Recent ‘Toon Gnuz from Paul Jamiol

Our good friend and honorary Critter Paul Jamiol has been busy lately: illustrating a children’s book; working on a new collection of his excellent editorial cartoons to come out in early 2020; plus, most days, putting out new, grimly accurate observations on these terrible times.  (All images are copyrighted by Paul Jamiol.)

jamiol banger the sausage dog book cover

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That’s just a sampling.  For more, and to see how talented Paul’s wife, Lin, is with her green thumb [and who knew that Paul is an amazing photographer!], visit Jamiol’s World.

Paul has been chronicling political/current events since September 2000.  His encouragement and kindness to us Critters when we left ThinkProgress to start TheZoo, as well as our longstanding friendship, will always be appreciated – hell, I still LOVE our personalized header ‘toon.  I know that we here at TheZoo became pretty burnt out trying to do our part – it’s so damned hard to keep covering this shitshow, when day after day, even hour after hour, horrors upon horrors unfold.  Thank you, Paul, for your dedication to illustrating  what could well become America’s downfall.  It’s a grim task, and I don’t envy you.  Please carry on for as long as you can stand it, and we’ll try to keep up.

 

Open Thread – Come and get it!

Daily Gnuz

Evangelical Christians’ reactions/non-reactions to Charlottesville, via The Christian Post:

First, there are actually a couple of articles where pastors, etal, are finally allowing their collective conscience to break through. Here’s one, and here’s another

Of course, those voices are few, and they’ve got competition, i.e.:

Here’s an opinion piece from “guest contributor” Brad Huddleston, the title of which I thought promising, until I actually read it: “Charlottesville: Jesus Commands Us to ‘Tell The Truth’, So Why Aren’t We?” A few excerpts:

“I was in Charlottesville, Virginia, during the riots and what I observed and what I saw in the media’s coverage are, for the most part, two very different narratives.

Although the atmosphere was volatile everywhere I walked, I have to believe that it was Sovereignty that kept me away from the physical confrontations. I did, however, observe verbal ones. I saw various white supremacist groups filled with hate and evil intentions. They were armed with weapons and ready for a fight. I also watched members of Black Lives Matter as well as Communists/Marxists, carrying their hammer and sickle flags. They were also filled with hate and evil intentions.”

Sounds to me as though it wasn’t “Sovereignty” that kept him away from the physical confrontations, it was his own cowardice. So all he did was “observe” certain things, verbal interactions, certain flags, and interpret them in the light of his own prejudices [“during the RIOTS”.]  How dare he automatically credit BLM with “evil intentions”, when they were protesting against NAZIS and WHITE SUPREMACISTS! And if BLM were involved in extremely heated arguments defending their right to exist as equals in the face of horrifying insults, threats, violence, etc., who would blame them for hating everything that these armed, sometimes uniformed, Confederate-and-Nazi-flag-waving un-American RACISTS do, say, and stand for. The hammer-and-sickle flag-waving “Communists/Marxists”? The author ‘identifies’ them in a later section as the Antifa. I call bullshit. Apparently the author was so terrified he couldn’t even verify what these people were marching for/against.

“The media was slamming the various white supremacist groups (and they should). But I immediately noticed something very perplexing. Very little if any coverage was being given to the various Communist and Marxist groups and violent Black Lives Matter and Antifa activists. It was as if the white supremacists were the only ones who were filled with hate. I kept waiting and waiting for someone to show images of the reality that we, who were actually there, observed.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Let’s never forget that the Communists and Marxists have killed far more people than Hitler. Nevertheless, they are all equal in their evil, and all should be equally condemned. If they are participating in the same riot, they should share the same headline. Because white supremacists’ numbers are small, we should be far more concerned about their Marxist and their Socialist cousins. Our American universities have been cranking them out for years, and we’re now seeing the results.

Both extremes were represented in Charlottesville on that scary day. To give the extreme left a pass, and even affirm them, would make Hitler proud.”

I can’t even comment, I’m so gobsmacked by this. But I would like to ask Mr. Huddleston if any of the BLM or Antifa drove a car at speed into a crowd of human beings, killing one and injuring more than a dozen others; and how many BLM or Antifa were “ARMED WITH WEAPONS and ready to fight” as the Nazi/KKK and white supremacist pseudomilitary actually were?

And then we have conservative black pastors and others defending trump’s abhorrent remarks in “Black Christian Leaders Detest Claim That Trump Is the ‘Driver’ of Racial Division in America.” Here’s just one little slice of this twisted, surreal pie:

“Corrogan Vaughn, a political activist who ran against Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland in the 2016 election, argued that those in the media who blame Trump for the racial tension in the United States are trying to turn Trump into a “villain.”

“Don’t make our commander in chief a villain when in actuality it is more the villainess of the media in terms of making something where nothing is,” Vaughn stated.

Oh, joy, keep screaming that the “media” is to blame, and this imaginary ‘alt-left’, ffs – like who’re you gonna believe, trump and the evangelicals, or your lying eyes?

For more, here’s the Christian Post’s Political page. Have fun.

This is our Open Thread – enjoy!

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 24th, 2017: The Boob Tube Prez

In the same troubling vein as the recent Time Magazine interview with President trump, here’s a few disturbing articles about trump’s overriding fascination with all things TV.
A recent Raw Story article demonstrates the incompetence of both trump and his aides, and shows that trump’s is a presidency without anything resembling an “administration”:

“Some of President Donald Trump’s top aides worry that too much of his time is unsupervised, which — in the past — has led to serious unforced errors that undermine him and his administration.”

Yeah, not to mention the entire country, and world stability.

“And while some advisers support the president’s unconventional approach to the job, others worry that these holes in the president’s schedule are where he goes awry and “watches too much TV”, gets overexcited and posts inflammatory — frequently inaccurate — rants online or speaks by phone with people who encourage his worst instincts.”

What trump’s advisors SHOULD primarily be worrying about is the fact that there are so many “holes in the president’s schedule.” His aides should be scheduling tutors in remedial civics, the Constitution, presidential protocol, history, geography, oh, hell, EVERYTHING he doesn’t seem to have a clue about when it comes to the U.S. government. Maybe if they tried teaching him via videos on a big-screen TV – and kept referring to it as “Reality TV” – they might get him to learn something.

From a second Raw Story article:

“The Washington Post said Sunday that in addition to fretting over what the president will do if left alone too long, Trump’s aides and advisers struggle to keep the president from consuming too much TV or watching things that will upset him and cause him to erupt on Twitter.”

Yes, the President of the United States, the most powerful person in the world, needs a babysitter. I think it would be more helpful if they hired a boot camp drill instructor.

A few excerpts from the Washington Post article by Ashley Parker and Robert Costa:

““President Trump is someone who comes to the White House with a sophisticated understanding of how to communicate, the power of television, the power of imagery, the power of message, and how message, messenger and delivery all work together,” said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president.”

Although Kellyanne managed to actually string words together that made a somewhat coherent sentence, her seeming point that trump’s TV savvy makes him better qualified as a president is ridiculous. The crudeness and ignorance of the actual content of trump’s communications, messages and delivery overshadow any “sophisticated understanding” of the medium used.

“He is also a natural showman. During the campaign, he riveted viewers with his raucous rallies, where he often spoke for more than hour without any notes or teleprompters. And in TV interviews, he sometimes offers tips on matters including lighting and chair placement, with an intuitive sense of what makes for good TV.”

Being a “natural showman” is all well and good for magicians, game-show hosts, carnival barkers, and snake-oil salesman, but again, it is not the top qualification for running a working government. And trump’s speeches where he rambled for “more than [an] hour without notes or teleprompters” are infamous for their non-sequiturs, weird tangents, and outright made-up bullshit.

“During a small working lunch at the White House last month, the question of job security in President Trump’s tumultuous White House came up, and one of the attendees wondered whether press secretary Sean Spicer might be the first to go.

The president’s response was swift and unequivocal. “I’m not firing Sean Spicer,” he said, according to someone familiar with the encounter. “That guy gets great ratings. Everyone tunes in.”

