The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 28th, 2015: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Just a quick glance at some of the stories on Right Wing Watch is enough to make it clear that, while there is a lot of craziness going on around the globe, the no-longer-United States of America is now forging ahead in an effort to be Number 1 in the category of Insanity.

Rand Paul calls for “Tent Revivals” in “Rand Paul Suggests Gay Marriage Is The Result of a ‘Moral Crisis’ in America”, by Brian Tashman:

“We need a revival in the country,” Paul said. “We need another Great Awakening with tent revivals of thousands of people saying, ‘reform or see what’s going to happen if we don’t reform.’”

Also by Brian Tashman, in “Ted Cruz: Conservative Christians have Ceded Power** to Non-Believers”, Cruz tells interviewer David Brody of the “Christian” Broadcasting Network that “he hopes and prays that God put him in the position he is in today.” In addition:

“Brody also hailed Cruz’s father, far-right activist Rafael Cruz, for his political views that he says have “rubbed off on Cruz.””

**”Ceded Power”? What “power”? The only “power” that ANY religious person/group should have in America is the same power that any citizen of this country has, as enumerated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

And you’ve got to love this one: “Glenn Beck Is Now Locked In A Fight To The Death Against The GOP Establishment.” While I’m sure that, like me, you all would disagree with the reasons why Beck is going after both Grover Norquist and Karl Rove (Beck thinks that Norquist is part of a front for the Muslim Brotherhood, then attacked Rove for defending Norquist), you have to agree with parts of his argument with Karl Rove:

“You guys have the spine of a worm, the ethics of whores, and the integrity of pirates. My apologies to worms, whores and pirates.”

and

“Can you not smell what you are shoveling anymore?”

One last thing, from Raw Story An article by Alternet’s Alex Henderson, titled “Here Are 9 Things Many Americans Just Don’t Understand–Compared To The Rest of The World” illustrates why ‘travel is so broadening.’ Number 3 is particularly relevant:

3. American Exceptionalism Is Absolute Nonsense in 2015

No matter how severe the U.S.’ decline becomes, neocons and the Tea Party continue to espouse their belief in “American exceptionalism.” But in many respects, the U.S. of 2015 is far from exceptional. The U.S. is not exceptional when it comes to civil liberties (no country in the world incarcerates, per capita, more of its people than the U.S.) or healthcare (WHO ranks the U.S. #37 in terms of healthcare). Nor is the U.S. a leader in terms of life expectancy: according to the WHO, overall life expectancy in the U.S. in 2013 was 79 compared to 83 in Switzerland and Japan, 82 in Spain, France, Italy, Sweden and Canada and 81 in the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Austria and Finland.”

In my opinion, in 2015 the U.S. of A. ranks #1 only in the number and power of its Religious Right-Wing Nut Jobs.

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

Sunday Roast: Did I say that out loud?

via Raw Story

The current Bob Jones, who, unfortunately for the rest of us, seem to run in perpetuity, has regrets.  He now allows that gay people should not be stoned, although they are still sinners.

“I take personal ownership of this inflammatory rhetoric. This reckless statement was made in the heat of a political controversy 35 years ago,” Jones said in a statement. “Upon now reading these long-forgotten words, they seem to me as words belonging to a total stranger—were my name not attached.”

“I cannot erase them, but wish I could, because they do not represent the belief of my heart or the content of my preaching. Neither before, nor since, that event in 1980 have I ever advocated the stoning of sinners,” he added.

In other words, “I can’t believe I said that out loud.”

But, looking on the bright side, since it seems that we’re ALL sinners in the eyes of the mythical sky fairy, then that puts homosekshuls on equal footing with the rest of us — hence equal rights for everyone!!  Yay, Bob Jones III!

I’m sure he’s right onboard with the idea…right?

This is our daily open thread — Sorry so late!!

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

Sunday Roast: Music!

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Music Sunday, so here ya go.  No, I’m not being lazy — don’t be silly!  Heh, you guys need to dance off all that Pi you ate yesterday.  ;)

I’ve been hearing Uptown Funk on the radio, and it just friggin’ gets me going like no pop princess or brooding guy with a guitar ever could — or will.  They nailed it IMHO.

This is our daily open thread — Enjoy!!

 

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.