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; Thursday June 9 2016; Remembrance and Requiem

Forty-eight years ago — June 4 1968 — Robert F. Kennedy won the Democratic Primary in California and was seemingly on his way to his party’s nomination for President. Then in the early morning  moments of June 5, only a short time after he was declared the winner in California, he was shot by a (presumably) lone assassin; he died within 24 hours. The end result, some six months later, was the election of Richard Nixon as President, at which point commenced the American transition from her recent New Deal and Civil Rights accomplishments (aka Progressivism) to a society driven by little more than avarice and the quest for power (aka “Conservatism”).

On the campaign trail in the months prior to his assassination, RFK spoke out for old-style We the People values, even as he was strongly critical of those whose efforts were driven by greed, by the allure of power and wealth, by those who found war to be the ideal means  to achieve those goals. RFK stood by and supported those millions who demanded an end to the atrocities in Vietnam; he stood by and supported the concept of prosperity for all via peace, not prosperity for the few via war.

RFK brilliantly summed-up the finer points that define the vast differences between the two nearly opposite schools of thought which are presumed to drive economic growth and, hence, prosperity. Here, courtesy of a recent Think Progress article is an audio recording of RFK’s words from a speech he gave at the University of Kansas on March 18, 1968, along with a transcription of those same words — a handy tool to enable further analysis and contemplation, to compare the conflicting philosophies which drive our current left-right political divide today, nearly five decades (along with much economic misery for most) later.

First, the audio:

The transcript:

Too much and for too long, we seem to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product — if we judge the United States of America by that — that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.

It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.

It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.

It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.

And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

Are we, as a nation, unable to ever learn? To master and enable that which makes living worthwhile as opposed to that which does little more than enable acquisition of wealth and power? What will this year’s election bring us? Trump appears to know only greed, and if he should score on his quest for power of the State, it seems a fair bet that he will, without hesitation, begin immediately the task(s) of disparaging the health of our children, the quality of their education . . . the joy of their play . . . the beauty of our poetry . . . the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate . . . the integrity of our public officials . . . [of]  our wit . . . our courage . . . our wisdom . . . our learning . . . our compassion . . . our devotion to our country,  . . . everything . . . that . . . makes life worthwhile. Toss into the mix Trump’s predictably high rate of xenophobia, bigotry, misogyny, along with his already expressed tendency toward science denial, toward uninformed militarism, and suddenly the risk of planetary cataclysm soars, even as any hope for a better future vanishes.

As to whether the other principle option — Hillary Clinton — would be any better, about the only answer appears to be that at least she (hopefully) wouldn’t be as bad. At this point, it seems this country’s main hope — and major goal — should be that the Republican Party really DOES self-destruct thanks to Trump, and that the Democratic Party finally adopts the strongly progressive mission of the type that’s been advanced by Bernie Sanders. Maybe then the pathways leading to the diminishment and ultimate extinction of greed and the quest for power and wealth can be paved with all the gold that no longer will need to be hoarded.

I know. Dream on.

I’ve long felt that national failure is inevitable in this country, especially since we invariably seem to slam the door on each and every escape route leading away from those disastrous “Conservative” policies and programs which have been in place for who knows how many decades. It makes one wonder what things might be like today had Bobby Kennedy’s GNP/economic theses been put into place, starting with his presidency nearly fifty years ago. We’ll never know, of course; but we do KNOW — with certainty — the results of all those “Conservative” policies which have, unfortunately, been enacted during those five decades. And that knowledge is, without a doubt, the source of the economic sadness that has descended upon this country, as well as the source of the undercurrent of pessimism regarding our collective future.

Whereto from here?

As one who has watched the development of our collective dilemma(s) since well before RFK’s assassination, I have to wonder: might the following sonnet tell us everything about America . . . everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile?

REQUIEM: AMERICA

Requiem, as dirge of sophistic love,
Exposes destinies which nations earn.
Quoth Hamlet: “conscience does make cowards of
Us all” – that is, till We the People learn,
Implicitly, that human Cowardice
Exudes contempt for Rationalities.
Meanwhile, mankind’s destiny – Avarice –
Appears in service to those Vanities
Most shallowed minds presume to be their right,
Enabling failure thus of Self, of State.
Repression blooms and quickly dims all light
Intrinsic to the heart of Freedom’s Fate –
Consumed – whilst words of Truth, now specious, Moan
And stand as lifeless slogans, etched in stone.

******

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 4th, 2016: (R)s vs “Modern Technology”

Is there something about Republican politicians’ brains that makes them forget that modern-day recording technology exists? And when I say “modern-day recording technology”, I mean everything from plain video cameras to audio tape recordings to “smart” phones that record audio/video unobtrusively.

Over the last decade and more, Republican politicians and pundits have continually denied saying or doing certain things, when video and/or audio recording of their words or actions proves that they did.  How can they continue to deny, deny, deny, and often continue to deny even when confronted with the actual evidence?  Perhaps they are so against any kind of progress that they can’t even admit to the existence of even such ‘ancient’ technological breakthroughs as video cameras?  Psst…(R)s…they DO exist–have you ever seen a “movie”?

