GUEST ARTICLE: The First American Dictator

The First American Dictator

by

Kenneth R. Mackie

            The people of the United States of America, the first democratic republic the modern world has ever known, have ceded rule to a dictator for the first time in its 200+ year history.

            A dictator is “one holding complete autocratic control: a person with unlimited governmental power” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary); “a person exercising absolute power, especially a ruler who has absolute, unrestricted control in a government without hereditary succession” (Dictionary.com).

            A dictatorship is, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica, a

form of government in which one person or a small group possesses absolute power without effective constitutional limitations. The term dictatorship comes from the Latin title dictator, which in the Roman Republic designated a temporary magistrate who was granted extraordinary powers in order to deal with state crises. Modern dictators, however, resemble ancient tyrants rather than ancient dictators. … Dictators usually resort to force or fraud to gain despotic political power, which they maintain through the use of intimidation, terror, and the suppression of basic civil liberties. They may also employ techniques of mass propaganda in order to sustain their public support.

            No one becomes a dictator without help. A cadre of loyalists is essential to grab and keep power. And support amongst a sizeable portion of the populace, even a sizable minority, can propel a would-be demagogue into power.

THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE

            Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President, is attributed with saying, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” This has been taken to heart by Republicans since the days of the “Christian Coalition”, who found that they only needed to fool enough of the people at the proper times (elections). And faith-based voters belong to the ‘some of the people all of the time’ group. The conservative “Evangelical Christian” block can be counted on to vote Republican for the foreseeable future. Throughout 2109, Republicans approval of the First American Dictator ranges in the upper 80s to low 90s percent[i]. The approval rating among highly religious, white and Protestant Republicans is 92% over the past two years[ii]. This translates into millions of faith-based voters who support the First American Dictator.

            Among these is a growing cadre of white nationalists, encouraged to take up arms against all enemies of the current Administration. When “God’s Chosen[iii]” encourages violence, it is a statistical certainty that some will take up arms. Hence the mass murders of Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, etc.

            The First American Dictator enjoyed sufficient support among a mobilized and armed minority to be propelled into power.

THE POWER OF LOYALISTS IN GOVERNMENT

            In the unique structure of the United States government, all one party needs is 51 Senators to control the Senate (or just 50 Senators, plus the Vice President as a tie-breaker), hence the entire legislative branch, and give carte blanche to a dictator to ignore the Constitution. A bare majority of Senators allows a party to block all legislation, or ram-rod bills through regardless of any opposition. Even a minority of only 41 Senators is all it takes to prevent an override of a presidential veto.

            While the Constitution was designed to establish a legislative branch with the power to check a renegade President, it was not drafted to prevent a political party from obtaining enough power to allow the Constitution to be ignored.

            The First American Dictator enjoys the support of a majority in the Senate. As a result, the legislative branch is incapable of forcing him to act within the powers granted to him by the Constitution.

THE POWER OF LOYALTY OATHS

            It has been widely reported that Trump demands a “loyalty oath”[iv] from subordinates[v].

            The 25th Amendment provides that the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet can declare the President unfit for office, at which time the Vice President becomes the Acting President. A “loyalty oath” to Trump, and not to uphold the Constitution, ensures that Trump is protected by loyalists to him. Trump has surrounded himself with loyalists that put loyalty to a dictator above loyalty to the Constitution, or to the country. The First American Dictator enjoys the support of an inner circle of loyalists.

THE PROPAGANDA MACHINE

            Fox News and the network’s opinion shows are widely seen as the propaganda arm of the Trump administration[vi]. One Fox newscaster in particular, Sean Hannity, is seen as an unofficial advisor to Trump[vii]. While Trump lambasts CNN as “fake news”[viii] it is Fox which has the worst track record for making false or misleading statements, whereas CNN ranks the best[ix].

            A majority of Republicans for whom Fox News is their primary news source solidly support the First American Dictator and there is nothing he could do that would make them lose their approval[x].

            When it comes to faith-based voters, nearly all who identify as white evangelical Protestants for whom Fox News is their primary news source oppose Trump being impeached and removed from office[xi].

            The First American Dictator has a propaganda machine spouting falsehoods to help keep him in power.

UNCHECKED POWER

THE POWER TO PROFIT FROM HIS OFFICE

            Trump has the unchecked power to profit from his office, in disregard of the Constitution.

THE POWER TO PROFIT AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE

“The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased (sic) nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.[xii]

            Any profit arising from the possession of a public office is an emolument.[xiii] Trump profits off his office in many ways. He still owns numerous hotels and resort properties. He has taken numerous trips to his resorts, billing taxpayers millions of dollars[xiv]. He has directed members of the armed forces to stay at his property in Scotland, at taxpayers’ expense[xv]. His Vice President and members of his administration stay at his properties[xvi], again lining Trump’s pockets.

In using taxpayer funds to pay for golfing trips and hotel lodging at his properties, Trump is causing the United States to pay him over and above his compensation as set for his office by Congress.

THE POWER TO PROFIT FROM FOREIGN STATES

No person “holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.[xvii]” Foreign governments that make use of Trump’s properties are putting their money into Trump’s pockets. In addition, China has granted Trump or his companies about 40 trademarks since he became President. Congress has not given its consent to foreign money flowing to Trump either directly or through his corporations’ profits. Members of Congress filed a lawsuit in June of 2017 seeking an injunction to bar Trump from further accepting emoluments from foreign governments without first seeking Congress’ approval[xviii]. Trump is currently appealing the finding that members of Congress have standing to seek a court order compelling Trump to comply with the Constitution. Meanwhile Trump does not have to produce any documents showing which foreign governments have paid to stay at which of Trump’s properties, nor how much they paid, nor how much of that has gone into Trump’s pockets while he is in office.

Trump has the unchecked power to profit from his office, billing taxpayers for his vacations at his resort and collecting payments from foreign governments for their rents of his properties.

THE POWER TO DIVERT FEDERAL FUNDING AT WILL

            Congress has the “power of the purse”, that is, to pass legislation to raise revenues, and to appropriate funding[xix]. Trump wanted money for a wall between the United States and Mexico. Congress considered, but did not fund Trump’s request. So the First American Dictator declared an “emergency” that didn’t exist, and diverted funds from congressionally approved projects to his border wall[xx]. Congress responded by passing a bill rejecting Trump’s emergency declaration, which Trump vetoed[xxi]. Thirty-six Republican Senators supported Trump and his veto was not overridden. Trump has the power to divert federal funds at will.

THE POWER TO IGNORE INTERNATIONAL LAW

            The First American Dictator inherited the power to ignore international law prohibiting torture, “secret rendition” aka kidnapping, holding prisoners in undisclosed prisons indefinitely without charges, and invading a country for the purpose of regime change.

            This power has been expanded to include separating children from their parents[xxii], and ignoring international law regarding refugees seeking asylum[xxiii].

THE POWER TO OBSTRUCT JUSTICE

            The First American Dictator used the power of his office to obstruct investigations into allegations of misuse of power, first in the Mueller probe looking into potential collusion between his campaign for the office of President[xxiv], then by refusing to let former and present members of his administration testify before Congress as the House investigated possible acts giving rise to an impeachment proceeding[xxv].

            Acting under the First American Dictator’s orders, and without a claim of privilege, Trump’s present and former subordinates have refused to comply with a subpoena to testify before Congress[xxvi]. The First American Dictator has been seen to dangle a potential pardon to influence testimony[xxvii].

Trump’s messages on social media are seen as attempts to intimidate witnesses[xxviii]. He is so bold as to disparage a witness even as the witness testifies before Congress[xxix]. Likewise his administration uses an official social media account to disparage a witness while testifying[xxx].

            Ordering percipient witness to refuse to comply with a Congressional subpoena without a claim of privilege, dangling the possibility of a pardon for witnesses accused of providing false testimony, and disparaging witnesses while they are testifying all point to obstruction of justice.

THE POWER TO BRIBE JURORS

            Republican Senators will make up the majority of the jurors in an impeachment trial of the First American Dictator. “President Donald Trump—who is facing a formal impeachment inquiry in the House—has leveraged his fundraising network to boost the campaigns of struggling Republican senators who have signed a resolution condemning impeachment proceedings.” [xxxi]

            Thus members of the jury who have already come out in support of the First American Dictator are being rewarded with campaign cash to help them keep their jobs. The First American Dictator will not be facing an impartial jury in his impending impeachment trial.

THE POWER TO USE CONGRESSIONALLY APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR PERSONAL POLITICAL GAIN

            The First American Dictator leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to coerce a foreign government to announce an investigation against a political rival[xxxii]. The ramifications of this unchecked power cannot be understated. With foreign aid tied to political favors, foreign governments will be highly motivated to comply. Indeed, it does not take too much of an imagination to see federal dollars allocated to the various States withheld unless the State agrees to investigate political opponents. This power, the power to generate countless investigations into political opponents, combined with the power of the propaganda machine and the power of loyalists, is the power to destroy all opposition.

THE FIRST AMERICAN DICTATOR

            President Donald Trump is the First American Dictator. By all indications, he won’t be the last. If, and it appears likely, the Republicans in the Senate refuse to remove him from office, his successors will enjoy the same powers – as long as they have enough loyalists in the Senate[xxxiii]. The courts won’t be able to constrain these powers, as the courts have no power to enforce their rulings[xxxiv]. If Trump is allowed to remain in office because the Republican Senate acquits him of “high crimes and misdemeanors” the above enumerated powers will be ceded to the office of President. The crowning achievement of the Republican Party will be to turn a constitutional republic into a dictatorship, with them in control.

Trump will be known as the first of a long line of American Dictators.

Kenneth R. Mackie is a former educator turned attorney. He studied Constitutional Law under Professor John Cary Sims at University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and “Fundamental Rights in Europe and the United States” under Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and Sionaidh Douglas-Scott at the Salzburg Institute in Salzburg, Austria.


[i] https://news.gallup.com/poll/203198/presidential-approval-ratings-donald-trump.aspx

[ii] https://news.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/248384/highly-religious-white-protestants-firm-support-trump.aspx

[iii] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/11/25/why-evangelicals-like-rick-perry-believe-that-trump-is-gods-chosen-one/

[iv] https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-demands-loyalty-oath-from-job-seekers-who-criticized-him-during-election

[v] https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/donald-trumps-grip-on-the-republican-party-just-got-even-tighter

[vi] http://hillmanfoundation.org/sidney-awards/jane-mayer-wins-april-sidney-elucidating-how-fox-news-became-propaganda-arm-trump

[vii] https://political.com/is-sean-hannity-one-of-trumps-unofficial-advisor/

[viii] https://fortune.com/2018/06/09/donald-trump-cnn-fake-news-g7/

[ix] https://www.politifact.com/punditfact/article/2015/jan/27/msnbc-fox-cnn-move-needle-our-truth-o-meter-scorec/

[x] https://www.prri.org/research/fractured-nation-widening-partisan-polarization-and-key-issues-in-2020-presidential-elections/

[xi] https://www.prri.org/research/fractured-nation-widening-partisan-polarization-and-key-issues-in-2020-presidential-elections/

[xii] United States Constitution, Article 2, section 1.)

[xiii] https://thelawdictionary.org/emolument/

[xiv] https://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckjones/2019/07/10/trumps-golf-trips-could-cost-taxpayers-over-340-million/

[xv] https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/18/military-trumps-scottish-resort-1501877

[xvi] https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/9/3/20847247/mike-pence-ireland-doonbeg-trip-180-miles-away-trump-hotel

[xvii] United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 9.

[xviii] https://www.theusconstitution.org/litigation/trump-and-foreign-emoluments-clause/

[xix] https://history.house.gov/Institution/Origins-Development/Power-of-the-Purse/

[xx] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/09/04/trump-diverts-3-6-billion-military-projects-build-more-border-wall/2208166001/

[xxi] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-congress-emergency/trump-vetoes-measure-to-end-his-emergency-declaration-on-border-wall-idUSKBN1WV06P

[xxii] https://ilg2.org/2018/06/10/trump-administrations-family-separation-policy-violates-international-law/

[xxiii] https://time.com/5626498/trump-asylum-rule-international-law/

[xxiv] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/obstruction-of-justice-10-times-trump-may-have-obstructed-justice-mueller-report/

[xxv] https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/12/impeachment-report-trump-obstruct/602938/

[xxvi] https://www.lawfareblog.com/revisiting-criminal-obstruction-justice-impeachment-inquiry

[xxvii] https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-pardon-paul-manafort-obstruction-justice-1237150

[xxviii] https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/11/20/20970572/impeachment-hearing-judiciary-committee-trump-obstruction

[xxix] https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2019-11-15/trump-tweets-on-impeachment-witness-yovanovitch-during-testimony

[xxx] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/19/white-house-twitter-attacks-vindman-during-trump-impeachment-testimony.html

[xxxi] https://www.forbes.com/sites/isabeltogoh/2019/10/31/trump-accused-of-bribery-after-urging-donors-to-support-senators-defending-him-against-impeachment/#21b769013eb5

[xxxii] https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-house-impeachment-report-highlights-trumps-ongoing-abuse-of-presidential-power

[xxxiii] https://origins.osu.edu/review/imperial-presidency-pushes-back

[xxxiv] https://sustainatlanta.com/2015/04/02/remembering-the-time-andrew-jackson-decided-to-ignore-the-supreme-court-in-the-name-of-georgias-right-to-cherokee-land/

(Descending into) March Madness – Week One Gnus

Let’s start with some bad news, hopefully I’ll come up with some good news later.

