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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jamiol vileness

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jamoil detention

jamiol racist rant

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!

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, 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?

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, 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, Saturday, November 28th, 2015: Planned Parenthood Under Attack

Planned Parenthood is always under some kind of attack, whether by the religious-right forced-birthers protesting outside PP offices, or by the Republican-led legislature’s ginned-up witch hunts about fetal tissue, or by the many states’ impositions of prohibitively strict restrictions on both clinics and patients. This time, however, the attack was physical, violent, and deadly.

"Sneak Preview" of cover of Denver Post for Saturday, 11/28/15 (from Twitter)

“Sneak Preview” of cover of Denver Post for Saturday, 11/28/15 (from Twitter)

It’s nearly 3:30am Eastern Time as I’m typing this, and right now the most up-to-date information seems to be from the Denver Post. They’ve assembled a timeline of the more than five-hour shooting/standoff here. A third Denver Post article paints a more vivid picture of the unfolding situation, including this tidbit that I haven’t seen anywhere else:

“At roughly 12:15, the gunman went inside Planned Parenthood and began firing out the windows at propane tanks placed around the clinic’s parking lot, an officer told dispatch over his radio.”

Now, other articles mentioned that the police were sorting through several items that the suspect had brought with him, including mention of ‘a propane tank.’ Nothing about more than one tank, or that any were “placed around the clinic’s parking lot” – but that could explain why most articles say the shooting started outside the Planned Parenthood offices, in the parking lot. Supposedly [it was reported somewhere, I forget where] the suspect had been shooting at cars passing by, possibly if any of the drivers noticed what he was doing. But I’m just speculating here, which I shouldn’t be doing. That, apparently, is the job of the TV ‘news’ media. We turned on the TV after we initially read about the shooting as it was happening, but turned it off again after hearing some of the inane questions and ‘we-don’t-want-to-speculate-but-we-have-to’ bumbling.

Of course there will be much more information available by the time I wake up later this morning–hell, probably even by the time I finish writing this. So I’m definitely not going to speculate about the shooting suspect’s motive(s), or his religion, or his political persuasion; when the information comes out, I’m sure there will be much ranting to follow. I just need to get this one little rant off my chest before I finally go to bed:

Back in September, Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger had spoken about the now-debunked videos purportedly showing PP “harvesting” fetal tissue for fun and profit:

“I mean it’s Nazi Germany,” he told Rockford radio station WROK recently. “You think of the doctors in the concentration camps experimenting on their victims. It’s kind of reminiscent of that.”

The fact that the ‘smoking-gun’ videos were proven to be fraudulent didn’t deter Kinzinger from throwing them up again, with amazingly tone-deaf, brain-dead timing. From one of the ThinkProgress articles covering the shooting:

“While the shooter was active inside the Planned Parenthood clinic, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) went on live TV and blasted the organization. “We saw these barbaric videos, and that was something that many of us have a legitimate concern about,” Kinzinger said.”

Yes. He said that while the shooting spree was in progress; while police officers were being shot at; while at least 100 people were huddling in fear, not just in the Planned Parenthood offices, but in nearby shops and buildings; while a shooter terrorized the area. And he said it as if having “a legitimate concern about” Planned Parenthood could somehow be a “legitimate” cause or reason or excuse for shooting and killing innocent people.

This is our daily Open Thread–have at it.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 10th, 2015: Communication: Some Rambling Thoughts

Since Wayne is out and about working on clearing his mother’s apartment, I figured I would just throw up a few thoughts that recently came to mind regarding communication.

I think that all of us can agree, without false humility, that each of us in our little group here is well above average when it comes to communicating our thoughts and opinions on national, global, and universal topics. Whether we’re all highly educated or not (i.e., I only have one year of college, while many of you have actual degrees), we have one very basic thing in common: an understanding that each and every word we use has its own particular history and evolution, and therefore its own uniquely particular meaning. We revel in the ability to express ourselves as exactly as possible, and the fact that any one of us Zoosters is capable of writing something so eloquent that it pierces mind and heart is one of the many characteristics that brought us, and continues to keep us, all together.

Of course, searching one’s mind for that perfect word or phrase is not always easy, and I’m sure that, at times, each of us experiences the dissatisfaction of having to resign ourselves to the limitations of language.

This idea was brought home to me this morning, when I was reading an email from my sister. (Background note: none of my family has been very good about communicating with each other, and my sister and I have been the worst. In the olden days, she would talk to mum every weekend, and mum would pass the conversation along. Since our parents died [and the world became a darker and colder place – it was December of 2004, just after the Bush re-election] we’ve become even worse.) I had sent my sister, Anne, belated birthday wishes, and I had lamented that my upcoming birthday, when I will turn 60, was too depressing to think about. In part of Anne’s response to me, she wrote,

“… sixty is so far in my rearview mirror, I…admit thinking it’s right in your face that you aren’t young anymore…But it also made me think about what is important to me and how not to add to my list of regrets. Those sentences took me about ten minutes and still sound more philosophical than I intend. It was more like: YIKES! I could live to a hundred or I could be done and I better get on the case.”

