The Weekend Watering Hole, December 3rd-4th, 2016

As George W. Bush so eloquently stated all those years ago, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

There are countless numbers of people who should have taken to heart even Dubya’s garbled version (perhaps he had been listening to The Who on his way to that day’s event) of the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”, during this past Presidential campaign and election. The vast majority of those people belong in that huge conglomeration known as “The Media”. Subgroups include, but are not limited to: cable and other news channels, their corporate owners and news division heads, “journalists”, “reporters”, newspundits aka talking heads, political strategists, and official spokeswhores for political candidates. I’m not even going to bother going into the internet “media”, that would be like peeling away every layer of the world’s largest onion (and would bring tears to your eyes, too.) Better to focus on the main offenders.

On Thursday, a “postmortem session” was held at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, attended by representatives of several of the above subgroups. Apparently this is a traditional event that’s held following Presidential elections. As described in general in this article in The Washington Post, this year’s event quickly devolved into a “shouting match.”

A lot of lies were told, and false narratives put forward; too many for me to address all at once, so I’ll limit myself for now and add further commentary as the weekend progresses and time allows.

Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri condemned [Steve] Bannon, who previously ran Breitbart, a news site popular with the alt-right, a small movement known for espousing racist views.

“If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I am proud to have lost,” she said. “I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.”

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, fumed: “Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform?”

“You did, Kellyanne. You did,” interjected Palmieri…”

Yes, you did, Kellyanne. Trump’s rants freed the voices and actions of a legion of bigots, including and especially white supremacists. But you and other Trump campaign spokeszombies denied, deflected and disowned reports of rising anti-Muslim anti-immigrant, anti-minorities threats and violence, along with Nazi-related graffiti, etc., often in Trump’s name; you did everything but denounce it in the strongest of terms. Forfuckssake, your candidate actually gained ground when he refused to tone down his violence-condoning rhetoric.

“Do you think you could have just had a decent message for white, working-class voters?” Conway asked. “How about, it’s Hillary Clinton, she doesn’t connect with people? How about, they have nothing in common with her? How about, she doesn’t have an economic message?”

Well, Kellyanne, Secretary Clinton DID have a “decent message for white, working-class voters” – the problem was that Trump’s unsubtle dog-whistle message stripped away the veneer of decency from certain segments of “white, working-class voters.” Maybe if Clinton had couched her economic message and policies in lurid hyperbole instead of measured, factual terms, the “media” would have given her more coverage, and more “white, working-class voters” might have paid attention. Or not. I think that once Trump opened his campaign with his lying anti-Mexican slurs, the inner xenophobe in too many Americans sat up and proclaimed “now, that guy speaks MY language.” (Yes, when your language is ‘limited vocabulary/poor grammar’ Americanese.) Trump’s angry shouting drowned out any more mundane, pragmatic offerings from Hillary Clinton. And “the media” simply ran with the loudest “monster-shouter” (H/T Stephen King’s “The Stand.”)

Trump officials said Clinton’s problems went beyond tactics to her weaknesses as a candidate and the deficits of a message that consisted largely of trying to make Trump unacceptable.

[Clinton campaign manager Robby] Mook posited that the media did not scrutinize Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns as intensively as the issue of Clinton’s private email server.

Conway retorted: “Oh, my God, that question was vomited to me every day on TV.”

First the only weaknesses candidate Clinton had were that she’s center-right (which means dangerously left to the impaired judgment of the right-wing), her name is Hillary Clinton, and she’s a woman. She was not “the most crooked politician ever to run for President”, or anything even close to it. She did not murder anyone, despite all of the “body count” conspiracies. And, despite millions of dollars and thousands of hours of fruitless investigations, she did not cause the deaths in Benghazi. Hillary stayed on message the majority of the time, but how could she NOT point out all of the myriad reasons why Trump made HIMSELF unacceptable? Especially since “the media” wasn’t doing a damn thing to inform voters of those reasons?

Second, yes, Kellyanne, you were asked about Trump’s tax returns every day, because neither you nor Trump ever answered the fucking question. As with so many other important questions, you were the one who was projectile-vomiting nonsensical talking points, redirecting the interview right back to Hillary and her emails, or Benghazi, or whatever the current Clinton faux-scandal was on your agenda.

