The Watering Hole; Friday February 27 2015; “Conservascism”

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Back in September of 2007 John W. Dean posted a FindLaw.com article entitled Why Authoritarians Now Control the Republican Party: The Rise of Authoritarian Conservatism, Part Two in a Three-Part Series. In it, he wrote,

“. . . I prepared a list of the additional traits that [people] . . . who test high as right-wing authoritarians often evidence: highly religious, moderate to little education, trust untrustworthy authorities, prejudiced (particularly against homosexuals, women, and followers of religions other than their own), mean-spirited, narrow-minded, intolerant, bullying, zealous, dogmatic, uncritical toward their chosen authority, hypocritical, inconsistent and contradictory, prone to panic easily, highly self-righteous, moralistic, strict disciplinarian, severely punitive, demands loyalty and returns it, little self-awareness, usually politically and economically conservative/Republican.”

That same month, Jonathan Chait, in a New Republic article entitled “How economic crackpots devoured American politics; Feast of the Wingnuts” (sorry, the link I have is no longer valid) noted that,

“American politics has been hijacked by a tiny coterie of right-wing economic extremists, some of them ideological zealots, others merely greedy, a few of them possibly insane. The scope of their triumph is breathtaking. Over the course of the last three decades, they have moved from the right-wing fringe to the commanding heights of the national agenda. Notions that would have been laughed at a generation ago — that cutting taxes for the very rich is the best response to any and every economic circumstance or that it is perfectly appropriate to turn the most rapacious and self-interested elements of the business lobby into essentially an arm of the federal government — are now so pervasive, they barely attract any notice. The result has been a slow- motion disaster … Government is no smaller — it is simply more debt-ridden and more beholden to wealthy elites.”

Ah yes, government is “more beholden to wealthy elites.” September 2007 was almost eight years ago and yet both Dean’s and Chait’s descriptions are as precise and as accurate today as they were the day they were written. And today, the ‘conservatives’ have since retaken the majority in both congressional houses and are preparing each and every day to lay claim to 2016’s presidential election as well — with a list of candidates that each and all fulfill that “more beholden to wealthy elites” requirement more effectively than at any point in this country’s history.

Question of the day/week/month/year/decade is a simple one: WHY is this former democratic republic so absolutely willing to sacrifice each and every quality it was born with and instead WILLINGLY turn itself over to the billionaires, the corporate goliaths, and the bigoted fascist power-mongers?

Today, the Republican party’s principle agendas are (1) to authorize the Keystone XL Pipeline in spite of Obama’s veto; (2) to overturn Obama’s Executive Orders on immigration; (3) to overturn the FCC’s Net Neutrality decision. Why? Because they’re CONSERVASCISTS (read: Conservatives-fascists) and their owners demand it.

I have only two questions remaining: Whereto from here, America? -and- Do you still exist, and if so, why?

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The Watering Hole; Thursday February 26 2015; Weird Week Weather-Wise

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It’s been a weird week, weather-wise, both in Colorado and across much of the country. Here at the foot of the Rockies, we literally went from temps in the 70s and 80s — and a completely thawed lake — to heavy snow and temps near zero, then back into bright sunshine and warming days, then back to more cold and more heavy snow.

Following are six photographs that pretty much summarize the weird weather’s week. It begins on Thursday the 19th — a bright sunny and warm day at the local lake with a scene that definitely doesn’t look like mid-winter. It’s a lake view on an incredibly still afternoon. The water was glassy smooth and after looking at the photo, I thought the reflections of the bare and leafless trees looked better when the scene was inverted — a touch of Monet, maybe? Oh, and that white stuff at the waterline is the remnant of the snow that fell a couple of weeks earlier.

Beckwith reflections 899The next day, Friday the 20th, not too much changed. It was cooler, and by afternoon the wind had picked up. Something was definitely in the air, though, and the weather forecast was looking pretty grim — this time they got it right. The following five shots show the progression of the storm; in order to avoid freezing my delicate shutter finger, each and all were taken through my front window.

