The Watering Hole, Monday, July 11th, 2016: “Christians” vs “Critters”

If you’d like more proof that at least some “Christian Evangelical” megachurch “leaders”, along with the “Prosperity” Jeebus hucksters and their varied brethren, should be under the microscope of the IRS, there’s a few articles on the Christian Post’s “Politics” page. (Also see RawStory’s recent thread about “Pastor” Jeffress.)

Or, if you prefer to start your day/week with some ‘critters’, here’s the official “Watering Hole”:
watering hole
bear cubs boxing cutefunnyanimalz blogspot com
belly up pups
black kitten
leaping lemurs
sea_lion a to z animals
upclose kitty amolife com
fucking love this stick animal animal animal blgspt

This is our daily Open Thread–say whatever you want.

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The Watering Hole; Thursday May 19 2016; Religious Liberty: The Scourge

“God? . . . who the hell is He? . . . Why confuse the issue
by dragging in a superfluous entity? Occam’s razor. Beyond
atheism, nontheism. I am not an atheist but an
eartheist. Be true to the earth.”
(Edward Abbey; Desert Solitaire, 1968)

I honestly don’t recall how long ago it was that I first read Abbey’s little masterpiece, “Desert Solitaire” — had to be somewhere within the last five decades, though, based on the book’s publication date. No matter. By the time I read it, I was already an atheist. Have since converted to a ‘nontheist’ and an ‘eartheist,’ however, thanks to Abbey’s clarification of concept. “Conversion” is also, I think, the word used in religious circles to describe what they consider to be ‘appropriate’ changes in religious belief. I presume, therefore, that my “conversion” from routine atheism to nontheism/eartheism is a consequence of the merger of commons sense with Religious Liberty, and is, therefore, one of those “unalienable rights” which we all share. Right?

Unlike a great many folks, however, I have no “faith,” no “belief,” no religious “practice” whatsoever; I consider “God” to be nothing more than an ancient myth, a ‘creation’ of the human mind to help explain the unknown, perhaps also as a useful means of controlling the minds and actions of the masses. I see no need in any of that; I’ve long felt that science and a cognitive mind should be sufficient to explain the origin(s) of everything that exists, if not today then surely by tomorrow maybe, or next week/year, etc. But none of that contributes to any sort of intolerance toward any and all who choose to believe differently. I will not tread on anyone’s belief(s) that differ from mine, nor will I ever make an effort to impose my “beliefs” on others. Belief should always be personal, never mandated. By anyone, by any entity. Period.

I’m constantly puzzled, however, by the fact that so many of the God-Religion inclined do not think (much less act) that same way. Intrusion with the intent to impose, to convert, or simply to induce fear has seemingly become a religious “standard” these days, and religious labels don’t seem to offer any significant differences, at least amongst the fundamentalists and their comrades. Islam (Shia, Wahhabi, Sunni), Christianity (Catholic, Protestant, et al.) — many participants are wonderfully tolerant, but far too many are the exact opposite. “Religious Liberty” has become a catch-phrase used by many to explain their intolerance for, essentially, any and all beliefs/attitudes/practices which differ from their own. Religious liberty is presumed to, in effect, allow any “believer” the right to impose, even discriminate, against any and all non-believers, and any subterfuge including lies, fear, and even induced hatred is considered legitimate under the wide umbrella of religious freedom. Why is that? Why should such practices be tolerated by/in a civil society?

Here are a handful of examples of such, each randomly  gathered in just the last day or two, that amply demonstrate — to my mind, at least — the absolute fallacy implicit in “Religious Liberty”:

1. Rev. John Hagee on how God will hold people accountable if they don’t vote for Donald Trump

“I’m going to vote for the candidate that’s going to make the U.S. military great. I’m going to vote for the party that is going to solve the immigration problem, not the one that has created the immigration problem. I’m going to support the party that brings jobs back from China … I’m not going to vote for the party that has betrayed Israel for the past seven years.”

