The Watering Hole, Monday, November 23rd, 2015: NatGeo, Take Me Away!

I can’t deal with “Ugly Americans” [of course, “Ugly Americans” = “Republican Presidential Candidates and their Fans/Supporters”] anymore; we keep thinking, “How can these guys sink so low?”, then, the next hour or day or week, one or two or several of them come out with such outrageous shit that we really need a new word to define what circle of hell lies beyond “outrageous” or “horrific” or “despicable” or “abhorrent” or “inhuman” – sorry, I need more words!

And I’ve had it up to HERE with the holidays being turned into meaningless “shop-’til-you-drop” commercialism [how about if “Black Friday” could be turned into “Black Lives Matter Friday” – hell, make every day of the entire Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday shopping season a day of protests]. So I’m going with some beautiful photos from National Geographic to start the week.

Here’s some pretty birds, from “A Flight of Birds”, a section of NatGeo’s Photo Ark, including a photo capturing the iridescent plumage of the Purple Glossy Starling, such as seen below,
and a more close-up shot of the Javan Rhinoceros Hornbill, like the one seen below:
javan rhinoceros Hornbill

And if you prefer a larger gallery for leisurely viewing, here’s more from NatGeo’s 2015 Photo Contest. The “Week 10” group includes a brooding sunset photo of Godafoss Waterfall in Iceland – here’s a chilly winter shot of the falls, just to start the calming process:

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy the views or rant away – or you can do both!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, November 14th, 2015: Populism That Works

ICYMI, or maybe ICIMI: there’s a petition going around for a great idea that was brought to our attention today in a newsletter from populist Jim Hightower. The Campaign for Postal Banking is pushing for local Post Offices to also provide banking services. As Jim Hightower states:

“Millions of Americans live in areas that now have no alternative to the Wall Street-backed predatory lenders and check-cashing chains that rip them off. We can change this. The Campaign for Postal Banking has started a petition to the US Postmaster General to make postal banking a reality. With postal banking, folks that don’t have access to good banks or credit unions can go to their community post office for non-profit, consumer-driven financial services — getting their basic banking needs met without being gouged by Wall Street profiteers.”

From an article by Ralph Nader at Huffington Post yesterday discusses the topic as well:

“According to Bloomberg, from 2008 to 2013: “Banks have shut 1,826 branches…. and 93 percent of closings were in postal codes where the household income is below the national median.”


“Last year, the office of the USPS inspector general released a report detailing the ways in which postal banking would be beneficial to both the public and the USPS itself, which has been made to endure an unprecedented advanced payment of $103.7 billion by 2016 to cover future health benefits of postal retirees for the next 75 years. No other government or private corporation is required to meet this unreasonable prepayment burden.”

An article at from May of this year has more, including this excerpt:

“For millions of underserved families, the Postal Service is already a part of their financial lives,” the report said, noting that post offices sold $21 billion worth of money orders in 2014. Yet, “in order to get the funds to purchase those money orders, many families likely first went to expensive check cashers to convert their paychecks into currency. What if those consumers could instead cash their paychecks at a post office for a lower fee? What if they also could pay bills, buy low-fee prepaid cards, and maybe even get affordable small-dollar loans, all in one convenient location? This could help consumers save money and time, and it would help the Postal Service fulfill its mission to facilitate commerce and serve citizens.”

An idea that’s a total win-win for poorer Americans; empowers “Main Street”; helps to save the U.S. Postal Service from its deliberate destruction by Congress; that keeps and creates jobs, thereby improving the economy; and helps to break the chokehold of Wall Street and the too-big-to-fail banks that WE THE TAXPAYERS bailed out? Every politician who’s in bed with the Wall Street/big bank cabal will be fighting this with every bit of power they have. This is an idea worth fighting for, and one that should show any non-1%er-American who still has a functioning brain exactly what “populism” means and what Democratic Socialist Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is standing for.

Let’s all say a big, loud “FUCK YOU” to the real “takers” in our country, and make something happen.

This is our daily Open Thread – feel free to talk about this topic or anything else on your mind.

