hand (briefly) with White House (coughincompetent) Chief of (coughincompetent) Staff Rience Priebus, made a special appearance, during which Bannon casually confirmed that his true agenda is to a) gut First Amendment rights, muzzling the “free press” and protestors; then b) destroy our form of government/turn it into a kakistocracy.

BANNON: “Just like they were dead wrong on the chaos of the campaign and just like they were dead wrong in the chaos of the transition, they are absolutely dead wrong about what’s going on today because we have a team that’s just grinding it through on President Donald Trump promised the American people. And the mainstream media better understand something, all of those promises are going to be implemented…
“… every business leader we’ve had in is saying not just taxes, but it is — it is also the regulation. I think the consistent, if you look at these Cabinet appointees, they were selected for a reason and that is the deconstruction, the way the progressive left runs, is if they can’t get it passed, they’re just gonna put in some sort of regulation in — in an agency.

That’s all gonna be deconstructed and I think that that’s why this regulatory thing is so important.”  [emphasis mine]

A Daily Kos diary from 2/24 describes Bannon’s treacherous goal as well. A brief excerpt, though you should read the entire post:

“Remember the interview in which Bannon wanted to burn down democracy?
“I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed. …

“Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

Back to CPAC: Puppet FAKE president trump also gave a “speech” – and I use that term in the very loosest definition, in that he DID at least utter many many words, one after the other, i.e.:

“Great to be back at CPAC. It’s a place I have really — I love this place. I love you people. So thank you very much. First of all, I want to thank Matt Schlapp and his very, very incredible wife and boss, Mercedes, who have been fantastic friends and supporters and so great when I watch them on television defending me; nobody has a chance. So I want to thank Matt and Mercedes.
When Matt called and asked, I said absolutely I’ll be there with you.

The real reason I said it, I didn’t want him to go against me, so I said absolutely. And it really is an honor to be here. I wouldn’t miss a chance to talk to my friends. These are my friends. And we’ll see you again next year and the year after that. And I’ll be doing this with CPAC whenever I can, and I’ll make sure that we’re here a lot.

If you remember, my first major speech — sit down, everybody, come on.

You know, the dishonest media, they’ll say he didn’t get a standing ovation. You know why? No, you know why? Because everybody stood and nobody sat. So they’ll say he never got a standing ovation, right?

They are the worst.

So sit down. Donald Trump did not get a standing ovation. They leave out the part they never sat down. They leave that out. So I just want to thank you.”

NO, YOU FUCKING IGNORAMUS, THEY NEVER SAT DOWN BECAUSE YOU NEVER FUCKING TOLD/ASKED THEM TO! IT’S CALLED PROTOCOL, DAMMIT, HAVE SOMEONE EXPLAIN IT TO YOU!

Sorry.

Anyway, that was as much as I could read before my brain threatened to short out. If you’re tougher than I am, you can read the whole thing at the link above.

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones had this to say after trump’s “press briefing” prior to which CNN, the N.Y. Times, and the L.A. Times were shut out in favor of (puke) Breitbart [FAKE] “News” and the Washington Times:

“A few days ago, there was some talk about whether Trump would slow-walk federal disaster relief for the Oroville Dam [California] area. As it turned out, he didn’t, but the possibility was taken seriously for a while.
This is what makes the Trump presidency so unpredictable. No modern president would even think of taking revenge on a state that voted against him by refusing disaster aid. No modern president would dream of evicting news outlets from a press briefing because they had criticized him. No modern president would lie about easily checkable facts on a routine basis. No modern president would loudly cite every positive bit of economic news as a personal triumph. No modern president since Nixon would casually ask the FBI to take its side in an ongoing investigation.

 

It’s not that modern presidents couldn’t do these things. They just didn’t. And we all came to assume that none of them would.”

Then there’s this series of tweets from the tiny fingers of the childish man-baby, after the DNC selected Tom Perez as its Chairman:

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Congratulations to Thomas Perez, who has just been named Chairman of the DNC. I could not be happier for him, or for the Republican Party!
5:02 PM – 25 Feb 2017

Tom Perez

✔ @TomPerez

Call me Tom. And don’t get too happy. @keithellison and I, and Democrats united across the country, will be your worst nightmare.
5:49 PM – 25 Feb 2017

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

The race for DNC Chairman was, of course, totally “rigged.” Bernie’s guy, like Bernie himself, never had a chance. Clinton demanded Perez!
6:33 AM – 26 Feb 2017

Seriously, America, FAKE president trump is OUR “worst nightmare.”  When are the Republicans going to finally acknowledge that trump is an incompetent puppet with no morals, whose strings are being pulled not by the GOP, but by an anarchist who, with assistance from murderous Russian strongman Putin, will bring THEIR world “crashing down”, too?  What President-in-effect Bannon plans won’t just destroy the R’s hated “big government”, it will destroy the United States, and totally fuck up the balance of power in the world.

Democrats alone cannot stop trump.  If there are any Republicans with an ounce of patriotism left in their hearts, well, “now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.”  And quickly.

This is our Open Thread, you know what to do.

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 20th, 2017: ICYMI

A few articles from the past week:

I noticed something in one of Raw Story’s articles on Stephen Miller, and had to look into it:

“Though he denies it, Miller is believed to have written a significant portion of the travel ban, with some help from Steve Bannon and congressional aides sworn to contractual secrecy.[emphasis mine]

The Daily Mail article linked to in the above excerpt had more:

“Senior House Judiciary Committee staffers helped produce President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration ban, even as top lawmakers and cabinet heads were left in the dark.
The aides were required to sign nondisclosure agreements as they labored in secret to help draft the ban, Politico reported.

Trump’s transition brought in the Hill aides during the transition, while it was still rushing to staff the administration.”

And the Politico story had even more:

“The work of the committee aides began during the transition period after the election and before Donald Trump was sworn in. The staffers signed nondisclosure agreements, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Trump’s transition operation forced its staff to sign these agreements, but it would be unusual to extend that requirement to congressional employees.”