Sometimes the Republicans’ unfamiliarity and discomfort with technology can have humorous results – remember “it’s a series of tubes!”, and Strom Thurmond asking a hearing witness to “speak into the macheeeeene”?  And no one used video evidence directly contradicting someone’s lies better than Jon Stewart, whose “roll 212” meme was comedic gold, particularly in the infamous Jim Cramer interview.

These days, with The Donald and his Trumpets (or Trumpettes, if they’re female) lying then denying on a daily basis, it’s more important than ever to remind the liars of their lying lies. And, while I’m still not a Hillary Clinton devotee, I have to admire the fact that her campaign put together a handy reference guide in advance of her “foreign policy” speech the other day, providing the exact Trump quotes on which she based her comments in the speech. A few examples:

[Clinton] “He has said that he would order our military to carry out torture…”

TRUMP: “Don’t tell me it doesn’t work — torture works… Waterboarding is fine, but it’s not nearly tough enough, ok?”

and

[Clinton] “He says he doesn’t have to listen to our generals or ambassadors, because he has – quote – “a very good brain.”

TRUMP: “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things…my primary consultant is myself”

and

[Clinton] “He says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia.”

TRUMP: “I know Russia well. I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago, Miss Universe contest, which was a big, big, incredible event.”

It would be nice if the “news media” and “journalists” would remember, and remind their audiences, that actual reality-based non-partisan proof exists that puts the lie to what any candidate for the U.S. Presidency claims, but particularly in the case of such a delusional arrogant professional liar like Trump.  It is vital to our nation’s future that Trump and his ilk be thwarted, and that their bigoted, bullying, ignorant “philosophy” (yes, I know, “philosophy” is too cerebral a word to use in this case, but…) be relegated back to the fringes of our culture where it belongs.

 

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

The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 22nd, 2015: (T)Rump Droppings

First, here’s several nut-filled nuggets from Trump’s interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN:

“Hillary’s record as secretary of state was a disaster…She was in favor, totally in favor, of the Iraq War, which is obviously not a good soundbite.”

Immigration word salad:

“You know, this country is so politically correct. Nobody wants to take a stance on anything…Now they like to use the word undocumented because it’s more political — I don’t use that word. They’re illegal immigrants. They came over illegally. Some are wonderful people, and they’ve been here for a while. They’ve got to go out. They’ve got to leave…These people — the really good ones, and we have some great ones — we’re going to try and expedite so they can come back.  But they’re going to come back legally.”  [According to the article, Trump “said he wouldn’t need to amend the Constitution to do it.”]

“No. 1, the 14th Amendment is very questionable as to whether or not somebody can come over, have a baby and immediately that baby is a citizen. OK?”

“Amending is too big a deal. It’s going to take — it’ll be two terms. I’d be in my second term or my eighth year by the time — assuming everything went smoothly. … I believe you can win it legally.”

According to the article, “He said people can’t be allowed to just “walk over” the border to give birth.”

“You have people on the border and in one day they walk over, have a baby. And now all of a sudden we’re supposed to pay the baby … medical, Social Security…”

“Trump defended his comments [on getting his military strategy by watching current and retired generals on TV]…saying it allows him to get a lot of advice quickly.”

“I watch your show. And I watch other shows. And you have the best generals, the best everything … frankly probably better than I could get,” Trump said. “What do I know? I’m a man that made a great fortune. I’m gonna make our country rich and I’m gonna make our country great.”

“I think that I would be a great sleeper on the military, because people wouldn’t think it’s my strength, but I think it would be one of my strengths…One of the things I noticed in your poll, I came out way, way ahead of everybody on the economy, and a lot of people weren’t surprised to see that, but I also came way out ahead on the military … and ISIS. I would build up our military so strong, so powerful that nobody will mess with us.”

Trump was asked “how he would respond if Pope Francis told him that capitalism can be toxic.”

“I’d say, ‘ISIS wants to get you. You know that ISIS wants to go in and take over the Vatican? You have heard that. You know, that’s a dream of theirs, to go into Italy.”

“I’m gonna have to scare the Pope because it’s the only thing…The Pope, I hope, can only be scared by God. But the truth is — you know, if you look at what’s going on — they better hope that capitalism works, because it’s the only thing we have right now. And it’s a great thing when it works properly.”

It gets worse, as seen in last evening’s thread on ThinkProgress about Trump’s rally in Alabama.

“Oreos. Oreos. I love Oreos, but I’ll never eat them again.”

“Women’s health issues. We’re gonna fix it.”

[According to the CNN article, Trump “said his wife and daughter both encouraged him to talk more about women’s issues after the (Jeb Bush “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues”) controversy.”

“They said, you know, ‘The one thing you should do is talk a little bit about women’s health issues, because you’re so good on it, [y]ou know about it. And you cherish women. You want to protect women’. … I will protect women more than anybody.”]

“I swear to you I will never ever ride a bicycle.”

Had enough Trump for one morning? Yeah, me too.

