Recent ‘Toon Gnuz from Paul Jamiol

Our good friend and honorary Critter Paul Jamiol has been busy lately: illustrating a children’s book; working on a new collection of his excellent editorial cartoons to come out in early 2020; plus, most days, putting out new, grimly accurate observations on these terrible times.  (All images are copyrighted by Paul Jamiol.)

jamiol banger the sausage dog book cover

pauls new book

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That’s just a sampling.  For more, and to see how talented Paul’s wife, Lin, is with her green thumb [and who knew that Paul is an amazing photographer!], visit Jamiol’s World.

Paul has been chronicling political/current events since September 2000.  His encouragement and kindness to us Critters when we left ThinkProgress to start TheZoo, as well as our longstanding friendship, will always be appreciated – hell, I still LOVE our personalized header ‘toon.  I know that we here at TheZoo became pretty burnt out trying to do our part – it’s so damned hard to keep covering this shitshow, when day after day, even hour after hour, horrors upon horrors unfold.  Thank you, Paul, for your dedication to illustrating  what could well become America’s downfall.  It’s a grim task, and I don’t envy you.  Please carry on for as long as you can stand it, and we’ll try to keep up.

 

Open Thread – Come and get it!

Weep For America

OMFG! This man is insane! Donald J. Trump has no perceivable grounding in Reality. He starts off with a lie about the Empire State Building. Now, you might say I’m quibbling (and I would congratulate you on your extensive, if slightly misused, vocabulary) but there’s a reason Donald did it. He’s setting up a contrast between how long it took to build the Empire State Building (*) and how long it takes to build new “highways” (I wasn’t aware the Interstate Highway System was expanding so much), a difference he blames entirely on regulations. No other reasons, just regulations. Never mind, Donald, that the REASON for all those regulations was one word – experience. We learned what could go wrong if you didn’t make people follow certain codes. (Good example by an American company overseas: KBR and the electrocuting showers. That’s what no regulations gets you. Also see: Somalia.) He claims he could have built the latest new highway he saw in a state he wouldn’t name for less money and faster. Those of us who know of him and his history know it’s because he doesn’t follow regulations. BTW, if you haven’t already checked, Donald claimed the Empire State Building was built in eleven months. If you do the Google search suggested below, you’ll see it clearly says it took one year and forty-five days to complete. Donald wanted to minimize how long it took (without any mention of the lives lost) to build it. Just because he likes to exaggerate and make himself seem more important, knowledgeable, and useful than he really is.

Near the end, when asked how race relations can be improved, he answers that things will get better once jobs come back, good-paying jobs, and everyone is making more money, then we’ll see race relations improve. Yes. Seriously. He said that. He thinks money solves all problems, even centuries of institutional racism in America. It’s as if suddenly all the managers are going to be black and making more money, and then they’ll be happier and they won’t complain about the fact their local bank still won’t give them a fucking mortgage.

Then he brags about his winery in Charlottesville.

There are several times during the presser when he says “Excuse me. Excuse me.”, usually following some “chatter”. If you’ve ever seen The President Show with Anthony Atamuniak (that’s close to his name) as Donald Trump, you will hear his impersonation. And you’ll laugh to yourself. And if you’re in public at the time, it could get you some strange looks. I’m just sayin’.
So enjoy the interview. Then curl up with a nice bottle somewhere and weep gently for this country.
Then go out and fucking VOTE!

(*) If you start to type “How long did it take” into Google, the first option on the list is “…to build the Empire State Building”. I’m guessing a lot of people did what I did and fact-checked Donald and instantly found him wrong. Again.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/08/15/trumps-off-the-rails-news-conference-on-charlottesville-the-alt-left-and-infrastructure-annotated/?utm_term=.335966271167

The Daily Gnuz

It’s Monday.

Yes, I know, that’s not gnuz, that’s just depressing.

However, here are a few tidbits to chew on…

NSA Chief Mike Rogers ‘May have his own bomb to drop’ Wednesday   –ht/ C&L

Which brings up the question, would the orange jumpsuit go better with gold or chrome bracelets?

 

And

Filed under ‘do as I say, not as I doo(sic)

 After Calls To ‘Get Down’ To Business, Trump Goes On 23rd Trip To Golf Course –h/t TPM

23 Golf Excursions in 19 weeks of feebly Preziduncing. Some kind of record.

 

Finally,

 Trump: I am calling it a ‘TRAVEL BAN!’ –h/t The Hill

Almost tragicomical that this Prezidunce doesn’t get it. Yes, Mr. Prezidunce, it is a travel ban…applied only to predominantly Muslim nations. Nations whose citizens have no record of committing terrorist acts here in the USA. Your intent is abundantly clear, dumbkoff.

 

Open Thread (300 count), Have At It.

RUCerious @ TPZoo

Daily Nuze

Good Morning Zoosterians.

This is my first attempt at a daily thread, hope it works.
Well, aside from the new editor page not working to show the anchors, I guess this is OK. I’ll try to get the HTML working for the next post. Let me know if the links don’t work…

I will have several posts a week if all works out, including topics such as Daily Nuze, The Jobs Aren’t Coming Back, and What the H*ll.

This morning’s top articles:

Who the hell would want to work for This Guy

Trump faces shrinking talent pool for new hires. No kidding. As the new press secretary, your prelim meeting goes something like:

Now remember, the truth is what is between the Prezidunce’s ears, nothing else should concern you, now get out there and defend his misquotes and fabrications, dammit!

ht/ The Hill

 

And, in the same vein:

‘Who wants to sign up for crazy?‘: Trump looks to GOP establishment — but they want no part of him

h/t Raw Story

 

And, one more story of interest this AM

 AP: Trump Has Been Giving World Leaders His Cellphone Number

That’s one way to try to be popular, albeit a somewhat risky one…

h/t TPM

RUCerious @ TPZoo

 

The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 4th, 2017: Look Back and Laugh…and Sigh

We need to take a break from the horror that America has become under a dark, grim authoritarian regime that’s less than two months old, and look back at what – in now-stark contrast – were the halcyon days of Barack Obama, The Laughing President.

President Obama was always at ease with himself, so he was also (almost) always at ease with foreign leaders, celebrities, his fellow Democrats, former Presidents from both sides of the aisle, even the Pope, for heaven’s sake; and even, FFS, the PRESS, that “Enemy of the American People”:

Notice that German Chancellor Angela Merkel doesn't mind President Obama touching her.

Notice that German Chancellor Angela Merkel doesn’t mind President Obama touching her.

Jon Steward and President Obama share a pose and a smile

Jon Stewart and President Obama share a pose and a smile

President Obama has a good laugh with David Letterman

President Obama heartily laughing with David Letterman

V.P. Joe Biden and President Obama acting casually.

V.P. Joe Biden and President Obama perform synchronized laughing.

Patently genuine laugh between Hillary Clinton and President Obama

Patently genuine laugh between Hillary Clinton and President Obama

Hillary's losing it, but Obama is happy to provide support

Hillary’s losing it, but Obama provides support

President Obama and former President Bill Clinton having a good time

President Obama and former President Bill Clinton having a good time

"THERE ARE FOUR PRESIDENTS [laughing]!"

“THERE ARE FOUR PRESIDENTS [laughing]!”

The President and The Pope

The President and The Pope

President Barack Obama's mic drop at his final Nerd Prom

President Barack Obama’s mic drop at his final Nerd Prom

But the ease and warmth that he obviously shared with so many others pales in comparison with the almost-visible aura of the unmistakable ease, warmth, humor, respect and love that he shares with his wife Michelle:

Barack and Michelle, side by side, as a loving couple should be...

Barack and Michelle, side by side, as a loving couple should be…

Date night out?

Date night out?

Now THAT'S "Class!"

Now THAT’S “Class!”

I won’t sully this brief remembrance of better times with the name(s) or photo(s) of the current fake occupier of our White House. I hope that, as I did, you couldn’t help but smile in response to President Barack Obama’s infectious grin.

[…sigh…]

This is our Open Thread, a bit late – enjoy!

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

The Weekend Watering Hole, December 17th, 2016: Men of a Lesser God

With so many evangelical “Christians” having supported Trump in the election, I was curious to find out how they’re reacting to the intelligence community’s reports of Russia’s interference in the election on Trump’s behalf.

The Christian Post is totally silent on the topic. They’re still more concerned with: abortion; not being allowed to discriminate against gays; abortion; the “War on Christmas” (Bill O’Reilly says it’s over, “we won”, although Franklin Graham seems to disagree); and abortion – not necessarily in that order.

Raw Story had a recent article about Franklin Graham praying for Trump to succeed in ‘bringing back jobs’ (nobody on the right seems to notice that President Obama managed to create a few million jobs and reduce the unemployment rate to [what should be] a fairly acceptable rate, despite the Republican blockade.) The article briefly mentions Vladimir Putin. Two quick excerpts, each of which earns its own separate (but brief) rant:

“During an interview on Tuesday, Graham praised Trump for finding a way to “work with the thugs” like Russian President Vladimir Putin “so that we can have peace in this world.”

First, I realize that, at the time of the interview, Graham may not have heard – or paid attention to – the stories that were coming out about exactly HOW Trump had been “finding a way to ‘work with the thugs’ like…Putin”, BUT, did/does Graham actually think that a Trump/Putin cooperative (or whatever you want to call it) could possibly bring about “peace in this world”?