Trump even likened Spicer’s daily news briefings to a daytime soap opera, noting proudly that his press secretary attracted nearly as many viewers.

For Trump — a reality TV star who parlayed his blustery-yet-knowing on-air persona into a winning political brand — television is often the guiding force of his day, both weapon and scalpel, megaphone and news feed.”

This is a president for whom “ratings” and appearance are more important than honesty and integrity. A president who is superficial, crass, and so limited in his ability to learn or mature that, at 70, he still bases decisions as president on what he sees on cable TV, particularly Fox, his favorite propaganda network. A frightening concept, right?

What I find almost as frightening is that the Washington Post article isn’t screaming “THIS PRESIDENT IS TOTALLY FUBAR”, or even “THIS PRESIDENT IS INCOMPETENT”, let alone “THIS IS NOT NORMAL!”

This is our Open Thread – say anything you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 27th, 2017: FAKE President/REAL Threat

Each and every day of the last 37 days since trump started his residency of the White House, we are seeing the true nature of the “policies” in the Bannon/trump agenda. Some examples from this past week follow.

Last week brought us the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference, or NAMBLA (well, they might as well be, as far as ‘family values’ goes.)

Acting President and White Supremacist Steve Bannon, hand-in-hand (briefly) with White House (coughincompetent) Chief of (coughincompetent) Staff Rience Priebus, made a special appearance, during which Bannon casually confirmed that his true agenda is to a) gut First Amendment rights, muzzling the “free press” and protestors; then b) destroy our form of government/turn it into a kakistocracy.

BANNON: “Just like they were dead wrong on the chaos of the campaign and just like they were dead wrong in the chaos of the transition, they are absolutely dead wrong about what’s going on today because we have a team that’s just grinding it through on President Donald Trump promised the American people. And the mainstream media better understand something, all of those promises are going to be implemented…
“… every business leader we’ve had in is saying not just taxes, but it is — it is also the regulation. I think the consistent, if you look at these Cabinet appointees, they were selected for a reason and that is the deconstruction, the way the progressive left runs, is if they can’t get it passed, they’re just gonna put in some sort of regulation in — in an agency.

That’s all gonna be deconstructed and I think that that’s why this regulatory thing is so important.”  [emphasis mine]

A Daily Kos diary from 2/24 describes Bannon’s treacherous goal as well. A brief excerpt, though you should read the entire post:

“Remember the interview in which Bannon wanted to burn down democracy?
“I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed. …

“Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

Back to CPAC: Puppet FAKE president trump also gave a “speech” – and I use that term in the very loosest definition, in that he DID at least utter many many words, one after the other, i.e.:

“Great to be back at CPAC. It’s a place I have really — I love this place. I love you people. So thank you very much. First of all, I want to thank Matt Schlapp and his very, very incredible wife and boss, Mercedes, who have been fantastic friends and supporters and so great when I watch them on television defending me; nobody has a chance. So I want to thank Matt and Mercedes.
When Matt called and asked, I said absolutely I’ll be there with you.

The real reason I said it, I didn’t want him to go against me, so I said absolutely. And it really is an honor to be here. I wouldn’t miss a chance to talk to my friends. These are my friends. And we’ll see you again next year and the year after that. And I’ll be doing this with CPAC whenever I can, and I’ll make sure that we’re here a lot.

If you remember, my first major speech — sit down, everybody, come on.

You know, the dishonest media, they’ll say he didn’t get a standing ovation. You know why? No, you know why? Because everybody stood and nobody sat. So they’ll say he never got a standing ovation, right?

They are the worst.

So sit down. Donald Trump did not get a standing ovation. They leave out the part they never sat down. They leave that out. So I just want to thank you.”

NO, YOU FUCKING IGNORAMUS, THEY NEVER SAT DOWN BECAUSE YOU NEVER FUCKING TOLD/ASKED THEM TO! IT’S CALLED PROTOCOL, DAMMIT, HAVE SOMEONE EXPLAIN IT TO YOU!

Sorry.

Anyway, that was as much as I could read before my brain threatened to short out. If you’re tougher than I am, you can read the whole thing at the link above.

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones had this to say after trump’s “press briefing” prior to which CNN, the N.Y. Times, and the L.A. Times were shut out in favor of (puke) Breitbart [FAKE] “News” and the Washington Times:

“A few days ago, there was some talk about whether Trump would slow-walk federal disaster relief for the Oroville Dam [California] area. As it turned out, he didn’t, but the possibility was taken seriously for a while.
This is what makes the Trump presidency so unpredictable. No modern president would even think of taking revenge on a state that voted against him by refusing disaster aid. No modern president would dream of evicting news outlets from a press briefing because they had criticized him. No modern president would lie about easily checkable facts on a routine basis. No modern president would loudly cite every positive bit of economic news as a personal triumph. No modern president since Nixon would casually ask the FBI to take its side in an ongoing investigation.

 

It’s not that modern presidents couldn’t do these things. They just didn’t. And we all came to assume that none of them would.”

Then there’s this series of tweets from the tiny fingers of the childish man-baby, after the DNC selected Tom Perez as its Chairman:

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Congratulations to Thomas Perez, who has just been named Chairman of the DNC. I could not be happier for him, or for the Republican Party!
5:02 PM – 25 Feb 2017

Tom Perez

✔ @TomPerez

Call me Tom. And don’t get too happy. @keithellison and I, and Democrats united across the country, will be your worst nightmare.
5:49 PM – 25 Feb 2017

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

The race for DNC Chairman was, of course, totally “rigged.” Bernie’s guy, like Bernie himself, never had a chance. Clinton demanded Perez!
6:33 AM – 26 Feb 2017

Seriously, America, FAKE president trump is OUR “worst nightmare.”  When are the Republicans going to finally acknowledge that trump is an incompetent puppet with no morals, whose strings are being pulled not by the GOP, but by an anarchist who, with assistance from murderous Russian strongman Putin, will bring THEIR world “crashing down”, too?  What President-in-effect Bannon plans won’t just destroy the R’s hated “big government”, it will destroy the United States, and totally fuck up the balance of power in the world.

Democrats alone cannot stop trump.  If there are any Republicans with an ounce of patriotism left in their hearts, well, “now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.”  And quickly.

This is our Open Thread, you know what to do.

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 6th, 2017: Don’t Forget RUSSIA

Two recent articles to remind us that at least Senator Ron Wyden has our back when it comes to investigating Vlad the Imputin’s Russians having hacked our election for trump.

First, an excerpt from David Corn’s article at Mother Jones:

Since Trump has moved into the White House, there has been less public chatter in political and media quarters about the Russian hacking that, according to the US intelligence community, was mounted by Putin’s spies as part of an extensive clandestine operation to undermine the US presidential campaign in order to benefit Trump. The same goes for allegations that Trump or his associates interacted with Russian officials or intermediaries during the campaign. After the election, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said “there were contacts” between Trump’s team and Russian officials, and various news reports have noted that the FBI has examined connections between Trump associates and Putin-allied Russians—without offering much detail about these FBI inquiries. Yet in the first, chaos-filled weeks of the Trump presidency, the story of Russian meddling in the election—after blowing up with the disclosure that President Barack Obama and Trump were briefed about private intelligence memos alleging Russia had run a yearslong secret program to cultivate Trump and gather compromising intelligence on him—has seemed to move off the center stage.

Second, a diary by Mark Sumner at Daily Kos adds commentary to the above Mother Jones story:

“Now that the intelligence committees are supposedly on the case—and with the FBI not discussing whatever inquiries it may be holding on this front—the controversy (or scandal!) has been nudged to the back burner. This often happens in Washington: a secret investigation is launched, the story goes dark.”

“Helping cast those shadows is a press that seems to have instant amnesia about anything Russia related, to the extent that Russian forces attacking towns in Ukraine just one day after Trump and Putin had their contents unknown chat, wasn’t enough to push aside Trump’s latest tweets on television ratings. The connections between Putin and Trump, Manafort, Flynn, Page, and others in the regime seldom merits a mention.”