This is our daily Open Thread…so talk about anything you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 20th, 2015: Iran Nuclear Deal Fallout

Last week, it was announced that the long-awaited Iran Nuclear Deal was finally agreed to by the negotiating parties. The EU High Representative and the Iran Foreign Minister issued a joint statement, which included the following:

“With courage, political will, mutual respect, and leadership, we delivered on what the world was hoping for: a shared commitment to peace and to join hands in order to make our world safer.’

Apparently conservatives don’t understand most of the words and phrases in that statement. As we have seen throughout the Obama presidency, their idea of “negotiation” means “you give us everything we want, or else.” FoxNews gives a rundown on the ‘highlights'(?):

Jeb Bush: “This isn’t diplomacy – it is appeasement.”

Ted Cruz: This is a “fundamental betrayal of the security of the United States.”

Ben Carson: “A historic mistake with potentially deadly consequences.”

Scott Walker: “Will be remembered as one of America’s worst diplomatic failures.”
[According to Raw Story, Walker also stated that:

“He would terminate it as soon as possible and persuade U.S. allies to join Washington in imposing more crippling economic sanctions on Tehran…

He would dramatically increase U.S. military spending after budget cuts that military officials have complained about…

“The United States needs a foreign policy that puts steel in the face of our enemies,” Walker says.”]

Marco Rubio: The President made “concession after concession to a regime that has American blood on its hands.”

Now, the above presidential wannabes mainly focused their criticism on the ‘evil’ Iran, with a minor mention of our bestest friend ever in the whole wide world, Israel. Huckabee, on the other hand, is pretty much all Israel, with barely even a mention of OUR country, the United States.

Mike Huckabee: “Shame on the Obama administration…

“Shame on the Obama administration for agreeing to a deal that empowers an evil Iranian regime to carry out its threat to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ and bring ‘death to America.’
John Kerry should have long ago gotten up on his crutches, walked out of the sham talks, and went straight to Jerusalem to stand next to Benjamin Netanyahu and declared that America will stand with Israel and the other sane governments of the Middle East instead of with the terrorist government of Iran.

As president, I will stand with Israel and keep all options on the table, including military force, to topple the terrorist Iranian regime and defeat the evil forces of radical Islam.”
[emphasis mine]

Mike, why don’t you just move to Israel and run for president there?   ‘Cause there will be no “As president” for you here.  You do realize that this agreement is about limiting Iran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon, not the unHoly war you’re salivating over.

Donald Trump: “Iran gets everything and loses nothing.”

[The Donald was also quoted by FoxBusiness as saying, without elaboration, “I think the deal is absolutely horrible for us, but it’s really, really bad for Israel”]

Rick Perry: If elected, I will “fully rescind this accord.”

“President Obama’s decision to sign a nuclear deal with Iran is one of the most destructive foreign policy decisions in my lifetime. For decades to come, the world will have to deal with the repercussions of this…”

Seriously, Rick? You think that signing a deal that means peace, that signals a willingness to negotiate instead of starting WWIII, is more destructive than deliberately and cavalierly lying our country into a wasteful quagmire of an unnecessary war?

Perry also stated: “As President, one of my first official acts will be to fully rescind this accord.”

There’s more, including comments from the lower-tier lineup of Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, and…wait, is that it? Oh, yeah, and Elmer Pataki. But there’s no need to continue wallowing in the their ignorance, I think you get the idea.

Do any of those responses reflect “courage, political will, mutual respect [or respect of any kind], and leadership”? I think it’s abundantly clear that the (R) presidential field has none of those qualities.

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 24th, 2015: “I Like Ike”

Two score, fourteen years and one week ago, on January 17th, 1961, President Dwight David Eisenhower gave his farewell address to the nation. Although made famous by Ike’s coinage of the term “military-industrial complex”, his speech also contains commentary that, IMHO, is just as relevant today about other issues, and helps to demonstrate just how far today’s Republicans have strayed from reason and responsibility. The over-religious tone of several of Ike’s comments is off-putting for many of us, but those sections reflect how Republicans have twisted the ‘in god we trust’ idea into the unrecognizable form we see today. While lengthy, here is the entire speech:

“My Fellow Americans:

Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.

This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.

Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.

Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation.

My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.

In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.II

We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America’s leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.III

Throughout America’s adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology-global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle-with liberty at stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small,there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research-these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we which to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs-balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage-balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between action of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.IV

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peace time, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United State corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual-is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system-ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.V

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society’s future, we-you and I, and our government-must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose difference, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war-as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years-I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.

So-in this my last good night to you as your President-I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find somethings worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.

You and I-my fellow citizens-need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation’s great goals.

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America’s prayerful and continuing inspiration:

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.”

This is today’s Open Thread. Have at it!

The Watering Hole; Thursday July 31 2014; IMPEACH!!!

Impeachment: the presentation of formal charges against a public official by the lower house, trial to be before the upper house. ‘Impeachment’ is also a word that’s been spoken and heard more often in the last couple of decades than in the previous history of the United States. Three Presidents, Wm. Clinton, George W. Bush, and now Barack Obama have been threatened with removal. Clinton was, in fact, impeached by the House but served out his term because the Senate (even with a Republican majority) refused to convict.