Those few sentences alone told me so much more about my sister than most of our few face-to-face conversations. I realized a long time ago that we were very much alike in many ways, most particularly in our sarcastic/sardonic/sometimes waspish sense of humor, but it had never really occurred to me that we shared the same innate desire to express ourselves as precisely as possible. I won’t bore you more with personal baggage, but her phrase “how not to add to my list of regrets” truly struck home with me.

Moving on to another area of communication…

At work the other day, one of the women in Sales & Marketing was complaining about new requirements and restrictions that the chain drug stores (we deal with Walgreens, Wal-Mart, CVS, etc.) were demanding regarding the wording on our products’ packaging. As you know, the company for which Wayne and I work sell footcare products for various problems such as corns, calluses, bunions, heel pain, etc. Naturally, our packaging includes descriptions of the benefits that each product provides, along with instructions for use and care of the product. The chain stores, for some unknown reason, want us to eliminate much of this. Now, our customers range from medical professionals to dancers, athletes, everyday workers who stand all day, veterans, and so on, and they sometimes include some of the dumbest people on the face of the earth. I don’t know if the chain stores mistakenly believe that dumbing down the packaging information will broaden our products’ appeal, or what, but they pretty much want us to boil our wording down to “Use this, feet feel better” without saying how or why.

Which brought me around to a topic that we’ve much discussed, the use of language by conservatives politicians and pundits. Let me just take two examples of conservatives who have used their understanding of language to make a living in politics, William Safire and Frank Luntz.

In the before-time when my parents got the Sunday New York Times, mum and I shared two favorites: the crossword puzzle, of course – we took turns working on it, and it always irritated me that mum would use a pen while I used a pencil – and Safire’s column “On Language.” His column helped fuel my already keen interest in words and their origins which has obviously stayed with me all of my life. So regardless of William Safire’s conservative faults, and they are many, I have to thank him for his influence on my life.

Not so Frank Luntz. Luntz has been a snake-oil salesman who has used his language skills on a national level, poisoning the political conversation in order to mislead the voting populace. Luntz has taken words, language, and twisted them into meanings that they were never meant to have, using his ‘force’ for evil instead of good. At least William Safire, in his column, wanted to educate people on the use of language; Frank Luntz has no such interest, rather, he uses his power to blur the lines between good and bad, one of the best examples of which is the title “The Clear Skies Initiative.” In my opinion, this type of wordsmithing (too grand a word for what Luntz does, but technically correct), has snowballed to the point that, now, conservatives’ speeches are a combination of big words that say nothing and stone-age grunts of “left – BAD.” I hold him personally responsible for much of destruction of our political discourse which has brought our country to its present state of Idiocracy.

Okay, enough of my words, let’s hear yours.

This is our daily Open Thread – communicate!

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, September 30, 2015: We Hold These Truths to be Self Evident

Rights. What rights do we, as citizens of the United States have? Not a whole lot.

“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.”–(Declaration of Independence)

The Constitution itself does not confer any rights. Any Constitutional rights are implied. They don’t get spelled out until you get to the amendments:

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Ok. So there’s the right to peaceably to assemble. That’s why we have “free Speech Zones” far away from anywhere the President may actually be appearing.

Amendment II
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

And the right to bear arms. But not military grade hardware. So if you’re actually going to fight it out with the United States Military forces in a firefight…good luck. One drone and you’re toast.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…

Can you say “Homeland Security”?

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed,…and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Unless, of course, you are accused of being a terrorist.

Amendment VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved…

Do you even know the difference between a suit at common law and a suit in equity? Bottom line, in the former, you can have a jury, in the latter, a judge decides your fate.

Amendment XV
Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Finally, the Constitution mentions the right to vote. Up to now, it’s been an implied right. And, to the extent it is a right, this amendment allows men to vote, even if they were once slaves. The right to vote still doesn’t extend to women, however.

Amendment XIX
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Four amendments later and the implied right to vote finally extends to women.

Amendment XXVI
The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.

In reaction to the Vietnam war, where we were drafting 18 year-olds to die ‘for their country’ the inherent unfairness of sending young men (women weren’t drafted into military service) to fight and die, without their having a voice in politics gave rise to the 26th amendment.

What’s missing here?
The right to drinkable water.
The right to breathable air.
The right to food.
The right to an education.
The right to health.

In short, a whole lot of rights guaranteed (or at least promised) to people living on other industrialized nations are not guaranteed rights in the United States of America.

Here in the U.S. of A. we have the right to life – and some people would take this to mean the right to life of a fertilized egg as being more important than that of a living, breathing human being (the impregnated female).

We have the right to liberty – if your rich. The poor can get incarcerated for petty, non-violent crimes. The rich can rob and kill without fear of incarceration.

And we have the right to the pursuit of happiness. As long as your happiness doesn’t challenge the status quo.

Water rights, on the other hand, are bought and sold. And food? Ask Monsanto.

