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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ThinkProgress excerpt continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ and ~

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

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

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

This is our daily Open Thread–have at it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[and the money quote]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Roast: Another year gone; what have we learned?

I know I’ve posted this video a few times over the years, in one form or another, but I’m posting it again.

Why?  That’s a good question.  I’m glad you asked.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m feeling especially pessimistic or cynical these days, but I’m thinking that we haven’t learned anything over the past year.  Maybe it’s just that the United States is absolutely fucking bonkers right now, and I’m having trouble seeing the good in the world; or maybe we’re at a critical turning point, and, much like correcting a naughty child, the behavior gets much worse before it starts getting better.

I hope it’s both, and I hope the “getting better” part starts happening soon.

This is the last Sunday Roast of the year — What do you think?

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015: Watery Tart, Eh?

Hmm…do some of these lines from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” seem familiar?

Woman: Oh. How do you do?

King Arthur:  How do you do, good lady? I am Arthur, King of the Britons. Whose castle is that?

Woman:  King of the who?

King Arthur:  King of the Britons.

Woman: Who are the Britons?

King Arthur:  Well, we all are. We are all Britons. And I am your king.

Woman:  I didn’t know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective.

Dennis:  You’re foolin’ yourself! We’re living in a dictatorship. A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working class…

Woman:  Oh, there you go bringing class into it again.

Dennis:  Well, that’s what it’s all about! If only people would…

King Arthur:  Please, please, good people, I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?

Woman:  No one lives there.

King Arthur:  Then who is your lord?

Woman:  We don’t have a lord.

Dennis:   I told you, we’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to be a sort of executive officer for the week...

King Arthur:  Yes…

Dennis:   …but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting…

King Arthur:  Yes I see…

Dennis: …by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs…

King Arthur:  Be quiet!

Dennis: …but by a two thirds majority in the case of…

King Arthur:   Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!

Woman:  Order, eh? Who does he think he is?

King Arthur:  I am your king.

Woman:  Well, I didn’t vote for you.

King Arthur:  You don’t vote for kings.

Woman:  Well how’d you become king then?

[Angelic music plays… ]

King Arthur:  The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.

Dennis:  [interruptingListen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony…Oh, but you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.  [emphasis mine]

I dunno – right now in these “United” States, it seems as good a system as our own.  So…

watery tart

This is our daily Open Thread – go ahead, sound off!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 21st, 2015: More of Teh Stupid

You may want to have a barf bag ready, or an alcoholic beverage, or a Xanax, or your favorite recreational drug. You’ll need to prepare yourself for the putrid pile of prevarications puked up by Son of Satan Saint Ronald of Amurka, Michael Reagan. Although I’m providing the link to his opinion piece, titled “The GOP’s Stupid Letter”, published in the Farmington, CT, Daily-Times, I’m putting the entire mess up here so that you can more readily count how many things are wrong with it. Michael obligingly makes that easier by ‘formatting’ his piece in ‘single-sentence-double-space mode:

There we go again, Republicans.

We keep shooting ourselves in the feet — and at the worst possible times.

Things were going pretty well for the GOP. 

President Obama was getting major grief from Republicans (and even some Democrats) for preparing to sign America on to a horrible nuclear arms deal with the Iranians. 

Hillary Clinton was ensnared in an email-deleting scandal of her own making that was so obviously unlawful and politically devious that even the liberal media were attacking her. 

So what did 47 Republican senators do? 

They attracted the full attention of the mainstream media by sending a letter to the Iranian ayatollahs reminding them that any agreement the president signs without approval of the Senate can be undone by the next president faster than you can spell Bibi Netanyahu. 

Nice job, Republicans. 

Yes, what you told the Iranians in the letter was right. Any B-plus middle-school civics student knows that the Senate gets to ratify or reject treaties made by the president.

But sending an open letter to Iran was dead wrong — and politically stupid.

It merely gave Democrats — and their media buddies — a chance to change the subject and accuse Republicans of irresponsibly trying to sabotage the president’s foreign policy.

What rookie Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and his co-signers did with their letter was nothing new.

Ted Kennedy did it in the late 1970s when he tried to get the Soviets to do something to embarrass Jimmy Carter so he could take the nomination from Carter in 1980.

In 1987 Democrat House Speaker Jim Wright stuck his congressional nose into the negotiations between the Reagan administration and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

More recently, who can forget Nancy Pelosi’s jaunt to Syria in 2007, when she and a gang of House Democrats made nice with Bashar al-Assad at the same time the Bush administration was trying to put pressure on Syria to work with it on Mideast peace talks?