According to informed and wide-spread opinion, George W. Bush was indeed impeachable on multiple offenses, but even after Democrats achieved a functional House majority in the 2006 Congressional elections, no action was taken.

Today, Barack Obama is, according to un-informed and wingnut opinion, very definitely impeachable, and the threats to do so — particularly with the Tea Party faction — are gaining in popularity as the 2014 elections approach. Should the Republicans manage to both maintain their House majority and gain a Senate majority come November, the chances of impeachment will likely elevate accordingly.

Following is a closer examination of details, an overview of each of the three consecutive presidencies in which the word “impeachment” became operative. It is perhaps curious that of the three, only one enjoyed any level of the justification specified in Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution . . .

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

. . . and it was never acted upon.

In order of occurrence:

Immediately following 1998’s elections, the lame duck GOP-controlled House went after Bill Clinton by initiating impeachment proceedings, and on December 19, 1998 Clinton was impeached by the House on two charges: perjury to a grand jury and obstruction of justice. The (Republican-controlled) Senate did not convict, however, and Clinton served out his full second term.

The next President, George W. Bush, was, over the course of his two terms, accused of numerous impeachable offenses, and the impeachment option started to pick up speed in the summer of 2006 when it began to appear that Democrats might win an electoral majority in the House in the upcoming fall elections. On August 29, 2006, Dave Lindorf at PoliticalAffairs.net bluntly contrasted the folly of Clinton’s impeachment by summarizing the bulk of informed opinion as to why the impeachment of Bush should proceed. Lindorf wrote:

“Clinton’s offense was simply lying under oath about an adulterous affair.

“Bush, in contrast, has admitted to ordering the National Security Agency to monitor Americans’ telecommunications without a warrant, in clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (New York Times, 12/16/05). Beyond that, documents show he okayed torture of captives in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, contravening the Third Geneva Accord on treatment of prisoners of war, an international accord that was long ago adopted as U.S. law (Human Rights Watch, ‘Background Paper on Geneva Conventions and Persons Held by U.S. Forces,’ 1/29/02).

“He has blatantly subverted the Constitution by claiming the right to ignore (so far) 750 acts duly passed by Congress (Boston Globe, 4/30/06). He has defied the courts in revoking the most basic rights of citizenship-the right to be charged and tried in a court of law (Guardian, 12/5/02). And the evidence is overwhelming that he knowingly lied about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and about Hussein’s alleged link to Al-Qaeda, in order to win public and Congressional approval for his invasion of Iraq (Center for American Progress: “Claims vs. Facts: Iraq/Al-Qaeda Links”).

“These and other Bush offenses pose direct threats to the Constitution and to the survival of the Republic, and yet, despite widespread concern and outrage among the public about many of these actions, not one major corporate news organization has called for Bush’s resignation, the initiation of impeachment proceedings, or even for censure . . .”

On May 7, 2006 Patricia Goldsmith of Long Island Media Watch (a grassroots free media and democracy watchdog group) summarized potential impeachment charges against George W. Bush when she wrote:

“The push for impeachment acknowledges two simple truths: we can’t wait for 2008, nor can we live with BushCo’s legacy. That is to say, we must not only remove GWB, but we must remove all the devices and stratagems his administration has used to subvert the Constitution including: signing statements and the concept of the unitary executive; the abrogation of the Geneva conventions, the concept of enemy combatants, extraordinary rendition, and Guantanamo; pre-emptive military attacks; warrantless spying on citizens; the unlabeled exchange of government propaganda for news; and much more. These illegal maneuvers should not be available to future presidents of any party.”

Meanwhile, Fox News (online and during the runup to the Nov. 2006 elections) offered advice to the Democratic Party after apparently concluding that Democrats had a good chance of assuming post-election control of the House:

“Step one would be for the Democratic leadership to definitively put to rest any loose talk of impeaching President Bush. They should say in one and two syllable words that impeachment will not happen once they are in the majority and thus take away a potential rallying cry for the beleaguered Republicans.”

Fox eventually got its wish when, around the time the election results of November, 2006 had become operational, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) laid the entire GWB impeachment thesis to rest when he announced, “Speaker Pelosi and I have made it clear that this Congress is not going to proceed with impeachment, and is going to focus on critical issues facing our nation, such as healthcare for children and the war in Iraq.”

Enter President Barack Obama, clearly the most Republican-despised President in all of history, a President for whom dreams of total and complete failure have defined the entire political aspiration of today’s extreme right wing-driven GOP. Obama’s use of the Presidential executive action tool — his attempt(s) to get at least SOMETHING accomplished in spite of the least productive Congress in the nation’s history are consistently viewed as “dictatorial” at best, impeachable violations of the Constitution in their unfounded rhetoric.

Sarah Palin placed her familiar ignorance on full display when she recently wrote, on Breitbart.com (in part):

“President Obama’s rewarding of lawlessness, including his own, is the foundational problem here. It’s not going to get better, and in fact irreparable harm can be done in this lame-duck term as he continues to make up his own laws as he goes along, and, mark my words, will next meddle in the U.S. Court System with appointments that will forever change the basic interpretation of our Constitution’s role in protecting our rights.

“It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment.

“The many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored. If after all this he’s not impeachable, then no one is.”

