The Watering Hole, Saturday, November 28th, 2015: Planned Parenthood Under Attack

Planned Parenthood is always under some kind of attack, whether by the religious-right forced-birthers protesting outside PP offices, or by the Republican-led legislature’s ginned-up witch hunts about fetal tissue, or by the many states’ impositions of prohibitively strict restrictions on both clinics and patients. This time, however, the attack was physical, violent, and deadly.

"Sneak Preview" of cover of Denver Post for Saturday, 11/28/15 (from Twitter)

“Sneak Preview” of cover of Denver Post for Saturday, 11/28/15 (from Twitter)

It’s nearly 3:30am Eastern Time as I’m typing this, and right now the most up-to-date information seems to be from the Denver Post. They’ve assembled a timeline of the more than five-hour shooting/standoff here. A third Denver Post article paints a more vivid picture of the unfolding situation, including this tidbit that I haven’t seen anywhere else:

“At roughly 12:15, the gunman went inside Planned Parenthood and began firing out the windows at propane tanks placed around the clinic’s parking lot, an officer told dispatch over his radio.”

Now, other articles mentioned that the police were sorting through several items that the suspect had brought with him, including mention of ‘a propane tank.’ Nothing about more than one tank, or that any were “placed around the clinic’s parking lot” – but that could explain why most articles say the shooting started outside the Planned Parenthood offices, in the parking lot. Supposedly [it was reported somewhere, I forget where] the suspect had been shooting at cars passing by, possibly if any of the drivers noticed what he was doing. But I’m just speculating here, which I shouldn’t be doing. That, apparently, is the job of the TV ‘news’ media. We turned on the TV after we initially read about the shooting as it was happening, but turned it off again after hearing some of the inane questions and ‘we-don’t-want-to-speculate-but-we-have-to’ bumbling.

Of course there will be much more information available by the time I wake up later this morning–hell, probably even by the time I finish writing this. So I’m definitely not going to speculate about the shooting suspect’s motive(s), or his religion, or his political persuasion; when the information comes out, I’m sure there will be much ranting to follow. I just need to get this one little rant off my chest before I finally go to bed:

Back in September, Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger had spoken about the now-debunked videos purportedly showing PP “harvesting” fetal tissue for fun and profit:

“I mean it’s Nazi Germany,” he told Rockford radio station WROK recently. “You think of the doctors in the concentration camps experimenting on their victims. It’s kind of reminiscent of that.”

The fact that the ‘smoking-gun’ videos were proven to be fraudulent didn’t deter Kinzinger from throwing them up again, with amazingly tone-deaf, brain-dead timing. From one of the ThinkProgress articles covering the shooting:

“While the shooter was active inside the Planned Parenthood clinic, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) went on live TV and blasted the organization. “We saw these barbaric videos, and that was something that many of us have a legitimate concern about,” Kinzinger said.”

Yes. He said that while the shooting spree was in progress; while police officers were being shot at; while at least 100 people were huddling in fear, not just in the Planned Parenthood offices, but in nearby shops and buildings; while a shooter terrorized the area. And he said it as if having “a legitimate concern about” Planned Parenthood could somehow be a “legitimate” cause or reason or excuse for shooting and killing innocent people.

This is our daily Open Thread–have at it.

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 23rd, 2015: NatGeo, Take Me Away!

I can’t deal with “Ugly Americans” [of course, “Ugly Americans” = “Republican Presidential Candidates and their Fans/Supporters”] anymore; we keep thinking, “How can these guys sink so low?”, then, the next hour or day or week, one or two or several of them come out with such outrageous shit that we really need a new word to define what circle of hell lies beyond “outrageous” or “horrific” or “despicable” or “abhorrent” or “inhuman” – sorry, I need more words!

And I’ve had it up to HERE with the holidays being turned into meaningless “shop-’til-you-drop” commercialism [how about if “Black Friday” could be turned into “Black Lives Matter Friday” – hell, make every day of the entire Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday shopping season a day of protests]. So I’m going with some beautiful photos from National Geographic to start the week.

Here’s some pretty birds, from “A Flight of Birds”, a section of NatGeo’s Photo Ark, including a photo capturing the iridescent plumage of the Purple Glossy Starling, such as seen below,
and a more close-up shot of the Javan Rhinoceros Hornbill, like the one seen below:
javan rhinoceros Hornbill

And if you prefer a larger gallery for leisurely viewing, here’s more from NatGeo’s 2015 Photo Contest. The “Week 10” group includes a brooding sunset photo of Godafoss Waterfall in Iceland – here’s a chilly winter shot of the falls, just to start the calming process:

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy the views or rant away – or you can do both!