There’s no right to clothing, but you will get arrested if you do without.

And there’s no right to shelter. And, again, you can get arrested for being homeless.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that Nature’s God abhors imbalance; and that chief among the imbalances in Nature is the disparity in wealth between the haves and the have-nots.

Balance will be restored. The only questions are how, and at what cost.

OPEN THREAD.

Tsipras, Corbyn, Sanders – Can there be a Rise of a new Left?

The choice between left and right in politics amounts to the choice of different brands of laundry detergent. It’s made up from identical ingredients, more or less diluted and smells differently, according to your olfactory preferences. All brands of politics are, however, brought to you by the same people very much like all the different brands of „Tide“ are brought to you by P&G.

In the years following Thatcherism and Reaganomics, most leftist European parties moved to the right and assimilated to the mainstream consensus of neo-liberal economic policies. Witness the move from Labour to New Labour or the German Social Democratic Party’s Agenda 2010.

Austerity and entitlement reform have become well-accepted concepts and the squeeze on the Middle Class is well under way.

The pendulum has moved to the right and has taken what used to be leftist parties with it, thus reducing the influence of the working class and middle class and increasing the influence of the economic elites.

Are we now at a turning point and will the movement be reversed, at least to some degree? Continue reading

The Watering Hole; Thursday July 2 2015; Recent Supreme Court Decisions and Wingnut Analysis Thereof

As we all know, there are times when no matter what one says or how s/he says it, it remains virtually impossible to summarize the ignorant subtleties implicit in various statements of position by those who, in their own definition, are consummate (right wing) experts on the topics at hand. It’s for this reason I’ve decided that today I’m turning the bulk of this post over to a well known far right spokesman, and in the process allowing him to explain, in his own words and without interruption, exactly what is so wrong about a pair of recent Supreme Court decisions.

So. Courtesy of C&L and/or his blog, here’s the complete transcript of Bill O’Reilly’s “Talking Points Memo” of June 29th. It is his response to the Supreme Court’s recent rulings in favor of both the American Care Act and gay marriage. It’s admittedly a somewhat lengthy dissertation, but since it’s typical of O’Reilly, it doesn’t really demand much more than a quick skim to gather in the points he pretends to make. In the skimming process, you’ll notice that O”Reilly does not, as is his habit, spare the vitriol — nor does he offer any hint whatsoever that he’s more than remotely familiar with the Constitution in re those matters he’s chosen to discuss. He does amply demonstrate, however, that ignorance does NOT always define bliss.

Enough chit chat. Here goes, as they say, nothing:

The court’s acceptance of Obamacare and gay marriage was predictable. In fact our “Is It Legal?” team accurately foretold what would happen last week.

The Supreme Court is made up of nine individuals who see America in very different ways. Some see a country that needs to be changed; others believe we are a settled nation where established law should be upheld.

Generally speaking we have an activist court, not judges who are able to put ideology aside.

Chief Justice John Roberts provides a vivid example. He believes the Congress should make laws, not judges. That was the intent of the Founders.

So Roberts jumped through legal hoops to justify Obamacare.

No matter the legal problems, Roberts ignored them, deferring to congressional approval of the affordable healthcare law.

To his credit, Roberts is consistent. He voted against gay marriage because, again, he doesn’t want the court to make law, which the gay nuptial decision does.

Most of the other justices are consistent, as well. They often decide cases through a prism of what they believe to be right for the country, not what our original system of checks and balances dictates.

Here’s how crazy the system has become. Liberal Justices Ginsburg and Kagan each presided over a gay marriage. In Ginsburg’s case, four.

Yet they did not recuse themselves when the issue came before the court.

Come on! We either have a fair legal system or we don’t, and right now we don’t.

The Factor’s philosophy has been consistent for nearly 20 years. I believe every American should have an equal shot to pursue happiness and prosperity, and that the government must provide oversight to provide that opportunity for all.

But I do not believe the government has a right to impose upon me or any other American rules that deny my freedom to express myself, practice my faith, or earn my living.

If a baker believes marriage is a sacrament instituted by his religion, the government should leave the baker alone.

Even though the Supreme Court has now ruled that gay marriage is legal, it has no constitutional right to force anyone to participate in it.

To do so tears up the social contract forged by the Founders.

Americans who sincerely believe that judges do have the authority to redefine marriage have a perfect right to celebrate their victory, provided they are following their consciences.

However, they do not have a right to demonize those who disagree based on the same principle: conscience.

Yesterday Fox News analyst Father Jonathan Morris was walking in New York City close to where the gay pride parade was taking place.

Father Morris reports two men spit on him. He will tell that story on Hannity tonight.

Oppression runs both ways, and all Americans should consider that.

