The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 21st, 2015: More of Teh Stupid

You may want to have a barf bag ready, or an alcoholic beverage, or a Xanax, or your favorite recreational drug. You’ll need to prepare yourself for the putrid pile of prevarications puked up by Son of Satan Saint Ronald of Amurka, Michael Reagan. Although I’m providing the link to his opinion piece, titled “The GOP’s Stupid Letter”, published in the Farmington, CT, Daily-Times, I’m putting the entire mess up here so that you can more readily count how many things are wrong with it. Michael obligingly makes that easier by ‘formatting’ his piece in ‘single-sentence-double-space mode:

There we go again, Republicans.

We keep shooting ourselves in the feet — and at the worst possible times.

Things were going pretty well for the GOP. 

President Obama was getting major grief from Republicans (and even some Democrats) for preparing to sign America on to a horrible nuclear arms deal with the Iranians. 

Hillary Clinton was ensnared in an email-deleting scandal of her own making that was so obviously unlawful and politically devious that even the liberal media were attacking her. 

So what did 47 Republican senators do? 

They attracted the full attention of the mainstream media by sending a letter to the Iranian ayatollahs reminding them that any agreement the president signs without approval of the Senate can be undone by the next president faster than you can spell Bibi Netanyahu. 

Nice job, Republicans. 

Yes, what you told the Iranians in the letter was right. Any B-plus middle-school civics student knows that the Senate gets to ratify or reject treaties made by the president.

But sending an open letter to Iran was dead wrong — and politically stupid.

It merely gave Democrats — and their media buddies — a chance to change the subject and accuse Republicans of irresponsibly trying to sabotage the president’s foreign policy.

What rookie Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and his co-signers did with their letter was nothing new.

Ted Kennedy did it in the late 1970s when he tried to get the Soviets to do something to embarrass Jimmy Carter so he could take the nomination from Carter in 1980.

In 1987 Democrat House Speaker Jim Wright stuck his congressional nose into the negotiations between the Reagan administration and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

More recently, who can forget Nancy Pelosi’s jaunt to Syria in 2007, when she and a gang of House Democrats made nice with Bashar al-Assad at the same time the Bush administration was trying to put pressure on Syria to work with it on Mideast peace talks?

Those 47 Republican senators didn’t need to send a public letter to Teheran to remind the Iranians how America’s separation of powers works.

What was wrong with Sen. Cotton and a few others writing an op-ed piece about the Senate’s treaty-ratifying powers for the Wall Street Journal?

I bet the Iranians would have gotten the message just as well.

Instead Republicans only brought attention — bad attention — on themselves for doing exactly what many of them had rightly criticized Pelosi for doing.

Republicans in the Senate should have shut up and let Obama negotiate and sign the treaty with Iran, bad as it is bound to be.

Then they could have pointed out to the Iranians and everyone else that the deal needed to be ratified by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate — and that 47 Republicans were strongly against it.

The letter was a blunder. Until the senators sent it, Iran was exclusively Obama’s problem.

All the media attention was on the president’s defense of his treaty and Netanyahu’s concerns about how dangerous and naive it was.

But now the Iran nuke deal is not just Obama’s issue. It’s the Republicans’ too.

And if anything goes wrong, which it probably will, you can bet that Republicans will — as usual — get most of the blame.”

After the column it says “Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan and a political consultant”, in case readers didn’t recognize the author.

I’ll just sit back and let you all rip this into teeny-tiny little shreds.

Next:

Just as delusional, but in a totally different vein: I ran across this piece authored by Bethany Blankley, a former aide to Senator Susan Collins, and currently “…a conservative political analyst and columnist who regularly appears on Fox News Radio.” Ms. Blankley contends that the majority of Congress (both houses) and President Obama are guilty of treason. She asserts that an omnibus bill passed in December and signed by the President “authorized the State Department to transfer $11.9 billion in cash payments to Iran by June 2015.” Ms. Blankley goes on to say that “[t]ransferring any form of aid/comfort to Iran, a sworn enemy of the United States, is a treasonous act.”