He’s not demanding that everyone vote as he intends, but most likely that’s only because he knows he can’t. He knows he can, however, use fear and lies to convince those who respond to such that they’d better do as he says or face God’s retribution.

2. Trunews Host Rick Wiles: Obama And Satan Will ‘Rape Your Children’

“We’re living in a funhouse. In a house of horrors. The president — the fake president, he’s a fake president, he’s not a legitimate American president, he’s a fake and he’s been allowed to do these wicked things for eight years because there’s been no resistance to him, and now he’s going for it, he’s got the pedal to the metal. He’s coming into the schools to rape your children. Let’s be honest about it. Satan wants to rape your children. I’m telling you, there’s going to be confrontation in the country. There will be a group of people who just say, ‘This is it, I’m done, at this point, we resist and we’re pushing back.’”

I guess if one lives only on lies, they might as well be really big ones, since folks who believe such nonsense have no limits on the nonsense they’re inclined to believe — and then impose on everyone else because as we all know, LGBT people do NOT share the “Liberty” the rest of “us” are blessed with! God said!

3. American Family Association host Sandy Rios explains how the Lesbian Hillary Clinton embraces every sexual deviancy imaginable

“Hillary Clinton embraces every sexual deviancy you can imagine,” she said, before once again suggesting that the former secretary of state is a lesbian because “there have been more than rumors swirling about her own sexual proclivities since before she became first lady.”

“She’s an advocate of gay marriage, and I mean a strong advocate. She’s been endorsed by every radical homosexual activist group in the country, all the major ones, Human Rights Campaign and others, especially in New York. She gets that endorsement for a reason, you know, she gets it for a reason.”

Lies and accusations seem to have no limits whatsoever when directed at LGBT people, and/or anyone who publicly supports their implicit right to live as they wish.

4. Far-Right Pundit Steve Quayle notes that ‘God is using Donald Trump’ to ‘show the political sins of this country’

Steve Quayle declared that God is using Trump to reveal the sins of America, and that the Bible may even speak about the business mogul when it mentions the word “trumpet.”

“I believe God is using Donald Trump, whether you like him or hate him, I believe God is using him to trumpet the nature of what America believes and, in essence, we believe a lie,” he said. “‘Trump’ [sic] is in two times in the New Testament, ‘the last trump [sic] of God.’ The thing that’s fascinating for me is that God has used him as a prosecuting attorney to show the political sins of this country.”

Makes perfect sense, if you don’t think about it. Good reason to vote for Trump though, right? Right.

5. Then there’s Rep. Steve King R-IA) on school prayer

“Well, I was sitting [as] a freshman in high school when Murray vs. Curlett came down that ordered that there be no more prayer in the public schools. And I thought then, that was 1963, and I thought then, how are they going to stop us from praying in our schools? They could tape our mouths shut, that doesn’t do it. The only way they could stop us would be to empty the schools out. And in my mind’s eye, I can still see the images that were conjured up: two U.S. Army personnel standing there guarding the doors that were chained shut on our high school. … It was the image that came to mind, the only way to stop us from praying in public schools was to empty the schools out and guard them so we couldn’t sneak in and pray.”

Seems to me that no one has EVER said students are not allowed to pray in public schools. They can, in fact, pray whenever they wish to so long as they do it in silence and don’t disturb anyone in the process. The only restriction the law mandates is that prayer of any kind can not be imposed on the entire student body, a mandate that allows each and every student to worship (or not) as he or she wishes, not as any particular school administrator or teacher might prefer.

6. Finally, there’s this one. Rand Paul has a great idea, a clever way to halt once and for all the ‘right’ of a woman to enjoy any level of reproductive freedom. Paul’s plan: FETAL PERSONHOOD by Congressional mandate.

Here are some excerpts from Paul’s email on the matter:

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling forced abortion-on-demand down our nation’s throat. . . .

The time to grovel before the Supreme Court is over.

