The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 25, 2016: Texit Is No Brexit

Great Britain stunned the world when a referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union resulted in the Leave forces winning. The EU’s reaction was to say, “Fine, then let’s get it over with as quickly as possible,” with the word “quickly” meaning “following a two-year negotiation”. This has spurred Danial Miller, of a group called the Texas Nationalist Movement, to push their own bid to secede from the Union, which they are cleverly (not really) dubbing “Texit.” Here’s the problem with it: It won’t mean anything. Unilateral attempts to secede from the Union are unconstitutional, according to a SCOTUS decision handed down in 1869. In it, the Court said a state cannot unilaterally secede. They must either achieve their goal through revolution (like the Civil War) or with the consent of Congress (which won’t ever happen.) I can think of several reasons why Texit is a bad idea, but that’s only because unlike the people in favor of this movement, I can think.

There are dozens of military bases in TX belonging to the federal government. Should Texans choose to secede through revolution, those bases would remain in “enemy hands.” And, no, a bunch of guys in pickup trucks are not going to storm the base and take it over. I know. I’ve seen one of those bases. I spent six weeks in one. They have aircraft that can beat anything the rebels might put up. As one State Republican Executive Committee member said during a discussion of secession (from a link later below), “I’m not sending my grandson out with a 12-gauge shotgun to take on the 82nd Airborne.” And the federal forces fighting back wouldn’t just come from Texas. We have military forces in every state surrounding Texas. The rebellion would be crushed in months, if not weeks. Everything in Texas might be bigger, but not necessarily the ability to think ahead.

Like many Conservative states (and, yes, a few Liberal ones, too), Texas gets more back from the federal government than it puts in. (Miller is totally wrong on this point.) If they secede, they’ll lose all those federal dollars, many of which go to paying the salaries of Texans. Do you really think the Department of Defense is going to hire someone from a foreign country, hostile to the US, to work in any of its other bases in the rest of the country? That’s billions of dollars taken out of circulation in the Texas economy. Less money around means less money being spent, which means businesses start failing and more and more people are out of work. And now they won’t get their earned Unemployment Benefits, despite paying into the system for years. Because they’re foreigners now. Given Conservative hostility to dependence on government, I don’t see the Neutered Republic of Texas (or whatever they’ll officially name themselves) setting up a welfare-type program to help its less fortunate citizens. That’s one of the many reasons they wanted to secede in the first place. Which, again, is ironic since they depend so much on the help of their fellow Americans.

Speaking of which, if they somehow successfully secede they’ll no longer be able to call themselves our fellow Americans. Because they’ll no longer be Americans. And if they’re anything like the Texans of 1861 I’d be fine with letting them ago. The first time Texas seceded it was over White Supremacy and the defense of the Institution of Slavery, points clearly spelled out in their Declaration of Secession. When their citizens voted on the ordinance to ratify their secession, it passed by a vote of 46,153 to 14,747. (76% to 24%) Today those percentages would likely be reversed, so even having a Texit vote would be a colossal waste of taxpaying Texans’ money.

Here is Miller explaining how Texit and Brexit are alike, but not exactly alike.

Besides being wrong about Texas being a a Giver state rather than the Taker state it actually is, Miller was confused about at least a couple of other things. In the beginning of this video, Miller talks about the Orlando Pulse massacre. But he was still pushing the idea that this mass shooting had any real connection to ISIS. Though this video was made about two days after the massacre, the only connection to ISIS was the shooter’s telling 911 that he was doing it for them, even though ISIS never told him to do anything. We now know the killer was known to frequent that same nightclub, and known to have had sex with men in the past. IMHO, it was done either out of self-loathing or because he had a failed relationship with another man. But ISIS had nothing to do with it, and would not have approved of a gay man fighting on their behalf. Later in the video, Miller invoked Sam Houston in his talk about whether or not the people should have a vote on independence. Houston opposed the convention to decide secession in 1861 and stayed silent throughout. And when they overwhelmingly voted yes, he told them they were not being reasonable. I’m sure he would say the same thing today. BTW, when Houston refused to swear an oath of allegiance to the Confederate States of America, they replaced him as governor.