First, to get it out of the way, the first Manafort sentence – WTF was the judge in the VA Manafort trial thinking, 47 MONTHS? “…an otherwise blameless life…”? This is the guy whose lobbying firm partners were Roger “Nixon Tattoo” Stone and Lee “Evil Incarnate” Atwater, the slimiest trio of political operatives in several decades. Not to mention all of his foreign entanglements with vicious dictators. “Blameless?!” And poor, poor Manafort, so “humiliated and shamed” during the court proceedings. Not “humbled and ashamed”, of course. No, he was “humiliated and shamed” because he had to be seen, even if just in court drawings, in jumpsuit and chains with graying hair, instead of his usual natty expensive suits and jet-black coif. Oh, and there’s the gout, can’t forget the gout- that’s what the wheelchair is for, to remind everyone. Funny how that gout hit him once he was jailed, because in all of the videos we see of Manafort going into and out of courtrooms, he seemed to be walking just fine.

That nominal sentence is a goddamn outrage. A slap on the wrist for an unremorseful lifelong thug, and (another) slap in the face to justice in these United States. I’d go on a good rant, but I’m concerned about my blood pressure. And sanity. 😦

Moving on…

For some reason which I don’t currently remember, I’ve been getting these ‘breaking news’ emails from “Christian Headlines”. Regardless…I got one this afternoon and the title of the article is pretty frightening: “Judge Lets Father Represent Aborted Baby in Wrongful-Death Suit.” Yeah, here we go down an extremely slippery slope, deliberately greased by religious fanatics and misogynistic politicians. This “personhood” nonsense is unconstitutional and dangerous.

According to the article by Michael Foust:

“An Alabama judge has let a wrongful death lawsuit proceed in which a father is suing an abortion clinic on behalf of his aborted unborn child…The lawsuit references a constitutional amendment passed by Alabama voters last year stating “it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children.”

“The case in Alabama is chilling because it represents the real-life consequences of anti-choice ‘personhood’ policies, which, by design, seek to demote the fundamental rights of women, and are a stepping stone in the anti-choice movement’s ultimate goal of criminalizing abortion and punishing women,” Kimmell [Adrienne Kimmell, V.P of NARAL Pro-Choice America] said. “To see it playing out in this case in Alabama should serve as a grave warning sign.”

(But the good news from Christian Headlines is that you can have “free devotions from Dr. Charles Stanley sent right to your door!” Okay, I was a Roman Catholic, so I have no idea what that means.)

Next…

We all remember what a mendacious git Judge Andrew Napolitano has been in the past. So he continues to surprise me in his appearances on Fox by his relative frankness regarding trump’s myriad legal troubles and appearance of guilt. I wish that Napolitano would apprise his Fox viewers of his opinion as published in yesterday’s Washington Times. Yes, sorry it’s the WT, but it’s actually worth the read. And while I take issue with a few things, i.e., his reference to trump’s “tormenters”; and his interpretation of the Republican-destroyed rule that “politics ends where the water’s edge begins” (that doesn’t mean that the House can’t hold hearings while trump is out “negotiating” with a murderous dictator), Napolitano did clarify some things about which I, at least, had been curious. Just one excerpt:

“Can a lawyer testify against his own client? What has become of the attorney-client privilege? These are sound questions that were not asked last week because of something called the crime-fraud exception. Normally, all communications between a client and his lawyer are privileged from revelation. The exception comes when the lawyer can demonstrate that he and the client were together engaged in criminal or fraudulent acts.”

You’ll have to read the rest, for some reason I can’t copy-and-paste from the Washington Times article.

Let’s get to some cheerier stuff…

Like the penguins in this snippet on Twitter – play it with the sound on, and watch all the way ’til the end. Enjoy!

Also, too…

April the Giraffe is due to give birth any moment, and you can watch her here.** April may have calved by the time I post this, but in that case the morning might bring us a little cutie like this:

UPDATE:  March 13th, 12:26am ET, still no baby giraffe.  I’ve heard that April was more than a month late with her last calf, so…watch this space!

**UPDATE!:  Baby BOY giraffe born approximately 12:42pm ET on Saturday, March 16th.  5′-11″ (taller than our own Zookeeper!) and 139 lbs.  Baby to be named in some sort of contest in the near future.  In the meantime, you can watch mom April and the little guy (with dad Oliver in the far pen) live, almost 24/7, here (The link is a new one, the one above has been taken down for archiving.)

Lastly…

Doesn’t everyone need a hug?

This is our Open Thread – batten down the hatches, ’cause we’re in for some rough political weather!

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 27th, 2017: FAKE President/REAL Threat

Each and every day of the last 37 days since trump started his residency of the White House, we are seeing the true nature of the “policies” in the Bannon/trump agenda. Some examples from this past week follow.

Last week brought us the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference, or NAMBLA (well, they might as well be, as far as ‘family values’ goes.)

Acting President and White Supremacist Steve Bannon, hand-in-hand (briefly) with White House (coughincompetent) Chief of (coughincompetent) Staff Rience Priebus, made a special appearance, during which Bannon casually confirmed that his true agenda is to a) gut First Amendment rights, muzzling the “free press” and protestors; then b) destroy our form of government/turn it into a kakistocracy.

BANNON: “Just like they were dead wrong on the chaos of the campaign and just like they were dead wrong in the chaos of the transition, they are absolutely dead wrong about what’s going on today because we have a team that’s just grinding it through on President Donald Trump promised the American people. And the mainstream media better understand something, all of those promises are going to be implemented…
“… every business leader we’ve had in is saying not just taxes, but it is — it is also the regulation. I think the consistent, if you look at these Cabinet appointees, they were selected for a reason and that is the deconstruction, the way the progressive left runs, is if they can’t get it passed, they’re just gonna put in some sort of regulation in — in an agency.

That’s all gonna be deconstructed and I think that that’s why this regulatory thing is so important.”  [emphasis mine]

A Daily Kos diary from 2/24 describes Bannon’s treacherous goal as well. A brief excerpt, though you should read the entire post:

“Remember the interview in which Bannon wanted to burn down democracy?
“I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed. …

“Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

Back to CPAC: Puppet FAKE president trump also gave a “speech” – and I use that term in the very loosest definition, in that he DID at least utter many many words, one after the other, i.e.:

“Great to be back at CPAC. It’s a place I have really — I love this place. I love you people. So thank you very much. First of all, I want to thank Matt Schlapp and his very, very incredible wife and boss, Mercedes, who have been fantastic friends and supporters and so great when I watch them on television defending me; nobody has a chance. So I want to thank Matt and Mercedes.
When Matt called and asked, I said absolutely I’ll be there with you.

The real reason I said it, I didn’t want him to go against me, so I said absolutely. And it really is an honor to be here. I wouldn’t miss a chance to talk to my friends. These are my friends. And we’ll see you again next year and the year after that. And I’ll be doing this with CPAC whenever I can, and I’ll make sure that we’re here a lot.

If you remember, my first major speech — sit down, everybody, come on.

You know, the dishonest media, they’ll say he didn’t get a standing ovation. You know why? No, you know why? Because everybody stood and nobody sat. So they’ll say he never got a standing ovation, right?

They are the worst.

So sit down. Donald Trump did not get a standing ovation. They leave out the part they never sat down. They leave that out. So I just want to thank you.”

NO, YOU FUCKING IGNORAMUS, THEY NEVER SAT DOWN BECAUSE YOU NEVER FUCKING TOLD/ASKED THEM TO! IT’S CALLED PROTOCOL, DAMMIT, HAVE SOMEONE EXPLAIN IT TO YOU!

Sorry.

Anyway, that was as much as I could read before my brain threatened to short out. If you’re tougher than I am, you can read the whole thing at the link above.

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones had this to say after trump’s “press briefing” prior to which CNN, the N.Y. Times, and the L.A. Times were shut out in favor of (puke) Breitbart [FAKE] “News” and the Washington Times:

“A few days ago, there was some talk about whether Trump would slow-walk federal disaster relief for the Oroville Dam [California] area. As it turned out, he didn’t, but the possibility was taken seriously for a while.
This is what makes the Trump presidency so unpredictable. No modern president would even think of taking revenge on a state that voted against him by refusing disaster aid. No modern president would dream of evicting news outlets from a press briefing because they had criticized him. No modern president would lie about easily checkable facts on a routine basis. No modern president would loudly cite every positive bit of economic news as a personal triumph. No modern president since Nixon would casually ask the FBI to take its side in an ongoing investigation.

 

It’s not that modern presidents couldn’t do these things. They just didn’t. And we all came to assume that none of them would.”

Then there’s this series of tweets from the tiny fingers of the childish man-baby, after the DNC selected Tom Perez as its Chairman:

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Congratulations to Thomas Perez, who has just been named Chairman of the DNC. I could not be happier for him, or for the Republican Party!
5:02 PM – 25 Feb 2017

Tom Perez

✔ @TomPerez

Call me Tom. And don’t get too happy. @keithellison and I, and Democrats united across the country, will be your worst nightmare.
5:49 PM – 25 Feb 2017

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

The race for DNC Chairman was, of course, totally “rigged.” Bernie’s guy, like Bernie himself, never had a chance. Clinton demanded Perez!
6:33 AM – 26 Feb 2017

Seriously, America, FAKE president trump is OUR “worst nightmare.”  When are the Republicans going to finally acknowledge that trump is an incompetent puppet with no morals, whose strings are being pulled not by the GOP, but by an anarchist who, with assistance from murderous Russian strongman Putin, will bring THEIR world “crashing down”, too?  What President-in-effect Bannon plans won’t just destroy the R’s hated “big government”, it will destroy the United States, and totally fuck up the balance of power in the world.

Democrats alone cannot stop trump.  If there are any Republicans with an ounce of patriotism left in their hearts, well, “now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.”  And quickly.

This is our Open Thread, you know what to do.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, February 15th, 2017: First Hypocrisy, Now Treachery

It’s been well known for a long time that the GOP is the party of hypocrisy–hence the acronym IOKIYAR. Now, with all of the trump cabal’s innumerable Russian connections, it appears that the GOP is also the party of treachery.

Despite the fact that several U.S. Intelligence agencies have already been investigating key trump personnel, none of the pertinent House and Senate committees want to do a damn thing about it, with the minor exception of Kellyanne Conway’s “free commercial” for Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. No, instead, GOP leaders are either silent on the subject, or say that we should just “move on” now that Flynn has resigned. Apparently they do NOT give a damn that trump knew all about Flynn’s conversations with Russian contacts, in particular the call that Flynn made, on the day that Obama announced sanctions against Russia for interfering with our elections, to let Russia know that president trump would lift those sanctions.

Would ANY Democrat, even one not running for the Presidency, get away with something like this? FFS, the GOP held, what, seven or eight hearings on Benghazi, and went fucking nuts over Hillary Clinton’s emails, none of which in any way, shape or form, endangered the security of the United States. Yet the fact that trump has surrounded himself with people who have, in many cases, had longtime relationships with Russian officials doesn’t seem to worry our ever-so-patriotic Republican majority “leaders.” “Move along, nothing to see here, looky-loos” and “but what about Hillary and her emails” are the typical responses from the GOP.

Well, FUCK YOU, GOP, fuck you hard with something sharp. You are all useless pieces of shit, and I hope that not only does trump go down in flames, I hope he drags you all to hell with him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now, just for laughs, here’s an article from the Christian Post that I know you’ll find amusing. I mean, just the title alone is hysterical: “God Delivered US from ‘Spirit of Witchcraft Through Trump”. Here’s an excerpt:

Appearing on “The Jim Bakker Show” on Tuesday, Christian thought leader Lance Wallnau spoke about President Donald Trump’s inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington that followed, saying God used Trump to deliver “the nation from the spirit of witchcraft in the Oval Office.”

“What I believe is happening is there was a deliverance of the nation from the spirit of witchcraft in the Oval Office,” said Wallnau, an evangelical business strategist and leader of the Lance Learning Group consulting firm in Dallas.

“The spirit of witchcraft was in the Oval Office, it was about to intensify to a higher level demon principality, and God came along with a wrecking ball, shocked everyone, the church cried out for mercy and bam—God knocked that spirit out, and what you’re looking at is the manifestation of an enraged demon through the populace,” he added.

“This is biblical,” Wallnau, author of God’s Chaos Candidate, added. “Many of the disruptions we are gonna see are going to be the evidence that we are seeing the awakening already began.”

Wallnau, who holds an M.A. from South Western Theological Seminary in Texas, predicted before the election that Trump was the “prophesied president.” He earlier explained that he came to this conclusion after attending a widely-publicized meeting between Donald Trump and evangelical leaders at the Trump Tower last year.

Giving an address at the 3rd Christian Inaugural Gala hosted by Women for a Great America at the Washington Hilton along with prominent Christian speakers and authors last month, Wallnau claimed that when he returned home to Dallas following the meeting with Trump, the Lord put the biblical passage of Isaiah 45 on his heart and told him that “the 45th president is Isaiah 45.”

[He actually had to use Google to confirm that trump would be the 45th president – and these evangelicals are demanding the right to preach politics from the pulpit?]

This is our Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 28th, 2017: “The Emperor’s New Clothes”

Since so many people are referencing the Hans Christian Andersen tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, in regard to Trump’s first week in office, I thought I should post the classic for all to re-read.