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 5th, 2015: Mixed Bag Monday

Let’s start off with a bang:  According to Foreign Policy magazine, the same idiots in Congress who tried to stop the Iranian Nuclear Agreement now want to ‘make it up to Bibi’ by giving Israel bunker busters.  An excerpt from this excellently-written article by Jeffrey Davis:

Since the battle over the Iran deal was largely fought over the question of whether proponents loved Israel or not, both sides are talking loudly about providing the country with a big arms package. Those who supported the deal are eager to make it up to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, while those opposed have to find ever more extreme proposals to prove they love Israel more.

This absurd competition — which is primarily about political posturing, not Israeli security — has reached an almost perfect level of absurdity. There is now a growing chorus of people arguing that the United States should give Israel the Massive Ordnance Penetrator — a huge conventional bunker-buster bomb — and a fleet of heavy bombers to drop it.

Israel’s air bases don’t even have runways that can accommodate heavy bombers, though apparently one base — Nevatim — could be modified.**

[**Personal note:  the engineer for whom I used to work had earned the money that enabled him to buy a nice house and start his own business from a contract constructing the Negev Air Base runways.]

Next, let’s go back to the Pope’s meeting with Kim Davis.  Although most news reports agree that the Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S., Carlo Maria Vigano, arranged the visit, so far none seem to have specifically asked or answered “Why?”  Was it solely Reverend Vigano’s idea?  Or – yeah, I’m the suspicious, cynical type – did someone with a stake in a Papal stamp of approval of Kim Davis and her ilk, someone perhaps running for the Presidency, arrange this very, very quietly?  Yeah, I’m looking at you, Huckabee.

Only the Washington Post appears to be curious about the backstory of this now infamous meeting:

Church leaders in the United States and in Rome have been resolutely tight-lipped about the meeting, perhaps concerned about the prospect of appearing to publicly rebuke or challenge the pope, particularly on such a sensitive issue. At the same time, church-watchers have debated and swapped rumors about who set up the meeting, whether it was at the behest of the pope himself, or whether it was an idea pushed by other bishops or religious freedom advocates or donors.

Among those who declined to comment was the Rev. Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States, at whose residence the meeting took place.

Rev. Thomas Rosica, an English-language spokesman for the Vatican, told the Associated Press. “And in the pope’s characteristic kindness and warmth and hospitality, he shook people’s hands and gave them rosaries. We should understand it as that. In terms of why this person was invited, you have to ask those questions of the nunciature.”

A controversial figure both in Rome and in the United States, Viganò has gone further than other church leaders in his campaign against same-sex marriage. Among other things, he appeared at an event this year with the National Organization for Marriage, a group that vocally opposes same-sex marriage and with which U.S. bishops typically don’t publicly ally.

And, of course, Liberty Counsel, and through them Kim Davis, are more or less calling Pope Francis a liar.  According to Christian Today’s article, “Kim Davis denies Vatican account of her meeting with Pope, says she was invited”:

“Disturbed by statements coming from the Vatican, gay marriage nemesis Kim Davis would like to set the records straight that it was the Vatican that extended an “unsolicited invitation” for her to hold a “private meeting” with Pope Francis at the Vatican embassy in Washington D.C. last Sept. 24.

Liberty Counsel, the group representing Davis, said the Kentucky county clerk—who spent six days in jail for defying a court order for her to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples—had spoken with papal representative Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano before she met the Pope.

“This meeting was a private meeting. No other members of the public were present,” Liberty Counsel said.

Davis, accompanied by her husband Joe and lawyer Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, arrived in Washington on the night of Sept. 23, the Liberty Counsel statement said.

The following day, the Davis couple were met by people with “heavy Italian accents” who led them to the Vatican embassy.

“Kim and Joe Davis were placed in a room with no one else present. Later Pope Francis arrived with only Vatican or Embassy personnel and security,” the Liberty Counsel statement said.

“He stretched out his hands. Kim clasped his hands, and he asked her to pray for him. She said she would, and she asked the Pontiff to pray for her, to which he said he would.

“Pope Francis then thanked Kim for her courage. They embraced. The Pope said, ‘Stay strong.’ He then presented Kim and Joe with two rosaries. There was no line of people or other members of the public seen anywhere,” the statement said.

Liberty Counsel said the Vatican requested Davis to keep the meeting a “secret” until the following Tuesday.”