The first link within the article led me to this January article by Adam Kredo at The Washington Free Beacon. While still written with a right-wing slant, i.e., the title being “U.S. to Award Iran $11.9 Billion”, this piece finally provided the kernel of truth: these “cash payments” are actually releases, at intervals, of Iranian assets that were previously frozen as part of the sanctions against Iran. The State Department isn’t sending $11.9 billion in U.S.-taxpayers’ money to Iran, it’s letting Iran access some of its own money:

“When final negotiations between the United States and Iran failed in November, negotiators decided once more to extend the talks through June of this year. The terms of that extension granted Iran the 10 payments of $490 million, a State Department official said.

“With respect to sanctions relief, the United States will enable the repatriation of $4.9 billion of Iranian revenue held abroad during the extension,” the official said.

The first two payments were made in December, followed by Wednesday’s payment. The next release is scheduled for Feb. 11, with two more scheduled for March. The rest of the frozen cash assets will be given back to Iran on April 15, May 6, May 27, and June 22, respectively.”

The same author, Adam Kredo, also penned this March 20th article of interest, which says in part:

“Congressional leaders have begun pressuring their colleagues to cut off all U.S. funding for the ongoing talks with Iran over its contested nuclear program as the Obama administration rushes to hash out the details of a deal in the coming months, according to multiple sources and a letter that will be sent next week to appropriators in the House of Representatives.

With the deadline approaching, congressional Republicans have been exasperated by the Obama administration’s efforts to prevent them from having any oversight over the deal.

Reps. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) and Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.) are now petitioning their colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee to prohibit all taxpayer funding for the talks, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

This would purge all U.S. funds available to Obama administration officials for travel abroad, hotel stays, and any other activities related to the P5+1 talks with Iran.”

So, I guess that Republicans feel that, if they couldn’t derail the Iranian nuclear negotiations by inviting Iran’s worst enemy to speak before a joint session of Congress, and if they couldn’t derail the talks by pulling an end-around on the President and the P5 + 1 negotiators, well, they can just defund the logistical side of the talks. Jeez, there is simply no end to their despicable efforts to thwart anything and everything that President Obama is trying to do.

Interesting note: on the first site that carried the Blankley article, there were no links within it at all. So I tried a search for information on this alleged $11.9 billion in “cash payments”, but the only links I found were mostly obscure right-wing websites, which just repeated the same article. I say “mostly obscure” because I found that “The Unofficial Megyn Kelly” website also featured the article. Take a look – warning, it may temporarily blind you – at this Newsmax-like mess of a website. Who on earth designed this tasteless crap? But also take a look at the mash-up of what I would consider to be real RWNJ story links, including – in the “You might also enjoy” section, one titled “What a Bargain! Only $80,000 for Mooch’s Rental Cars in Japan” Disgustingly, “Mooch” refers to First Lady Michelle Obama. After recent death threats to our Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, does it not occur to these “people” that a special armored vehicle to protect the First Lady and the Ambassador is obviously necessary and actually costs money? On the sidebar, another link to this story is titled “NO JOKE: Michelle O’s Rental Car Fleet For Her Jaunt To Shrine Of Rice God Is Costing…WHAT?” Un-fucking-believable.

Going back to the $11.9 Billion story, I noticed something odd: none of the more popular right-wing websites, i.e., Breitbart or Redstate, came up when I googled the story. Not Fox News, either. I’m guessing that none of them want to broadcast the idea that their darling Republicans who ‘voted for’ the releasing of Iranian assets – oh, sorry, the ‘authorization for the State Department to transfer money to Iran’ – were committing what they call “treason” right along with President Obama. No, they’re not gonna touch THAT one.