“Conway accused Clinton’s team of being sore losers. “Guys, I can tell you are angry, but wow,” she said. “Hashtag he’s your president. How’s that? Will you ever accept the election results? Will you tell your protesters that he’s their president, too?”

Well, ‘hashtag’ FUCK YOU, Kellyanne, would Trump have accepted the election results if he had lost? You know the answer to that one, you slimy harpy twat. And fuck every goddamned Republican who dares to demand that we kowtow to Donald Trump and his minions, after every word and deed from the right wing for the last eight years were meant solely to stop duly-elected President Obama from actually acting as the American President. Donald Trump is incapable of giving any dignity or credence to the Office of the President of the United States; IMO, he doesn’t even aspire to do so. “Sad.”

Kellyanne, you’re a paid professional liar, and you sold your shriveled, empty soul to an amoral selfish greedy disgusting excuse for a human being. If there really is a Hell, I’m sure that you’ll eventually end up being the spokeswhore for Satan.

There was so much more that I hope to address eventually. Plus, there’s a more detailed account of the discussions at the Harvard event here.

“The media” seemed to feel that its job was to sit back and let Trump be his deplorable self, almost idly marveling in wonder as to how Trump got away with telling the out-and-out lies that he did. It took until the last month or so before the election for “the media” to, to a small degree, come out of its collective catatonic state and finally challenge some of the lies, but there were too many and it was too late. “The media” owns a yuge chunk of the blame for this election’s horrific outcome. But that’s a topic that also needs more time than I have at this moment. But an important part of that discussion involves both Jeff Zucker and CNN’s endless and usually uncritical coverage of all things Trump, along with the insidious, duplicitious role of Trump campaign advisor/CNN political “pundit” Corey Lewandowski and his current role in the Trump transition.

This is our Weekend Open Thread – discuss whatever you’d like.

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

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

An excerpt from the opening:

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

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

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

1) Systematic efforts to intimidate the media.

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

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

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

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

2) Building an official pro-Trump media network.

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) Using government surveillance against domestic political opponents.

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

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

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

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

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

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

6) Stacking the Supreme Court.

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

7) Enforcing the law for only one side.

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

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

8) Really rigging the system.

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

9) Fearmongering.

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

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

10) Demonizing the opposition.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The Watering Hole, 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: Saturday, October 15th, 2016: KITTENS!

I was going to title this “ALL-PUSSY EDITION”, but it might have attracted the wrong crowd. Heh.

Wayne and I have just added two kittens, sisters, to our family. No names yet, but it’s only been about ten days since we got them, and I’m observing their behavior/personality traits for clues as they settle in. They made themselves at home within the first day or two, and while Wayne and I find them highly entertaining and completely adorable, the rest of our kids are not so amused. The older four, Missy, Buster, Fitzgerald and Cecilia, are happy to have the bonus of Kitten Chow (and even though I started out feeding the little ones separately, in the other side of the house, the others quickly sniffed it out anyway), but otherwise avoid them at all costs. Squiggy, on the other hand…

Squiggy's a big (and heavy!) boy now.

Squiggy’s a big (and heavy!) boy now.

Squiggy, about two years old now, is a big boy and loves to play, especially “fetch”. We’ve always had lots of toys around for him, often stockpiled for when he goes after a thrown toy but comes back empty-mouthed, yet still asking for another throw. With the exception of the occasional spontaneous outburst of play on the part of our older ‘girls’, Squiggy has had most of the toys pretty much to himself. He has his “favorite” toys, his “okay-I’ll-play-with this-one-until-you-find-me-one-of-my-favorites” toys, and the “I’m-just-gonna-let-that-one-go-by-while-looking-bored” toys. Whatever he thought of them before, the two invaders now consider all of the toys to be theirs. Not even Squiggy’s favorites have been spared, and, although he seems simply fascinated by their antics at times, and sometimes joins in when the two girls are running full-tilt through the house, he is all-too-often bemused, bothered, befuddled and bewildered. We’re trying to make sure that he and the others get their previously-normal share of attention and loving, but, as I said, the older ones currently prefer to steer clear. We’ll all adjust eventually, they just don’t know that yet.