Second, in the last few years, bigoted conservatives have re-defined the term “thug” to mean “black man.” I certainly haven’t seen any attempt by any conservatives trying to ‘find a way to work with’ those “thugs” – well, except by killing or imprisoning them, which I don’t consider to be ‘working with.’

“That’s the problem with the politicians in Washington,” he said. “They sit down there and they do nothing. Now we’ve got a man who’s coming into the White House who wants to get things done. And I hope and I pray — we all as Americans, we need to pray for the president-elect and vice president-elect.”

Mr. Graham (I refuse to use the honorific “Reverend”, he’s no more reverent than I am), we’ve HAD a man in the White House for eight years who has wanted to “get things done”, but the Republican-controlled Congress forced our entire federal government to “sit down there and…do nothing.” So go pray for your own soul, god-boy, if you have one, and leave the rest of us out of it. Maybe if you start repenting now, your god might forgive you for not listening to his son.

Graham was interviewed by Christian Today on November 13th on his reaction to Trump’s election victory. Some excerpts:

In an interview with Christian Today, Graham said there was “no question” that God had a hand in the election of Trump as the next President of the United States, and predicted a “huge impact” from his nominations to the Supreme Court.

He revealed that Trump had told him personally that he will repeal the controversial Johnson Amendment of 1954, which prevents church leaders from endorsing or opposing political candidates from the pulpit.

According to polls, white evangelical Christians backed Trump by 81 per cent to 16 per cent – a larger margin of the evangelical vote than was achieved by a Republican candidate in the past three elections.

Graham said Trump is a “changed man” from when he made his notorious lewd comments about women…

“What you see is what you get. Politicians are pretty good at smiling and being one thing in public and then when the doors are closed, they are different people.”

Donald Trump, by contrast, is the same in private as he appears on television, Graham said.

“He’s not polished, like a lot of politicians. He’s a little rough around the edges. But he means what he says. People need to understand that he’s a very powerful person, very strong, he’s got a very good family, great children. He’s going to put together maybe one of the best teams in Washington that we have seen in years.”

Graham said there was no question that God a hand in the election. “The vast majority of the evangelical community supported Donald Trump because he has said he is going to support Christians, not only at home but around the world.

“So when we see Christianity being attacked worldwide, not just by militant Muslims but by secularism, it’s refreshing to have a leader who is willing to defend the Christian faith.”
~~~~~
One aspect of the election result that was truly a surprise to so many was that Trump’s moral character was apparently not a problem for many leading Christians. Some students at Liberty even set up a petition to distance themselves from Trump and the support he received from Falwell. The petition stated: “Associating any politician with Christianity is damaging to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But Donald Trump is not just any politician. He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about his sins. Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose.”

According to Graham, the key to assessing Trump’s character is to look at the people in his team.

“Donald Trump has surrounded himself with strong evangelicals and for me as a Christian, I’m very pleased with that,” he said.

Graham did not say whether he considers Trump to be a Christian or not – “Only God really knows a person’s heart” – but, “You can tell a lot about a person by the people that they surround themselves with. Our current president claimed to be a Christian but you don’t see that in the people around him.

“Trump has strong evangelical Christians surrounding him. I’ve known Ben Carson for many years. He is a wonderful man of God. Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas – another fine Christian gentleman. Mike Pence. These are the people that he surrounds himself with.”

Graham also knows Mike Pence and has spent time with him: “He is a man of God, he is a very strong evangelical. Donald Trump has surrounded himself with some strong Christians which is very encouraging.”

Graham said: “He’s [Trump] told me that he’s going to work to have that repealed. It will be huge. I think that the Johnson Amendment was a stupid thing. It was somewhat racial in the sense that Johnson did not want black pastors at that time to speak out against him.”

He and many other evangelicals welcome the prospect of that change which will have a massive impact on the way churches and other religious groups engage in politics.

~~~~~

I can’t even continue reading this hypocritical, delusional, un-American, unconstitutional idealization of an American Theocracy. I glanced further down in the article, and knew I would go ballistic if I continued. As it is, I had to take a 1/2 xanax and lie down for a while before I could finish writing this post.

How can anyone say that “Trump is a changed man”, then say that “what you see is what you get”, when what we see is the same loudmouthed, bigoted, ignorant blowhard that we’ve seen for the past, say, 30 years? How can Graham say that “only god really knows a person’s heart” to gloss over Trump’s obviously un-christian views on the one hand, yet label Obama as not being a christian, without such a caveat?  And the “surprise” “that Trump’s moral character was apparently not a problem for many leading Christians”, that doesn’t trouble these die-hard two-issue – abortion and ‘teh gay’ – “men of god”? Theirs is not a god that our country should go anywhere near, let alone follow.

When this particular interview with Christian Today occurred, it was only a few days after the election. Yet nothing in my searches in the time frame SINCE the election indicates that ANY of the right-wing evangelicals have any public opinion about a foreign government intervening in the U.S. Presidential election on behalf of one candidate. Until Graham or any of these bully-pulpit religious fanatics denounce Trump’s tightly-woven bond with Russia, I can only conclude that they are happy to be associated with any monstrous regime.  As long as they can get their way on those two issues, they’ll bow down to any despot. Fuck them and the four horses of the apocalypse that they rode in on.

This is our very late Open Thread–talk about whatever you want.

The Weekend Watering Hole, December 10th/11th, 2016: Good-ish? News

To start this weekend off, here’s a few stories that I found a bit heartening. Or perhaps I should say ‘less disheartening than most news.’

First, a story by Jen Hayden from Thursday’s Daily Kos says that General Barry McCaffrey no longer supports Trump’s choice for national security advisor. Quite the opposite, in fact. An excerpt:

General Barry McCaffrey tells NBC News that he was initially supportive of Donald Trump’s decision to name Lt. General Michael Flynn as his national security advisor. But, a closer look at Flynn’s social media use shows that he sent out at least 16 different fake (propaganda) news stories via social media and General McCaffrey pulled no punches, bluntly calling the tweets and stories “demented.”

The Trump transition team is also rightly getting criticism for allowing Lt. General Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, to not only take part in the transition team, but to seek out security clearance for him when his own social media has shown him to be prolifically disseminating utterly false and outrageous politically motivated news. (You can watch a smarmy Mike Pence evade Jake Tapper’s pointed questions about Flynn, Jr.’s security clearance six different times by clicking here.) One of those fake stories prompted a man to walk into a pizza place and fire his high-powered gun to personally “investigate” the child sex trafficking ring run by Hillary Clinton that Flynn was tweeting about to his followers. Which, of course, wasn’t happening.

General Barry McCaffrey went on to say that “we need to aggressively examine what was going on” with Lt. General Michael Flynn and his son.

Next, Trump’s “Ego Trip Tour” brings him to Maryland, and he’s attending today’s iconic Army-Navy football game in Annapolis,  He will also be visiting Baltimore, and the Baltimore City Council made it clear that they are not exactly laying out the “Welcome” mat for him.  According to the Baltimore Sun:

In its first official act Thursday, the new Baltimore City Council voted unanimously to condemn statements made by Donald J. Trump, days before the president-elect is expected to visit the city.

The resolution formally opposed Trump’s “divisive and scapegoating rhetoric, rooted in hate and prejudice,” a measure political scientists say flies in the face of new Mayor Catherine E. Pugh‘s goal of persuading the next president to funnel federal investment to the cash-strapped city.

Some Baltimore officials think that the City Council’s resolution will work against efforts by Mayor Pugh to wheedle funds out of Trump, and believe it was a stupid – one said “boneheaded” – thing to do. I strongly disagree: I want to see more cities like this stand up for character values like ethics, integrity, civil rights, and compassion. (According to the article, San Francisco is the only other city to put out a message like this against ‘Trumpland.’) I agree with this last part of the Sun article:

Veteran Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, of North Baltimore, said the action sets a tone for the new council and sends a signal to residents.
“I am very proud that we are one of the very first city councils in the United States of America to push back and say, ‘Time for respect, again, in America,'” Clarke said. The resolution is “a great way to start off this new term of office in that manner by pushing back, ‘Ain’t gonna do it that way. We’ll do it our way: respect, justice, fairness, balance.'”

And finally: FINALLY, President Obama is ordering an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Of course, while the Washington Post “Breaking News Alert” that I received said “Obama Orders Review of Russian Hacking During Presidential Campaign”, obviously various investigations and studies had been going on for several months.  Just one brief excerpt (but you really should read the entire article, there’s lots more):

“The CIA shared its latest assessment with key senators in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill last week, in which agency officials cited a growing body of intelligence from multiple sources. Agency briefers told the senators it was now “quite clear” that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.”

