The Widdershins

Archive for January 2014

Good afternoon Widdershin friends.  I hope this is a “widderful” Friday for you.

Always trying to be helpful, I thought today would be as good a day as any to give the conservative word-whore Frank Luntz a little help in his messaging conundrum.  Like finding the perfect pair of shoes, Luntz is trying on lots of potential slogans, but like the cloven-hoofed miscreant he is, he’s having a difficult time finding just the right fit.

During the past week we have seen the opening shots of the upcoming 2014 and 2016 messaging wars, ergo a mash-up of what seems to be the early taglines — “Impeach Monica Benghazi”.  You have to admit it does have a certain ring to it for the mouth-breathing crowd.

Alphabetically, his name is perfect -- Barr, Bob...

Alphabetically, his name is perfect — Barr, Bob…

As would be expected you have someone like Bob Barr, a former Congress Critter — turned libertarian presidential candidate — currently do-si-doing as a retread congressional candidate saying, “I took my bill to impeach Bill Clinton from November 1997, dusted it off, added a little language, and darned, if it doesn’t sound pretty good with Barack Obama’s name in there.”

For the politics for profit crowd, invoking the ghosts of impeachment past does a couple of things.  It is red meat for the Tea Party crowd in 2014 and lays a certain tarnishing predicate for Hillary in 2016.

Then you have Senator and labradoodlely follicled Rand Paul last Sunday, where in answering a question on Meet the David Gregory about the “War on Women,” he did a full-morph with a backflip into a rant about Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton.  In the world of Rand Paul, where libertarianism is little more than passive-aggressiveness on steroids (passive if it suits, aggressiveness if it diverges from personal preferences, and steroids for a little more rage), he sees Bill Clinton’s human failure as a tarot card for Hillary.

Both equally accurate news sources...

Both equally accurate news sources…

And then you have Benghazi.  Anytime you have the loss of life, it is a regrettable thing and Benghazi was a regrettable loss of four lives.  What is even more regrettable is the saddling up of Benghazi by the conservative right and media crowd thereby cheapening the sacrifices it represents.

There have been three comprehensive studies about Benghazi, the most extensive and far-reaching was led by the respected notables Admiral Mike Mullen and Ambassador Thomas Pickering.  All of the studies were detailed and above reproach, but none satisfy the narrative advanced by the Tea Party, Fox News, and Hillary-haters.

Facts surrounding Benghazi such as the late Ambassador Chris Stevens rejecting additional security and military presence not once, but twice, finds no purchase among the conspiratorially minded.  The fact the two retired Navy Seals were contract employees of the CIA, hired and in Benghazi voluntarily is ignored by those wishing it wasn’t true.

And then there is the most egregious lie of all — that armed assistance was withheld by the White House and the Pentagon.  Time and again this lie has been refuted by the independent reviews and as Robert Gates said, “Paints a cartoonish view of military capabilities.”  In the zeal of the haters to conjure a conspiracy, these myth-makers fail to realize they are impugning the military with each retelling of their baseless tales.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Frank Luntz has his work cut out for him.  From the vantage point of most readers of this site, 2016 is going to be about competence.  We said competency was the issue in 2008, but no one would clear their ears of Cheetos and listen.  Effective leadership and governance is not just about painting a vision, it is about delivering on those visions.  It isn’t about charisma and celebrity, it is about the reality Hillary 2016of delivering after the speech has been given.

So try as he may, Frank Luntz’s puppets might as well take their “Impeach Monica Benghazi” bumper stickers and unceremoniously stick them over their vacuous pie holes since there are few people in the history of the country who have been more prepared for the Presidency than Hillary.  And as we have seen time and again, no one on this side of the universe is more inoculated against outrageous accusations.

This is an open thread.

Many blessings for the forthcoming Year of the Horse, which begins at 0320 am, or 2330 pm for Annie.  We are finishing up the Year of the Snake, which was forecast  as follows:

Gong hei fat choi! Can you keep a secret? Do you love a good story or bit of
intrigue, or perhaps a good mystery? If you do, then welcome to the Year of
the Black Snake: the year when secrets will be whispered and mysteries will be
Historically ‘Black Snake’ years are ones of financial milestones, when countries
change leaders, when shadowy figures put play to their plans and when civil
disobedience moves people to greatness and into the annals of history.


When the Black Snake comes calling there is an epic story in the making, and this year will be when the stories we tell our grandchildren will take place. History has been written large
when we have seen the ‘Snake in the Field’ as lord of the year.

Well, to be honest, we did see a few of those things occur.  What say the Chinese predictions for 2014?  Read on, Widdershins:

The Wood Horse year is a time of fast victories, unexpected adventure, and surprising romance. It is an excellent year for travel, and the more far away and off the beaten path the better. Energy is high and production is rewarded. Decisive action, not procrastination, brings victory. But you have to act fast in a Horse year. If you are not 100% secure about a decision, then don’t do it. Events move so quickly in a Horse year that you don’t want to gallop off in the wrong direction.