We HAVE to keep this investigation front and center, and demand that our Congresscritters and Senators not only support the search for the truth, but inform we, the people, of that truth, no matter the cost. This is OUR country, OUR democracy, and OUR freedom at stake. We cannot let this issue fade into the background, despite all of the distracting crap continuously popping up in the foreground. There are many fights to fight in this travesty of a presidency, but said presidency’s legitimacy is the biggest fight that we all face.

This is our Open Thread–say whatever you want.

Randy Rainbow weighs in on Alternative Facts

This is how I’d like to see the White House Press Corps respond to this administration’s bullshit artists.

The Weekend Watering Hole, Saturday, January 7th-8th, 2017: Russian Roulette

Here’s some of the most recent articles about the U.S. intelligence agencies’ report on the Russian influence in Trump’s election.

First, here’s a PDF of the report itself.

Next we have relevant articles from yesterday’s Washington Post and the New York Times.

And then a couple of articles on Trump’s post-intelligence-briefing statements, one from the NY Times, and one from this morning’s Raw Story. Apparently Trump took time from his preoccupation with Arnold and The Apprentice to tweet a few idiocies while avoiding the ‘yuge’ Russian elephant in his room.

What will it take for Trump, his minions, and the GOP to finally admit that the chambers in the Russian Roulette revolver aren’t all empty?

This is our Open Thread – join in with whatever you want to talk about.

The Watering Hole, Tuesday, November 29th, 2016: God vs Country

ICYMI, yesterday the Huffington Post had a story about a Republican member of the Electoral College from Texas, Art Sisneros, and his agonizing over how to cast his vote on December 19th. Apparently, Mr. Sisneros refuses to cast his vote for Trump, but also refuses to do what’s best for the country because, well, GOD.

Torn between voting his conscience and dutifully casting his ballot for President-elect Donald Trump, a Republican member of the Electoral College said over the weekend that he would resign his post.

“I believe to resign is to honor the intent of the pledge as it relates to the people of my district,” Texas elector Art Sisneros wrote in a blog post. “Since I can’t in good conscience vote for Donald Trump, and yet have sinfully made a pledge that I would, the best option I see at this time is to resign my position as an Elector.”

Sisneros’ decision to step aside comes as some members of the Electoral College face mounting pressure from voters and advocacy groups to flip their votes against Trump, even if he won the popular vote in their states.

In his post, Sisneros argued that casting his vote for Trump would “bring dishonor to God,” and said that political parties and “winner-take-all” states destroyed the original intention of the Electoral College. Sisneros said in August that he was considering voting against Trump if the real estate mogul were to win the popular vote in Texas. But he told Politico Monday that he would instead resign.

The rest of the country’s 538 electors will choose Sisneros’ replacement when they convene on Dec. 19 to officially elect Trump as the next president. All of Texas’ 38 electoral votes are expected to go to Trump, who beat Hillary Clinton in the state by more than 800,000 votes.

“The people will get their vote,” Sisneros wrote. “I will sleep well at night knowing I neither gave in to their demands nor caved to my convictions. I will also mourn the loss of our republic.”

[emphasis mine]

I have no idea how ANYONE could “sleep well at night” and at the same time “mourn the loss of our republic.” The idea that someone could view this horrendously important Electoral vote as a choice of “conscience” between serving his god or serving his country is totally beyond me. But obviously Mr. Sisneros strongly believes that, because he took what he now calls a “sinful” pledge to the GOP that he now regrets, he can only make himself right with his god by abdicating all civic responsibility.

From Sisneros’ blog post:

“The heart of this issue now is, does honoring the pledge cause me to sin?…
“…Aren’t Electors elected to represent the people? Yes, they absolutely are. That only begs the question, what does it mean to represent the people? This is where our understanding or lack thereof of a representative form of government comes into play. As an elected representative head, I am to speak on behalf of and in the interest of the CD36. It is my conviction that the greatest danger to my district is not a Hillary or Trump Presidency, but it is the judgement of God. If we continue to disobey His clear commands, we can expect to receive His judgement. If being a “Faithless Elector” means standing alone on principle in the hopes that God would continue to grant patience on our district, then it is worth any political future, threats to my safety, and whatever else may come my way.”

This isn’t just about YOU, Mr. Sisneros–what comes your way is nothing compared to what will happen to our nation. Get it through your head: God doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your district, Mr. Sisneros, any more than he gives a rat’s ass about our country – which should be obvious based on the fact that Donald J. Trump is now the President-Elect. And your resignation, Mr. Sisneros, is just one more step in greasing the wheels on that handbasket we’re all going to hell in. I hope that you never “sleep well” again, you chickenshit.

This is our Open Thread–have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 28th, 2016: Warning Signs of a Dictatorship

From November 23rd in Foreign Policy Magazine, “10 Ways to Tell if Your President is a Dictator”, by Stephen M. Walt, here’s a brief [believe it or not] summary. (You’ll need to register in order to be able to read the entire article. Registration is free, and allows you access to five articles per month.)

An excerpt from the opening:

“…if you live in the United States, what you should really worry about is the threat that Trump may pose to America’s constitutional order. His lengthy business career suggests he is a vindictive man who will go to extreme lengths to punish his opponents and will break a promise in a heartbeat and without remorse. The 2016 campaign confirmed that he has little respect for existing norms and rules — he refused to release his tax returns, lied repeatedly, claimed the electoral and political systems were “rigged” against him, threatened to jail his opponent if he won, among other such violations — and revealed his deep contempt for both his opponents and supporters. Nor does he regret any of the revolting things he did or said during the campaign, because, as he told the Wall Street Journal afterward, “I won.”[**] For Trump, it seems, the ends really do justify the means.

[**Tweet from WSJ: “When asked if he thought his rhetoric had gone too far in the campaign, Donald Trump told WSJ: “No. I won.”]

“Given what is at stake, one of the most important things we can all do is remain alert for evidence that Trump and those around him are moving in an authoritarian direction. For those who love America and its Constitution more than they love any particular political party or any particular politician, I offer as a public service my top 10 warning signs that American democracy is at risk.”

1) Systematic efforts to intimidate the media.

A free, energetic, vigilant, and adversarial press has long been understood to be an essential guarantee of democratic freedoms, because without it, the people in whose name leaders serve will be denied the information they need to assess what the politicians are doing.

If the Trump administration begins to enact policies designed to restrict freedom of the press, or just intimidate media organizations from offering critical coverage, it will be a huge (or if you prefer, yuge) warning sign.

Trump has already proposed “opening up” libel laws so that public figures can sue the press more easily. This step would force publishers and editors to worry about costly and damaging lawsuits even if they eventually win them, and it would be bound to have a chilling effect on their coverage.

His administration could deny access to entire news organizations like the New York Times if they were too critical of Trump’s policies or just too accurate in documenting his failures. Just because the First Amendment guarantees free speech doesn’t mean some parts of the media can’t be stampeded into pulling punches or once again indulging in “false equivalence.”

2) Building an official pro-Trump media network.

“…While trying to suppress critical media outlets, Trump could also use the presidency to bolster media that offer him consistent support. Or he could even try to create an official government news agency that would disseminate a steady diet of pro-Trump coverage.

In Trump’s ideal world, Americans would get their news from some combination of Breitbart, Fox News, and the president’s own Twitter feed…”

3) Politicizing the civil service, military, National Guard, or the domestic security agencies.

“One of the obstacles to a democratic breakdown is the government bureaucracy, whose permanent members are insulated from political pressure by existing civil service protections that make it hard to fire senior officials without cause. But one can imagine the Trump administration asking Congress to weaken those protections, portraying this step as a blow against “big government” and a way to improve government efficiency.

But if the president or his lieutenants can gut government agencies more or less at will, the fear of being fired will lead many experienced public servants to keep their heads down and kowtow to whatever the president wants, no matter how ill-advised or illegal it might be.