Texit is not a good idea, and just because a small percentage of Texans think it is does not justify pursuing it further. But it’s not a good idea because it has no power to it, and would mean nothing if Congress does not approve. I wish they would, but they won’t. Sure I think Texas is an embarrassment to the nation, but if they’re going to leave the union, let it be done peacefully and totally. We’ll take our military equipment and other federal property with us and blow up what we leave behind. We’ll erect a huge border wall around Texas (but not Mexico) to make sure their more radical citizens stay in their own country. And let’s make sure we never let them in the union again. To be fair, citizens of the United States residing in Texas now can remain citizens of the United States, but cannot have dual citizenship and continue to live in Texas. One or the other. We’ll give you time to find a place to live here, and you can go back to work in Texas if they permit Americans to do so. But if you decide to live in Texas, you’ll be treated as an expatriate, without the rights and protections of our Constitution. (If you’re lucky, the new Texas will grant you the same Constitutional rights. If you’re unlucky, they’ll also bring back Slavery.) Oh, and you’ll need a visa to enter the US. Welcome to America. We hope you enjoy your visit here. Check your weapons at the door.

This is our daily open thread.

TWH 6/22/16 RNC Sues Trump for Hijacking its Base

morning after camel

What, me worry?

With less than four weeks to the Republican National Convention and more and more establishment Republicans jumping ship, the RNC took the unusual step of suing its presumed nominee – – for hijacking the Republican base. The Republican Party invested hundreds of millions of dollars cultivating a base of voters whom it could rely upon in election after election, ever since they embraced the “Dixiecrats” in the 60s. Hate radio and the Christian Coalition groomed this potent block of voters. Gerrymandering insured this small but reliable base would elect establishment Republicans at every level of government. Then Trump came along and, like the pie-eyed piper, swept them away from the establishment candidates. The ones like Ted Cruz, whose evangelical Christian values were primed to put him into the Whitehouse.

Indeed, in the days before the RNC filed its lawsuit, those in the Cruz camp were trying to muster enough votes to change the rules – – to allow delegates to break from Trump if voting for him violates their moral or religious beliefs. However, such a move would be sure to pit “family values” Christians against misogynist, racist, xenophobic Christians, further fracturing the Republican base.

The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court Northern District of Ohio that includes Cleveland, Ohio in its jurisdictional boundaries, seeks a writ of mandate, or, in the alternative, a restraining order that would strip Trump of all of his elected delegates. Should it succeed, the Republican Convention would be wide open. The Republican Party could even nominate someone who never participated in the primaries.

When asked about the lawsuit, Trump seemed to be taken off-guard.

“They’re suing me?” he asked. “The Republican Party is suing the most winningest candidate ever? Well, I can tell you this. I’m gonna sue them! I’m gonna sue them like they’ve never been sued before. I’m gonna sue them so hard and so fast they’ll be begging to drop their lawsuit. And then I’m gonna sue them for suing me. I know lawsuits, and believe me, this is gonna be one doozy of a lawsuit. And I’m gonna win. Because that’s what I do. I win. I’m gonna sue and I’m gonna win. And it’s gonna be a big win. A huge win. This win will make all other wins seem like losses in comparison, it’s gonna be that big of a win. And I’m gonna make the Republican Party pay for this win, it’s gonna be that big.”

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin was seen packing up her Constitution and Flag-wrapped RV and heading for Cleveland.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 20th, 2016: God Is In Control?

As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, I like to check out what “Christian news” sites have to say on current events and other topics. I’ve been finding the Christian Post useful as a place to see what issues are being discussed, in an attempt to glean what self-styled “Christians” deem to be of importance.