Now, wait a minute – since when do the president-elect’s staffers and congressional aides sign non-disclosure-agreements?  Aren’t any of them subjected to any vetting process, any background check, in order to work for the president-elect, or for congresspersons and congressional committees?  These are all government public servants, not trump’s TV employees!

I honestly don’t know anything about the legalities of this.  Both the Daily Mail and Politico articles are from the end of January, but I don’t remember hearing about this then. Considering that the articles also state that the congressional aides’ ‘bosses’, such as both the House and the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairmen, were not consulted, I’m a little surprised by that.  Am I just a suspicious cynical alarmist, or is this secretive ‘reacharound’ to bypass normal procedural channels just one more example of trump’s delusional version of presidential power, one that just slipped by amidst the hundreds of other trump delusions?

(sigh)  However…

Maybe there’s hope that there may be a REAL investigation into the trump-Russia cabal. From the Raw Story article:

[T]he Senate Intelligence Committee has ordered more than a dozen individuals and agencies to preserve records related to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

According to the Associated Press, a congressional aide confirmed that the committee had sent formal requests that all materials related to Russian meddling be preserved.

The AP notes that the letters were a bi-partisan affair with both the panel’s chairmen, Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and vice chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) signing on.

The Friday letters come on the heels of a closed door meeting with FBI Director James Comey who spent nearly three hours answering questions Friday afternoon in a secure room in the Senate basement used for classified briefings.”

Finally, some humor amidst the destruction of our world as we know it: if you didn’t catch John Oliver last night, here’s Raw Story’s thread covering it. Enjoy.

This is our Open Thread – say anything.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, February 15th, 2017: First Hypocrisy, Now Treachery

It’s been well known for a long time that the GOP is the party of hypocrisy–hence the acronym IOKIYAR. Now, with all of the trump cabal’s innumerable Russian connections, it appears that the GOP is also the party of treachery.

Despite the fact that several U.S. Intelligence agencies have already been investigating key trump personnel, none of the pertinent House and Senate committees want to do a damn thing about it, with the minor exception of Kellyanne Conway’s “free commercial” for Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. No, instead, GOP leaders are either silent on the subject, or say that we should just “move on” now that Flynn has resigned. Apparently they do NOT give a damn that trump knew all about Flynn’s conversations with Russian contacts, in particular the call that Flynn made, on the day that Obama announced sanctions against Russia for interfering with our elections, to let Russia know that president trump would lift those sanctions.

Would ANY Democrat, even one not running for the Presidency, get away with something like this? FFS, the GOP held, what, seven or eight hearings on Benghazi, and went fucking nuts over Hillary Clinton’s emails, none of which in any way, shape or form, endangered the security of the United States. Yet the fact that trump has surrounded himself with people who have, in many cases, had longtime relationships with Russian officials doesn’t seem to worry our ever-so-patriotic Republican majority “leaders.” “Move along, nothing to see here, looky-loos” and “but what about Hillary and her emails” are the typical responses from the GOP.

Well, FUCK YOU, GOP, fuck you hard with something sharp. You are all useless pieces of shit, and I hope that not only does trump go down in flames, I hope he drags you all to hell with him.

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

Now, just for laughs, here’s an article from the Christian Post that I know you’ll find amusing. I mean, just the title alone is hysterical: “God Delivered US from ‘Spirit of Witchcraft Through Trump”. Here’s an excerpt:

Appearing on “The Jim Bakker Show” on Tuesday, Christian thought leader Lance Wallnau spoke about President Donald Trump’s inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington that followed, saying God used Trump to deliver “the nation from the spirit of witchcraft in the Oval Office.”

“What I believe is happening is there was a deliverance of the nation from the spirit of witchcraft in the Oval Office,” said Wallnau, an evangelical business strategist and leader of the Lance Learning Group consulting firm in Dallas.

“The spirit of witchcraft was in the Oval Office, it was about to intensify to a higher level demon principality, and God came along with a wrecking ball, shocked everyone, the church cried out for mercy and bam—God knocked that spirit out, and what you’re looking at is the manifestation of an enraged demon through the populace,” he added.

“This is biblical,” Wallnau, author of God’s Chaos Candidate, added. “Many of the disruptions we are gonna see are going to be the evidence that we are seeing the awakening already began.”

Wallnau, who holds an M.A. from South Western Theological Seminary in Texas, predicted before the election that Trump was the “prophesied president.” He earlier explained that he came to this conclusion after attending a widely-publicized meeting between Donald Trump and evangelical leaders at the Trump Tower last year.

Giving an address at the 3rd Christian Inaugural Gala hosted by Women for a Great America at the Washington Hilton along with prominent Christian speakers and authors last month, Wallnau claimed that when he returned home to Dallas following the meeting with Trump, the Lord put the biblical passage of Isaiah 45 on his heart and told him that “the 45th president is Isaiah 45.”

[He actually had to use Google to confirm that trump would be the 45th president – and these evangelicals are demanding the right to preach politics from the pulpit?]

This is our Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 28th, 2017: “The Emperor’s New Clothes”

Since so many people are referencing the Hans Christian Andersen tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, in regard to Trump’s first week in office, I thought I should post the classic for all to re-read.

Many years ago there was an Emperor so exceedingly fond of new clothes that he spent all his money on being well dressed. He cared nothing about reviewing his soldiers, going to the theatre, or going for a ride in his carriage, except to show off his new clothes. He had a coat for every hour of the day, and instead of saying, as one might, about any other ruler, “The King’s in council,” here they always said. “The Emperor’s in his dressing room.”

In the great city where he lived, life was always gay. Every day many strangers came to town, and among them one day came two swindlers. They let it be known they were weavers, and they said they could weave the most magnificent fabrics imaginable. Not only were their colors and patterns uncommonly fine, but clothes made of this cloth had a wonderful way of becoming invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office, or who was unusually stupid.

