The Watering Hole, Wednesday, August 12th, 2015: Chuck Should Listen to George (Bonus: Birds!)

I started this post (a few days ago) thinking that I would rebut Senator Chuck Schumer’s reasoning, as reported in this NY Times article by Jennifer Steinhauer and Jonathan Weisman, for his opposition to the Iran Nuclear Agreement.  But that would have taken too long and wouldn’t have been good for my mental and physical health.  Suffice it to say that Chuck’s ‘arguments’ against the deal are specious and unfounded, and the final quote in the article is, quite literally, nonsensical:  “To me, after 10 years, if Iran is the same nation as it is today, we will be worse off with this agreement than without it.”

Then I got distracted (once again) by President Washington’s Farewell Address, with his  warning against aligning the Nation with any particular nation(s) at the expense and enmity of any other nation(s), and at the expense of our country’s interests.  (If you’re interested, the pertinent discussion starts at “Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.”)  I wanted to scold Schumer with these two sections in particular:

“Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.

~ and ~

“Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

Then, for a bit of crazy, there were a couple of stories on RightWingWatch about Michele Bachman “predictions” and/or supposed validation of previous “predictions.” 

Finally, I ran across something to wash the bad taste out of your minds: a story about birds from DailyKos.

This is our daily open thread, so talk about ‘such and stuff’ (as my mum used to say.)

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, August 5th, 2015: What’s My Line/Lie?

A ThinkProgress thread from yesterday list the following eleven lies expected to be trotted out during tomorrow’s Republican 2016 Presidential Candidate debate:

“[Obamacare] has failed to accomplish its prime objective: Containing health care costs.”
(Piyush “Bobby” Jindal)

“We need a president who will finally act to secure the border after decades of failed leadership in Washington, D.C.” (Rick Perry)

“Planned Parenthood is possibly selling the body parts of the babies it has aborted.” (Ted Cruz)

“The satellite data demonstrate that there has been no significant warming whatsoever for 17 years.”
(Cruz, Trump, Scott Walker)

“Our biggest threat [in this country] is radical Islamic terrorism.”
(Walker, Jindal)

“Obama’s plan should be called the Costly Power Plan because it will cost hard-working Americans jobs and raise their energy rates.” (Walker)

“[Common Core is] a scheme to drive education curriculum from Washington, D.C.” (Jindal, Cruz, Huckabee)

“This is not a good deal, but a recipe for disaster and the first fateful step toward a frenzied nuclear arms race in the Middle East.” (Ben Carson, Chris Christie)

“Instead of a safety net to cushion our occasional falls, they have built a spider web that traps people in perpetual dependence.”
(JE Bush, Carson)

“It’s sad to see the Democrats take a horrific crime and try to use it as an excuse, not to go after people with serious mental illness or people who are repeat felons or criminals, but instead try to use it as an excuse to take away Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens.” (Cruz, Perry)

“Instead of fighting over the minimum wage, why don’t we focus on solutions that help every American earn his or her maximum wage.”
(Huckabee, Bush, Christie)

I expect that there will be a whole lot more bullshit, dog-whistle, chest-beating, wink-wink lines from this gaggle. What other talking-point lines do YOU expect to hear from each of them?

This is our daily Open Thread–have fun!

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 20th, 2015: Iran Nuclear Deal Fallout

Last week, it was announced that the long-awaited Iran Nuclear Deal was finally agreed to by the negotiating parties. The EU High Representative and the Iran Foreign Minister issued a joint statement, which included the following:

“With courage, political will, mutual respect, and leadership, we delivered on what the world was hoping for: a shared commitment to peace and to join hands in order to make our world safer.’

Apparently conservatives don’t understand most of the words and phrases in that statement. As we have seen throughout the Obama presidency, their idea of “negotiation” means “you give us everything we want, or else.” FoxNews gives a rundown on the ‘highlights'(?):

Jeb Bush: “This isn’t diplomacy – it is appeasement.”

Ted Cruz: This is a “fundamental betrayal of the security of the United States.”

Ben Carson: “A historic mistake with potentially deadly consequences.”

Scott Walker: “Will be remembered as one of America’s worst diplomatic failures.”
[According to Raw Story, Walker also stated that:

“He would terminate it as soon as possible and persuade U.S. allies to join Washington in imposing more crippling economic sanctions on Tehran…

He would dramatically increase U.S. military spending after budget cuts that military officials have complained about…

“The United States needs a foreign policy that puts steel in the face of our enemies,” Walker says.”]