First, Saturday morning, the gathering storm as it wrapped its arms around Mt. St, Charles, a 12.000 ft peak in the Front Range, the Wet Mountains.

Mt St Charles 904The snow started falling Saturday afternoon and was still coming down on Sunday morning, with close to a foot on the ground by 8AM. In the photo below, note the two almost buried cars, parked on what was once a passable road.

Snowy day 909Monday morning, the sun was out, the sky was blue, and the snow was covering everything in sight, trees included. The Front Range was still shrouded in an ice fog, however, and remained that way the entire day.

Snow scene 917Tuesday morning, the fog had dissipated and the sky over the mountains was crystal clear, and COLD!

Roundtop & St Charles 926The sun was still shining on Wednesday until around noon when the next weather front started coming over the front range. Dark clouds hailed the front’s arrival over Mt. St. Charles.

Mt St Charles 929Within the hour the Front Range was completely immersed in low clouds and fog, and by mid-afternoon the snow started to fall here. By seven PM Wednesday night, several inches had already fallen and the wind was blowing it all over the place; visibility was down to a few feet at best.

The bad part of the story is that, according to the National Weather Service, it’s likely to be Monday-next before things calm down again. So here’s some advice to everyone living east of the Rockies: don’t put your snow shovels away just yet!

I guess Emily Dickinson sort of summed it all up some 160 years ago when she wrote this little gem:

The Sky is low — the Clouds are mean.
A Travelling Flake of Snow
Across a Barn or through a Rut
Debates if it will go –

A Narrow Wind complains all Day
How some one treated him
Nature, like Us is sometimes caught
Without her Diadem.

Sure am glad all that climate change bunkum is nothing but a giant hoax. I mean hey, if it was for real, then various corners of the country might be getting some really goofy weather now and again!

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The Watering Hole, 02/25/15: FIVE MINUTES AFTER TOMORROW

FIVE MINUTES AFTER TOMORROW

an opera in one act

© 2015 briseadh na Faire

SCENE 1

A war-torn cell. Poorly lit. A MAN enters dragging a WOMAN. Her hands are bound behind her back. He flings the woman onto a chair.

WOMAN:       If you brought me here to kill me, get it over
with.

MAN:             If I wanted to kill you, you’d be dead already.

WOMAN:       Well, why not!
Go ahead, pull the trigger!
Go ahead, pull the trigger!
You’re nothing but a beast!

MAN:             A beast am I?

WOMAN:       No, lower than a beast.
A beast does not kill for the sheer pleasure.
A beast kills for a reason.

MAN:             And you think I have no reason to kill?
Even a beast kills for self-preservation.

*****
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The Watering Hole, Monday, February 23, 2015: How The Right Gets The Rule Of Law Wrong

Steve Deace is (by his own admission) a man of limited talents and abilities. But he does manage to put out a podcast, which is something a smug, arrogant little snark like me hasn’t done. Yet. But if I did have a podcast, I wouldn’t advertise the fact (as Steve does) that I believed the Holy Bible was literally true, or that the Constitution was not a living document. (Steve says he doesn’t believe it’s a “living breathing document,” but none of us said it was “breathing.” Probably just another conservative straw man argument.) It’s hard to accept that people can believe the Bible is literally true, when even its authors did not want people to believe that. Besides, it’s impossible for it to be literally true, as there are parts of it that contradict other parts. In Logic, when you suppose something is true, then show how that leads to a contradiction, you have proven that the something you supposed was true can’t possibly be. And you can’t start with the supposition that something is “perfect” and then say that everything that contradicts that supposition can’t be correct because it would mean the something is not perfect. That directly opposes the point of Logic. And as for the U.S. Constitution not being a living document, that can also be proven wrong. There are many quotes from the Founding Fathers (the men who wrote the document) saying it was to be interpreted with the times, and was not meant to be a means for people to keep living in the 18th Century. If you’re going to use the argument that the Founders knew nothing about wireless broadcasting of invisible signals, so they could not have intended you to have rights to privacy when you use such devices, then you might as well decide right now that the Constitution is obsolete, because they couldn’t have conceived of most of how the world works today (though a few probably could.) Besides, they were quite clear in the Bill of Rights that if they didn’t name a particular right, it didn’t mean you didn’t have it. But Conservatives have never been about expanding individual rights despite all their talk about freedom. And they’re still not fans of the idea that the whole “States’ Rights” approach was tried and found wanting. Nor are they fans of the idea that the Civil War was fought, among other reasons, over whether or not states could nullify federal law. That side lost. All States are subordinate to the Federal Government and the Federal Constitution. It’s one of the requirements to being a State in our Union. But try telling that to Richard Mack and Matt Barber.