“Those would be just the clothes for me,” thought the Emperor. “If I wore them I would be able to discover which men in my empire are unfit for their posts. And I could tell the wise men from the fools. Yes, I certainly must get some of the stuff woven for me right away.” He paid the two swindlers a large sum of money to start work at once.

They set up two looms and pretended to weave, though there was nothing on the looms. All the finest silk and the purest old thread which they demanded went into their traveling bags, while they worked the empty looms far into the night.

“I’d like to know how those weavers are getting on with the cloth,” the Emperor thought, but he felt slightly uncomfortable when he remembered that those who were unfit for their position would not be able to see the fabric. It couldn’t have been that he doubted himself, yet he thought he’d rather send someone else to see how things were going. The whole town knew about the cloth’s peculiar power, and all were impatient to find out how stupid their neighbors were.

“I’ll send my honest old minister to the weavers,” the Emperor decided. “He’ll be the best one to tell me how the material looks, for he’s a sensible man and no one does his duty better.”

So the honest old minister went to the room where the two swindlers sat working away at their empty looms.

“Heaven help me,” he thought as his eyes flew wide open, “I can’t see anything at all”. But he did not say so.

Both the swindlers begged him to be so kind as to come near to approve the excellent pattern, the beautiful colors. They pointed to the empty looms, and the poor old minister stared as hard as he dared. He couldn’t see anything, because there was nothing to see. “Heaven have mercy,” he thought. “Can it be that I’m a fool? I’d have never guessed it, and not a soul must know. Am I unfit to be the minister? It would never do to let on that I can’t see the cloth.”

“Don’t hesitate to tell us what you think of it,” said one of the weavers.

“Oh, it’s beautiful -it’s enchanting.” The old minister peered through his spectacles. “Such a pattern, what colors!” I’ll be sure to tell the Emperor how delighted I am with it.”

“We’re pleased to hear that,” the swindlers said. They proceeded to name all the colors and to explain the intricate pattern. The old minister paid the closest attention, so that he could tell it all to the Emperor. And so he did.

The swindlers at once asked for more money, more silk and gold thread, to get on with the weaving. But it all went into their pockets. Not a thread went into the looms, though they worked at their weaving as hard as ever.

The Emperor presently sent another trustworthy official to see how the work progressed and how soon it would be ready. The same thing happened to him that had happened to the minister. He looked and he looked, but as there was nothing to see in the looms he couldn’t see anything.

“Isn’t it a beautiful piece of goods?” the swindlers asked him, as they displayed and described their imaginary pattern.

“I know I’m not stupid,” the man thought, “so it must be that I’m unworthy of my good office. That’s strange. I mustn’t let anyone find it out, though.” So he praised the material he did not see. He declared he was delighted with the beautiful colors and the exquisite pattern. To the Emperor he said, “It held me spellbound.”

All the town was talking of this splendid cloth, and the Emperor wanted to see it for himself while it was still in the looms. Attended by a band of chosen men, among whom were his two old trusted officials-the ones who had been to the weavers-he set out to see the two swindlers. He found them weaving with might and main, but without a thread in their looms.

“Magnificent,” said the two officials already duped. “Just look, Your Majesty, what colors! What a design!” They pointed to the empty looms, each supposing that the others could see the stuff.

“What’s this?” thought the Emperor. “I can’t see anything. This is terrible!

Am I a fool? Am I unfit to be the Emperor? What a thing to happen to me of all people! – Oh! It’s very pretty,” he said. “It has my highest approval.” And he nodded approbation at the empty loom. Nothing could make him say that he couldn’t see anything.

His whole retinue stared and stared. One saw no more than another, but they all joined the Emperor in exclaiming, “Oh! It’s very pretty,” and they advised him to wear clothes made of this wonderful cloth especially for the great procession he was soon to lead. “Magnificent! Excellent! Unsurpassed!” were bandied from mouth to mouth, and everyone did his best to seem well pleased. The Emperor gave each of the swindlers a cross to wear in his buttonhole, and the title of “Sir Weaver.”

Before the procession the swindlers sat up all night and burned more than six candles, to show how busy they were finishing the Emperor’s new clothes. They pretended to take the cloth off the loom. They made cuts in the air with huge scissors. And at last they said, “Now the Emperor’s new clothes are ready for him.”

Then the Emperor himself came with his noblest noblemen, and the swindlers each raised an arm as if they were holding something. They said, “These are the trousers, here’s the coat, and this is the mantle,” naming each garment. “All of them are as light as a spider web. One would almost think he had nothing on, but that’s what makes them so fine.”

“Exactly,” all the noblemen agreed, though they could see nothing, for there was nothing to see.

“If Your Imperial Majesty will condescend to take your clothes off,” said the swindlers, “we will help you on with your new ones here in front of the long mirror.”

The Emperor undressed, and the swindlers pretended to put his new clothes on him, one garment after another. They took him around the waist and seemed to be fastening something – that was his train-as the Emperor turned round and round before the looking glass.

“How well Your Majesty’s new clothes look. Aren’t they becoming!” He heard on all sides, “That pattern, so perfect! Those colors, so suitable! It is a magnificent outfit.”

Then the minister of public processions announced: “Your Majesty’s canopy is waiting outside.”

“Well, I’m supposed to be ready,” the Emperor said, and turned again for one last look in the mirror. “It is a remarkable fit, isn’t it?” He seemed to regard his costume with the greatest interest.

The noblemen who were to carry his train stooped low and reached for the floor as if they were picking up his mantle. Then they pretended to lift and hold it high. They didn’t dare admit they had nothing to hold.

So off went the Emperor in procession under his splendid canopy. Everyone in the streets and the windows said, “Oh, how fine are the Emperor’s new clothes! Don’t they fit him to perfection? And see his long train!” Nobody would confess that he couldn’t see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No costume the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.