Many years ago there was an Emperor so exceedingly fond of new clothes that he spent all his money on being well dressed. He cared nothing about reviewing his soldiers, going to the theatre, or going for a ride in his carriage, except to show off his new clothes. He had a coat for every hour of the day, and instead of saying, as one might, about any other ruler, “The King’s in council,” here they always said. “The Emperor’s in his dressing room.”

In the great city where he lived, life was always gay. Every day many strangers came to town, and among them one day came two swindlers. They let it be known they were weavers, and they said they could weave the most magnificent fabrics imaginable. Not only were their colors and patterns uncommonly fine, but clothes made of this cloth had a wonderful way of becoming invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office, or who was unusually stupid.

“Those would be just the clothes for me,” thought the Emperor. “If I wore them I would be able to discover which men in my empire are unfit for their posts. And I could tell the wise men from the fools. Yes, I certainly must get some of the stuff woven for me right away.” He paid the two swindlers a large sum of money to start work at once.

They set up two looms and pretended to weave, though there was nothing on the looms. All the finest silk and the purest old thread which they demanded went into their traveling bags, while they worked the empty looms far into the night.

“I’d like to know how those weavers are getting on with the cloth,” the Emperor thought, but he felt slightly uncomfortable when he remembered that those who were unfit for their position would not be able to see the fabric. It couldn’t have been that he doubted himself, yet he thought he’d rather send someone else to see how things were going. The whole town knew about the cloth’s peculiar power, and all were impatient to find out how stupid their neighbors were.

“I’ll send my honest old minister to the weavers,” the Emperor decided. “He’ll be the best one to tell me how the material looks, for he’s a sensible man and no one does his duty better.”

So the honest old minister went to the room where the two swindlers sat working away at their empty looms.

“Heaven help me,” he thought as his eyes flew wide open, “I can’t see anything at all”. But he did not say so.

Both the swindlers begged him to be so kind as to come near to approve the excellent pattern, the beautiful colors. They pointed to the empty looms, and the poor old minister stared as hard as he dared. He couldn’t see anything, because there was nothing to see. “Heaven have mercy,” he thought. “Can it be that I’m a fool? I’d have never guessed it, and not a soul must know. Am I unfit to be the minister? It would never do to let on that I can’t see the cloth.”

“Don’t hesitate to tell us what you think of it,” said one of the weavers.

“Oh, it’s beautiful -it’s enchanting.” The old minister peered through his spectacles. “Such a pattern, what colors!” I’ll be sure to tell the Emperor how delighted I am with it.”

“We’re pleased to hear that,” the swindlers said. They proceeded to name all the colors and to explain the intricate pattern. The old minister paid the closest attention, so that he could tell it all to the Emperor. And so he did.

The swindlers at once asked for more money, more silk and gold thread, to get on with the weaving. But it all went into their pockets. Not a thread went into the looms, though they worked at their weaving as hard as ever.

The Emperor presently sent another trustworthy official to see how the work progressed and how soon it would be ready. The same thing happened to him that had happened to the minister. He looked and he looked, but as there was nothing to see in the looms he couldn’t see anything.

“Isn’t it a beautiful piece of goods?” the swindlers asked him, as they displayed and described their imaginary pattern.

“I know I’m not stupid,” the man thought, “so it must be that I’m unworthy of my good office. That’s strange. I mustn’t let anyone find it out, though.” So he praised the material he did not see. He declared he was delighted with the beautiful colors and the exquisite pattern. To the Emperor he said, “It held me spellbound.”

All the town was talking of this splendid cloth, and the Emperor wanted to see it for himself while it was still in the looms. Attended by a band of chosen men, among whom were his two old trusted officials-the ones who had been to the weavers-he set out to see the two swindlers. He found them weaving with might and main, but without a thread in their looms.

“Magnificent,” said the two officials already duped. “Just look, Your Majesty, what colors! What a design!” They pointed to the empty looms, each supposing that the others could see the stuff.

“What’s this?” thought the Emperor. “I can’t see anything. This is terrible!

Am I a fool? Am I unfit to be the Emperor? What a thing to happen to me of all people! – Oh! It’s very pretty,” he said. “It has my highest approval.” And he nodded approbation at the empty loom. Nothing could make him say that he couldn’t see anything.

His whole retinue stared and stared. One saw no more than another, but they all joined the Emperor in exclaiming, “Oh! It’s very pretty,” and they advised him to wear clothes made of this wonderful cloth especially for the great procession he was soon to lead. “Magnificent! Excellent! Unsurpassed!” were bandied from mouth to mouth, and everyone did his best to seem well pleased. The Emperor gave each of the swindlers a cross to wear in his buttonhole, and the title of “Sir Weaver.”

Before the procession the swindlers sat up all night and burned more than six candles, to show how busy they were finishing the Emperor’s new clothes. They pretended to take the cloth off the loom. They made cuts in the air with huge scissors. And at last they said, “Now the Emperor’s new clothes are ready for him.”

Then the Emperor himself came with his noblest noblemen, and the swindlers each raised an arm as if they were holding something. They said, “These are the trousers, here’s the coat, and this is the mantle,” naming each garment. “All of them are as light as a spider web. One would almost think he had nothing on, but that’s what makes them so fine.”

“Exactly,” all the noblemen agreed, though they could see nothing, for there was nothing to see.

“If Your Imperial Majesty will condescend to take your clothes off,” said the swindlers, “we will help you on with your new ones here in front of the long mirror.”

The Emperor undressed, and the swindlers pretended to put his new clothes on him, one garment after another. They took him around the waist and seemed to be fastening something – that was his train-as the Emperor turned round and round before the looking glass.

“How well Your Majesty’s new clothes look. Aren’t they becoming!” He heard on all sides, “That pattern, so perfect! Those colors, so suitable! It is a magnificent outfit.”

Then the minister of public processions announced: “Your Majesty’s canopy is waiting outside.”

“Well, I’m supposed to be ready,” the Emperor said, and turned again for one last look in the mirror. “It is a remarkable fit, isn’t it?” He seemed to regard his costume with the greatest interest.

The noblemen who were to carry his train stooped low and reached for the floor as if they were picking up his mantle. Then they pretended to lift and hold it high. They didn’t dare admit they had nothing to hold.

So off went the Emperor in procession under his splendid canopy. Everyone in the streets and the windows said, “Oh, how fine are the Emperor’s new clothes! Don’t they fit him to perfection? And see his long train!” Nobody would confess that he couldn’t see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No costume the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.

“But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.

“Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?” said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, “He hasn’t anything on. A child says he hasn’t anything on.”

“But he hasn’t got anything on!” the whole town cried out at last.

The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.

The last line, of course, doesn’t exactly compare to our Trumperor, who would NEVER suspect and certainly could never admit that any actual, tangible, verifiable fact “would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool.” Our Trumperor has been strutting around naked for a very long time. So, how many ‘little children’ will it take to convince ‘the whole nation’ that the Trumperor “hasn’t got anything on!”

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

The Weekend Watering Hole, Saturday, January 7th-8th, 2017: Russian Roulette

Here’s some of the most recent articles about the U.S. intelligence agencies’ report on the Russian influence in Trump’s election.

First, here’s a PDF of the report itself.

Next we have relevant articles from yesterday’s Washington Post and the New York Times.

And then a couple of articles on Trump’s post-intelligence-briefing statements, one from the NY Times, and one from this morning’s Raw Story. Apparently Trump took time from his preoccupation with Arnold and The Apprentice to tweet a few idiocies while avoiding the ‘yuge’ Russian elephant in his room.

What will it take for Trump, his minions, and the GOP to finally admit that the chambers in the Russian Roulette revolver aren’t all empty?

This is our Open Thread – join in with whatever you want to talk about.

The Weekend Watering Hole, December 3rd-4th, 2016

As George W. Bush so eloquently stated all those years ago, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

There are countless numbers of people who should have taken to heart even Dubya’s garbled version (perhaps he had been listening to The Who on his way to that day’s event) of the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”, during this past Presidential campaign and election. The vast majority of those people belong in that huge conglomeration known as “The Media”. Subgroups include, but are not limited to: cable and other news channels, their corporate owners and news division heads, “journalists”, “reporters”, newspundits aka talking heads, political strategists, and official spokeswhores for political candidates. I’m not even going to bother going into the internet “media”, that would be like peeling away every layer of the world’s largest onion (and would bring tears to your eyes, too.) Better to focus on the main offenders.

On Thursday, a “postmortem session” was held at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, attended by representatives of several of the above subgroups. Apparently this is a traditional event that’s held following Presidential elections. As described in general in this article in The Washington Post, this year’s event quickly devolved into a “shouting match.”

A lot of lies were told, and false narratives put forward; too many for me to address all at once, so I’ll limit myself for now and add further commentary as the weekend progresses and time allows.

Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri condemned [Steve] Bannon, who previously ran Breitbart, a news site popular with the alt-right, a small movement known for espousing racist views.

“If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I am proud to have lost,” she said. “I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.”

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, fumed: “Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform?”

“You did, Kellyanne. You did,” interjected Palmieri…”

Yes, you did, Kellyanne. Trump’s rants freed the voices and actions of a legion of bigots, including and especially white supremacists. But you and other Trump campaign spokeszombies denied, deflected and disowned reports of rising anti-Muslim anti-immigrant, anti-minorities threats and violence, along with Nazi-related graffiti, etc., often in Trump’s name; you did everything but denounce it in the strongest of terms. Forfuckssake, your candidate actually gained ground when he refused to tone down his violence-condoning rhetoric.

“Do you think you could have just had a decent message for white, working-class voters?” Conway asked. “How about, it’s Hillary Clinton, she doesn’t connect with people? How about, they have nothing in common with her? How about, she doesn’t have an economic message?”

Well, Kellyanne, Secretary Clinton DID have a “decent message for white, working-class voters” – the problem was that Trump’s unsubtle dog-whistle message stripped away the veneer of decency from certain segments of “white, working-class voters.” Maybe if Clinton had couched her economic message and policies in lurid hyperbole instead of measured, factual terms, the “media” would have given her more coverage, and more “white, working-class voters” might have paid attention. Or not. I think that once Trump opened his campaign with his lying anti-Mexican slurs, the inner xenophobe in too many Americans sat up and proclaimed “now, that guy speaks MY language.” (Yes, when your language is ‘limited vocabulary/poor grammar’ Americanese.) Trump’s angry shouting drowned out any more mundane, pragmatic offerings from Hillary Clinton. And “the media” simply ran with the loudest “monster-shouter” (H/T Stephen King’s “The Stand.”)

Trump officials said Clinton’s problems went beyond tactics to her weaknesses as a candidate and the deficits of a message that consisted largely of trying to make Trump unacceptable.

[Clinton campaign manager Robby] Mook posited that the media did not scrutinize Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns as intensively as the issue of Clinton’s private email server.

Conway retorted: “Oh, my God, that question was vomited to me every day on TV.”

First the only weaknesses candidate Clinton had were that she’s center-right (which means dangerously left to the impaired judgment of the right-wing), her name is Hillary Clinton, and she’s a woman. She was not “the most crooked politician ever to run for President”, or anything even close to it. She did not murder anyone, despite all of the “body count” conspiracies. And, despite millions of dollars and thousands of hours of fruitless investigations, she did not cause the deaths in Benghazi. Hillary stayed on message the majority of the time, but how could she NOT point out all of the myriad reasons why Trump made HIMSELF unacceptable? Especially since “the media” wasn’t doing a damn thing to inform voters of those reasons?

Second, yes, Kellyanne, you were asked about Trump’s tax returns every day, because neither you nor Trump ever answered the fucking question. As with so many other important questions, you were the one who was projectile-vomiting nonsensical talking points, redirecting the interview right back to Hillary and her emails, or Benghazi, or whatever the current Clinton faux-scandal was on your agenda.

“Conway accused Clinton’s team of being sore losers. “Guys, I can tell you are angry, but wow,” she said. “Hashtag he’s your president. How’s that? Will you ever accept the election results? Will you tell your protesters that he’s their president, too?”

Well, ‘hashtag’ FUCK YOU, Kellyanne, would Trump have accepted the election results if he had lost? You know the answer to that one, you slimy harpy twat. And fuck every goddamned Republican who dares to demand that we kowtow to Donald Trump and his minions, after every word and deed from the right wing for the last eight years were meant solely to stop duly-elected President Obama from actually acting as the American President. Donald Trump is incapable of giving any dignity or credence to the Office of the President of the United States; IMO, he doesn’t even aspire to do so. “Sad.”

Kellyanne, you’re a paid professional liar, and you sold your shriveled, empty soul to an amoral selfish greedy disgusting excuse for a human being. If there really is a Hell, I’m sure that you’ll eventually end up being the spokeswhore for Satan.

There was so much more that I hope to address eventually. Plus, there’s a more detailed account of the discussions at the Harvard event here.

“The media” seemed to feel that its job was to sit back and let Trump be his deplorable self, almost idly marveling in wonder as to how Trump got away with telling the out-and-out lies that he did. It took until the last month or so before the election for “the media” to, to a small degree, come out of its collective catatonic state and finally challenge some of the lies, but there were too many and it was too late. “The media” owns a yuge chunk of the blame for this election’s horrific outcome. But that’s a topic that also needs more time than I have at this moment. But an important part of that discussion involves both Jeff Zucker and CNN’s endless and usually uncritical coverage of all things Trump, along with the insidious, duplicitious role of Trump campaign advisor/CNN political “pundit” Corey Lewandowski and his current role in the Trump transition.