No more prologue is necessary, so here they are:

It's tempting to name her

It’s tempting to name her “Blaze”.

Her blaze has stripes.

Her blaze has stripes.

I only got one picture of this little girl's face, unfortunately. And obviously, I had to clean up the background to make it presentable in public.

I only got one picture of this little girl’s face, unfortunately. And obviously, I had to clean up the background to make it presentable in public.

Here's a nice back view of the lighter one's markings.

Here’s a nice back view of the lighter one’s markings.

“She likes to wash.”
That’s Wayne’s hand, for the record.

And one last one – Sorry, but I couldn’t help making this shot into a political meme:nastyorangemanwearingroadkillgrabswha3

This is our daily Open Thread – don’t forget to sprinkle some compliments in amongst your comments!

Also, too, any and all suggestions for names will be welcome.

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 10th, 2016: Still Carrying Holy Water

In case I haven’t written enough about Evangelical “Christian” website, The Christian Post, here’s another one.

I wanted to see what their reaction was to the Trump “pussy” scandal. Would this be the final straw? Of course not.

Trump 2005 Sex Talk Video Scandal: Evangelical, Republican Leaders Divided on Supporting GOP Presidential Nominee

By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor
October 9, 2016|9:39 am
Varied responses from evangelical and Republican leaders are pouring in after a 2005 video surfaced showing Donald Trump bragging about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women. Some have withdrawn their support, others continue to back the GOP presidential nominee to prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming president.

“As a husband and father of three daughters, I find this behavior deeply offensive and degrading,” said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council Action, referring to the leaked video carrying Trump’s 2005 remarks while talking with Billy Bush, then host of “Access Hollywood.”

In the conversation with Bush, the real estate magnate discusses a failed attempt to seduce a woman. “I did try and [expletive] her. She was married,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” he adds. “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” The video was published by The Washington Post on Friday.

Trump, who will participate in the second presidential debate with his Democratic rival Clinton at Washington University in St. Louis on Sunday, has said, “I was wrong, and I apologize.”

Perkins went on to say his support for Trump “was never based upon shared values rather it was built upon shared concerns,” including the Supreme Court, America’s security, and religious freedom. He said, “… We are left with a choice of voting for the one who will do the least damage to our freedoms.”

It’s not an ideal situation, Perkins added, but “I refuse to find sanctuary on the sidelines and allow the country and culture to deteriorate even further by continuing the policies of the last eight years.”

Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a member of Trump’s religious advisory board, also said he’s still with the Republican nominee.

“As a Christian, I believe that the Bible teaches, to quote a verse from the New Testament, that we’re to treat older women as our mothers and younger women as sisters in all purity,” Reed told NPR in an interview on Saturday, adding that Trump has apologized. “I think given the stakes in this election and those and other critical issues, I just don’t think an audiotape of an 11-year-old private conversation with an entertainment talk show host on a tour bus, for which the candidate has apologized profusely, is likely to rank high on the hierarchy of concerns of those faith-based voters.”

Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer also said he continues to support the Trump-Pence ticket.

“The 10-year old tape of a private conversation in which Donald Trump uses grossly inappropriate language does not change the reality of the choice facing this country,” the chairman of the Campaign for Working Families said in a statement. “Hillary Clinton is committed to enacting policies that will erode religious liberty, promote abortion, make our country less safe, and leave our borders unprotected. She wants higher taxes and bigger government. She will continue the disastrous economic policies that are destroying America’s working class and middle class families. She is mired in corruption and has put U.S. secrets at risk.”

Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, responded to the video, saying, “As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump. … I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them. I am grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people.”

Pence abstained from a campaign event scheduled for Saturday in Wisconsin with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Politico reported.

The Washington Post’s National Political Reporter, Philip Rucker, said Gov. Pence is “inconsolable” since the leaked video surfaced. “A source close to Trump camp told me Pence and his team are ‘absolutely apoplectic,’ ‘melting down’ and ‘inconsolable,'” Rucker tweeted.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus condemned Trump’s remarks. “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever,” he said in a statement.

Former Republican Presidential Candidate Carly Fiorina called for Trump to drop out of the presidential race.