And don’t assume the military, FBI, National Guard, or the intelligence agencies would be immune to this sort of interference. Other presidents (or their appointees) have fired generals who questioned their policy objectives, as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld did during George W. Bush’s first administration when he removed Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, who had the temerity to tell a congressional committee that the occupation of Iraq was going to need a lot more people than Rumsfeld had claimed. Other generals and admirals got the message and stayed out of Rumsfeld’s way for the rest of his disastrous tenure as defense secretary. There have also been fights in the past over control of the National Guard, but a move to assert greater federal authority over the guard would give Trump a powerful tool to use against open expressions of dissent.”

4) Using government surveillance against domestic political opponents.

“This step wouldn’t be entirely new either, insofar as Nixon once used the CIA to infiltrate anti-war organizations during the Vietnam War. But the government’s capacity to monitor the phones, emails, hard drives, and online activities of all Americans has expanded enormously since the 1960s.

As far as we know, however, no one has yet tried to use these new powers of surveillance to monitor, intimidate, embarrass, deter, or destroy political opponents.

…an ambitious and unscrupulous president could use the ability to monitor political opponents to great advantage. He would need the cooperation of top officials and possibly many underlings as well, but this only requires loyal confederates at the top and compliant people below. The White House had sufficient authority, under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, to convince U.S. government employees to torture other human beings.”

5) Using state power to reward corporate backers and punish opponents.

“A hallmark of corrupt quasi-democracies is the executive’s willingness to use the power of the state to reward business leaders who are loyal and to punish anyone who gets in the way. That’s how Putin controls the “oligarchs” in Russia, and it is partly how Erdogan kept amassing power and undermining opponents in Turkey…

…I know, I know: Corruption of this sort is already a problem here in the Land of the Free —whether in the form of congressional pork or the sweet deals former government officials arrange to become lobbyists once they leave office — so why single out Trump? The problem is that Trump’s record suggests he thinks this is the right way to do business: You reward your friends, and you stick it to your enemies every chance you get.”

6) Stacking the Supreme Court.

“Trump will likely get the opportunity to appoint several Supreme Court justices, and the choices he makes will be revealing. Does he pick people who are personally loyal and beholden to him or opt for jurors with independent standing and stellar qualifications? Does he pick people whose views on hot-button issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and campaign financing comport with his party’s, or does he go for people who have an established view on the expansiveness of executive power and are more likely to look the other way if he takes some of the other steps I’ve already mentioned? And if it’s the latter, would the Senate find the spine to say no?”

7) Enforcing the law for only one side.

“…given the nature of Trump’s campaign and the deep divisions within the United States at present, a key litmus test for the president-elect is whether he will direct U.S. officials to enforce similar standards of conduct on both his supporters and his opponents.

If anti-Trump protesters are beaten up by a band of Trump’s fans, will the latter face prosecution as readily as if the roles were reversed? Will local and federal justice agencies be as vigilant in patrolling right-wing hate speech and threats of violence as they are with similar actions that might emanate from the other side?…If Trump is quick to call out his critics but gives racists, bigots, and homophobes a free pass because they happen to like him, it would be another sign he is trying to tilt the scales of justice in his favor.”

8) Really rigging the system.

“…given the promises he has made and the demography of the electorate, Trump and the GOP have every incentive to use the next four years to try to stack the electoral deck in their favor. Look for more attempts to gerrymander safe seats for House Republicans and more efforts to prevent likely Democratic voters from getting to the polls in 2018 and 2020.”

9) Fearmongering.

“Stoking public fears about safety and well-being is a classic autocratic tactic, designed to convince a frightened population to look to the Leader for protection. Trump played this card brilliantly in the campaign, warning of “Mexican rapists,” foreign governments that “steal our jobs,” “scores of recent migrants inside our borders charged with terrorism,” and so on. He also hinted that his political rivals were somehow in cahoots with these various “enemies.” A frightened population tends to think first about its own safety, and forget about fundamental liberties, and would be more likely to look the other way as a president amassed greater power.

The worst case, of course, would be an Erdogan-like attempt to use a terrorist attack or some other equally dramatic event as an excuse to declare a “state of emergency” and to assume unprecedented executive authority. Bush and Cheney used 9/11 to pass the Patriot Act, and Trump could easily try to use some future incident as a — with apologies for the pun — trumped-up excuse to further encroach on civil liberties, press freedoms, and the other institutions that are central to democracy.”

10) Demonizing the opposition.

“Trying to convince people that your domestic opponents are in league with the nation’s enemies is one of the oldest tactics in politics, and it has been part of Trump’s playbook ever since he stoked the “birther” controversy over Obama’s citizenship. After he becomes president, will he continue to question his opponents’ patriotism, accuse them of supporting America’s opponents, and blame policy setbacks on dark conspiracies among Democrats, liberals, Muslims, the Islamic State, “New York financial elites,” or the other dog whistles so beloved by right-wing media outlets like Breitbart? Will he follow the suggestions of some of his supporters and demand that Americans from certain parts of the world (read: Muslims) be required to “register” with the federal government?

Again, these are the same tactics Erdogan and Putin have used in Turkey and Russia, respectively, to cement their own authority over time by initiating a vicious cycle of social hostility. When groups within a society are already somewhat suspicious of each other, extremists can trigger a spiral of increasing hostility by attacking the perceived internal enemy in the hope of provoking a harsh reaction. If the attacked minority responds defensively, or its own hotheads lash out violently, it will merely reinforce the first group’s fears and bolster a rapid polarization. Extremists on both sides will try to “outbid” their political opponents by portraying themselves as the most ardent and effective defenders of their own group. In extreme cases, such as the Balkan Wars in the 1990s or Iraq after 2003, the result is civil war. Trump would be playing with fire if he tries to stay in power by consistently sowing hatred against the “other,” but he did it in the campaign, and there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t do it again.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“This list of warning signs will no doubt strike some as overly alarmist. As I said, it is possible — even likely — that Trump won’t try any of these things (or at least not very seriously) and he might face prompt and united opposition if he did. The checks and balances built into America’s democratic system may be sufficiently robust to survive a sustained challenge. Given the deep commitment to liberty that lies at the heart of the American experiment, it is also possible the American people would quickly detect any serious attempt to threaten the present order and take immediate action to stop it.

The bottom line: I am by no means predicting the collapse of democracy in the United States under a President Donald J. Trump. What I am saying is that it is not impossible, and there are some clear warning signs to watch out for. Now, as always, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Or to use a more modern formulation: If you see something, say something.”

 

This is our Open Thread – feel free to talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 7th, 2016: “Trouble sleeping?”

With the most consequential election of my lifetime now just one day away, a scene from Star Trek: Next Generation’s “Best of Both Worlds” Part 1″ keeps returning to my mind. It takes place before the battle with the Borg, as Captain Picard paces through the Enterprise, and finds Guinan alone in Ten-Forward:

Guinan: “Trouble sleeping?”

Capt. Picard: “It’s something of a tradition, Guinan – Captain touring the ship before a battle.”

Guinan: “Hmm. Before a *hopeless* battle, if I remember the tradition correctly.”

Capt. Picard: “Not necessarily. Nelson toured the HMS Victory before Trafalgar.”

Guinan: “Yes, but Nelson never returned from Trafalgar, did he?”

Capt. Picard: “No, but the battle was won.”

Guinan: “Do you expect this battle to be won?”

Capt. Picard: “We may yet prevail. That’s a… a conceit. But… it’s a healthy one. I wonder if the Emperor Honorius watching the Visigoths coming over the seventh hill truly realized that the Roman Empire was about to fall. This is just another page in history, isn’t it? Will this be the end of *our* civilization? Turn the page.”

I wish that I had the calmness, almost equanimity, with which Captain Picard views the possibility of approaching doom and the likely takeover of the United Federation of Planets by a heartless, merciless “race.” I cannot view a similar fate for our country without a feeling of utter dread.