In late summer of 2013, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) laid out his own reasoning concerning Obama’s potential impeachment when he warned that if Republicans should decide to force the U.S. to default on its debt by refusing to raise the debt ceiling then it “would be an impeachable offense by the president.” Right. OK. Uh huh.

Gohmert is far from alone as an incumbent in support of impeachment, however. Here Is a List of Republican Incumbents Who Support Impeachment — I suspect it’s far shorter than it will be post-election IF the Republicans should happen to preserve their control of the House AND gain a majority in the Senate. Such points obviously don’t make their logic any more profound even though it’s probably predictable, given their post-election fevers in 1998.

Still, there’s a recently-emerged “other side”, a position that in all probability is based on legitimate fears that pre-election hype concerning impeachment (for clearly spurious reasons) may well jeopardize Republican chances of (a) gaining a majority in the Senate, or perhaps even (b), maintaining their majority in the House, by ‘inspiring’ more electoral support and enthusiasm amongst Democratic voters. Therefore, the new talking point, as spouted by John Boehner on July 29th 2014:

“We have no plans to impeach the President. . . . . Listen. It’s all a scam asserted by Democrats and the White House.”

Glenn Beck also blames Obama and the Democrats for using the impeachment “scam” as a means of diverting attention from the President’s failures — Immigration, e.g.

The bottom line, in summary, reads something like this: Each of the last three American Presidents — two Democrats and one Republican — have been accused of having committed impeachable offenses during their respective terms of office. Of the three, however, only one — Republican George W. Bush — actually engaged in policies which demanded a closer look because of their extremely dubious constitutionality, and even though several of the offenses were clearly of Article II Section 4 context, no official charges were filed.

Makes one wonder if these days the most compelling impeachable offenses are simply those which are the most sententious, i.e. each and all of those moralizing and self-righteous pithy aphorisms which seem to flow steadily from the mouths of the far right wingers. Or maybe it’s even simpler. Could it be that their sole perceived impeachable crime is nothing other than the President’s political party affiliation? Or, horror of horrors, the President’s skin color?

Stay tuned.

OPEN THREAD

 

 

 

The Watering Hole; Thursday December 5 2013; Past as Prelude

Some things never change. Unfortunately. Today’s mixed up political mess both here at home and elsewhere is . . . well, familiar. Predictable even. Written. Recorded. See below.

“For in every city these two opposite parties [people vs aristocracy] are to be found, arising from the desire of the populace to avoid oppression of the great, and the desire of the great to command and oppress the people. . . . For when the nobility see that they are unable to resist the people, they unite in exalting one of their number and creating him prince, so as to be able to carry out their own designs under the shadow of his authority.”
–Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) in The Prince, ch. IX

“The ultimate aim of government is not to rule, or restrain, by fear, nor to exact obedience, but contrariwise, to free every man from fear, that he may live in all possible security. In other words, to strengthen his natural right to exist and work – without injury to himself or others.”
–Spinoza (17th Century)

“Who will show me any Constitutional injunction which makes it the duty of the American people to surrender everything valuable in life, and even life, itself, whenever the purposes of an ambitious and mischievous government may require it?
–Daniel Webster, Speech in the House of Representatives (January 14, 1814)

“Find out just what people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
–Frederick Douglass (1818-1894); African-American slave and abolitionist

“The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose — especially their lives.”
–Eugene V. Debs, Speech in Canton Ohio (June 16, 1918)

“Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of a private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism – ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”
–Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his Message to Congress proposing the monopoly investigation
(1938)

“The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.”
–Edward Dowling (1941)

“They [fascists] claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”
–Henry Wallace, US Vice President
as quoted in the New York Times (April 9, 1944)

“If ever we put any other value above liberty, and above principle, we shall lose both.”
–Dwight D. Eisenhower (1960)

“[T]here is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment . . .”
–John F. Kennedy (February 12, 1960)

“Our way of life is under attack.”
–John F. Kennedy  (April 27, 1961)

“The biggest threat to American democracy is corporate power.”
–John F. Kennedy

“A revolution is coming – a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough – but a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character, we cannot alter its inevitability.”
–John F. Kennedy

“But suppose God is black? What if we go to Heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and He is not white? What then is our response?”
–Robert F. Kennedy

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.
–Robert F. Kennedy, speaking in Cape Town, South Africa (1966)

“Meaningful democracy cannot survive without the free flow of information,
even when that information threatens the privileged and the powerful.”
–Senator Paul Wellstone, D-MN (1944-2002)

“I believe humans are hard-wired to compete, consume and ultimately
destroy the planet.”
–Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in Mother Earth News (Oct-Nov, 2004)

“When people are coaxed into a state of continual suspicion and fear, their desire for liberty subsides because freedom is presumed to be more theoretical. Politicians now tell us that we live in different times calling for different measures to protect us. Whenever they say something like that, rest assured that your liberty, property, or money will disappear down the rat-hole of Congress. To the herd, liberty is a vague set of statements issued long ago by strange men in powdered wigs.”
–Dario McDarby (February 2, 2006)