“We must have a conservative in the White House to restore accountability, opportunity and security. For the sake of our Constitution and the rule of law, we must defeat Hillary Clinton,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “Today I ask Donald Trump to step aside and for the RNC to replace him with Gov. Mike Pence.”

Trump has categorically said he won’t quit.

Arizona Republican John McCain said he can no longer back Trump. “I thought it important I respect the fact that Donald Trump won a majority of the delegates by the rules our party set. I thought I owed his supporters that deference,” McCain told Politico. “But Donald Trump’s behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.”

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz also announced withdrawal of his endorsement of Trump. “I’m out. I can no longer in good conscience endorse this person for president. It is some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine,” he told Fox 13 News.

Former GOP candidate for president Jeb Bush said no apology will do. “As the grandfather of two precious girls, I find that no apology can excuse away Donald Trump’s reprehensible comments degrading women,” he wrote on Twitter. Similarly, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, also a former Republican presidential candidate, tweeted, “Make no mistake the comments were wrong and offensive. They are indefensible.”

However, while apologizing, Trump said, “This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today. … I’ve said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between words and actions. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.”

Trump’s wife, Melania, pleaded with voters in a gracious response to her husband’s 2005 remarks, which she acknowledged were “unacceptable and offensive to me.”

“This does not represent the man that I know. He has the heart and mind of a leader,” she said in a statement. “I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world.”

The following piece of crap is the Trump “apology” which apparently cleans and disinfects Trump in those rabidly delusional minds:

“Here is my statement.
I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me, know these words don’t reflect who I am.

I said it, it was wrong, and I apologize.

I’ve travelled the country talking about change for America. But my travels have also changed me. I’ve spent time with grieving mothers who’ve lost their children, laid off workers whose jobs have gone to other countries, and people from all walks of life who just want a better future. I have gotten to know the great people of our country, and I’ve been humbled by the faith they’ve placed in me. I pledge to be a better man tomorrow, and will never, ever let you down.
Let’s be honest. We’re living in the real world. This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today. We are losing our jobs, we are less safe than we were 8 years ago and Washington is broken.
Hillary Clinton, and her kind, have run our country into the ground.

I’ve said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between words and actions. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days.

See you at the debate on Sunday.”

Okay, this might possibly have squeaked by as a technical “apology” had Trumped ended with “I said it, it was wrong, and I apologize.” Instead, he launched into a string of lies, i.e., “I’ve been humbled…” is a flat-out impossibility; followed by throwing his own feces at the Clintons in a kneejerk projection reaction.

Regardless…these Evangelical “Christians”, some are still fine and dandy with Donald Trump because he would appoint a new Supreme Court Justice who will abolish abortion entirely and make “Christianity” the law of the land. Well, more or less, but definitely the abortion part, because that’s the one and only thing that these ‘men of the cloth’ really, really hate. They’ll tolerate Trump’s lies, Trump’s now-proven lack of charity, Trump’s lack of love for his neighbor – well, not HIS neighbor, but other people’s neighbors – um, where was I? These religious zealots are blind to Trump’s ignorance of his own or any other ‘faith’, Trump’s cheating his employees, Trump’s violent rhetoric, Trump’s failure to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”, Trump’s attitude towards all women, Trump’s adultery, Trump’s coveting his neighbor’s wife, and Trump’s putting the false god of greed before the Evangelical Whatever-they-are’s “god”? Trump’s own recorded words admit to sexual abuse, along with what some bibles say is one of the big sins, ‘coveting his neighbor’s wife’; but still, these assholier-than-thou [thank you, Z] turn a blind eye to the utter depravity that is Donald Trump. All, ALL, just to stop abortion.

Anyone who calls him- or herself a “Christian”, yet supports Donald Trump, is morally bankrupt, has no soul, and has no claim on “family values” or “freedom” or “patriotism.” From this agnostic, you can all go fuck yourselves.

This is our daily Open Thread. Enjoy yourlves.

The Watering Hole; Thursday October 6 2016; Guns v. 2A

“My faith informs my life [. . .] it all for me begins with cherishing the
dignity, the worth, the value of every human life
(Mike Pence, Rep. VP Candidate)

“‘Every human life’ . . . except those stolen by #gunviolence . . .
like my mother’s. Then, you simply just don’t care”
(Erica L Smegielski; daughter of a Sandy Hook victim)

******

Guns v. The Second Amendment.

