Another Episode of Occazional Gnuz

Today we find ourselves holding our breath, waiting for Bronze Star Guy to unload his avalanche of facts, determinations and indictments.

But, until then, here’s the GNUZ!

Mueller: DOJ Leadership Shake-Up Doesn’t Affect My Legal Authority
H/T TPM
So, Mr. Prezidunce, if you thunk for a minute that your illegally appointed, un-Senate confirmed flunky you didn’t know, was going to shut down the investigation, you’re as stupid as you look and sound.

And,
Playing nice is not an option, Democrats: It never works. It’s time to stand up for something
H/T Paul Rosenberg with an excellent piece on fighting fire with napalm flamethrowers.

Finally,
Here’s why Donald Trump is ‘afraid’ to visit American troops in combat zones
H/T Raw Story
Well, yes. We knew Cadet Bonespurs was a cowardly chickenfecesforbrains shirker.
Thanks for confirming.

Open Thread, pick it up and run with it!

RUCerious @TPZoo

The Watering Hole, 1/18/2017

As soon as Hillary Clinton cinched the Democratic Party’s nomination her supporters began deriding Sander’s supporters in earnest, in an effort to shame or fear-monger them into voting for The Chosen One. As a Sanders supporter, their efforts further turned this author off from Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

In two days, Donald Trump will become the President of the United States. Ever since the election, those on the left have called Trump voters all kinds of names, all of which were anything but kind. This divisive name-calling is counterproductive. It only serves to drive Trump supporters further away, as the natural tendency when one is attacked is to become defensive.

To change the course of this Nation, it will be necessary for the common man on the left and on the right to work together, to join forces against the ruling oligarchy. Up until now, the oligarchy has been content to control our government from behind the scenes. But with Trump, and his likely choices to fill his Cabinet, they are up front, running the show from the highest seat of power.

So, how do we, the people, bridge the divisive gap between the left and the right? It must start with overtures from the left. It must start with recognizing that not everyone who voted for Trump is racist. Not everyone who voted for Trump hates women. Like Sanders supporters, many, many Trump supporters voted for change. Trump was going to drain the swamp, and drain the swamp he will. He’s going to Make America Great Again by putting the interests of the 1% above all else. The common man and woman who voted for Trump will soon be left out in the cold.

As they see their health insurance disappear, or skyrocket out of reach, as States budgets buckle under the crushing weight of an unfunded mandate to provide health care for those who no longer have coverage while the taxes on the 1% are cut and cut again; as they realize that Right to Work laws mean the end of unions, union wages and benefits; and when it dawns on them that Trump is not bringing their factory jobs back, many, many Trump supporters will feel they’ve been conned. The last thing they’ll want to hear is an “I told you so” from the left.

Trump supporters will need to hear facts, objectively stated. They’ll need to hear solutions, short of taking up arms. They’ll need to know that those on the left will have their back and will stand with them, side by side, through the long, arduous task of wresting control of our government from the moneyed elite sitting on both sides of the aisle.

Trump supporters have been conditioned to see liberals as the enemy. Liberals have been trained to see conservatives as the enemy. Both views have been fostered by the ruling class so that liberals and conservatives alike do not see them as the enemy.

We need to mend fences where we can. The first side to stop using hate speech will ultimately control the dialogue.

OPEN THREAD – OPEN THE DIALOGUE

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, January 4, 2017. The United States of America is a Christian Nation.

The United States of America is a Christian Nation.

But how did we get this way, and what does it mean to be Christian anyway?

The following is this author’s impressions of the evolution of Christianity, based on an admittedly unscholarly understanding of the history of the religion.

Christ wasn’t very popular when he died. Sure, of the prophets of his time, he’d been gaining in popularity, culminating in his arrival at the seat of his religion, Jerusalem. But within a week he’d upset the status quo, turning over the tables of the profit-center of the priesthood. The reaction from the authorities was swift and the son of a carpenter was executed.

But there was something about what he said, or what others said he said, that would not die. He said love one another, even love your enemies. Give away your possessions so that you are not controlled by them. Care for the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the foreigner.

This message grew as little communes formed across the Roman Empire. And it challenged the power of the State. Governments, by far and large, stay in power by controlling the governed. And one of the best ways of controlling the governed is to keep them divided amongst themselves. Sew distrust, hate, fear and scapegoating and you keep the populace’s attention focused on each other, while those at the top of the economic structure continue to hoard more and more of the country’s resources.

But a religion that espouses loving and accepting is antithetical to a government that rules through divisiveness. A religion that teaches its followers to share all they have with each other (the essence of communism) threatens a hierarchy dependent on concentrating wealth into the hands of the few.

But contemporary Christianity, at least that espoused by a vocal and politically powerful ‘evangelical’ sect, now teaches division amongst the masses and not only condones, but praises the concentration of wealth into the hands of the few. How did that happen?

Well, several hundred years ago, the Roman Empire made Christianity the State Religion. Perhaps it was a matter of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’. But it became ‘us against them’. Christians versus Muslims. Christians versus Jews. If you were Christian, you belonged to a group that was saved by God. If you weren’t a Christian, you were influenced by Satan. Christians versus non-Christians.

And Satan, being the devil, was to be hated, as were his followers, i.e. all non-Christians. Thus the religion of love became one of hate. Evangelical Christianity has little to do with the teachings of the son of a carpenter. It has everything to do with forgiving their own while condemning all others. And, in this sense, the United States of America is a Christian Nation. We have elected a President who calls everyone that does not support him his enemies and brands them as losers. He is embraced by Evangelical Christians who forgive him his sins and cheer his calls for violence against those who do not support him.

The son of a carpenter would tell us to repay hate with love, to love Trump and his supporters, to love the enemy, no matter what. But, then again, sometimes it is necessary to overturn the tables of the money changers and drive them out with a whip.

OPEN THREAD

TWH, 5/18/16: The Argument for Revolution

A revolution in the United States is inevitable. Why? Because we make our own reality, and our reality is controlled by those who indoctrinate us to believe whatever the ruling class wants us to believe. Science? Facts? We distort both to conform to our indoctrinated reality. And, perhaps more crucially, the more educated we are, the more we distort reality to conform to our beliefs!
First, these studies:

Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government
Abstract:
Why does public conflict over societal risks persist in the face of compelling and widely accessible scientific evidence? We conducted an experiment to probe two alternative answers: the “Science Comprehension Thesis” (SCT), which identifies defects in the public’s knowledge and reasoning capacities as the source of such controversies; and the “Identity-protective Cognition Thesis” (ICT), which treats cultural conflict as disabling the faculties that members of the public use to make sense of decision relevant science. In our experiment, we presented subjects with a difficult problem that turned on their ability to draw valid causal inferences from empirical data. As expected, subjects highest in Numeracy—a measure of the ability and disposition to make use of quantitative information—did substantially better than less numerate ones when the data were presented as results from a study of a new skin-rash treatment. Also as expected, subjects’ responses became politically polarized—and even less accurate—when the same data were presented as results from the study of a gun-control ban. But contrary to the prediction of SCT, such polarization did not abate among subjects highest in Numeracy; instead, it increased. This outcome supported ICT, which predicted that more Numerate subjects would use their quantitative reasoning capacity selectively to conform their interpretation of the data to the result most consistent with their political outlooks. We discuss the theoretical and practical significance of these findings.