So when I saw an article titled “God Is In Control”, I just had to find out how someone would explain that claim. The article, by Don Anderson, opened with this image:

"God Is In Control!" by Christian Post cartoonist Don Anderson

“God Is In Control!” by Christian Post cartoonist Don Anderson

[I have to say, “God” (apparently Jesus, not the OT “God the Father”, at least in the cartoon) looks a bit wild-eyed and not at all “in control.” And is that an ocean of piss that they’re navigating?]

After the cartoon, a link takes one to the following article, titled “Rick Warren: Want Serenity? Let God Take Full Control”.  Here’s an excerpt:

Rick Warren: Want Serenity? Let God Take Full Control

To achieve serenity in life, God wants you to let go and know He is in control, Pastor Rick Warren says.

Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, wrote in a recent devotional that although we as Christians may fight to take control of our lives on a daily basis, we must also remember that ultimately, everything is up to God.

“[…] stress relief always starts with letting God be God,” the evangelical leader writes. “It always starts with saying, ‘God, I’m giving up control, because you can control the things that are out of control in my life.'”

Because no one knows what will happen in the future, we need to let go and let God do the rest.

“I don’t know what you’re going to face this week. You don’t, either. But I can already tell you what God wants you to do: Let go, and know. Let go of control, and know that God is in control. Let go, and know! This is the first step to serenity in your life,” Warren explains.

Christians tend to react to stress in one of two ways, Warren explains. While some attempt to over-control a situation, others give up and pity themselves.

Both of these approaches are destructive and don’t ultimately alleviate stress, the megachurch pastor says. Instead, Christians need to surrender themselves to God and His plan.

“The number one reason you’re under stress is because you’re in conflict with God. You’re trying to control things that only God can control,” Warren explains.

A good way to maintain a high level of tranquility in the face of stress is to pray the Serenity Prayer, Warren says.

The evangelical leader points specifically to the last eight lines of the prayer, which read: “Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you forever in the next. Amen.”

Okay, let’s look at this piece-by-piece:

“”[…] stress relief always starts with letting God be God,” the evangelical leader writes. “It always starts with saying, ‘God, I’m giving up control, because you can control the things that are out of control in my life.’

There’s a couple of things wrong with this; let’s start with “letting God be God” (this would be way too long – okay, way too much longer – if I began with “stress relief always starts with…”)

In an earlier piece, Warren talks about how [in essence], despite the fact that the Old Testament “…rarely describes God as being a father…”, somehow miraculously  “…this changes after Jesus is sent down from Heaven to save humanity…After this event, God is described as a father much more frequently…”…and now “…wants to have a relationship with us…”

So, god used to be a petty, vindictive, insecure, genocidal tyrant, but suddenly he becomes a father and is now kind and loving and wants to get to know the subjects he had previously threatened with hellfire and brimstone?  Seriously?  And yet Warren and conservative christian leaders STILL utilize a few specific Old Testament god’s ‘rules according to (some guys who wrote the OT)’ when fighting to be allowed to discriminate against certain groups, or to make others live by those particular OT rules.  Which should no longer apply, if god is really an all-loving father, right?  If we’re supposed to ‘let god be god’, which god are we letting him be?

As to “giving up control” because god “can control the things that are out of control in my life”, then where does man’s “free will” come in?  What about ‘personal responsibility’?  The conservative christians who believe that the poor are poor because they chose to be, well maybe the poor are poor because your god is in control and he really hates poor people?  And considering the chaos going on in this world, I don’t think that anyone is in control, let alone a god.

On to:  “…Because no one knows what will happen in the future, we need to let go and let God do the rest…I don’t know what you’re going to face this week. You don’t, either. But I can already tell you what God wants you to do: Let go, and know. Let go of control, and know that God is in control. Let go, and know! This is the first step to serenity in your life,” Warren explains.”

Hmm…how about ‘because no one knows what will happen in the future’, we can take steps to make our future what we want it to be?  Why “Let go”, and, if we do “let go”, what will we “know”?  One can still attempt to at least control one’s “present”, even if there is uncertainty about the “future.”

