May 232015
 

The Patriot Act, which I have always called the Unpatriot Act, is so vast complex that writing it could not have been done in less than six months.  Yet the Republican Reich had it ready to shove down peoples throats less than a week after 9/11.  Neocons at AEI and PNAC must have prepared it months in advance in hopes that a “Pearl Harbor incident” would give them an opportunity to gut the Constitutional Rights of the American people.

0523patriot-actAfter a post-midnight vote Saturday, the U.S. Senate took no action to extend or revise the National Security Agency’s controversial phone data surveillance program, and the program along with other sections of the Patriot Act will expire as planned on June 1.

“Sunsetting the Patriot Act is the biggest win for ending mass surveillance programs, and one that conventional DC wisdom said was impossible. We are seeing history in the making and it was because the public stood up for our rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association — and there’s no turning back now,” Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future, an anti-government surveillance group said in a news release.

A cohort of House members including government surveillance critic Rep. Rand Paul (R-KY) rejected Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) proposed amendments to the bill that would extend the program, the Washington Post reported. The Senate could not muster the 60 votes needed to move forward with the NSA reform bill, the USA Freedom Act, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week.

The failed 57-42 procedural vote early Saturday blocked the only bill that could prevent a complete shutdown of the NSA’s metadata program. The bill also would have been a compromise with the White House and civil liberties advocates to limit the government’s data collection abilities under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

With Congress now in recess until after the Memorial Day holiday, the NSA will dismantle its program so that no new data queries can be made after June 1…

Inserted from <Think Progress>

It always was unpatriotic.  At least for now, good riddance!!

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May 232015
 

The surprises keep coming.  Last night I fell into a deep sleep, between 8:00 and 9:00 PM.  Since preparations for my prison volunteer trip next week and my ongoing medical mayhem have kept me completely occupied, I had no idea that the opening ceremonies for the annual Portland Rose Festival wired also last night.  The launch site for the fireworks is six blocks away.  The blasts echoing between they downtown buildings amplifies the noise level.  I awakened thinking I had fallen asleep during an MRI.  I did get back to sleep eventually, but not soon enough.  My doctor’s staff continues to screw up.  The Orthopedist to whom they referred me was actually the nurses station of the Orthopedics floor of the hospital.  The nurse was quite amused when I tried to schedule an appointment with a doctor through her.  I think I found one on my own, but my doctor’s office tool a 5 day weekend. ARGH!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:22 (average 4:46).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From MoveOn: 10 Ideas to Save the Economy: Reinvent Education

Wall-to-wall testing and skyrocketing tuition have destroyed American education. Here’s how we fix it. \

 

Amen to everything he said. This is the fifth video in the series and now the Reich on the left has been right five times. Please click through to MoveOn and share it from there.

From Daily Kos: A judge has sentenced an Arizona woman to 3 ½ years in prison for running over her husband with an SUV because he didn’t vote in the 2012 presidential election.

Thirty-one-year-old Holly Nicole Solomon of Mesa pleaded guilty to assault charges stemming from injuries her husband suffered days after President Barack Obama was re-elected. She was sentenced on Thursday.

Authorities say Solomon was upset about Obama’s re-election…

Republicans seem to take voting more seriously that we do, even though their solutions for every obstacle are criminal and/or violent.

From NY Times: Ever since the Gold Rush, California farmers have staked their claim to water and ferociously protected their rights to use it to irrigate the crops that have made the state the greengrocer for the nation.

But on Friday, in a sign of how the record-setting drought is shaking up established ways here, state officials accepted an offer from farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to give up a quarter of their water this season, either by leaving part of their land unplanted or finding other ways to reduce their water use. In return, the state has assured them that it will not seek further reductions for the growing season.

It looks like people are going to go hungry, because oil and coal, the m,ain causes of the drought, are not edible.

Cartoon:

0523Cartoon

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May 222015
 

Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christians (the exact opposite of authentic Christians) love to parrot how their faith motivates everything they do.  But the Bible could not be more clear that we have an obligation to meet the needs of the poor among us.  Here is how Republicans respond to this Biblical imperative.

0522ThePoorAt the beginning of July, a new restriction will go into effect for recipients of welfare in Kansas that will only allow them to withdraw $25 in benefits a day. As Max Ehrenfreund pointed out, given that ATM withdrawals come with a fee and are usually limited to multiples of 20, families will end up losing much of the money they normally receive to paying those charges — money that will go to financial institutions instead. It also restricts where they can withdraw that money, barring transactions at places like pools, liquor stores, and cruises. The restrictions are so harsh that the state is at risk of losing its federal funding.