“But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.

“Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?” said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, “He hasn’t anything on. A child says he hasn’t anything on.”

“But he hasn’t got anything on!” the whole town cried out at last.

The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.

The last line, of course, doesn’t exactly compare to our Trumperor, who would NEVER suspect and certainly could never admit that any actual, tangible, verifiable fact “would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool.” Our Trumperor has been strutting around naked for a very long time. So, how many ‘little children’ will it take to convince ‘the whole nation’ that the Trumperor “hasn’t got anything on!”

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

The Weekend Watering Hole, Saturday, January 7th-8th, 2017: Russian Roulette

Here’s some of the most recent articles about the U.S. intelligence agencies’ report on the Russian influence in Trump’s election.

First, here’s a PDF of the report itself.

Next we have relevant articles from yesterday’s Washington Post and the New York Times.

And then a couple of articles on Trump’s post-intelligence-briefing statements, one from the NY Times, and one from this morning’s Raw Story. Apparently Trump took time from his preoccupation with Arnold and The Apprentice to tweet a few idiocies while avoiding the ‘yuge’ Russian elephant in his room.

What will it take for Trump, his minions, and the GOP to finally admit that the chambers in the Russian Roulette revolver aren’t all empty?

This is our Open Thread – join in with whatever you want to talk about.

The Weekend Watering Hole, December 17th, 2016: Men of a Lesser God

With so many evangelical “Christians” having supported Trump in the election, I was curious to find out how they’re reacting to the intelligence community’s reports of Russia’s interference in the election on Trump’s behalf.

The Christian Post is totally silent on the topic. They’re still more concerned with: abortion; not being allowed to discriminate against gays; abortion; the “War on Christmas” (Bill O’Reilly says it’s over, “we won”, although Franklin Graham seems to disagree); and abortion – not necessarily in that order.

Raw Story had a recent article about Franklin Graham praying for Trump to succeed in ‘bringing back jobs’ (nobody on the right seems to notice that President Obama managed to create a few million jobs and reduce the unemployment rate to [what should be] a fairly acceptable rate, despite the Republican blockade.) The article briefly mentions Vladimir Putin. Two quick excerpts, each of which earns its own separate (but brief) rant:

“During an interview on Tuesday, Graham praised Trump for finding a way to “work with the thugs” like Russian President Vladimir Putin “so that we can have peace in this world.”

First, I realize that, at the time of the interview, Graham may not have heard – or paid attention to – the stories that were coming out about exactly HOW Trump had been “finding a way to ‘work with the thugs’ like…Putin”, BUT, did/does Graham actually think that a Trump/Putin cooperative (or whatever you want to call it) could possibly bring about “peace in this world”?

Second, in the last few years, bigoted conservatives have re-defined the term “thug” to mean “black man.” I certainly haven’t seen any attempt by any conservatives trying to ‘find a way to work with’ those “thugs” – well, except by killing or imprisoning them, which I don’t consider to be ‘working with.’

“That’s the problem with the politicians in Washington,” he said. “They sit down there and they do nothing. Now we’ve got a man who’s coming into the White House who wants to get things done. And I hope and I pray — we all as Americans, we need to pray for the president-elect and vice president-elect.”

Mr. Graham (I refuse to use the honorific “Reverend”, he’s no more reverent than I am), we’ve HAD a man in the White House for eight years who has wanted to “get things done”, but the Republican-controlled Congress forced our entire federal government to “sit down there and…do nothing.” So go pray for your own soul, god-boy, if you have one, and leave the rest of us out of it. Maybe if you start repenting now, your god might forgive you for not listening to his son.

Graham was interviewed by Christian Today on November 13th on his reaction to Trump’s election victory. Some excerpts:

In an interview with Christian Today, Graham said there was “no question” that God had a hand in the election of Trump as the next President of the United States, and predicted a “huge impact” from his nominations to the Supreme Court.

He revealed that Trump had told him personally that he will repeal the controversial Johnson Amendment of 1954, which prevents church leaders from endorsing or opposing political candidates from the pulpit.

According to polls, white evangelical Christians backed Trump by 81 per cent to 16 per cent – a larger margin of the evangelical vote than was achieved by a Republican candidate in the past three elections.

Graham said Trump is a “changed man” from when he made his notorious lewd comments about women…

“What you see is what you get. Politicians are pretty good at smiling and being one thing in public and then when the doors are closed, they are different people.”

Donald Trump, by contrast, is the same in private as he appears on television, Graham said.

“He’s not polished, like a lot of politicians. He’s a little rough around the edges. But he means what he says. People need to understand that he’s a very powerful person, very strong, he’s got a very good family, great children. He’s going to put together maybe one of the best teams in Washington that we have seen in years.”

Graham said there was no question that God a hand in the election. “The vast majority of the evangelical community supported Donald Trump because he has said he is going to support Christians, not only at home but around the world.

“So when we see Christianity being attacked worldwide, not just by militant Muslims but by secularism, it’s refreshing to have a leader who is willing to defend the Christian faith.”
~~~~~
One aspect of the election result that was truly a surprise to so many was that Trump’s moral character was apparently not a problem for many leading Christians. Some students at Liberty even set up a petition to distance themselves from Trump and the support he received from Falwell. The petition stated: “Associating any politician with Christianity is damaging to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But Donald Trump is not just any politician. He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about his sins. Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose.”

According to Graham, the key to assessing Trump’s character is to look at the people in his team.

“Donald Trump has surrounded himself with strong evangelicals and for me as a Christian, I’m very pleased with that,” he said.

Graham did not say whether he considers Trump to be a Christian or not – “Only God really knows a person’s heart” – but, “You can tell a lot about a person by the people that they surround themselves with. Our current president claimed to be a Christian but you don’t see that in the people around him.

“Trump has strong evangelical Christians surrounding him. I’ve known Ben Carson for many years. He is a wonderful man of God. Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas – another fine Christian gentleman. Mike Pence. These are the people that he surrounds himself with.”

Graham also knows Mike Pence and has spent time with him: “He is a man of God, he is a very strong evangelical. Donald Trump has surrounded himself with some strong Christians which is very encouraging.”

Graham said: “He’s [Trump] told me that he’s going to work to have that repealed. It will be huge. I think that the Johnson Amendment was a stupid thing. It was somewhat racial in the sense that Johnson did not want black pastors at that time to speak out against him.”

He and many other evangelicals welcome the prospect of that change which will have a massive impact on the way churches and other religious groups engage in politics.