Marco Rubio: The President made “concession after concession to a regime that has American blood on its hands.”

Now, the above presidential wannabes mainly focused their criticism on the ‘evil’ Iran, with a minor mention of our bestest friend ever in the whole wide world, Israel. Huckabee, on the other hand, is pretty much all Israel, with barely even a mention of OUR country, the United States.

Mike Huckabee: “Shame on the Obama administration…

“Shame on the Obama administration for agreeing to a deal that empowers an evil Iranian regime to carry out its threat to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ and bring ‘death to America.’
John Kerry should have long ago gotten up on his crutches, walked out of the sham talks, and went straight to Jerusalem to stand next to Benjamin Netanyahu and declared that America will stand with Israel and the other sane governments of the Middle East instead of with the terrorist government of Iran.

As president, I will stand with Israel and keep all options on the table, including military force, to topple the terrorist Iranian regime and defeat the evil forces of radical Islam.”
[emphasis mine]

Mike, why don’t you just move to Israel and run for president there?   ‘Cause there will be no “As president” for you here.  You do realize that this agreement is about limiting Iran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon, not the unHoly war you’re salivating over.

Donald Trump: “Iran gets everything and loses nothing.”

[The Donald was also quoted by FoxBusiness as saying, without elaboration, “I think the deal is absolutely horrible for us, but it’s really, really bad for Israel”]

Rick Perry: If elected, I will “fully rescind this accord.”

“President Obama’s decision to sign a nuclear deal with Iran is one of the most destructive foreign policy decisions in my lifetime. For decades to come, the world will have to deal with the repercussions of this…”

Seriously, Rick? You think that signing a deal that means peace, that signals a willingness to negotiate instead of starting WWIII, is more destructive than deliberately and cavalierly lying our country into a wasteful quagmire of an unnecessary war?

Perry also stated: “As President, one of my first official acts will be to fully rescind this accord.”

There’s more, including comments from the lower-tier lineup of Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, and…wait, is that it? Oh, yeah, and Elmer Pataki. But there’s no need to continue wallowing in the their ignorance, I think you get the idea.

Do any of those responses reflect “courage, political will, mutual respect [or respect of any kind], and leadership”? I think it’s abundantly clear that the (R) presidential field has none of those qualities.

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 30th, 2015: Hello, Cuba!

Cuba has finally been removed from the “State-Sponsored Terrorism” list, leaving only 3 nations on the short list: Iran, Sudan and Syria.

And about fucking time. C’mon, we at least have to make some concession to the fact that OUR abomination of a hellhole, that stinking albatross around America’s neck that seems to get little notice anymore, that unholy, immoral “Pit of Despair” known as GTMO, occupies part of THEIR country. We – the United States of America – cannot claim much of a moral high ground when we are deliberately and indifferently crushing hundreds of souls, day by day, year by year, simply because the greatest nation on the face of the earth ever doesn’t want to admit to or clean up the horror it spawned.

Sorry, where was I? Oh, here’s a few articles on Cuba’s elevation in status:

As The New York Times’ Julie Hirshfeld Davis reminds us, President Obama gave official notice of his intent to Congress on April 14th, 2015, beginning the 45-day “Congressional notification period”, which expired yesterday. An excerpt:

“Cuba’s removal from the terrorism list was harshly criticized by several declared or prospective Republican presidential candidates and members of Congress, a sign that the détente may become an issue in the 2016 campaign.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, who is widely expected to run, called the decision “further evidence that President Obama seems more interested in capitulating to our adversaries than in confronting them.”

The House speaker, John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said the administration had “handed the Castro regime a significant political win in return for nothing.” He vowed that the House would ensure that sanctions on Cuba would stay in place.”

One Washington Post article mentions that Jeb also said “I call on Congress to keep pressure on Cuba and hold the administration accountable.” [Does he mean the Cuban “administration”, or the Obama “administration”?] On Congress’ role, the article says:

“Removing the terror designation lifts only some of the numerous U.S. trade barriers against Cuba. An economic embargo remains in effect, and reversing it requires a congressional vote. President Obama has said he hopes to work with Congress to get it lifted.”

