The Watering Hole: 2/10/16: Daylight Slavings Time

In a disparate bid to stay relevant, GOP hopeful and Goodyear Blimp wannabe Governor Chris Christie announced a plan to change time. Not 1985 DeLorean change time, but a way his State will change the way time is measured.

Beginning with the onset of Daylight Savings Time, New Jersey will switch to a 10-hour day. That is, each 24 hour day will be divided into ten one-hour units. Each hour will consist of 100 minutes, and each minute will have 100 seconds.

“It’s a much easier way to keep track of time” the governor said, noting that with the ten-hour day, no one would have to count to twelve, or divide by sixty. “I mean, think about it. A quarter of a dollar equals 25 cents, but a quarter of an hour only equals 15 minutes? That’s nuts.”

The governor went on to explain that the change in measuring time will in no way affect the American worker. “An 8 hour day will still be an 8 hour day. And workers will still be entitled to overtime after 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week.”

When front-runner Donald Trump heard of Christie’s plan, he immediately jumped on the bandwagon, vowing to make weeks only 5 days long.


Have at it.


The Watering Hole, Tuesday February 9, 2016 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Environmental statements of the presumptive nominees (my presumption at this point in electoral time).


Marco Rubio – The Privatizer


Hilary Clinton – The Big Government works ‘if we just tweak it’ candidate





Plus any tidbits you get from the NH primary.


Art credit: The best I could do is refer you to this gamer’s/developer’s site: 




The Watering Hole, Monday, February 8, 2016: Trump the Lawless

Over the weekend, Donald J. Trump, the billionaire racist real estate developer son of a millionaire racist real estate developer, told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he would bring back waterboarding (and “worse” techniques). When it was explained to the authoritarian favorite that waterboarding and many other forms of torture are illegal under both US and international law and treaty, Trump demonstrated his complete lack of comprehension of the law, how it works, how national security works, and why subjects are classified at all, by saying he would bring it back by “declassifying” it.

Sorry, Donald, but whether or not the use of waterboarding is classified has nothing whatsoever to do with its legality. In fact, classifying its use would violate several additional laws besides the ones barring its use in the first place. It is illegal to classify something just to keep it hidden from the public, or because it was illegal at the time. For those who never served or never learned the distinction, information is classified (or not) based on the damage its disclosure would do to national security. Nothing more. If it could cause some identifiable damage to national security (not national reputation), some minor information that could give a potential enemy information they could use to their advantage over ours, it would be given the level “Confidential.” The exact number of troops in a unit would be classified Confidential, since it could help an enemy to know the exact number of persons they’d be facing. Information whose disclosure could cause serious damage to our national security would be classified Secret. Mission logs in a communication unit that does presidential support missions would be classified Secret. (I’ve written some.) But information whose release could cause exceptionally grave damage to national security is classified Top Secret. Obvious things like nuclear launch codes would be classified Top Secret. And there are levels of Top Secret requiring even higher levels of clearance to obtain. Sometimes they fall into the category of Sensitive Compartmentalized Information (SCI). A good example would be safes that have two combination dials where nobody is allowed to know both combinations. (It’s called the Two Man Integrity System.) You could be cleared for that level of classified info, but it doesn’t mean they have to grant you access to it. I don’t think many in the civilian world understand that in order to have access to classified information, you require three things. First, you must have proper identification or be personally known to the person revealing you the information. Second, you must have the proper level of security clearance for that information. This can be waived by the Commander-in-Chief or a command level officer, but not by lower ranking personnel who might have to handle it as part of their everyday duties. The third and most important thing you must have is a need to know. I happened to have held a very high level security clearance, but that didn’t mean I had the authority to just open up the safes and read classified reports, even for things well below my clearance level. I didn’t have any need to know the classified information, so I would never have been given access to it. This is often overlooked in many lesser-quality TV shows or movies, and people are told things they shouldn’t know because they don’t need to know it. So nobody could say they sat and read a bunch of classified reports and learned stuff because they would have had to demonstrate a need to know the information they sought. When something is classified, it has to be because its unauthorized disclosure would damage national security. And despite the idea I personally believe some Bush Administration officials may have harbored, our national reputation is not part of our national security. You can’t classify something just because it would make America look bad. So if waterboarding were being used, that fact alone could not be considered classified. By Trump saying he would “declassify” its use, he shows he has no understanding of how and why information is classified.