Really?  In this particular case, I have to say that, since Liberty Counsel and Kim Davis are already proven liars, I tend to doubt their account of the “meeting”, which seems to be just another pathetic attempt to keep Liberty Counsel’s pet martyr for Christianity in the limelight.  But I still want to know, who really arranged this on Davis’s behalf with the Papal Ambassador?

Last, a belated birthday present for our resident Turtle:  from National Geographic, glowing sea turtle!

“The critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle is the first reptile scientists have seen exhibiting biofluorescence—the ability to reflect the blue light hitting a surface and re-emit it as a different color. The most common colors are green, red, and orange.”

This is our daily Open Thread–go on, discuss things!

The Watering Hole; Thursday September 10 2015; “Marriage” and “Truth”

The Truth, is Bald, and Cold —
But that will hold —
If any are not sure —
We show them — prayer —
But we, who know,
Stop hoping, now —
(Emily Dickinson)

The recent gay marriage flap in Rowan County, Kentucky, has proven itself to be the generator of  incoherent rant after incoherent rant after incoherent rant, each and all of which spout completely nonsensical premises — aka LIES — concerning imaginary (dire) consequences of the recent Supreme Court decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. The fourteenth amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” applies to gay marriage, the Court ruled on June 26.  Enter RAGE! along with the obvious question: what the hell are *they* so so mad about, so frightened of? Why the irrational anger? Why do so many “believers” have (and ably demonstrate) the ability to fear, to hate people simply because their lifestyle differs from what some consider “normal”? Whatever happened to the concept of Tolerance?

I first became genuinely aware of the gay marriage “controversy” and the boiling pot that has come to define those opposed back in 2004 — mid-May. I think it was — when Massachusetts became the first state to allow/sanction same sex marriages. I remember the uproar, the outcry, the religious rage, and was puzzled as to why anyone should care about how others choose to live their non-intrusive lives. The enabling statute didn’t mandate same-sex marriage, after all. But still, an unbridled rage persists, firmly embedded in just the concept alone. And too, the fact remains that early in 2004 and several months prior to Massachusetts, President George W. Bush did nothing to civilize the debate when he called for a Constitutional amendment to *define* marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Hard to figure the essence of such motivation. Sometimes, at least.

It was a bit more than eleven years ago when, in response to a comment on an internet discussion group, I wrote and posted the following mini-essay on the  topic of “Marriage.” I can honestly say that today, even though my baseline views on the matter have not changed, I now find — more than ever before — the antics of fundamentalist “Christians” (so called) to be totally and completely disgusting and without so much as a thread of merit. And though their anti-gay marriage fixation is shameful, their irrational fear-based hatred of their fellow human citizens has at least one valid consequence — it exposes the vapid hollowness of themselves, of their “cause,” and particularly of their “religion.”

So. This. From late June, 2004:

Near as I can fathom, “marriage” is more a semantics issue than anything else — save for those who find gay unions as some sort of heavenly abomination. My advice to the latter group is simple: if it bothers you, then don’t partake. There are those who find some or all religious dogma to be smothering, an “abomination”, if you will, and choose to not partake. But very few such non-partakers ever demand that those who do choose to practice religious dogma be ruled legal outcasts, nor should they.

The issue, really, is in the legal, not religious, sanctioning of a union, in the sense that to withhold equality before the law for a legally bound (by mutual consent, of course) couple based on gender, or skin color, or eye color/shape, or first language, or religious belief/practice is just plain wrong. Absolute equality of legal rights should be the rule, period. I suppose some might find it more palatable to reserve the word “marriage” for either religious or civil *hetero* union, although I have to wonder — what’s in a word?

The essence of equality before the law IS equality and all that equality entails. I suppose that if a particular church or religious group prefers to believe that marriage is, in their eyes, a hetero union, that’s fine. Let all believe as they wish, but please allow others that same privilege. And, of course, the same applies to the ‘other’ side(s) as well, always. There must be behavioral standards in virtually any society no matter how simple or complex it is or becomes, but I’ve yet to sense that there is, in this world, a dangerously heightened level of human love and devotion to either others or another; tyrants may see things differently I suppose, but they ARE wrong.

I hardly think the human race’s success or failure depends upon the denial, to some, of what are, to others, guaranteed legal rights and privilege. I seriously doubt the species’ numbers will decline because of homosexual union (although if that would happen it’s a pretty good argument in favor of gay union! Six billions of ‘us’ should be enough to maintain an adequate gene pool to ensure a diverse future).

