Apr 112014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, and I don’t know why, but I feel lethargic.  I’ve gotten enough sleep, and I don’t feel ill.  Perhaps it’s that I’m taking Chantix again.  My last attempt to quit fell apart during the moving process, so I’m trying again.  Q-Day is Infernal Revenue day.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:21 (average 5:09).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: It’s still early yet, but a monster El Nino might be forming in the pacific, and it just might shake up the worlds weather for awhile.  Over on the robertscribbler blog is an excellent write up describing the details of a monster Kelvin wave, which sometimes signals the start of an El Nino.  Here’s what he has to say about the Kelvin wave:

The pool of 4-6+ degree Celsius above average temperatures continues to widen and lengthen, now covering 85 degrees of longitude from 170 East to 105 West. Perhaps more disturbing is the fact that the zone of extreme 6+ C temperature anomalies has both widened and extended, covering about 50 degrees of longitude and swelling to a relative depth of about 30-40 meters. This is an extraordinarily intense temperature extreme that well exceeds those observed during the ramp-up to the record 1997-98 El Nino event.

more below the fold… [emphasis original]

Click through for an in depth report on this potential El Nino and what it means to you.

From NY Times: Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked legislation meant to close the pay gap between men and women, framing an election-year fight between the parties over whose policies are friendlier to women.

The bill was an attempt by Democrats to press what they see as their electoral advantage among women in the coming midterm elections, but they fell short of the 60 votes they needed to prevent a filibuster and advance the legislation.

Now there can be no doubt. Republicans do not want to see equal pay for people they consider property that should be kept barefoot and pregnant.

From TPM: The House has passed a GOP budget blueprint that promises a balanced federal ledger in 10 years through sweeping cuts across the federal budget and eliminating health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The 219-205 vote on the nonbinding framework takes a mostly symbolic swipe at the government’s chronic deficits. Follow-up legislation to actually implement the cuts isn’t in the cards.

The plan by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan would cut more than $5 trillion over the coming decade to reach balance by 2024. The sharpest cuts would come to health care programs for the poor and uninsured, food stamps, and array of domestic programs, including Pell Grants, education, and community development grants.

No surprises here.

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Prior to this, white southern racists were a bloc of Democrats known as the Dixiecrats.  They were so outraged by this event that they left the Democratic Party.  The Republicans, seeing there was no future in representing primarily billionaires and corporate criminals, adopted the Southern Strategy and embraced the racists’ hatred.  This is how racists became the base of the Republican Party.

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Apr 032014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, and this is last article until after I return from my volunteer training.  I will be off the grid, as there will be no time to even set up a computer, while I’m away.  I spent the day running errands, preparing my material and packing,  Although I had little time for research, I think I have some interesting material for you.  I will post missed puzzles with my next Open Thread or Personal Update.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:31 (average 5:25).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: Accusing them of involvement in “a widespread conspiracy to save President Obama’s failed health-care program,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) today subpoenaed the approximately seven million Americans who have signed up for Obamacare so far.

Arguing that the impressive enrollment numbers “don’t pass the smell test,” the House Oversight Committee chairman told reporters, “Any rational person would come to the same conclusion that I have: namely, that this is a well-orchestrated conspiracy of seven million people trying to make Obamacare look good.”

The California Republican said that the seven million co-conspirators targeted by his subpoenas would be required to travel to Washington to testify before his committee or risk being found in contempt of Congress.

Andy’s great satire aside, I wouldn’t put it past him. Darrell Issa jerk!!

From Daily Kos: Wow! According to an analysis of financials for Hobby Lobby. Reporters for Mother Jones discovered $73 million in mutual funds with investments in the companies that manufacturer contraceptives including emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs used to perform abortions.

Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012—three months after the company’s owners filed their lawsuit—show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k).

Several of the mutual funds in Hobby Lobby’s retirement plan have holdings in companies that manufacture the specific drugs and devices that the Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, is fighting to keep out of Hobby Lobby’s health care policies: the emergency contraceptive pills Plan B and Ella, and copper and hormonal intrauterine devices.

They deny women, but take the money. How do you spell Republican? H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E!!

From NY Times: The Republican budget for 2015, released Tuesday by Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, will never come close to being law, so it doesn’t have to pretend to be serious. This is a document designed solely to be reduced to a few bullet points so House Republicans can have something to show their most antigovernment voters.

That might work in their most carefully gerrymandered districts, but does the Republican Party really want to coalesce around a budget this destructive to the country’s future: harming the middle class and the poor; undercutting popular safety-net programs, including Medicare and Pell grants; and heaping tax benefits on the rich? Apparently it does, and the full House will probably support it in a few days. Voters should look closely at the details to see if they would choose the same course.

Lyin’ Ryan’s plan to fight poverty is still to take from the poor and give to the rich. Click through to see how his new budget is the same as his old budget, only worse.

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TC signing off with a sore butt, because SCROTUS didn’t use Vaseline.