“The legacy of the Bush regime will be a loaded Supreme Court, a kudzu of surveillance and muckraking against Americans . . . and, of course, a manipulated foreign policy which exploits the resources of the defenseless around the world for the benefit of a minority of industry leeches.   The continuing danger of this regressive regime is . . . the shackling of countless generations of Americans to a corporate agenda of U.S. world domination, supported by the perpetual sacrifice of the lives and blood of generations of our sons and daughters in continuous world war. Regaining control of Congress from the republican enablers will be the first step in coaxing the tentacles of their fascism from their grip on the institutions of our democracy.”
–Ron Fullwood (May 7, 2006)

“In order to rally people, governments need enemies. They want us to be afraid, to hate, so we will rally behind them. And if they do not have a real enemy, they will invent one in order to mobilize us.”
–Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk, poet, peace activist, and author

Fortunately for all of us, the Republican (read: Saligiacan) Party has a solution. It is, of course, as much “unity”-based as it is predictably simple stupid:

“One sign of our unity is our English language. For newcomers, it has always been the fastest route to prosperity in America. English empowers. We support English as the official language in our nation . . . thereby fostering a commitment to our national motto, E Pluribus Unum.”
From the Republican (Saligiacan) Platform (2008)

Yes. Rid ourselves of allathat foreign language nonsense and all will be well. That should work. Or better yet, maybe evangelist Benny Hinn, head of a worldwide organization of miracle crusades has the better way/idea?

“Sometimes I wish God would give me a Holy Ghost machine gun. I’d blow your head off.”

Yeah, well, ok. Sure. Sounds . . . ummm . . . Yeah, well, ok. Sure. YEE HAW!!

Oops, wait one, a fresh P.S. just now popped up — a final word from JFK:

“What kind of peace do I mean, and what kind of a peace do we seek?  Not a ‘pax Americana’ enforced on the world by American weapons of war; not the peace of the grave or the security of a slave; not merely peace for Americans, but peace for all men and women; not merely peace in our time, but peace for all time.”
–John F Kennedy (June 10, 1963)

Some might say, ‘there’s that language that definitely ain’t Amurkan again! What’s up with THAT?’

Ergo this reminder:

  “THOSE WHO CANNOT REMEMBER THE PAST ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT.”
George Santayana in The Life of Reason

BTW: IT’S ALL ‘CAUSE OF OBAMACARE!

*yawn*

OK, so HERE’S the OPEN THREAD; Go For It ;

:

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 28th, 2013: Bill Maher: “You Cannot Have Both”

This past Friday night’s “Real Time with Bill Maher”‘s panel consisted of Michael Moore, a surprisingly quiet Al Sharpton, Valerie Plame, and Richard Dawkins. And while the group had some interesting discussions, the best part of the show came in Bill’s soliloquy at the end of the show. Crooks and Liars has the video, but I have borrowed their transcript, here:

MAHER: “Now, when it comes to raising the minimum wage, conservatives always say it’s a non-starter because it cuts into profits. Well, yeah. Of course. Paying workers is one of those unfortunate expenses of running a business… you know, like taxes, or making a product.

If you want to get rich with a tax-free enterprise that sells nothing, start a church.

You might think that paying people enough to live is so self-evident that even crazy people could understand it, but you would be wrong.

Michele Bachmann is not only against raising the minimum wage, she’s against having one at all. She once said “if we took away the minimum wage… we could virtually wipe out unemployment because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.”

Put that in your brain and smoke it. You could hire everyone if you didn’t have to pay them. And naturally, Ted Cruz agrees. Ted Cruz thinks it’s a good thing that when his Cuban father came to America he was paid $.50 an hour to work as a dishwasher, before becoming Charo.

When did the American dream become this pathway to indentured servitude? This economic death spiral where workers get paid next to nothing, so they can only afford to buy next to nothing, so businesses are forced to sell cheaper and cheaper shit?

Walmart employees can only afford to shop at Walmart. McDonalds workers can only afford to eat at McDonalds. And Hooters waitresses have to wear shirts they grew out of years ago.

Even if you’re not moved by the “don’t be such a heartless prick” argument, consider the fact that most fast food workers, whose average age by the way now is 29, we’re not talking about kids, are on some form of public assistance. Which is not surprising. When even working people can’t make enough to live, they take money from the government in the form of food stamps, school lunches, housing assistance, day care. This is the welfare that conservatives hate.

But they never stop to think, if we raised the minimum wage and forced McDonalds and Walmart to pay their employees enough to eat, we the taxpayers wouldn’t have to pick up the slack.

This is the question the right has to answer. Do you want smaller government with less handouts, or do you want a low minimum wage? Because you cannot have both.

If Col. Sanders isn’t going to pay the lady behind the counter enough to live on, then Uncle Sam has to, and I for one am getting a little tired of helping highly profitable companies pay their workers.”

Bravo, Bill – hear, hear!

O/T: Today my mum would have turned 93 – Happy Birthday, Mum, wish you were here.Scan10002

This is our daily open thread, got anything on your mind that you’d like to discuss?