Those 47 Republican senators didn’t need to send a public letter to Teheran to remind the Iranians how America’s separation of powers works.

What was wrong with Sen. Cotton and a few others writing an op-ed piece about the Senate’s treaty-ratifying powers for the Wall Street Journal?

I bet the Iranians would have gotten the message just as well.

Instead Republicans only brought attention — bad attention — on themselves for doing exactly what many of them had rightly criticized Pelosi for doing.

Republicans in the Senate should have shut up and let Obama negotiate and sign the treaty with Iran, bad as it is bound to be.

Then they could have pointed out to the Iranians and everyone else that the deal needed to be ratified by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate — and that 47 Republicans were strongly against it.

The letter was a blunder. Until the senators sent it, Iran was exclusively Obama’s problem.

All the media attention was on the president’s defense of his treaty and Netanyahu’s concerns about how dangerous and naive it was.

But now the Iran nuke deal is not just Obama’s issue. It’s the Republicans’ too.

And if anything goes wrong, which it probably will, you can bet that Republicans will — as usual — get most of the blame.”

After the column it says “Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan and a political consultant”, in case readers didn’t recognize the author.

I’ll just sit back and let you all rip this into teeny-tiny little shreds.

Next:

Just as delusional, but in a totally different vein: I ran across this piece authored by Bethany Blankley, a former aide to Senator Susan Collins, and currently “…a conservative political analyst and columnist who regularly appears on Fox News Radio.” Ms. Blankley contends that the majority of Congress (both houses) and President Obama are guilty of treason. She asserts that an omnibus bill passed in December and signed by the President “authorized the State Department to transfer $11.9 billion in cash payments to Iran by June 2015.” Ms. Blankley goes on to say that “[t]ransferring any form of aid/comfort to Iran, a sworn enemy of the United States, is a treasonous act.”

The first link within the article led me to this January article by Adam Kredo at The Washington Free Beacon. While still written with a right-wing slant, i.e., the title being “U.S. to Award Iran $11.9 Billion”, this piece finally provided the kernel of truth: these “cash payments” are actually releases, at intervals, of Iranian assets that were previously frozen as part of the sanctions against Iran. The State Department isn’t sending $11.9 billion in U.S.-taxpayers’ money to Iran, it’s letting Iran access some of its own money:

“When final negotiations between the United States and Iran failed in November, negotiators decided once more to extend the talks through June of this year. The terms of that extension granted Iran the 10 payments of $490 million, a State Department official said.

“With respect to sanctions relief, the United States will enable the repatriation of $4.9 billion of Iranian revenue held abroad during the extension,” the official said.

The first two payments were made in December, followed by Wednesday’s payment. The next release is scheduled for Feb. 11, with two more scheduled for March. The rest of the frozen cash assets will be given back to Iran on April 15, May 6, May 27, and June 22, respectively.”

The same author, Adam Kredo, also penned this March 20th article of interest, which says in part:

“Congressional leaders have begun pressuring their colleagues to cut off all U.S. funding for the ongoing talks with Iran over its contested nuclear program as the Obama administration rushes to hash out the details of a deal in the coming months, according to multiple sources and a letter that will be sent next week to appropriators in the House of Representatives.

With the deadline approaching, congressional Republicans have been exasperated by the Obama administration’s efforts to prevent them from having any oversight over the deal.

Reps. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) and Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.) are now petitioning their colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee to prohibit all taxpayer funding for the talks, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

This would purge all U.S. funds available to Obama administration officials for travel abroad, hotel stays, and any other activities related to the P5+1 talks with Iran.”

So, I guess that Republicans feel that, if they couldn’t derail the Iranian nuclear negotiations by inviting Iran’s worst enemy to speak before a joint session of Congress, and if they couldn’t derail the talks by pulling an end-around on the President and the P5 + 1 negotiators, well, they can just defund the logistical side of the talks. Jeez, there is simply no end to their despicable efforts to thwart anything and everything that President Obama is trying to do.

Interesting note: on the first site that carried the Blankley article, there were no links within it at all. So I tried a search for information on this alleged $11.9 billion in “cash payments”, but the only links I found were mostly obscure right-wing websites, which just repeated the same article. I say “mostly obscure” because I found that “The Unofficial Megyn Kelly” website also featured the article. Take a look – warning, it may temporarily blind you – at this Newsmax-like mess of a website. Who on earth designed this tasteless crap? But also take a look at the mash-up of what I would consider to be real RWNJ story links, including – in the “You might also enjoy” section, one titled “What a Bargain! Only $80,000 for Mooch’s Rental Cars in Japan” Disgustingly, “Mooch” refers to First Lady Michelle Obama. After recent death threats to our Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, does it not occur to these “people” that a special armored vehicle to protect the First Lady and the Ambassador is obviously necessary and actually costs money? On the sidebar, another link to this story is titled “NO JOKE: Michelle O’s Rental Car Fleet For Her Jaunt To Shrine Of Rice God Is Costing…WHAT?” Un-fucking-believable.