Kahan, Dan M. and Peters, Ellen and Dawson, Erica Cantrell and Slovic, Paul, Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government (September 3, 2013). Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 307. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2319992 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2319992

Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens
[T]he preferences of economic elites (as measured by our proxy, the preferences of “affluent” citizens) have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of average citizens do. To be sure, this does not mean that ordinary citizens always lose out; they fairly often get the policies they favor, but only because those policies happen also to be preferred by the economically-elite citizens who wield the actual influence.
(Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page; American Political Science Association 2014.)

So, we live in an oligarchy. The oligarchy influences public opinion so that we favor what they want.
We are given choices in elections – choices between social ‘liberals’ and social ‘conservatives’. But never a choice for someone who would challenge the Oligarchy.
As this article is being written, Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee. Hillary is the presumptive nominee. Sanders has not given up, and may yet garner more pledged delegates than Hillary, but even if he does, it appears that superdelegates will hand the nomination to Hillary – already she has appointed about 70 of the 75 committee members and chairs for the upcoming Democratic National Committee.
Both Trump and Hillary will advance the fortunes of the Oligarchy. Sanders will not. We will likely be faced with the choice between a Fascist and an Oligarchist. Sanders’ supporters will be left out in the cold.

But how did we get here? Indoctrination.
Decades of “christian” private schools and homeschooling have indoctrinated a substantial portion of the populace to believe the very messages Trump espouses. Textbooks published by the Bob Jones University Press puts the imprimatur of God giving His Blessings on social and economic policies that benefit the very rich. Thus indoctrinated, these students become incapable of recognizing facts, of recognizing any reality, that conflicts with their indoctrination. Trump has tapped into these voters. They will not be dissuaded by any argument, any fact, any reasoning. And they are ready to take up arms if they do not get their way.
But what about the majority of us that were educated in public schools? You mean, public schools, that for decades have had their textbooks vetted by the Texas Board of Education? We’ve been indoctrinated too. Indoctrinated into a white-washed version of history.
Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

Both private school and public school students don’t know history. But there is one major difference. Public schools teach history – names, dates, places. But they don’t teach the lessons of history. They don’t teach the ‘why did this happen’ and they don’t teach the moral lessons that we can draw from history. Private schools do, but their ‘moral’ lessons all point towards acquiescence to the policies that favor the ruling class.
The nation is primed for a charismatic leader, be it a Hitler or a Ghandi. Trump, by all measures, is another Hitler. Sanders is the closest thing to another Ghandi. Hillary is, neither. She is the face of the Oligarchy – the face of Big Brother. The Oligarchy won’t let Sanders have a chance – they are content with either Trump or Hillary.
But given a choice between Trump and Hillary, the inevitable outcome is revolution.

OPEN THREAD

TWH 3/9/16: Not Benghazi

Benghazi was, apparently, not the real scandal regarding the U.S. military intervention in Libya.

Prior to reading the above-linked article I thought Libya was the right way to intervene for ‘regime change’: a civil war breaks out, a faction calls for outside help and recognition, the US helps that faction with air power, limiting the exposure for Americans to lose their lives in the conflict. This was done earlier in Bosnia, where US assisted NATO airstrikes helped put an end to a Christian genocide of Muslims.

What I did not know was that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actively pushed for war and undermined diplomatic resolutions. That’s the true scandal. But it’s not the one Republicans talk about. Why? Because Republicans by far and large support war. It’s their only jobs program.

Bush broke Afghanistan and Iraq, and, as a byproduct, Syria. Obama broke Libya. I doubt we here in the US can even come close to understanding the unfathomable human suffering going on in those countries on a daily basis.

Drone strikes aren’t the answer. You don’t bomb a populace into submission. If all you’re going to do is bomb them, you have to bomb them into extinction.

Diplomacy is the only path to peace. And by diplomacy I mean reaching out in friendship to rebuild a broken society and bombed infrastructure. It won’t be easy. We’ve given ‘terrorists’ and would-be ‘terrorists’ millions of reasons to hate us, to mistrust us. But if past performances is a predictor of future performance, the prospects for diplomacy under another President Clinton appear dim.

OPEN THREAD

THE WATERING HOLE

The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office. (United States Constitution (1787) Article 3, Section 1.)

The Constitution does not state the number of Justices on the Supreme Court. If Congress wanted to, it could let Scalia’s seat remain vacant indefinitely.

We have entered an era of brazen partisanship on the part of the extreme right-wing, funded and fueled by an oligarchy who have openly declared class warfare on everyone else. The oligarchy controls so much wealth they write the laws that in turn increase their holdings.

Favorable rulings by the Supreme Court allowed them to further tighten their grasp of our government. And, over the years, Republicans have slowly but steadily moved the federal court system to the right, to supporting corporations over people, the rich and powerful over everyone else. Case in point: class action lawsuits are becoming a thing of the past. Odds are, if you have any credit card or cell phone, you have a contract waiving your right to class action lawsuits, and waiving your right to go to court.

That’s right. In far too many instances, you cannot go to court to take on a multinational corporation. Your legal rights have been privatized – you must go to arbitration, an alternative system of justice where the arbitrator’s power may be virtually unlimited – the power to ignore the law, and to ignore the facts. And it’s damn-near impossible to get a court to overturn an arbitrator’s decision. Oh, and you have to pay for the arbitrator. The privatizing of justice, in the civil arena.

In the criminal arena, we already know that we have privatized prisons. The only legal form of slavery in the world.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. (United States Constitution, XIII Amendment, Section 1.)

Private, for profit prisons, where someone could be locked up for life under a “three-strikes” law.

Justice Scalia is dead, but his legacy in the form of decisions he authored, majorities he joined, lives on.

Republicans, within hours of his passing announced that they will not ratify anyone President Obama nominates. That is their right under the Constitution.

The only non-violent recourse We, the People have is to vote Republicans out of power, at every level of government. If we’re to lazy to mobilize and do just that, we get the government we deserve.

OPEN THREAD

[the opinions stated are those of the author and not necessarily that of The Zoo)

 

 

 

The Watering Hole, 1/6/16

According to his ad, a President Trump will openly discriminate against a group of people solely based on their religion; will force an ally to build a wall, and pay for it, to keep Mexicans from crossing the border for economic gain, regardless of its affect on American Agribusiness; and will invade any sovereign country where ISIS is and plunder the natural resources (oil) of that country.

These acts will “make America great again” according to Trump.

If by “great” he means our government will officially discriminate against a class of people based on their religion, he is correct. In this case, our greatness will rely on abandoning that portion of the First Amendment that states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Yet millions of Christians support this notion of greatness that discriminates against Muslims.

People seem to be inherently inclined to discriminate against people below them on the socio-economic ladder. Keeping migrant farmworkers from crossing the U.S.-Mexican border is another message of “greatness” that resonates with Trump’s supporters.