The Watering Hole; November 2015’s Friday the Thirteenth

“Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.”
(Friedrich Schiller)

Friday the Thirteenth is supposed to mean bad luck, something like that. So I’ve decided to lend a hand and offer huge piles of bad luck to a small handful of really DESERVING candidates. I won’t elaborate; as you will see, there is no need to do so when the candidates have already . . . ummm . . . elaborated?

Without further ado, first there’s Ted Cruz, presidential candidate, who will be doubling down on Saturday at a “Rally For Religious Freedom” in South Carolina. Recall that last weekend, Cruz spoke at a rally in Iowa held by the nutcase preacher who advocates execution of gays; this week, Cruz will speak at the rally where activists preach that gays are really Satanic manifestations. Ted will be accompanied by his daddy, Rafael Cruz, who has already blamed the SCOTUS gay marriage decision on (who else) The Devil!

Conclusion: Ted Cruz is (legitimately) nuts.

Next we learn that Duck Dynasty “stars” are rallying to support the Louisiana gubernatorial candidacy of Diaper Dave Vitter. As Dynasty’s Willie Robertson puts it, “I know he’s made some mistakes, but who hasn’t? The whole story of the Bible is about redemption, and I’m concerned about our state.”

Conclusion: Gays might be the work of the Devil, but US Senators who get caught hanging with hookers while wearing a diaper? No problem. No biggee. No Debbil. . Redeemable. Like a coupon.

Meanwhile, pHuckabee claims he’s innocent, that he had NO IDEA that (Reverend?) Kevin Swanson’s ‘religious freedom’ ideas included the execution of gay people. That — IN SPITE of the fact that the whole thing had been cussed and discussed for most of the week in advance of the event. I mean, even *I* knew about Swanson’s absurd thesis, and we don’t even have cable TV!

Conclusion: pHuckabee just might tell a lie, every now and then.


“You see, if you’re very, very stupid, how can you possibly realize
that you’re very, very stupid? You’d have to be relatively intelligent
to realize how stupid you are.”
(John Cleese; January 2015)


The Watering Hole; Friday November 6 2015; A Mogollon Soliloquy

“Americans who read and think are patriots of the first order . . .”
(Barbara Kingsolver)

Morning Campfire, Edge of Mogollon Rim AZ, July 2003

Morning Campfire, Edge of Mogollon Rim AZ, July 2003

It was a dozen years ago. July 2003. It was hot in Phoenix, so we decided to head for the high country, to an old favorite camp spot on the edge of Arizona’s grand escarpment, the Mogollon Rim. The elevation at that spot is close to 8000 ft., so the air is cool and pine scented. Plus there’s the stunning view one might typically expect when standing (fearlessly, of course) on the edge of a 2000 ft. high cliff.

We traveled light, back in those days. Camping gear, chow, a couple changes of shorts and tees, a bottle of sunscreen, jug or two of wine, and several books. One of the books in the pack was by Barbara Kingsolver, titled Small Wonder; she had written it in the aftermath of 9-11 — a series of personal essays that were largely concerned with current and newsworthy topics such as the environment, war/peace, societal issues, etc. So, I kicked back, settled into my easy chair near the edge of the Mogollon Rim and within minutes found myself riveted; couldn’t put it down.

The final essay was titled ‘God’s Wife’s Measuring Spoons’ in which she recounted many of her personal experiences, her travels, and her attitudes concerning both national and global issues. One portion of one section caught my eye and tweaked my interest to the point that I bookmarked it (with a small black feather, presumable ‘donated’ by a crow) for transcription once I was back in the vicinity of my keyboard. It’s not very long, but most surely manages to sum up a whole pile of my own (admittedly Socialist) ideas and ideals.  Kingsolver’s formula for a much better world:

“RESOLVED to live with a little less so we can all share in the safety of having enough.”