For example, Justice Scalia wrote a well thought out dissent to the gay marriage decision. He was immediately mocked:

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: “Now, Justice Scalia was a little more nuanced in his criticism – writing that if he ever joined an opinion that began the way Justice Kennedy’s majority decision did, quote, ‘I would hide my head in a bag.’ I could have sworn he was already hiding his head in a flesh-toned cinch sack. Please come on my show, sir. Scalia also took issue with the majority’s view that marriage is about free expression, grumbling ‘Expression, sure enough, is a freedom, but anyone in a long-lasting marriage will attest that that happy state constricts, rather than expands what one can prudently say.’ Which is both a fiery dissent and the world’s longest Lockhorn comic.”

In a few months Colbert will be competing against Fallon and Kimmel, both talented and successful guys. He might want to think about alienating traditional Americans to the extent he has; could be very bad for business.

The deciding vote in the gay marriage decision was Justice Kennedy, a good man.

He clearly and honestly wrote that his decision was primarily based on emotion, that compassion dictates gay Americans have equal marital status.

Thus Kennedy forged a legal opinion using the concept of greater good. There is obviously nothing in the Constitution that allows the redefinition of marriage.

On a strictly constitutional basis, that decision has to come from Congress because it is law.

The Supreme Court deviated from that dictum, as it has in the past for political and personal reasons.

On healthcare the issue is again greater good. Obamacare is obviously yet another federal entitlement program designed to help poor Americans at the expense of non-poor Americans.

The president sold the law on the basis that it is a benefit for all. But only his party bought that; not one Republican member of Congress voted for it.

Subsequently, health insurance costs have risen for many working Americans, and a significant number of doctors are refusing to take government mandated insurance programs.

But the four liberal judges don’t really care about the overall impact of Obamacare.

They want free healthcare for the poor and will find a legal justification for it no matter what the actual law says.

Add in Roberts and Kennedy and presto, another enormous social safety net that benefits the have-nots survives a valid legal challenge.

The sad truth is most Americans have no idea what’s really happening to their country. These are complicated issues where both sides have legitimate points. But some important decisions are being made outside Constitutional authority.

If the trend toward big government and political activism by judges continues, the liberty of the individual is going to take a huge hit.

Already we have a guy running for president, Senator Bernie Sanders, who does not oppose a top income tax rate of 90 percent.

Conservative and independent-minded Americans should well understand what is occurring. Uber-left politicians and judges aided by a compliant media and vicious smear merchants on the net now have political cover and momentum.

They are hell-bent on crushing traditional beliefs and competitive capitalism, replacing them with so-called tolerance and forced asset sharing.

The tenets of victimization and grievance may soon dominate public policy even at the expense of public safety and majority opinion.

You see, in the brave new progressive world the rights and welfare of each American really don’t matter.

The promise of collective social justice dominates, and you will be dismissed as unworthy or even be branded a bigot if you get in the way of that promise.

That is the reality of America as we head into the 2016 presidential campaign.

Spread the word.

And that’s the memo.

There’s really not much to say in response to that “speech” other than to point out the fact (obvious to most anyone with a functioning mind) that O’Reilly is wrong on virtually every point he tries to make. I won’t waste my time or yours by citing chapter and verse, will simply cite one of his many premises, the one in which he states that There is obviously nothing in the Constitution that allows the redefinition of marriage, and then point out that there is nothing in the Constitution that ‘defines’ marriage in the first place. In fact, the word “marriage” appears in the Constitution as amended exactly the same number of times as do each the words God, Jesus, Christian, sin, sex — ZERO; right wing political “accuracy” regardless of source therein defined.

Overall, the one thing O’Reilly and his ilk, including each and every passenger in the Republican Clown Car, remind me of is statement which seems to almost entirely sum up their aims, their goals, and their collective philosophy. It reads:

“The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life. Turbulent instincts must be replaced by a national discipline as the guiding principle of our national life.”

Sounds like one of the Presidential candidates, but which one? Huckabee, maybe, or Santorum? Carson? Cruz? One of the other ten announced so far? Or maybe one who’s still waiting in the wings?

The answer, regardless of how unlikely it sounds, is none of the above. Nor is it a paragraph from the Republican Party Platform for 2016 or from any other year. Nope. Those were word spoken on the first day of February, 1933, by Adolf Hitler in his “Proclamation to the German Nation at Berlin.” That’s not to say the GOP couldn’t use it, that it wouldn’t fit. I mean it’s really close to a perfect summary of their implicit goals, and I’m sure it wouldn’t be copyright infringement if they did so choose to put the words to current use.

And I’m sure O’Reilly would spout praise, for once, instead of his typical streams of ignorant vitriol.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 6th, 2015: Penny For Your Thoughts?

Just a few of my thoughts (they’re free of charge, which is about what they’re worth), then a good read from Bill Moyers.

On Caitlyn Jenner: If she’s happy and can stand the heat, good for her. It’s just a shame that most other transgender persons probably do not have the kind of money needed for such an extensive makeover.

On the Duggars: I think there’s a lot more there there, and I really hope that this sick, twisted version of a “Christian family” gets investigated thoroughly. I did not watch, or see a whole transcript of, the family’s interviews on Fox, but I did catch some snippets here and there. I’ve heard that the “mother” was terribly creepy, and some argue that it was a good thing that Megyn Kelly sort of sat back and let the Duggars talk without too many challeges, as it exposed to all just how sickly disturbed and disturbing these perverted “people” are. So, does anyone think that fans of their show will finally start to feel uncomfortable, at the least, about holding the Duggars up as a shining example of the American Christian family?