~~~~~

I can’t even continue reading this hypocritical, delusional, un-American, unconstitutional idealization of an American Theocracy. I glanced further down in the article, and knew I would go ballistic if I continued. As it is, I had to take a 1/2 xanax and lie down for a while before I could finish writing this post.

How can anyone say that “Trump is a changed man”, then say that “what you see is what you get”, when what we see is the same loudmouthed, bigoted, ignorant blowhard that we’ve seen for the past, say, 30 years? How can Graham say that “only god really knows a person’s heart” to gloss over Trump’s obviously un-christian views on the one hand, yet label Obama as not being a christian, without such a caveat?  And the “surprise” “that Trump’s moral character was apparently not a problem for many leading Christians”, that doesn’t trouble these die-hard two-issue – abortion and ‘teh gay’ – “men of god”? Theirs is not a god that our country should go anywhere near, let alone follow.

When this particular interview with Christian Today occurred, it was only a few days after the election. Yet nothing in my searches in the time frame SINCE the election indicates that ANY of the right-wing evangelicals have any public opinion about a foreign government intervening in the U.S. Presidential election on behalf of one candidate. Until Graham or any of these bully-pulpit religious fanatics denounce Trump’s tightly-woven bond with Russia, I can only conclude that they are happy to be associated with any monstrous regime.  As long as they can get their way on those two issues, they’ll bow down to any despot. Fuck them and the four horses of the apocalypse that they rode in on.

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

The Watering Hole, Tuesday, November 29th, 2016: God vs Country

ICYMI, yesterday the Huffington Post had a story about a Republican member of the Electoral College from Texas, Art Sisneros, and his agonizing over how to cast his vote on December 19th. Apparently, Mr. Sisneros refuses to cast his vote for Trump, but also refuses to do what’s best for the country because, well, GOD.

Torn between voting his conscience and dutifully casting his ballot for President-elect Donald Trump, a Republican member of the Electoral College said over the weekend that he would resign his post.

“I believe to resign is to honor the intent of the pledge as it relates to the people of my district,” Texas elector Art Sisneros wrote in a blog post. “Since I can’t in good conscience vote for Donald Trump, and yet have sinfully made a pledge that I would, the best option I see at this time is to resign my position as an Elector.”

Sisneros’ decision to step aside comes as some members of the Electoral College face mounting pressure from voters and advocacy groups to flip their votes against Trump, even if he won the popular vote in their states.

In his post, Sisneros argued that casting his vote for Trump would “bring dishonor to God,” and said that political parties and “winner-take-all” states destroyed the original intention of the Electoral College. Sisneros said in August that he was considering voting against Trump if the real estate mogul were to win the popular vote in Texas. But he told Politico Monday that he would instead resign.

The rest of the country’s 538 electors will choose Sisneros’ replacement when they convene on Dec. 19 to officially elect Trump as the next president. All of Texas’ 38 electoral votes are expected to go to Trump, who beat Hillary Clinton in the state by more than 800,000 votes.

“The people will get their vote,” Sisneros wrote. “I will sleep well at night knowing I neither gave in to their demands nor caved to my convictions. I will also mourn the loss of our republic.”

[emphasis mine]

I have no idea how ANYONE could “sleep well at night” and at the same time “mourn the loss of our republic.” The idea that someone could view this horrendously important Electoral vote as a choice of “conscience” between serving his god or serving his country is totally beyond me. But obviously Mr. Sisneros strongly believes that, because he took what he now calls a “sinful” pledge to the GOP that he now regrets, he can only make himself right with his god by abdicating all civic responsibility.

From Sisneros’ blog post:

“The heart of this issue now is, does honoring the pledge cause me to sin?…
“…Aren’t Electors elected to represent the people? Yes, they absolutely are. That only begs the question, what does it mean to represent the people? This is where our understanding or lack thereof of a representative form of government comes into play. As an elected representative head, I am to speak on behalf of and in the interest of the CD36. It is my conviction that the greatest danger to my district is not a Hillary or Trump Presidency, but it is the judgement of God. If we continue to disobey His clear commands, we can expect to receive His judgement. If being a “Faithless Elector” means standing alone on principle in the hopes that God would continue to grant patience on our district, then it is worth any political future, threats to my safety, and whatever else may come my way.”

This isn’t just about YOU, Mr. Sisneros–what comes your way is nothing compared to what will happen to our nation. Get it through your head: God doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your district, Mr. Sisneros, any more than he gives a rat’s ass about our country – which should be obvious based on the fact that Donald J. Trump is now the President-Elect. And your resignation, Mr. Sisneros, is just one more step in greasing the wheels on that handbasket we’re all going to hell in. I hope that you never “sleep well” again, you chickenshit.

This is our Open Thread–have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, November, 21st, 2016: Pseudo-Religious Jackassery

A few odds and ends from the Christian Post to start the week.

Here we go again: Since Republicans cannot accept all of the other investigations that proved Planned Parenthood innocent of whatever wrongdoing du jour they’ve been charged with, now they’re trying again.

As noted Wednesday by USA Today**, the U.S. House Committee on House Administration voted to approve $800,000 in additional funds for the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives[sic*] for their investigation of Planned Parenthood. The 14-member panel, headed by Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, was formed last summer after the Center for Medical Progress released a series of gut-wrenching videos*** showing senior Planned Parenthood officials negotiating over the prices of fetal body parts from aborted babies.