Going back to the $11.9 Billion story, I noticed something odd: none of the more popular right-wing websites, i.e., Breitbart or Redstate, came up when I googled the story. Not Fox News, either. I’m guessing that none of them want to broadcast the idea that their darling Republicans who ‘voted for’ the releasing of Iranian assets – oh, sorry, the ‘authorization for the State Department to transfer money to Iran’ – were committing what they call “treason” right along with President Obama. No, they’re not gonna touch THAT one.

Finally, I just HAVE to post this one last excerpt from Bethany Blankley’s ‘opinion’ piece, simply because it’s so jaw-droppingly insane:

“Under President Barack Hussein Obama, many believe the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the White House, multiple layers of government, and is largely directing American domestic and foreign policy. (A powerful and growing Islamic influence also extends throughout the Republican Party.)”

This is our Daily Open Thread – go on, have at it!

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

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

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

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

***😀 ***

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

An Exploration of Issues Confronting the
Grand Canyon State

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

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

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

 ***😯 ***

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

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

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

*** 👿 ***

On Official English:

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

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

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

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

On Dr. King and His Holiday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the Politics of Sex:

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

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

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

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

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

On Evan Mecham:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Air Quality:

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

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

On Deck Park:

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

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

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

On Charles Keating:

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

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

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

On Our Senators:

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

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

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

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

On Voters:

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

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

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

On Power Companies:

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

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

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

On Drug Law Enforcement:

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

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

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

On Child Molesters:

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

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

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

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

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

On Toxic Waste Disposal:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Land of Az, Summation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFTERWARD

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

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

OPEN THREAD

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 10th, 2014: Mitch Makes Plans

Today I’m just going to throw a few topics out here, good, bad, or meh

A few excerpts from yesterday’s Washington Post article by Lori Montgomery and Robert Costa, headlined (rather lengthily) “GOP crafts narrow agenda for new Congress, seeking unity, Democratic votes”:

“Within hours of solidifying their control of Congress, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John A. Boehner were quietly laying plans for a series of quick votes in January aimed at erasing their obstructionist image ahead of the 2016 elections.

Considering the previous unfortunate efforts of the Republican Party to slap a different varnish on their tarnished image, I can only cringe wondering what kind of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser(tm) “quick votes” these two have in mind. What would they deregulate first? IOW, what will be the Rs’ first BS “repeal this job killer” meme in 2015? And are Boehner and McConnell, while “seeking unity”, keeping an eye on their own far-right-flank tea-nut gallery? Megalomaniac Senator Ted Cruz (R-PlanetTexas) is not one to allow the limelight to stray far from him, and is already making obstructionist noises. Boehner and McConnell are fools – yes, I could stop right there, but – if they think that Cruz is going to bow to their so-called “leadership.”

“First up: Action on long-stalled bills with bipartisan support, including measures to repeal an unpopular tax on medical devices and approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Whoa, tortoise, whoa! [gets out baseball bat, “I said WHOA!”] Why you sly bastards! First, Boehner and McConnell know damn well that repealing the medical devices tax, however unpopular it may or may not be, will undermine one of the sources for funding the PPACA, aka Obamacare. Boehner has been shown by FactCheck.org to have been lying about the negative effect that the Medical Device Tax would have on jobs. Repealing the Medical Device Tax is just one way that the Republicans would start to unravel the PPACA without actually repealing the act itself.

Now let’s get to “approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.” It seems that everyone, except the few people/companies who stand to gain from the construction of the pipeline, is against that. This is definitely an example of the incredibly ballsy, obviously and provably false claims that the project would be a “job creator.” Temporary American jobs, yes; a few (50 or so) permanent American jobs, yes; but nowhere near the thousands that the pipeline’s proponents would have us believe. There are so many good arguments against the Keystone XL, it’s truly amazing that any politician is still promoting it; unless, of course, well-funded interests are funding them.

There’s loads more from the WaPo article, but there’s also more information in the New Republic’s article called “This is How the New GOP Senate will try to Dismantle Obamacare”, by Jonathan Cohn.

So far everything points to the Rs major obsession for the past several years – if they can’t repeal the ACA, they’ll just kill it with a thousand cuts.

This is our daily open thread – talk about whatever you want.