On the 2016 election in general: I don’t know if I can stand the next year-and-a-half of the media forcing the conversation in the wrong direction and, in many respects, helping to choose the nominees simply by their self-indulgent coverage. Not to mention that the idea of another 26 or so Republican debates to be covered makes me want to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head, and sleep ’til 2017.

On the 2016 Democratic nominee: The likely inevitability of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for the 2016 Presidential election does NOT sit well with me. This country needs more – and better – than a continuation of the status quo, which, in my opinion, is what Hillary represents.

Which leads me to Bill Moyers, and his essay on Bernie Sanders titled “Turn Left on Main Street.” Mr. Moyers voices many of the same opinions that we all hold dear. A couple of excerpts:

“The progressive agenda isn’t “left wing.” (Can anyone using the term even define what “left wing” means anymore?) The progressive agenda is America’s story — from ending slavery to ending segregation to establishing a woman’s right to vote to Social Security, the right to organize, and the fight for fair pay and against income inequality. Strip those from our history and you might as well contract America out to the US Chamber of Commerce the National Association of Manufacturers, and Karl Rove, Inc.

 

At their core, the New Deal, Fair Deal, and Great Society programs were aimed at assuring every child of a decent education, every worker a decent wage, and every senior a decent retirement; if that’s extreme, so are the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution.”

That’s exactly right, Mr. Moyers. So why should we Americans settle for anything less?

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

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, 3/4/15: War of Words

Yesterday saw Boehner playing presidential vis-a-vis Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, at Boehner’s invitation. You see, the Constitution, ya know, that document that conservatives love to waive around when it comes to original intent and proving we’re a Christian Nation, says that the President has the power to make treaties, not the Speaker of the House.

The Executive Branch, not Congress, takes the lead on foreign relations. Netanyahu just gave the Jewish stamp of approval to Congress going behind the President’s back. The phrase “be careful of what you wish for” comes to mind.

For Article Two of the Constitution also gives the President the power to convene both Houses of Congress, or either of them. It’s high time the President exercised his power to keep Congress in session until they pass legislation to help we, the people, instead of catering to the wishes of the 1%. It’s time for Congress to give up its spring breaks, holidays, vacations and campaign season until we have full employment, tuition-free college, universal health care, equal pay for women, marriage equality, etc., etc., etc.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday January 29 2015; God vs. Science – A Dialog

The (January 23) C&L post Guess What Sam Brownback Wants To Cut Now  brought forth — since Brownback is, at his center, a motivated wingnut Christian — a very lengthy dialog on religion, its impact on culture and its inevitable conflict with science.  I don’t very often get involved in lengthy weblog discussions anymore, but this was one I couldn’t resist, given this up-near-the-top premise comment:

CL Reader 101: Highly religious people like Brownback will cling to something they believe, in this case right wing tax cut cure all mentality. The mindset isn’t to think critically and reject ideas that are apparent nonsense but to have faith that your belief is true. When you’ve spent a lifetime believing in talking snakes (Genesis 3:13) and book full of fairy tales it shapes your thinking process in a way that doesn’t embrace factual analysis. We’ve recently seen the same thing when Jim Inhofe quotes the bible as proof that human activity can’t drive climate change. Electing people who rely on “magical thinking” isn’t a good thing for Kansas or the country.

— to which I responded thus:

Religious belief is anathema to logical and conscious thought, and is based on nothing other than ancient mythologies which have ZERO scientific (or even practical) evidential basis. Unfortunately, its influence over public policy and practice is immense, and far too often to the detriment of a functioning society — as Brownback and myriad other enthusiasts so vividly demonstrate.

That pair of comments sparked a whole pile of replies, mainly because there was one ‘believer’ involved, one of those who typically will accept nothing other than a concession to their own personal belief. I suspect we all know the type. In any case, below is a highly edited recap — to save space, I removed a whole pile of short and repetitive comments which were in agreement with the theses noted above, all without any attempt to diminish or accelerate the overall context. What remains is a ‘discussion’ of sorts, one that emphasizes the differences between faith-based and science-based premises. To wit: science is always willing to follow the facts and revise views accordingly; religion follows faith only, facts to the contrary are of no use and dismissible.

The conversation began with a ‘friendly’ comment by AnnG14, the ‘believer’; the rest are (selected) back-and-forths in the order they first appeared, screen names intact.

AnnG14 (response to frugalchariot): I completely agree with the separation of church and state. However, just as science can not prove there is a God. Science can not prove there isn’t a God either. And as far as the big bang theory that life was created by a big explosion and atoms crashing together, that is really not more logical than a sentient being having created the universe. By the way Einstein believed in the divine order of the universe as have many other brilliant people,

frugalchariot: Well, the Big Bang theory reflects the probable way that the universe came into being and has nothing to do with life as we know it — which evolved close to ten million years (on this planet at least) after the Big Bang.