However, those States that enacted laws designed to crack down on Mexicans saw their crops rot in the fields. So, if Trump builds a wall, the Mexican government ought to think seriously about tripling its land under cultivation. Their farmworkers will have work, and Mexico’s agribusiness can make a killing selling produce to America because America won’t have enough farmworkers anymore.

Trump’s commercial, however, depicts dozens of people running towards a wall – in Morocco. So apparently Trump wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Morocco and have Mexico pay for it. Or maybe he wants to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. and have Morocco pay for it. Who knows? And who, among his supporters, cares?

And the third prong to “greatness” – take out ISIS and take their oil. We tried that with Iraq, not that Trump supporters remember anymore. We took out that evil leader, Saddam Hussein. We were supposed to take Iraq’s oil, too. The war was going to pay for itself. Only it didn’t. Now the working class owes the ruling class over $1 trillion and counting.

Trump’s idea of “greatness” is rooted in religious and racial intolerance, and war.

But there is a polar opposite to Trump. He’s running for president, too. But he doesn’t get nearly the same media play. Yet his message, too, is resonating with Evangelical ChristiansYet his message, too, is resonating with Evangelical Christians:

When I was watching Bernie Sanders talk at Liberty University, I was just really shocked, and something kind of magical happened for me, because as I watched that guy stand up on that stage, here’s what I saw. I saw a wild-haired Jew crying out in a hoarse voice, in a very forceful and forth-speaking way, he was convicting the Christian leaders and religious leaders in that University and calling us out for being complicit in the abandonment of those who suffer: “The least of these.” And siding with the powerful and the rich and the masters of this world. And he was convicting us, and calling us out. And we scorned him, and we stared him down, and with sour faces we thought, “Who is this whacko? And why do all these people seem to follow him, seem to like him? This wild-haired Jew, crying out from the wilderness of the political Left, in his hoarse voice?”

And if you’re an Evangelical listening to me today, you already know where I’m going with this. When I heard Bernie speaking in that way, when I saw that guy on stage at Liberty University, I saw John the Baptist. I saw the wild-haired, roughly-clothed John the Baptist, eating honey and wearing camel’s hair, and crying out to the religious leaders, the Pharisees of his day, calling them corrupt and complicit with those who have all the power and all the money and all the wealth, and for abandoning the people that God loves, that God cares about.

So, if the battle for President comes down to a choice between Sanders or Trump, it will be between a wild-haired Jew who espouses the teachings of Christ and a comb-over Christian who espouses religious and racial intolerance and war.

Current polls show that in such a match-up, the wild-haired Jew wins, hands down.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Friday February 6 2015; Seventy Years and Counting

I ran across some links the other day that I found to be curiously defining of this day’s American dilemma. First there’s this, a detailed list of everything today’s far right GOP Fascist party HATES and is dead set against, mainly because each and all are designed to serve the common man, the middle class, the poor, those “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” rather than the already rich and powerful, the huge multi-national corporations, and/or the giant banks and financial institutions. So here they are: the (probably familiar) major points of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s proposed ‘Second Bill of Rights’:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

As is plainly obvious to even the casual reader, everything on that list is absolute and total anathema to every last one of America’s Wingnuts, both elected and otherwise. To them, there’s nothing anywhere that’s more valuable than the profits attainable via unfettered (and unregulated) Capitalism. Capitalism: the be-all and end-all of everything that has usefulness — except, of course, for the low-paid people who make it work, many of whom are of the wrong race or ethnicity and are therefore definably lazy and expendable.

Next came this, the voice of an American “revolutionary” some fifty-plus years ago, one who not only understood the Capitalist mentality but predicted its inevitable demise:

“It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, then capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.”

“Sometimes, I have dared to dream … that one day, history may even say that my voice—which disturbed [their] smugness, . . . arrogance, and . . . complacency—that my voice helped to save America from a grave, possibly even fatal catastrophe.”

“We’re anti-evil, anti-oppression, anti-lynching. You can’t be anti- those things unless you’re also anti- the oppressor and the lyncher. You can’t be anti-slavery and pro-slavemaster; you can’t be anti-crime and pro-criminal. In fact, Mr. Muhammad teaches that if the present generation of whites would study their own race in the light of true history, they would be anti-white themselves.”

And finally there’s this, a brief synopsis of Obama’s most recently submitted budget, the budget that the Republican Congressional majority is guaranteed to mock and then completely dismiss:

. . . Obama, unleashed from elections, entering the final two years of his presidency and wrestling with a legacy that includes a struggling middle class, is using his proposed budget for 2016 as a political manifesto. It’s one he hopes will turn the country’s course back toward the embrace of government that ruled from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s through Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society of the 1960s.

The budget [Obama] proposed . . . suggests a crusade for a strong central government as a provider for the disadvantaged and bulwark against corporate excess, financed by new taxes on the wealthy.

Forget any big emphasis on debt reduction or fresh thoughts on finding common ground with the new Republican-led Congress.

The tax code should be more progressive. Government regulations must protect ordinary people against corporate excesses. Health care is a right, not a privilege. Educational opportunities are crucial.

“What I offer in this budget is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class,” the president said . . . 

Those three excerpted ‘voices’ were each heard within the course of exactly seventy years. The first was the major premise expressed in FDR’s 1945 inaugural address; the second included comments by Malcolm X from the early 1960’s (he was assassinated fifty years ago in February 1965), quoted in a recent article by Chris Hedges in which Hedges notes that Malcolm X . . .

“. . . understood the inner workings of empire. He had no hope that those who managed empire would ever get in touch with their better selves to build a country free of exploitation and injustice. He argued that from the arrival of the first slave ship to the appearance of our vast archipelago of prisons and our squalid, urban internal colonies where the poor are trapped and abused, the American empire was unrelentingly hostile to those Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth.” This, Malcolm knew, would not change until the empire was destroyed.”

The third segment — Obama’s 2016 budget proposal — is not yet a month old.

So. FDR’s Second Bill of Rights has not yet come to pass. In its place there is evermore of the “oppression” and of Capitalism’s improved methodology in sucking “the blood of the helpless,” along with political disdain for everything other than further enrichment of the already rich and further empowerment of the already powerful. Makes one wonder: more than fifty years ago, did Malcolm X genuinely predict Capitalism’s ultimate decline and fall when he noted that “It’s only a matter of time . . . before it will collapse completely”??

Enter Barack Obama and his proposed program and budget for the 2016 fiscal year. It’s almost Rooseveltian in nature in that it proposes “a strong central government as a provider for the disadvantaged” along with “a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class and build new ladders of opportunity . . .” Sadly, each and every proviso designated therein to help those who need help and to pay for it all by taxing those of great wealth who do NOT need help is virtually guaranteed to be mocked and dismissed by the Republican majority in Congress, the majority which much prefers to “suck the blood of the helpless.”

Here’s the thing: I was three months past my second birthday in January 1945 when President Franklin Roosevelt proposed his “Second Bill of Rights.” And I was three months past my seventy-second birthday when President Barack Obama proposed a budget that would at last — FINALLY — implement at least a reasonable portion of FDR’s Second Bill of Rights. And in all likelihood I’ll not yet be seventy-three by the time the current GOP (aka the AFP — the American Fascist Party) completely dismisses each and all of President Barack Obama’s proposals (along with all surviving remnants of FDR’s New Deal accomplishments).