And let’s put it bluntly, “Pastor” Warren:  you and your megachurch/televangelist ilk have plenty of money and are living quite comfortably on the fleecing, er, ‘tithings’ of your sheep and your speaking and appearance fees.  You truly don’t have to worry about many of the day-to-day issues with which we poorer folk struggle.  The main cause of stress in most civilized societies, i.e., lack of MONEY to live and to feed yourself and your family, is not stooping your shoulders or affecting your health, mental and physical.  And that goes for christians just like any other demographic, despite Warren’s assertion that “The number one reason you’re under stress is because you’re in conflict with God. You’re trying to control things that only God can control…”  Um, no, nope, I think the number one reason is money (which is currently how most people access the basic needs of life.)  Sorry, Rick, you’re just wrong.

Next, what about:Christians tend to react to stress in one of two ways, Warren explains. While some attempt to over-control a situation, others give up and pity themselves.  Both of these approaches are destructive and don’t ultimately alleviate stress, the megachurch pastor says.”   [Well, DUH!]

I hope that Warren is oversimplifying here, otherwise those two ‘reaction to stress’ choices make christians sound like two-dimensional fools.  Humans of all types generally react to stress in all kinds of ways, not just the two extremes given.  And often, we react to stress in any number of ways at any given time, the key being our own control over our own lives and reactions.  Again, what about the conservative mantra of “personal responsibility”, so hypocritical from people who never, ever, not-freaking-ever, admit to any fault or wrongdoing. 

And lastly, on to Warren’s “Serenity Prayer” solution.  Which can be dismissed, because it’s about as useful for solving real problems as the “moment of silence” is for “honoring the victims” of the mass-shooting-du-jour.  In either case, one might just as well ‘count to ten.’

For CP’s “Christian”-colored view on current political issues, see here. Plenty of fodder for discussion there, too.

This is our daily Open Thread–so, what’s on you’re mind?

Sunday Roast: What if animals were round?

I laughed myself stupid watching this on facebook, so I thought I would share the wealth, sotospeak.

With all the god-damned bullets and tRump shit flying around, I think bouncy round animals are just what the doctor ordered.

Just so you know, I was totally out of town on the day of the zebra shoot, but that could have been Jane falling out of the tree.  ;)

Here’s a longer version…so very wrong.  :lol:

Happy Father’s Day, all you dads.  My dad would have LOVED the round animals.  :)

This is our daily open thread — Please discuss this important issue.

TWH:06/15/16: The American Dream

Once upon a time, a man could be self-sufficient and raise a family with a 40 acre farm and a mule.

Once upon a time,  the North American continent seemingly had unlimited land for farming, raising families, and freedom from oppression by Lords, Kings, and Government-imposed Religions.

And a new nation was born, crafted and created by a select few white men, who desired to create a Utopia – – a country where the populace controlled the government, instead of the other way around. To be certain, they crafted certain provisions to protect the interests of the wealthy  against a populist uprising – the electoral college and setting it up so that States Legislatures elected Senators.

There has always been a tension between those with money and those who would regulate commerce. Unregulated capitalism led to cyclical booms and busts, culminating in the Great Depression. This, in turn, led to regulating capitalism, which led to sustained growth and the emergence of a middle class.

By the 1950s a man could earn enough to support a family, buy a house and a car and enjoy a reasonably comfortable standard of living working a reasonable secure job. The American Dream was finally realized. For some. For the American Dream was not for people of color and women were lower class citizens, in the workforce especially, as they were expected to stay home and have babies.

Then came the 60s, and someone of color dared to  have a dream – – to dream that a person of color could share in the American Dream. There were assassinations and civil unrest. A social safety net was created and the Welfare State was born. Although born of good intentions, it had its flaws. Chief among which was the fact that, once on Welfare, accepting an entry level job meant a decrease in income. As a result, families became stuck on Welfare for multiple generations.