Science also cannot prove either the existence or non-existence of the Great Spaghetti Monster, a factoid which doesn’t really bother me all that much.

Fact is, there is not a single shred of verifiable evidence anywhere that either a god or a Spaghetti exist or have ever existed. Further, the whole of the universe including black holes, dark matter, and even life itself are far more logically explicable if a “sentient being” is left out. We are finally getting a grip on the concept of the Big Bang’s singularity, but why build a god into the equation? Doing so only brings up the question, where did IT come from?

I suspect IT was a product of early human imagination — a means to explain the unexplainable, also a way to justify power and authority of the few over the many. Roughly the same as today, actually.

vonBeavis: That’s Flying Spaghetti Monster, you infidel!

frugalchariot: Actually I was referring to the Older Testament Spaghetti Monster, creator of everything. The Flying one is his son; his story’s in the Newer Testament.

AnnG14: You don’t believe. WHO CARES WHAT YOU BELIEVE OR DON’T BELIEVE, OR WHAT I BELIEVE EITHER.

I’ll take Einstein over you. He was a lot smarter than you and not so smug spaghetti boy.

Pocatello: “WHO CARES WHAT YOU BELIEVE OR DON’T BELIEVE.”

And nobody cares what you believe…. But outright lying and trying to pass along that “Divine” order, “Einstein believed” bullshit in the context of any anthropomorphic “Gawd” is just pathetic.

in a 24 March 1954 Letter to Joseph Dispentiere, Albert Einstein wrote,  “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

Any competent “researcher”, retired or otherwise, would know that.

frugalchariot: Thank you. It might also be fair to note that Einstein died in 1955, long before the Big Bang thesis (originally proposed in 1927) became the accepted model of universal origin. In fact it wasn’t until the mid-sixties and the discovery of background radiation throughout the universe that the Big Bang overwhelmed the Steady State theory, to the point where today there is no longer much mystery surrounding universal origins (the discovery and confirmation of the Higgs Boson the latest significant VERIFIED evidence).

It should also be fair to add that throughout scientific evaluation and exploration of the universe, its billions of galaxies, star-birthing ‘places’, gravity-collapsed black holes, and now the as yet undemonstrated but theoretical dark matter — while immense amounts of verifiable evidence on all planes concerning the origins of everything have been collected, nary a single shred of scientific evidence that might even SUGGEST (much less prove or even indicate) the existence of ANY version of a sentient creator has EVER been found anywhere, Period.

As I suggested earlier, there is exactly as much solid evidence for the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster as there is for any other variety of ‘god’ — but yet, even here in the ‘enlightened’ USA god’s bogus existence overlays and ‘inspires’ some of the most heinous efforts to mask and to hold back or halt completely human accomplishment that exist anywhere on the planet (or in the universe, insofar as we have yet been able to determine).

I should add that I care less what any person chooses to believe. All I ever ask is that they keep it in the closet and to themselves unless/until some verifiable evidence is uncovered, at which point there will be an audience willing to listen, myself included.

AnnG14 (to Pocatello):  A personal God is NOT the same as not believing in God.

“When the solution is simple, God is answering.” Albert Einstein

Nope you lie. Einstein said the universe was too orderly NOT to have been created by a sentient being. And the cheap shot was started by spaghetti boy. Why is it you atheists think YOU have the right to JUDGE everyone’s beliefs?

1Gary: I simply do not get your point? If Einstein believed in God that makes everyone else who does not believe in God wrong? How does that make any sense? Beliefs are not facts. They cannot be measure or weighted. It was once believed that the Earth was flat now we know it is not. You argument is not logical.

IronPyrite: “Einstein said the universe was too orderly NOT to have been created by a sentient being.”

And who, or what, created this “sentient” being that was capable of designing and creating the universe?

(and round, and round, and round, and round we go…)

AnnG14: God always was. If you want to believe that all life was created by a gigantic explosion and atoms crashing together you can. How was intelligence created in that scenario?

IronPyrite: So you explain what the big bang is and isn’t. I’m waiting for you to prove me wrong, but you can’t. I’m not your personal assistant and academic tutor. I don’t have to prove you wrong, as you have ALREAY proven yourself wrong by conflating the Big Bang  with “life”.

This, ON TOP of your abject failure to provide ANY evidence as to the existence of god.

AnnG14: And your abject failure to prove that God does not exist. Once again I will go with Einstein. And YOU should be able to prove what you say on the big bang theory. You can’t do that either. Neither can you answer a simple question, that I have asked you repeatedly: You say that God did not create life then how was life created? Still waiting.

frugalchariot: Life evolved. The ‘laws’ of physics and chemistry plus a multi-billion (earth) year time frame, plus liquid water and a reasonably benevolent climate and atmosphere allowed it. No need whatsoever for any divine guidance.