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 7th, 2013: All the Crazy That Fits

It’s been a while since I put on my hip waders and stepped into Newsmax, so here’s a few gems:

From “Rev. Billy Graham Prepares ‘Perhaps … My Last Message’” by David A. Patton:

“In an exclusive interview, the Rev. Billy Graham tells Newsmax that President Obama’s “hope and change” mantra is nothing more than a cliché and warns that the nation faces increasing threats to civil and religious liberties from its government.

Graham, who is preparing for possibly his last crusade, this time via video, said America is drenched in a “sea of immorality” and suggested that the second coming of Christ is “near.”

“Our early fathers led our nation according to biblical principles,” Graham wrote in response. “‘Hope and change’ has become a cliché in our nation, and it is daunting to think that any American could hope for change from what God has blessed,” he stated, an obvious reference to President Obama’s campaign motto.

“Our country is turning away from what has made it so great,” he continued, “but far greater than the government knowing our every move that could lead to losing our freedom to worship God publicly, is to know that God knows our every thought; he knows our hearts need transformation.” ~~~

Many believing Christians believe in a coming Armageddon, a final battle between good and evil prophesied in the book of Revelation.

Graham tells Newsmax it is not wise to “speculate” about the dates of such a battle, but he adds that the Bible says that there “will be signs pointing toward the return of the Lord.”

“I believe all of these signs are evident today,” Graham wrote, adding that “the return of Christ is near.

“Regardless of what society says, we cannot go on much longer in the sea of immorality without judgment coming,” he says.”

Next, from “Rove: Obama Wants to ‘Break the Republicans'” by Amy Woods:

“Republican strategist Karl Rove on Sunday described President Barack Obama’s behavior throughout the budget showdown as “stubborn obstructionism” whose goal is to “get more money and break the Republicans.”

“The stubborn obstructionism of the president … has a purpose, which is to try and get the Congress to agree to the Senate Democrats’ spending number, which is $91 billion bigger than the House, and bust the sequester, and end the 2011 spending agreements,” Rove said on “Fox News Sunday.” “He is attempting to put the responsibility for raising the debt ceiling and, in fact, naming the amount of the debt ceiling on the Congress and not on himself.”

Third, from “Rand Paul: Democrats’ Stubbornness Keeping Government Closed” by Sandy Fitzgerald:

“Paul denied that House Republicans led to the shutdown by refusing to fund the government.

“The House Republicans said they would fund all of government, and they did,” Paul said. “They funded all of government short of one program. So they really were never wanting to shut down government over this, they were wanting to fund government, and then have a debate.”

He further blamed Obama for his refusal to negotiate for the shutdown.

“When you say the president wants 100 percent of Obamacare or he will shut down the government, that’s exactly what happened,” said Paul. “If he [Obama] doesn’t get 100 percent of his way – his way or the highway – then they won’t do any spending bills that don’t include everything that he wants. That’s him unwilling to negotiate, that’s him being unwilling to compromise.”

Had enough? How about one more? From “Rep. Graves: Obama To Blame if Country Defaults” by Amy Woods:

“Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Graves said Sunday the party is “united” in its belief the government should re-open and negotiations with Democrats should continue to avoid a possible economic default over the debt ceiling.

“We have had a tremendous fight over keeping the government open and protecting Americans from Obamacare,” Graves said on “Fox News Sunday.” “There’s no reason to default. The president’s the only one demanding default right now.”

Sorry, but I have to throw this last link in, just for laughs: Another one by Bill Hoffman, “From Senate to Center Stage: Fred Thompson Makes Broadway Debut”. The author of the piece completely omits any mention of Thompson’s disastrous run for the Presidency, or the fact that Thompson’s most recent “acting” gig has been on ‘Reverse-Mortgage’ commercials.

This is our Open Thread. Have at it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The table grumbled in assent.

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

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

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

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

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

What kind of revolution did he have in mind?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Watering Hole, Thursday, November 8th, 2012: “Political Capital”

George W. Bush appears to have had a long-term “thing” about “political capital. From Slate, November 2004:

“Bush has long been smitten with the notion of getting and spending “political capital.” In December 2000, Time asked him, “What did you learn about being president from watching your father?” Bush’s answer: “I learned how to earn political capital and how to spend it.” The interview continued:
TIME: You think he didn’t spend it well late in his term?
BUSH: I think he did not. History has shown that he had some capital in the bank that was not properly spent.”

…and…

“…during an interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press in 1999. Bush told Russert he would spend “capital” on his plan for Social Security.”  [Yes, we remember his cross-country “Privatize Social Security Tour” (sigh)]

W’s first press conference after his re-election, on November 4, 2004, has a couple of gems when viewed an eternity later (2012):

On “political capital”:

PRESIDENT BUSH:
I feel — I feel — I feel it is necessary to move an agenda that I told the American people I would move…you go out and you make your case and you tell the people, “This is what I intend to do.” And after hundreds of speeches and three debates and interviews and the whole process, where you keep basically saying the same thing over and over again, that when — when that — when you win, there is a — a feeling that the people have spoken and embraced your point of view. And that’s what I intend to tell the Congress, that I made it clear what I intend to do as the president; now let’s work — and the people made it clear what they wanted — now let’s work together. And it’s one of the wonderful — it’s one of the — it’s like earning capital. … I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That’s what happened in — after the 2000 election. I earned some capital. I’ve earned capital in this election, and I’m going to spend it for — for what — what I told the people I’d spend it on…

On the supposedly all-important Deficit:

“Q Thank you, sir. Many within your own party are unhappy over the deficit, and they say keeping down discretional spending alone won’t help you reach your goal of halving the deficit in five years. What else do you plan to do to cut costs? [emphasis mine]
PRESIDENT BUSH: (Chuckles.) Well, I — I — you know, I would suggest they look at our budget that we’ve submitted to Congress, which does in fact get the deficit cut in half in five years. And it is a specific, line-by-line budget that we are required to submit, and have done so.

