The Watering Hole, Thursday, April 26th, 2012: Odds & Ends, From Local to National

Let’s start off local and go on from there:

First: A follow-up to my recent mention of the local lack of enthusiasm for (or knowledge about) Tuesday’s New York Republican Primary. In Putnam County, just to the south of us, about 1500 people did their civic duty, a third of the number who turned out in 2008. Surprisingly, some voters cast their ballots for both Rick Santorum and New Gingrich. All in all, about 30% chose “Not Mitt RMoney.”

Second: Fanning outward a tad, five Democrats are now vying for the opportunity to unseat U.S. Representative Nan Hayworth (R-NY19.) Although this article from the Southeast-Brewster Patch is a few months old, it’s a very informative rundown on four of the five campaigners, who had participated in a forum back in January. The issues discussed (as seen in the article), all reflect concerns that are national in scope. (Note: Wayne and I met one of the candidates, Matt Alexander, at the local Dems holiday party back in December, and had a good chat with him. Nice guy, well-spoken without being ‘slick.’)

Third: Still focused on New York State, but, again, with national implications: For at least the 5th time, a medical marijuana bill should be introduced shortly in Albany. Apparently, this particular bill, at this particular time, may have a ghost of a chance; even the Wall Street Journal seems to believe there’s a glimmer of a possiblity. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that New York becomes the 17th State (plus the District of Columbia) to legalize medical marijuana.

Next: A Newsmax.com article regarding former President Jimmy Carter’s comments about Mitt Rmoney; in another Newsmax article, Reince Priebus tries to wax enthusiastic about Mitt RMoney and the Republican chances in November.

Finally, just for laughs: a link from Newsmax led me to this too-funny-to-be-taken-seriously video. I could only watch about five minutes of it, but I found it pretty goofy – hope you do, too.

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole: 4-4-12: Cheney Announces Presidential Bid

What, me worry?

Fresh out of the recovery room following his heart implant transplant, former Vice President Dick Cheney announced his candidacy for the Republican 2012 nomination for President.

“This current crop of candidates is pathetic.” Cheney announced at his press conference. Not one of them are qualified to pick up where I, where President Bush and I left off.”

When asked about Romney’s delegate lead going into the Convention, Cheney brushed it off. “Look, Romney’s the kid nobody wanted, but they’ve been stuck with him because everyone else sucked. His delegates are gonna leave like rats abandoning a sinking ship, now that they can choose a real man…one who’s been there, done that, one who knows what it’s like to bomb a country back to the Stone Age in a war sold to the American people like it was some sort of action-hero movie plot.”

Cheney then launched into an attack on President Obama for cutting and running in Iraq and for daring to even talk about shutting down Guantanamo. “Thank God the Republicans in Congress prevented Obama from closing that prison. Guantanamo is the best weapon we have for instilling fear in political opponents…I mean, those Islamic Terrorists who want to destroy the American Way of Life.”

When asked who he might pick for a Vice Presidential candidate, Cheney was quick to reply, “I ain’t gonna pick no damn Palin, that’s for sure. Actually, I’m favoring Jeb Bush. After all, last time we had a Bush and a Dick. It’s only right that this time it’s a Dick and a Bush.”

OPEN THREAD.
HAVE AT IT!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, February 9th: Holy Wholly Crap

I used to be a Roman Catholic, so I know the rules. One of those rules, aka the Ten Commandments, is “Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor” – in other words, don’t lie about someone. My parents and my Catholic school teachers taught me that lying about anything was wrong. Apparently Rick Santorum’s parents and teachers didn’t teach him that particular lesson.

Jane as a Catholic schoolgirl--the blonde with the gloves, middle row, left

After surprisingly winning the non-binding caucuses in Missouri, Colorado and Minnesota on Tuesday night, Rick Santorum gave a victory speech in which he broke that rule so often, it’s a wonder that his Old-Testament god did not strike him down where he stood, or at least turn him into a pillar of salt. Here’s the transcript of his speech (thanks to The Washington Post.) I removed the beginning where he thanked god, his wife, etc., etc. – no need to make everyone suffer through that, the rest of it is sickening enough:

Your votes today were not just heard loud and wide across the states of Missouri and Minnesota, but they were heard loud and louder all across this country, and particularly in a place that I suspect may be in Massachusetts. They were heard particularly loud tonight. Tonight was not just a victory for us, but tonight was a victory for the voices of our party, conservatives and Tea Party people, who are out there every single day in the vineyards building the conservative movement in this country, building the base of the Republican Party, and building a voice for freedom in this land. Thank you.