All of which makes me wonder: how old will I be when, as Malcolm X suggested,  “a grave, possibly even fatal catastrophe” comes to define the final fate of the country in which we currently reside, aka America? Such things are near impossible to accurately predict, but I have to think that If the electorate happens to choose, in 2016, any one of the current AFP potential candidates to be the next POTUS, the time preceding American capitalism’s self-induced “fatal catastrophe”  will be substantially reduced.

Well, we shall see, but near as I can determine, Malcolm X was very likely spot-on with his thesis that America “would not change until the empire was destroyed,” a prospect which, this day, appears more imminent with each passing hour.

As always, time will tell.

OPEN THREAD

 

 

The Watering Hole; Friday May 16 2014; “What Are You FOR?”

“I know what you are against, but what are you FOR?”
–Emile de Becque (Rosanno Brazzi) in the movie South Pacific (1958)

I dropped that line into a post I put up here last month, mainly because it’s a line that has popped into my head regularly in many of the 55 years that have passed since the winter of 1959 when I first saw South Pacific on the silver screen. These days, it pops up especially when I find myself immersed in our current (nonsensical) political world, aka that linguistic cauldron of non-speak that’s become evermore defined by one word: Wordsmithing. Now, true enough, a “Wordsmith” has long been defined as “a person skilled in using words.” Today, however, a ‘wordsmith’ — at least in the political world — has become “a person skilled in using words” that spread false impressions of reality, in order to coax the uninformed to support the ridiculous. In the world of Herr Dr. Joseph Goebbels — 1930’s Germany — the quintessential ‘wordsmith’ was, in reality, nothing more than a propagandist. A liar, in a word. Today the trend persists here. In “The land of the free, the home of the brave.” “USA!! USA!! USA!! . . . ” We live in a world where statements of what politicians are FOR are, typically, wordsmithed to make it sound as though they are FOR “democracy! The Constitution! Prosperity! Jobs for all! Equality of voice! Etc. The reality is, of course, the precise opposite; that which they are FOR is, in fact, that which the rest of us really ought to be against. So they lie, ever cognizant of the fact that if they were actually FOR such equanimous nonsense, said position just might reduce the money they like to get from those who are FOR only two things: Wealth, and Power.

That’s ‘them’, not me. So. My challenge to alladem political wordsmiths out there: here’s what I am FOR. Have y’all got the intestinal fortitude to tell me what you are FOR? I look forward to hearing from any of y’all, but won’t hold my breath in anticipation.

Meanwhile, ever-forward the plunge: Here’s some of the stuff I am FOR —

— All public education, including kindergarten through college (doctorate included), to be fully paid by society. No more student debt, ever. Vocational education included whenever appropriate. Private education facilities, including all K-12 and all college/post-graduate remain free to charge whatever they want, but with NO PUBLIC ASSISTANCE. Ever.

— Universal single-payer medical (incl. dental and vision) coverage for each and every citizen, no questions asked, no co-pay ever. For non-citizens, universal emergency health care, no charge. And for wealthy snoots everywhere — those who prefer private coverage — are free to purchase same . . . IF they can find a willing private provider.

— Drastic reduction in military budget, including immediate pullout from Afghanistan, plus whatever legislation (Constitutional amendment included if necessary) might be required to forever prevent wars of any kind for the foreseeable future; a rapid decimation (at LEAST) of nuclear armaments and launch vehicles; at least a 50% reduction in the rest of the “defense” budget, appropriately proportioned. Then, NEXT month we go for the throat!

 — For the less fortunate no matter their dilemma, immediate resurrection and imposition of Franklin Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights.

— Dramatic modification of tax law such that the mass of citizens up through the middle class pays no more than 5% tax on earnings up to, in today’s dollars, $75000, with graduated rate increases on all earnings up to $1 million, at which point the tax rate on ALL income (every penny, regardless of source) begins at 40% and increases in graduated form to a maximum rate on all incomes in excess of $10 million of no less than 75%. In addition, the corporate tax rate shall be set at 30% of profits, no exceptions. And NO MORE CORPORATE SUBSIDIES!

— All federal political campaigns shall be publicly financed, no exceptions. Money IS NOT SPEECH! — and only an imbecile would ever suggest that it is.

— Total and absolute separation of church and state; no mixture of politics with religion at any level, and if any tax exempt religious body chooses political involvement, they shall be taxed at corporate rates.

— The “well regulated Militia” concept expressed in the second amendment must be properly interpreted and properly enforced to the point where all “arms” are kept under Armory lock and key until needed to protect/ensure “the security of a free State.”

— Or, maybe absolute repeal of the second amendment and confiscation of each and every gun. Yeah, I like that option better. Maybe next year.

—  Abolish the electoral college; Presidents elected by popular vote only.

— One citizen, one vote. Any and all attempts to suppress the vote disallowed if proposed, automatically trashed upon any attempt at imposition.

— Absolute marriage equality for everyone, regardless of anything. In fact, absolute EQUALITY for everyone, regardless of ANYTHING.

— No politicians, no political agenda . . . EVER . . . hanging around in any citizen’s doctor’s office. EVER.

— Wall Street — no more “rights” to screw people beyond those implicit in the average aging Occupy eunuch.

— Congressional pay = minimum wage per hour WORKED! (currently a compensation approaching $7.25 per month).

OK, so that’s a quickie version of what I am FOR. I suppose that the question of what I’m against is fairly clear, standing right over there and illuminated for all to see (that’s because I’m not a politician, not a liar by birth). I’m pretty sure I missed a whole pile of “FOR” stuff, and maybe with luck there will be others here who dare to fill in that which is missing?

Go for it!

OPEN THREAD

Postscript: I feel obligated to add my own Sherman Statement: “If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve.” Why? I’m too damn old, mainly.

Watering Hole: October 1, 2013 – There’s No Stopping It

That’s right.  There is no stopping children’s attraction to ‘Super Heroes’.  This may be part of a child’s developmental integration of what is considered to be “right” and what is considered to be “wrong” behavior.

Let’s face the facts.  The ‘Super Heroes’ are male with the exception of ‘Wonder Woman’.  When my girls were very young, we would watch ‘Wonder Woman’ on TV and we would cheer when ‘Wonder Woman’ would set things right.

Television producers would like to bring back ‘Wonder Woman’ but are having a difficult time finding the right script.  Linda Carter gives her perspective on this and I think she is spot on.

“I think they try to just make her a female version of a male superhero, and that’s not what she is,” Carter said. “She is an Amazon Princess and she’s got really strong sisterhood values … Maybe they need a female writer who gets it. I’ve often tried not to say that, but I think it’s the truth. It’s like, ‘Hellooooo guys, get a female that understands what that’s all about.’ You look at any society that suppresses women, and it’s violent. Look around the world. … There’s a humanity that they’re missing. There’s got to be a sweetness, a kindness, a goodness in the character. The rest takes care of itself.”

Enough said.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!

Watering Hole: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 – The Big Ass Mountain

I don’t have much to say today except this, imagine a National Park under the control of a Libertarian/Tea Party/John Birch Society controlled government.