Working from what the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, pro-life lawmakers can pass a Life at Conception Act and end abortion using the Constitution instead of amending it. . . .

A Life at Conception Act declares unborn children “persons” as defined by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, entitled to legal protection.

This is the one thing the Supreme Court admitted in Roe v. Wade that would cause the case for legal abortion to “collapse.” . . .

If you and other pro-life activists pour on enough pressure, pro-lifers can force politicians from both parties who were elected on pro-life platforms to make good on their promises and ultimately win passage of this bill.

But even if a Life at Conception Act doesn’t pass immediately, the public attention will send another crew of radical abortionists down to defeat in the 2016 elections.

No need to ‘grovel before the Supreme Court,’ in other words, since the fourteenth amendment legitimizes the concept of legislating ‘personhood’ to the fertilized egg. No more abortion, and probably no more birth control. Got to protect the fetus. Period. Of course, after the child is born, well, then to hell with health care, food, shelter, all that stuff. Some kids will be OK because their parents are well-off, but those poor kids, well, you know, lazy bums and all.

What puzzles me most on that issue is why the government thinks it needs to take action of any kind. I mean, there are no demands that a woman MUST take contraceptives, or that she MUST have an abortion. Nope, it’s strictly a matter of choice — unless or until some religiously over-wrought ‘movement’ demands the government protect THEIR “Religious Liberty.” As for the ‘liberty’ of others who believe differently? Nah. They don’t count.

“If a man’s imagination were not so weak, so easily tired,
if his capacity for wonder not so limited, he would abandon
forever such fantasies of the supernal. He would learn to
perceive in water, leaves and silence more than sufficient of
the absolute and marvelous, more than enough to console him
for the loss of the ancient dreams.”
(Edward Abbey; Desert Solitaire, 1968)

Ah, the virtues of “Eartheism”! Fantastic Contrast! Thanks for that, Edward Abbey.

OPEN THREAD

 

The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 5th, 2016: This Land Is Still Our Land

I’ve written before about the emails from the American Land Rights Association that somehow end up coming to my office, and how Charles Cushman has been involved with the Hammonds, the scofflaws whose imprisonment for starting fires on federal land provided the match that started the Malheur Wildlife Refuge ‘insurrection.’

Earlier this week another ‘newsletter’ email arrived, containing, in part, the following:

War In The West, the Hammond Story
Stop Land and Water Conservation Fund

The War In The West: Time To Stop Federal Land Acquisition

Robert J. Smith, Senior Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research 1/15/16

Media attention on the plight of Dwight and Steven Hammond in Burns, Oregon — sent to prison as “terrorists” — has focused more on the activities of some who have come to their “support” than on the cause of the broad-based unhappiness with the federal government.

But first it is important to clarify the Hammonds’ “crime.” Most reports note they were prosecuted for arson on federal lands. They were prosecuted under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, passed following the 1995 bombing of the federal building in downtown Oklahoma City. Bombing a federal building is an act of terrorism. Burning 140 acres of grass, sagebrush and weeds to halt wildfires and remove invasive brush is not terrorism.

Ranchers, farmers, foresters and miners homesteaded the West, often before government reached that far, or states or counties were created. The successors of these landowners are today surrounded by a sea of federal lands. Across the West over half the land and resources are owned by the federal government. In Oregon it owns 53 percent of the land, and 75 percent in Harney County, home of Burns and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The county is over 10,000 square miles in size, larger than nine states. With a population of barely 7,000 people, it is effectively a federal colony, controlled and administered by the federal government.

