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 in short, except that which 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