This is our Weekend Open Thread – discuss whatever you’d like.

The Watering Hole, Tuesday, November 29th, 2016: God vs Country

ICYMI, yesterday the Huffington Post had a story about a Republican member of the Electoral College from Texas, Art Sisneros, and his agonizing over how to cast his vote on December 19th. Apparently, Mr. Sisneros refuses to cast his vote for Trump, but also refuses to do what’s best for the country because, well, GOD.

Torn between voting his conscience and dutifully casting his ballot for President-elect Donald Trump, a Republican member of the Electoral College said over the weekend that he would resign his post.

“I believe to resign is to honor the intent of the pledge as it relates to the people of my district,” Texas elector Art Sisneros wrote in a blog post. “Since I can’t in good conscience vote for Donald Trump, and yet have sinfully made a pledge that I would, the best option I see at this time is to resign my position as an Elector.”

Sisneros’ decision to step aside comes as some members of the Electoral College face mounting pressure from voters and advocacy groups to flip their votes against Trump, even if he won the popular vote in their states.

In his post, Sisneros argued that casting his vote for Trump would “bring dishonor to God,” and said that political parties and “winner-take-all” states destroyed the original intention of the Electoral College. Sisneros said in August that he was considering voting against Trump if the real estate mogul were to win the popular vote in Texas. But he told Politico Monday that he would instead resign.

The rest of the country’s 538 electors will choose Sisneros’ replacement when they convene on Dec. 19 to officially elect Trump as the next president. All of Texas’ 38 electoral votes are expected to go to Trump, who beat Hillary Clinton in the state by more than 800,000 votes.

“The people will get their vote,” Sisneros wrote. “I will sleep well at night knowing I neither gave in to their demands nor caved to my convictions. I will also mourn the loss of our republic.”

[emphasis mine]

I have no idea how ANYONE could “sleep well at night” and at the same time “mourn the loss of our republic.” The idea that someone could view this horrendously important Electoral vote as a choice of “conscience” between serving his god or serving his country is totally beyond me. But obviously Mr. Sisneros strongly believes that, because he took what he now calls a “sinful” pledge to the GOP that he now regrets, he can only make himself right with his god by abdicating all civic responsibility.

From Sisneros’ blog post:

“The heart of this issue now is, does honoring the pledge cause me to sin?…
“…Aren’t Electors elected to represent the people? Yes, they absolutely are. That only begs the question, what does it mean to represent the people? This is where our understanding or lack thereof of a representative form of government comes into play. As an elected representative head, I am to speak on behalf of and in the interest of the CD36. It is my conviction that the greatest danger to my district is not a Hillary or Trump Presidency, but it is the judgement of God. If we continue to disobey His clear commands, we can expect to receive His judgement. If being a “Faithless Elector” means standing alone on principle in the hopes that God would continue to grant patience on our district, then it is worth any political future, threats to my safety, and whatever else may come my way.”

This isn’t just about YOU, Mr. Sisneros–what comes your way is nothing compared to what will happen to our nation. Get it through your head: God doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your district, Mr. Sisneros, any more than he gives a rat’s ass about our country – which should be obvious based on the fact that Donald J. Trump is now the President-Elect. And your resignation, Mr. Sisneros, is just one more step in greasing the wheels on that handbasket we’re all going to hell in. I hope that you never “sleep well” again, you chickenshit.

This is our Open Thread–have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 28th, 2016: Warning Signs of a Dictatorship

From November 23rd in Foreign Policy Magazine, “10 Ways to Tell if Your President is a Dictator”, by Stephen M. Walt, here’s a brief [believe it or not] summary. (You’ll need to register in order to be able to read the entire article. Registration is free, and allows you access to five articles per month.)

An excerpt from the opening:

“…if you live in the United States, what you should really worry about is the threat that Trump may pose to America’s constitutional order. His lengthy business career suggests he is a vindictive man who will go to extreme lengths to punish his opponents and will break a promise in a heartbeat and without remorse. The 2016 campaign confirmed that he has little respect for existing norms and rules — he refused to release his tax returns, lied repeatedly, claimed the electoral and political systems were “rigged” against him, threatened to jail his opponent if he won, among other such violations — and revealed his deep contempt for both his opponents and supporters. Nor does he regret any of the revolting things he did or said during the campaign, because, as he told the Wall Street Journal afterward, “I won.”[**] For Trump, it seems, the ends really do justify the means.

[**Tweet from WSJ: “When asked if he thought his rhetoric had gone too far in the campaign, Donald Trump told WSJ: “No. I won.”]

“Given what is at stake, one of the most important things we can all do is remain alert for evidence that Trump and those around him are moving in an authoritarian direction. For those who love America and its Constitution more than they love any particular political party or any particular politician, I offer as a public service my top 10 warning signs that American democracy is at risk.”

1) Systematic efforts to intimidate the media.

A free, energetic, vigilant, and adversarial press has long been understood to be an essential guarantee of democratic freedoms, because without it, the people in whose name leaders serve will be denied the information they need to assess what the politicians are doing.

If the Trump administration begins to enact policies designed to restrict freedom of the press, or just intimidate media organizations from offering critical coverage, it will be a huge (or if you prefer, yuge) warning sign.

Trump has already proposed “opening up” libel laws so that public figures can sue the press more easily. This step would force publishers and editors to worry about costly and damaging lawsuits even if they eventually win them, and it would be bound to have a chilling effect on their coverage.

His administration could deny access to entire news organizations like the New York Times if they were too critical of Trump’s policies or just too accurate in documenting his failures. Just because the First Amendment guarantees free speech doesn’t mean some parts of the media can’t be stampeded into pulling punches or once again indulging in “false equivalence.”

2) Building an official pro-Trump media network.

“…While trying to suppress critical media outlets, Trump could also use the presidency to bolster media that offer him consistent support. Or he could even try to create an official government news agency that would disseminate a steady diet of pro-Trump coverage.

In Trump’s ideal world, Americans would get their news from some combination of Breitbart, Fox News, and the president’s own Twitter feed…”

3) Politicizing the civil service, military, National Guard, or the domestic security agencies.

“One of the obstacles to a democratic breakdown is the government bureaucracy, whose permanent members are insulated from political pressure by existing civil service protections that make it hard to fire senior officials without cause. But one can imagine the Trump administration asking Congress to weaken those protections, portraying this step as a blow against “big government” and a way to improve government efficiency.

But if the president or his lieutenants can gut government agencies more or less at will, the fear of being fired will lead many experienced public servants to keep their heads down and kowtow to whatever the president wants, no matter how ill-advised or illegal it might be.

And don’t assume the military, FBI, National Guard, or the intelligence agencies would be immune to this sort of interference. Other presidents (or their appointees) have fired generals who questioned their policy objectives, as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld did during George W. Bush’s first administration when he removed Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, who had the temerity to tell a congressional committee that the occupation of Iraq was going to need a lot more people than Rumsfeld had claimed. Other generals and admirals got the message and stayed out of Rumsfeld’s way for the rest of his disastrous tenure as defense secretary. There have also been fights in the past over control of the National Guard, but a move to assert greater federal authority over the guard would give Trump a powerful tool to use against open expressions of dissent.”

4) Using government surveillance against domestic political opponents.

“This step wouldn’t be entirely new either, insofar as Nixon once used the CIA to infiltrate anti-war organizations during the Vietnam War. But the government’s capacity to monitor the phones, emails, hard drives, and online activities of all Americans has expanded enormously since the 1960s.

As far as we know, however, no one has yet tried to use these new powers of surveillance to monitor, intimidate, embarrass, deter, or destroy political opponents.

…an ambitious and unscrupulous president could use the ability to monitor political opponents to great advantage. He would need the cooperation of top officials and possibly many underlings as well, but this only requires loyal confederates at the top and compliant people below. The White House had sufficient authority, under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, to convince U.S. government employees to torture other human beings.”

5) Using state power to reward corporate backers and punish opponents.

“A hallmark of corrupt quasi-democracies is the executive’s willingness to use the power of the state to reward business leaders who are loyal and to punish anyone who gets in the way. That’s how Putin controls the “oligarchs” in Russia, and it is partly how Erdogan kept amassing power and undermining opponents in Turkey…

…I know, I know: Corruption of this sort is already a problem here in the Land of the Free —whether in the form of congressional pork or the sweet deals former government officials arrange to become lobbyists once they leave office — so why single out Trump? The problem is that Trump’s record suggests he thinks this is the right way to do business: You reward your friends, and you stick it to your enemies every chance you get.”

6) Stacking the Supreme Court.

“Trump will likely get the opportunity to appoint several Supreme Court justices, and the choices he makes will be revealing. Does he pick people who are personally loyal and beholden to him or opt for jurors with independent standing and stellar qualifications? Does he pick people whose views on hot-button issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and campaign financing comport with his party’s, or does he go for people who have an established view on the expansiveness of executive power and are more likely to look the other way if he takes some of the other steps I’ve already mentioned? And if it’s the latter, would the Senate find the spine to say no?”

7) Enforcing the law for only one side.

“…given the nature of Trump’s campaign and the deep divisions within the United States at present, a key litmus test for the president-elect is whether he will direct U.S. officials to enforce similar standards of conduct on both his supporters and his opponents.

If anti-Trump protesters are beaten up by a band of Trump’s fans, will the latter face prosecution as readily as if the roles were reversed? Will local and federal justice agencies be as vigilant in patrolling right-wing hate speech and threats of violence as they are with similar actions that might emanate from the other side?…If Trump is quick to call out his critics but gives racists, bigots, and homophobes a free pass because they happen to like him, it would be another sign he is trying to tilt the scales of justice in his favor.”

8) Really rigging the system.

“…given the promises he has made and the demography of the electorate, Trump and the GOP have every incentive to use the next four years to try to stack the electoral deck in their favor. Look for more attempts to gerrymander safe seats for House Republicans and more efforts to prevent likely Democratic voters from getting to the polls in 2018 and 2020.”

9) Fearmongering.

“Stoking public fears about safety and well-being is a classic autocratic tactic, designed to convince a frightened population to look to the Leader for protection. Trump played this card brilliantly in the campaign, warning of “Mexican rapists,” foreign governments that “steal our jobs,” “scores of recent migrants inside our borders charged with terrorism,” and so on. He also hinted that his political rivals were somehow in cahoots with these various “enemies.” A frightened population tends to think first about its own safety, and forget about fundamental liberties, and would be more likely to look the other way as a president amassed greater power.

The worst case, of course, would be an Erdogan-like attempt to use a terrorist attack or some other equally dramatic event as an excuse to declare a “state of emergency” and to assume unprecedented executive authority. Bush and Cheney used 9/11 to pass the Patriot Act, and Trump could easily try to use some future incident as a — with apologies for the pun — trumped-up excuse to further encroach on civil liberties, press freedoms, and the other institutions that are central to democracy.”

10) Demonizing the opposition.

“Trying to convince people that your domestic opponents are in league with the nation’s enemies is one of the oldest tactics in politics, and it has been part of Trump’s playbook ever since he stoked the “birther” controversy over Obama’s citizenship. After he becomes president, will he continue to question his opponents’ patriotism, accuse them of supporting America’s opponents, and blame policy setbacks on dark conspiracies among Democrats, liberals, Muslims, the Islamic State, “New York financial elites,” or the other dog whistles so beloved by right-wing media outlets like Breitbart? Will he follow the suggestions of some of his supporters and demand that Americans from certain parts of the world (read: Muslims) be required to “register” with the federal government?

Again, these are the same tactics Erdogan and Putin have used in Turkey and Russia, respectively, to cement their own authority over time by initiating a vicious cycle of social hostility. When groups within a society are already somewhat suspicious of each other, extremists can trigger a spiral of increasing hostility by attacking the perceived internal enemy in the hope of provoking a harsh reaction. If the attacked minority responds defensively, or its own hotheads lash out violently, it will merely reinforce the first group’s fears and bolster a rapid polarization. Extremists on both sides will try to “outbid” their political opponents by portraying themselves as the most ardent and effective defenders of their own group. In extreme cases, such as the Balkan Wars in the 1990s or Iraq after 2003, the result is civil war. Trump would be playing with fire if he tries to stay in power by consistently sowing hatred against the “other,” but he did it in the campaign, and there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t do it again.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“This list of warning signs will no doubt strike some as overly alarmist. As I said, it is possible — even likely — that Trump won’t try any of these things (or at least not very seriously) and he might face prompt and united opposition if he did. The checks and balances built into America’s democratic system may be sufficiently robust to survive a sustained challenge. Given the deep commitment to liberty that lies at the heart of the American experiment, it is also possible the American people would quickly detect any serious attempt to threaten the present order and take immediate action to stop it.

The bottom line: I am by no means predicting the collapse of democracy in the United States under a President Donald J. Trump. What I am saying is that it is not impossible, and there are some clear warning signs to watch out for. Now, as always, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Or to use a more modern formulation: If you see something, say something.”

 

This is our Open Thread – feel free to talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 7th, 2016: “Trouble sleeping?”

With the most consequential election of my lifetime now just one day away, a scene from Star Trek: Next Generation’s “Best of Both Worlds” Part 1″ keeps returning to my mind. It takes place before the battle with the Borg, as Captain Picard paces through the Enterprise, and finds Guinan alone in Ten-Forward:

Guinan: “Trouble sleeping?”