AnnG14: How did life START, PARTICULARLY INTELLIGENT LIFE? Almost everyone knows that life has evolved.

frugalchariot: Intelligence is a biological trait and evolved just as did every other life function. The human brain is larger than that of a mouse, therefore has more capacity for ‘intelligent’ function. Intelligence is simply a neuronal function, nothing at all mysterious about it. 

AnnG14: If God did not create life then how was life created? Why don’t you be honest and say you can’t answer an honest question. I have found atheists are all offense but can not defend/answer simple questions about their own beliefs.

frugalchariot: Life was not ‘created.’ Life happened; it is really nothing more than a curious assemblage of “star stuff” (thanks, Carl Sagan) which is different than other curious assemblages of star stuff. There is no magic needed to explain the origin of life’s curious assemblage, only chemistry and physics combined with enough time to become biology. And really, it’s just that simple.

Jim C: Speaking in terms of creation has no relevance when one understands the term ” eternity “, eternity doesn’t start and end anywhere . If you try and make the ” well, if god doesn’t exist then who created all this” route you must then ask the question , then who created god ?

AnnG14: No you don’t. No one created God. God always was.

I am not a fan of Huckabee or Chistian Fundamentalists or atheists for that matter. All of them think they could not be wrong and anyone who does not believe as they do is just stupid.

Regarding the big bang theory, who/what created the matter that exploded?

frugalchariot: The answer to that remains in the shadows, although with the confirmation of existence of the Higgs Boson (“the god particle”) the mystery of the singularity’s origin is one step closer to explanation. The origin of ‘the god particle’ will, however, likely remain elusive to scientific examination and eventual fact, but that’s different than the origin of god-the-sentient-creator thesis. The latter’s origin is clear: it emerged from the primitive minds of evolving humans, and then grew into the monstrosity it’s become because of the implicit power the concept grants to the most corrupt minds of the developing human species. And there it remains.

[. . .]

There clearly is no plausible way to discuss the obvious non-existence of a god with anyone who chooses to believe in a god-based mythology. It puzzles me, the vitriol of even self-described ‘tolerant’ god people, that immediately takes hold of any conversation with anyone who either denies or doubts their religious thesis.

I myself am not an atheist, I am, like Edward Abbey, ‘beyond’ atheism; non-theism. Atheists don’t believe in god; non-theists understand that there is no god to even NOT believe in.

IF confirmable evidence of god-existence should ever show up, I’ll willingly listen. Until then, no. And in the meantime I’ll resist any and all propaganda that attempts to induce belief in that vast intellectual (and most often subversive in intent) emptiness called religion.

Jim C: It shows insecurity I believe .

frugalchariot: Belief in a god has several motivations, I think;

First, it allows full and total explanation of that which is unknown, and no data, no evidence, no proof of any thesis whatsoever is ever needed. “God did it” suffices as an answer for every question the severely limited mind can come up with.

Second, belief in a god does indeed allow the fearful-of-everything “mentality” to gain the comfort implicit in eternal life in a mystical heaven where there is nothing ever to fear.

Third, those who willingly preach the god thesis to the fear-laden and susceptible minds gain a measure of control over the many; the sensation of ‘power’ is very satisfying to those with limited creative potential.

And fourth, the bigee: the truly-gifted godman charlatans find that their faux preachings eventually lead to widespread control of the ignorant masses. Imagine a pasture bull in the midst of a herd of cows and there you have it: religion defined. The mythical god has done its job.

 Jim C: All I can say is, yep.

So that’s the bulk of the ‘conversation’ which, I think it’s fair to say, once again ran into that unbreachable wall of blind faith, the belief in something which has no evidentiary verification whatsoever. Why is that? Why is empirical data so easily dismissed in favor of blind nothingness? Does it reflect the failure of science education, or does it point to the vast success of religious education?

But the beat goes on and on as evidenced by recent headlines, such as Bobby Jindal’s Prayer Rally Advocates Putting Christians In Control Of Government And All Aspects Of Society in which the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement reiterated their thesis which asserts that conservative Christians should take control of the seven main areas of culture and society: (1) Business; (2) Government; (3) Media; (4) Arts and Entertainment; (5) Education; (6) Family; and (7) Religion.

What could possibly go wrong?

OPEN THREAD

 

 

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, December 8th, 2014: Keep Watching the Skies

I’m totally depressed.

My fucking Jets blew it yet again after raising my hopes.

This month is the tenth anniversary of my parents’ deaths, flashbacks started before Thanksgiving.

Our company’s holiday party is tonight, I dread going – I hate the fact that Adam is not here, flashbacks there, too.
.
I hate the “Holidays”.

This country is going crazy and descending into a chaos that could, IMO, result in a violent “civil” war.

I fucking HATE people.

So here’s a nice slideshow of 100 Hubble photos, courtesy of weather.com. At least the human mind brought us the Hubble to show us so many marvels. At this point, I feel that space is the only thing that holds promise and hope for the future. Hopefully some alien species will learn from our human fuck-ups.

Star V838 Monocerotis

Star V838 Monocerotis

This is our daily open thread – don’t mind me, just go ahead and talk about things.