But it’s not the only state that has been looking for ways to make life harder on the poorest. Others have imposed drug tests and harsh limits without evidence that the policy changes would do much good.

Drug testing

Drug tests for people who apply for benefits in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, better known as welfare, have become increasingly popular. States screen applicants with a questionnaire on drug use and test those who answer in the positive; if they fail the test, they and their families can eventually lose the benefits. Maine and Michigan are some of the newest states to start drug testing regimes, joining seven states that were already doing it. But the lesson from those states is that the testing costs money — they’ve spent nearly $1 million collectively — but doesn’t uncover widespread drug abuse. In fact, while 9.4 percent of Americans use illegal drugs, all states but one had a positive drug test rate of less than 1 percent and none were as much as that national rate.

That evidence hasn’t stopped some from going even further. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has put forward a plan to drug test everyone who receives food stamps and unemployment insurance, which the state senate advanced this week. But while states have a lot of power to set the parameters of TANF, the same is not true for these two programs, and Walker would need approval from the Obama administration for the plan to become reality. It would also come with a price tag, costing at least $1 million a year to drug test unemployed people alone…

Inserted from <Think Progress>

Click through for even more ways Republican hypocrites are expressing their pseudo-Christian hatred for the poor.

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May 222015
 

Last night I returned from the shower and reached into my drawer for clean underwear.  Imagine my horror when I discovered a handful of air!!!  So I rose early this morning and did the dreaded task, but am now even more tired and further behind than before.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 5:05 (average 7:30).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: Her neighbors are paying $18 a month. Joyce Villegas has been paying almost $400 a month for over three years because of delays from Hawaiian Electric, the state’s utility company.

 

Here we have a case of a blue state trying to do the right thing, but failing to organize it properly. The result is that people still waiting are subsidizing the utility service of people who have installed panels. 1:1 buyback sounds nice, but it’s not realistic, because it ignores the need to maintain the power grid.

From The New Yorker: Suspects in the recent biker brawl in Waco, Texas, only slightly outnumber the 2016 Republican Presidential candidates, leading some voters to have difficulty distinguishing between the two groups, a new poll shows.

According to the poll, voters who were presented the names of a biker-brawl suspect and a Republican Presidential candidate correctly identified both only thirty per cent of the time.

For example, fifty-seven per cent of voters erroneously identified the former Texas Governor Rick Perry as a member of the Bandidos motorcycle gang, while forty-one per cent believed he belonged to the Cossacks.

Adding to voters’ confusion, the biker brawlers and G.O.P. candidates have identical views on a host of issues, such as gun rights and whether they would feel comfortable attending a gay wedding.

Andy is off in a couple places here. First, isn’t "Wacko" a better way to spell the town’s name? Second, he missed an obvious solution. Just replace the current clown car with the biker brawl suspects, who are eminently more qualified to govern.

From Media Matters: Fox News’ misleading smear of food stamp recipients as surfing freeloaders found its way into a congressional hearing aimed at examining the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

On May 20, the House Committee on Agriculture held a hearing addressing the "Past, Present, and Future of SNAP." Throughout the hearing, Fox News’ misleading 2013 special, "The Great Food Stamp Binge" that attempted to make a surfing freeloader "the new face of food stamps" was referenced several times as evidence of abuse within the program.

Fox’s misrepresentation of food stamp recipients found its way into the hearing when two members on the committee used the special as anecdotal evidence of abuse within SNAP. Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) used Fox’s example of a "surfer out in California living on food stamps and eating lobster" as evidence of abuse within the program, though he "forg[o]t which network" aired the special.

Later, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) also referenced "the surfer that was on one of the news channels," claiming, "unfortunately, we see that in our districts, and I hear stories about that every day."

The Republican Reichsministry of Propaganda, Faux Noise, has become the Republican Reichsministry of Policy.

Cartoon:

0522Cartoon

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May 212015
 

I’m about to leave to get the results of my MRI, so I’ll put in the Puzzle and the Cartoon now to save me time later and finish this when I return.

I’m back.  The MRI showed deterioration in my rotator cup, so my doctor is referring me to an osteopath to determine what treatment I need.  It was a very long day and I’m shot.  Hugs!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:33 (average 4:40).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Cartoon:

0520Cartoon-TCWaitingroom

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May 202015
 

The class warfare perpetrated by the 0.1% and their representatives, the Republican Party, has been a central theme of the 2016 campaign, even as it’s just getting started.  Rather than deny that it exists, the Republican party is trying to redefine it.  To that end, they are employing the Republican Reichsministry of propaganda, Faux Noise.  Their spin is that Democrats are committing class warfare against poor, defenseless billionaires.