The federal government owns 85 percent of the state of Nevada and 64 percent of both Utah and Idaho — effectively making rural landowners little more than serfs, precluding utilization of natural resources, reducing the tax base and impoverishing local and county governments, which are then unable to fund schools and police…

Evermore onerous government regulations make it difficult for landowners to use their lands and often next to impossible to cross the government lands on historic rights-of-way for access to water and grazing lands. Selective enforcement of laws like the Endangered Species Act can prevent landowners from using land that has no endangered species, but does have habitat the species could use if they were there…

Yet even with this hegemonic control of the rural West, the federal government continues to acquire more land. It is expert at making regulatory harassment so onerous that eventually farmers and ranchers simply give up and sell out to the government — becoming what the Feds euphemistically refer to as “willing sellers.”

Anger against such treatment arose during the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s, when state governments demanded a return of their land and resources and equality with states in the East. That opposition to federal ownership was tempered by the Reagan Administration’s easing of the regulatory regime.

But as the federal government has accelerated its efforts to acquire more land and force people off their lands, mounting opposition and calls for change have flourished. Another Sagebrush Rebellion is underway, headed by counties and state legislatures. Several Western states have introduced legislation demanding the return of their lands. Both houses in Utah have passed such legislation and Governor Herbert has signed the law.

It is time to place a moratorium on any additional land acquisition by the federal government, to undertake an inventory of government landownership at all levels, and to begin taking steps towards devolution of federal ownership and return the lands and resources to responsible and caring ownership and stewardship. This would not threaten genuine environmental amenities and values.

America has a long tradition of successful private ownership of wildlife refuges, parks, and forests. If, for instance, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were owned by a conservation organization, such as an Audubon Society, it would not be able to bully and harass its farming and ranching neighbors who willingly share their lands with the wildlife, but would have to deal with them in a legal and peaceful manner — while still protecting the wildlife.

It is ironic that Americans are still fighting colonial subjugation by a hegemonic government — located now in Washington, D.C., rather that England. James Madison wrote: “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort.” That is what Oregon is really about.”

There was a lot more about related topics, but the above is enough for the time being. The missive ends with:

“Google Alert: You can find additional information about national issues and battles American Land Rights has been involved in by going to Google and typing in the following search terms one at a time: Chuck Cushman, Charles Cushman, Charles S. Cushman, American Land Rights Association, National Inholders Association and League of Private Property Voters.”

Well, actually, no you CAN’T find additional information, because if you type in those search terms, they all lead back to the American Land Rights Association–some directly, some by a more circuitous route. I tried to do a bit more digging.

According to Buzzfile, the “Business Description” of the American Land Rights Association is:

“American Land Rights Association, which also operates under the name National Inholders Association, is located in Battle Ground, Washington. This organization primarily operates in the Business Associations business / industry within the Membership Organizations sector. This organization has been operating for approximately 44 years. American Land Rights Association is estimated to generate $500,000 in annual revenues, and employs approximately 6 people at this single location.”

Okay…so what does the category “Membership Organization” mean?

“The Membership Organizations sector covers 7 categories including Professional Organizations, Labor Organizations, and Political Organizations.

[Emphasis mine.]

Alright…a little more digging…how about, who is the “League of Private Property Voters”?

VoteSmart.Org says:

“Description:
“LPPV is a coalition of more than 800 grassroots organizations that advocate the rights of property owners, including farmers, ranchers, woodlot owners, residents of rural communities, owners of recreational property, and inholders of private property located within and adjacent to federal lands. It also includes cabin permittees, off-road vehicle owners, equestrians, snowmobilers, hunters and recreational shooters, and livestock grazers, foresters and miners who make productive use of federal lands.”

I found a ‘biography’ of Mr. Cushman – a bit outdated, but quite telling – oh, and this ‘biography’ has him at “Property Rights Foundation of America”(R):

“April 1999
Chuck Cushman is the executive director of the American Land Rights Association (ALRA), formerly the National Inholders Association, which is a public interest advocacy organization that works to protect landowners across America who are affected by various growth management schemes as well as the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act (wetlands) and other Federal land use regulatory laws.

Mr. Cushman is also the Chairman of the League of Private Property Voters (LPPV), which was organized in 1990 to develop and publish the Private Property Congressional Vote Index, a Congressional vote scorecard designed to let the public know how each Congressman and Senator voted on important land-use issues. Almost 500,000 copies were distributed in 1996.