*”Infant Lives” is, obviously, a complete and deliberately misleading misnomer.

**Excerpt from the USA Today article:

“Over the objection of Democrats, the House Committee on Administration voted Wednesday to approve an additional $800,000 for the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. The money is in addition to the panel’s previously approved $790,000 budget and puts it on track to spend more than $1.5 million by the end of the year.”

***Investigations which arose out of the videos, which purportedly showed PP to be illegally selling fetal tissue, consistently ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood. The investigation in Texas not only cleared PP, but charged the filmmakers with criminal activity, including a felony, although one misdemeanor charge was later dropped. Annoyingly, the felony charge was also later dismissed, more-or-less due to a court technicality. Despite that:

“Officials in Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Georgia and nine other states investigated the claims made in the videos that Planned Parenthood had profited illegally from sales of fetal tissue, and cleared the group of any wrongdoing. Officials in eight other states, including California and Colorado, declined to investigate, according to Planned Parenthood.”

So, just another example of Republicans wasting money and time on yet another investigation of something that has been investigated, in this instance by at least thirteen States, including several conservative southern ones.

In a lighter, nay, more ridiculous vein, enjoy – or be nauseated by – “What Was the Role of Prophecy in 2016 Election?”:

“…Franklin Graham said the media in particular missed the “God-factor” regarding the outcome of the election.

“Hundreds of thousands of Christians from across the United States have been praying. This year they came out to every state capitol to pray for this election and for the future of America. Prayer groups were started. Families prayed. Churches prayed. Then Christians went to the polls, and God showed up,” Graham said.”

Pastor Paula White also reveled that she fasted and prayed, and had concluded that Trump would win, CP reported last week.

Last year, a man named Jeremiah Johnson of Behold the Man Ministries in Lakeland, Florida, said that God had shown him during prayer that Trump was raised up like a Cyrus and would be “[God’s] trumpet to the American people.”

Last, in the “laughable if it weren’t real” category, we’ve got…wait for it…alt-right racist Steve Bannon’s first interview with that bastion of political reporting, the Hollywood Reporter. How’s that for a serious, dignified start for one who is (gulp) going to be whispering evil nothings like Wormtongue into Trump’s ear? Just one brief excerpt:

“Bannon praised Trump. “You have probably the greatest orator since William Jennings Bryan, coupled with an economic populist message…”

BWAHAHAHAHA!

This is our Open Thread – feel free to discuss what you wish.

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

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

Guinan: “Trouble sleeping?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guinan offers hope of a sort:

Guinan: “This isn’t the end.”

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

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

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

This is our daily Open Thread–talk me down?

The Watering Hole; Thursday July 7 2016; Public Lands: “Footprints On The Sands Of Time”

“One does not sell the land people walk on.”
(Crazy Horse, Sept. 23, 1875)

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It’s “political sleight-of-hand”: For their next trick, Republican magicians will make your federal land disappear

Pulling back the curtain, one finds that the movement to transfer federal lands to state ownership is being funded and driven by conservative business groups that want that land to be turned over to corporate interests to be exploited for profit, even if doing so destroys the environment. . . . It’s “political sleight-of-hand.” First, get the lands out of federal hands into state hands. Then, wait for the inevitable state budget crisis. Then, buy the resource-rich land, turning it from a beautiful, publicly accessible slice of nature into a resource extraction site.

******

First, a confession: I am an Environmentalist. With a capital ‘E’.

It’s no secret that from the viewpoint of today’s American Oligarchic monsters, Public Lands — National Parks, Forests, Monuments, Wildlife Preserves and Refuges, Wilderness and Primitive areas, BLM lands — are each and all considered useless for any purpose except privatization and subsequent commercial development, or logging, mining, oil/gas drilling, etc., so as to extract whichever “wealth” is implicit, and convert it to cash, to money. to private wealth. The forces behind this despicable movement range from political (mostly Republican) tools, to corporate oligarchs, to even the fools who think of themselves as parcel to a “militia” movement of some sort. The concept is, by any reasonable definition, both stupid and intolerable, but nevertheless the fact still stands: the rape of Public Lands is a big part of the corporate (and Republican) agenda.

The trammeling of wild and undisturbed land is not a new concept, of course. Here in North America, it’s been going on each and every day since the white man first set foot on the continent. Dig it, log it, drill it, kill it, pave it, — the current goal of fools everywhere represents a completely unsustainable future for not only the country, but the world as well. I’ve been watching the passion for Public Land destruction grow  for many years; I’ve seen the result, heard the racket, smelled it, even watched it burn.  Makes one wonder just what it is about money and power that causes so many people to be so willing to sacrifice the entire of the planet simply to satisfy their urge for MORE.

Anyway, around a decade ago and after having spent, over the preceding years, somewhere close to a thousand days and nights on deserts, in forests, on mountains, in meadows, always as far from “civilization” as the situation would allow, I came to be a partner of each and all who advocate absolute environmental protection, an advocate of preserving each and every square inch of Public Land everywhere (as well as adding to Public Land acreage if and whenever the opportunity presents itself). Nothing’s changed; that attitude remains constant.

Below are some excerpts from an essay on the matter that I wrote more than a decade ago, along with a handful of Colorado Public Land scenic photos taken beginning in 2008.