Why does President Obama, after all this time, still hold out any hope that Congress will work with him towards any goal? I mean, to Congress, Obama is just continuing his communist/socialist/Muslim/dictator/America-hating/atheist agenda, right? (sigh) Moving on…

A very informative WasPo article by Ishaan Tharoor helps to explain how a country qualifies for the “State-Sponsored Terrorism List”, and why some nations that one would think belonged on the list aren’t. The article also discusses nations who were previously on the list but have been removed. i.e., Iraq (maybe because we totally fucked up their country and left it in no shape to sponsor terrorism?); Libya (maybe because we killed enough members of Mohumar Gaddafi’s family that he finally cried Uncle Sam?)

FoxNews.com has this article, which adds a bit to the Speaker Boehner knee-jerk bluster:

“The communist dictatorship has offered no assurances it will address its long record of repression and human rights at home,” Boehner said in a statement.”

Fair enough, but ONLY if Boehner promises to end the Republicans’ long record of repression and human rights violations in OUR country AND theirs.  Better ‘tend to that log in your own eye’, Boehner.

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 2nd, 2015: “Just Say No To FRC” Part Deux

Last Saturday I wrote about how Faithful America, a group of more Christ-like Christians, were protesting against CBS’s Bob Schieffer having Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council on Face The Nation to discuss the gay marriage case currently being argued before the Supreme Court. On that Sunday’s show, Bob Schieffer told Tony Perkins about Faithful America’s request that the interview be cancelled, due to the fact that the FRC (NAMBLA) doesn’t represent the majority of Christians. Faithful America’s petition to CBS had mentioned that the FRC was considered to be a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. That mention of SPLC apparently was the dog whistle for the other crackpot faux-religious groups to attack, demanding that “CBS and Bob Schieffer” apologize on the air to the FRC. According to their complaint, and confirmed by various googled sources, the FBI had taken the SPLC off of their “hate crimes resources” list due to an incident where an “SPLC supporter” attempted to shoot people at an FRC office. Here’s the Conservative Action Project’s letter to David Rhodes, President of CBS News – unfortunately it’s a PDF, but I’ll just quote a little bit of it:

“The interview was more than sloppy journalism. It was an assault against Judeo-Christian people of faith.
The work that FRC and its President Tony Perkins do to promote healthy families and traditional values is irreplaceable in our culture. To suggest, as Schieffer did, that FRC doesn’t represent Christians flies in the face of reality. The millions of Americans that we, the undersigned, collectively represent are proof of that.”

~ and ~

“It is now clearer than ever before that the liberal media–including CBS–along with the radical left, aided by the Obama administration, will stop at nothing to use their power and the power of government to silence, shame, punish and fine Americans who embrace traditional marriage and other politically incorrect truths. This is an unacceptable trend in a free society with a “free press.”

Well, just wait a minute here, you, “the undersigned.” There’s a big difference between representing millions of Christians and representing “millions of Americans.” Especially when you read the list of “the undersigned.” Right near the top of the signatories is Frank Gaffney. Almost “’nuff said” right there, for those of us who are aware of Gaffney’s looney-tunes Islamaphobia. But take a brief look at the names and their groups, and you’ll recognize a few right off the batshit, er, I mean ‘bat’:

Ed Meese (The Hon. Edwin Meese III to us peons)
Brent Bozell
Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin
Tim Wildmon of the AFA (NAMBLA)
Herman Cain (“9-9-9”)
Gary Bauer
Joseph Farah (okay, I didn’t recognize the name, but he’s from World Net Daily.)
David Bossie, President, Citizens United

Since some names and organizations didn’t ring any bells, I took a look at one organization that had more than one name associated with it: Institute on Religion and Democracy. Apparently Right Wing Watch and another right-wing-tracking group, Right Web, know them even if I didn’t.

From the IRD’s home page:

“The Institute on Religion and Democracy is a faith-based alliance of Christians who monitor, comment, and report on issues affecting the Church. We seek to reform the Church’s role in public life, protect religious freedom, and support democracy at home and abroad.”

Maybe my dad’s big old family bible had had a page ripped out – you know, the page where Jesus instructed the Apostles to “support democracy at home and abroad.” Or, since it really was a big-ass door-stop bible, maybe I skipped that page? I always thought that Jesus wanted his followers to do good works, help the downtrodden, and give hope to the hopeless. I seem to remember some big speech that Jesus gave about “Blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – and no, NOT the CHEESEmakers, the PEACEmakers. (Thank you SO much, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam.)

