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.