Referred to in various press reports as the “Desert Fox” and “Mr. Rent-A-Riot,” Mr. Cushman has worked over 24 years to help local communities get on the political playing field and compete effectively with Federal agencies and extreme environmental groups who seek to eliminate private uses and public access from “their” lands. He is widely respected for his successful leadership of local communities against those groups and individuals who seek to remove inholders and multiple-users by condemnation or whatever other means they can achieve.

He has written numerous articles on inholder rights; lectured at colleges and universities; appeared as an expert guest on Late Night America, Today on NBC, All Things Considered on public radio, CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC news; been a subject of segments of 60 Minutes, The Newshour with Jim Lehrer and CNN Presents; has been featured in numerous national magazines regarding land-use issues; appeared as guest speaker before hundreds of multiple-use and private property advocacy groups and political interest organizations.

ALRA and LPPV have become significant players in land use and private property issues throughout the United States. ALRA has 18,000 members in 50 states and is acknowledged as a successful advocate for property owners and users of Federal and state lands in all manner of natural resource areas across America.”

If they’re the same organization, and it appears that they are, how have ALRA and LPPV “become significant players” – especially when, as I found in my previous post on ALRA, there appears to be only two employees, one of whom is Charles Cushman?

I next tried looking into the National Center for Public Policy Research. Wikipedia says:

“NCPPR’s work is in the areas of environmental, retirement security, regulatory, economic, and foreign affairs. Particular areas of interest include global warming, endangered species, energy policy, environmental justice, property rights, legal reform, Medicare reform, health care, Social Security, civil rights, foreign affairs/defense and United Nations reform/withdrawal…

NCPPR is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition, whose object is described as “dispelling the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis”.

Amy Moritz Ridenour was and is still, as far as I can tell, the president of NCPPR. Amy has previously been on the wrong side of some major issues, i.e., writing op-eds on behalf of Big Tobacco. And, boy howdy, look who used to be a board member of the NCPPR: the infamous Jack Abramoff, lobbyist extraordinaire.

“Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was a member of NCPPR’s Board of Directors; he resigned in October 2004 after NCPPR’s Board of Directors concluded he had violated the organization’s conflict of interest policy.

In October 2002, Abramoff directed the Mississippi Band of Choctaws to give $1 million to NCPPR, and then told Amy Ridenour to distribute the funds to Capital Athletic Foundation ($450,000), Capitol Campaign Strategies ($500,000) and Nurnberger and Associates ($50,000). In June 2003, Greenberg Traurig, the firm that employed Abramoff, sent $1.5 million to NCPPR, of which Ridenour distributed $250,000 to Capital Athletic Foundation and the remainder to Kay Gold LLC, both controlled by Abramoff. Ridenour said in testimony that she believed Abramoff co-conspirator Michael Scanlon was the owner of Kay Gold (Kaygold).

The Wiki page for Amy Ridenour includes:

“According to Nina Easton’s Gang of Five, Amy Moritz was a veteran organizer of the College Republican National Committee. She was a candidate in 1981 for election as national chairman of the organization, opposed by Jack Abramoff.
Abramoff, Ralph Reed, and Grover Norquist persuaded Moritz to drop out of the race by promising her the appointed position of executive director. With the only serious competitor out of the way, Abramoff won the election easily.

Although Moritz was later rebuffed by the “Abramoff-Norquist-Reed triumvirate” and only given the titular position of “deputy director”, she continued to work with the group and became a good friend of Norquist. Abramoff would also later become a director of the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR).

Lastly, on a whim, I decided to simply put in a search for “Robert J. Smith, Senior Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research” – and laughed when the only relevant result was a link to the same diatribe that ALRA sent, as posted at – wait for it – The Daily Caller.