Along comes resentment, as people on Welfare were painted as lazy – leeches living off the labors of the working class. Welfare families were depicted as families of color, and racial prejudices were once again exploited.

And somewhere along the way, the American Dream became the American Nightmare. We voted for Presidents, Senators and Republicans who would lower our taxes, eliminate the social safety net and force people to go to work. But these elected representatives also began chipping away at the foundations of the economic policies that led to the rise of the middle class.

Those foundations are largely gone now. Free trade agreements put a quick end to American manufacturing. The corporations are still in business, but the manufacturing jobs have been relocated to countries with lower wages, fewer regulations. Government controls on the financial sector have been removed, leading to the Great Recession of 2008. The disparity of wealth between the haves and have-nots is approaching levels not seen since the Middle Ages. The haves have rigged the system and control the message, thereby controlling the group-think of the populace.

George Orwell’s 1984 has become a blueprint instead of a warning.

The American Dream is gone. The standard of living for all except the top 10% is in decline. It now takes 2 wage earners to support a middle-class lifestyle, a lifestyle that comes to a quick end should one of the two develop a serious illness or injury.

This current election cycle paints the reality of where we are in stark contrast. A populist candidate on the Right, campaigning on racial intolerance, violence and hatred is the presumptive Republican nominee. A populist candidate on the Left, campaigning on social justice and democratic socialism has been stymied at every turn by the mainstream media and the political machinations of the hierarchy of the Democratic Party.

Is this where we’re heading?

 

OPEN THREAD

 

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 13, 2016: This Day in History

When you get right down to it, many things in history happened on any given date on the calendar. But today I’m going to discuss just a few of the many important (and unimportant) things that happened on various June 13ths throughout history. Without further ado, on this date in:

1633: The charter for Maryland is given to Lord Cecil Baltimore after whom, of course, the city of Silver Springs, Maryland is named.

1731: Future First First Lady Martha Washington was born. She was a wealthy widow by the time she married George Washington.

1786: Winfield Scott, U.S. Army General famous for victories in the War of 1812 and the War with Mexico, was born. There are many who believe he is the “Scott” in the expression “Great Scott!

1831: James Clerk Maxwell, Scottish physicist, was born. His work proved that electrical, magnetic and optical phenomena were all united in a single universal force, Electromagnetism, and formulated electromagnetic theory. You’re reading this now because of him.

1865: William Butler Yeats, Irish poet and playwright, was born. He was famous for “The Second Coming” which featured the line, “The centre cannot hold.” This was a line often repeated by the army commander of the facility in Stephen King’s “The Stand” from which the virus that wiped out most humans on Earth escaped. This happened in the story on a June 13th. There’s a connection.

1892: Basil Rathbone, actor famous for playing Sherlock Holmes, was born. Rathbone was also famous for getting drunk at parties and walking around naked except for his pipe and deerstalker cap.

1953: Tim Allen was born. Famous to me for playing Jason Nesmith, who played Cmdr. Peter Quincy Taggart on the fictional TV series, Galaxy Quest, one of the best Star Trek parodies ever made.

1960: I was born. (This would be one of the unimportant things that happened on this date.)

1966: The Supreme Court of the United States enters the realm of police television drama writing when they hand down their famous Miranda v. Arizona decision reminding you that, when arrested, you have the right to remain silent, that anything you say can be used as evidence against you, that you have a right to have an attorney present during questioning, that if you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed to you, and that, perhaps most importantly, if you want to wear white after Labor Day, it’s constitutionally permissible.

1967: President Lyndon Johnson nominated Solicitor-General Thurgood Marshall to the United States Supreme Court. Upon his retirement, he was replaced by the completely unqualified Justice Clarence “Who Put This Pube On My Coke?” Thomas, apparently on the sole basis that he was black, like Justice Marshall.

1968: Johnny Cash records his famous “At Folsom Prison” album live at Alcatraz.