In many countries, they give you that option. Our leaders tell us that these problems of ours are insoluble except by force, and that we must cede certain casualties to poverty and violence, and yet nearly every problem has already been solved by someone, somewhere; I’ve witnessed first-hand the blessedly kind health-care system of Spain, and I’d like to see ours follow its example. And the examples of Curitiba, Brazil, which recycles 70 percent of its trash, and Freiburg, Germany, which has brought back its streetcars and made automobiles unnecessary. Paris, Tokyo, and a hundred other municipalities have efficient public transportation systems that I’d like in my own city, thank you. I’d like to see an end to corporate welfare and multimillion-dollar CEO salaries so we could put that money into ending homelessness, as many other nations have done before us. I’d like us to consume energy, on average, at the modest level Europeans do, and then go them one better. I’d like a government that creatively subsidized renewable energy and conservation, as Canada has done in some of its public school buildings, earning more than a 100 percent return on the investment – which is returned again to the schools as equipment and teacher salaries. I would like us to ratify the Kyoto Protocol today and reduce our fossil-fuel emissions with the help of legislation that will ease us into safer, less wasteful, sensibly reorganized lives. I’d like to stake my pride on a nation that consistently inspires rather than bullies, that brings unconditional generosity to the table, and that dispenses justice over the inevitable bad deal with diplomacy and honor rather than with more bad deals. If this were the humane face we showed the world and the model we brought to working with it, every time, I believe our children might eventually be able to manage with a military budget the size of Iceland’s.

So there it is. In less than 350 words she managed to completely and precisely sum up MY attitudes on society and what should (and by inference, should NOT) be its goals, its aspirations. I was, needless to say, muy impressed!

My soliloquy was interrupted by a loud clap of thunder and a rather sudden blast of chilly wind. I looked up, and WOW! Grabbed the camera and headed for the overhead tarp. Nothing like the sudden onset of a summer monsoon mountain rain event to cut short one’s time in the high country!


In any case, a week or two later, after having transcribed the marked text from the ‘God’s Wife’s Measuring Spoons’ essay, I caught myself wondering how the bulk of her premises as stated and described might impress, say, your typical (pre-teabagger) Republican. I decided the best way to find out would be to put one to the test and see for myself the reaction. So I emailed the transcript to my Wingnut cousin and asked what were his impressions. His response was no big surprise.

“I could shoot many holes in that composition, but I won’t. Sounds like it was written by a feminist liberal. Ain’t got no time for them.”

I suppose there must be a lesson embedded somewhere in that, but damned if I can figure out what it is. Suffice to say that it’s a grand thing to realize there are other worlds ‘out there’ — worlds that allow communications with Nature, with stimulating ideas. And no Republicans!


The Watering Hole; Friday October 30 2015; The “Wisdom” of Ben Carson,

‘All’ Rogues ‘shall have their part in’ what —
The Phosphorous of God —
(Emily Dickinson)

Rather than spend all the time it would take for me to explain everything about the origins of the universe, of earth, life, and whatever, I’ve instead decided to take the day off and have Ben Carson do it. He does take somewhere in the neighborhood of 49 minutes to cover the entire gamut, but still his efforts are truly . . . ummm . . . can’t think of the word.

So there you are — now you know (or should know, maybe) that though there might be questions that SCIENCE can’t yet answer, there are NO questions that Doc Carson can’t handle, and there are no mysteries anywhere in the entire of the universe . . . make that the creation . . . that are not easily and readily explicable. Really folks, with Ben Carson as the model, it’s all so simple!

Curiously enough, it was back in 1793 that Robert Burns wrote of Ben Carson, summed up the neurosurgeon’s own neuro-capacity in one short four-lined verse.

“Lord, to account who dares thee call,
Or e’er dispute thy pleasure?
Else why, within so thick a wall,
Enclose so poor a treasure?”

Yea verily, it is written. Etc.


The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 24th, 2015: OTG (Oh Their God)

Having recently run across the Christian Post website (which came up when I was researching the Word of Life church killing), I went back to take a look at their political coverage.

While not as overtly crazy-sounding as most of the stories one finds on RightWingWatch, I’d say that there’s enough fundamentalist nonsense at CP to bear watching. Although the ‘news’ articles that I glanced at are written in a fairly straightforward manner, their content adds to the argument that organized religions need to stay out of politics or get taxed just like everyone else.

One of the first articles to catch my eye surprised the hell out of me: who knew that there’s such a thing as a “Christian Voting Guide”? Yup! And, of course, the sole Republican Presidential ‘contender’ who rated an ‘A’ rating just had to be Mike Huckabee:

The list, put together by Rev. Steven Andrew, pastor of USA Christian Church, claimed that only four of the candidates would be biblically qualified to serve as president.