I recently ran across a fresh and novel (stupid) but still interesting “new” thesis, courtesy of Larry Pratt, executive director emeritus of Gun Owners of America. Last Saturday (Oct 1)  on his Gun Owners News Hour radio program, Pratt’s guest was Don Brockett, author of a book called “The Tyrannical Rule of the U.S. Supreme Court” in which Brockett poses the proposition that the Second Amendment was written so as to allow states to defend themselves against invasion, and was added to the Constitution because of Article I Section 10, the part which reads:

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, . . . engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

Brockett asked,

“[H]ow can it defend itself if it’s being invaded if the people don’t have any Second Amendment right to arms? And I maintain in the book, even though some may think this is going too far, that you’re entitled to the same measure of weapons as the weapons that might be used against you. So does that mean everybody can have an RPG in their home? I don’t know. I think we need to discuss it, because how could you stop the invading army unless you have the equal weaponry? Or if you want to provide it by your national guard, which can be distributed to individual citizens when that need comes about.”

Pratt completely agreed with Brockett’s thesis, and pointed out that the Second Amendment essentially stands as proof that the Founders’ original intent was to constitutionally allow that every future man of military-age, in each and every State, be fully armed in order to confront and combat armed invaders of said State. Pratt added that in re today, the Founders would have allowed that “at a minimum,” every man should be carrying, at the least, an M-16 rifle. RPGs too, probably.

Pratt and Brockett are, of course, totally and completely wrong and off-the-wall. The Second Amendment had absolutely nothing at all to do with Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution. It was, instead, written by Virginia slave-owner and ‘Founder’ James Madison in response to Article I, Section 8, Clauses 15 and 16:

The Congress  shall have Power . . . [Clause 15] To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; [and Clause 16] To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress . . .

The 1787 Constitution assigned, in short, complete and total control of “the Militia” to Congress and not to the States, a fact which quickly became a matter of deep concern to, especially, the slave states. At the 1788 Constitution Ratifying Convention in Virginia, Patrick Henry expressed those concerns when he said:

Let me here call your attention to that part which gives the Congress power to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States. . . .

If the country be invaded, a state may go to war, but cannot suppress insurrections. If there should happen an insurrection of slaves, the country cannot be said to be invaded. They cannot, therefore, suppress it without the interposition of Congress. . . . Congress, and Congress only, can call forth the militia. . . .

In this state there are two hundred and thirty-six thousand blacks, and there are many in several other states. But there are few or none in the Northern States. . . . In this situation, I see a great deal of the property of the people of Virginia in jeopardy, and their peace and tranquility gone.

Insurrection of slaves” and “property” are the key words here, given that Article I Section 8 specifically says that only the Congress shall have power . . . To . . . suppress insurrections. NOT the State(s), i.o.w., and THAT was clearly the clause most worrisome to slave owners, to slave states, in the emerging USA, because it put their property in jeopardy.

Henry was also concerned about the attitudes of the abolitionists in the “northern” States, i.e those who wanted to completely do away with slavery. As he pointed out to James Madison,

 “[T]hey will search that paper [the Constitution], and see if they have power of manumission. And have they not, sir? Have they not power to provide for the general defence and welfare? May they not think that these call for the abolition of slavery? May they not pronounce all slaves free, and will they not be warranted by that power? This is no ambiguous implication or logical deduction. The paper speaks to the point: they have the power in clear, unequivocal terms, and will clearly and certainly exercise it. This is a local matter, and I can see no propriety in subjecting it to Congress.” 

In short, arguments such as Patrick Henry’s convinced instructed James Madison to write what we now know as the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Madison’s original draft read,

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.

In the final version of what was to become the Second Amendment, Madison succumbed to the suggestions of Patrick Henry, George Mason, and other Southern State voices that wanted slave patrol militias to remain free of Federal control mainly by changing a single word in his final version:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

“Country” now become “State” — Federal control of Militias now back in the hands of the STATE — not to ward off an invasion, but to deal with SLAVE INSURRECTIONS via a WELL REGULATED MILITIA (and whatever happened to the concept of a ‘well regulated militia’? Where is it today? Is the concept — and its regulatory manifestations — dead? Gone? Buried?).