The kicker was a comment posted at the Daily Caller thread by none other than Amy Ridenour:

Amy Ridenour [to] Esef Brewer • 2 months ago
You’re not the most clever bird in the nest, are you? Try hunting and fishing or even walking on many federal lands sometime and learn the hard way.

One might have thought that someone who helped bilk Native American tribes out of millions of dollars really shouldn’t be commenting about “federal lands” on a public forum…but then, The Daily Caller isn’t all that popular a public forum, which means that Amy is right at home there.

This is our daily Open Thread – I’ve had enough delving for today, now it’s your turn to talk.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 6, 2016: Stumbling Bloc

When catching up on recent political issues yesterday (after having been focused a bit too much on that goddamned Bundy clan and their terrorist cohorts), I ran across this piece on ThinkProgress about the House “Freedom” Caucus. One of my first thoughts while reading it was “the term  ‘Freedom’ has absolutely no connection with the group’s raison d’etre“; after reading it, I grokked that ‘raison’ – reason – didn’t enter into the equation either. An excerpt:

[House Speaker Paul] Ryan spoke about the divisions in the Republican Party at a policy forum hosted by Heritage Action in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, pointing to groups within the party which demand things that are unachievable and refuse to work across the aisle in any way.
“When voices in the conservative movement demand things that they know we can’t achieve with a Democrat in the White House, all that does is depress our base and in turn help Democrats stay in the White House,” Ryan said. “We can’t do that anymore.”

Just a few hours later, four members of the roughly 40-person House Freedom Caucus, a faction of hardline Republicans, said that they will not work with the president and that realism and compromise will cause Republicans to lose elections.

Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) directly addressed Ryan’s comments, saying that the measures the Speaker thinks are “unachievable” are actually just practical, “small things.”

“On the omnibus, the big spending legislation that happened at the end of last calendar year, our group went to leadership and we asked for a couple small things,” he said. “We said do something on this pro-life issue — after all we have this organization that gets your tax dollars and does all kinds of disgusting things. We said it doesn’t have to be defunded completely, but let’s just do something that’s going to protect the sanctity of life.”

According to a Roll Call piece from September 10th, 2015:

“The House Freedom Caucus has spoken.
On Thursday, the conservative HFC took their seventh official position: They will oppose any spending bill that doesn’t defund Planned Parenthood.

“Given the appalling revelations surrounding Planned Parenthood, we cannot in good moral conscience vote to send taxpayer money to this organization while still fulfilling our duty to represent our constituents. We must therefore oppose any spending measure that contains funding for Planned Parenthood.”

Apparently Rep. Jordan and his group are unaware – or willfully ignorant – of the fact that every investigation into the alleged “disgusting things” Planned Parenthood has been wrongfully accused of have found absolutely no evidence to back up those allegations. FFS, even Texas, after exonerating PP, is now prosecuting the criminals who produced the doctored video “proof” that Planned Parenthood was ‘selling baby parts for fun and profit.’ We all know that Texas HATES Planned Parenthood, so one would think that the turn of events there would give the Caucus pause. But, again, ‘reason’ doesn’t seem to enter into the collective mind of the Freedumb Caucus. But I digress…

The ThinkProgress excerpt continues:

“Another “small thing” Jordan pointed to was a request that legislation to reject Syrian refugees be tucked inside the must-pass omnibus spending measure. The bill would have temporarily halted Obama’s plan to bring roughly 10,000 refugees to the United States because of the persistent threats they face in Syria…
…Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) also implied Wednesday that he is not willing to compromise with others in his party, let alone with Democrats. He said that while he knows he has to be realistic with his expectations, “when you have the will of the people and their voice behind you, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.”

I love the way these (in reality) extreme policy shifts are described as “small things.” And it’s particularly ironic that what the House Freedom Caucus considers to be “small things”, which Speaker Ryan called “unrealistic”, are the same things that the current Republican Presidential candidates are running their campaigns on: overturning Roe v Wade, immigration – along with their favorite hopeless cause, repealing Obamacare. Yes, they’re still wasting time trying to overturn Obamacare, now for the 63rd time. I guess that the Repubican’s motto is “if at first you don’t succeed, keep trying and the hell with real governing.”