Here’s some photos from the “Big Ass Mountain” in Washington.

“Big Ass Mountain” as seen from Paradise.

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Fields of wild flowers located at the Big Ass Mountain.

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Big Ass Mountain glacial flow that is decreasing every year.

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Streams flowing from the Big Ass Mountain.

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And a  Big Ass Mountain Hoary Marmot (chewing on a piece of chipboard).  This fell off my SIL’s coffee cup and as he reached down to pick it up, this little critter quickly grabbed it and began to eat it.  There was no arguing with the marmot.

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My guess is that our national parks would be sold to the highest bidder(s) and the oil and gas industry would start their “drill, baby, drill” work.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!

EXTRA:  Libertarians would love this idea.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, August 7, 2013: WELCOME TO AMERICA

Welcome, immigrants, to the land of the free, the land of opportunity. The land where all are equal before the law.

NOT!

The more I know about the United States, the less I like about the country of my birth.

You want opportunity? You got it – if you’re already rich. If not, we’ll saddle you with student loans that you can never get rid of in bankruptcy – even if, once you graduate, the only job you can find is flippin’ burgers.

Land of the free? Nope. Everything comes with a price. Freedom of choice? sure, if you’re independently wealthy. If not, you’ll soon find out what “at will employment” means. You want to vote? Ok, if you’re white, and register republican.  Want to go out at night? Better be white. Ok, in some neighborhoods, that might not be wise, either.

Equal under the law? I guess you’d buy into that if you’re too rich to jail. But now there’s reports of women given full cavity searches on the side of the roadway for — traffic violations.

We seem to be dominated by misogynist, racist, selfish God-fearing white males with guns.

The Left is giving Obama a pass on things they would have raised holey hell about when Bush was President. Drone strikes; ordering the execution of American citizens without a trial; evesdropping on all of our phone communications, all of our emails. Sure, Obama’s better than what the Republicans ran against him, but what does that say about our choices? We have none. It’s orchestrated by the rich and powerful, for the rich and powerful.

Sad thing is, they’re succeeding in pitting the rest of us against each other.

History says this country has already started to collapse. But we’re like sitting in the front car of a rollercoaster…we’ve gone over the top and have started to head downhill. When the rest of the cars crest the top, we’re gonna pick up speed real fast. It’s a ride I don’t look forward to.

rant off. your turn.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 3, 2013: Americans Will Believe Anything

Americans will believe anything. Don’t believe me?

A friend and co-worker of ours likes to give us things off his despair.com desk calendar. The entry from a couple of months ago was called

I want to believe…

48 % of Americans believe in ghosts. (Source: CBS News [NOTE: CBS apparently does not know what “majority” means.])

41% of Americans believe in ESP. (Source: Gallup. [NOTE: Their numbers don’t seem to confirm CBS’s numbers on ghosts.])

36% of Americans believe that space aliens have visited Earth. (Source: Kelton Research.)

20% of Americans believe that the sun revolves around the Earth. (Source: Pew Research. [NOTE: Okay, it was Gallup, and they said it was only 18%.)

Add to that the crazy responses you get from Public Policy Polling (which conducts their polls through automated telephone polls), and when you learn that:

6% of voters believe Osama bin Laden is still alive

7% of voters believe the moon landing was faked

13% of voters believe President Obama is the anti-Christ (another 13% say they’re “not sure”)

…it’s not hard to believe after all.

So, yeah, Americans will believe anything. I believe I’ll have another drink.

This is our daily open thread. Talk about whatever you believe.

Sunday Roast: April 7, 2013 – Spring?

It feels at least like 84 years since I’ve last seen spring. We are still having patches of snow and there is more sleet in the forecast. For Heaven’s sake it is April. In former years my roses were already budding at this time. Small wonder everybody is tired and cranky all the time.

And now I read it is, again, man-made. The jet stream is too far south for a while now, so cold and wet weather prevails where I am. The effects of climate change.

This is an Open Thread. How are you today?

Sunday Roast: January 6, 2013 – Permanent Campaigning

Will permanent campaigning remain to be the future of Politics? I seems so.

Take the upcoming fight about the debt ceiling. President Obama has said his piece and stressed he won’t give in again.

“While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed,” he said late Tuesday night. “Let me repeat: We can’t not pay bills that we’ve already incurred. If Congress refused to give the U.S. the ability to pay these bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy would be catastrophic – far worse than the impact of a fiscal cliff. People remember, back in 2011, the last time this course of action was threatened, our entire recovery was put at risk. Consumer confidence plunged. Business investment plunged. Growth dropped. We can’t go down that path again.”

But on the other hand Republicans don’t seem eager to take this for granted:

 

On Thursday, the Speaker, John Boehner, humiliatingly sidelined in the fiscal-cliff talks after he lost control of his unruly House membership, was re-elected to his post for the 113th Congress by just six votes, after a dozen arch-conservative Tea Partiers defected. Less than 24 hours later, Mr Boehner promised House Republicans he would use the debt ceiling to force Mr Obama to cut spending.

A recipe for the next disastrous showdown? Or, maybe not? Lately we have seen some active campaigning when it comes to several issues. In the matter of the debt ceiling we may have the most colorful and ingenious one. #mintthecoin that’s a gem. Although I am highly nervous about that one, here’s why.

The fancy of a $1 trillion platinum coin is so tantalising in part because it puts a monetary option in play. The larger attraction, though, is that it does so in a way that honours democracy by sticking to the letter of democratic legislation, yet also flirts with the heady unilateral decisiveness of fascism.

There was and is a very active campaign for the protection of social programs, as soon as the rumors were flying Medicare and and the Social Security COLA were on the table. There is active campaigning going on from both sides pro and contra when it comes to gun control. And there was a rather active but unsuccessful campaign from the very right to unseat Speaker Boehner. 

The powerful had done their lobbying for ages and activism played a very important part in American politics for a long while, so why is this different from what we had before?Politicians and activists understand, that in a media environment where nothing remains unseen or unheard of and twitter and facebook can get a message viral within seconds, political life is a constant campaign and you’re not campaigning only for office anymore, but rather for every bill and measure you are supporting. So, the campaigning goes on, after elections is before elections, no time to go back to some serious policy making.

Who uses the media best will get proclaimed the winner, even if in the process the people they are supposed to work for, loses. Politics has become about winning and losing in a constant campaign. Policies will be determined by Gallup Daily, Rasmussen, tv ratings or Nate Silver. (The latter would be a blessing though, because then we would at least have the unbiased majority decision on policy.)

All that’s missing is a full onslaught of tv ads, or do I only think so because I can’t get US television? If the media don’t pick up their responsibility in this this won’t change any time soon. But will they? Do I have to mention that this is a billion $$$ market, well worth to extend beyond it’s two and four year cycle for the National Elections? So no, I don’t think they will.

THIS IS OUR OPEN THREAD, HAVE A GOOD SUNDAY AND JOIN THE DISCUSSION!

