The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 9th, 2015: Overload

I have next to nothing today, simply because there’s way too much crazy shit out there and I’m just overloaded.

Looking at:  the several Republican 2016 Presidential hopefuls who have come out of their nutshells just this past week alone; the freaking HUGE sums of money being thrown at them and other possible candidates by the Kochs, Sheldon Adelson, and “interest groups” (aka front men for the Kochs, Adelson, and powerful ne’er-do-well corporations); the newest batshit crazy delusions that they’re all spouting; not to mention the frightening impact that climate change is already having and knowing that there’s worse to come; on top of way too fucking many murderous “law enforcement officers” and dead young black men…well, I could go on and on, but the point is that my brain just can’t take in much more.

Last night, while watching the Star Trek Next Gen episode “Tin Man”, I felt a kinship with the character Tam Elbrun, a Betazoid whose unnaturally strong telepathic ability has caused lifelong psychological problems because he hears everybody’s thoughts, all of the time, and cannot shut them out. Tam is brought on board the Enterprise for an unusual first-contact mission, an attempt to communicate with with an alien “ship”, nicknamed “Tin Man”, which turns out to be the last surviving member of a sentient species of space travelers. Tin Man is saved from suicide by its contact with Tam, and Tam decides to remain inside Tin Man. Traveling through space with Tin Man enables Tam to eliminate all the thoughts hurled at his mind by humans and humanoids.

Most of the times that I’ve watched this episode in the past, I couldn’t really empathize with Tam Elbrun.  These days, I envy him.

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

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 5th, 2012: Adelson’s “Newspaper”

In my post from Saturday, November 3rd, I promised (threatened?) forthcoming info regarding the view of our Presidential Election from overseas. So here’s a few recent articles – aka “newsletters” – from the Israel HaYom free daily newspaper**, owned by Mitt Romney’s biggest sugar-daddy, Sheldon Adelson:

November 2nd Newsletter: “Will Sandy save Obama?”
November 2nd Newsletter: “A stormy road to the White House – Uncle Sam’s Identity Crisis”
Another November 2nd Newsletter: “Where will the storm take voters?”
A third – and truly offensive – Newsletter/Opinion from November 2nd: “Obama’s ‘black power’ past and present”

Fourth: In this article from yesterday, it appears that there may not be any daylight between Bibi Netanyahu and President Obama, at least on one issue:

Two days after Abbas implied in a Channel 2 interview that he would be willing to abandon the demand for a Palestinian “right of return” in exchange for peace with Israel, Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet meeting: “I saw the interview with Abbas over the weekend. I heard that he has since rescinded his remarks, but this proves how important it is to hold direct negotiations without preconditions.[Emphasis mine]

From the Fifth (and last) in the Israel HaYom’s election series: The following two (the only two) amusing excerpts from Boaz Bismuth’s “Two Days to Go”, reporting from Cambridge, Massachusetts, prefaced an article based mostly on the Obama “Messiah” myth:

“At least one thing is certain: The next American president will be a Harvard graduate. Out there, in the picturesque calm of the prestigious Ivy League institution…I watched the students passing in front of me and wondered whether any of them would choose to emulate the two famous alumni, Obama and Mitt Romney, and someday join the race to the White House.

“We’re not too excited by the fact that two of our alumni are running for president,” explains Sam, a business student. “Obama is a part of the ruling elite, just like Romney, and it is pretty clear that someone from the ruling elite will be sitting in the White House.”

I ask Sam to help me figure out the polls. “Look, it’s rather simple,” he says. “The people you see who are dressed up and wearing a tie, like me, will vote for Romney.”

“And what about the rest?” I ask.

“They’ll vote for Obama,” he replies.

“But I see very few ties,” I remark.

“It’s the weekend,” he explains.”

Bismuth’s next paragraph gave me a satisfying chuckle:

“Since Americans are unable to decipher the multitude of polls, Nate Silver has come to the rescue with his New York Times blog, FiveThirtyEight, named after the 538 electoral votes. Silver, 38, who accurately predicted the results in 48 states in the 2008 election, declares decisively: Obama is going to win on Tuesday. He projects that 300 electoral votes will go to Obama (30 more than he needs to win), and 50.5% of the popular vote. On the opposite side of the fence, senior Republican strategist Karl Rove predicts in the Wall Street Journal that Romney will win 279 electoral votes, making him the next president of the U.S.”