If the answer is left to politicians and/or gun nuts, it’s likely that we’ll never know.

In any case, for a further and much deeper analysis of the Second Amendment’s origin and purpose, see Law Professor Carl Bogus’ Research Paper 80, The Hidden History of the Second Amendment which begins with this abstract:

. . . there is strong reason to believe that, in significant part, James Madison drafted the Second Amendment to assure his constituents in Virginia, and the South generally, that Congress could not use its newly-acquired powers to indirectly undermine the slave system by disarming the militia, on which the South relied for slave control. His argument is based on a multiplicity of the historical evidence, including debates between James Madison and George Mason and Patrick Henry at the Constitutional Ratifying Convention in Richmond, Virginia in June 1788; the record from the First Congress; and the antecedent of the American right to bear arms provision in the English Declaration of Rights of 1688.

“Strong reason” indeed.

Since James Madison’s Second Amendment was clearly written for the sole purpose of addressing the perceived Constitutional issue of Militia accessibility by the Several States, and since the sole purpose of the ‘well regulated Militia’ mentioned therein was to provide slave states with the means to put down and control slave ‘insurgencies’ and/or ‘insurrections,’ and also since the Thirteenth Amendment specifically states that Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude . . . shall exist within the United States — and since the Second Amendment was clearly written solely to protect the interests of Slave owners — the final question becomes clear and obvious:

WHY was the Second Amendment NOT automatically invalidated  at the very moment slavery was disallowed, at the very moment  the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified (Dec. 6, 1865)  by a majority of the Several States?

Why? Why the constant misinterpretation of the Second Amendment? Why the romance with any variation of that one contrivance — the GUN — the SOLE purpose of which is to KILL something – anything – that lives? Is the ability to KILL something the main driver of ‘our’ culture? Of the entire of Human society? One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, Emily Dickinson spoke in the voice of a gun when she wrote,

My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun —
In Corners — till a Day
The Owner passed — identified —
And carried Me away —

[. . .]

To foe of His — I’m deadly foe —
None stir the second time —
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye —
Or an emphatic Thumb —

Though I than He — may longer live
He longer must — than I —
For I have but the power to kill,
Without — the power to die –

The Gun — ALL Guns —  thereby Defined.

I, for one, will never understand the “magic” implicit in
a tool whose sole purpose is
TO KILL.

I know. I’m weird.

******

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 3rd, 2016: One of These “Christians” is Not Like The Other

Okay, this is going to be a little long, so go ahead and get your favorite beverage/sustenance. Are you sitting comfortably?

I received the following email the other day from Michael Sherrard of Faithful America:

A new group calling itself the “American Evangelical Association”[**] is generating headlines with a letter attacking Faithful America.

Signed by dozens of Donald Trump’s biggest supporters on the religious right, it makes a wild series of accusations against Christian social-justice leaders and organizations.

The letter names Faithful America alongside Sojourners’ Jim Wallis and evangelical creation-care advocate Rich Cizik, and claims that our activism has contributed to “a growth industry trafficking in human baby organs,” “violent inner-city lawlessness,” and “increasing drugs, disease, crime, gangs, and terrorism.”

The charges are bizarre, but the letter’s signers – several of whom have been named by the Trump campaign as official advisors and endorsers – have a clear mission: Delegitimizing Christians who dare to challenge Trump’s politics of fear and hatred.

With barely a month left before Election Day, polls show that Trump continues to hold a double-digit lead among white Christians, and too many Christian leaders have been intimidated into silence.

With no buildings, denominations, or charitable tax status to protect, Faithful America is free to take on the Christians who are baptizing Trump’s heinous agenda. But we need your support to do it.  Donate to Faithful America

The full letter is almost eight pages long, but here’s an abridged version and some of the most significant signers:

“An Open Letter to Christian pastors, leaders and believers who assist the anti-Christian Progressive political movement in America”
After years of earnest but less public attempts, it is now with heavy hearts, and a hope for justice and restoration, that we Christian leaders urge ‘progressive’ evangelicals and Catholics to repent of their work that often advances a destructive liberal political agenda. We write as true friends knowing that most believers mean well. We desire the best for you and for the world God loves.