Although the Obama Administration and several Senators and Congressmen from both parties had some of these reports by “mid-September”, according to the Washington Post article, they had trepidations about announcing it publicly and/or officially ordering an investigation so close to the Election. IMHO, their concerns over the likelihood of being accused of using an investigation as a political ploy on behalf of the Clinton campaign should have been swept aside by the undeniable fact that ANY foreign country, and especially one with whom we have historically had a tenuous and cautious relationship, actively worked to influence the United States Presidential Election. In addition, if they thought that the Trumplanders would have been really pissed off if they brought this out BEFORE the election, didn’t any of them realize how much worse the “deplorables” would react AFTER their Fuhrer won the election? But at least now the Russian elephant in the room is getting official attention, and that’s a good thing, regardless of the timing. This Washington Post article discusses some of the GOP reaction, as well as reaction (more idiotic conspiracy-theory BS) from Trump and his ilk.  Trump can deny it all he wants, but all of the research so far shows that Russia put a ‘YUGE’ thumb on the election scale for Trump

I realize that these little “good news” tidbits are set in the context of the new, horror/sci-fi reality of an upcoming Trump presidency, at least they’re more positive than negative. And right now, that’s all that I find I can hope for.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Watering Hole, Tuesday, November 29th, 2016: God vs Country

ICYMI, yesterday the Huffington Post had a story about a Republican member of the Electoral College from Texas, Art Sisneros, and his agonizing over how to cast his vote on December 19th. Apparently, Mr. Sisneros refuses to cast his vote for Trump, but also refuses to do what’s best for the country because, well, GOD.

Torn between voting his conscience and dutifully casting his ballot for President-elect Donald Trump, a Republican member of the Electoral College said over the weekend that he would resign his post.

“I believe to resign is to honor the intent of the pledge as it relates to the people of my district,” Texas elector Art Sisneros wrote in a blog post. “Since I can’t in good conscience vote for Donald Trump, and yet have sinfully made a pledge that I would, the best option I see at this time is to resign my position as an Elector.”

Sisneros’ decision to step aside comes as some members of the Electoral College face mounting pressure from voters and advocacy groups to flip their votes against Trump, even if he won the popular vote in their states.

In his post, Sisneros argued that casting his vote for Trump would “bring dishonor to God,” and said that political parties and “winner-take-all” states destroyed the original intention of the Electoral College. Sisneros said in August that he was considering voting against Trump if the real estate mogul were to win the popular vote in Texas. But he told Politico Monday that he would instead resign.

The rest of the country’s 538 electors will choose Sisneros’ replacement when they convene on Dec. 19 to officially elect Trump as the next president. All of Texas’ 38 electoral votes are expected to go to Trump, who beat Hillary Clinton in the state by more than 800,000 votes.

“The people will get their vote,” Sisneros wrote. “I will sleep well at night knowing I neither gave in to their demands nor caved to my convictions. I will also mourn the loss of our republic.”

[emphasis mine]

I have no idea how ANYONE could “sleep well at night” and at the same time “mourn the loss of our republic.” The idea that someone could view this horrendously important Electoral vote as a choice of “conscience” between serving his god or serving his country is totally beyond me. But obviously Mr. Sisneros strongly believes that, because he took what he now calls a “sinful” pledge to the GOP that he now regrets, he can only make himself right with his god by abdicating all civic responsibility.

From Sisneros’ blog post:

“The heart of this issue now is, does honoring the pledge cause me to sin?…
“…Aren’t Electors elected to represent the people? Yes, they absolutely are. That only begs the question, what does it mean to represent the people? This is where our understanding or lack thereof of a representative form of government comes into play. As an elected representative head, I am to speak on behalf of and in the interest of the CD36. It is my conviction that the greatest danger to my district is not a Hillary or Trump Presidency, but it is the judgement of God. If we continue to disobey His clear commands, we can expect to receive His judgement. If being a “Faithless Elector” means standing alone on principle in the hopes that God would continue to grant patience on our district, then it is worth any political future, threats to my safety, and whatever else may come my way.”

This isn’t just about YOU, Mr. Sisneros–what comes your way is nothing compared to what will happen to our nation. Get it through your head: God doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your district, Mr. Sisneros, any more than he gives a rat’s ass about our country – which should be obvious based on the fact that Donald J. Trump is now the President-Elect. And your resignation, Mr. Sisneros, is just one more step in greasing the wheels on that handbasket we’re all going to hell in. I hope that you never “sleep well” again, you chickenshit.

This is our Open Thread–have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 7th, 2016: “Trouble sleeping?”

With the most consequential election of my lifetime now just one day away, a scene from Star Trek: Next Generation’s “Best of Both Worlds” Part 1″ keeps returning to my mind. It takes place before the battle with the Borg, as Captain Picard paces through the Enterprise, and finds Guinan alone in Ten-Forward:

Guinan: “Trouble sleeping?”

Capt. Picard: “It’s something of a tradition, Guinan – Captain touring the ship before a battle.”

Guinan: “Hmm. Before a *hopeless* battle, if I remember the tradition correctly.”

Capt. Picard: “Not necessarily. Nelson toured the HMS Victory before Trafalgar.”

Guinan: “Yes, but Nelson never returned from Trafalgar, did he?”

Capt. Picard: “No, but the battle was won.”

Guinan: “Do you expect this battle to be won?”

Capt. Picard: “We may yet prevail. That’s a… a conceit. But… it’s a healthy one. I wonder if the Emperor Honorius watching the Visigoths coming over the seventh hill truly realized that the Roman Empire was about to fall. This is just another page in history, isn’t it? Will this be the end of *our* civilization? Turn the page.”

I wish that I had the calmness, almost equanimity, with which Captain Picard views the possibility of approaching doom and the likely takeover of the United Federation of Planets by a heartless, merciless “race.” I cannot view a similar fate for our country without a feeling of utter dread.

“We may yet prevail” as Picard says, if by “prevail” one means that Hillary Rodham Clinton wins the Presidency. If that happens, in my humble opinion, we the sane will have only one night, possibly, to feel the relief of dodging a bullet. As long-time students of politics and human nature, particularly ‘American’ human nature, we Critters and Zoosters and other reality-based folks are all too well aware that a final election result which denies Donald Trump the Presidency is just the beginning. There inevitably will be a barrage of ‘bullets’, figuratively at best, to continue to dodge. And it may well “be the end of *our* ‘civilization’.”

Guinan offers hope of a sort:

Guinan: “This isn’t the end.”

Capt. Picard: You say that with remarkable assuredness.”

Guinan: “With experience. When the Borg destroyed my world, my people were scattered throughout the universe. We survived – as will humanity survive. As long as there’s a handful of you to keep the spirit alive, you will prevail – even if it takes a millennium.”

And while Guinan could be right, that “[t]his isn’t the end”, I wish that *our* people were able to scatter throughout the universe. “Humanity” may survive, but will it still be recognizable as “human”?

This is our daily Open Thread–talk me down?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 1, 2016: Driving Me Crazy – The Passhole, The Zippy, and The Creeper

This column was originally published at Pick Wayne’s Brain.

Here are three more driver types who seem to live to make life miserable for the rest of us who have some place to be and not all that much time to get there. They are the Passhole, the Zippy, and the Creeper. [The other posts in this series cover The Pacer, Turn Signals, and The Pokey and The Gapper.]

I’ve been encountering a lot of Passholes lately. The Passhole is that guy who just won’t go more than one or two miles an hour faster than the trucks (though sometimes cars) he’s right next to and allegedly passing, but who then moves over once he has eventually passed the truck or ten-plus line of cars and then speeds up! He’s just too afraid to pass others on the highway. It’s frustrating because right up until he starts to get even with those big trucks or line of cars, he’s fine with doing the correct speed for the left lane. But then he drops down about ten miles an hour or so as he slowly inches his way beside the people he’s supposedly passing (but won’t actually pass this week) until he finally gets past the first vehicle in the row. Then he steps on the gas or, worse still, he moves over into the other lanes and speeds up. I don’t understand this behavior at all. Look, if you’re afraid of the big trucks on the highway then I have two things to tell you. First, the interstate highway system was built for them, not you. Second, if you’re so afraid of the damn truck, then speed up and get past it faster! But Passholes don’t just fear trucks, they fear everyone. I’ve been behind Passholes several times this week (which is one reason I was inspired to finally write about them), and their driving tactics leave me scratching my head (or making other gestures with my hands), which is easier to do when you’re driving slowly. (Yes, 65 MPH is slow on a highway built when the speed limit was 75 MPH.) What is the problem? Why do they slow down so much? (It’s highly noticeable.) It’s not because they’re afraid of the cops. I know some people think the cops won’t single you out if you’re doing the same speed as the car next to you, but these people speed up when their car finally goes past the people next to them. So it’s not out of a fear of the cops. It’s not the high speed that concerns them because they were going faster before they got next to them and sped up when they got past. If they’re afraid of something, why prolong their exposure to it? Why not just keep going the same speed they were and get past it that much faster? I’d be happy to pass them so they’re no longer in my life, but they speed up when it’s clear and make that damn near impossible without going 90 MPH. And in all honesty, I try not to go 90 MPH though I find it necessary at times. But sometimes Passholes don’t like it when people pass them, which I find a little strange. I would think they would be happy to get out of the way of my angry eyes and hand gestures, but, no, they want to prolong everyone else’s suffering. Because as soon as they get up to the cars now ahead of me in the right lane, they’ll slow down again and not leave me a chance to move over in front of them. They’re such Passholes. At least they’re not dangerous Zippies.