Capt. Picard: “It’s something of a tradition, Guinan – Captain touring the ship before a battle.”

Guinan: “Hmm. Before a *hopeless* battle, if I remember the tradition correctly.”

Capt. Picard: “Not necessarily. Nelson toured the HMS Victory before Trafalgar.”

Guinan: “Yes, but Nelson never returned from Trafalgar, did he?”

Capt. Picard: “No, but the battle was won.”

Guinan: “Do you expect this battle to be won?”

Capt. Picard: “We may yet prevail. That’s a… a conceit. But… it’s a healthy one. I wonder if the Emperor Honorius watching the Visigoths coming over the seventh hill truly realized that the Roman Empire was about to fall. This is just another page in history, isn’t it? Will this be the end of *our* civilization? Turn the page.”

I wish that I had the calmness, almost equanimity, with which Captain Picard views the possibility of approaching doom and the likely takeover of the United Federation of Planets by a heartless, merciless “race.” I cannot view a similar fate for our country without a feeling of utter dread.

“We may yet prevail” as Picard says, if by “prevail” one means that Hillary Rodham Clinton wins the Presidency. If that happens, in my humble opinion, we the sane will have only one night, possibly, to feel the relief of dodging a bullet. As long-time students of politics and human nature, particularly ‘American’ human nature, we Critters and Zoosters and other reality-based folks are all too well aware that a final election result which denies Donald Trump the Presidency is just the beginning. There inevitably will be a barrage of ‘bullets’, figuratively at best, to continue to dodge. And it may well “be the end of *our* ‘civilization’.”

Guinan offers hope of a sort:

Guinan: “This isn’t the end.”

Capt. Picard: You say that with remarkable assuredness.”

Guinan: “With experience. When the Borg destroyed my world, my people were scattered throughout the universe. We survived – as will humanity survive. As long as there’s a handful of you to keep the spirit alive, you will prevail – even if it takes a millennium.”

And while Guinan could be right, that “[t]his isn’t the end”, I wish that *our* people were able to scatter throughout the universe. “Humanity” may survive, but will it still be recognizable as “human”?

This is our daily Open Thread–talk me down?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 29th, 2016: Lighten Up!

Let’s start the weekend with a few lighter political stories that shouldn’t raise anyone’s blood pressure.

President Obama is enjoying himself at the expense of several Republicans in “Barack Obama’s Sweet Revenge Tour” by Tim Murphy of Mother Jones. Here’s an example, regarding the Darrell Issa campaign mailer shown below:

issa_obama-mailerAccording to the Mother Jones article:

“At a fundraiser in La Jolla on Sunday, Obama trashed the California Republican for his mailer. “Issa’s primary contribution to the United States Congress has been to obstruct and to waste taxpayer dollars on trumped-up investigations that have led nowhere,” he said. “This is now a guy who, because poll numbers are bad, has sent out brochures with my picture on them touting his cooperation on issues with me. Now that is the definition of chutzpah.”

Next, The Yale Record has the best non-endorsement-endorsement ever. An excerpt:

“…Because of unambiguous tax law, we do not encourage you to support the most qualified presidential candidate in modern American history…”

The brief piece ends with:

The Yale Record has no opinion whatsoever on Dr. Jill Stein.
—The Editorial Board of The Yale Record

Last, today’s Washington Post has some encouraging news about Trump’s chances in Pennsylvania. Even better, though, the article is accompanied by a photo of Trump talking with Rudy “n.v.9/11” Ghouliani Guiliani – I know, you’re thinking, “why is a photo of two of the most despicable men that NYC ever spawned BETTER than Trump slipping in PA?” – well, you’ll have to see it (it could be worse, at least Rudy’s facing away from the camera, more-or-less.) I commented to Wayne that, knowing Trump, he’d probably try to sue the photographer for taking an unflattering picture when Trump’s combover wasn’t ready for its close-up. Then, of course, Trump would likely accuse Secretary Clinton of hiring the photographer as part of a worldwide conspiracy to expose what lies underneath Trump’s “hair” – and what lies beneath is a large expanse of bare-naked Trump-scalp. “Sad.” Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

This is our daily Open Thread – relax, enjoy the weekend!

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 10th, 2016: Still Carrying Holy Water

In case I haven’t written enough about Evangelical “Christian” website, The Christian Post, here’s another one.

I wanted to see what their reaction was to the Trump “pussy” scandal. Would this be the final straw? Of course not.

Trump 2005 Sex Talk Video Scandal: Evangelical, Republican Leaders Divided on Supporting GOP Presidential Nominee

By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor
October 9, 2016|9:39 am
Varied responses from evangelical and Republican leaders are pouring in after a 2005 video surfaced showing Donald Trump bragging about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women. Some have withdrawn their support, others continue to back the GOP presidential nominee to prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming president.

“As a husband and father of three daughters, I find this behavior deeply offensive and degrading,” said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council Action, referring to the leaked video carrying Trump’s 2005 remarks while talking with Billy Bush, then host of “Access Hollywood.”

In the conversation with Bush, the real estate magnate discusses a failed attempt to seduce a woman. “I did try and [expletive] her. She was married,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” he adds. “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” The video was published by The Washington Post on Friday.

Trump, who will participate in the second presidential debate with his Democratic rival Clinton at Washington University in St. Louis on Sunday, has said, “I was wrong, and I apologize.”

Perkins went on to say his support for Trump “was never based upon shared values rather it was built upon shared concerns,” including the Supreme Court, America’s security, and religious freedom. He said, “… We are left with a choice of voting for the one who will do the least damage to our freedoms.”

It’s not an ideal situation, Perkins added, but “I refuse to find sanctuary on the sidelines and allow the country and culture to deteriorate even further by continuing the policies of the last eight years.”

Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a member of Trump’s religious advisory board, also said he’s still with the Republican nominee.

“As a Christian, I believe that the Bible teaches, to quote a verse from the New Testament, that we’re to treat older women as our mothers and younger women as sisters in all purity,” Reed told NPR in an interview on Saturday, adding that Trump has apologized. “I think given the stakes in this election and those and other critical issues, I just don’t think an audiotape of an 11-year-old private conversation with an entertainment talk show host on a tour bus, for which the candidate has apologized profusely, is likely to rank high on the hierarchy of concerns of those faith-based voters.”

Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer also said he continues to support the Trump-Pence ticket.

“The 10-year old tape of a private conversation in which Donald Trump uses grossly inappropriate language does not change the reality of the choice facing this country,” the chairman of the Campaign for Working Families said in a statement. “Hillary Clinton is committed to enacting policies that will erode religious liberty, promote abortion, make our country less safe, and leave our borders unprotected. She wants higher taxes and bigger government. She will continue the disastrous economic policies that are destroying America’s working class and middle class families. She is mired in corruption and has put U.S. secrets at risk.”

Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, responded to the video, saying, “As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump. … I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them. I am grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people.”

Pence abstained from a campaign event scheduled for Saturday in Wisconsin with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Politico reported.

The Washington Post’s National Political Reporter, Philip Rucker, said Gov. Pence is “inconsolable” since the leaked video surfaced. “A source close to Trump camp told me Pence and his team are ‘absolutely apoplectic,’ ‘melting down’ and ‘inconsolable,'” Rucker tweeted.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus condemned Trump’s remarks. “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever,” he said in a statement.

Former Republican Presidential Candidate Carly Fiorina called for Trump to drop out of the presidential race.

“We must have a conservative in the White House to restore accountability, opportunity and security. For the sake of our Constitution and the rule of law, we must defeat Hillary Clinton,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “Today I ask Donald Trump to step aside and for the RNC to replace him with Gov. Mike Pence.”

Trump has categorically said he won’t quit.

Arizona Republican John McCain said he can no longer back Trump. “I thought it important I respect the fact that Donald Trump won a majority of the delegates by the rules our party set. I thought I owed his supporters that deference,” McCain told Politico. “But Donald Trump’s behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.”

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz also announced withdrawal of his endorsement of Trump. “I’m out. I can no longer in good conscience endorse this person for president. It is some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine,” he told Fox 13 News.

Former GOP candidate for president Jeb Bush said no apology will do. “As the grandfather of two precious girls, I find that no apology can excuse away Donald Trump’s reprehensible comments degrading women,” he wrote on Twitter. Similarly, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, also a former Republican presidential candidate, tweeted, “Make no mistake the comments were wrong and offensive. They are indefensible.”

However, while apologizing, Trump said, “This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today. … I’ve said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between words and actions. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.”

Trump’s wife, Melania, pleaded with voters in a gracious response to her husband’s 2005 remarks, which she acknowledged were “unacceptable and offensive to me.”

“This does not represent the man that I know. He has the heart and mind of a leader,” she said in a statement. “I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world.”

The following piece of crap is the Trump “apology” which apparently cleans and disinfects Trump in those rabidly delusional minds:

“Here is my statement.
I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me, know these words don’t reflect who I am.

I said it, it was wrong, and I apologize.

I’ve travelled the country talking about change for America. But my travels have also changed me. I’ve spent time with grieving mothers who’ve lost their children, laid off workers whose jobs have gone to other countries, and people from all walks of life who just want a better future. I have gotten to know the great people of our country, and I’ve been humbled by the faith they’ve placed in me. I pledge to be a better man tomorrow, and will never, ever let you down.
Let’s be honest. We’re living in the real world. This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today. We are losing our jobs, we are less safe than we were 8 years ago and Washington is broken.
Hillary Clinton, and her kind, have run our country into the ground.

I’ve said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between words and actions. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days.

See you at the debate on Sunday.”

Okay, this might possibly have squeaked by as a technical “apology” had Trumped ended with “I said it, it was wrong, and I apologize.” Instead, he launched into a string of lies, i.e., “I’ve been humbled…” is a flat-out impossibility; followed by throwing his own feces at the Clintons in a kneejerk projection reaction.

Regardless…these Evangelical “Christians”, some are still fine and dandy with Donald Trump because he would appoint a new Supreme Court Justice who will abolish abortion entirely and make “Christianity” the law of the land. Well, more or less, but definitely the abortion part, because that’s the one and only thing that these ‘men of the cloth’ really, really hate. They’ll tolerate Trump’s lies, Trump’s now-proven lack of charity, Trump’s lack of love for his neighbor – well, not HIS neighbor, but other people’s neighbors – um, where was I? These religious zealots are blind to Trump’s ignorance of his own or any other ‘faith’, Trump’s cheating his employees, Trump’s violent rhetoric, Trump’s failure to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”, Trump’s attitude towards all women, Trump’s adultery, Trump’s coveting his neighbor’s wife, and Trump’s putting the false god of greed before the Evangelical Whatever-they-are’s “god”? Trump’s own recorded words admit to sexual abuse, along with what some bibles say is one of the big sins, ‘coveting his neighbor’s wife’; but still, these assholier-than-thou [thank you, Z] turn a blind eye to the utter depravity that is Donald Trump. All, ALL, just to stop abortion.

Anyone who calls him- or herself a “Christian”, yet supports Donald Trump, is morally bankrupt, has no soul, and has no claim on “family values” or “freedom” or “patriotism.” From this agnostic, you can all go fuck yourselves.

This is our daily Open Thread. Enjoy yourlves.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 20th, 2016: Promises, Promises

ICYMI –

From yesterday’s Washington Post: David A. Fahrenthold and Alice Crites present an in-depth, detailed look at Donald Trump’s claimed generosity on The Apprentice, focusing on promises of donations to many of the ‘fired’ contestants’ favorite charity. Despite the video recordings and transcripts of the show verifying Trump’s own words (the particular phrases varied, but the meaning was unambiguous), not one single penny came out of his own personal “wallet”, “pocket” or “account.” In fact, several of the named charities never received the stated donation at all.

Obviously, this provides more evidence that Trump has always been a lying, cheap, manipulative fraud whose word – as in, “his word is his bond” – means absolutely nothing. Of course, anyone with half a brain should know that anyway. But many details about the Trump Foundation and its funding that the WaPo investigation dug up also make it clear that The Donald’s tax returns contain more than one reason why he refuses to release them.

Trump’s pattern of public displays of ‘generosity’ without the actual donation has already been seen over the course of his campaign. WaPo’s report reinforces the fact that this is a real pattern, and one that, in view of Trump’s monstrously overblown ego, we should expect to continue simply because Trump cannot help himself. And it won’t just be about money. While Trump’s mouth is not as big as his ego, it is certainly bigger than his wallet, his brain, and whatever dark, malignant growth passes for his ‘soul.’ His big mouth will continue to make empty promises that he cannot and will not keep. Trump’s entire campaign is simply snake oil, but he and his rube supporters are really the snakes.

One could almost feel sorry for the Republican party – almost, but since they created this monster, the GOP doesn’t deserve pity. What they really deserve is worldwide humiliation, followed by extinction. However, I find it ironic that in 2012 they chose an extremely wealthy and experienced candidate who at least knew the ropes; this time around, all they could afford was a fake billionaire with fake hair and a fake persona who knows nothing, absolutely nothing, about how government works. Well, they got what they paid for, and now they are paying much more dearly than they apparently could have imagined.  Let’s hope that the rest of the country doesn’t have to pay so dearly for the GOP’s biggest mistake.