As recent leaked documents confirm, and as Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners eventually admitted, wealthy, anti-Christian foundations, following the lead of billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, fund and “rent” Christian ministers as “mascots” serving as surprising validators for their causes. The consequent realities include injury to countless people, the Church, the family, nation and the global Church including many martyrs.

We must reclaim the Church’s witness in the world. Biblical truth and wisdom are the highest love for human beings. While God loves justice and mercy for all, many “social justice” campaigns are politically crafted and not the true Gospel. Only the truth of our sin, both personal and systemic, and Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for our salvation and rebirth, is true hope for persons and nations. The gospel charges all things with hope.

Consider some of the consequences of Progressive political activism over the past eight years:

1. A growth industry trafficking in human baby organs and body parts – funded and defended by the Democratic Party.

2. The abandonment of a biblical view of marriage that protected and liberated children and adults from centuries of pagan slavery, poverty, polygamy and non-life-giving sexuality.

3. The Transgender agenda imposed by Obama-government edict, including gender re-education to be forced on our citizens, businesses, schools, military and churches.

4. Doubling of our national debt, economic stagnation and increased welfare dependency.

5. Increased minority unemployment, poverty and violent inner city lawlessness, with an accompanying loss of opportunity, self-determination and family stability.

6. Heightened racial division and tension, and the growing phenomenon of paid demonstrators being recruited and dispatched to instigate protests that often become riots.

7. Open borders and ‘sanctuary’ cities increasing drugs, disease, crime, gangs and terrorism.

8. Forced refugee resettlement in hundreds of American cities without citizen consent, mandated by the federal government in collusion with the United Nations. “Refugees” are primarily non-assimilating Muslims, while authorities reject persecuted Christians.

9. Hostility towards Judeo-Christian religious liberty in our courts, media and universities including the suppression of conservative speakers, free thought and moral education.

10. The widespread, political use of the IRS to intimidate conservative, patriotic and Christian groups that disagree with the current political establishment.

For many years, Soros’s Open Society and other liberal foundations have funded not only most of the disturbing campaigns mentioned above (1-10) but also the Religious Left, using and creating ostensibly evangelical and Catholic organizations to “message and mobilize” Christians into Progressive causes. They use the Marxist-Alinsky tactic of funding “ministers” who cherry-pick faith language to confuse and divide the Church’s morality, mission and vote.

At a time when many Christian ministries are struggling, a few of the Soros network “faith” and “interfaith” grantees are Jim Wallis of Sojourners, Richard Cizik’s New Evangelical Partnership, Telos, J Street to malign Israel, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Faithful America and Gamaliel. Faith in Public Life to “counter” Christians and the Tea Party in the media and, with PICO, advocates for amnesty, mass Islamic migration, and even sought to influence the visit and priorities of Pope Francis himself. Billions of additional dollars to “Christian VOLAGs” for large scale “refugee” and migrant resettlement often comes from the Obama administration.

We urge you to question the true intentions of persons or organizations that receive money from Soros and other billionaire globalists. We must not give their surrogates four more years.

And so we ask again, why do those who claim to share our faith in Christ continue to advocate for politicians who will pass legislation, and appoint justices and judges who will attack Christian liberty and persecute believers? Turning our nation over to the enemies of biblical faith does not honor Christ, promote love of neighbor, or advance God’s kingdom in the world.

We ask those who have intentionally or unwittingly aided the Progressive agenda in the past to look at the actual consequences of their policies. Please stop inviting fellow believers to assist global profiteers and political activists who are determined to de-Christianize America.

Please repent and turn away from those who attack the Church. Say “no” to blood money. Refuse funds from anyone attempting to put the Church and America in chains.