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 10th, 2014: Mitch Makes Plans

Today I’m just going to throw a few topics out here, good, bad, or meh

A few excerpts from yesterday’s Washington Post article by Lori Montgomery and Robert Costa, headlined (rather lengthily) “GOP crafts narrow agenda for new Congress, seeking unity, Democratic votes”:

“Within hours of solidifying their control of Congress, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John A. Boehner were quietly laying plans for a series of quick votes in January aimed at erasing their obstructionist image ahead of the 2016 elections.

Considering the previous unfortunate efforts of the Republican Party to slap a different varnish on their tarnished image, I can only cringe wondering what kind of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser(tm) “quick votes” these two have in mind. What would they deregulate first? IOW, what will be the Rs’ first BS “repeal this job killer” meme in 2015? And are Boehner and McConnell, while “seeking unity”, keeping an eye on their own far-right-flank tea-nut gallery? Megalomaniac Senator Ted Cruz (R-PlanetTexas) is not one to allow the limelight to stray far from him, and is already making obstructionist noises. Boehner and McConnell are fools – yes, I could stop right there, but – if they think that Cruz is going to bow to their so-called “leadership.”

“First up: Action on long-stalled bills with bipartisan support, including measures to repeal an unpopular tax on medical devices and approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Whoa, tortoise, whoa! [gets out baseball bat, “I said WHOA!”] Why you sly bastards! First, Boehner and McConnell know damn well that repealing the medical devices tax, however unpopular it may or may not be, will undermine one of the sources for funding the PPACA, aka Obamacare. Boehner has been shown by FactCheck.org to have been lying about the negative effect that the Medical Device Tax would have on jobs. Repealing the Medical Device Tax is just one way that the Republicans would start to unravel the PPACA without actually repealing the act itself.

Now let’s get to “approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.” It seems that everyone, except the few people/companies who stand to gain from the construction of the pipeline, is against that. This is definitely an example of the incredibly ballsy, obviously and provably false claims that the project would be a “job creator.” Temporary American jobs, yes; a few (50 or so) permanent American jobs, yes; but nowhere near the thousands that the pipeline’s proponents would have us believe. There are so many good arguments against the Keystone XL, it’s truly amazing that any politician is still promoting it; unless, of course, well-funded interests are funding them.

There’s loads more from the WaPo article, but there’s also more information in the New Republic’s article called “This is How the New GOP Senate will try to Dismantle Obamacare”, by Jonathan Cohn.

So far everything points to the Rs major obsession for the past several years – if they can’t repeal the ACA, they’ll just kill it with a thousand cuts.

This is our daily open thread – talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, September 10, 2014: To be, or not to be…

To be, or not to be– that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die- to sleep-
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die- to sleep.
To sleep- perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despis’d love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death-
The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns- puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
(Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1)

I believe that if we live long enough, sooner or later we will come face to face with Hamlet’s question, “To be, or not to be” a choice, a precipice, which, once stepped off, cannot be undone. Some do choose to cross that line, to go to that “undiscover’d country”. We’re left behind, unwilling or unable to follow; we are suicide survivors. We have survived the death of someone close to us – a death we cannot totally understand, because is seems so senseless. Yet it was a choice, perhaps the ultimate leap of faith in the acceptance of a loving God.

We cry out in silent anguish. If only….if only….if only. A thousand ‘if onlys’ for every star in the heavens.

Today is the World Suicide Prevention Day. It is a day where we, the survivors of suicide, have been invited to light a candle at 8:00 p.m. local time, to remember a lost loved one, and for the survivors of suicide.

I will be lighting a candle for my late brother:

DAVE

“Your brother died today.”
The sky is blue.
The sun is shining.

“Your brother died today.”
The lie is through.
The runner’s hiding.

“Your brother died today.”
I’m crying too.
The gunner’s riding.

“Your brother died today.”
My brother too.
My brother too.

(this poem was written the day I got the call.)

And, from a different perspective:

Through doors now closed to mortal thought
Th’ eternal flame flicker’d low.
What hellish deeds thy hands hath wrought
And shadows in thy soul doth grow.

What anguish rent thy tortured breast,
Through the darkened halls of the kingdom,
Past chambers where the dying rest,
And portals of forgotten home?

From whence came the desperation
That drove thee on towards madness,
To end at last in consecration;
One final hope of gladness?

The course that cannot be undone:
Rest in peace, my little one.

As for me:

I have traveled the other side of the looking-glass,
Down the rabbit’s hole,
Past the March-hare’s madness,
And drank from the Devil’s bowl.

Below the depths of Wonderland,
The lonely darkness calls,
And beckons my soul to dwell therein,
In labyrinthical halls.

I long to return to the darkness,
The Never-Never Land of night;
To leave behind the looking-glass,
Forever banished from its sight.

But the chess game moves ever onward,
And I, a lowly pawn,
Have slain the Black Knight with a double-edged sword,
And condemned myself to the dawn.

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