This is our daily Open Thread, so go ahead and talk about anything you want.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 23, 2016: Ego

The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of ego:

Noun:

1.      A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance

1.1    Psychoanalysis The part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity

1.2    Philosophy (In metaphysics) a conscious thinking subject.

Synonyms: self-esteem, self-importance, self-worth, self-respect, self-conceit, self-image, self-confidence;

Now, let’s take a brief look at Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s ego:

1. Trump’s self-esteem? Off the charts–his self-descriptions include being “the greatest” this, the “best” that, the “most” whatever. Anyone who claims otherwise is just “wrong” or “stupid”, or has some imaginary personal beef against Trump, because in no way will Donald Trump admit to any ignorance, mistake, lie, or out-and-out wrongdoing. Which leads to…

1.1 Trump’s ego cannot “mediate” between the conscious and unconscious. Reality testing?! Trump’s conscious and unconscious create their own reality, and it’s a reality that he seems to feel no need to test. His “reality” is part-and-parcel of his personal identity, and it is impenetrable by truth, facts, and even Trump’s own previous words or deeds.

1.2 While Trump may be “conscious” in the literal sense of the word, he is not a “thinking” subject.

With his penchant for superlatives, Trump might possibly think that he has a “superego“, but the OED’s definition of superego leads me to believe that Trump’s ego vanquished his superego a long time ago:

Noun:
Psychoanalysis The part of a person’s mind that acts as a self-critical conscience, reflecting social standards learned from parents and teachers

“Self-critical”?  Rarely and barely.  Hell, Trump told evangelicals that he didn’t feel the need to go to confession, since he doesn’t think that anything he does is wrong.  And I learned things like manners, respect and intellectual curiosity from my parents and teachers, apparently unlike Trump.

Trump has a dysfunctional relationship with the truth. According to Politifact, only 8.4% of Trump’s statements have been factual.  Their review of Trump’s statements shows that a whopping 70% of Trump’s statements are rated “Mostly False”, “False”, or “Pants on Fire.” Here’s one of the “Pants on Fire” stories:

“The day after the 2016 Republican National Convention, Trump said his vanquished Republican rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, had never denied that his father was in a 1963 photo with Lee Harvey Oswald, who went on to assassinate President John F. Kennedy that November.

Trump said: “All I did is point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast. Now, Ted never denied that it was his father. Instead he said, ‘Donald Trump.’ I had nothing to do with it. This was a magazine that frankly, in many respects, should be very respected.”

[The idea that ‘the National Enquirer should be very respected’ should rate a “Pants on Fire” of its own.]

Politifact gave Trump the “2015 Lie of The Year” award to The Donald.  An excerpt:

“…a little hyperbole never hurts,” Trump wrote in his 1987 best-seller The Art of the Deal. “People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

[Ah, and that explains “Trump University.”]

Next, here’s a glib, almost superficial, and often sickeningly fawning article from the Washington Post, by AP “reporter” Nancy Benar, titled “For Trump, it’s about America’s ego — and his own.” Some key excerpts:

“Almost every deal I have ever done has been at least partly for my ego,” the billionaire declared in a 1995 New York Times piece titled, “What My Ego Wants, My Ego Gets.”

“The same assets that excite me in the chase often, once they are acquired, leave me bored,” he told an interviewer in 1990, as his boom years were sliding toward bust. “For me, you see, the important thing is the getting, not the having.”

Trump,[sic] stresses his Ivy League education and revels in juvenile jabs, labeling his adversaries “stupid,” ‘’dumb” and “bad.”

“I know words,” he declared at a December campaign rally where he criticized the Obama administration. “I have the best words. But there’s no better word than stupid, right?”

Wrong, Mr. Trump. As a Presidential candidate, now nominee, some of the “best words” that you should memorize the meanings for are:  honesty, integrity, class, civility, respect, humility and responsibility. I know that these terms and ideas are foreign to you, but you should familiarize yourself with them – there might be a quiz between now and November.

This is our daily Open Thread–feel free to talk about this or any other topic.

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 27th, 2016: “You Keep Using That Word…”

To paraphrase Inigo Montoya, with the word in question being “Liberal” instead of “Inconceivable!” (you have to read “Inconceivable!” in Wallace Shawn’s voice, of course): “You [conservatives] keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

The premise of the following three Christian Post articles is a discussion of recent books about the various authors’ [mistaken] ideas regarding liberals. I started out trying to keep this somewhat brief, but in the interests of keeping the salient points in context, it took on a life of its own. I’ll just share a excerpt of each.

In the earliest of the three articles, “Is Free Speech Just for Liberals?” CP guest contributor Susan Stamper Brown sez:

In the biography, “Churchill: A Life,” author Martin Gilbert writes how Winston Churchill loudly voiced his grave concerns about the apathy shared by those seemingly impervious to the malevolent National Socialist Movement’s intention to steam through Europe like volcanic lava, destroying everything in its way, including free speech.
In direct response, Hitler began warning Germans about the “dangers of free speech” and said, “If Mr. Churchill had less to do with traitors … he would see how mad his talk is …”

History revealed whose talk was really mad.

Truth is, Churchill’s words touched a nerve the annoying way truth always does. Hitler was incapable of engaging in intelligent debate, so he changed the subject, lied, and attacked Churchill’s character. Hitler knew his movement couldn’t stand on its own for what it really was, so the only alternative was to silence opposing views.

Throughout Germany books were banned and ceremoniously cast into blazing bonfires intended to squash divergence of thought and stifle man’s God-instilled unquenchable thirst for truth.

Historical accountings provide a glimpse into the warped psyche of those behind a movement that wrongheadedly believed they could build something worthwhile by shutting down debate, then dividing a nation by race and ethnicity.

They coldly chose their target, the Jewish race, and purged some of the greatest minds in history from all levels of teaching. Schools and universities suffered.

Before the movement decided to burn bodies as well as books, Historyplace.com cites that “Jewish instructors and anyone deemed politically suspect regardless of their proven teaching abilities or achievements including 20 past (and future) Nobel Prize winners” were removed from their professions, among them Albert Einstein.

I would’ve been one of those “purged professionals,” based on what I’ve heard lately from some disgruntled left-leaning readers. Because of my personal opinion about the president, one reader called me “a racist,” a “religious bigot,” and “a political terrorist.” While calling me a “political terrorist” is noteworthy at least, most telling is this poor man’s statement that my column, as offensive as it was to him, “was permitted” in his newspaper.

Apparently, free speech is just for leftists.

After that, the author continued to talk more about herself, so I tuned her out. I probably should have done so when she first mentioned Hitler, but her description of Hitler’s reaction, which I highlighted above, sounded so much like Trump that I had to share it with you.

In the next article, “If Intolerant Liberals Succeed, ‘Conservatives Should Be Very Afraid,’ Expert Says”, by CP’s Napp Nazworth, the breaking point came after this bullshit:

Conservatives would have much to fear if intolerant liberals succeed in their goal of transforming America, says Kim R. Holmes, author of “The Closing of the Liberal Mind: How Groupthink and Intolerance Define the Left.”
The illiberal, or intolerant, Left has come to define liberalism in the United States today, Holmes told The Christian Post, and if these liberals gain control of the Supreme Court and other levers of government, conservatives will be punished for their views.

Then these portions of the interview with the author:

CP: Why did you want to write this book?
Holmes: Like a lot of people I saw how closed-minded and intolerant progressivism had become. Whether it was speech codes or “safe spaces” on campuses, or attorneys general issuing subpoenas against so-called climate change “deniers,” abuses in the name of progressivism were getting worse.

I wanted to understand why. I wanted to tell the story of how a liberalism that had once accepted freedom of speech and dissent had become its opposite — a close-minded ideology intent on denying people their freedoms and their constitutionally protected rights.

CP: Liberalism was once defined by tolerance and open-mindedness, but liberals have become increasingly intolerant and closed-minded. We are beginning to see this phrase “illiberal liberal” more often, which gets confusing. How are we to make sense of what liberal means today?

Holmes: A classic liberal is someone who believes in open inquiry, freedom of expression and a competition of ideas. Its founders were people like John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and Alexis de Tocqueville. Among its most important ideas are freedom of conscience and speech; individual (as opposed to group) rights; and checks and balances in government.

Although progressives are sometimes referred to as “liberals,” they are not classic liberals in this sense. They are philosophically more akin to socialists or social democrats. Classic liberalism as defined here is actually closer to the views of American conservatives and libertarians than to progressives and leftists.

The term “illiberalism” is the opposite of this classic style of liberalism; it represents a political mindset that is closed-minded, intolerant and authoritarian. Although illiberalism can be historically found on the right (fascism) and the left (communism), it is today not commonly associated with American progressives. Nevertheless, it should be.

Progressives are becoming increasingly illiberal not only in their mindset but in the authoritarian methods they use to impose their views on others.

~~ and ~~

CP: Last week, President Barack Obama sent a letter to all public schools threatening to withhold federal funds if they don’t change their bathroom and locker room policies to allow use based upon gender identity rather than biological sex. Does the Left’s new intolerance help us understand Obama’s actions?

Holmes: Yes. Obama comes out of this illiberal strain of the left.

Last, this misleadingly-named piece of utter drivel written by CP’s Brandon Showalter, “Liberals Use Gov’t Power, Intimidation, to Silence Christians, Author Says.” It doesn’t take long to realize that by “Christians”, both the author of the article and the author of the book actually mean “conservatives”, and the complaint is about the fight against “Citizens United”:

WASHINGTON – Conservatives and Christians are being intimidated by the Left and an increasingly abusive government, says Kimberly Strassel, author of The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Waging War of Free Speech.
In a Thursday presentation at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Strassel told The Christian Post that overt hostility and harassment of people of faith “is clearly a big issue.”

In light of the 2013 IRS scandal where it was discovered that conservative and Christian groups were unfairly targeted, CP asked Strassel how many people she interviewed had experienced an overt assault on their faith.

While “the people that I talked to generally felt as though all their views were under attack,” Strassel said, “they certainly felt as though one aspect of them, was in fact their faith.”

“We are seeing this a lot, obviously, in the war on faith out there that we have had with the battles over Obamacare and contraception,” she added.

In her book Strassel examines the Left’s penchant, particularly in the Obama years, for bullying their opponents and their use of government agencies to silence citizens from participating in the political process.

Although she touched on several facets of the Left’s intimidation game in her presentation, the core issue she covered was the right of Americans to form associations and participate in representative government. This the Left cannot abide when conservatives do it successfully, she argued.

“The reality is that money is a proxy for speech,” Strassel contended, and Americans have always formed groups to get their message out. To the incredulity of the Left, she argued we we need more money, not less, in politics. More money means more speech. More free speech yields a more vigorous debate and a healthier democracy.

Let me repeat those last two lines: More money means more speech. More free speech yields a more vigorous debate and a healthier democracy.”  What happened to the “FREE” part of “FREE SPEECH”?

Money CANNOT equal speech – the poorest man can still speak and vote – well, vote ONCE; on the other hand, the richest man can buy as many votes as he wants.  The whole argument of Citizens United was and is specious, and the Supremes fucked us over real good when they decided on that piece of shit.

Here’s a pretty picture to give your mind a break.
GLORY10

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 2nd, 2016: A Little Humor

I’ll start with the first of two jokes which one of my co-workers sent me; the second of the two will be at the end. That way we can begin and end with a smile. (Okay, there’ll be humor in the middle, too.)

“A Lexus mechanic was removing a cylinder head from the motor of a LS460 when he spotted a well-known cardiologist in his shop. The cardiologist was there waiting for the service manager to come and take a look at his car when the mechanic shouted across the garage, “Hey Doc, want to take a look at this?” The cardiologist, a bit surprised walked over to where the mechanic was working.

The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and asked, “So Doc, look at this engine. I opened its heart, took the valves out, repaired or replaced anything damaged, and then put everything back in, and when I finished, it worked just like new. So how is it that I make $48,000 a year and you make $1.7M when you and I are doing basically the same work? The cardiologist paused, leaned over, and then whispered to the mechanic. “Try doing it with the engine running.””

Next, a whole bunch of political stuff from a recent Washington Post newsletter called “The Daily Trail”, including but not limited to:

-poll numbers indicating how ‘yugely’ unpopular Donald Trump is among women and other demographics;
-Trump + Reince Priebus = GOP Party Loyalty?
-Ted Cruz pulls out RNC rule book in anti-Kasich move;
-Superpac for Kasich responds with weird Pinocchio-themed anti-Cruz ad (created by the same guy who made what was called the “Demon Sheep” ad.)
-initial Electoral College projections from the University of Virginia show some good news for Democrats;
-will candidates never learn how to eat a slice of New York pizza in a New York pizzeria in the traditional New York manner? (Jon Stewart, I hope you’re not following ANY of this, please, it’s not good for your blood pressure!)
-and more!

Also from the Washington Post, an ‘April Fools’ story (okay, I’m a day behind) about two college professors who “gave up the fight to convince Americans that Africa is not, in fact, a country.”

And now the second of the two jokes:

“While the IRS agent was checking the books he turned to the CFO of the hospital and said, “I notice you buy a lot of bandages. What do you do with the end of the roll when there’s too little left to be of any use? “Good question,” noted the CFO. “We save them up and send them back to the bandage company and every now and then they send us a free box of bandages. “Oh,” replied the auditor, somewhat disappointed that his unusual question had a practical answer.