“You can say what you want. I have no doubt that it does work in terms of information and other things — and maybe not always but nothing works always. But I have no doubt that it works,” he insisted.

Then there’s the matter of whether or not one believes “it works.” Whether or not one believes it, the fact is it does not “work.” It never has. (And, please, if you have to twist and manipulate the facts around one small piece of information which may or may not have been learned as a result of torture, it still wouldn’t prove it “works” or was justified.) It does not generate usable or reliable information because a person being tortured will say anything to get the torture to stop. Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you tell them anything you think they might want to hear, even if you made it up entirely, if you thought it would make the torture stop? Don’t lie. And waterboarding is torture, you can ask Sean Hannity. Oh, wait. He’s never fulfilled his promise to be waterboarded for charity, so he wouldn’t know. I’ve never been waterboarded, either, but I never offered to be. I believe the people who have undergone it and said it was torture, including conservatives. What you see happening on TV and in the movies, where torturing someone gains useful intelligence, is bullshit. Torture is done as a show of power and domination over a prisoner. I’m assuming it’s a prisoner that’s being tortured, because if it isn’t there are far more serious problems being neglected here. And once you start torturing someone, they’ll say whatever they think you want to hear, whether or not it’s the truth, as long as they think it will make you stop torturing him. This is reality, and to deny it and claim torture does “work” is to reveal a level of mental illness usually reserved to the people being chased by the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. These are sick people we’re dealing with here, and when you combine that with the overwhelmingly authoritarian streak Trump and his supporters have, waterboarding will be the least of your problems. Torture is illegal for a reason. And it makes no difference what handpicked lawyers in your administration say, it is still illegal. If you cannot wrap your already-wrapped-with-something head around that idea, you are completely and totally unfit to occupy the office of President of the United States. Or even Senior Domestic Policy Adviser.

“When they’re chopping off the heads of people — and innocent people in most cases — beyond waterboarding is fine with me.”

One more time for those who have trouble with polysyllabic (big) words: You can’t do it. It would break the law. You would go to jail and pay a yuge fine. Does that make it clear? We signed international treaties where we agreed that Torture was never, under any circumstances, justifiable. Never. It makes no difference whatsoever what criminals do, it does not justify stooping to their level. I understand why you think it would. You are an Authoritarian, as are most of your followers. You believe in the use of brutal tactics to have your way. You lack empathy. You lack ethics, too. You will say anything to get people to give you what you want, and you aren’t even being tortured! You think this makes you a good businessman. It might make you a rich businessman, but I would hardly say it makes you “good.” You wrongly believe that one of the qualifications that makes one a good president is the ability to negotiate a deal. But that wouldn’t be your job as president, either domestically or overseas. There are people who have been working for the government far longer than you whose job it is to negotiate labor contracts and international treaties. You aren’t the one who will be doing that, so stop going around telling everyone you will. It’s a lie. One among many you tell all the time. But just because you say it’s true doesn’t mean it is, and it doesn’t matter if people think it’s true, it still isn’t. Waterboarding is torture. Torture is never legal or justifiable. It doesn’t work and never has. It’s not going to save anyone’s life and does more long term harm than any short term good it arguably might do. And it is a really, really, sick, depraved thing to do. No decent human being would even think of using it, and you’ve proven to everyone you are anything but. And so are the people who adore you and believe in everything you say. I weep for this country.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss whatever you wish. I won;t torture you.

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; Friday February 5 2016; Wage Peace, Not War!