Pew Research has an interesting piece from October of 2015 on Congress’s “Freedom Caucus.” Here’s a snippet that I found insightful:

“…the Freedom Caucus does not officially disclose who belongs to it (aside from its nine founding members)[**], though various unofficial lists have circulated. Membership is by invitation only, and meetings are not public.”
What most distinguishes the Freedom Caucus from other House Republicans has been their willingness to defy the wishes of leadership…and to band together with like-minded Republicans who threaten to block any temporary measure to fund the government that didn’t also defund Planned Parenthood.”

**Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ) issued a “press release” on January 26th, 2015, announcing the formation of the House Freedom Caucus and its mission statement:

“The House Freedom Caucus gives a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them. We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans.
The HFC’s founding members are Rep. Scott Garrett, Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. John Fleming, Rep. Matt Salmon, Rep. Justin Amash, Rep. Raúl Labrador, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, Rep. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Mark Meadows.”

Along with another 30-odd (very odd!) hard-right Republicans who joined the HFC, after John Boehner decided to give up the position (I suspect mainly so that he could just go home and get drunk,) this small bloc of ultra-conservatives nearly derailed their own party’s contest for the House Speakership by issuing a list of demands questions for Speaker hopefuls. A couple of their “questions” include:

“Would you ensure that the House-passed appropriations bill do not contain funding for Planned Parenthood, unconstitutional amnesty, the Iran deal, and Obamacare?”

~ and ~

“Would you commit to impeach IRS commissioner John Koskisen and pressure the Senate to take it up?”

So they also still believe that the IRS was unfairly targeting conservative groups, despite investigations showing that both religious-right AND non-religious left tax-exempt organizations were audited by the IRS? Paul Ryan is right, they DO need to be “realistic.”

This “freedumb” caucus apparently has zero interest in actual freedom, or governing, or anything beyond their own pseudo-christian-induced tunnel vision. And they’re more than happy to not only fuck with their own party, they’re delighted to fuck with the entire country. As many parents have said to erring children, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

This is our daily Open Thread–have at it!

The Watering Hole, Tuesday February 2, 2016 Groundhog Day Special – The Iowa Caucus

From the Washington Post as of 8:30 PM PST on2/1/16.

“DES MOINES — Supporters of Sen. Ted Cruz delivered a hard-fought upset win over businessman Donald Trump in the Iowa Republican caucuses Monday night, making good on his bet that a methodical campaign organization would eclipse the New Yorker’s media dominance in the first test of GOP voters.

Live results: Track the Democratic caucus vote

Live results: Track the Republican caucus vote

With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Cruz (Tex.) was besting Trump by more than 5,100 votes, with fellow senator Marco Rubio of Florida a close third. Cruz appeared to capitalize on deep support from religious and social conservatives and showed that old-fashioned retail politicking could overcome Trump’s massive political rallies in the Hawkeye state.

On the Democratic side, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were virtually deadlocked with 91 percent of the precincts reporting, as months of heated rhetoric and fierce jockeying in the 2016 race for the White House was finally put to the test on both sides.

What it looks like on the ground in Iowa for the caucuses

Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley had negligible support and was expected to suspend his campaign Monday night, according to a person close to his campaign.”

The Washington Post

iowa caucus

The Watering Hole; Friday December 4 2015; Shade, and Sun

Had I not seen the Sun
I could have borne the shade . . .
(Emily Dickinson)

First, the shade — and yes, it’s hard to bear sometimes:

I’ll be brief. “Brief” seems a blessing, actually, once you read the following contributions by right wing and evangelical (assuming there’s a difference) nutcases. Best advice is to just hang on, it’ll all be over. And soon!