Selected signers:

Lt. Gen. Wm. “Jerry” Boykin (U.S. Army, retired)
Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely (U.S. Army, retired)
Bishop Harry R Jackson, Jr. (High Impact Leadership Coalition)
Dr. Everett Piper (President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University)
Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riano (Executive Vice President, Regent University)
Dr. Wayne Grudem (Phoenix Seminary)
Dr. Jay Richards (The Catholic University of America)
David Barton (author and speaker)
Rep. John Becker (Ohio state representative)
Dr. Jim Garlow (Senior Pastor, Skyline Church, San Diego)
Pastor Steve Riggle (Grace Church, Houston TX)
Pastor Steve Smothermon (Legacy Church, Albuquerque NM)
Fr. Frank Pavone (Priests for Life)
Eric Metaxas (author, talk-show host)
Tim Wildmon (American Family Association)
George Barna (Researcher and author)
Mat Staver (Liberty Counsel)

[**Note: A Google search found nothing about this “American Evangelical Association”]

Next, an insane exhortation to his fellow Evangelicals by Paige Patterson, Op-Ed Contributor to the Christian Post, titled “How Evangelicals Should be Like Hitler’s Army on Election Day” [yes, he said “Hitler’s Army”]:

What do April 30, 1945, and Nov. 8, 2016, have in common?

The first date was the culmination of World War II. On that fateful day, Adolf Hitler apparently shot himself in the mouth as Russian soldiers moved in on his compound. But in the midst of all that tragedy, an interesting saga played itself out in Germany.

Before Hitler realized that he had lost the war, almost all other Germans knew it well. The Russians were closing from the East, and the Americans came from the West.

The dilemma of many German troops was relatively simple: “Shall we surrender to the Russians or shall we head west and surrender to the Americans?”

Apparently no small number made every effort to fall into the hands of the Americans.

No one knew for sure what would happen to them if they opted for the American option. But the German army knew well what would happen if they were overtaken by Russian generals. In the end, it was what they knew, not what they did not know, that forced their choice. Having heard and often experienced the kindness of American soldiers, many decided that this was the best hope for the future.

And what about Nov. 8, 2016 — election day in America?

Apparently, there has never been an election quite like it. The two presidential candidates both sport disapproval ratings among the highest of any candidates in history. What on earth shall Christians do? Some have said that they will stay home that November morning and stoke the fire in the fireplace. Others will write in a preferred name — some have even said that this name will be “Jesus.”

There is another interesting aspect to this dilemma. There are actually three different ways to vote for Hillary Clinton. The first is the one that she prefers. Pull the lever for her to be the next president of the United States. But if you cannot bear to do that, then write in the name of a candidate who has no chance of winning or pour another cup of coffee and watch a vacuous TV show at home. Mrs. Clinton will be pleased, because she is confident that the vast majority of Democrats and other liberals WILL vote for her even if they intensely dislike her and do not trust her.

“The sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8).

We know what will happen if the win goes to Mrs. Clinton. Judges throughout the judiciary will be appointed from among those who support the execution of preborns under the dubious rhetoric of caring for the health of women (those who managed to be born, that is). These same judges will continue to attack the religious liberty of evangelical Christians, and the preaching of much that the Bible teaches will be interpreted as “hate crimes,” especially if proclaimed in a public setting.

On the other hand, we have no idea what Donald Trump will do. His record is anything but stellar. But we do know what he has promised, and we are already aware of the docket of judges from which he promises to name those charged with the protection of constitutional rights. Should he keep his promises on only half of these issues, Americans will have a chance to save the lives of infants still protected in the wombs of their mothers and the sanctity of religious liberty. The first freedom that alone gives meaning to all of the others will be maintained in a world that desperately needs this witness.

A presidential election is not about whether you like someone. Neither is it about whether you agree with him on everything. When was the last time you voted for a president with whom you agreed at every point?

Like the Germans and their surrender, the question is simple: Do you cast a ballot, in any one of three ways, that you know for sure will be devastating to preborn infants and to religious liberty, or do you cast a vote for a candidate who offers some hope?

We must hear the warning of Christ and see to it that the children of this world will not be wiser than the children of light. Every infant must be the recipient of a voting parent or grandparent who wishes to give that child a chance to live. And our religious liberty must be preserved!

Choose the candidate who offers hope, not the candidate who guarantees disaster. And you will make that decisive choice!

There’s just too much delusion, and too many lies, buzzwords, and dog-whistles here for one person to pick apart. So…

…This is our daily Open Thread – go ahead, everyone, have at it!