Okay, snide little poke at Romney, not too nasty yet. I don’t know what the “vineyards” reference is – are there vineyards in those three states? (shrug) We’ll move along…

There’s probably another person who maybe — maybe is listening to your cheers here tonight, also, and that might be at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. You better start listening to the voice of the people.

You mean the voice of the people who elected Barack Obama to the Presidency?

But then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t listening. Why would you think he would be listening now? Has he ever listened to the voice of America before?

Yes, Rick, President Obama HAS listened to the “voice of America before” – not always, but quite a bit. Maybe you’re thinking of Speaker Boehner, Rick, and the rest of the Republicans (particularly in the House)?

He’s someone who — well, let’s just go look at the record. If you look at when it came to the — the Wall Street bailouts, did the president of the United States listen to you when it came to bailing out the big banks?

I don’t know what “record” Rick’s looking at, because the historical record says that former President George W. Bush bailed out the big banks. So, that’s a lie, which makes the credibility of your premise quite suspect already.

Why? Because he thought he just knew better. He and his friends on Wall Street knew better than what was — what was good for this country. When it came to the problems that were being confronted on Obamacare, when the health care system in this country, did President Obama, when he was pushing forward his radical health care ideas, listen to the American people?

Well, Bush probably never “thought he just knew better”, but he did what his handlers told him to do. Playing along with Santorum’s mistaken premise that the bailouts were Obama’s doing, does he really believe that he knows what’s in Obama’s mind? Regarding the “Obamacare” line, I have to admit that President Obama didn’t listen to his base (or his past self) regarding universal, single-payer, government-run healthcare, but Obama certainly listened to what the Republicans insisted upon in his Affordable Care Act. Aren’t the Republicans the people whom you believe Obama should be listening to, Rick?

Why? Because he thinks he knows better how to run your lives and manage your health care.

As opposed to the Republicans thinking they know better how to run women’s lives and manage women’s health care? As opposed to YOU, Rick, thinking that you know better how to run homosexual citizens’ lives? And again, Rick, do you presume to know what President Obama is thinking?

When it comes to the environment, did the president of the United States listen to the American people, or did he push a radical cap- and-trade agenda that would crush the energy and manufacturing sector of the economy? Did he listen to you? No, because he thinks he knows better.

I guess that Rick is ignorant of the fact that many states, right here in the U.S. of A., already have had a cap-and-trade system in place for several years, starting before Obama became President.

Ladies and gentlemen, we need a president who listens to the American people. When the majority of Americans oppose these radical ideas and they speak loudly against them, we need a president who listens to them.

When a Republican President is in the White House, does he ever listen to “the majority of Americans” when they oppose ANY radical ideas and speak loudly against them? I keep thinking of how, when a Republican is elected to the Presidency, they always say that they have a “mandate from the people” to do whatever that particular administration proposes. I can’t remember ANY Democratic President who ever mentioned that phrase.

“Here’s the problem. The problem is, in this Republican field, you have been listening. Tonight, the voters of America, the voters here in Missouri, the voters in Minnesota — and I’m hopeful the voters in Colorado, right? I hope you have been listening to our message, because if you’ve — you listen to our message, and you found out that on those issues — health care, the environment, cap-and-trade, and on the Wall Street bailouts, Mitt Romney has the same positions as Barack Obama and, in fact, would not be the best person to get up and fight for your voices for freedom in America.”

Okay, this is just babbling.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t stand here to claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama. Tonight — tonight, we had — tonight, we had an opportunity to see what a campaign looks like when one candidate isn’t outspent 5 or 10 to 1 by negative ads impugning their integrity and distorting their record. This is a more accurate representation, frankly, of what the fall race will look like. Governor Romney’s greatest attribute is, well, I’ve got the most money and the best organization. Well, he’s not going to have the most money and the best organization in the fall, is he?”

We DID have the opportunity to see YOU, Rick impugning President Obama’s integrity and distorting his record. And the answer to your last question is, most likely, YES, Romney will still have the most money and the best organization in the fall. There’s a lot more states still to go, Rick, and winning Iowa by a nose, plus Tuesday’s three non-binding state caucuses, ain’t gonna make you the Republican nominee.

“No, we’re going to have to have someone who has other attributes to commend himself to the people of America, someone — someone who can get up and make sharp contrasts with President Obama, someone who can point to the failed record of this administration and say that Barack Obama needs to be replaced in the Oval Office.”

Sharp contrasts, yes – such as the intelligence, character, tolerance and empathy of President Obama, versus the closedmindedness, holier-than-thou intolerance and religious-crusade mindset of you, Rick.