I couldn’t help but notice, on newscasts which detailed Massachusetts’ first day of officially sanctioned gay marriage, the joy on the faces and in the voices of a pair of older women who had been together for 33 years and finally were allowed to officially confirm their union. There is no sane or solid argument that I’ve heard or can imagine which stands tall enough to disallow their moment, their happiness. The day a society officially proclaims there is something awry in a loving relationship between consenting adults is a dark day for ALL concerned.

I am patently against Bush’s proposed amendment to the US Constitution which would disallow gay marriage. IMO, his proposal is nothing but a political appeal to a major segment of his voter base, and that’s a fleeting reason, at best, to permanently and officially codify a level of discrimination which effects far more people than are parcel to a particular voting/support base. Thomas Jefferson once said that “If my neighbor believes in twenty gods or no gods, it does not pick my pocket or break my leg and therefore it’s no harm to me.” I submit that his idea can easily be rearranged to accommodate any number of behavioral concepts and still reach the same enlightened conclusion. “If my neighbors believe in or practice homosexual marriage, it does not pick my pocket or break my leg and therefore it’s no harm to me.” And that’s simply the practicality of the matter; it does not insist anyone celebrate, only that ‘we’ tolerate.

Tolerance. Love. There’s not enough of either and far too much of their opposites. Enough of that.

And here we are today, more than eleven years down the road . . . and though I wouldn’t change a change a single word, I do wonder exactly how a hate/fear-advocate such as Huckabee, Cruz, (et al.), might react, how he/they would likely dismiss each and every non-hate concept, how he/they would dismiss the concept of “Tolerance” as being (at least) anti-God. Their only ‘perception tools’ are, of course, Lies, Innuendo, and the “God Said” opinionated nonsense they regularly spout. But Truth?  NEVER!

Truth v. Opinion — a thesis Emily Dickinson recognized long long ago, when she wrote:

Opinion is a flitting thing,
But Truth, outlasts the Sun —
If then we cannot own them both —
Possess the oldest one –
(Emily Dickinson)



The Watering Hole, Monday, August 17th, 2015: Grab Bag

Just a few odds and ends to get your Monday started.

(R) Presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson has already proven that he “don’t know much about biology” when it comes to homosexuality, women’s reproductive and overall health, and where the fetal brain tissue came from on which he used to experiment. He’s also shown that he “don’t know much about” #BlackLivesMatter, or about prisons. Now Carson shows that he “don’t know much about history” when it comes to foreign policy, the Middle East, or the meaning of “anti-semitism.” In particular, he shows in an op-ed piece in The Jerusalem Post that he “don’t know much about” the Iran Nuclear Deal either.

A few items from Daily Kos: one oldie that makes a nice palate-cleanser; and a recent one that ends with an eloquent message [some of the comments afterwards are excellent as well.]

And for the funny, ICYMI (as I did), John Oliver and friends teach Sex Education.

This is our daily Open Thread–pick a topic, any topic.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 27th, 2015: Il Papa, Don’t Preach

Recently, “Il Papa”, Pope Francis, has pissed off several (often overlapping) factions of conservative “Christian” politicians, pundits, and what I’ve decided to call “pulpiteers”, aka Evangelicals. Apparently the Pope is only “infallible” when his flock agrees with his pronouncements or actions. I find it deliciously ironic that the first Pope in, well, “god” knows how long, to actually emulate the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ according to their own bible makes all of these faux christians so suspicious, dismissive, and ultimately hypocritical. I can just imagine one of the conversations:

Derp 1: “Washing the feet of poor people and criminals? Who the hell does that?”
Derp 2: “Well, according to the Bible, Jesus Christ did. Oh, and Christ fed the poor, too – you heard that Frankie wants all of us Christians to do that, too, right?”
Derp 1: “I know, is he crazy?! C’mon, that do-goody stuff isn’t supposed to be taken literally!”
Derp 2: “No, of course not, not those “New Testament” Jesus-y parts, anyway; just the parts about dominating the earth and all its resources, and the parts about stoning homos and wimmen and your kids if they sass you.”
Derp 1: “Exactly, that’s my point, we have to put the fear of god into these $chmuck$, er, potential voters!”

After already dissing unbridled capitalism and corporate greed, among other things, in his 2013 missive “Evangelii Gaudium: Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World”, last week Pope Francis issued his now-infamous encyclical focusing on man-made climate change, and his idea of the correct Christian, and, as he noted, human course of action necessary to combat it for the good of Planet Earth and all of her children.