1970: The Beatles’ “Let It Be” album goes to Number 1 on the charts and stays there for four weeks. It was their penultimate album recorded, but the last one released. It was also the basis for one of my album parodies, “Enemy“. I hope you enjoy it.

1983: After it crosses the orbit of Neptune, Pioneer 10, launched in 1972, becomes the first human-built space craft to leave the solar system. It has not yet been determined how many non-human-built space craft have made the journey previously. The first close-up pictures we had of Jupiter were taken by Pioneer 10, which proved to be a much more successful satellite than its predecessors Pioneer 8, Pioneer Vista, Pioneer XP, and the disastrous Pioneer 98. They’re still not sure why they built that one.

1986: Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen (Michelle on Full House) were born. I would have to wait until I was 44 before even thinking about dating them.

1990: Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State James A. Baker III urges the Israelis to accept a US plan for peace talks. He gives out the number to the White House switch board (202-456-1414) and says, “When you’re serious about this, call us.” I’ve called that number before. It was usually to talk to the White House Communications Agency Duty Officer (WHCADO, or “whocka-do”) about a problem with one of several methods President Reagan had to talk to people on the ground while flying in Air Force One (which I used to watch being parked in its hangar outside my dorm window.)

1996: A new report on Nature proposed that guinea pigs are on a distant branch from rodents and deserve a class of their own. Having once worked on a street named Guinea Road, I can certainly understand the profound implications of this report, which came out 20 years ago, and of which I was completely unaware until I started researching this post. Still, it’s deeply moving.

2005: In the “Better Late Than Never, But Not Really”-Department, the US Senate apologizes for blocking anti-lynching legislation in the early 20th century, when mob violence against blacks was commonplace. They followed this up four years later by vowing to block any legislation put forth by the nation’s first black president, just in case anybody thought we were actually making progress on addressing this nation’s deep-seated racist history. And while I certainly feel lucky to have been born in this country, it’s things like its ongoing racism that make me hesitant to say I’m “proud.” Do people who say they are proud ever think about things like this? Since they continue to happen, I’d say not.

Anyway, enjoy your June 13ths, today and in the future. It’s not all that bad a day after all.

This is our daily open thread. I hope it’s a good one for you.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 11th, 2016: Front Pages

While “news”papers in New York run the gamut of “journalism” from the gutter (New York Post) to the “elite” (New York Times), we’ve always had The New York Daily News somewhere in between. As a lifelong New Yorker, I grew up with the Daily News and the NYT in my house, as my dad would read both: the DN mainly for the sports, and the NYT for ‘real’ news. Back then, the Daily News didn’t usually use the kinds of front covers that the New York Post has been famous for, but the times they are a-changing, and “New York’s Hometown Paper” has lately been going all out on the 2016 Presidential election.

Last night I was reading a very interesting Daily News political opinion piece, written by conservative Tom Nichols, regarding Hillary Clinton’s recent “foreign policy” speech in which she focused on how dangerous Donald Trump’s so-called “foreign policy” could be. At one point in the article, a shot of one of the pertinent Daily News covers was included, which led to the Daily News 2016 campaign covers photo gallery that I’m offering for your entertainment today.

Some of them are priceless, including several referencing Ted Cruz’s idiotic “New York values” line, such as “Take the F-U Train, Ted!”, which includes a small inset that starts with “WE GOT your NY values right here, Ted!”, so very typical of New Yorkers.
Some are just plain groaners, such as the recent “Weak End at Bernie’s”, or (regarding Bernie Sanders’ ‘meeting’ with the Pope) “He Said, See Said”.

But the best ones are about NY’s own (to our eternal shame) Donald Trump. The Daily News and New Yorkers have known The Donald for a very long time, and, as the saying goes, “familiarity breeds contempt.” I won’t spoil it for you. Just enjoy the covers (and skip through the obnoxiously ubiquitous ads, sorry about those.)

This is our daily Open Thread–what’s on YOUR minds?