But on he went, in his obnoxious way. “What about all these plaster purchases? What do you do with what’s left over after setting a cast on a patient? “Ah, yes,” replied the CFO, realizing that the inspector was trying to trap him with an unanswerable question. “We save it and send it back to the manufacturer, and every now and then they send us a free package of plaster.

“I see,” replied the auditor, thinking hard about how he could fluster the know-it-all CFO. “Well,” he went on, “What do you do with all the leftover foreskins from the circumcisions you perform?” Here, too, we do not waste,” answered the CFO. “What we do is save all the little foreskins and send them to the IRS Office, and about once a year they send us a complete dick.” [rim shot]

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy yourselves!

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 7, 2016: Look At The Ideologies, Not The Party Names

As I get into my occasional Twitter fights with conservatives, I find that many still believe the false notion that the Democrats and Republicans of today have the same ideological position on the Left/Right-Liberal/Conservative scale as the parties of the same names did 150 years ago. Nothing could be further from the truth. For these people, political ideological history ends about fifty years ago. The Civil Rights Movement didn’t happen, and the famous Southern conservative, pro-segregationists of the Democratic Party didn’t switch to join the Republican Party (cough, Strom Thurmond.) So now along comes Dinesh D’Souza with a movie trying to make that very same bad argument. It’s idiotic and shallow. It completely ignores the content of Republican policy today and how it compares to 1860 Democratic policy. And worst of all for them, it’s hardly an intellectual argument at all since even I can debunk it, and my only intellectual achievement was to be an inactive member of MENSA for two years.

Yes, the people who founded the KKK were proud registered Democrats. They were also very much conservative in their political ideology. Yes, the Democrats of the 1860s supported Slavery, but that’s because they were conservative and they were white supremacists. (They said so.) The Founders of the KKK and the supporters of Slavery were Conservative White Supremacists who happen to be registered politically as Democrats. At that time, racists and white supremacists had a home in the Democratic Party. They were not as welcome in the Republican Party, which was founded to end Slavery. The people who wanted to form this new party made a famous public appeal to, among others, “Free Democrats” (meaning Democrats who didn’t support Slavery), to join them.

More than a hundred years later, after passage of the Civil Rights Acts and Voting Rights Acts under a Democratic president, the conservative white supremacists felt they were no longer welcome in the Democratic Party, and left to join the Republican Party. Not all of them, but many of them. So it’s extremely wrong and intellectually dishonest to argue that the Republican Party of today would still support the abolition of Slavery and the elimination of groups supporting white supremacy. Not when white supremacists are openly supporting the Republican front runner in the presidential race. And why would one of the most famous victims of the KKK, civil rights icon Representative John Lewis, join the Democratic Party if he felt the KKK was still welcome there? Can any of you people who believe the two parties have always been the same ideologically throughout their histories explain that? As for “re-labeling” this ugliness as “the South” and trying to bury it there, it’s because that’s where it happened.

It’s time this country confronted the simple fact that while all Americans are entitled to their choice of representation in government, their criteria for choosing that representation is not required to be fact-based, or logical, or in the best interests of the country as a whole. And we have a lot of people in this country who hold very, very ugly views about their fellow human beings, in part because they don’t view their fellow human beings as fellow human beings. Do we really believe these people’s views should determine how this “land of the free” should be run? Do we really want a country dedicated to the stupid and baseless concept of racial supremacy? Why do we not confront this ugliness every time it rears its head? Why do we pretend it’s okay to believe some races are better than others, to the point where you write those into your judicial opinions and they become the law of the land? And why do we pretend that the level to which we find this ugliness is not higher in conservatives than it is in liberals? Even conservatives like D’Souza are so embarrassed by this part of themselves that they’re in denial, and projecting it onto their ideological foes, we liberals, saying we’re the real racists, we’re the real intolerant ones because we liberals won’t tolerate intolerant conservatives. If you understand what words mean, then you know that makes no logical sense at all. But that doesn’t matter to them. Because it doesn’t feel right to them to blame their ideology for their racist opinions. Because that would mean they might have been wrong all this time. And that just can’t be right to them. So it must be us Liberals who are to blame for America’s Ugliness. And we continue to pretend Conservatism itself isn’t part of the problem, when it very much is at the root of all that is wrong and ugly about America. Today’s Congressional Republicans happen to be extreme conservatives, but there was a time when they were extreme Liberals. And they did some of their finest work for America back then. It’s a true shame those Liberals would not be welcome in today’s GOP. Lincoln would weep.

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 25th, 2016: All-“Christian” Edition

Today’s offerings are from two sites whose only thing in common seems to be that they both have the word “Christian” in their names.

First, let’s look at a few things from the Christian Post website (the more ‘persecuted-RW-Christian’ site.)

The Christian Post has sent the 2016 Presidential candidates a list of 12 questions which they feel are most important for the candidates to answer. So far, only two Republican candidates, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, have responded.

Here’s Ben Carson’s responses, a few of which I’d like to comment upon:

2. What is marriage, and what should be the government’s interest and role in marriage?
Like many Christians, I believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman in the witness of God. The government’s interest and role in marriage should be to protect and sanctify this institution[emphasis mine] because it is the cornerstone of our society. Raising families with two parents is key to a child’s development, and marriage is a strong institution that solidifies this crucial social structure. Marriage combines the efforts of two people to provide for and raise children, and gives children two parental figures to love and care for them.

Okay – First, define “sanctify”. According to Wikipedia:

“Sanctification is the act or process of acquiring sanctity, of being made or becoming holy.[1] “Sanctity” is an ancient concept widespread among religions. It is a gift given through the power of God to a person or thing which is then considered sacred or set apart in an official capacity within the religion, in general anything from a temple, to vessels, to days of the week, to a human believer who willingly accepts this gift can be sanctified. To sanctify is to literally “set apart for particular use in a special purpose or work and to make holy or sacred.”

So Carson believes that the U.S. Government has role in every citizen’s marriage, and that role is to make it “holy or sacred”? Does that make the U.S. Government a god?   Doesn’t that conflict with the Establishment Clause?  If Ben Carson believes that marriage is such a strong institution, why not rail against divorce? Christians get divorced at the same – or higher – rate as any other group, not to mention that divorce is said to be a big sin in the eyes of Jesus. If Jesus thought divorce was so wrong, but didn’t mention homosexuality, why can’t the “key” two-parents-must-raise-a-child be in a same-sex marriage?

10. What are your priorities related to both protecting the nation’s natural resources and using those resources to provide for the nation’s energy needs?

Energy is the life-blood that keeps our economy growing. It fuels the tractors that plow America’s fields. It powers the trucks, trains and planes that deliver American products. And it drives the American people in their everyday lives. If we want to return America to its former prosperity, we need to ensure that America’s energy grid is not only reliable, but affordable. That means looking into all potential energy sources to find the most efficient, most effective and more reliable energy grid possible.

We can’t afford to mandate unrealistic fuel standards or price-inflating renewable mandates. But as these energy sources compete head to head, technological advancements and innovations will help drop costs and raise efficiencies even further.

[and the money quote]

When it comes to the environment, we should be good stewards of God’s resources, but the best way to do that is through market-based mechanisms and private efforts, not via government edicts that destroy businesses and intrude into citizens’ lives.

Yeah, because I’m sure that “God” was thinking of “market-based mechanisms and private efforts” when he told mankind to be good stewards of Earth. And wasn’t Carson just talking about how “government” should have an “interest” and “a role” in a couple’s marriage, i.e., “intrud[ing] into citizens’ lives”, and very personally, I might add? But the “government” shouldn’t be involved in determining how the entire country uses its natural resources, because that would “intrud[e] into citizens’ lives”?  Carson has very mixed, and incorrect, notions of what government’s priorities should be.

12. What caused the Great Recession, and what should be done to ensure it doesn’t happen again?

A number of factors contributed to the global financial crisis, but what became clear was that when bankers engaged in highly leveraged financial bets, ordinary taxpayers ended up footing the bill for the big banks’ bailouts.

I believe that certain types of regulations are reasonable for regulating financial markets. For instance, Glass-Steagall was a reasonable piece of legislation after the 1929 stock market crash, and perhaps should be re-imposed in a modified form.

This does not mean that the regulations imposed after the financial crisis were appropriate. In fact, Dodd-Frank is a monstrosity that does not address the root cause of the crisis, imposes heavy burdens on community banks, severely limits the freedom of financial institution to engage in ordinary business and saps economic growth with restrictive government controls.

I believe that when such government regulations choke economic growth, it is the poor and the middle class that are hurt the most.

Carson (or whoever wrote his ‘responses’ for him) must have just skimmed the “U.S. Economic History, Late 20th – Early 21st Century” Cliff Notes(TM), latching on to just enough topical buzzwords and meaningless phrases to put together a few sentences. Too many points there to elaborate on, I’ll let you all pick them apart if you wish.

And here’s Carly Fiorina’s responses. I’m just going to comment on one of them.

10. What are your priorities related to both protecting the nation’s natural resources and using those resources to provide for the nation’s energy needs?

Fiorina: As president, I will ensure that the United States is the global energy powerhouse of the 21st century.

That means reinstating the Keystone XL Pipeline that President Obama rejected. It also means rolling back the regulations from this administration that limit our ability to find resources by imposing regulations on hydraulic fracturing and our ability to be energy independent by regulating drilling on federal lands. As president, I will make America an energy leader through technology and innovation.

No, no, no! Fiorina is just so wrong, it’s hard to believe that she could possibly be serious. Keystone XL, fracking, and drilling, and on OUR federal lands, no less? How does one become an “energy leader through technology and innovation” while relying solely on finite, filthy fossil fuels? Aaarrgghhh!

Let’s turn to the Christian Science Monitor for a few things that are more reality-based and inspiring.

First, I’m sure that you’re all aware by now that Earth may have a new neighbor, as astronomers announced the possibility of a hidden ninth planet.

The evidence for the existence of this “Planet Nine” is indirect at the moment; computer models suggest a big, undiscovered world has shaped the strange orbits of multiple objects in the Kuiper Belt, the ring of icy bodies beyond Neptune.

Next, we can once again thank the Hubble telescope and NASA for showing us the amazing beauty of space, in this article about the Trumpler 14 star cluster. Just don’t let Donald Trump know about Trumpler 14, he’ll probably think that (a) the star cluster is named for him, and (b) therefore he owns it.
Trumpler 14Source: Hubblesite.org

And finally, for our Zookeeper, here’s an article discussing why the zebra has stripes. While it appears that the idea that the striping is for camouflage may be incorrect, there is still no consensus on a proven biological reason.
brown striped zebra

This is our daily Open Thread–discuss whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, December 21st, 2015: GOP Pander-dates

In yet another example of GOP Presidential hopefuls pandering to the right-wing evangelical “christians”, six (so far) of them have signed a “pledge” being pushed by several conservative groups. The “pledge” concerns support of what’s now being called the “First Amendment Defense Act“, which was originally introduced in June as the “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act” – I’m guessing that the name was changed to make it sound more “constitutional” and less “screw the other Amendments, religion’s in #1! ”

The pledge states:  “If elected, I pledge to push for the passage of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) and sign it into law during the first 100 days of my term as President.”

From ThinkProgress:

“It has become clear that the First Amendment Defense Act is rapidly becoming a signature issue that unifies the GOP,” Maggie Gallagher, Senior Fellow at American Principles Project, said in the group’s statement announcing the pledge. “Three out of the four top contenders for the nomination — Carson, Cruz, and Rubio — have pledged to prioritize passing FADA in their first 100 days of office. Additionally, Bush, Graham, Paul, and now for the first time, Donald Trump, have publicly expressed support for FADA.”

Gallagher added that a Republican win in 2016 could mean that FADA becomes reality. “Real, concrete protections for gay marriage dissenters appear to be just one election victory away,” she said.

Ms. Gallagher, I think that using the term “gay marriage dissenters” is a tad disingenuous, don’t you?  “Gay marriage dissenters” can “dissent” all they want, what they CAN’T do is discriminate against gays/gay marriage.

For another slant on the “pledge” and FADA, here’s part of the Christian Post’s reporting:

Conservative groups including the American Principles Project, Heritage Action for America, and the Family Research Council affiliate FRC Action created a pledge for candidates to support.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Dr. Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee have signed onto the Project’s pledge in support of FADA.

GOP candidates Donald Trump, former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky have expressed support for FADA but did not sign the pledge.

In a letter sent to each candidate regarding the FADA pledge, the conservative groups stressed the possible threat to religious liberty from the legalization of gay marriage.”

Here’s the text of the letter:

[T]he gathering concern around whether or not the Left will succeed in its ongoing efforts to force those who disagree with the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage, prompts us to write to you and ask: will you commit to making it a top priority for you to ensure passage of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) in the first 100 days of your administration?

FADA protects supporters of natural marriage from punishment by the Federal government or its regulatory arms, including the IRS: “the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”

It prevents the IRS from issuing regulations denying tax-exempt status to charities or schools that support natural marriage, and forbids the Federal government from discriminating against them in contracts, loans, licensing, accreditation or employment. It prevents Federal discrimination against individuals, employers and other organizations that continue to act in accordance with a belief in natural marriage, while specifically guaranteeing conscience protections will not also be used to disrupt benefits to which people are legally entitled.