The Watering Hole, Friday, December 28, 2012: “Blues Cruise”

From a recent article by Joe Hagan in New York Magazine, some very revealing observations, each and all laced with direct quotes of/by his “shipmates,” the combination of which seems to perfectly define the American wingnut conservative (… umm … movement? Yeah, OK, that works). So, from the ‘bowels ‘ (sotospeak) of the GOP via a post-election-get-away-from-it-all Caribbean cruise here it is, Hagan’s ‘observer’ commentary of his encounters as recorded onboard the Nieuw Amsterdam (Dutch registry) Caribbean cruise ship, cruise beginning Nov. 16 2012 in Ft. Lauderdale FL:

Who sent Obama here to destroy America?  a fifty-something woman asked.

Minorities came out like crazy. White people didn’t get to the polls. There are far more African–Americans voting than they expected. said Kevin Hassett, a former economic adviser to Mitt Romney

So what do we do with our money?  asked a tall, extremely tanned blonde named Kay, from Old Greenwich, Connecticut, of Hassett, who replied:

Okay, if Europe is what you want, go to Poland. Go to Krakow, buy a house for $50,000, and it’s going to be like Paris in a few years.

And Hagan continues: “As we drained the Pinot Noir,  Hassett gave his audience the insider’s view of the Romney campaign, describing how its election-monitoring software crashed on November 6 and Obama was probably behind it, because those guys are so evil.

The table grumbled in assent.

The thing we have to understand is, these are people who don’t have any morals, said Hassett. They’ll do anything. I’m one of their No. 1 targets. I mean, they really want me bad. I was in the middle of the fight against the propaganda, and I have stories like you wouldn’t believe. These people are so evil. They’re basically Fascists. It’s unbelievable.

So: “They’re basically Fascists.” Yeah, ok, right. Reminds me of that old adage in which the Pot accused the Black of  being a Kettle, or something close to that.

In any case, Hagan’s saga continues. Scary! And yes, it’s lengthy, too, but for those who are trying to comprehend the (incomprehensible?) undercurrent of today’s American conservative wingnut Republican ‘movement,’ it’s well worth the time. I mean hey, with wingnut luminaries such as Ralph Reed, Jonah Goldberg, John Yoo, Cal Thomas, Rich Lowry, et al. in attendance … I mean, what more could anyone ever ask?? [Well, yeah, ok, but “Fire one, fire two, fire three” went out of style in the Caribbean when, in the early forties? Still, yes, as Charles de Gualle quite likely would have said on more than one occasion, Je comprends] (sotospeak).

Back to the task at hand, one more enticing tidbit; Hagan writes:

As [Cal] Thomas downed the rest of his drink, Duane [a retired surgeon from California] said the only way out of the current quagmire is a revolution, citing the famous Thomas Jefferson line about watering the tree of liberty with blood from time to time.

What kind of revolution did he have in mind?

Duane’s eyes crinkled into a big smile. You ever heard of guns?

His wife sat up: How do you like the veal?

It’s awful, Duane growled, poking at it. I can’t hardly chew it.

And so it went. I offer kudos to Joe Hagan for having SURVIVED a week with that cluster of idiots, and offer further kudos to him for finding the means to somehow ENDURE the stupidity!

Hagan quotes National Review’s Jonah Goldberg’s summation of these recent electoral events:

This is a more downbeat bunch this year. We lost in 2008, but it was almost boisterous and fun. This, a little less so. People were dyspeptic.

Their conception of what the country is about, they really were sure the country would reject Barack Obama. I do think it hits them hard. The fear I have, why this election stung, I think, Obama has successfully ­de-ratified some of the Reagan revolution in a way that Clinton never could and didn’t even try to. That’s what freaks people out, that feeling in their gut, either Obama has changed the country, or the country has sufficiently changed that they don’t have a problem with Obama. That’s what eats at people.

As my cousin has long (always, actually) been wont to say, “Republicans forever, Democrats never!” My new response: Obama has changed the country! Yay! Finally! De-ratify! Yes! Yeehaw!‘”

Weird world, this one. Why is that? Anyone got the explanation?

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

The Watering Hole: Saturday, December 15, 2012 – What Is Right To Work Legislation?

Without unions there would be no middle class. I want you to remember that as we discuss just what is “right to work” legislation. Don’t let the name fool you. It does NOT mean that you have a right to any particular job, or that you can sue your employer just for being fired (whether you deserved it or not). What it really refers to is your right to work at a place without being forced to join a union. Before going into more detail about the concept, here’s a brief (less than 2 minutes) video on the history of unions. For a timeline of major events in union history, see here.

The year 1947 saw one of the most significant changes to union and labor law. Prior to that year, if you wanted to work at a place where the employees belonged to a union, you could be required to join that union and pay dues to it. (And that union could spend those dues on many things with which you may not have agreed.) There were exceptions, such as certain federal jobs (ironically), but closed shops were not unusual. You had to join the union and pay its dues to work there, and if you were no longer in the union (for whatever reason) you could be fired. In the 1947, the very pro-business 80th Congress, when both Houses were controlled by the Republican Party, passed the Labor Management Relations Act (nicknamed the Taft-Hartley Act) over President Harry Truman’s veto. For a “Do Nothing Congress”, they sure did a doozy with that one. They were a very anti-union Congress, and we should be grateful they didn’t pass more legislation.

You often hear that unionized places force people to join the union, but that’s not true (thanks to the Taft-Hartley Act.) State right to work laws force all unionized shops to become “open shops,” meaning employees cannot be forced to join a union. They also have the right to enjoy all the benefits that union workers enjoy. The union might fight for better working conditions for you and your fellow employees (it isn’t always about more pay), but whether or not you join the union you can, by law, enjoy whatever benefits the union wins. If they want, non-union workers can ask the union for help in dealing with their employer, and while they don’t have to pay union dues, they do have to compensate the union for acting on their behalf. But other than that, you can work at any non-federal place that has a union without being forced to join the union.

Now, you’re going to hear a lot of Republicans (like Michigan Governor Rick Snyder) say that right to work laws benefit workers and lead to more pay. Don’t believe it for a second. As union membership declines, so does middle class income. Without unions there would be no middle class.

As of this writing, the following 23 states have some form of right to work laws: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan(!), Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming. The latest addition to that list is Michigan. Nobody campaigned on busting unions in Michigan, even the governor. Why not? Because if they did, they would have lost control of the state government. (You can also thank some heavily gerrymandered districts for that. More people voted for Democrats than for Republicans, but because of gerrymandered districts, more Republicans were sent to the next Congress than Democrats.)

Ask any union member about right to work laws and they’ll tell you they should be called “Right to Work For Less” laws, because that is the ultimate effect of those laws. When workers enjoy the right to bargain collectively, everybody benefits, including the business owners. Again, it isn’t just about fair pay though that is often at issue, it’s about all working conditions. Unions, by fighting for higher standards for workers, businesses, families, the environment, and public health and safety, have helped to build the middle class and make sure the economy works for everyone. Are you eligible for overtime pay for working more than 40 hours? You can thank unions for that. Do you get paid sick days? Thank unions again. Is your work place safe? It probably wouldn’t be without unions.