Ranking the candidates on criteria such as truthfulness, hating covetousness, protecting “God-given rights,” fearing God and protecting Christian religious liberty, the guide gave Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Rand Paul B-grades, and only Huckabee scored an ‘A.’

“It is time to please God; we must repent of voting based on how much money one raises or popularity. Those things can’t make the USA great.

However, God will restore His blessings for choosing the strongest Christian after His own heart for president. Mike Huckabee is the closest to a King David running. David did God’s will for the nation and God blessed Israel greatly,” Andrew said.

This is the first thing you see on the Christian Voting Guide page:

Reverend Andrew’s USA Christian Church’s “Statement of Faith” simply makes me wonder yet again how any fundamentalist “Christians” can name themselves after Jesus Christ, when most of their beliefs and practices are solely based on Old Testament ravings writings:

“Statement of Faith

God eternally exists in three Persons as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. (John 10:30, John 14:26, Genesis 1:1, John 1:1)

The Holy Bible is the infallible Word of God and it is our final authority. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Psalm 119:160, John 15:7)

All have sinned, fallen short of the glory of God and face the judgment of God for their sin. Each person must call on Jesus Christ to be saved.

Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He lived a perfect sinless life, died and rose from the dead. The blood of Jesus shed on the cross cleanses from all sin. (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, John 3:16, Acts 4:12, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 1:29, 1 John 1:7)

The First Commandment to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. (Mark 12:30)

The Second Commandment to love one another; as Jesus loved us, that we also love one another. Jesus is our Lord. We are to follow Jesus and seek and do the Father’s will. (Mark 12:31, John 13:34, Luke 9:23, Matthew 7:21)

God gives us His Holy Spirit to live holy and abundant lives – glorifying God. (Galatians 5:22-23, 1 Peter 1:14-16, Romans 8:14, 1 Corinthians 12, 2 Corinthians 6:17, John 10:10)

The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation, together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Titus 2:12; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Romans 8:23).

The revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven and the Millennial reign of Christ on earth (2 Thessalonians 1:17; Revelation 19:11-14; Romans 11:26-27; Revelation 20:1-7).

The devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, and anyone not found written in the Book of Life, shall be punished everlastingly in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10-15).

“According to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21 – 22).”

Reverend Andrew is also touting his book “God’s Plan for the USA.” The ad blurb for the book could fit in with the Texas textbooks’ American History whitewash, albeit a trifle more extreme:

“Can the USA Survive?”

“There are seven remarkable Bible Keys our founders knew that God promises will bless you and save the USA. Do you know God’s answers to the uncertainty, economic problems, police state, degradation of families, terrorists, declining healthcare, darkness, and the persecution of Christians.

Many see the crisis that threatens the USA’s survival, but few know the real problem or realize how severe the dangers are. Yet there is hope. God’s Word assures a miraculous turn-around of God’s favor to end His judgment. It hinges upon following Him completely, from the heart and soul.

Our founders faced a similar challenge. They bravely turned the tide using these Bible Keys. They made the LORD the God of the USA and they proclaimed Americans to be His people. This means that you have God’s amazing covenant guarantee to save America.”

For more on this ridiculous premise, see “10 Reasons God Wants the USA to be a Strong Christian Nation” Also, have fun with Reverend Andrew’s directives to “Pastors and Christian Leaders”, i.e.:

“As you know God wants to show mercy to the USA for our sins and bless Americans. That is why I am making this Pastors and Christian Leaders Guide to “Making A Strong Christian Nation” available for you to print and share.” ~~~ “Pastors will you preach these Biblical keys in sermons and help unite the USA in Christ? As Jesus Christ was our nation’s answer in 1776, Jesus Christ is the USA’s answer today.”

Okay, that’s enough BS to start off the weekend. But don’t worry, there’s plenty more to wade through at the linked sites.

This is our daily Open Thread–have at it!

The Watering Hole; Friday October 23 2015; Benghazi!!!