The key to making sure that the deficit is reduced is for there to be on the one hand spending discipline — and I — as you noticed in my opening remarks, I talked about these appropriations bills that are beginning to move. And I thought I was pretty clear about the need for those bills to be — to be fiscally responsible, and I meant it…

The revenues are exceeding projections, and as a result the projected deficit is less. But my point there is is that — so with — with good economic policy that encourages economic growth, the revenue streams begin to increase. And as the revenue streams increase coupled with fiscal discipline, you’ll see the deficit shrinking, and we’re focused on that.”

Now, I have been puzzled about this whole “political capital” idea since I originally saw George W. Bush swagger and leer about it. Back then, the other election buzzword was “mandate”, as in “the re-election of GWB proved that he has a ‘mandate’ from the American people,” even though only a little more than half of the American people had actually voted for him. I’ve never seen Democratic Presidents utilize this reasoning; nor would I actually expect them to do so, for the same reason why I would never use the term “landslide” to describe a win of only a few percentage points.

Three questions:

-Using Bush’s “political capital” logic, shouldn’t President Obama have now earned some of his own, to spend on doing what he promised America he would do?
-Would Republicans and the TV cheerleaders at Faux News admit that President Obama had earned “political capital” to spend, since he had won a “mandate” from the people? …and…
-Will President Obama and the Democrats ignore the Republican obstructionists and actually try to spend that “political capital”?

This is our daily open thread–what do you think?

The Death of a Nation (a retrospective on the W. Bush era, Part 10: END PAPERS)

The George W. Bush presidency ended on January 20, 2009 with the inauguration of the 44th American President, Barack H. Obama. Hope sprang eternal that times had finally changed, that the American electorate had finally awakened from the fog of its deep sleep, that a new era had indeed finally dawned. Unfortunately, such was not to prove the case. The Republican Party immediately went on the defensive and vowed, essentially, to use every last shred of their power, their influence, to cause Obama to fail . . . the more miserable the failure, the better. It was an act of national disloyalty, perhaps bordering even on treason, the likes of which no living American had ever seen, much less pondered. And while Obama did manage to implement a few meaningful projects and programs in his first couple of years, the Republicans were, by and large, successful in their opposition.

Then, in 2010, the Supreme Court issued its decision in the Citizens United case and declared, in effect, that corporations were ‘people’ with all attendant rights and privileges. Days later, the final purchase of the government by private funds began in earnest. In November of 2010, the small Democratic majority in the House of Representatives was overturned, and the filibuster-resistant Democratic majority in the Senate was reduced sufficiently to virtually guarantee that no significant legislation could be passed for at least the balance of Obama’s first (and, in the hopeful eyes of the GOP, his ONLY) four year term.

Today, the processes implicit in the Death of a Nation continue to accelerate without pause as we again stand on the edge of an electoral abyss not at all dissimilar to those of 2000 and 2004. The current Romney-Ryan Republican ticket supports without hesitation or critique virtually each and all of the nonsensical policies of George W. Bush, including unlimited aggressive war, the destruction/elimination of every vestige of the social safety net, the eternal task of improving the financial status of the extremely rich at the expense of everyone else, and state level imposition of whichever manner of voter suppression or voter fraud might be required to guarantee for all time an enduring Fascist-theocracy (aka ‘conservative’ Republican) style of American “governance”, the Constitution be damned.

The bottom line is simple: tomorrow — Tuesday, November 6 2012 — we shall learn, finally and for certain, the precise percentage of mental incompetence which has come to define the American  electorate.

Meanwhile, below are a few closing comments alongside a wealth of quotations on the matter of national death and its consequences. From Gandhi to John Denver with plenty of George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler (among numerous others) in between, a summation lurks.

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End Papers
(April, 2005)

The United States of America clearly stands on the precipice, on the very edge of a deep and dark chasm in which lie the ruins of those who have come before us, now forever gone.  On previous pages here, we have (barely) skimmed the essences of America’s current dilemma and made some note of current players, agendas, and the realities their combination have so far imposed. Others, too, have watched these same forces at work and have added their comments.  Perhaps a review of a few – in no particular order – can assist in clarifying the moment by looking at opinions, past and present, which have bearing on what has been and what is now, in order to help predict what might yet come our way.  To some, the list may seem long, but they should rest assured it is exhaustingly abbreviated and is by no means complete – yet its words paint a picture, a frightening picture.  Read on, that which others have said; I shall add a brief comment at the end. Continue reading