Serious scholars suggest [I love that sort of phrase, it’s like commercials that say “some studies suggest” that consuming their product will do whatever” – but I digress] religious schools should expect to be punished by the withholding of federal funds under current law if they do not treat same-sex unions as marriages. “It seems to me very likely that, in the coming years, schools and universities that accept public funds and support will be required—as a condition of those funds—to have nondiscrimination rules that forbid discrimination on sexual-orientation grounds,” One such scholar, a professor who oversees the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame’s law school, told The Atlantic. “And, these rules will not distinguish between sexual-orientation discrimination and non-recognition of same-sex marriages.”

The second most powerful Democratic Senator has publicly stated he’s not sure whether such schools should be stripped of their tax-exempt status. When the Weekly Standard asked, “should religious protections extend beyond houses of worship to, say, religious schools that require employees to affirm their faith’s teaching about marriage?” Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois responded: “Getting into a challenging area, and I don’t have a quick answer to you. I’ll have to think about it long and hard.” Many Americans, particularly African-American Christians like Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, are losing their livelihoods, at least in part because they privately support natural marriage.

When no less a distinguished legal expert than the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Roberts, has pointed to the serious religious liberty consequences that may stem from the Court’s redefinition of marriage, it is time to take the need for new conscience protections seriously. “Today’s decision . . . creates serious questions about religious liberty . . . Indeed the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage,” wrote Chief Justice Roberts. Millions of Americans can disagree over the definition of marriage, however, it is essential that the millions of Americans who support natural marriage are not punished by the Federal government for their support for marriage as it has been understood for millennia.

We ask, therefore, for your public assurance that you would prioritize passing the First Amendment Defense Act in the first 100 days of your administration.”

I know that this post is a bit lengthy, but I wanted to point out The American Principles Project (APP)’s Mission and Purpose:

“American Principles Project recognizes the dignity of the person as the basis of the founding principles of the United States. We are committed to the declaration made by the Founding Fathers, that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

APP believes that local and national policies that respect the dignity of the person will lead to a flourishing society. As such, we educate and advocate for public policy solutions that respect and affirm: human life from conception to natural death; the union of one man and one woman as the definition of marriage; the freedom to practice and proclaim religion; authentic economic progress for working Americans; education in service of the comprehensive development of the person; and, the legacy of immigrants in contributing to the American story.”  [emphasis mine]

I have a few bones to pick with this, but it will have to wait for another time – but you can go ahead and start without me.

Bonus Track: More pointless investigations into Planned Parenthood! [Warning: the countless lies and demonstrations of ignorance contained in this article may be harmful to your mental health.]

This is your daily Open Thread – talk about whatever you want.

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,
purple_glossy_starling
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:
waterfall-godafoss-iceland

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

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 17th, 2015: Grab Bag

Just a few odds and ends to get your Monday started.

(R) Presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson has already proven that he “don’t know much about biology” when it comes to homosexuality, women’s reproductive and overall health, and where the fetal brain tissue came from on which he used to experiment. He’s also shown that he “don’t know much about” #BlackLivesMatter, or about prisons. Now Carson shows that he “don’t know much about history” when it comes to foreign policy, the Middle East, or the meaning of “anti-semitism.” In particular, he shows in an op-ed piece in The Jerusalem Post that he “don’t know much about” the Iran Nuclear Deal either.

A few items from Daily Kos: one oldie that makes a nice palate-cleanser; and a recent one that ends with an eloquent message [some of the comments afterwards are excellent as well.]

And for the funny, ICYMI (as I did), John Oliver and friends teach Sex Education.

This is our daily Open Thread–pick a topic, any topic.

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 10th, 2015: Make It Stop!

Make it stop - Teh Stupid will make my ears bleed!

Make it stop – Teh Stupid will make my ears bleed!

Only one Republican debate down, and already the incessant fallout of Teh Stupid is taking its toll. Pretty soon I’ll be curled up in a ball with my eyes tightly closed and my ears covered, otherwise what’s left of my brain will start leaking out.

How’re your brains holding up?

This is our daily Open Thread–discuss anything you want!

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 27th, 2015: The (R) Debates

A little over a week from now, the first of the planned nine 2016 Republican Presidential debates, this one being held in Cleveland, Ohio, will kick off the start of the season. Fox will be airing the August 6th debate, which will be limited to the the top ten candidates, their inclusion being based on an average of several national polls.

Wait a second, that’s not exactly true. Fox will also air, prior to the ‘main event’, an hour-long debate amongst the second-tier candidates, according to AP via YahooNews. As of yesterday, those ‘also running’ will be: Carly “I tanked Hewlitt-Packard” Fiorina, Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, Elmer “George” Pataki, Rick “Frothy” Santorum, Lindsey “The Vapors” Graham, and possibly John “Republicans don’t like to wait in line” Kasich, Chris “Sit down and shut up!” Christie, and Rick “Oops!” Perry.

A few excerpts from the article:

Frank Luntz:

“If you’re not on the stage [in the first-tier debate] you’re irrelevant, you don’t matter. Unless you have some serious ad dollars, it’s not a glass ceiling. It’s a concrete ceiling.”

Well, we all know that if there’s an election coming, Frank Luntz is always going to be involved.

Rick Perry:

“Perry unloaded on Wednesday when he called Trump’s campaign a “barking carnival act” and “toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense.”

OMG, I think that’s the one time we can all agree with Rick Perry on something!

Jindal campaign:

“Curt Anderson, a strategist advising Jindal’s campaign, wrote in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal that the Republican Party was sabotaging itself by controlling the debates too much, after concluding that marginal candidates dragged 2012 nominee Mitt Romney too far to the right.”

Now hold on there, Anderson, Romney wasn’t pulled ‘too far to the right’, he tanked his chances all by himself with his own words.

I think that both debates should be highly entertaining. However, one thing I’m wondering: with all of the recent racial issues that have occurred in Cleveland, in particular the “Black Lives Matter” conference and protest, during which a white cop decided to pepper-spray protesters, will ANY of the candidates be asked about race relations and/or police violence? I don’t know who the moderator will be in either debate, but if they’re airing on Fox…well, we’ll just have to see.

All I can say is, after the 25+ debates during the 2012 election season, I am SO glad that there’s only supposed to be nine this time!

This is our daily Open Thread–go ahead, discuss things!

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 20th, 2015: Iran Nuclear Deal Fallout

Last week, it was announced that the long-awaited Iran Nuclear Deal was finally agreed to by the negotiating parties. The EU High Representative and the Iran Foreign Minister issued a joint statement, which included the following:

“With courage, political will, mutual respect, and leadership, we delivered on what the world was hoping for: a shared commitment to peace and to join hands in order to make our world safer.’

Apparently conservatives don’t understand most of the words and phrases in that statement. As we have seen throughout the Obama presidency, their idea of “negotiation” means “you give us everything we want, or else.” FoxNews gives a rundown on the ‘highlights'(?):

Jeb Bush: “This isn’t diplomacy – it is appeasement.”

Ted Cruz: This is a “fundamental betrayal of the security of the United States.”

Ben Carson: “A historic mistake with potentially deadly consequences.”

Scott Walker: “Will be remembered as one of America’s worst diplomatic failures.”
[According to Raw Story, Walker also stated that:

“He would terminate it as soon as possible and persuade U.S. allies to join Washington in imposing more crippling economic sanctions on Tehran…

He would dramatically increase U.S. military spending after budget cuts that military officials have complained about…

“The United States needs a foreign policy that puts steel in the face of our enemies,” Walker says.”]

Marco Rubio: The President made “concession after concession to a regime that has American blood on its hands.”

Now, the above presidential wannabes mainly focused their criticism on the ‘evil’ Iran, with a minor mention of our bestest friend ever in the whole wide world, Israel. Huckabee, on the other hand, is pretty much all Israel, with barely even a mention of OUR country, the United States.

Mike Huckabee: “Shame on the Obama administration…

“Shame on the Obama administration for agreeing to a deal that empowers an evil Iranian regime to carry out its threat to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ and bring ‘death to America.’
John Kerry should have long ago gotten up on his crutches, walked out of the sham talks, and went straight to Jerusalem to stand next to Benjamin Netanyahu and declared that America will stand with Israel and the other sane governments of the Middle East instead of with the terrorist government of Iran.

As president, I will stand with Israel and keep all options on the table, including military force, to topple the terrorist Iranian regime and defeat the evil forces of radical Islam.”
[emphasis mine]

Mike, why don’t you just move to Israel and run for president there?   ‘Cause there will be no “As president” for you here.  You do realize that this agreement is about limiting Iran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon, not the unHoly war you’re salivating over.

Donald Trump: “Iran gets everything and loses nothing.”

[The Donald was also quoted by FoxBusiness as saying, without elaboration, “I think the deal is absolutely horrible for us, but it’s really, really bad for Israel”]

Rick Perry: If elected, I will “fully rescind this accord.”

“President Obama’s decision to sign a nuclear deal with Iran is one of the most destructive foreign policy decisions in my lifetime. For decades to come, the world will have to deal with the repercussions of this…”

Seriously, Rick? You think that signing a deal that means peace, that signals a willingness to negotiate instead of starting WWIII, is more destructive than deliberately and cavalierly lying our country into a wasteful quagmire of an unnecessary war?

Perry also stated: “As President, one of my first official acts will be to fully rescind this accord.”

There’s more, including comments from the lower-tier lineup of Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, and…wait, is that it? Oh, yeah, and Elmer Pataki. But there’s no need to continue wallowing in the their ignorance, I think you get the idea.

Do any of those responses reflect “courage, political will, mutual respect [or respect of any kind], and leadership”? I think it’s abundantly clear that the (R) presidential field has none of those qualities.

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 11th, 2015: OMG, We’re Missing the Bundy Reunion!

Yes, it’s been a year since the Cliven Bundy Ranch standoff – time flies when your country’s going crazy, doesn’t it?

Since the standoff at the Bundy Ranch, it appears that Cliven has found enough like-minded idiots in the Nevada assembly to have had one Assemblywoman, Michele Fiore (R-duh!) introduce a “Bundy Bill” last month. According to an AP story on the local CBS affiliate Channel 8 NewsNow, KLAS:

“The original proposal would require the federal government to obtain permission to use land within the state’s borders. The proposal also strips the federal government of state water rights and would allow county commissions to parcel out state land for commercial use.”

After wasting time and taxpayer money on an obviously unconstitutional bill, the final version supposedly “…deletes core proposals and instead says local sheriffs can enter into an agreement to patrol federal lands. It also states that sheriffs are the primary law enforcement officers in unincorporated parts of their counties.” Oh, yeah, that’s MUCH better, because everyone knows that Federal law enforcement just LOVES to take orders from the local LEOs. KLAS’s 8NewsNow investigative “I-Team” also provides a brief rundown of the ten other States who are producing similar legislation. Yesterday’s ThinkProgess thread on this topic lists those States as: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. TP links to “Keep Our Land American” at www.americanpubliclands.com for more details and a petition.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Bundy family and their fellow miscreants are celebrating the anniversary with a “Freedom Reunion” aka “Liberty Celebration.” (I guess they couldn’t figure out a way to squeeze both “Freedom” and “Liberty” into the name without sounding redundant – oh, who am I kidding, they don’t know what the word “redundant” means. [“Hey, who ya callin”redundant’? Take it back!”]

Take a look at the actual invitation and its accompanying re-written idealized “history.”

From the Bundy Ranch Facebook page:

THERE ARE PLENTY OF PLACES TO CAMP OR MESQUITE HAS LOTS OF ROOMS TO STAY IN – COME AND ENJOY BUNDY RANCH LIBERTY CELEBRATION

Date: April 10-12, 2015 (Fri, Sat, Sun)
Location: Bundy Ranch – Bunkerville NV 89007 – Exit 112 off of I-15, follow the American flags
Purpose: To gather in celebration of our liberties, agency and stand with God, for our U.S. Constitution, State sovereignty, Property rights and to enjoy access to our lands.
Who is Invited: All people who enjoy freedom
Activities: Camping, Off Roading, Hiking, Playing in the River, Evening BBQ (Bundy Beef), Shooting- Come camp all weekend if you would like.
Stage Activities: Slide/Video Show, Live Band, Cowboy Poetry, Guest Speakers
Program: Friday & Saturday Evening; Stage activities and BBQ
Sunday; Testimony meeting, share your feelings for God and country

Special Invitation: Those who express music, poetry, words, documentaries and other arts. Those who hold political office. The cowboys. Those who supported with prayers and finances. The militia who keep us safe. [emphasis mine] Media outlets both friendly and unfriendly (TV, radio, internet, books, magazines and other). All those who have invited the Bundy family to speak and teach around the world.

*If you would like to be a participant in the stage activities please contact the Bundy family at rancherbundy@gmail.com

Some of the replies/comments:

Janae Hutchins: Wish I wasn’t so far away now. I’d love to come. enjoy the anniversary of your victory against tyranny! God bless America! 🇺🇸

Scott Saragoza: I will be there to stand with all of you for our Liberties…………. Absolutly!!!!!!!! Thank you.

Robert Brooks Bob: God Bless yall from N.W.Ar…Wish we could be there.

Shirley Pitcher: I wish I was heading back to Utah.
I would love too.
Good bless the Bundys

Ray Herrera: This Sounds like a lot of Fun !!! God Bless the Bundy Family !!! They are my Hero’s

William Morgan: Great thing here Mr. Bundy I wish I could be there to support you and Our freedom

Now, c’mon, don’t you wish that you were there?

 

This is our daily open thread – talk about whatever you’d like.