[Yeah, well we all know how Rovian Math worked out in 2008, right? It still brings me joy to remember the look on Karl’s face when, in the midst of his explanation of how, via Rovian Math, McCain could still win, Brit Hume next to him announced that Obama had won Ohio, and the election was over. Priceless.]

And just for fun (or at least a brief break from our election,) here’s a couple of IsraelHayom’s ‘newsletters’ regarding Iran:

From Friday, November 2nd: “Iran is near completing its nuclear activities in Fordo”; and today’s “Iran suspending uranium enrichment in effort to halt sanctions.”

**Check the ‘About Us‘ page’s claim that “… Israel Hayom has a 31.8 percent exposure rate, maintaining its position as the most read daily newspaper in Israel for the second year in a row.” I emailed a few of the above links to a Jewish co-worker, whose daughter has visited Israel several times and has close contacts there: her daughter had never heard of ‘Israel HaYom’, and was going to ask her Israeli friend about it. Haven’t heard anything yet, but IMO, this “newspaper” could be nothing more than one of those freebies you can grab on your way out of the grocery store. 🙂

This is our daily open thread–try to stay strong and sane!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, August 16th, 2012: FOCUS!

Okay, so last weekend, presumptive Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney introduced Paul Ryan as his Vice-Presidential running mate. While this does open up a whole new can of worms – or can of whoop-ass, depending on one’s political leanings – it does NOT change the fact that it is MITT ROMNEY who could become the next President of the United States of America. This solid rock of a fact is still the absolute center of the widening ripples caused by last weekend’s announcement. Those ripples will slowly fade, but the rock will remain: Mitt Romney, a lying, shallow, amoral and characterless opportunist, might end up as the “leader of the free world.”

So our focus must remain on Mitt Rmoney and his obvious weaknesses:

– Rmoney has changed his mind on (or out-and-out denied that he ever held) nearly every policy position that he ever professed as Governor of Massachusetts (abortion rights, his own ‘Romneycare, LGBT rights, etc.);

– Rmoney’s record as Governor of Massachusetts was dismal at best: as was pointed out several times during the Republican debates, Massachusetts was 47th in job creation under Rmoney (of course, you won’t hear Mitt’s former challengers pointing that out ever again.)

– Rmoney’s career at Bain Capital was marked more by bankruptcies, lost jobs and outsourcing than by job creation and helping businesses;

– Rmoney’s “saving” of the Salt Lake City Olympics involved lobbying and outsourcing jobs (U.S. Olympic uniforms made in Burma?!)

– Rmoney’s complete lack of foreign policy ideas or experience (with the sole exception of bombing Iran on behalf of Israel), as evidenced by his recent disastrous trip abroad;

– Rmoney’s refusal (insultingly reinforced by Ann Rmoney) to release additional tax returns – and I think that the Mittster probably believes that his announcement of Ryan as his Veep pick put an end to that topic (as our “journalists can’t hold more than one thought in their collective heads at once) but we CANNOT let this issue go away!

The big boys with the big money are ready, more than willing, and able to prop up the Rmoney campaign in order to ensure themselves a kindred spirit in the Oval Office. Thanks to Citizens United, those people with even deeper pockets and more self-centered motives than Rmoney (Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers, etal) are pouring millions upon millions of dollars into SuperPACS in their efforts to sway those oddly undefined but key “independent” voters. On the State level, Republican governors and state legislatures are passing Voter ID laws specifically designed to disenfranchise certain voter groups who tend to vote Democratic. This Presidential election is the culmination of strategies which were begun months, years, decades ago by those deep-pocketed people (and corporations, who are ‘people’ too, my friend), and they are not going to give up now.

That is what we, as liberals and as Americans, have to focus on from now until November. Mitt Rmoney CANNOT become President of these United States.

This is our daily open thread — go ahead, have at it!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, July 5th, 2012: Odds and Ends

Since I couldn’t come up with any one topic to write about today, I’m presenting a few articles that I’ve collected over the past couple of weeks:

From back in January, when I was researching one of my Pawling Press columns, here’s a piece from the New York Times about Sheldon Adelson (in the context of Adelson’s contributions to Newt Gingrich.)