“We may yet prevail” as Picard says, if by “prevail” one means that Hillary Rodham Clinton wins the Presidency. If that happens, in my humble opinion, we the sane will have only one night, possibly, to feel the relief of dodging a bullet. As long-time students of politics and human nature, particularly ‘American’ human nature, we Critters and Zoosters and other reality-based folks are all too well aware that a final election result which denies Donald Trump the Presidency is just the beginning. There inevitably will be a barrage of ‘bullets’, figuratively at best, to continue to dodge. And it may well “be the end of *our* ‘civilization’.”

Guinan offers hope of a sort:

Guinan: “This isn’t the end.”

Capt. Picard: You say that with remarkable assuredness.”

Guinan: “With experience. When the Borg destroyed my world, my people were scattered throughout the universe. We survived – as will humanity survive. As long as there’s a handful of you to keep the spirit alive, you will prevail – even if it takes a millennium.”

And while Guinan could be right, that “[t]his isn’t the end”, I wish that *our* people were able to scatter throughout the universe. “Humanity” may survive, but will it still be recognizable as “human”?

This is our daily Open Thread–talk me down?

The Watering Hole(s); Thursday/Friday November 3/4 2016; The Ugly American(s)

In fall of 1958, the bestselling novel The Ugly American hit the shelves. I was a junior in H.S. at that point and while I never took the time to read the book, I did become familiar with the concept “Ugly American” and how it was applied, over ensuing years,  to various types of personalities that were ‘normal’ here at home but were seen as ‘ugly’ in foreign countries everywhere. In 1963 I saw the movie, and though I didn’t think it amounted to a whole lot (in spite of Brando as one of the main characters), the concept of “Ugly American” remained intact. But that was what, 53-58 years ago? Today, I suggest, the whole notion has become far more expansive and, in the process, quite . . . ‘deplorable'(?) as well. Back in the fifties and sixties, ‘The Ugly American’ referred mainly to diplomatic ‘failures’ in S.E. Asia, whereas today it refers to, at least in my extremely humble opinion, the entire of the Republican Party, once known as the Grand Old Party but today become more the party whose self-defined task has become the stirring up of envy, resentment, and hatred amongst all who are interested in — or susceptible to — being thus stirred.

Today. . .

Today is November 3, 2016; our General Election is Tuesday next, exactly five days from now. There’s a big decision about to be made, and what concerns me more than anything else is that the electorate is, according to most current polls wherein those who seem to enjoy stirring up envy, resentment, and hatred are separated by only a few percentage points from those whose goal is to maintain the hope that one of these days America will FINALLY become the country where “we the people” both understand and support the mandate implicit in her 240 year dream: “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” In order to accomplish that feat, it’s no secret that our sole hope is to find the means of encouraging an Electoral Philosophy whose sole goal is to FINALLY work DILIGENTLY to turn those dreams into a functional reality.

If the run-up to this year’s election has demonstrated one thing over the last 18 months, it’s that we remain a LONG way from achieving anything even close to the Constitutional aspirations quoted above. The vitriol that has dominated the entire of the campaign so far stands alone (at least in my lifetime) as the perfect reflection of the consequences of politically inspired irrational Fear and Hate, punctuated by Greed — i.e. the functional opposite of political decency.

I recently had an (online email) conversation with an elderly relative, one who has been a dedicated Republican for her entire life, one whose first presidential vote was for Dwight Eisenhower back in 1956. She asked me what I thought of the upcoming election, its candidates, etc., adding that there was no way she could ever vote for the GOP candidate this year because it was Donald Trump, a man whom she most ably described as “A corrupt liar and a blow hard womanizer.” She said she didn’t care for Hillary Clinton either, and was at a loss as to what to do, and wondered how I felt about the whole issue.

I spared no punches and wrote this back:

In re politics: I’m not a really big Hillary fan either, but Trump is the most disgusting and unqualified POTUS candidate the country has had in 240 years. So what to do? I’ve already voted (we vote by mail here in Colorado). My vote was “philosophic” and not for any particular individual candidate(s), so –

  • since I like (and depend upon) both Social Security and Medicare;
  • and since I support the concept of Universal single-payer health care for everyone (along with the commensurate ‘dismissal’ of the health insurance ‘industry’);
  • and since I support PUBLIC Education K-12 AND tuition-free college;
  • and since I support genuine immigration reform with a path to citizenship for all non-criminal (i.e. most) undocumenteds;
  • and since I support higher tax rates on those who make millions, plus the closing of Corporate tax loopholes along with a livable minimum wage for the people who do most of the work;
  • and since I really do NOT EVER want to see another Supreme Court loaded with extreme right-wingers (like Scalia, Thomas, et al.);
  • and since I want to see a strong, genuine, and effective (local and global) ‘war’ on climate change;
  • and since I detest racism, misogyny, xenophobia (and every other type of irrational hate and fear, including esp. Islamophobia);
  • and since I remain strongly pro-choice both in re women’s health/reproductive issues AND on all issues of LGBT/gay marriage, etc.;
  • and since I remain a dyed-in-the-wool environmental preservationist;
  • and since I really really support the notion of getting rid of the Supreme Court’s bogus Citizens United decision that turned our elections into nothing more than a Big Money shopping/purchasing event –

I voted a straight Dem ticket from top to bottom. I voted that way solely because I know that the current incarnation of the GOP is, sadly, against virtually every policy I see as proper and/or necessary. What saddens me more, though, is that I’m 99% certain that most — maybe none — of the stuff I’m strongly in favor of has little or no chance of coming to pass in my lifetime, much less at any time in the future. Human fear, hate, and greed will never allow it, and all current and future generations will merely wind up suffering the inevitable consequences, just as have all current and past generations been obliged to do.

“Philosophic” the operative word. No candidate is going to be able to deliver on all of the “and since” items listed above, but one of the candidates will at least veto efforts by “The Ugly Americans” in the House and Senate to obstruct and destroy; the other candidate will support each and all such destructive efforts — and probably add some of his own as well. Ergo my cited voting protocol.

What follows here below is my presentation of just a handful or two of examples from only the last few days of the current stirring up of envy, resentment, and hatred exercise, as practiced by some of those who are, in my considered opinion, prime examples of those Ugly Americans who support the elimination of decency in this country, always in favor of its exact opposite(s). The examples are posted as links to and quotes from a variety of articles on a number of topics. Also included are ‘appropriate'(?) graphics that I’ve collected over the years — graphics that seem to ably support the overall premises portrayed and described in the links.

Enjoy. Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 3rd, 2016: One of These “Christians” is Not Like The Other

Okay, this is going to be a little long, so go ahead and get your favorite beverage/sustenance. Are you sitting comfortably?

I received the following email the other day from Michael Sherrard of Faithful America:

A new group calling itself the “American Evangelical Association”[**] is generating headlines with a letter attacking Faithful America.

Signed by dozens of Donald Trump’s biggest supporters on the religious right, it makes a wild series of accusations against Christian social-justice leaders and organizations.

The letter names Faithful America alongside Sojourners’ Jim Wallis and evangelical creation-care advocate Rich Cizik, and claims that our activism has contributed to “a growth industry trafficking in human baby organs,” “violent inner-city lawlessness,” and “increasing drugs, disease, crime, gangs, and terrorism.”

The charges are bizarre, but the letter’s signers – several of whom have been named by the Trump campaign as official advisors and endorsers – have a clear mission: Delegitimizing Christians who dare to challenge Trump’s politics of fear and hatred.

With barely a month left before Election Day, polls show that Trump continues to hold a double-digit lead among white Christians, and too many Christian leaders have been intimidated into silence.

With no buildings, denominations, or charitable tax status to protect, Faithful America is free to take on the Christians who are baptizing Trump’s heinous agenda. But we need your support to do it.  Donate to Faithful America

The full letter is almost eight pages long, but here’s an abridged version and some of the most significant signers:

“An Open Letter to Christian pastors, leaders and believers who assist the anti-Christian Progressive political movement in America”
After years of earnest but less public attempts, it is now with heavy hearts, and a hope for justice and restoration, that we Christian leaders urge ‘progressive’ evangelicals and Catholics to repent of their work that often advances a destructive liberal political agenda. We write as true friends knowing that most believers mean well. We desire the best for you and for the world God loves.