FoxPropRemember all that wailing and gnashing of teeth we’ve seen from Faux "news" in recent weeks over President Obama rightfully calling them out for routinely demonizing those living in poverty and calling them a bunch of lazy moochers that don’t want to work?

It seems that Fox’s Neil Cavuto was shameless enough to complain about President Obama over the weekend on his Saturday show, and then turn right around on his weekday show and allow Ben Stein to give Jon Stewart, this blog, and Media Matters some more material for our archives of Fox and their poor-shaming.

Cavuto started out the segment with Stein with another of their Fox "news" ALERTS saying Warning, warning!!!! Hillary Clinton said the deck is stacked for the rich, and so did Bernie Sanders… so OMG!!!!! Hillary is a dirty f**kig hippie Socialist now!!! The horror!!

Which is what Neil Cavuto and his buddy Ben Stein believes is "class warfare" against those poor downtrodden rich people…

Inserted from <Crooks and Liars>

Here’s the video.  Barf Bag Alert!!

They are presenting a false choice.  Their alternatives are letting the deserving rich keep what they earned, or squandering it on undeserving masses who will just waste it.

The truth is that that most of the very rich who actually earned their money appreciate that they did so on the shoulders of the entire nation and recognize that their continued success requires a strong middle class.  Sadly, they are few, and most wealth is concentrated in the hands of people who inherited it.  Since they depend on the government to provide them favorable treatment that transfers even more wealth from the poor and middle classes to them, they are the true underserving welfare recipients now.  On the other hand, Democrats want to spend money on projects like infrastructure, education and research.  These are designed to grow the entire economy for everyone, rich and poor alike, making America a place where both entrepreneurs can succeed, and none need suffer from hunger.

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May 202015
 

Of course I’m still buried with work to do.  I’m waiting for Store to Door to deliver groceries.  Tomorrow I have an appointment to get my MRI results.  It’s with my doctor that moved across town, so I’ll be gone most of the day.  Expect a Personal Update at most.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:39 (average 5:13).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes: (all Kos to save me time)

From Daily Kos: Bill O’Reilly is a terrible, dumb, vicious, hypocrite. Now you might add wife-beater to that litany of the obscenities that come to mind when O’Reilly crosses your radar. Gawker is reporting that, according to documents from O’Reilly’s recently lost custody case against his ex-wife Maureen McPhilmy, O’Reilly is not just a vulgar verbally and mentally abusive, bullying type—he’s also a physically assaulting type of bully:

According to a source familiar with the facts of the case, a court-appointed forensic examiner testified at a closed hearing that O’Reilly’s daughter claimed to have witnessed her father dragging McPhilmy down a staircase by her neck, apparently unaware that the daughter was watching.

O’Lielly must have a Republican reason for such a Republican crime. Could it be that she demanded to wear shoes?

From Daily Kos: Today the Arizona legislature did what no other state in the nation has been mean-spirited enough to do: they cut lifetime welfare benefits to one year for everyone — adults and children, the physically and mentally disabled. Most states have a five-year limit, while thirteen others impose a two-year cutoff. Texas (of course) has a flexible limit that can be as short as one year, but even children are exempt in the Lone Star State. Not so for Arizona! We’re Number 1!

As a result, the Arizona Department of Economic Security will drop at least 1,600 families — including more than 2,700 children — from the state’s federally funded welfare program when the budget year begins in July.

It does not matter to Arizona Republicans that the federal government is paying for the aid. What does is that they get to starve hungry children.

From Daily Kos: Wired put together a very interesting piece on the renewable energy company Vortex. They are now field testing bladeless wind energy turbines.

Instead of capturing energy via the circular motion of a propeller, the Vortex takes advantage of what’s known as vorticity, an aerodynamic effect that produces a pattern of spinning vortices. Vorticity has long been considered the enemy of architects and engineers, who actively try to design their way around these whirlpools of wind. And for good reason: With enough wind, vorticity can lead to an oscillating motion in structures, which, in some cases, like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, can cause their eventual collapse.

Wooo Hooo!!! Some good news for a change!!

Cartoon:

0520Cartoon

The attackers were the people the Republican Party embraced and supported, as part of their Southern Strategy.

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