I’ll leave you to peruse some of the IRD articles and the group’s blog (I recommend “An Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change”) Their blog has the icky-weird name of “Juicy Ecumenism” – hmmm, I’ll bet we could make a “Santorum” out of that.

I wonder if Bob Schieffer will have something to say on tomorrow’s Face The Nation. Maybe a correction or elaboration on the SPLC’s status would be in order, but an apology? Just say ‘NO’, Bob.

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy yourselves!

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 7th, 2014: Torture

Over the past month or so, there’s been a lot of talk about the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the previous administration’s CIA torture program (oh, excuse me, “enhanced interrogation techniques”.) Chair of the Committee Senator Dianne Feinstein has accused the CIA of accessing Congressional computers and deleting memos and other evidence. Last week brought the news that Senator Feinstein is pushing to have the results of the report made public, in order to “ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted…”

Cue the attacks, specifically on FauxNews: First, former CIA Director Michael Hayden questions Senator Feinstein’s possible “motivation for the report” is “emotional.” An excerpt from the ThinkProgress article:

“Citing specifically Feinstein’s line about not using such techniques again, Hayden told Fox News Sunday host Chis Wallace, “Now that sentence that, motivation for the report, Chris, may show deep emotional feeling on part of the Senator. But I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.”

A surprised Chris Wallace asked,

“…You’re saying you think she was emotional in these conclusions?” Hayden did not respond specifically to Wallace’s question, but rather said simply that only portions of the report had been leaked but it did not tell the whole story.”

Despite whatever Hayden believes the “whole story” to be, the portions that have been leaked seem to be quite detailed and very damning, as discussed in this March 31st article from WaPo.

“Officials said millions of records make clear that the CIA’s ability to obtain the most valuable intelligence against al-Qaeda — including tips that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011 — had little, if anything, to do with “enhanced interrogation techniques.””

It does not seem possible that Hayden’s “whole story” could in any way mitigate the fact that torture was systematically used, both here and abroad at “black sites”, supposedly in the name of our “security.”

From the Washington Post article on Hayden’s “emotional” characterization:

“Former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden suggested Sunday that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) might have compromised the objectivity of a report on CIA interrogation techniques because she personally wants to change them…Hayden suggested Feinstein feels too strongly about the issue on an “emotional” level.”

Feinstein struck back at Hayden’s comments later Sunday by calling her committee’s forthcoming report “objective, based on fact, thoroughly footnoted, and I am certain it will stand on its own merits.”

In a statement, Feinstein noted that the committee’s investigation began in 2009 and the report’s conclusions “came from documents provided by the CIA and the result is a comprehensive history of the CIA program. The only direction I gave staff was to let the facts speak for themselves.”

“I believe last week’s 11-3 vote to declassify the report demonstrates that both sides agree that Americans should see the facts and reach their own conclusions about the program,” she added.

Raw Story tells it slightly differently:

“Yeah,” Hayden replied dismissively, noting that a Washington Post columnist had reported that “Sen. Feinstein wanted a report so scathing that it would ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation would never again be considered or permitted.” [Emphasis mine, in that I have been unable to find to which “Washington Post columnist” Hayden is referring, nor any such reporting that Senator Feinstein had directed how “scathing” the report should be.]

“That motivation for the report may show deep emotional feeling on the part of the senator,” Hayden opined. “But I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.”… ““You’re asking me about a report that I have no idea of its contents,” Hayden admitted.

[The notion that Hayden has “no idea of” the report’s “contents” seems pretty ludicrous; regardless of his professed ignorance, it didn’t stop him from attacking the Senator for one moment.]

Raw Story also provides us with cyborg former Vice-President Cheney’s reaction, which also sparked an invitation from Senator Angus King (I-ME) to have Cheney waterboarded:

“The accusations are not true,” Cheney told college television station ATV last week. “Some people called it torture. It wasn’t torture.”

“If I would have to do it all over again, I would,” he insisted. “The results speak for themselves.”

Sorry, the report’s results do speak for themselves:

“A report that has been completed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, however, has found that the CIA misled the government and misstated the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation program. The report concluded that the CIA lied when it said it had gotten “otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives.”