As recent leaked documents confirm, and as Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners eventually admitted, wealthy, anti-Christian foundations, following the lead of billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, fund and “rent” Christian ministers as “mascots” serving as surprising validators for their causes. The consequent realities include injury to countless people, the Church, the family, nation and the global Church including many martyrs.

We must reclaim the Church’s witness in the world. Biblical truth and wisdom are the highest love for human beings. While God loves justice and mercy for all, many “social justice” campaigns are politically crafted and not the true Gospel. Only the truth of our sin, both personal and systemic, and Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for our salvation and rebirth, is true hope for persons and nations. The gospel charges all things with hope.

Consider some of the consequences of Progressive political activism over the past eight years:

1. A growth industry trafficking in human baby organs and body parts – funded and defended by the Democratic Party.

2. The abandonment of a biblical view of marriage that protected and liberated children and adults from centuries of pagan slavery, poverty, polygamy and non-life-giving sexuality.

3. The Transgender agenda imposed by Obama-government edict, including gender re-education to be forced on our citizens, businesses, schools, military and churches.

4. Doubling of our national debt, economic stagnation and increased welfare dependency.

5. Increased minority unemployment, poverty and violent inner city lawlessness, with an accompanying loss of opportunity, self-determination and family stability.

6. Heightened racial division and tension, and the growing phenomenon of paid demonstrators being recruited and dispatched to instigate protests that often become riots.

7. Open borders and ‘sanctuary’ cities increasing drugs, disease, crime, gangs and terrorism.

8. Forced refugee resettlement in hundreds of American cities without citizen consent, mandated by the federal government in collusion with the United Nations. “Refugees” are primarily non-assimilating Muslims, while authorities reject persecuted Christians.

9. Hostility towards Judeo-Christian religious liberty in our courts, media and universities including the suppression of conservative speakers, free thought and moral education.

10. The widespread, political use of the IRS to intimidate conservative, patriotic and Christian groups that disagree with the current political establishment.

For many years, Soros’s Open Society and other liberal foundations have funded not only most of the disturbing campaigns mentioned above (1-10) but also the Religious Left, using and creating ostensibly evangelical and Catholic organizations to “message and mobilize” Christians into Progressive causes. They use the Marxist-Alinsky tactic of funding “ministers” who cherry-pick faith language to confuse and divide the Church’s morality, mission and vote.

At a time when many Christian ministries are struggling, a few of the Soros network “faith” and “interfaith” grantees are Jim Wallis of Sojourners, Richard Cizik’s New Evangelical Partnership, Telos, J Street to malign Israel, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Faithful America and Gamaliel. Faith in Public Life to “counter” Christians and the Tea Party in the media and, with PICO, advocates for amnesty, mass Islamic migration, and even sought to influence the visit and priorities of Pope Francis himself. Billions of additional dollars to “Christian VOLAGs” for large scale “refugee” and migrant resettlement often comes from the Obama administration.

We urge you to question the true intentions of persons or organizations that receive money from Soros and other billionaire globalists. We must not give their surrogates four more years.

And so we ask again, why do those who claim to share our faith in Christ continue to advocate for politicians who will pass legislation, and appoint justices and judges who will attack Christian liberty and persecute believers? Turning our nation over to the enemies of biblical faith does not honor Christ, promote love of neighbor, or advance God’s kingdom in the world.

We ask those who have intentionally or unwittingly aided the Progressive agenda in the past to look at the actual consequences of their policies. Please stop inviting fellow believers to assist global profiteers and political activists who are determined to de-Christianize America.

Please repent and turn away from those who attack the Church. Say “no” to blood money. Refuse funds from anyone attempting to put the Church and America in chains.

Selected signers:

Lt. Gen. Wm. “Jerry” Boykin (U.S. Army, retired)
Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely (U.S. Army, retired)
Bishop Harry R Jackson, Jr. (High Impact Leadership Coalition)
Dr. Everett Piper (President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University)
Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riano (Executive Vice President, Regent University)
Dr. Wayne Grudem (Phoenix Seminary)
Dr. Jay Richards (The Catholic University of America)
David Barton (author and speaker)
Rep. John Becker (Ohio state representative)
Dr. Jim Garlow (Senior Pastor, Skyline Church, San Diego)
Pastor Steve Riggle (Grace Church, Houston TX)
Pastor Steve Smothermon (Legacy Church, Albuquerque NM)
Fr. Frank Pavone (Priests for Life)
Eric Metaxas (author, talk-show host)
Tim Wildmon (American Family Association)
George Barna (Researcher and author)
Mat Staver (Liberty Counsel)

[**Note: A Google search found nothing about this “American Evangelical Association”]

Next, an insane exhortation to his fellow Evangelicals by Paige Patterson, Op-Ed Contributor to the Christian Post, titled “How Evangelicals Should be Like Hitler’s Army on Election Day” [yes, he said “Hitler’s Army”]:

What do April 30, 1945, and Nov. 8, 2016, have in common?

The first date was the culmination of World War II. On that fateful day, Adolf Hitler apparently shot himself in the mouth as Russian soldiers moved in on his compound. But in the midst of all that tragedy, an interesting saga played itself out in Germany.

Before Hitler realized that he had lost the war, almost all other Germans knew it well. The Russians were closing from the East, and the Americans came from the West.

The dilemma of many German troops was relatively simple: “Shall we surrender to the Russians or shall we head west and surrender to the Americans?”

Apparently no small number made every effort to fall into the hands of the Americans.

No one knew for sure what would happen to them if they opted for the American option. But the German army knew well what would happen if they were overtaken by Russian generals. In the end, it was what they knew, not what they did not know, that forced their choice. Having heard and often experienced the kindness of American soldiers, many decided that this was the best hope for the future.

And what about Nov. 8, 2016 — election day in America?

Apparently, there has never been an election quite like it. The two presidential candidates both sport disapproval ratings among the highest of any candidates in history. What on earth shall Christians do? Some have said that they will stay home that November morning and stoke the fire in the fireplace. Others will write in a preferred name — some have even said that this name will be “Jesus.”

There is another interesting aspect to this dilemma. There are actually three different ways to vote for Hillary Clinton. The first is the one that she prefers. Pull the lever for her to be the next president of the United States. But if you cannot bear to do that, then write in the name of a candidate who has no chance of winning or pour another cup of coffee and watch a vacuous TV show at home. Mrs. Clinton will be pleased, because she is confident that the vast majority of Democrats and other liberals WILL vote for her even if they intensely dislike her and do not trust her.

“The sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8).

We know what will happen if the win goes to Mrs. Clinton. Judges throughout the judiciary will be appointed from among those who support the execution of preborns under the dubious rhetoric of caring for the health of women (those who managed to be born, that is). These same judges will continue to attack the religious liberty of evangelical Christians, and the preaching of much that the Bible teaches will be interpreted as “hate crimes,” especially if proclaimed in a public setting.

On the other hand, we have no idea what Donald Trump will do. His record is anything but stellar. But we do know what he has promised, and we are already aware of the docket of judges from which he promises to name those charged with the protection of constitutional rights. Should he keep his promises on only half of these issues, Americans will have a chance to save the lives of infants still protected in the wombs of their mothers and the sanctity of religious liberty. The first freedom that alone gives meaning to all of the others will be maintained in a world that desperately needs this witness.

A presidential election is not about whether you like someone. Neither is it about whether you agree with him on everything. When was the last time you voted for a president with whom you agreed at every point?

Like the Germans and their surrender, the question is simple: Do you cast a ballot, in any one of three ways, that you know for sure will be devastating to preborn infants and to religious liberty, or do you cast a vote for a candidate who offers some hope?

We must hear the warning of Christ and see to it that the children of this world will not be wiser than the children of light. Every infant must be the recipient of a voting parent or grandparent who wishes to give that child a chance to live. And our religious liberty must be preserved!

Choose the candidate who offers hope, not the candidate who guarantees disaster. And you will make that decisive choice!