While some Catholic and other Christian groups agreed with Pope Francis and are willing to preach his ‘gospel’ to their flocks, other self-proclaimed “Christians” pretty much think that either Pope Francis is wrong, or that he should mind his own goddam beeswax. In particular, the many Catholics (or whatever “Christian” flavor) among the numerous Republican 2016 Presidential hopefuls would prefer that the Pope stay quiet. From the ThinkProgress article:

“At a town hall event in New Hampshire…[Jeb] Bush said that religion “ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”


“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home,” Bush said, “but I don’t get my economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.”

No, Jeb, you certainly don’t get your economic policy from your pope, otherwise you’d actually have to DO something to help the poor. And it doesn’t seem to be working out when it comes to “making [you] better as people”, unless somehow by “better” you mean “more hateful.”

However, you and your ilk seem perfectly happy to get your SOCIAL policy, in particular regarding women’s rights, abortion, and LGBT rights, from your pope and your bible.  And you definitely LOVE it when your flavor of religion ends up crafting legal policy for the entire country, you fuckwad.

The article goes on to say that:

“Bush’s views on climate change and religion have, at times, been contradictory. In May, the presidential candidate and brother of George W. Bush said that the science surrounding climate change was “convoluted.”

“For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even.”

Once again, NO, Jeb, it’s NOT “intellectual arrogance” when the vast majority of scientists who have studied all of the data have come to the inevitable conclusion that global climate change is real, it’s mostly man-made, and it’s going to make the lives of your – and everybody else’s – grandchildren and greatgrandchildren a miserable hell.

And, of course, Rick Santorum had to get his twisted views out there:

““The Church has gotten it wrong a few times on science,” Santorum told radio host Dom Giordano. “We probably are better off leaving science to the scientists, and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality.”

WHAT the huh? Morality? Wait, he’s got more:

“I’m saying, what should the pope use his moral authority for?” Santorum asked. “I think there are more pressing problems confronting the earth than climate change.”

Are you fucking kidding, Rantorum? Oh, hold on for the finish:

“When we get involved with controversial and scientific theories, I think the Church is not as forceful and not as credible,” Santorum continued. “I’ve said this to the Catholic bishops many times — when they get involved in agriculture policy, or things like that, that are really outside of the scope of what the Church’s main message is, that we’re better off sticking to the things that are really the core teachings of the Church as opposed to getting involved in every other kind of issue that happens to be popular at the time.”

Okay, for Jeb and Sick Rantorum and every other Catholic and self-proclaimed Christian: If you are true to your supposed faith, then every official utterance of Pope Francis or any other Pope is, according to YOUR dogma, the infallible transmission of the Word of your God. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, the Pope is supposed to be the unquestionable representative of your Trinity. And if you and your science-denying conservative cohorts DON’T think that global climate change is the MOST pressing problem confronting the Earth, then you don’t deserve to even be aspiring to the Presidency of these United States. Just sit down and shut up.

Anyhoo…NOW Pope Francis has done something to ruffle the feathers, to say the least, of Israel and her supporters: According to Foreign Policy Magazine:

“On Friday [June 26], the Vatican signed a comprehensive treaty with Palestinian authorities, formalizing a basic agreement between the Catholic Church and the PLO back in 2000. In essence, it is a formal declaration of the Holy See’s support for the creation of a Palestinian state and the peace process with Israel. “[I]t is my hope that the present agreement may, in some way, be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both Parties,” wrote Vatican foreign minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher.”


“The news is not going over well in Tel Aviv. “This hasty step damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement, and harms the international effort to convince the Palestinian Authority to return to direct negotiations with Israel,” said Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.”


“[G]iven its sordid history of anti-Semitism, book-burnings, forced conversions and Inquisitions, the Catholic Church should think a hundred times over before daring to step on Israel’s toes,” wrote Michael Freund, former deputy communications director to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the Jerusalem Post on May 18. “If anything, the pope should be down on his knees pleading for forgiveness from the Jewish people and atonement from the Creator for what the Vatican has wrought over the centuries.”

I’m really starting to enjoy this new Pope Francis reality show (especially as a former Catholic) – it beats the hell out of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice Asshole” or “19 and Groping.”  Heh.

This is our daily Open Thread–go ahead and talk about things!


In blatant disregard for the will of the Almighty, the Supreme Court today sanctioned same-sex marriages.

God, speaking through the voices of numerous pundits, will rain down His Righteous Wrath on the U.S. to punish the nation for allowing two people who love each other the right to get married irrespective of their genders.

From now until the end of time, every so-called natural disaster will, in truth, be God’s Punishment meted out against the United States for allowing Gay Marriage.