“People — people have asked me, you know, what is — what is the secret? Why are you doing so well? Is it your jobs message? And, yes, we have a great jobs message, talking about everywhere we go and particularly here in the industrial heartland of Missouri, where they still make things here in Missouri, by the way. It’s a message of — as the Wall Street Journal called our economic plan, supply-side economics for the working man, is resonating in Minnesota and here in Missouri and across this country. And you see that, when you have a Republican out there talking about growth — talking about growth for everybody, right… … that Americans respond, because I do care about not 99 percent or 95 percent. I care about the very rich and the very poor. I care about 100 percent of America.”

“Supply-side economics for the working man”?? To quote Rocky the Flying Squirrel, “that trick NEVER works.” Let me presume to read YOUR mind for a change, Rick: you don’t care a whit for any of the poor or the rest of the 99%, and you only care about the very rich because those are the ones funding your campaign to be the President of the Divided Theocracy of America, Inc.

“The real message — the message that we’ve been taking across this country and here in Missouri is a message of what’s at stake in this election. This is the most important election in your lifetime. This is an election — we’ve seen it so evident just here in the last week. This is an election fundamentally about the kind of country you’re going to hand off to your children and grandchildren, whether they are going to have the level of freedom and opportunity that you have.”

The level of freedom and opportunity that we currently have is already less than that enjoyed by our own parents. Our children and grandchildren definitely will not have that level of freedom and opportunity if a Republican is elected to the Presidency in November, particularly a Republican with a single-minded religious agenda.

And we have a president of the United States, as I mentioned, who’s someone who believes he knows better, that we need to accumulate more power in Washington, D.C., for the elite in our country, to be able to govern you because you are incapable of liberty, that you are incapable of freedom. That’s what this president believes.

Who are these “elite in our country”? The 1%, who are courted so ardently by Republicans? And please, please, will someone explain once and for all what the hell the Republicans are talking about when they throw out buzzwords like “freedom” and “liberty”? Freedom and liberty to do WHAT?

And I — and Americans understand that there is a great, great deal at stake. If this president is re-elected and if we don’t have a nominee that can make this case and not be compromised on the biggest issues of the day, but can make the case to the American public that this is about the founder’s freedom, this is about a country that believes in God-given rights, and a Constitution that is limited to protect those rights. The president does not believe that. The president over the last few years has tried to tell you that he, in fact, the government can give you rights, the government can take care of you and provide for you. They can give you the right to health care, like in Obamacare.

No god gave me any rights. My rights, and yours, too, Rick, come from being, through no act of any god, born in the United States of America;
whose founders, through the Constitution, defined those rights and gave them to all citizens.

Rick, President Obama is a Constitutional lawyer, so I think that he’s a lot more knowledgeable than you are about the founders and our rights. And if you don’t believe that ALL of us have the right to health care, even if we can’t afford to pay for it, then you are a poor excuse for a human being AND a Christian.

But look what happens when the government gives you rights. When the government gives you rights, unlike when God gives you rights, the government can take them away. When government gives you rights, the government can tell you how to exercise those rights.

Your alleged god limits your rights and tells you what you can and cannot do; therefore, you already have fewer rights than those that our government grants the rest of us.

And we saw that just in the last week, with a group of people, a small group of people, just Catholics in the United States of America who were told you have a right to health care, but you will have the health care that we tell you, you have to give your people, whether it is against the teachings of your church or not. I never thought as a first-generation American, whose parents and grandparents loved freedom and came here because they didn’t want the government telling them what to believe and how to believe it, that we had a First Amendment that actually stood for freedom of conscience, that we’d have a president of the United States who would roll over that and impose his secular values on the people of this country.

Whoa, boy, let’s not confuse “freedom of religion” with any bs about “freedom of conscience.” ALL presidents, not just your bogeyman President Obama, “impose” the “secular values” of the Constitution – you know, the basis on which our government was founded. And, if hell freezes over and you, Rick, became President, you would be bound by sworn oath to protect and defend those secular values.

And it’s worse than that. When one of the Catholic bishops tried to communicate that through Army chaplains, the Obama administration said, no, you can’t do that, no, because your language is seditious, and they made them change the language of a letter from a bishop to his people.

The Catholic bishops’ views do not represent the views of every Catholic in the United States, Rick, and neither do yours. Maybe you should check out the group Catholics United, for another viewpoint.

Ladies and gentlemen, freedom is at stake in this election. We need to be the voice for freedom. And that founding document, the Declaration of Independence, at the end of that document, those founders signed their names. But the last clause of that document said we pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. Ladies and gentlemen, every generation of Americans doesn’t create freedom, but they have, in many respects, a harder job. They have to maintain freedom. Your charge tonight — your charge tonight here in Missouri — because we’re not done yet with you here in Missouri. You’ve got a caucus coming up next month — is to go out and pledge, pledge — no, not your lives. Maybe your fortune. RickSantorum.com is the website.