There’s just too much delusion, and too many lies, buzzwords, and dog-whistles here for one person to pick apart. So…

…This is our daily Open Thread – go ahead, everyone, have at it!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 24th, 2016: 353 and Counting

So, another day, another mass shooting. This one took place last night at the Macy’s store in the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington. According to the info on Raw Story’s coverage of the shooting, four women were killed while shopping in the Macy’s cosmetics department. The shooter, described as a young Hispanic male, is still at large, and no motive or explanation has yet been reported.

But already, the “good guy with a gun”-lovers are out there shooting their mouths off – and I honestly wish that were literally true, so we sane people wouldn’t have to hear their idiocy. One example is from a guy named Michael Parker whom I’ve argued with before on various ThinkProgress threads:

“Michael Parker Had I been at this mall I would have engaged the shooter with my concealed carry weapon. Never mind…Washington State does not honor my Virginia concealed carry permit so I would have run for the hills like the rest of the sheep. Thank God Virginia recognizes Washington State concealed carry permits so if this happened in Virginia a visiting concealed carry Washington resident could have engaged the shooter. Last December, the Virginia Attorney General tried to limit Virginia’s concealed carry reciprocity to just 5 states. The NRA and the Virginia Legislators got involved…yada, yada, yada ….and now Virginia recognizes the concealed carry permits from all 50 states.”

Another commenter sarcastically said:

“Obviously we need more guns and fewer gun regulations. What could go wrong? Just suspend every one of the Bill of Rights except the 2nd Amendment and America will be great again.”

To which another gun-totin’ hero-wannabe replied:

“You are correct. That is PRECISELY what we need. Had there been a concealed carry weapon’s holder at the mall, like there was in Minnesota, the threat would have been neutralized. It’s stories like this PRECISELY why i carry a firearm.”

Apparently women shopping for cosmetics should only do so in states that allow the gun-carrying menfolk to protect the little ladies while they do so. Dog knows that going unarmed into Macy’s is just too fucking dangerous, so ladies, always expect the unexpected while you’re trying a new shade of lipstick–dontcha know, the real reason why there’s so many mirrors in cosmetics departments is so that we can scope out the folks behind us for possible shooters, not so that we can see how some silly makeup looks on us!

So, wait, how does this work with our big bad menfolk totin’ guns (concealed- OR open-carry) into a mall? As Bill Maher discussed last night – and Wayne and I have discussed before this – open-carry, at least, is quite honestly only safe for WHITE MEN to do. In an open-carry state, one probably won’t see too many men of color packing heat – or at least not for long, as SOMEONE will either shoot them ‘just because’, or report them to the police, who will come and shoot the ‘suspicious’ armed black man on sight.

As noted in the ThinkProgress thread, “There have been 353 mass shootings in the United States in 2016, according to the Mass Shootings Tracker.” C’mon, you crazy shooters, there’s still plenty of time left in 2016, let’s see how high you can make that number go before the new year! And you “good guy(s) with a gun”, Christmas shopping is just around the corner, and the malls will be packed, so get your gunz and ammo ready!

This is our daily Open Thread, so talk about gunz or whatever else you want.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 21st, 2016: Contents Under Pressure

Yesterday at work, after glancing at my calendar, I did a mental double-take, thinking, ‘holy jeez, it’s May 20th already, 2016 is going by too quickly!’ Later, after some Trump BS refocused my attention on the upcoming election, my thoughts changed to, ‘holy jeez, there’s still nearly six months until the election, I wish we could just jump ahead to November and get it done and over with!’

I doubt if any of us, during the campaign season that led up to King George being anointed by the SCOTUS, and even during the eight years that we (and the rest of the world) suffered through under the BushCo maladministration, ever thought that any candidate for the Presidency could come along who was even more unqualified than Dubya, and just as amoral as Darth Cheney. The stress of those years pales in comparison to what we, and everyone else in the reality-based world, are experiencing during this unbelievably mind-numbing Trump campaign.

A continual state of stress is unhealthy for an individual both physically and mentally, as we all can attest to. Is it any wonder that the heightened stress of these last several months is having an even worse impact on so many Americans than that of the Bush years, even with the never-ending war(s), the “you’re either with us or against us” mantra, and the economic crash that affected every American except those who caused it?

And after BushCo, the undercurrent of American racism, which slowly became ‘acceptable’ when President Obama won in 2008, turned into the norm in an ever-growing and ever-more-violent tide that has eroded the foundations of the Republic nearly to the point of collapse. Even if Donald Trump doesn’t win the Presidency, will the added pressure and stress of the national and international turmoil brought about by Trump’s – and his followers’ – jingoism, ignorance and hatred be too overwhelming to keep this Union intact?

Personally, I think something’s got to blow under all of this pressure, because it’s not going to ease anytime soon. It only leads one to question: when, how big, and how toxic will the fallout be?

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

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 14th, 2016: Cuteness Trumps Evil At The End

This weekend I OD’d on Trump. And jelly beans. I’m not sure which made me feel worse.

I refuse to watch any of the myriad videos of Hair Drumpf that have dominated the internets over the past, well, forever it seems. As I have mentioned in comments elsewhere, being a lifelong New Yorker means, in part, that we’ve been exposed to toxic levels of NY’s own version of Agent Orange since long before “Celebrity Apprentice” existed. Having long ago dismissed Drumpf à l’Orange as a loud-mouthed, self-important asshole, it’s frightening to see so many people taken in by this vulgar charlatan. Especially if one looks at his mouth. It appears to have been shaped over a lifetime of angrily hurling bullying insults and orders. How can anyone look at Drumpf “speaking” without being disgusted and horrified?

Here’s a shot from a thread at ThinkProgress:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump describes how he was ready to punch a person who rushed the stage during an election rally earlier in the day, as he speaks to a crowd in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump describes how he was ready to punch a person who rushed the stage during an election rally earlier in the day, as he speaks to a crowd in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Nati Harnik

The next few are from various threads at Raw Story:

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Bloomington, Illinois, March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Bloomington, Illinois, March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young

Trump prepares to spit venom at Jake Tapper.

Trump prepares to spit venom at Jake Tapper.

A commenter at Raw Story posted this GIF.

A commenter at Raw Story posted this ‘Trump Snarling’ GIF.

But enough ugliness, even for a Monday. Here’s some cuteness to counteract the face if evil:
cat star

And perhaps a little tranquility for the end of the day:
SKYFIRE4V

This is our daily Open Thread – talk about whatever’s on your mind.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 27th, 2016: Antidote

I’ve been up all night wallowing in the dregs of American “humanity”, IOW, reading headlines and comments on various internet sites. Right now I don’t even want to think about what a despicable, bigoted, uncaring, brutish devolution of a formerly (somewhat) civilized society we’ve become.

So, since I’ve blown right through sunrise here in the east, missing it completely, I’m putting up someone else’s glorious and unusually-tinted sunrise photo as an antidote to the darkness in my mind and soul. I hope it soothes your souls, too.
Golden Sunrise

This is our daily Open Thread – talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole; Friday July 18 2014; “Zombie Lies”

Courtesy of Daily Kos, a couple of posts from the last several days that made me chuckle, thanks to the ways they expose and mock the Right Wing fallacy-based idiocy that we all see and know far too well. First there’s Bill Maher’s “Zombie Lies” in which, via reflection on GOP’s anti-Obamacare ‘talking points’, he calls out the Wingnut technique of making maximum use of lies. Here’s a snippet from the attached video and full transcript:

Yes, zombie lies.  Remember “fracking doesn’t cause earthquakes”?  Zombie lie!  So stop saying it!

Voter fraud?  We studied it, it’s not an actual problem.  Stop zombie lying about it.