“I was stunned to hear that quote from Vice President Cheney,” Senator King explained. “If he doesn’t think that was torture, I would invite him anywhere in the United States to sit in a waterboard and go through what those people went through, one of them a hundred and plus-odd times.”

And finally Cheney’s spawn, Liz, reliably shouts “Benghazi!” Again from Raw Story:

“Fox News contributor Liz Cheney on Sunday argued that a United States Senate report on Bush-era torture was “political” and that lawmakers should spend more time investigating President Barack Obama’s role in failing to prevent terrorist attacks in Benghazi.

“If you’re going to say that we should not have conducted the enhanced interrogation program, if you’re going to say that we shouldn’t have waterboarded three terrorists, then you’ve got to say that you’re willing to accept the consequences of that,” the former vice president’s daughter said on a Sunday morning Fox News panel. “You’ve got to be willing to say how many American lives would you have been willing to put at risk because you didn’t want to waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”

“Fox News political analyst Juan Williams quipped that Liz Cheney was the “good daughter,” but the American people had a right to know what the CIA was doing in their name, and if the techniques were effective.

“I want to start by agreeing with Juan,” Liz Cheney shot back. “That we need more congressional oversight… of Benghazi, for example.”

She added that the Senate did not produce a “fair report” because it was “written entirely by Democratic staffers.”

“The Republicans wouldn’t participate!” Williams replied. “People not only wouldn’t cooperate, [the CIA] tried to spy on the U.S. Senate.”

Liz Cheney concluded by saying that she had “missed Juan” during her absence from Fox News for a failed Senate run in Wyoming.

[Yeah, how’d that work out for ya, Lizzie? Finally found out that no one in your home state likes you?]

A couple of the commentors on that Daily Kos thread could have helped Juan Williams bitch-slap that she-devil:

JW: I got a better idea Liz, why don’t we focus on the 22 embassy attacks that happened under your daddy’s watch.

bplewis24:

[Quoting Liz Cheney] “If you’re going to say that we should not have conducted the enhanced interrogation program, if you’re going to say that we shouldn’t have waterboarded three terrorists, then you’ve got to say that you’re willing to accept the consequences of that,”…Yes. I am fully willing to accept the consequences of that. Reports tend to tell us there are no real consequences of it, but even if there were, that’s the “sacrifice” I’m willing to make in order to live in a civilized world.

I think that I would just go with what Sheppard Smith once blurted out “emotionally”: “THIS IS AMERICA AND WE DON’T FUCKING TORTURE!”

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind?

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 29th, 2013: Saint Ronnie? I Don’t Think So!

jimmycarter460
I have always had great admiration for President James Earl Carter. I confess that I did not start voting until 1988, after I married Wayne (so Clinton was “my first.”) But my parents were pretty staunch Democrats who voted for Carter, and in those times we actually did sit down to watch the evening news every night, and I watched the Sunday political shows with my dad each weekend – which, of course, usually ended with me taking a nap. So I was not completely ignorant of political machinations, especially with dad filling me in on the background issues.

President Carter’s administration covered some troubled times, but he always spoke to the nation in a unique combination of down-home-folksy Sheriff Andy and subtly eloquent professor. That he is still, and always will be, derided by Republicans as one of the worst Presidents in history, just proves how little the Republicans respect intellect and integrity.

President Jimmy (as I like to call him) differentiated himself from too many other former Presidents by, after leaving office, continuing for decades to serve his planet, his country, and humanity in general. Jimmy and Rosalynn remain wonderful examples of “public service” at its most noble.

Here’s a selection of interviews, articles, and videos, all from the last year or two, which include President Carter’s views on America’s dysfunctional democracy and the effect of Edward Snowdon’s NSA leaks; his speech at the Carter Center’s “Mobilizing Faith for Women” conference on June 23, 2013; and an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan from January 2012 on a wide range of topics, but mostly about the Middle East.

And saving the best for last, here’s Part 1 and Part 2 of President Carter’s appearance on The Daily Show, April 9th, 2013.

In my opinion, no other President has acted so Presidential after leaving office as has President Jimmy Carter. The right-wing can criticize and ridicule him all they want, but Jimmy deserves beatification to sainthood much more than their much-vaunted but historically inaccurate Saint Ronnie.

jimmy and rosalynn

This is our Open Thread. What’s your opinion about President Jimmy Carter? Or on anything else, for that matter.