OK, so here goes nuttin’ — eight nuttin’s, actually:

(caution: recommend Saran wrap over your keyboard  before proceeding)

Ted Nugent: Time To ‘Cleanse This Country’ Of Liberals Who Want Everyone ‘Bending Over And Taking It In The Ass’

Erik Rush: Obama Wants Billions To Die To Curb The World Population

E.W. Jackson: Black Lives Matter Is ‘Demonic’

Mike Huckabee Ties Syrian Refugee Issue To San Bernardino Shooting

Glenn Beck: Obama Is Either Delusional Or ‘The Dumbest Son-Of-A-Bitch On The Planet’

Leading Dominionist Says Donald Trump Is A Modern-Day Lincoln Anointed By God

Trump’s Anti-Muslim Bigotry Isn’t Hurting Him. It’s Helping.

Ok, so there, in no particular order, were eight full doses of toxic waste. Glad we’re done with that part. And now, prepare yourself for several (eight, actually) breaths of really clean and fresh air! (And yes, it’s now OK to remove the no-longer-needed Saran Wrap from your keyboard).

Here’s an abbreviated glimpse of what can reasonably be called ‘November’, or maybe ‘Autumn in the Rockies.’ Note the absence of humans, also the absence of things named Trump, Cruz, Huckabee, Nugent, Beck, et al. No toxic waste, in other words. No garbage! So go ahead, feel free to just sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Nov 1 Autumn idyll Beckwith 2055November 1: a pair of Canadians ‘On Golden Pond’

11-2 buzzer in flowers cr 2073November 4: Busy bee working the local ‘Forget-Me-Not’ bonanza

11-3 Last Rose 2076November 7: ‘The Last Rose of’ . . . Autumn

Nov 25 Sunset 2091November 25: The lull — and the SKY! — before the storm

Nov 30 Greenhorn 2110November 29: Same mountain, clear skies (finally!) and LOTS of snow

Dec 1 Snow bunny 2118November 30: Little feller checking out his fresh white world

To close it out, here are two more from a similarly memorable November past:

Nov 2, 2009: Front Range lake reflection (inverted)

November 29, 2009: Thanksgiving (morning) backyard Guest

OK, so that’s it. Two worlds, both available, both accessible, amazingly different. One’s peaceful, the other nerve-wracking. Why is that? Why is the human world so indelibly messed up? Has it always been that way?

William Wordsworth once asked pretty much the same questions, then answered them in just a few words when he wrote, in his poem Lines Written In Early Spring:

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Who, besides political or evangelical hacks, could ever find argument with that? Yeah, I know, there’s not space enough or time enough to list them all. Wouldn’t do any good anyway.

OPEN THREAD

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 28th, 2015: It’s Autumn, Isn’t It?

It’s week 3 of football season, baseball only has another week in the “regular” season, both of which are normal clues that we’re into fall. Normally, by the end of August, we have at least some trees starting to change their leaves as the first harbingers of the spectacular foliage show to come, but…

With a very few exceptions (certain vines, etc.), our tree-covered hillsides are as green as ever.
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According to the official “I Love NY” foliage report,

“Hudson Valley foliage change will remain minimal this weekend, according to foliage spotters. Look for up to 25 percent change in Rockland County, where green still predominates, but some purple, orange and red leaves are beginning to emerge. Dutchess County spotters in Poughkeepsie expect 15 percent color change, with more bright yellow leaves coming into play. Spotters in Columbia, Westchester and Orange counties expect just about 10 percent color change this weekend.”

For some reason, Putnam County, where Wayne and I grew up, is never mentioned, even though there’s plenty of scenic and historic areas in Putnam. And Dutchess County, where we live now, has the longest pedestrian bridge in the world, the Walkway Over the Hudson.

So, where’s our fall foliage? I think I’ll blame Pat Robertson and the religious right for screwing with our seasons. Damned end-timers!

This is our daily Open Thread–whom do you want to blame for something?