Now you may call me a “leadfoot” (after which I’d stomp on your foot, thus ending the debate once and for all as to whether or not my feet are really made of lead), but I’m no Zippy. The Zippy is that driver who not only drives fast but who darts in and out of the other cars, often leaving little room between himself and the person he’s terrorizing. It’s easy to figure out he has some kind of death wish, it’s just hard to figure out whose death he wishes. I once had a Zippy cut right in front of me to get around people in the right-hand lane, and I had to swerve and brake a bit to make sure we didn’t collide. I can’t be certain we wouldn’t have if I didn’t do that, but I am certain it wouldn’t have smelled too good in my car. What truly angered me (apart from getting cut off so near-disastrously) was that the driver, clearly having seen what happened in his rear view mirror, was pounding his arm against the top of the passenger seat as if he was laughing at the near calamity he had caused. If I speed up to get around someone, I don’t also make it an all-or-nothing proposition where I endanger everyone around me just because my ego won’t let me get beaten. I don’t have an ego; I have depression. If I can see from doing the mental Calculus that I won’t be able to do it safely I slow down, back off, get back behind the guy and began showing him the sign language I invented for just such an occasion. Speaking of Calculus, did you know that when you drive your brain automatically uses Calculus, whether or not you have ever taken the course in school? The Calculus was invented to solve equations where things change relative to each other, or to find the area under a curve, and other uses. If you know the velocity of a car coming toward you at an intersection and its distance from you, and if you know how many seconds it would take you to pull out and get up to driving speed, you could calculate whether or not it was safe to pull out. And though you don’t perform the actual calculations with actual numbers, you still do the rough estimates in your head and say, “I can make it.” And most of the time you’re right. We hope. I certainly do when I’m the guy coming toward you at that intersection. Please, don’t pull out in front of me if it looks like I’m driving faster than you plan on going. I’m gobsmacked by the people who see me tooling along, often faster than the posted speed limit (I admit it; like you, I’m a minor criminal), and still decide to pull out in front of me. My primary strategy when driving to work is to get to the next intersection before someone who might want to drive slower than I wants to pull out ahead of me. Especially a school bus. In my hometown, the local school bus will stop at every house along this one hill leading down into the village. Why those kids (and we’re not talking about elementary school kids, these are middle school or higher) can’t all gather at one stop at the bottom of the hill is beyond me. Instead we stop, wait thirty seconds, then drive seventy-five feet where we stop again, wait thirty seconds, then drive another seventy-five feet where we stop and wait again. At least that bus then pulls over to the side and lets us pass him. Otherwise you might have ended up reading my name in the paper for killing a local school bus driver. What’s worse than being behind a school bus is having a Creeper in between you.

The Creeper is the guy who slows down as he comes up on something, but not so he can brake when he gets there, but so he can move forward very slowly and never have to come to a complete stop. I don’t know if this is somehow supposed to save on gas or something and I don’t care. Just stop it! And especially stop doing it on the highway. Believe it or not, you’re only causing the same problem to happen behind you. When a Creeper does his thing behind a line of slow moving traffic, the cars behind him are approaching him at normal highway speeds (65 MPH.) They are suddenly forced to slow way down and begin crawling along behind him. So the same kind of obstruction ahead of him is beginning to form directly behind him. Think of a garden hose pouring water into a funnel. The hose is set to the optimum point where water flows down out of the funnel at the same rate at which it enters. (The Calculus can be used to determine how much water is in the funnel at any given point, but you won’t need it for this thought experiment.) Now that it’s at equilibrium, try putting a half cork in the bottom of the funnel, blocking about half of it but letting water flow through the bottom. Don’t change the rate at which water enters the funnel. Now see what happens. The water level in the funnel begins to rise. It rises because less water is flowing out of the bottom of the funnel than is flowing in. Eventually the water will reach the top of the funnel and if you don’t want it to overflow, you’ll have to turn down the hose, or possibly even turn it off. The cork represents the Creeper, and the water coming out of the hose represents the cars approaching him at a much higher speed. If they don’t want to crash into the cars ahead of them (overflow the rim of the funnel), they’ll have to slow way down or even stop (turn the hose down or off.) As if it couldn’t be worse, once the obvious cause of the slowdown has been passed, the Creeper is often slow to pick up speed again. He also won’t move into the right hand lane and sometimes when he does, he speeds up and becomes a Pacer.

I ask you. Are these people really necessary?

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss the bad drivers you’ve encountered, or any other topic you wish. Just don’t slow me down.

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 8th, 2016: Looney-Toons

Okay, just because the American Psychiatric Association doesn’t want their members to publicize ‘armchair’ diagnoses of the Presidential candidates – meaning Donald Trump, of course – doesn’t mean that we non-psychiatrists can’t do it. And, although “Looney-Toons” isn’t the most clinically accurate ‘armchair’ diagnosis, it at least allows for a little humor to start the week.

Bugs Bunny in Hair, er, Herr Meets Hare
Herr Trump seems to have been given a lot more unearned medals than just that poor guy’s Purple Heart.

Can't even rule his own herr, er, hair
Herr Trump can’t even rule his own hair.

"Victory Thru Herr, er, Hair Power"
“Hmm..”Victory Thru Herr Hair Hare Power”!?”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX2GABT “Look at this – my hair’s a mess!  Can’t anyone help me?”

you're so next “Can’t you see you’re next?”
DonaldTrumpShrug1 “Okay, why not?”

daffy holding signrabbitofseville33“I’m not sure what’s in this, but if it dissolved that thing on his head, that’s a step in the right direction.”

rabbitofseville64“Flowers?! Are you kidding? I can’t even comb them over!”

Although it could have been worse, i.e.:
duckamuck40...The blow to his vanity was just too much, pushing him over the edge.  His self-image as “Donald J. Trump, Billionaire” was destroyed. 

donald-trump mansionHe began to dress in a bunny suit, repeating over and over, “My name is Elmer J. Fudd, Millionaire.  I own a mansion and a yacht.”

elmer2elmerbunny

bugs_elmer-rabbit
Longtime friend and co-worker Daffy Duck describes a recent visit:
daffy not crazy

He “may be crazy, but” he’s not going to the White House!

This is our daily Open Thread. Please feel free to discuss anything you like – or dislike.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 23, 2016: Ego

The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of ego:

Noun:

1.      A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance

1.1    Psychoanalysis The part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity

1.2    Philosophy (In metaphysics) a conscious thinking subject.

Synonyms: self-esteem, self-importance, self-worth, self-respect, self-conceit, self-image, self-confidence;

Now, let’s take a brief look at Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s ego:

1. Trump’s self-esteem? Off the charts–his self-descriptions include being “the greatest” this, the “best” that, the “most” whatever. Anyone who claims otherwise is just “wrong” or “stupid”, or has some imaginary personal beef against Trump, because in no way will Donald Trump admit to any ignorance, mistake, lie, or out-and-out wrongdoing. Which leads to…

1.1 Trump’s ego cannot “mediate” between the conscious and unconscious. Reality testing?! Trump’s conscious and unconscious create their own reality, and it’s a reality that he seems to feel no need to test. His “reality” is part-and-parcel of his personal identity, and it is impenetrable by truth, facts, and even Trump’s own previous words or deeds.

1.2 While Trump may be “conscious” in the literal sense of the word, he is not a “thinking” subject.

With his penchant for superlatives, Trump might possibly think that he has a “superego“, but the OED’s definition of superego leads me to believe that Trump’s ego vanquished his superego a long time ago:

Noun:
Psychoanalysis The part of a person’s mind that acts as a self-critical conscience, reflecting social standards learned from parents and teachers

“Self-critical”?  Rarely and barely.  Hell, Trump told evangelicals that he didn’t feel the need to go to confession, since he doesn’t think that anything he does is wrong.  And I learned things like manners, respect and intellectual curiosity from my parents and teachers, apparently unlike Trump.

Trump has a dysfunctional relationship with the truth. According to Politifact, only 8.4% of Trump’s statements have been factual.  Their review of Trump’s statements shows that a whopping 70% of Trump’s statements are rated “Mostly False”, “False”, or “Pants on Fire.” Here’s one of the “Pants on Fire” stories:

“The day after the 2016 Republican National Convention, Trump said his vanquished Republican rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, had never denied that his father was in a 1963 photo with Lee Harvey Oswald, who went on to assassinate President John F. Kennedy that November.

Trump said: “All I did is point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast. Now, Ted never denied that it was his father. Instead he said, ‘Donald Trump.’ I had nothing to do with it. This was a magazine that frankly, in many respects, should be very respected.”

[The idea that ‘the National Enquirer should be very respected’ should rate a “Pants on Fire” of its own.]

Politifact gave Trump the “2015 Lie of The Year” award to The Donald.  An excerpt:

“…a little hyperbole never hurts,” Trump wrote in his 1987 best-seller The Art of the Deal. “People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

[Ah, and that explains “Trump University.”]

Next, here’s a glib, almost superficial, and often sickeningly fawning article from the Washington Post, by AP “reporter” Nancy Benar, titled “For Trump, it’s about America’s ego — and his own.” Some key excerpts:

“Almost every deal I have ever done has been at least partly for my ego,” the billionaire declared in a 1995 New York Times piece titled, “What My Ego Wants, My Ego Gets.”