Finally, I just HAVE to post this one last excerpt from Bethany Blankley’s ‘opinion’ piece, simply because it’s so jaw-droppingly insane:

“Under President Barack Hussein Obama, many believe the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the White House, multiple layers of government, and is largely directing American domestic and foreign policy. (A powerful and growing Islamic influence also extends throughout the Republican Party.)”

This is our Daily Open Thread – go on, have at it!

The Watering Hole; Friday March 20 2015; Springtime in the Rockies

Spring. Finally. Thank all Gods winter is OVER! Here at the foot of the Rockies, the temp hit the high 80’s earlier in the week. Now, as I write these words (Thursday PM), the outside temp is 42, it’s raining, and tonight it’s supposed to snow. But that’s OK because it’s not quite Spring. Yet.  And of course, around here spring doesn’t signal the end of the snow; if anything, it signals the beginning of the heavy wet stuff. Got to wait for summer . . . and, well, even then . . .

Anyway, this is our seventh springtime in the Rockies; I’ve recently spent some time reviewing photo “libraries” of each of the years, and in the process I pulled out a handful of SPRINGTIME (!) shots. They’re each and all taken anywhere from late March to mid-May, and collectively kinda show the change of seasons, esp. the part about winter not wanting to succumb!

Pikes Peak from Lake Beckwith1. April 2009; Pikes Peak from Lake Beckwith

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA2. New tulip in early spring; April 4, 2012

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA3. Ice fog below the Front Range; Tax Day, 2012

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA4. Geese, Goslings, and one soaring bird; early May, 2013

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05-14-14-038 Wet Mountains Panorama5. Fresh snowfall on the Front Range; May 14, 2014

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6. Columbine, the Colorado State Flower; April 29 2012

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So that’s the way spring looks here at the foot of the Front Range, elev. approx 6200 ft, where winter and summer fight it out from March 20 until . . . ? Who knows. It is an interesting fight to behold, however, and one thing is certain: the flowers and the baby geese ALWAYS win!

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Saturday, 3.1415 9:26am (EST): Happy Pi Day!

Yes, it’s Pi Day; but not just any old 3.14 Pi Day – which is also Albert Einstein’s birthday – today, 3-14-15, is a once-in-a-century Pi Day. Plus I made it even more extra-special by having it publish at 9:26 East Coast time; unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t have a place to put the 53 seconds to make it 9 decimal places. But at least I got 7 places with 3.1415926.

Pi Day

Pi Day

An article by Sasha Volokh in yesterday’s Washington Post has hints for “How to Observe Pi Day 2015“: including, for the real geeks, the author’s own mnemonic for remembering 167 digits of pi. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“One of the best pi mnemonics, which gets up to 740 digits, is a retelling of Poe’s The Raven; here’s its first stanza:
‘Poe, E.
Near A Raven

Midnights so dreary, tired and weary.
Silently pondering volumes extolling all by-now obsolete lore.
During my rather long nap – the weirdest tap!
An ominous vibrating sound disturbing my chamber’s antedoor.
“This”, I whispered quietly, “I ignore”.’

 

This is actually the beginning of a super-long work called Cadaeic Cadenza by Mike Keith…”

[I hope that Wayne doesn’t consider this to be a challenge to his mathematical mind and his parody talent.]

Pi Chart

Pi Chart

Apparently, Pi Day is ‘celebrated’ by enough people that there are sites selling T-shirts, posters, stickers, etc., with various pi (and pie) related themes. Many of these items are available at Pi Day’s own website, www.piday.org, for true devotees. And some people are even inspired by Pi Day to make pi-themed pies and other treats.

Pi Pie

Pi Pie

Pi Cookies

Pi Cookies

Okay, this is way too much pi for one morning – I’m stuffed.