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Footprints

“Footprints” is a personal statement of concern – greatly simplified – about all of that which is being done to this tiny planet by her major and dominant species, Homo sapiens sapiens, aka the human race. There are times when, to those of us who dwell in what seems to be the tiniest of tiny minorities, outrage over what has become common practice, and worse, common thought and opinion, overwhelms. Recognition of powerlessness is never an easy task and acceptance of that reality is even more difficult, but there are moments when it does, indeed, overtake. At that point, little is left to do other than to attempt a thoughtful explanation of ‘why the outrage,’ and then to intermingle outrage with recollections which have the potential to stem, at least for the moment, that which is perhaps best described as a severe case of indigestion in one’s soul.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet summed up reality when he said: There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your Philosophy. Problem is, no one takes the time to notice anymore, not in what has become a horribly anthropocentric world where the rush to find yet one more way to consume something, anything, invariably overcomes the search for those tiny nuances which make life not only interesting but also, in large degree, worthwhile.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote,

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time

In Longfellow’s context, the phrase Footprints on the sands of time does not, of course, refer to actual boot imprints or to any other sort of human-caused physical scarring of the natural landscape; rather it refers to the beneficent contributions of a select few: from art, music, and philosophy to intellectual examinations of esoteric concepts such as Truth, Beauty, and Love, and to the intermingling and practical applications thereof – collectively, precepts of recognition and understanding which can and do apply to other than the narrow road of human existence itself. There are, indeed, numerous examples of both great men and great women who’ve lived lives of contribution and not of simple consumptive excess; their numbers, however, have been unfortunately minuscule compared with what are, in effect, their functional opposites.

“Take only pictures, leave only footprints” is the well-spoken and well-intended motto which sensitive visitors to wild lands take to heart and practice. Such attitude is, however and unfortunately, a distinctly minority view as is clearly evidenced in these days of rampant resource development. From oil and natural gas exploration/development in virtually any location, no matter how remote, that offers even the most meager possibility of discovery, to logging, to mining, to the ubiquitous practice of cattle grazing on public lands, and to urban development as well, men seldom take only pictures or leave only fleeting footprints. Even a fair and enduring segment of outdoor (so-called) recreationists – especially those who recreate on motorized off-road vehicles such as dirt bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles and the like – leave far more than footprints in their wake including racket, fumes, and a scarred and trammeled landscape, the sum of which scarcely falls into the “only footprints” category.

Chief Luther Standing Bear of the Teton Sioux once noted that For the Lakota, mountains, lakes, rivers, springs, valleys, and woods were all finished beauty. Winds, rain, snow, sunshine, day, night, and change of seasons were endlessly fascinating. Birds, insects, and animals filled the world with knowledge that defied the comprehension of man. From that otherwise vivid statement, however, derives the sad reality that in this modern day times have changed, that finished beauty does, indeed, defy the comprehension of man. At least of most men. To grasp that concept, one must first look around. Look at a mountain, or a prairie, a desert, a valley, a canyon, a lake, river, forest which remains undisturbed by man (if you can find one, that is); study a wildflower; watch the antics of a hummingbird; listen to the near noiseless motion of a deer as it meanders gracefully through forest or desert. Then turn around and look at a city, any city. Notice the smoke-filled air, hear the din, see the scars upon the land; see the polluted streams and rivers, the dying forests; call it all “civilization.” Then recall once more Chief Luther Standing Bear who also said, Civilization has been thrust upon me . . . and it has not added one whit to my love for truth, honesty, and generosity. . . .

A hundred years ago, author John C. Van Dyke wrote of what he had come to sense would be man’s eventual imprint on what were, then, still mostly wild lands, lands which he explored and then described in his many writings. Van Dyke succinctly noted that . . .

 . . . with the coming of civilization the grasses and the wild flowers perish, the forest falls, and its place is taken by brambles, the mountains are blasted in the search for minerals, the plains are broken by the plow and the soil is gradually washed into the rivers. Last of all, when the forests have gone the rains cease falling, the streams dry up, the ground parches and yields no life, and the artificial desert – the desert made by the tramp of human feet – begins to show itself. Yes; everyone must have cast a backward glance and seen Nature’s beauties beaten to ashes under the successive marches of civilization . . .

The successive marches of civilization: footprints by any other description.

Understand that Van Dyke wrote those words before even the automobile had entered the picture. He wrote of a world in which the major transportational conveyances were horses and/or horse-drawn wagons, plus the Iron Horse and, on the rivers, steamboats and barges. Yet he “saw” and predicted the eventual outcome, and the more wild country that was converted to humanized landscape, the more vividly accurate became Van Dyke’s predictions. One can only wonder what he might think today, if only he could travel once more the mountains and the deserts about which he wrote just one century ago.

Those who still live to recall that which Van Dyke saw a century ago are few-and-far-between these days . . . Why, one is always tempted to ask, do otherwise (seemingly) rational people tolerate urban sprawl and all the problems which it brings into play when there are other far less intrusive options available? In the late nineteenth century, Suqwamish Chief Seattle noted, We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of the land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy — and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his fathers’ graves, and his children’s birthright is forgotten.

Seattle’s point then, as now, recognizes that so-called ‘civilized’ man’s Footprints on the sands of time have become, in a mere 200 years, far greater than those left by ten thousand years of indigenous cultures which once inhabited the same ground. Today when we speak of footprints – “Footprints” – we must speak not of civilization in the classic sense, but rather of our culture of wanton destruction, a culture whose sole purpose is the pursuit of one more dollar, always and invariably at the planet’s expense, forever parcel to the enduring dream that yet another potential fortune is in the making. Meanwhile, we ignore that which, indeed, makes it possible for us to proceed at all: the life-giving biosphere in which we live – in more “primitive” terms, our Earth Mother.

[. . .]

There are, of course, no ways to reliably guess or even to speculate on that which the Earth Mother might hold as the future for man or for any other of her myriad life forms. Only one thing remains forever certain, and it was perhaps best spoken some three centuries ago by Sir Isaac Newton: (Nature) does nothing in vain, and more is in vain when less will serve; for Nature is pleased with simplicity, and affects not the pomp of the superfluous.