Their entire economic philosophy — cut taxes for the rich, and it trickles down — is a zombie lie!  (audience cheering and applause)

And all these zombie lies are still out there, roaming the countryside, neither alive nor dead.  Like Dick Cheney.  (audience laughter and applause)

Hungry for brains.  Like Dick Cheney.  (audience laughter)

I mean, we think we’ve eradicated one, but it turns out it’s just lying dormant in a cave full of bat blood, like the ebola virus.  Or Dick Cheney.  (audience laughter)

Couple that with Kos’s (July 12) Saturday nutpick-a-palooza: Cheering the Palin-impeachment crazy where he mops the floor with comments from Breitbart.com, and in the process paints a portrait in which each common Wingnut lie appears as though a brushstroke in their despicable ‘masterpiece.’ It’s a lengthy expose’, but one filled with half-witticisms, such as:

“Sorry, they already have changed the old United States Motto from ” In God We Trust ‘ over to ” In Allah we Trust ” and the currency replacing the dollar the “Amero” will be coming out in a couple of months after the dollar collapses under the weight of our $17 Trillion dollar Debt and the United states is dissolved into the North American Union . . .”

“Obama is a dictator. He has neutered the most powerful entity in our Constitutional Republic, Congress. Take action America, demand that Congress do it’s job and IIMPEACH OBAMA!”

“Voter fraud will be used to win the senate. We will never see truly conservative people in office anymore.The elites have sold our country down the river just as much as BO by standing idly by and not doing anything.”

“That would be nice – but I think bho has done enough to just be arrested by officials and then tried by the people if we had some leaders in congress and the military who would stand for US . . .”

“The O-man, Barack Hussein Obama, is an eloquently tailored empty suit. No resume, no accomplishments, no experience, no original ideas, no understanding of how the economy works, no understanding of how the world works, no balls, nothing but abstract, empty rhetoric devoid of real substance.

“He has no real identity. He is half-white, which he rejects. The rest of him is mostly Arab, which he hides but is disclosed by his non-African Arabic surname and his Arabic first and middle names as a way to triply proclaim his Arabic parentage to people in Kenya . Only a small part of him is African Black from his Luo grandmother, which he pretends he is exclusively. . . .”

“What took the good Governor so long to say this? Obama should have been impeached LONG AGO….& thrown into prison for his treasonous actions against our Constitution & the US”.

[To Palin] “Thank you for your continued service. Your words inspire.”

Etc. etc. — old familiar Zombie Lies intermeshed with new Zombie Lies which will soon sound familiar enough to again become old Zombie Lies, to be repeated over and over and over again without thought or pause.

What intrigues me most is simply the ponder, the one that querries what exactly is the source of such pervasively idiotic and abject stupidity? I suppose one could suspect a combination of upbringing, education level, education quality, IQ, brain damage, probably even my favorite — genetics. Is Teh Stupid an inherited trait, or is it imposed? Some of each? How did the United States slip, in roughly a mere fifty years, from a technical and scientific global giant to now become an intellectual shitstorm where nearly 50% of the (voting) public appears to be embarrassingly stupid?

One can only wonder.

OPEN THREAD

 

The Watering Hole; Thursday, January 2 2014; “All The Flowers . . .”

In an old first season episode of Hawaii Five-O, Steve McGarrett quoted, in his words, ‘an old Chinese saying:’ “All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.”

Must have been pleasant to live in such optimistic times, times and circumstances that still allowed optimism that when tomorrow arrives there will still be flowers. Reflections on the year just past offer little if any confidence that our current downward slope has any chance of even decreasing its downward angle, much less of ever leveling off. A brief review of a handful of realities offers scant promise.

1. Guns.

Courtesy of the Boston Globe, a look back at 2013 as a horrific year for mass shootings and a bad year for gun control:

When 17-year-old Claire Davis died, after being shot Dec. 13 by a classmate at their Colorado high school, there were expressions of sorrow from local and national politicians. Davis’s murder got a measure of attention because it occurred only 8 miles from the site of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and one day before the anniversary of last year’s Newtown, Conn., slayings. But as her family and classmates confronted their grief, there was no serious outcry for new gun laws. America has been there, tried that, and run up against an impenetrable wall: the National Rifle Association, which controls politicians through lavish campaign contributions, mainly, but also a relative handful of diehard supporters who oppose even the puniest efforts to control guns.

In 2013, the failure to pass gun legislation stood as the strongest example of how money and special interests can influence the country’s political system, and how Congress is incapable of responding pragmatically to matters of urgent national concern. Confronted with Congress’s inexplicable failure to pass a background-check bill that was supported by more than 80 percent of the people, many Americans simply gave up. They risk becoming inured to the fact that another 32,000 to 33,000 people will likely die from a bullet in suicides and homicides in the United States in 2014.

Instead, Americans should be indignant. There were a whopping 24 additional mass killings — defined as the murders of more than four people in one spree — using guns in the year after Newtown. They appear like regular marks on the calendar . . .

More on guns, courtesy of William Rivers Pitt:

The year of the gun began in Tulsa, where four women were found bound and shot to death in their apartment. Twelve days later, a fifteen-year-old boy in New Mexico used an AR-15 to slaughter his father, mother, brother and two sisters; his brother was nine years old, and his sisters were five years old and two years old respectively. Less than a month later, a man shot and killed four people in a rural New York barber shop.

A little over a month later, two men and two women were lined up and shot in a basement in Akron. Four days later, a man in Washington State shot and killed his girlfriend and three neighbors before the police shot him down. Two days later, a man shot and killed five members of the mother of his daughter’s family before also being killed by police. Four days later, a Kansas man shot his roommate to death, shot his best friend to death, and then shot his best friend’s girlfriend and her 18-month-old daughter to death.

On the weekend of Mother’s day, a man shot and killed two couples before burning their homes, and then shot and killed a newspaper deliveryman. A little more than a month later, a man in Hawaii shot and killed the couple that managed his apartment building, shot and killed four neighbors, took hostages, and was eventually himself gunned down by police. . . .

2. Corpocracy.

A few defining words on the reality of America’s shift from a place where “all men are created equal” to one in which “Corporations are people, my friend,” courtesy of Jim Kirwan:

“Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” – Benito Mussolini

Our entire way of life has been stolen and shall never return to the lazy and hopeful days of living and loving, of joy and promise, with the possibility for doing real and meaningful things with one’s own life – not to mention being able to envision a better world for more and more people – whose lives were so far below the levels we enjoyed. Instead of that promise, instead of that possibility – what we have now is the outright worship of Mistrust, of Fear, and of Paranoia – along with obscene profits for those who have purchased all the politicians, and who control every facet of this once nearly free society.
 
If American life were a sporting event – today’s game would be one in which all the officials and the referees had all been pre-purchased by what would obviously be the winning team. . . .

Fascism. We’re almost there, thanks to a national politic whose major interest remains the merger of corporate profit with the full power of the state. All common and ordinary folks had best stand aside, lest they get overrun. Or run over.

3. The Age of Ignorance:

Widespread ignorance bordering on idiocy is our new national goal. It’s no use pretending otherwise and telling us, as Thomas Friedman did in the Times a few days ago, that educated people are the nation’s most valuable resources. Sure, they are, but do we still want them? It doesn’t look to me as if we do. The ideal citizen of a politically corrupt state, such as the one we now have, is a gullible dolt unable to tell truth from bullshit.

An educated, well-informed population, the kind that a functioning democracy requires, would be difficult to lie to, and could not be led by the nose by the various vested interests running amok in this country. Most of our politicians and their political advisers and lobbyists would find themselves unemployed, and so would the gasbags who pass themselves off as our opinion makers. Luckily for them, nothing so catastrophic, even though perfectly well-deserved and widely-welcome, has a remote chance of occurring any time soon. For starters, there’s more money to be made from the ignorant than the enlightened, and deceiving Americans is one of the few growing home industries we still have in this country. A truly educated populace would be bad, both for politicians and for business.

The list of cultural atrocity goes on and on; it never slows, never ceases. The hope that “All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today” has never been at greater risk, at least not since Monsanto convinced all the governmental powers-that-be that they have the RIGHT to impose their genetically-modified seeds upon every corner of the planet. There is, of course, that singular motivating factor: PROFIT! along with the power implicit therein . . . the power to decimate, if not destroy completely, entire populations of such innocent critters as honeybees, or butterflies, or . . . “We the people.”

Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing.

OPEN THREAD