We spent several hours yesterday watching the live transmission of Hillary Clinton testifying before the House Benghazi Tribunal . . . err,  Committee. The absolute ABSURDITY of questionings from the entire Republican side of the aisle reminded me of some old quotes which, for some odd reason, now seem to perfectly define the Republican Party’s undercurrent idiocy that was SO implicit in those proceedings. Amazing (see Jim Jordan, R-OH, for grand and CURRENT exemplification).

“The Constitutional right to talk nonsense does not include protection against being thought a fool.” ~Robert H. Kroninger (Superior Court Judge, CA, retired)

“Politicians & Diapers Both Need to Be Changed, and for the Same Reason”
(source unknown)

“So let us regard this as settled: what is morally wrong can never be advantageous, even when it enables you to make some gain that you believe to be to your advantage. The mere act of believing that some wrongful course of action constitutes an advantage is pernicious.” ~Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.)

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself.” ~Mark Twain

“The Democrats are the party of government activism, the party that says government can make you richer, smarter, taller, and get the chickweed out of your lawn. Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work, and then get elected and prove it.” ~P. J. O’Rourke

“Dare to be naive.” ~Buckminster Fuller

“Some minds remain open long enough for the truth not only to enter but to pass on through by way of a ready exit without pausing anywhere along the route.” ~Sister Elizabeth Kenny

“The masses have never thirsted after truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.” ~Gustave Le Bon; The Crowd

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” ~H.L. Mencken

“If the citizens neglect their Duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the Laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizen will be violated or disregarded.” ~Noah Webster – (1758-1843) American patriot and scholar

“Just be what you are and speak from your guts and heart – it’s all a man has.” ~Hubert H. Humphrey

“Day-to-day life within an empire consists of the deceitful leading the disengaged.” ~Phil Rockstroh; October 12, 2006

“I’m sick and tired of a bunch of despicable Republicans who will not debate real policy, who won’t take responsibility for their own mistakes, standing up and trying to make other people the butt of those mistakes. It disgusts me that a bunch of these Republican hacks who’ve never worn the uniform of our country are willing to lie about those who did.” ~Sen. John Kerry; October 31, 2006

I was puzzled as to exactly why so many of the GOoPers on the committee were so persistently interested in blasting Sidney Blumenthal and his email communications with then-Secretary Clinton. It wasn’t until I ran across this line that I finally got it:

“[H]ypocrisy is at the center of the Republican idea.” ~Sidney Blumenthal, in How Bush Rules: Chronicles of a Radical Regime; 2006

Apparently whomever it was that said ‘the truth hurts’ nailed an entire political party to the cross.

Then there’s this little goody, clearly intended for the Committee’s Arkansas nutcase; he should take it to heart and maybe one day learn enough non-Arkansasian English to facilitate his ability to communicate with folks whose IQs exceed 75:

“One sign of our unity is our English language. For newcomers, it has always been the fastest route to prosperity in America. English empowers. We support English as the official language in our nation … thereby fostering a commitment to our national motto, E Pluribus Unum.” ~from the Republican Platform, 2008

Finally, and though I’m not one who very often likes to quote Dan Quayle, this little one-liner of his will probably prove to be the perfect end result summation of this Benghazi committee’s impending collapse, along with their ultimate reward:

“If we do not succeed, then we run the risk of failure.” ~Vice President Dan Quayle, to the Phoenix Republican Forum, 3/23/90

I guess the bottom line is a simple one. NEVER in all my 73 years have I EVER witnessed such an endless parade of STUPID combined with pure and unadulterated SPITE. I can say with some impunity that I’m actually ashamed to be resident in a country that has sunk low enough — during my lifetime, for chrissake — to elect such a chorus of nitwits to positions of governmental authority. If the electorate doesn’t very soon toss each and all of those ignorant bums out, it’s very easy to visualize this nation’s upcoming demise, and all within the lifespan of a great many alive today.

Aeschylus spoke what seems to well-describe the frustration of each and every functioning mind out there today when he wrote, in ‘The Libation Bearers’:

“Here once more . . .
the tempest in the race has struck . . .

“Where will it end? —
where will it sink to sleep and rest,
this murderous hate, this Fury?”