Interestingly enough, both sides see this as a “Freedom of Assembly” issue. The pro-union side sees it as the right to assemble with those with whom you do want to assemble, and the anti-union side sees it as the right to not have to assemble with those with whom you don’t want to assemble. In other words, the pro-union side sees it as the freedom of assembly, and the anti-union side sees it as the freedom from assembly.

Without unions, if you weren’t a member of the very, very wealthy elite (and if you’re reading this blog, you probably aren’t, but I thank you for being here), then you would be among the very poor. It would just be the very few rich and the very many poor. If Republicans had their way, there would be no unions at all. The only way to stop them is to vote them out of office. But that will be difficult because they’ve done their best to rig the elections so that fewer people can vote who would vote against them. It is a strategy without honor, but so is the Republican Party. While the year 2020 is a long way off, it will be a very, very, very important year for elections. That is the year the next census is conducted, and as a result of that census, voting districts will be redrawn. If Republicans manage to win more seats around the country (and I’m not just talking about Congress, I’m talking about state legislatures, too), they will put the final nails in the coffin of Democracy. They will rig any and all elections so that they can never be voted out of power. We cannot let that happen, and we don’t have to wait until then. Start voting them out of office now. Make sure you are registered to vote and VOTE! And whatever you do, do not vote for Republicans. They lie. All the time.

[This post originally appeared on Pick Wayne’s Brain and has been slightly modified.]

Watering Hole: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 – No Deal is Better Than a Bad Deal

I went to a rally on Saturday.  It was held in front of the local office of Representative Jim Gerlach (R).  He represents the Pennsylvania 6th Congressional District.  Of course, neither Jim nor his staff were there as they don’t work on weekends.  The Republicans in Congress want us to work until we are 70 years old before we can collect our Social Security retirement money.  On the other hand, they only want to work 1/3 of the year and still collect full pay and full benefits.

Rep. Jim Gerlach was re-elected in November and that is because he tells his constituents that he is a “moderate”.  That’s bullsh*t.  He is a placeholder for Republican votes and he votes as he is told to vote by the House Speaker, John Boehner.  Gerlach voted to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid yet the local press was silent about his vote.  His opponent didn’t have much money and he had a large territory to cover to get name recognition.  The media area is the greater Philadelphia area which makes it expensive to advertise.  Rep. Jim Gerlach refused to debate his opponent because he didn’t want anyone to know anything about his opponent, Manan Trivedi.  As for town hall meetings, they are held via the telephone because Gerlach does not want to be confronted by unhappy constituents.  Yeah, I’ll say it.  Rep. Jim Gerlach is a coward.

Enough of my rambling.  Here is a picture of the poster that I was holding.  H/T to Outstandinginthefield for the wording and thank you to everyone else for your good ideas.  I will hold onto those for possible use at another time.

https://i2.wp.com/i336.photobucket.com/albums/n347/paforchange/DontBeaGrinch.jpg

Live in your strength!

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!  Be heard!  Contact your House Representative!

(this is cross posted at Pennsylvania for Change)

The Watering Hole, Saturday, November 17, 2012: Go Away, Mitt

It seems many in the Republican Party are not too happy with their most recent presidential nominee. A report in yesterday’s Washington Post, titled “Romney Sinks Quickly in Republicans’ Esteem,” quotes many prominent Republicans denouncing Governor Romney’s recently recorded comments to supporters in which he blamed his loss, in part, on President Obama’s “gifts” to his constituents. The comments were, of course, highly offensive, especially considering Romney was trying to win by promising “gifts” to what he viewed as his own constituency (such as tax breaks for people in his income class, people who make their money through unearned income and who pay a lower tax rate on that income than the people who work for them.)

Romney’s remarks, coupled with his “47%” comments, portray a man clearly out of touch with the average American. (Thousands of Americans have sent their own sons and daughters to compete in Olympic Games, but how many have sent their own horses?) By all accounts, he was actually shocked that he lost the election. This is only possible because of a failure on his part to recognize his lack of connection to average voters, and because of a character defect which made him believe the hundreds of lies he told throughout the campaign. But the one thing he never blamed was the fact that his message was rejected by a majority of American voters. You lost, Willard, fair and square.

The president campaigned on building up the middle class in part by asking those in the upper income brackets to pay a little more, and you campaigned on promising those in the upper income brackets that they would pay less at the expense of those in the middle class. The rich are not, no matter what any Republican tells you, “job creators.” It’s the rest of us in the lower incomes who create jobs. Why does an employer hire someone, anyway? Usually, it’s because business has picked up so much that the employer’s current staff can’t service the company’s customers. It’s not just for the sake of hiring someone, or as an excuse to spend some of his personal wealth. When you give lower income people a tax break (such as on their payroll tax), it puts extra money in their pockets that they can spend to meet their day-to-day living expenses. When middle income people have extra money in their pockets, they buy themselves things that they really need, like food, clothing, and shelter. That extra spending is what drives the economy. But when wealthy people get a tax break, the extra money is just that – extra money. They don’t need it to survive, and they don’t spend it. They put it trust funds or overseas tax havens, or they pass it on to their children and grandchildren. But Mitt Romney doesn’t understand this. And I doubt he ever will. Which is why he should just STFU and go away. The American people have had enough of his lies, and we’re not interested in anything he has to say.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Mitt Romney’s social cluelessness, or anything else that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole – Saturday Aug 11, 2012 – Bearer of False Witness

Conservative evangelist David Barton, who likes to go around the country telling people he’s an historian, suffered a major setback this week when Thomas Nelson, the Christian publisher of his book, “The Jefferson Lies,” pulled the book from publication because it contained too many lies. And who could blame him them? Readers at the History News Network voted the book the “least credible history book in print.” But try not to weep too much for this Right-Wing Nut Job. He will publish the book under his own publishing company, Wall Builders, and is already selling the book at a discount.

What happened was that two conservative Christian professors, Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter, did some fact-checking and found that many of Barton’s claims about Jefferson simply didn’t hold up to objective scrutiny and published their findings in a book called “Getting Jefferson Right.” According to the Amazon website page for the book, some of the questions they answer include:

-Was Jefferson unable to free his slaves under Virginia law?

-Did Jefferson sign his presidential documents, “In the year of our Lord Christ?”

-Did Jefferson and other Founders finance a Bible in 1798 to get the Word of God to America’s Families?

-Did Jefferson found the Virginia Bible Society?

-Was Jefferson an orthodox Christian, who only rarely expressed questions about orthodox Christian doctrine?

-Did Jefferson edit the Gospels of the New Testament to remove sections he disagreed with?

-Did Jefferson found the University of Virginia to be the first transdenominational Christian college?

If you’ve ever watched David Barton being interviewed in a non-friendly setting (by which I mean some place other than Fox News Channel or Newt Gingrich’s bedroom), like The Daily Show, you can almost immediately see him employ his deflective tactics to weasel his way through the conversation. One of this favorite techniques is to re-define words in the middle of the discussion to “prove” that you don’t understand history as well as he does. He also likes to throw out obscure, difficult-to-disprove factoids, as evidence of his claims. And, as with many on the right, he likes to use the Straw Man argument, such as when he claimed that people everywhere call Jefferson an atheist, as evidenced by a billboard that went up somewhere, when most of us who know the truth know that’s not true. Jefferson really did believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, he just didn’t buy into all the divine miracles attributed to the man.