On a global scale, expect some world economies to become stronger while others experience economic chaos and collapse. Under Horse’s strong influence there is no middle ground. (The time for middle-ground diplomacy and planning was last year in Water Snake 2013.) Anticipate extremes in stock markets, fluctuation of prices, and general chaos in all things financial. There will be wars, battles, and skirmishes all over the world.


Middle class economies are developing with emerging markets in many places including Egypt, Turkey, Brazil, and India. But there will also be protests for fair development, even wars. Peace can be restored in Wood Sheep year 2015 but Wood Horse 2014 will be a wild ride as the world changes, and changes fast.

My poor little Earth Rat will have a rocky year, especially in career, relationships, health, and investments.  The first and last are moot – I am retired on a fixed pension.  Relationships?  Well, the BFF and I have been together nearly 20 years, so we’ll have to see.  Health may be a concern, since it is suboptimal.  Several sites tell me to stay away from hospitals and funerals, so it may be a good thing that I am retired, or I really would have cash flow problems.

Check out your signs here -and your fortunes here –  you’d almost have to do better than I did.  Otherwise, this is an open thread.

State of the Union

Super-short post today, Widdershins. Did you watch the State of the Union? If so, what did you think?

Elaborate in comments. This is an open thread.

Good morning Widdershin friends.  I hope you are not caught in the throes of the latest errant polar vortex, but if you are, I hope you are nice and toasty.

“The good of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” per Spock in The Wrath of Khan.  There’s some wisdom The Needs of the Manythere, but the wisdom is mightily dependent upon which side of the scales you are sitting.

Case in point:  Edward Snowden.  Snowden has been called everything from a traitor to a whistleblower to “Person of the Year.”  Frankly, I’m not set in stone on which moniker best suits him.

One thing I do know is that Edward Snowden is like a motor scooter.  Just like a scooter not being your “go-to” mode of transportation, if you have nothing else, it will do in a pinch.  Snowden seems to be what everyone wants him to be.  His evilness or sainthood is in the eye of the beholder.  At the moment, depending upon the political persuasion, he seems to be quite handy and a multi-purpose vehicle.

There were those who thought he should have edged out Pope Francis as “Person of the Year,” but others who see him as the greatest traitor in the history of the country.  On the last count, if you measure it by sheer volume, he definitely has no competition.

Clemency for Snowden is going to be a big topic in the coming weeks and months.  Unbelievably, Snowden has accomplished something remarkable — his disclosures have forged an alliance among the ACLU, Progressives, and now the RNC.  At their most recent meeting, the RNC condemned the NSA in huge turnaround from just a few years ago.  As great as the NSA was under Bush/Cheney it has become tainted and oppressive  under Obama — who would have “thunk it”?

Ron and RandSnowden finds his main support among the Ron Paul’ites of pseudo-Libertarianism.  You know that brand of Libertarianism — a mutt of a philosophy conceived in west Texas among the tumbleweeds and abandoned oil rigs and about as productive.

There’s little question there may have been excesses in creating enormous information trawling apparatuses after September 11th.  From a policy standpoint such overreaching is understandable.  The question then presents itself from a political standpoint, how do we extricate ourselves from the constructed technological infrastructure without opening the politician from criticism in the event of an attack?

There’s also little question about Edward Snowden loving the attention.  It seems as though each day there’s another “Parade of Constitutional Horribles” with him as the drum major.  The newest accusation is industrial espionage and an assassination threat.

If he were a spy, with that thing on his neck he would have to be a mole...

If he were a spy, with that thing on his neck he would have to be a mole…

My feelings on Edward Snowden are decidedly mixed.  I definitely don’t consider him a hero.  I’m not even sure I consider him a whistleblower.  I don’t think he deserves clemency.  I do think he has started a needed conversation about the overreaching of the national security agencies and that is a good thing.

At the most granular level, this whole debate is about “what is the good of the many?”  Is it national security or is it protection against undue governmental intrusion?  I would imagine it falls somewhere in between those two poles, but it really depends upon how the question is framed.

Two things I know for sure.  I don’t feel safe allowing a 29-year old self-aggrandizing hacker make national security decisions on what secrets should be released.  By the same token, I don’t for a moment imagine a trillion-dollar national security complex putting itself on a diet.

What do you think?

This is an open thread.