You’re already planning to take away certain freedoms from gays and women, Rick, how is that ‘maintaining’ freedom? And I’m sure that the people in Missouri are glad that you’re not asking for their lives, just their ‘fortunes.’

But your honor, the honor that you stand on, on the backs and the shoulders of your ancestors. The people here in St. Louis, the people here in Missouri, the people across this country who sacrificed for this country, for the freedoms we have. America’s honor, your honor is at stake. Go out and preserve the greatest country in the history of the world. Thank you all, and God bless.

“America’s honor” was already blasted into smithereens by the previous Republican President, and, right now, there’s not a whole hell of a lot of our former greatness to be preserved. Psst, Rick – I think you left out a word after “God bless” – you know, “America.”

Okay, I’ve kept most of my temper while typing this. As this is our Open Thread, feel free to lose yours, or to discuss anything else that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday January 17 – Fort Sumter

The siege on Fort Sumter was the starting point for the civil war in 1861. I keep reading allegations to this in lots of tweets and blog posts that refer to yesterday’s debate. It must have been quite a spectacular show, for those among us, who are not queasy and, of course, for us Europeans who won’t be living under a Republican President, if one was elected this year.

The crowd must have been especially mean-spirited leading one of the Economist’s live bloggers to comment

I think this crowd will be disappointed when informed that there will not in fact be a public hanging later in the evening.
by W.W.4:18 AM

and another says:

As crowds go, only the Tea Party audience in the Nevada debate came close to this level of red-meatism. Agree/disagree?
by A.K. 4:26 AM

You can read all live-blog comments, many very amusing, on The Economist here.

The Guardian mentions the hem..hem.. let’s call it rather unusually rowdy atmosphere as well, but only in passing

The debate was conducted against a noisy background, with 3,000 partisan Republicans in the hall, booing and heckling, saving applause for their favourites, mainly Gingrich and former senator Rick Santorum. Romney, viewed as too moderate in right-leaning South Carolina, appeared to have failed to fill the hall with his supporters.

While Der Spiegel thinks it’s worth a full story:

Und so wird es immer schlimmer. Perry fabuliert, die Türkei werde von islamischen Terroristen regiert (Jubel). Er verwechselt die Taliban mit al-Qaida (Jubel) und den Irak mit Afghanistan (Jubel). Er verwehrt sich dagegen, die mutmaßliche Taliban-Leichenschändung durch US-Marineinfanteristen zu kritisieren (Jubel) – die Männer hätten doch nur “einen Fehler gemacht” (Jubel). Ach ja: Und er will die Immobilienkrise lösen, indem er verschuldete Hauseigentümer sich selbst überlässt (Jubel).

And thus it gets worse and worse. Perry opines Turkey was governed by islamic Terrorists (Cheers). He mixes up Taliban and Al Qaida (Cheers) and Iraq and Afghanistan (Cheers). He refuses to criticise the (alleged) desecration of Taliban corpses by US Marines (Cheers) the men had just “made a mistake” (Cheers). Oh yes: And he wants to solve the real estate crisis by  leaving indebted home owners to fend for themselves (Cheers).

So, back to Fort Sumter. All kinds of civil war are going on in the US. The “War on the Middle Class” (that will turn into a War on the Poor for want of a Middle Class soon)  and the “War on Civil Liberties” being the ones fought most prominently. There may even be a break-up of the Union in the not so distant future, politically the “War on the Federal Government” will be fought this summer when the Presidential campaigns will be in full swing. And won’t the 1% just love it to sick the states against each other to get all remaining regulations off the table and make the states compete for their attentions. Don’t believe it ? The USSR only took a couple of years to fully break apart, something that was unthinkable only 30 years ago, remember ? The US is in not much better shape these days. And people like the ones in yesterday’s audience are the perfect footsoldiers for such a development.

I almost regret that I won’t be watching Thursday’s debate either. On second thoughts, no I don’t.

As a matter of form: Newt Gingrich was dubbed yesterday’s winner and Mitt Romney the loser in most news sites I read.

This is our Daily Open Thread.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, September 15th, 2011: THIS EARTH IS NOT FLAT

Published in the Pawling Press, Pawling, NY, Friday, September 9th, 2011, under the title “Not So Flat Earth”

Note: I wrote the following in response to an opinion piece by the Pawling Press‘s conservative columnist, Mr. Paul Keyishian. Mr. Keyishian’s piece was entitled “Achieving Ideological Balance at the Federal Level”; it should be available in full at http://www.pawlingpress.com next week.