Richard Mack thinks that county sheriffs are not accountable to federal authority. He heads an organization called Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, and like many Conservatives they believe the Federal Government has gone too far, especially on guns. (Reality Check: No, they haven’t.) Mack told Deace, “And I will tell you this, if we do not, if the counties and cities and states do not exercise their proper constitutional authority, known as state sovereignty and the 10th Amendment, if they do not enforce their own state sovereignty and secure their state sovereignty, then America will die,” he said. “If we do not exercise the 10th Amendment and state sovereignty, we will lose liberty in America, and we will not get it back unless there’s bloodshed.” He also said the national parks employees who closed the parks during the government shutdown were like the Nazis, in that they were “just following orders.” He added, “It is so scary how many similarities there are between Nazi Germany and the Obama administration.” Mack then told the host he agreed that Obama is a communist, saying, “You’d have be stupid not to know that he’s a Marxist.” Actually, you’d have to be stupid to think he is a Marxist. Or at least ignorant about what a Marxist is. He then dropped this bombshell: “We fought two world wars to stop communism in this country.” Actually, Communism had nothing to do with either World War, and we fought on the side of the Russian in the second one, so I really don’t know what he’s talking about there. And neither does he. And neither does Matt Barber. Barber thinks that states are constitutionally permitted to ignore any federal law or court ruling they think violates their own state’s constitution. He even thinks Alabama Chief Justice is on “solid legal ground” to defy the Supreme Court. He also thinks Texas should just ignore Roe v. Wade and start jailing people who have and perform abortions.

This is the Right Wing in America. Ignore the part of the Constitution that declares that the Constitution, and all laws and rulings made in support of it, are the “supreme law of the land.” That means all county sheriffs, who must take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, must also obey it. That means if the Alabama State Constitution contradicts the federal constitution, the federal constitution wins. But they don’t believe that, because they believe “states’ rights” means they don’t have to be subordinate to any higher form of government. We fought a civil war over that belief, and that belief lost. It’s time Conservatives learned that, and just accept that the way they think things ought to be is not the way the Constitution says they should be.

This is our daily open thread. You know what to do.

Sunday Roast: Road Trip!

idaho

I’ve been feeling antsy lately, and winter isn’t making an appearance in the northwest this year, so I decided yesterday that I’m taking a road trip.  I’d love to finally take that trip to the Grand Canyon, but the time of year is still too iffy, so it’s a trip to Idaho to see my baby boy and friends — the few people who aren’t…um, odd…well…kinda sorta…er, nevermind.

All y’all try not to miss me too much, and I’ll see you next weekend — possibly in time to post my next Sunday Roast.  Maybe.  ;)

This is our daily open thread — I’m off to the Gem State (it’s not all potatoes, ya know).

The Frozen Hole, Saturday, February 21st, 2015: M-m-m-more S-s-s-snow?!

It seems like more than half the country is getting hit by more snow, ice, and other nasty cold stuff through this weekend.