Next, a more recent column from the New York Times; this article was published after Sheldon Adelson started throwing millions of dollars at Mitt Romney.

Now here’s a trio of articles about Mitt Romney that I thought were interesting. (I think that someone here recently linked to that last one, but it bears re-reading.)

Finally, to help wash away the bitter taste of RMoney, here’s something about President Jimmy Carter, who still serves as a shining example of an American public servant. Enjoy!

This is our daily open thread — talk amongst yourselves!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, June 21st, 2012: $$$$

(R)Money

Newsmax.com emailed me the following opinion piece, summarizing much of the wrongness which is the result of the SCOTUS’ “Citizens United” decision. I don’t think I could add much to this:

The Best Government Money Can Buy

Tuesday, 19 Jun 2012 10:35 AM
By Susan Estrich

“My friend Kathleen and I have had a running debate for decades now about whether it is possible to bring reform to the marriage of money and politics.

I’ve been in favor of all kinds of regulations (including those that as a campaign manager I drove a truck through) limiting the role of money, and wealthy donors, in elections.

Kathleen has argued from the beginning that “my” limits wouldn’t work in practice and shouldn’t survive constitutional scrutiny in theory, and that the best and only workable system is one that allows unlimited contributions but requires immediate disclosure. [Personally, I think that Kathy is completely wrong: “immediate disclosure” is unworkable and probably unenforceable.]

And now we’ve both lost.

My failure is, of course, the most apparent. The regulations haven’t worked. You could blame the Supreme Court for making it impossible (You can’t have regulation if it isn’t comprehensive, and you can’t be comprehensive with all these Super PACs and independent committees operating outside the system.), or you could argue that with so much at stake, people will always find loopholes. In either event, it is clear that the so-called limits on campaign contributions only limit those who don’t want to contribute even more.

People are spending six and seven and now eight figures — eight figures! — to support their candidates.

This might be fine (or at least better than total failure) if we had full disclosure of who was spending what on whom. We don’t.

Today’s news accounts of record spending are based in part on the decision by Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson to contribute some $10 million to a Mitt Romney Super PAC, bringing their contributions to date to a total of $35 million in this presidential race. That’s a lot of money. But at least the Adelsons are upfront about what they are doing.

In fact, there are other groups collecting money out there, in just as large chunks, who are not revealing who is giving it to them. No disclosure. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in the landmark Citizens United case (which turned on the spigot of unlimited corporate cash) went on and on about the value of disclosure — but guess what. This campaign season, you can give millions to an organization like American Crossroads (aka Karl Rove’s group) and remain anonymous.

No accountability. No disclosure. And therefore, no ability to find out exactly what anyone is getting for their money.

Make no mistake: Published or not, candidates know who’s helping them, particularly when it gets to seven or eight figures.

Forty years after the infamous 1972 election, the election in which cash changed hands in exchange for favorable treatment by regulators, the election that spurred reform of our campaign finance system, we have returned to where we were — but with many more zeros, greater sophistication and no guarantee of disclosure. And whoever wins this election probably won’t change a system that worked for him or her, either at the presidential or congressional level.

Decades ago, when I first thought about running for office, what turned me off was the amount of time my friends who were candidates had to spend raising money. Politics, I understood, is not for people who like policy, but for people who excel at selling: cars, encyclopedias, themselves.

In the years since, a bad system has gotten worse than I ever could have imagined. It’s not just that the numbers have sprouted zeros, but that we’ve lost all vestiges of post-Watergate shame. Nothing embarrasses anyone.

Back in the 1988, when I explained the rules (antiquated now) about raising soft money and creating a party-based Victory Fund that could accept unlimited contributions, Michael Dukakis looked at me aghast (could I possibly be right?) and said he simply wouldn’t be comfortable with someone donating more than $250,000. He understood, as any honest pol will admit, that when someone is giving you that kind of money, how could your judgment not be affected?

Today, $250,000 is kid stuff.

And here’s the worst part. From all I know, the Adelsons care deeply about public policy issues, including support for the state of Israel. They have so much money that they don’t really need anything in exchange. But for many of those giving, a six-, seven- or eight-figure contribution is peanuts compared to the benefits they stand to reap if their favored candidate is elected.

The best government money can buy. And we don’t even know who is doing the buying.”

Yup…what she said.

This is our daily open thread — I’m sure that all of you have something to say, so have at it!