I found it aptly ironic that both Frank Matheis [liberal columnist] and Paul Keyishian, in their opinion pieces of September 2nd, referred to the idea that no sane person these days believes that the world is flat. However, while Mr. Matheis went on to discuss the dismissal of science by climate change deniers, including many of today’s prominent Republicans and Tea Partiers, Mr. Keyishian took a different route. Mr. Keyishian’s column centered around the idea that, while “established scientific facts” are either right or wrong, opposing political philosophies are “not so cut and dried.” While this is true to a certain degree, some political philosophies are readily proven to be wrong, simply by looking at history.

I am compelled to dismiss Mr. Keyishian’s base premise where he “assume[s] that each side of the political spectrum has something meaningful to contribute…” or “that we all possess the sincere desire to ‘even things out’ politically.” Anyone who has paid attention to the political arena in the last few years since President Obama was elected has to realize that, even before the 2010 mid-terms, the majority of sitting Republicans became the party of Obstruction, the party of “No!” and even “Hell, NO!” Senior Republican Mitch McConnell outright stated that the party’s goal was to “make President Obama a one-term President”, which doesn’t exactly sound like meaningful contribution in my view. The only solution that the Republicans offered to mitigate the effects of the recession and the rampant, increasing unemployment rate were tax cuts, especially for the wealthy and big corporations.

Here’s where we go back to the ‘flat-earth/established science’ idea: Republicans, and I mean every single Republican Congressperson and Senator, still pronounce that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations actually create jobs and must be continued, some believe permanently. This flies completely in the face of established historical fact. Historical facts tell us that, when President Clinton raised taxes, including on the wealthy and corporations, the country gained millions of jobs (and provided his successor with a budget surplus); historical facts also tell us that, when George W. Bush reduced taxes on the wealthy and big corporations, the country LOST millions of jobs. Republicans paid no attention to the burgeoning deficit during the Bush years, but suddenly it became the number one priority when a Democrat, President Obama, took office. (Sorry, that one should be filed under “Hypocrisy”, not “Established Science”.)

Mr. Keyishian’s dream scenario that having a Republican President, a majority Democratic House, and a more-or-less evenly split Senate would help to make Congress, and therefore the country, work better together to accomplish ideologically central, moderate legislation, is just that: a dream scenario. First, this idea is totally dependent on the premise that the members of the House and Senate are all reality-based, competent and honest public servants. Unfortunately, there are very few of those to be found, in this age of big-money-influenced politics. Take the big money out of politics with real, effective campaign finance reform and lobbying reform, and this scenario may become slightly less dreamlike. Second, let’s turn Mr. Keyishian’s scenario on its head and look at the current makeup of the legislative and executive branches: we have a Democratic President, a majority Republican House, and a more-or-less evenly split Senate. If Mr. Keyishian’s hypothesis held true, wouldn’t one have to believe that there would be more cooperation, compromise, and resulting ideologically central, moderate legislation, instead of what is actually happening in today’s Congress?

Lastly, the scenario that Mr. Keyishian proposes has Michele Bachmann as his choice for the Presidency. Like most of the Republican candidates, Ms. Bachmann is a climate-science denier and doesn’t believe in evolution. She has also signed the Grover Norquist pledge (compulsory for Republicans, although one Congressman just recently disavowed the pledge) of no additional taxes, not for anyone, not ever. This past weekend, Ms. Bachman went as far as saying that she ‘would consider’ the idea of ZERO taxes on corporations. Ms. Bachmann has also signed a ‘no abortions for any reason’ pledge, and is anti-homosexual: she and her husband truly believe that one can “pray away the gay.” To sum up, Michele Bachmann is a “Flat-Earther”, and not someone who is qualified to lead the United States of America, especially not in this century.

By Jane E. Schneider

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to present your thoughts on any topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: August 16, Tuesday. Jerusalem Straw Poll ca. 30 A.D.

I am totally dumbfounded about the very unlikeliness of the field of Republican front runners. It doesn’t seem to me there will be any more serious contenders this year. Wildcard Palin will not enter, Bachmann will opt out early and we will face the prospect of another “Texan” in the White House, with Romney as a sidekick eventually. I’m serious. All depends on the left and liberals to bury the hatchet with Obama and get fired up. I perfectly recall that election when the highly intellectual and experienced  Vice President Gore encountered the pushover silly boy from Texas. Nuff said.

This is our Open Thread. We’re open all day!