But Barton also likes to divert the conversation to what he believes are examples of Christians being denied their First Amendment right to practice their religion. He cites Pastor Mark Holick of Kansas, saying he was arrested just for trying to pass out Bibles to anyone who walked by. That’s not exactly what happened, or why he was arrested. He was arrested because he was blocking the entrance to a mosque while trying to get Muslims to take his Bibles. When a police officer told him to move up the sidewalk, he refused. This is but one example of the deception David Barton uses to sell his conservative Christian agenda. He so desperately wants to believe that the United States of America is NOT a secular nation (at least, according to the definition of “secular” that he claims the courts use) and that it is, in fact, a Christian nation (again, according to the definition of “Christian nation” that he likes to use.)

I recommend trying to sit through all the parts of the Daily Show interview, including the multi-part extended interview, with the Bearer of False Witness known as David Barton. I know it can be difficult to listen to this weasel in action, but I strongly urge you to refrain from giving into your desire to punch his smarmy little face with something big and heavy, like a bowling ball. Or you can do something else today because it’s Saturday! Yea!

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss any topic you want.

Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, August 8, 2012: Hump Day! Now What!

This post is being written as NASA gives its first press conference following the successful landing of Curiosity on Mars.

At this point, this author will look into his crystal ball and report the following stories now, ahead of them happening in real time, to be revealed later, when they have already occured.

Republicans were quick to give George Bush full credit for the Curiosity landing. This program began 8 years ago, when Bush was President, therefore He gets full credit for its success.

Republicans were also quick to blame Obama for Curiosity’s failure. Two days have gone by, and Curiosity failed to find proof of life on Mars. Christian leaders across the evangelical spectrum blamed Obama for seeking out new life forms, when God only created life on Earth. “Life on Mars goes against the Bible.” one editorial proclaimed.

But this Mars landing has created a bit of a rift within the extremes of the Right Wing. On the one hand, many consider this to be part of a plot to bring Communism to the United States. Mars is the Red Planet, and by going to Mars, Obama has aligned himself with the Red Menace, i.e. communism.

But others take a different view. Mars is Red, just as Conservative States are Red. Bush, in sending this Rover to Mars has staked out a new frontier for conservatives in our solar system. These forward-looking conservatives look to the day when Mars’ electoral votes secure a permanent conservative majority in the solar system forever. However, it did not escape their notice that all of the NASA scientists were wearing blue…

Meanwhile, Republicans in the House and Senate have introduced bills to eliminate funding for the Curiosity program. We need jobs here in the United States, not on Mars. People working in goverment jobs such as NASA aren’t working in real jobs. One alternative bill seeks to privatize NASA, with Halliburton purportedly backing the effort.

THIS IS OUR OPEN THREAD, WE GO BOLDLY WHERE NO BLOG HAS GONE BEFORE, TO REPORT THE NEWS BEFORE IT HAPPENS, AFTER IT HAPPENS

The Watering Hole, Thursday, 8/2/2012: AMORALITY

I couldn’t quite decide which characteristic (for lack of a better word, as it implies “character”) of Mitt Romney’s is the most offensive; but taken together, I finally realized that they all add up to (or boil down to) one word:

AMORAL

When the word ‘amoral’ came to me, I turned to bing(TM) and asked for ‘signs of amoral behavior’ – most of the sites that came up referred to “Antisocial Personality Disorder.” Wiki provided the outline of behavior traits which point to a diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder:

“Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is described by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fourth edition (DSM-IV-TR), as an Axis II personality disorder characterized by “…a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.”

It is characterized by at least 3 of the following:
– Callous unconcern for the feelings of others.
– Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules, and obligations.
– Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships, though having no difficulty in establishing them.
– Very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence.
– Incapacity to experience guilt or to profit from experience, particularly punishment.
– Markedly prone to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior that has brought the person into conflict with society.”

I think that we can safely and honestly say that “at least 3” of those traits are displayed by Mitt Romney. Next…

“The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV-TR), defines antisocial personality disorder (in Axis II Cluster B) as:
A) There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three or more of the following:
– failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts
that are grounds for arrest;
– deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
– impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead;
– irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
– reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
– consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
– lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another”

Okay, I’m pretty sure that ‘three or more’ on this list are applicable; with probably some ‘partials’ among the others.

Now, I had already been speculating that a person who exhibited these traits, who did not have the kind of background and wealth of a Mitt Romney, would likely turn to a life of crime. The next bit confirms this indirectly:

“Psychopathy and sociopathy:
“Although there are behavioral similarities, ASPD and psychopathy are not synonymous. A diagnosis of ASPD using the DSM criteria is based on behavioral patterns, whereas psychopathy measurements also include more indirect personality characteristics. The diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder covers two to three times as many prisoners as are rated as psychopaths.

That’s right, PRISONERS.

One final thought: Try reviewing the above, substituting George W. Bush instead for Mitt Romney. It’s pretty obvious that, despite his slick exterior and veneer of sophistication, Mitt Romney is essentially George W. Bush without the accent.

This is our daily open thread — talk amongst yourselves!

The WHATering Hole: Wednesday, July 18, 2012: Ding, Dang, Dung

I didn’t quit when I said I quit, but after I quit I decided I quit, so I quit, effective the day I said I quit but didn’t really quit until I quit later.

Bain.
Mitt’s gain,
Our pain,
again and again.

Bain.
Mitt’s bane.
Mitt quit Bain,
again and again.

Mitt didn’t quit
So he’s havin’ a fit,
of the truth there’s not a grain
when he talks about Bain,
What a pain,
What a drain
On the brain,
This Bain.
Mitt’s bane.

So Mitt,
just quit
with your lies
to disguise
‘cuz we realize
you despise
anyone who’s not like you,
not white,
not rich,
not a man.

Bain.
Mitt’s bane;
tried to reign,
Time to drain
Mitt’s campaign.

OPEN THREAD.
RAP ON.

The Watering Hole Saturday, July 7, 2012 – A Day in the Lives of Two Joes

What follows began as a post on my original blog. That version was posted Oct 27, 2007. I kept much of the original, but I admit I did not test every link left in there from the original. Oh, and at the time, California was battling wildfires believed to be the result of arson. Today, my heart goes out to the people of Colorado, who are battling their own destructive wildfires. Amazing how little of that I had to change to ‘update” it.

Someone sent me the great piece below, called “A Day in the Life of Joe Republican.” I thought it was a great example of the hypocrisy that many conservatives live when they denounce things they rely on every day of their lives as being liberal. Here is that piece first, and then we’ll continue from there. I have no idea to whom I should give credit for the first part, as it was one of those things sent through the tubes of the Internets. As to the follow-up response to it that I’ll discuss afterwards, I’ll do the guy a favor and not mention his name (since I don’t know it) on the off-chance that this was supposed to be satire, or humorously-intended. It just seems too much like how a conservative would “re-invent” Joe Republican, that I didn’t think it was facetious. So, in case it was serious, I decided to counter it.

“A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JOE REPUBLICAN”

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer’s medical plan because some liberal Continue reading