“The same assets that excite me in the chase often, once they are acquired, leave me bored,” he told an interviewer in 1990, as his boom years were sliding toward bust. “For me, you see, the important thing is the getting, not the having.”

Trump,[sic] stresses his Ivy League education and revels in juvenile jabs, labeling his adversaries “stupid,” ‘’dumb” and “bad.”

“I know words,” he declared at a December campaign rally where he criticized the Obama administration. “I have the best words. But there’s no better word than stupid, right?”

Wrong, Mr. Trump. As a Presidential candidate, now nominee, some of the “best words” that you should memorize the meanings for are:  honesty, integrity, class, civility, respect, humility and responsibility. I know that these terms and ideas are foreign to you, but you should familiarize yourself with them – there might be a quiz between now and November.

This is our daily Open Thread–feel free to talk about this or any other topic.

I read the news today, oh boy.

I read the news today, oh boy.

Another law abiding citizen shot and killed two people. She was a staunch supporter of gun ownership so she could protect herself and her daughters.

She shot and killed two people – her daughters. Apparently during a family argument.

She was a good-guy with a gun, until the moment she wasn’t.

She was then shot and killed by the police.

Another former law abiding citizen with a gun, shot and killed by the police.

She was a staunch supporter of gun ownership.

I’m sorry, NRA, but guns DO kill people. That’s what they’re designed to do. They’re designed to be the most lethal weapons available to the common citizen.

It has been written, “He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.” The same is true of gun ownership.

Because we fear – bad guys breaking into our houses – government enslavement – monsters under our beds – no tragedy is horrific enough to move us to give up the right to possess guns. Mass murders – mall shoppers – movie goers – kindergartners – nightclubs – occurr so often they’re no longer shocking. Just sad.

Accepted as inevitable, it is the price of fear.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people: We cannot regulate gun ownership

Hate speech doesn’t kill people. people kill people. We cannot regulate hate speech.

Racism doesn’t kill people, people kill people. We cannot regulate racism.

Intolerance towards gays doesn’t kill people, people kill people. We cannot regulate tolerance.

Prejudice doesn’t kill people, people kill people. We cannot regulate prejudice.

Hate, racism, intolerance, prejudice – – these are not traits we are born with. Babies don’t hate; they don’t discriminate based on color or gender. They love equally regardless of color or gender. They are taught to hate, taught to be racists, taught intolerace, taught prejudice. And some eventually are taught to use guns.

They are taught that its ok to kill those who offend them, those they have been taught to hate. And we make available tools that are designed to kill scores of people in seconds, before anyone has any time to react, to flee, to fight back.

Why? Why do we make assault rifles available to virtually anyone who wants one?

Because babies are also taught to fear.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 21st, 2016: Contents Under Pressure

Yesterday at work, after glancing at my calendar, I did a mental double-take, thinking, ‘holy jeez, it’s May 20th already, 2016 is going by too quickly!’ Later, after some Trump BS refocused my attention on the upcoming election, my thoughts changed to, ‘holy jeez, there’s still nearly six months until the election, I wish we could just jump ahead to November and get it done and over with!’

I doubt if any of us, during the campaign season that led up to King George being anointed by the SCOTUS, and even during the eight years that we (and the rest of the world) suffered through under the BushCo maladministration, ever thought that any candidate for the Presidency could come along who was even more unqualified than Dubya, and just as amoral as Darth Cheney. The stress of those years pales in comparison to what we, and everyone else in the reality-based world, are experiencing during this unbelievably mind-numbing Trump campaign.

A continual state of stress is unhealthy for an individual both physically and mentally, as we all can attest to. Is it any wonder that the heightened stress of these last several months is having an even worse impact on so many Americans than that of the Bush years, even with the never-ending war(s), the “you’re either with us or against us” mantra, and the economic crash that affected every American except those who caused it?

And after BushCo, the undercurrent of American racism, which slowly became ‘acceptable’ when President Obama won in 2008, turned into the norm in an ever-growing and ever-more-violent tide that has eroded the foundations of the Republic nearly to the point of collapse. Even if Donald Trump doesn’t win the Presidency, will the added pressure and stress of the national and international turmoil brought about by Trump’s – and his followers’ – jingoism, ignorance and hatred be too overwhelming to keep this Union intact?

Personally, I think something’s got to blow under all of this pressure, because it’s not going to ease anytime soon. It only leads one to question: when, how big, and how toxic will the fallout be?

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

Sunday Roast: 1968

In 1968, my family was living outside of the U.S., in a little place no one has heard of since, namely Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  I was nine years old and only beginning to become aware of the world outside family, neighborhood, and school.

I was the kind of kid who was outside from morning ’til the street lights came on, so television — especially the news — was way down my list of interesting things to do.  Dad turned on the six o’clock news every night, and I began to realize that the world (the U.S., my world) was burning — literally.

By the time we left Gitmo, I was going on eleven years old, and I knew two things for sure:

  1.  War is bloody and horrible and fucked up, and we need to find a better way to deal with our disagreements.
  2.  People need to be able to stand up for themselves and their rights — civil or otherwise — and speak their minds, without being beaten, fire hosed, or killed.

I was a naive child who thought we’d have these things figured out by the time I had children.  Ha!  Said children are 28 and 33 years old, and just look at what we’ve done to this country…hell, the world.

I am ashamed.

This is our daily open thread.

 

 

TWH, Wednesday, April 23, 2016. Make America Great?

America is a stained glass window, pieced together some 200 years ago by men with hope and a vision for the future. Even then, some of the panes were stained obscurely dark, but the overall picture was bright with promise.
Over the years the brightness faded, to be refurbished every now and then. Lately, it seems, some have taken to throwing stones at the window, shattering a pane here and there.
Will the window ever be rebuilt so that all the panes are bright and light? No. But the dark gives us the contrast by which we appreciate the light.
Maybe it’s not about making America great again – – maybe it’s about making America greater than it ever was.
OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 14th, 2016: Cuteness Trumps Evil At The End

This weekend I OD’d on Trump. And jelly beans. I’m not sure which made me feel worse.

I refuse to watch any of the myriad videos of Hair Drumpf that have dominated the internets over the past, well, forever it seems. As I have mentioned in comments elsewhere, being a lifelong New Yorker means, in part, that we’ve been exposed to toxic levels of NY’s own version of Agent Orange since long before “Celebrity Apprentice” existed. Having long ago dismissed Drumpf à l’Orange as a loud-mouthed, self-important asshole, it’s frightening to see so many people taken in by this vulgar charlatan. Especially if one looks at his mouth. It appears to have been shaped over a lifetime of angrily hurling bullying insults and orders. How can anyone look at Drumpf “speaking” without being disgusted and horrified?

Here’s a shot from a thread at ThinkProgress:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump describes how he was ready to punch a person who rushed the stage during an election rally earlier in the day, as he speaks to a crowd in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump describes how he was ready to punch a person who rushed the stage during an election rally earlier in the day, as he speaks to a crowd in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Nati Harnik

The next few are from various threads at Raw Story:

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Bloomington, Illinois, March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Bloomington, Illinois, March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young

Trump prepares to spit venom at Jake Tapper.

Trump prepares to spit venom at Jake Tapper.

A commenter at Raw Story posted this GIF.

A commenter at Raw Story posted this ‘Trump Snarling’ GIF.

But enough ugliness, even for a Monday. Here’s some cuteness to counteract the face if evil:
cat star

And perhaps a little tranquility for the end of the day:
SKYFIRE4V

This is our daily Open Thread – talk about whatever’s on your mind.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 7, 2016: Look At The Ideologies, Not The Party Names

As I get into my occasional Twitter fights with conservatives, I find that many still believe the false notion that the Democrats and Republicans of today have the same ideological position on the Left/Right-Liberal/Conservative scale as the parties of the same names did 150 years ago. Nothing could be further from the truth. For these people, political ideological history ends about fifty years ago. The Civil Rights Movement didn’t happen, and the famous Southern conservative, pro-segregationists of the Democratic Party didn’t switch to join the Republican Party (cough, Strom Thurmond.) So now along comes Dinesh D’Souza with a movie trying to make that very same bad argument. It’s idiotic and shallow. It completely ignores the content of Republican policy today and how it compares to 1860 Democratic policy. And worst of all for them, it’s hardly an intellectual argument at all since even I can debunk it, and my only intellectual achievement was to be an inactive member of MENSA for two years.

Yes, the people who founded the KKK were proud registered Democrats. They were also very much conservative in their political ideology. Yes, the Democrats of the 1860s supported Slavery, but that’s because they were conservative and they were white supremacists. (They said so.) The Founders of the KKK and the supporters of Slavery were Conservative White Supremacists who happen to be registered politically as Democrats. At that time, racists and white supremacists had a home in the Democratic Party. They were not as welcome in the Republican Party, which was founded to end Slavery. The people who wanted to form this new party made a famous public appeal to, among others, “Free Democrats” (meaning Democrats who didn’t support Slavery), to join them.