This is our daily Open Thread – go ahead, discuss pi, pie, or anything you want to.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 9th, 2015: Monday Morning Morons

I know that we do a lot of Right-Wing-Nut-Job (RWNJ) bashing here, much of it about the more Rabid Religious amongst them (RRRWNJ) but…well, both (often overlapping) groups just come up with so many things that invite ridicule, they’re their own worst enemy. Just look at last week alone (in case you missed some of these):

Being gay is worse than Murder and Genocide. Yes, now, according to “Pastor” Scott Lively, homosexuality is the Number One sin against God. An excerpt from Right Wing Watch’s article:

“Last month, rabidly anti-gay activist Scott Lively warned that if the Supreme Court strikes down state bans on same-sex marriage, it could lead to the rise of the Antichrist by the end of the year.”

In an interview with Bryan Fischer on Friday, “Lively told Fischer that America is about to cross “a line with God that hasn’t occurred in the entire history of the world since Noah’s flood” – which Lively claims was caused by god because god apparently hates gays. Back in January of 2013, Lively had stated:

“We need to remember that in the time leading up to the Flood what the rabbis teach about the last straw for God before He brought the Flood was when they started writing wedding songs to homosexual marriage and Jesus said that you’ll know the End Times because it will be like the days of Noah. There’s never been a time in the history of the world since before the Flood when homosexual marriage has been open and celebrated, and that’s another sign that I believe that we’re close to the end.”

(Snip)

“I think this is the issue of the End Times, homosexuality. It’s present, if you do a careful investigation of all the scriptures dealing with this from the beginning and all the way to the end, God is painting a very clear picture that this represents the outer extent of rebellion against Him in a society and the last thing that happens before wrath comes.”

Okay…first, I thought that President Barack “Hussein” Obama was the AntiChrist in RWNJ eyes. So there’s another one? Second, I don’t know what religious sect/cult Lively is the “Pastor” of, but if it’s based on Christianity in any way, then I must have been dozing throughout my 13 years of Catholic schools.

Anyhoo…today, “Pastor” Lively is urging his followers and other groups to, according to his “Open Letter to America”

“…band together in the spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14 to promote and conduct a continual prayer vigil and stand-out for marriage at SCOTUS (or any Federal Courthouse for those who can’t get there) from now until the ruling comes out, probably in June…”
“This is a general call to all believers to go to SCOTUS alone or in groups to pray and hold signs. Churches and other organizations can choose dates or times to rally their own troops if they like and/or hold press conferences etc., but let’s all just put out the word to whatever circle of influence we have and let the Holy Spirit stir hearts.

I am asking every Christian and pro-family radio talk host to promote this vigil, and perhaps do a broadcast from the site. Large organizations could provide logistical support…”

(snip)

“Only God can save us from the calamity and disgrace of defiling His institution of marriage in our official national policy.

Let us take the authority we have in Him, and the freedom we have as Americans, to join together to surround the federal judges with such a hedge of prayer that they will be forced to bow their knee to the one who created marriage as the foundation of all human civilization — one man and one woman.”

Hmm, “god created marriage as the foundation of all civilization”? I don’t remember any wedding performed by god himself–you’d think that the bible would have mentioned that, huh? And now Scott Lively thinks that the entire Supreme Court of the United States should get on their knees for something other than sucking Koch and refer all decisions to Lively’s god? I realize that one or two of the Justices would be happy to do so, but all nine? Rather unconstitutional, don’tcha think?

Back to Lively’s call for a prayer vigil: from BibleGateway, the 1599 Geneva Bible version, here’s 2 Chronicles 7:14:

14 If my people, among whom my Name is called upon, do humble themselves, and pray and seek my presence, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear in heaven and be merciful to their sin, and will heal their land”
Footnotes: 2 Chronicles 7:14 I will cause the pestilence to cease and destroy the beasts that hurt the fruits of the earth, and send rain in due season.

I’m not sure how Lively uses this as an anti-gay call to march/pray, as neither 2 Chronicles 6, nor the remainder of 2 Chronicles 7, makes any reference to homosexuality. But I’m sure that Lively’s twisted interpretation is a masterpiece of pulling it out of his ass, so to speak. Considering how many whoppers he produces, one could probably drive an SUV up his asshole–well, a 4WD SUV, anyway.

