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 ;

:

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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.

**********

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