More than a hundred years later, after passage of the Civil Rights Acts and Voting Rights Acts under a Democratic president, the conservative white supremacists felt they were no longer welcome in the Democratic Party, and left to join the Republican Party. Not all of them, but many of them. So it’s extremely wrong and intellectually dishonest to argue that the Republican Party of today would still support the abolition of Slavery and the elimination of groups supporting white supremacy. Not when white supremacists are openly supporting the Republican front runner in the presidential race. And why would one of the most famous victims of the KKK, civil rights icon Representative John Lewis, join the Democratic Party if he felt the KKK was still welcome there? Can any of you people who believe the two parties have always been the same ideologically throughout their histories explain that? As for “re-labeling” this ugliness as “the South” and trying to bury it there, it’s because that’s where it happened.

It’s time this country confronted the simple fact that while all Americans are entitled to their choice of representation in government, their criteria for choosing that representation is not required to be fact-based, or logical, or in the best interests of the country as a whole. And we have a lot of people in this country who hold very, very ugly views about their fellow human beings, in part because they don’t view their fellow human beings as fellow human beings. Do we really believe these people’s views should determine how this “land of the free” should be run? Do we really want a country dedicated to the stupid and baseless concept of racial supremacy? Why do we not confront this ugliness every time it rears its head? Why do we pretend it’s okay to believe some races are better than others, to the point where you write those into your judicial opinions and they become the law of the land? And why do we pretend that the level to which we find this ugliness is not higher in conservatives than it is in liberals? Even conservatives like D’Souza are so embarrassed by this part of themselves that they’re in denial, and projecting it onto their ideological foes, we liberals, saying we’re the real racists, we’re the real intolerant ones because we liberals won’t tolerate intolerant conservatives. If you understand what words mean, then you know that makes no logical sense at all. But that doesn’t matter to them. Because it doesn’t feel right to them to blame their ideology for their racist opinions. Because that would mean they might have been wrong all this time. And that just can’t be right to them. So it must be us Liberals who are to blame for America’s Ugliness. And we continue to pretend Conservatism itself isn’t part of the problem, when it very much is at the root of all that is wrong and ugly about America. Today’s Congressional Republicans happen to be extreme conservatives, but there was a time when they were extreme Liberals. And they did some of their finest work for America back then. It’s a true shame those Liberals would not be welcome in today’s GOP. Lincoln would weep.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 20th, 2016: Huh?

I think that the Koch brothers are attempting to put a ‘softer light’ on their well-deserved evil reputations.

Earlier this week at the office, I found the following missive, purportedly from David Koch, in the Junk emailbox of our Sales emails. (I’m wondering if Koch got his mailing list from the American Landrights Association, whose occasional emails land in the same Junk box, or if ALA gets their mailing list from the Kochs.) Who knows if it really is from THE David Koch; regardless, I found it interesting/amusing.

From: Mr.David H. Koch [mailto:davidhamiltonkoch74@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, February 15, 2016 3:02 PM
Subject: HI DONATION FOR YOU !!.

Hi,

My name is David Hamilton Koch, a philanthropist and the founder of Koch Industries, one of the largest private foundations in the world. I believe strongly in ‘giving while living I had one idea that never changed in my mind, that you should use your wealth to help people and I have decided to secretly give USD$2,000,000.00 Million Dollars to randomly selected individuals worldwide.

On receipt of this email, you should count yourself as the lucky individual. Your email address was chosen online while searching at random. Kindly get back to me at your earliest convenience, so that I will know your email address is valid.

Email me (davidhamiltonkoch75@gmail.com)

Visit my web page to know more about me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_H._Koch

Regards,
David H. Koch.
Email (davidhamiltonkoch75@gmail.com)

Huh? WTF?

Then, late last night, RawStory put up this post from the Guardian about Charles Koch agreeing with Bernie Sanders that ‘politics are set up to help the privileged few.’ Charles Koch wrote the following op-ed piece for the Washington Post:

Charles Koch: This is the one issue where Bernie Sanders is right
By Charles G. Koch February 18

Charles G. Koch is chairman and chief executive of Koch Industries.

As he campaigns for the Democratic nomination for president, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) often sounds like he’s running as much against me as he is the other candidates. I have never met the senator, but I know from listening to him that we disagree on plenty when it comes to public policy.

Even so, I see benefits in searching for common ground and greater civility during this overly negative campaign season. That’s why, in spite of the fact that he often misrepresents where I stand on issues, the senator should know that we do agree on at least one — an issue that resonates with people who feel that hard work and making a contribution will no longer enable them to succeed.

The senator is upset with a political and economic system that is often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged. He believes that we have a two-tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness. He thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field.

I agree with him.

Consider the regulations, handouts, mandates, subsidies and other forms of largesse our elected officials dole out to the wealthy and well-connected. The tax code alone contains $1.5 trillion in exemptions and special-interest carve-outs. Anti-competitive regulations cost businesses an additional $1.9 trillion every year. Perversely, this regulatory burden falls hardest on small companies, innovators and the poor, while benefitting many large companies like ours. This unfairly benefits established firms and penalizes new entrants, contributing to a two-tiered society.

Whenever we allow government to pick winners and losers, we impede progress and move further away from a society of mutual benefit. This pits individuals and groups against each other and corrupts the business community, which inevitably becomes less focused on creating value for customers. That’s why Koch Industries opposes all forms of corporate welfare — even those that benefit us. (The government’s ethanol mandate is a good example. We oppose that mandate, even though we are the fifth-largest ethanol producer in the United States.)

It may surprise the senator to learn that our framework in deciding whether to support or oppose a policy is not determined by its effect on our bottom line (or by which party sponsors the legislation), but by whether it will make people’s lives better or worse.

With this in mind, the United States’ next president must be willing to rethink decades of misguided policies enacted by both parties that are creating a permanent underclass.

Our criminal justice system, which is in dire need of reform, is another issue where the senator shares some of my concerns. Families and entire communities are being ripped apart by laws that unjustly destroy the lives of low-level and nonviolent offenders.

Today, if you’re poor and get caught possessing and selling pot, you could end up in jail. Your conviction will hold you back from many opportunities in life. However, if you are well-connected and have ample financial resources, the rules change dramatically. Where is the justice in that?

Arbitrary restrictions limit the ability of ex-offenders to get housing, student or business loans, credit cards, a meaningful job or even to vote. Public policy must change if people are to have the chance to succeed after making amends for their transgressions. At Koch Industries we’re practicing our principles by “banning the box.” We have voluntarily removed the question about prior criminal convictions from our job application.

At this point you may be asking yourself, “Is Charles Koch feeling the Bern?”

Hardly.

I applaud the senator for giving a voice to many Americans struggling to get ahead in a system too often stacked in favor of the haves, but I disagree with his desire to expand the federal government’s control over people’s lives. This is what built so many barriers to opportunity in the first place.

Consider America’s War on Poverty. Since its launch under President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, we have spent roughly $22 trillion, yet our poverty rate remains at 14.8 percent. Instead of preventing, curing and relieving the causes and symptoms of poverty (the goals of the program when it began), too many communities have been torn apart and remain in peril while even more tax dollars pour into this broken system.

It is results, not intentions, that matter. History has proven that a bigger, more controlling, more complex and costlier federal government leaves the disadvantaged less likely to improve their lives.

When it comes to electing our next president, we should reward those candidates, Democrat or Republican, most committed to the principles of a free society. Those principles start with the right to live your life as you see fit as long as you don’t infringe on the ability of others to do the same. They include equality before the law, free speech and free markets and treating people with dignity, respect and tolerance. In a society governed by such principles, people succeed by helping others improve their lives.

I don’t expect to agree with every position a candidate holds, but all Americans deserve a president who, on balance, can demonstrate a commitment to a set of ideas and values that will lead to peace, civility and well-being rather than conflict, contempt and division. When such a candidate emerges, he or she will have my enthusiastic support.

Double “HUH”?

This is a perfect example of a Libertarian’s attempt to sound reasonable and logical: while one can agree with bits and pieces of his statements, the overall premise(s) make for an unworkable government and an even more fractured society than we already have. And while Koch supposedly decries the dysfunctional state of American politics, he at the same time admits that he and his brother have benefited greatly from this dysfunction. What he doesn’t admit is that he and his brother, along with their various front groups, have actually deliberately caused said dysfunction.

I don’t have the time to pick this op-ed apart line-by-line, so I’ll leave it to you, should you be so inclined.

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 15th, 2016: “It’s In Revelations (sic), People!”

While I was trying to research more on the recent story accusing several Republicans of directly trying to convince Iran to hold off releasing American hostages until our Presidential election is over – and I DO hope that we learn more about who these (R) bastards are – I ran into the following article, and just had to go for the ludicrously funny instead.

When I googled info on the Iran story, I was rather surprised to find that two of the three most recent articles about it were from “Christian” sites: the Christian Times, and the Christian Post. Of course, it was when I got to the Christian Post that I got distracted by what I am presenting today. I’m not sure what writing style author David is attempting to use, but I’m thinking it could be tongue-in-cheek/snark? Maybe you can tell.

Also, keep in mind that I do not remember being taught anything about the Book of Revelation in all my thirteen years of Catholic schooling. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that I wasn’t taught something, simply that I do not remember – which, in high school, could have been understandable (if you catch my drift.)

“10 Things You Gotta Know About Revelation”

“You gotta know these 10 things about Revelation. You just gotta!