The pomp of the superfluous defines the vast bulk of what man brings to life’s table, and may in fact quite ably define the intrinsic nature of the species itself. I’ve long found it interesting that if one can find a patch of forest, desert, or prairie, or a lake, river, or stream which has somehow remained untouched by man – untrammeled – then wherever one looks, one sees the vibrancy of life always in perfect balance (and, of course, never a discarded bottle or can, or scrunched cigarette butt). John C. Van Dyke revealed his first impressions of himself alone in the wilderness and away from the world of men when he wrote, At last you are free. You are at home in the infinite, and your possessions, your government, your people dwindle away into needle-points of insignificance. Danger? Sleep on serenely! Danger lies within the pale of civilization, not in the wilderness. One quickly wonders: might not Van Dyke’s needle-points of insignificance be one-in-the-same with Newton’s pomp of the superfluous?

In any case, unanswered questions invariably remain: Why? Why is the human species as it is? Why is it so ill-content to live simply and in balance? Why the presumption of dominance? Why must an abundant life style preclude overflowing landfills loaded with yesterday’s must-haves? And finally, why must the pomp of the superfluous, i.e. those needle-points of insignificance such as mere possessions, governments, and people who see themselves as apart from the natural world define the human race when there is, virtually anywhere and everywhere, the potential for so much more?

The poet William Wordsworth once wrote, in his poem entitled Written in Early Spring,

I heard a thousand blended notes
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that sweet bower,
The periwinkle trail’d its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopp’d and play’d,
Their thoughts I cannot measure,
But the least motion which they made
It seem’d a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from Heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

Wordsworth penned those words the better part of a century-and-a-half ago, and yet his finis rings every bit as true today as it did then:

Have I not reason to lament / What man has made of man?

Human leaves a strange legacy. In one sense, he’s no different than the birds, beasts, trees, or flowers: survival and the hope of prosperity forever remain the eternal goals for each and all. Yet only man presumes the inborn right to same, and by extension, the inborn right to trample all else to sevice his own domain.

A few days spent amongst the birds, beasts, trees, and flowers does much to expose the error in that premise, and invariably brings back to mind those Footprints on the sands of time, now forever linked to the lament . . . What man has made of man. We, of this age, could change that. If only we’d care to try.

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Summer wildflowers, San Isabel National Forest, Colorado

Wild geese on the wing near the Sierra Mojada, San Isabel N.F., Colorado

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That was then. THIS is now:

Mormon Bundy Loyalist Against Land Gift To American Citizens

The Quimby family, the makers of Burt’s Bees products, have offered to donate nearly 90,000 acres of pristine woodland area in Maine. Not only that, they have also included a generous donation of $40 million for the upkeep of the land. . . .

Utah Mormon, Rob Bishop is chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources and was joined by vicious Maine Governor Paul LePage to reject transfer of the 87,500 acre land gift and obstruct its designation as a national monument. Republicans under Koch supervision insist that all public land be handed over to corporate privatization to be mined, logged or drilled for profits, not for the American people’s benefit. If the Quimby family wants to hand over the land to the Koch brothers to mine, log and drill for oil, Mormon Bishop, LePage, and House Republicans would probably name a post office after them. Instead, Maine Governor LePage lashed out at the gift-giving Quimby family like the ingrate Republican he has proven over and over to be. . . .

Bishop complains that a local Republican, some Maine malcontent, is right that if the land is a designated as national monument, then mining, logging and oil drilling corporations cannot ruin it and environmental laws will protect it from being despoiled and denuded. The land is protected now because it is privately held by the Quimby family non-profit, so there will be no change after the transfer and that is what Republicans cannot comport; they want change that entails corporate control and abolition of environmental protections.

Rep. Bishop’s hatred that the American people enjoy public lands is, or should be, legendary. Bishop is closely aligned with those other Mormons, the Cliven Bundy Republicans, sitting in jail who contend the public by way of the government is forbidden from owning or using public land.

There are no words to amply describe the disgust and loathing I feel toward any and all Bishop and LePage-style IDIOTS who are perfectly willing to leave no stone unturned in their effort to destroy both the concept of public land and all public land itself — via privatization — in their disgusting quest for money, no matter that the consequence is guaranteed to be either an unlivable world or a dead world. Subhuman IDIOTS who have zero concern for the planet’s myriad creatures and plants, who have no concept of Truth, of Beauty, of Love of anything other than themselves and their wallets, are truly the most despicable life forms that evolution has devised to date; they also serve as absolute proof that none of their imagined “gods” exist, unless folks are willing to believe god or gods make a living by creating IDIOTS!

**Fortunately, there are continuing efforts to alter or blockade the course of these IDIOTS. The Wilderness Society, in their own words, protects the places you care about. We are 143 people spread across the US who passionately believe that public lands are the best expression of what it is to be an American. Since 1935, we’ve led the effort to protect 109 million acres of wilderness, garnering more than 700,000 supporters along the way. If you care about Public Lands, follow the link and spend some time exploring the goals of The Wilderness Society’s #OurWild movement; then sign some petitions and help spread the word; help stop the anti-Public Land IDIOCY in its tracks!**

Help Save Places Such as THESE for Posterity!!

14,433 Ft. Mt. Elbert, the Highest Summit in the Colorado Rockies, White River N.F.

The Continental Divide’s Sawatch Range, White River N.F., Colorado

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It goes without saying that IF Public Lands are privatized, the energy, mining, and logging industries will be among the first to tap their “new” resource. The consequence of such travesty is predictable, even by IDIOTS.

On July 4th, 2016, Jonathan Hoenig at Fox News had this to say:

We need more carbon emissions, Charles, we need more smoke
stacks, we need more burning of fossil fuels and energy because the
more we burn, the better man’s life has become. The more energy
we use, the greater amount of wealth that’s created.

Burning ever more fossil fuels means a better life for all because wealth. It goes without saying that Public Lands are reservoirs of wealth and therefore they should be privatized because that’ll make life better for . . . ??  For IDIOTS!!

“We didn’t inherit this world from our ancestors;
we borrowed it from our children.”
(Lakota Proverb)

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OPEN THREAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Watering Hole, Saturday, 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!