Well, let’s leave “Pastor” Lively to his unChristian vigil, and go on to:

OMG, Christians are being persecuted – again! Poor embattled Ken Ham (“Answers In Genesis”, Creation Museum) is whining about being denied $18 million in tax breaks for his planned Noah’s Ark park by the State of Kentucky’s Tourism Board. The Board “cited AIG’s stated intention to discriminate based on religion in its hiring of theme park employees and to use the taxpayer-subsidized park for religious evangelism…” On a RW radio program last week, Ham stated:

“If Christians just keep accommodating and allowing this to happen more and more, we will lose that free exercise of religion.”

“It’s more and more of that trying to eliminate the Christian freedom that we have in this nation,” he said.

Yes, of course…those poor, poor Christians having to cave to the Constitution. I just don’t know how they’ll manage to keep practicing their faith, what with all their churches being shut down and religious leaders arrested, and…oh, wait, that never happens. But, but…tax breaks!

And lastly, in a switch away from the RRRWNJs to the “normal” RWNJs, Fox News’ pet climate change denier, Mark Morano of climatedepot.com, is very upset. According to RawStory, he does NOT like the idea that “Google’s popular web-search engine is being re-engineered to direct users to more “trustworthy” websites, saying “Let the public decide what’s the truth…” The article goes on to say:

“The proposed changes at Google would move websites up in the rankings based upon truth and not popularity.

Morano, who previously worked for Rush Limbaugh and climate change-denying Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), says this would be[sic] put him at a disadvantage.

Well, fucking DUH.

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

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 2, 2015: How The Right Gets Net Neutrality Wrong

This past Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to change the way the nation’s internet service providers are regulated. After their proposed regulation, Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet, is published on the federal register in a few weeks, it will take effect sixty days later. This has some prominent right wing luminaries upset, even though it’s apparent they have absolutely no understanding of what net neutrality is. All it means is that all internet content must be treated equally by the internet service providers (ISPs). Comcast can’t slow down your Netflix streaming video just because they would prefer you use their subsidiary company’s product, Hulu. The ISPs aren’t happy, but you should be overjoyed. Don’t listen to these people.

People like Pat Robertson. Like many Conservatives, Robertson calls the new FCC regulations a “takeover” of the internet, and he adds that this is all part of a socialist agenda to take control of everything. As with most things Pat Robertson says, nothing could be further from the truth. The government is not taking over the internet which it created (and which Al Gore helped bring into the civilian world.) The government is simply making sure no private corporation can take over the internet and deprive you of content that might come from a competitor, or charge you extra to get higher speed internet for some content, and slower speeds for content like the blog you’re reading right now.

Robertson says the government wants to regulate the internet using a law written in 1934. That is false. They are using a law written in 1996 which updated the law written in 1934. He’s also wrong about the PP/ACA being a takeover of the healthcare industry. Conservatives frequently mischaracterize things in order to scare you into thinking something is happening which isn’t. And the goal of the fear mongering is the fear itself. People who are afraid often make bad decisions, and one of those bad decisions is voting for Conservatives.

Don’t listen to people like Rush Limbaugh, either. Limbaugh also thinks the government is trying to take over the internet it once created, but for a completely different reason. He thinks the government wants to ban bullets. I know it just flows so logically. You see, Rush is afraid of ISIS, and he’s afraid because they’re recruiting from all over the United States and Rush says “the government must have control of the Internet if we are to be safe.” (Projection.) Rush thinks the government is going to resort to extraordinary measures to fight ISIS, and that will include the banning of bullets. Except the government is not trying to ban bullets, they are trying to regulate armor-piercing bullets. And they won’t ban the ones that are “primarily” used for sporting purposes, so if a bunch of sovereign citizens decide today is the day the government is coming for their guns, they’ll still be able to shoot them with armor-piercing bullets.