1. It’s the book of Revelation not Revelations.

Don’t say “I iz reading Revelations whilst Ma is cooks up some possum pie. It’s pertnear my favrit book. I think I’ll go read it by the cement pond.” That sounds ignorant all because you made Revelation plural. Don’t be ignorant!”

And that’s just for openers. I seriously wonder at what target audience this is being aimed. Ruzicka continues:

“It’s also not the Revelation of John. It’s the Revelation of Jesus Christ.”

This line is, confusingly, set next to a photo of a book opened to a page titled “The Revelation of St.John the Divine.”

2. John is the writer of Revelation and a MUCH bigger deal than you. Or me.

John had left the fishing business to follow Jesus. He followed Jesus for three years of ministry. He saw people raised from the dead, and saw Jesus walk on the water. John was at the last supper, there when Jesus was arrested, there as Jesus died on the cross — in fact the ONLY disciple there — all the others fled. Jesus told John to take care of Mary (Jesus’ mother). He was there at the empty tomb; he was among the first to believe. Nobody has lived a life like John lived.

So, John was a roadie?

3. He was known as the “beloved disciple” or “the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 21:20).”

It would not be an overstatement to say that John considered Jesus to be his “best friend.”

Is the author trying to hint at something here?

4. John wrote John, 1st, 2nd and 3rd John.

Well, jeez, I should hope he didn’t have a ghostwriter.

5. John is about 100 years old.

In god dog years?

6. John is banished on an island for criminals — Isle of Patmos — by the Emperor Domitian.

Why? Because he wouldn’t shut up about Jesus. This is where he writes Revelation.

Hmmm…he writes Revelation while on an island for criminals. Must’ve been inspired?

7. John survived martyrdom.

He was boiled in a huge basin of oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. The apostle John was later freed and returned to what is now modern-day Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.

WTF? Did his miraculous delivery from death heal the boiling-oil scars? Seriously, how does one manage to be almost boiled to death in oil and not incur even second-degree burns over a large part of his body? Burns which would – in those times – likely become festering infected sores that would possibly be fatal?

8. He pastors the seven churches he’s writing to in Revelation 1.

Ooo-kay, so John was a multi-tasker, fine, this is important how?

9. John didn’t fail.

100 years old, boiled in oil, banished to an island for criminals, still a faithful witness for King Jesus, his best friend. John lived a life far beyond anything we can imagine. For all the base jumping, cliff diving, ice climbing and BMXing out there — it’s nothing compared to the life John lived.

Seriously, dude? Dismissing the crappy examples of, I’m guessing, youthful adventure like ‘cliff diving’ and ‘BMXing’, there are plenty of people who have led long, interesting, worthwhile humanitarian lives without all of the torture or all the Jesus.

10. You’ll never find out when it all ends by studying numerology or Bible codes or counting cards in Vegas (just in case you were wondering).

And that’s not the point of the book. Jesus says Himself that no one but the Father knows (Matthew 24:36). [Which, as you know, is one of Wayne’s pet peeves, since so many charlatans are raking in the $ predicting the End Times ETA.]

The point of the book is to encourage persecuted believers, that in spite of any emperor’s hatred and even murder of Christians, King Jesus wins in the end. The Christian life is not trial free, but trial proof, not persecution free, but persecution proof, not tribulation free, but tribulation proof.

This is somehow supposed to sound attractive, or hopeful, or what? And somehow this version of the Book of Revelation that Ruvick CliffNotes does not sound like the strange, Heironomous Bosch

The point of the book is this: King Jesus gets the last word, He wins in the end, and so take heart! He will draw all of His to Himself to live with Him forever. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega — the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come — the Almighty One.”
Revelation 1:8 (NLT)

Somehow none of this is inspiring me to “take heart.”

This is our daily Open Thread – talk amongst yourselves.

The Watering Hole; Thursday December 31 2015; Gay Marriage, a Flashback

Fifteen years ago this last July, Vermont became the first state in the country to allow and accept civil unions as a legal entity, an arrangement which no doubt served as a prime motivator in the movement to ‘legalize’ gay marriage once and for all. Then this year — fifteen years almost to the day down the road — the Supreme Court ruled that Gay Marriage was legal everywhere and had to be accepted, at which time the vast bulk of the religious/evangelical right wing found itself in dire need of a diaper change. Apparently that’s what happens when secularists sneak in right under god’s nose and start the destruction of Amurka by being, you know, tolerant and stuff.

A couple of weeks ago, while taking a peek at some old floppy-disk backup files from way back when, I ran across the transcript of a chat room (email) “discussion” I’d had back in 2002 with, of all people, an Evangelical Christianista from, of all places, Vermont. He had responded to some things that I and a couple other fair-minded folks (screen names ‘Herb’ and ‘Gillian’) had previously written while discussing same-sex civil unions and marriage. The end result, I think, quite well presents the polar perspectives on the matter — ie. the hyper- vs the non- religious viewpoints — and the judgments that are implicit when the discussion’s principle religious motivator is the interpretation of a word or two — phrase maybe — from that bestselling fictional work some call The Bible.

What follows is the transcription of my own email response to that post written by “Jim in Vermont;” it wasn’t a ‘live’ discussion, obviously, so if “Jim in Vermont” had a response to anything I wrote, it would not show here. Still, the conversation is, I think, interesting and, if compared with current day viewpoints, it demonstrates that, indeed, some things NEVER change.

******

At 0151 PM 11/1/02 -0500, Jim in Vermont wrote:
DOGMATIC CHRISTIAN HORSE PUCKEY

Frugal wrote: “Not all of the dogmatic Christian horse puckey in the world is enough to logically condemn and warrant legal discrimination against that roughly ten percent of the earth’s human population which generally believes it had no choice in the matter of sexual preference but is condemned anyway. To maintain otherwise is to pretend that dogmatic bigotry represents the high moral ground.”

Who’s been talking about condemning homosexuals, Frugal? I know that I haven’t.

You might try this site, GodHatesFags. It pretty much answers your question.

If their sexual behavior condemns them, that’s God’s business, not mine.

Then further argument is basically moot, so why worry?

But if we are interested in sustaining civilization . . .

Oh, yes, now I see.

. . . I think that we should not give legal or moral sanction to any immoral behavior, including homosexual behavior.

I’m starting to lose count of the fallacies — have run out of fingers. “Sustaining civilization” is not an issue. Ten percent who do not reproduce do not doom society; they probably don’t even make a blip on the population increase scale. “Immoral behavior, including homosexual behavior” is a straw man argument; there is no basis other than Biblical upon which to ‘define’ homosexual behavior as “immoral”, and the Bible does not enjoy universal acceptance or privilege. Nor should it.

Is it begging the question to argue that homosexual behavior is immoral?

Of course it is. “Morality” is peripheral, not absolute; nor is it secularly mandated, far as I know. What was it the Scottish Bard wrote about Morality?

“Morality, thou deadly bane,
Thy tens o’ thousands thou hast slain
Vain is his hope, whase stay an’ trust is
In moral mercy, truth, and justice!”

Ah, yes. Thank you Robert.

I don’t see how. How can two mutually exclusive sexual behaviors
both be right?

“Mutually exclusive sexual behaviors”?? First of all, I don’t know what you mean by ‘both be right’, although I assume you’re referring to more than simply the procedural? In any case, and as far as I’m concerned, the only ‘right’ that’s on the table is the ‘right’ to equal treatment under secular law. Christian “law” (or whatever you choose to call it) may, in your view, apply, but it doesn’t – or certainly shouldn’t — be applied to the nation as a whole.

If homosexual coupling is “right,” it logically follows that its opposite (i.e., heterosexual marriage) is “wrong.”

Good grief. That one about takes the cake, so far at least. The most sophistic argument in several days, in fact. It’s also just plain silly.

Yet the former, if taken as the norm, would lead to the end of the human race . . .

It would only lead to the end of the race if it was the ONLY norm. As it stands, “it’s” the norm for only about ten percent of the population, and has little or no impact on population growth. (I think I probably said that already).

. . . while the latter, which has traditionally and universally been taken as the norm, has been the building block of civilization.

“Appeal to Tradition” fallacy — ‘the latter’ which has certainly at least been the cause of a globe grossly overpopulated with humans. If you want to call that a “building block” I guess I won’t quibble.

It is a perilous enterprise to abandon the norm in favor of an “anything goes” attitude towards human sexuality.

There is no ‘norm’ being abandoned, Jim. No one is saying that you have to marry a man. The single issue is simply to extend the same legal rights to a homosexual relationship as a hetero relationship already enjoys. That’s ALL.

Social innovators – such as those who think that marriage should be redefined to include homosexual couplings – never know how close to the tap root of civilization they are hacking with their innovations. I see no reason to trust their judgment about human sexuality over the lessons taught by thousands of years of civilization.

Sophistry. There is no “innovation”, for BGate’s sake! The relationships already exist, have always existed, and will always exist.

The essence of my argument, Frugal, has been that abandoning moral standards (sexual or otherwise) in obedience to the zeitgeist of postmodern relativism is no way to perpetuate civilization.

“Appeal to fear” fallacy. And once again, you assume a single ‘governing’ morality which, if it exists at all, remains mixed in the same pot with all the other ‘moralities’. Because the Bible says something does not make it a universal standard except in opinion.