Marlise and Eric Munoz were both paramedics and familiar with end-of-life issues.  Marlise was fourteen weeks pregnant on November 26th when her husband found her unconscious on the floor of the kitchen in their house.  Marlise was rushed to John Peter Smith hospital in Ft. Worth and doctors there determined that Marlise was brain dead.  Although she did not have a written advanced directive, Eric says that they discussed issues like this and Marlise had stated that she never wanted to b kept alive by mechanical means.  Normally, as next of kin, Eric would be the person to make the decision to remove life support from his wife.  Furthermore, Marlise’s parents, Lynne and Ernest Machado agreed with the decision to remove their daughter from life support.  However, the decision was not up to the husband and parents of this young woman.  Because the family lived in Texas, the hospital believed that they could not remove Marlise from life-support because of a law passed in Texas.  You see, there was a law passed in Texas in 1989 and amended in 1999 that states:

that a person may not withdraw or withhold “life-sustaining treatment” from a pregnant patient.

The hospital states that they are merely following the law.

A spokeswoman for the J.P.S. Health Network, the publicly financed hospital district in Tarrant County that runs the 537-bed John Peter Smith Hospital, defended the hospital’s actions. “In all cases, J.P.S. will follow the law as it applies to health care in the state of Texas,” the spokeswoman, Jill Labbe, said. “Every day, we have patients and families who must make difficult decisions. Our position remains the same. We follow the law.”

It appears that the law might need to be revisited because although pregnant she may have been, Marlise was also brain dead with no hope of recovering.  This was not a case of her being unconscious or in a coma.  Tests showed no brain activity in Marlise.  Her husband and her parents are furious about the situation.

“It’s not a matter of pro-choice and pro-life,” said Mrs. Munoz’s mother, Lynne Machado, 60. “It’s about a matter of our daughter’s wishes not being honored by the state of Texas.”

Mrs. Munoz’s father, Ernest Machado, 60, a former police officer and an Air Force veteran, put it even more bluntly. “All she is is a host for a fetus,” he said on Tuesday. “I get angry with the state. What business did they have delving into these areas? Why are they practicing medicine up in Austin?”

Now Widdershins, you may think the fault is in part due to the fact that Marlise had never written out a living will or medical proxy.  However, you would be wrong.  According to a study done by Center for Women Policy Studies in Washington, there are 37 states that have exclusions to advance directives of women when they are pregnant.

Automatic Invalidation of A Pregnant Woman’s Advance Directive: Currently, 12 state statutes (Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin) automatically invalidate a woman’s advance directive if she is pregnant, as compared to 22 states with such provisions at the time of the Center’s 1992 report. These are the most restrictive of the pregnancy exclusion statutes, stating that, regardless of the progression of the pregnancy, a woman must remain on life-sustaining treatment until she gives birth.

Most of these statutes are brief declarations; for example, South Carolina’s law states that: “If a declarant has been diagnosed as pregnant, the Declaration is not effective during the course of the declarant’s pregnancy.” None of these statutes makes an exception for patients who will be in prolonged severe pain or who will be physically harmed by continuing life-sustaining treatment.

Some states are silent on the issue of pregnancy and some others use a viability of the fetus clause.  This link will take you to the full report.

It took Erick Munoz finally having to sue the hospital to be able to get his wife removed from life support.

The judge, R. H. Wallace Jr. of 96th District Court in Tarrant County, ruled that Ms. Muñoz, 33, who has been on life support at John Peter Smith Hospital since November and is now 22 weeks pregnant, was legally dead, agreeing with the family’s lawyers that the hospital had erred in its decision to keep her on life support. The hospital had said the Texas law addressing life support for pregnant women prevented it from granting the family’s wish, but the judge said the law did not apply to Ms. Muñoz because she is dead.

In one of those strange legal conundrums, the attorney for the Tarrant County public hospital agreed that Mrs. Munoz was indeed brain dead and therefore dead, but said the laws of the “gret stet of Texas” still applied.

The hospital did not dispute that Ms. Muñoz was brain-dead, saying in court papers that she met the clinical criteria two days after she was first brought to the hospital. But the hospital’s lawyer said the law still applied to her, insisting it was part of the Texas Legislature’s “commitment to the life and health of unborn children.” The lawyer, Larry M. Thompson, pointed to a section of the Texas Penal Code that states a person may commit criminal homicide by causing the death of a fetus.

The law “must convey legislative intent to protect the unborn child, otherwise the Legislature would have simply allowed a pregnant patient to decide to let her life, and the life of her unborn child, end,” wrote Mr. Thompson, with the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, which represented the hospital.

We can hope that the case of Marlise Munoz will cause a discussion to be held on end of life situations where they concern pregnancy issues because in a majority of the states, women are considered chattel to the state’s desires and their choices and decisions do not mean a thing.

This is an open thread.

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January 2014

Not done yet with you

Friggin Lizard people

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

“The” Book

Only the *best* politicans bought by the NRA

Marching for their lives

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