We humans are just not designed for this. So, everyone stay warm inside and have a look at lots of animals who were much better designed for snow than we are. As usual, thanks to The Weather Channel for gathering the pics in this slideshow. While they do include some of my favorite ‘snow’ animals, such as the snow leopard:
snow-leopard-normalI think they were a bit remiss in not including others of my favorite snow-loving animals, like the Arctic Fox:
Arctic-fox-Wallpaper-arctic-fox-muzzle-eyes-snowAnd not a single one of Arctic Hares, either:

Arctic Hares High-Fiving

Arctic Hares High-Fiving

But I have to say that my favorite ‘wildlife-in-snow’ themed photo that ISN’T in the slideshow is this one:

"Hey, maybe one of you two cubs is small enough to reach in there..."

“Hey, maybe one of you two cubs is small enough to reach in there…”

This is our daily Open Thread – if you’re reading this from somewhere with no snow, please think warm thoughts towards the rest of us!

The Watering Hole; Friday February 20 2015; The Politics of War, the Price of Resistance

From the ‘I couldn’t have said it better myself Department’ — excerpts from a political speech by a presidential candidate:

It is extremely dangerous to exercise the constitutional right of free speech in a country fighting to make democracy safe in the world. . . .

These are the gentry who are today wrapped up in the American flag, who shout their claim from the housetops that they are the only patriots, and who have their magnifying glasses in hand, scanning the country for evidence of disloyalty, eager to apply the brand of treason to the men who dare to even whisper their opposition to [aristocratic] rule in the United Sates. No wonder Sam Johnson declared that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” He must have had this Wall Street gentry in mind, or at least their prototypes, for in every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the people . . .

Every solitary one of these aristocratic conspirators and would-be murderers claims to be an arch-patriot; every one of them insists that war is being waged to make the world safe for democracy. What humbug! What rot! What false pretense! These autocrats, these tyrants, these red-handed robbers and murderers, the ‘patriots,’ while the men who have the courage to stand face to face with them, speak the truth, and fight for their exploited victims – they are the disloyalists and traitors. If this be true, I want to take my place side by side with the traitors in this fight.

Do not worry over the charge of treason to your masters, but be concerned about the treason that involves yourselves. Be true to yourself and you cannot be a traitor to any good cause on Earth.

Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. In the Middle Ages when the feudal lords who inhabited the castles whose towers may still be seen along the Rhine concluded to enlarge their domains, to increase their power, their prestige and their wealth they declared war upon one another. But they themselves did not go to war any more than the modern feudal lords, the barons of Wall Street go to war.

The feudal barons of the Middle Ages, the economic predecessors of the capitalists of our day, declared all wars. And their miserable serfs fought all the battles. The poor, ignorant serfs had been taught to revere their masters; to believe that when their masters declared war upon one another, it was their patriotic duty to fall upon one another and to cut one another’s throats for the profit and glory of the lords and barons who held them in contempt. And that is war in a nutshell.

The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose — especially their lives.

Those words are from a speech given nearly 97 years ago — on June 16, 1918 — by Eugene V. Debs to a ‘crowd’ of about 1200 people in Canton Ohio. Words from that very speech were later used by the government against Debs, to make the case that he had violated the espionage Act of 1917. His crime: “obstructing” the draft and recruitment for the war in Europe (World War I). He was tried, convicted, then sentenced on November 18, 1918 to ten years in prison. At his sentence hearing, he said:

Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

Debs was incarcerated on April 13, 1919, in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, Atlanta Georgia; undeterred, he ran for President — from prison — in 1920, and received nearly a million write-in votes.

So now it’s February 20, 2015, and when one reads Eugene Debs’ words from 1918 it appears that not much has changed. There are still wars, “declared,” as always, by the “master class,” wars that are still fought by the “subject class” and are “waged for conquest and plunder.”

The beat goes on with but one noticeable difference: none of today’s presidential candidates have as yet been imprisoned for resisting the demands of the financial and political elite — for plunder, conquest and power. For profit.

I guess that’s progress.

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