And don’t listen to people like Ted Cruz, either. (It could result in brain damage. For you, not Ted. He’s already gone.) Somehow, Ted has it in his tiny little mind that regulating the internet will deprive you of your freedom.

“We do that fundamentally by standing with the people and not with Washington.”

For all their talk about Freedom, Conservatives still do not understand the concept that our federal government IS “We the People.” Then again, they never liked that from the beginning. It was Conservatives, those heavy on the “States’ Rights” idea (even though the Articles of Confederation proved the concept unworkable), who objected to the first three words of the Constitution. They felt it should have read “We the States.” And they haven’t given up that fight since.

“Washington wants Obamacare. The people want liberty.”

Here, and in the subsequent sentences, Cruz is using the term “The people” to refer only to Conservative Americans, and “Washington” to refer to everyone else. Conservatives do not view non-Conservatives as being “true Americans.” In fact, they see us as the Enemy, much as they did in 1776 when Liberals decided they wanted to explore the freedom of not being British citizens. Conservatives wrongly believe the individual mandate is both unprecedented and unconstitutional. (This despite the fact that President John Adams wrote a law requiring all mariners to buy health insurance, and despite the fact that SCOTUS ruled the law constitutional.) They don’t like it precisely because it does bring us incrementally closer to having Single Payer which, in their minds, equates to a total loss of freedom for everyone. Completely untrue, of course. It would only deny corporations the right to cheat you out of your life savings. But since corporations are not really poeple, that shouldn’t matter.

“Washington wants amnesty. The people want rule of law.”

This is a reference to the president’s immigration policy, announced in the wake of House Republicans refusing to do anything (like pass the bill the Senate did.) It’s not an amnesty program, like the one announced under President Reagan, no matter how many times they say it is. And even if it was, it wouldn’t be unconstitutional because the president has the constitutional authority to grant amnesty. And it’s not illegal, which they’ll learn when the SCOTUS upholds it. They just hate seeing anyone get help from the government. They don’t believe government exists to serve the people of which it’s comprised.

“Washington wants power over the internet. The people want freedom online.”

Conservatives have a hard time believing that anyone in government would want to do something that protects people from unscrupulous corporations. That’s because they believe the purpose of government is to protect unscrupulous corporations from the people. They want ISPs to be able to set up a multi-tier system of various speed options. They want it to be possible for ISPs to block content that competes with their own. The only possible way one could interpret net neutrality as taking away your freedoms is if you think corporations are people with the same rights as people. But to believe that, you would have to believe that corporations should have the right to terminate the existence of a subsidiary corporation still in the process of being created without government interference. IOW, to have an abortion.

This our daily open thread. Thanks to Obama’s FCC, you’ll still have access to this blog at the same speed as the big name corporations get. Use it wisely, and talk about anything you want.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 28th, 2015: Geek Grins & Groaners

A friend ‘from at work’, as we say in our families, provided the topic for today’s thread – which was particularly nice and thoughtful of her, as she was home recovering from surgery. As she put it, “Thought you might find these entertaining. Or I just found them funnier then normal because they gave me the good drugs!”

So today we present: GEEK JOKES, or, more properly titled, “26 Jokes That Only Intellectuals Will Get.” Here’s a couple of my favorites:

HOW MANY SURREALISTS DOES IT TAKE TO SCREW IN A LIGHT BULB?   A FISH.

and,

SODIUM, SODIUM, SODIUM, SODIUM, SODIUM, SODIUM, SODIUM, SODIUM, BATMAN!

or how about,

WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN YOU PUT ROOT BEER IN A SQUARE GLASS?   BEER.

Okay, so they’re mostly groaners, but I found them amusing. Enjoy!

This is our daily Open Thread. Go ahead and grin, groan, grimace, gripe, or, sadly, grieve.

Rest In Peace, Leonard Nimoy. Now that your soul has “slipped the surly bonds of Earth”, may it travel among the stars and galaxies unencumbered, your immortality ensured.