Homosexuality (the sexual preference) may not be a conscious choice, but homosexual behavior (acting on the preference) is.

Really? And that particular “behavior” is somehow your business? Jim, you’re wandering further and further into the realms of sophistic hyperbole.

Recognizing that does not obligate us to pass laws against homosexual behavior, but neither does it obligate us to pass laws granting homosexual couplings legitimacy on a par with heterosexual marriages.

You’re right, it doesn’t obligate either of those. The only obligation is to insist on legal fair play. Name one good reason why a homosexual partner should have any less right to accumulate and inherit an estate with his/her partner than you.

As Phillip Johnson wrote: “A rational society will be generous in recognizing exceptions, but it will emphatically define the norm around the values of the stable families that build the future.”

I don’t know who Phillip Johnson is, and I don’t necessarily disagree with that statement. What I do find disagreeable is the implicit pronouncement that a homosexual couple has less ‘values’ than any other couple, that they are any less interested in or capable of building the future. Not everyone begats, you know, thank all gods. Some heterosexual couples make the choice not to, some are biologically unable. And whatever shall we do with the sot who gets a vasectomy? Or the woman who undergoes a tubal ligation? Birth control? Should we relegate all of those ‘sinners’ to the same dirt pile as homosexual couples simply because they, too, violate “the norm around the values of the stable families that build the future” by not spinning off begats??

Homosexuality is viewed in different ways by different people . . .

By golly, we finally agree on something! Let me take a brief respite and
‘carpe momentum’ (or however the Latin works there).

. . . but it is most emphatically NOT the norm that builds the future. In a rational society, then, the definition of the norm (i.e., monogamous heterosexual marriage) should not be changed to accommodate homosexual relationships – which is the goal of homosexual activists.

That was, indeed, a brief respite. There you go again with your standard “Appeal to Fear” fallacy. Who has suggested that the “definition of the norm (i.e., monogamous heterosexual marriage)” be changed in any way? It doesn’t have to be changed to accommodate homosexual relationships, they already exist. The “definition of the norm” might come into play if the proposition on the table were to put the shoe on the other foot and allow full legal benefit to homosexual ‘marriage’ only and to take it away from heterosexual couples, but last I looked that had not been suggested. As Burns noted:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
an’ foolish notion
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
an’ ev’n devotion!

At any rate, Frugal, your characterization of the traditional Christian view that homosexual behavior is immoral as “dogmatic bigotry” is evidence of, well, dogmatic bigotry.

Well, yes, perhaps from the Christian point-of-view it could be so seen. I should note, however, that my ‘dogmatic bigotry’ has its basis in a phrase that goes something like this (from memory): “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Now I know as well as anyone that the DOI’s thesis statement is not legal basis or legal authority for anything, that it’s simply a statement of elevated understanding, of elevated purpose, and of elevated goal. And (especially) in that regard it stands as if a beacon of light when alongside the relative darkness which so often is poured forth from the Bible. Perhaps I’m not alone when I say that I care less about the “traditional Christian view that homosexual behavior is “immoral;” my concern is with the secular practice of denying a group of people a ‘right’ granted others, denied a few only because of that “traditional Christian view that homosexual behavior is immoral.” Ridiculous. And, in fact, not all Christian denominations believe in or preach that BS. Most are not, in fact and THANKFULLY!!! not of the fundamentalist and/or evangelical mold, and that fact sometimes is VERY comforting.

Frugal asked: “Have any of you Christians ever heard the word LOVE when used to describe interpersonal relationship?” Of course we have, Frugal. As Christ said, love is God’s “greatest commandment.” But we Christians have also listened to God’s descriptions of sinful (i.e., immoral) behavior and to His desire that we not condone sinful behavior – in our own lives or in the lives of others. Love does not grant us a license for immorality.

“Immorality” in your eyes, Jim. Somewhere I thought you said that was God’s business, not yours. Maybe I was mistaken. Jim, you can “listen to God” all you want — and if you’d just keep it all between yourself and whatever you envision “God” to be, no one would ever argue with you about it. But using your belief as a basis upon which to justify the denial of others a very simple ‘right’ is a bit much.

Your avoidance of the topic of Love between two people (regardless of gender) as opposed to ‘sex’ between two people (regardless of gender) has been noted, btw. I’m disappointed, but not surprised.

Meanwhile, the list of fallacies grows like Pinnochio’s nose.

Herb wrote: “Marriage is actually a contract. A contract that allows two people to live together and act as one financial entity.”

If that’s all that marriage means to you, Herb, then you’ll never understand the argument I’ve been making.

I’ll never understand the argument you’ve been making, Jim. The issue has nothing at all to do with what YOU might think marriage means, it has to do ONLY with, as Herb says, allowing “two people to live together and act as one [legal] financial entity.” How in the heck you can equate that simple premise with the demise of civilization is beyond me, but if civilization has truly sunk so low that it’s demise will be brought forth by that dot over that ‘i’, I guess it’s high time to demise away and start over.

As I’ve repeatedly explained, I think that homosexual marriages should not be legalized because doing so fosters the dangerous notion that all sexual relationships build for the future in equal measure. In my view, it is utterly foolhardy to redefine marriage to accommodate the sexual preferences of homosexuals. Let them have their sex, but don’t let them undermine the institution of marriage and the (dare I say it?) traditional family values that sustain civilization.

Let’s see. Appeal to Fear, Appeal to Belief, Appeal to Spite, Appeal to Emotion, Appeal to Common Practice, Appeal to Consequences of Belief, Appeal to Ridicule, Appeal to Popularity, Questionable Cause — have I missed any?

Do I believe in separation of church and state? Yes – in the sense that we should not have a theocracy and in the sense that the state should not interfere in religion. No – if separation means that religious beliefs have no place in deciding social policy. The First Amendment does not require people of faith to leave their faith behind when they enter the public arena.

Nor does it allow ‘them’ to overlay ‘their’ belief on others. “Congress shall make no law respecting establishment of religion . . .” about covers it, I think. We are a society based on secular law, not on religious law. Thank all gods.

If it did, the institution of slavery (to cite only one example) might still be alive – given that Christians, informed by their faith, were the leaders in ending that institution.

Of course, Christians, informed by that same faith, were pretty good at
participating as well. When was it that God decided slavery was evil, I wonder?

I doubt that Christ regards my defense of biblical morality as “bad.” He spoke at great length about the evils of sin – which made his mission to Earth necessary. Among other things, He said that “the things that come out of the heart…make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” (Matthew 15:18-19) Is there any doubt, given Christ’s full acceptance of “the Law,” that the phrase “sexual immorality” referred to the sexual sins (including homosexual behavior) described by “the Law?” Is there any doubt that Christ hates sin? Following Christ’s lead, I think that we are to love all people, but that we are to hate all sin.  I also have no doubt that Christ would not approve of those “who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality…” (Jude 14)

All of that is very nice, I’m sure. It’s also irrelevant, with its generally inferred but unspoken conclusions. “Appeals to the Consequences of a Belief” is probably close enough.

Gillian wrote: “…the problem is that some people are hate-filled.”

I quite agree. Given a choice between “hate-filled” and
“respectful” to describe the replies to my thoughts on the issue of
homosexuality, I think that a fair-minded reader would pick “hate-filled” as being the most apt. The problem with some people that you’ve identified has been repeatedly demonstrated on this very forum, and I’m not afraid to let the lurkers decide for themselves just whose writings have been filled with hateful vitriol.

Jim, I have to hand it to you. You have the most amazing gift of re-spinning the yarn that I’ve ever encountered.

Given a choice between “hate-filled” and “respectful” to describe the replies to my thoughts on the issue of homosexuality, I think that a fair-minded reader would pick “hate-filled” as being the most apt.

Or maybe rather than ‘hate-filled’ or ‘respectful’, how about calling it what it is — ‘a direct, no nonsense, no BS refutation of the assumed privilege of public meddling in private lives because the Bible so instructs’?? Whichever words you care to use, ‘it’ all comes down to one thing: the US legal system and canon of law and jurisprudence are NOT legally referent to the King James (or any other) version of the Bible; that notion is, in fact, specifically refuted by the very clear language of The Bill of Rights, Article I: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . . .” Works for me.

******

So that was it, that’s where it apparently ended — thirteen years ago last month, at least. Problem is, ‘it’ is back in force now that the SCOTUS has ruled that homosexual marriage is legal in all states. I recently read where Ted Cruz’s daddy Rafael, in his new book titled ‘A Time For Action’ wrote, “. . . the recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual marriage is one of the biggest signs of our country’s moral degradation.” Apparently Rafael’s preferred method of solving that “problem” is to do all he can to see to the election of his son Ted as President. Some of us think differently, however. Meanwhile, I still gotta wonder — how come so many folks who profess to be ‘Christians’ and ‘driven by Love’ of others are so filled with so much hate and fear of everything in the world that’s not spoken highly of in their favorite fictional manuscript? I mean, what’s it to them, anyway?

If I should ever stumble upon the answer to that one, I promise I’ll post it here the same day. Don’t hold your breath, however; ain’t no margin in suffocating.

OPEN THREAD

Oh, and Feliz Año Nuevo!