“The evil that men do lives after them;
the good is oft interred with their bones.”
(William Shakespeare)

Way back in the late sixties I happened across an article that caught my eye: “Wage Peace, Not War!” the title read. The article itself was in a science or engineering monthly (can’t remember which  one), so the title seemed a bit out of place — but the concept implicit grabbed me (I was, at the time, about as anti-Vietnam as anyone could be) and hasn’t let go since. Then just this week up pops this on Think Progress:

Veteran Confronts Chris Christie About The Military Industrial Complex

Feb 3, 2016

(U.S. Navy veteran Will) Thomas, a New Hampshire native and voter in next week’s critical primary election, has been trying to nail down the candidates visiting his state on how they would pursue peace, not war, if elected to the White House. (emphasis mine)

Thomas asked Christie a rather simple — but direct — question:

“As president, how would you respond to this issue: we have a nuclear non-proliferation treaty, but we’re not living by it,” said Thomas, adding that he was deeply concerned that President Obama has proposed spending hundreds of billions of dollars upgrading and modernizing the nation’s arsenal of nuclear weapons. Thomas told Christie he thinks that money should be spent instead on domestic needs like fixing aging roads and bridges, and asked if the presidential hopeful would resolve international crises through diplomacy or warfare.

Suffice to say, Christie blew it by advocating massive increases in armed forces personnel, the conventional weapons stockpile, and priority upgrading of submarines, all costly in the extreme. He made no mention of diplomacy.

Thomas reacted to the idea of yet more military bravado this way:

“I don’t think we should be spending that much money on weapons we can’t afford and that we can never use. We should be using that money for affordable housing and healthcare and education and job training. We shouldn’t be putting it in the back pockets of Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, and Boeing.” (highlight mine)

I couldn’t agree more. I’ve argued all of my adult life that military spending should be SLASHED to the point where there could be NO MORE military adventures such as Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Kuwait, Bosnia, Iraq — to name the few I can remember offhand. I have to wonder how many trillions of dollars were WASTED simply to make a president look fearless, or maybe to reward his favorite corner of the M.I.C.? Also, how many trillions have been WASTED on our nuclear arsenal, itself easily large enough to destroy every shred of life on this planet?

Suppose for a moment that, say, 80%? of the money burned by the M.I.C. had been employed to stop wars, to improve lives both here at home as well as ‘over there’ — could either ourselves or the world in general be any worse off than the collective ‘we’ are today? How many millions of people would not have needlessly died? How much physical destruction could have been avoided? How much healthier would people be the world over ? The environment? And how much lower would our own national debt be?

As Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler duly noted way back in 1933, “I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket . . . . Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.”

Yes. And as Will Thomas said of Christie following their exchange, “There is a military industrial complex, and he’s part of it.” My guess is the same could be said of each and all of the current presidential candidates, both Democrat and Republican — with the probable exception of Bernie Sanders.

As for myself, I guess I’ve wondered ever since I was old enough to wonder — why is it that the people on this planet can’t get their heads screwed on properly, and with a collective SHOUT loud enough to be heard on the moon, demand of ALL their leaders:



“Time’s glory is to calm contending kings,
to unmask falsehood, and bring truth to light.”
(William Shakespeare in The Rape of Lucrece)




The Watering Hole, Monday, February 1st, 2016: Clouds and Cute Stuff

Let’s start this week with no mention of anyone in the (R) Kandidate Klown Kar, or crazy-assed snackless ‘militias’, or wacky Talibangelists (or Talibanjoists.) I’m going with Mother Nature today.

The Weather Channel has a recent piece about this ‘Hand of God’ cloud that appeared over Madeira, Portugal. To me, it looks more like the ‘Fist of god’, and I wonder at whom it’s being shaken. Is there some satanic evildoer on Madeira who is (using Alan Rickman’s Professor Snape voice) “…UP to something”?

(Photo Credit: Rogerio Pacheco, via TheWeatherChannel)

(Photo Credit: Rogerio Pacheco, via TheWeatherChannel)

Next, Lenticular Clouds ~
I know that we’ve covered lenticular clouds before, but take a look at some spectacular shots from (apparently) dedicated Russian photographer Vladimir Voychuk.

Now for some cuteness: Also from The Weather Channel, penguin chicks cuddling together against the cold.

While we’re on the subject of penguins, here’s more wonderful shots of them, this time under the sea. The photos were taken by French photographer/diver Andre Voyer.

And finally, cuteness that will make you squee.

"Hey, margay kitten, what big eyes for you...TA HAVE!"

“Hey, margay kitten, what big eyes for you…TA HAVE!”

This is our daily Open Thread–go ahead, start talking about something.