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Feb 232014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, and this will be the only article, because I cut my search for material short.  Although I spent more time in research than usual, I did not find much that grabbed me, and I didn’t want to keep pushing, because I’ll be quite busy for the next couple days.  On Monday, I’ll be hosting a Board Meeting of my prison volunteer organization here in the Cat Box, including dinner, so I’ll have a lot of cleaning and food prep to do for the next couple days.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:52 (average 5:34).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: If what he said in 1996 is any guide, House Speaker John Boehner really, really does not plan to allow a vote on raising the minimum wage:

“I’ll commit suicide before I vote on a clean minimum-wage bill,” Boehner, then the head of the House Republican Conference, said at the time.

How’s that for an extreme position? He wouldn’t just die before doing it, he’d actually kill himself. Take his own life rather than lift hundreds of thousands out of poverty by requiring businesses to pay a minimum wage that a small family can come somewhere close to living on. It’s almost like he’s not the moderate figure trying to balance the demands of his party’s teabagger extremists with responsible governance that so many political reporters have painted him as.

What better reason could there for Democrats to circulate a discharge petition on this issue, Not only would it me a major victory against vulture capitalists and their Republican lackeys, but also, the fringe benefit is fantastic!! ;-)

From NY Times: The phony budget games finally came to an end this week. After years of trying to entice Republicans into serious negotiations over a fiscal deal — years of instant rejection and painful austerity — the White House announced it was giving up.

In President Obama’s 2015 budget, scheduled to be unveiled next month, there will be no more proposals to cut entitlement programs. Instead, the president will demand what the country needs the most: new investments in education, in energy efficiency, in job training. When Republicans turn away, as they will, they will have to explain to voters why they prefer tax loopholes for the rich over programs to create jobs and rebuild the economy.
Mr. Obama will not include an offer that marred his 2014 budget plan: reducing the cost-of-living increase for Social Security in exchange for higher spending and the end of some of those loopholes. The Social Security cut, known as a “chained” Consumer Price Index, was never a good idea. It was likely to hurt vulnerable retirees, but had been long advocated by the right. Nonetheless, Republicans refused to consider that change if it meant touching the tax breaks of their wealthiest donors, so they passed up a chance to achieve their stated goal of reducing entitlement spending.

In my opinion, the authors have this wrong in one key way. I trust you remember that, at the time, I said that the only reason Obama was offering chained CPI was the certainty that Republicans would refuse it, because it came paired with cuts in welfare for the 1%. Now, in my opinion, Obama is making no such offer, because Republicans have become so desperate to appear reasonable in an e3lection year, that they might accept it, if he did.

From TPM: The United Auto Workers union is appealing a union representation election for Chattanooga, Tennessee Volkswagen workers citing interference from Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and other groups and lawmakers in the state.

The UAW announced its appeal with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday.

The appeal argues that Corker, Tennessee Gov. William Haslam and State House Speaker Beth Harwell, among others, "conducted what appears to have been a coordinated and widely publicized coercive campaign. They worked, in concert with their staffs and others, to deprive" Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. "workers of their federally-protected right, through the Election, to support and select the UAW as their exclusive representation under Section 9(a) of the National Labor Relations Act (the "Act"), free of coercion, intimidation, threats and interference."…

…Read the appeal here.

Having read the appeal myself, as I strongly recommend that you do too, I agree that the UAW complaint is accurate, and that the NLRB should set aside the election and order a new one.

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This effectively makes any Voter ID laws that require voter expense, either for the ID, or for the documents needed to obtain it, unconstitutional.

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Jan 242014
 

I’m writing this article in my motel room, for tomorrow, before leaving for today’s meetings.  I’m thoroughly disappointed with Motel 6, and will tell more of that when I return home.  Yesterday, we had an outside board meeting here, in which we discussed problems and goals.  This afternoon the outside board will meet with the inside executive committee inside the prison.  This evening we’ll have our normal meeting with around 100 of my guys.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:37 (average 5:01).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From NY Times: Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew warned Congress on Wednesday that the government would most likely exhaust its ability to borrow in late February, setting up yet another fiscal showdown with Republicans, and this time earlier than congressional leaders had anticipated.

In a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner and the other top three congressional leaders, Mr. Lew said a surge of February spending, mainly tax refunds for 2013, would leave the Treasury with little room to maneuver after the official debt limit is reached on Feb. 7.

The letter amounts to an early alarm bell, coming just weeks after Congress passed its first bipartisan budget and comprehensive spending bill in years. Those bills were supposed to serve as a cease-fire in the budget wars that have rattled the country and the economy since Republicans took control of the House in 2011.

No matter what Republicans threaten, there can be no compromise on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, ObamaCare, or any other part of the safety net, already stretched far too thin by Republican class warfare.

From Upworthy: Here Are Just 3 Of The *Smaller* Lies SeaWorld Makes Its Employees Tell Its Guests

 

I hope that, if more people learn about these lies, they will stop supporting this criminal abuse with their patronage.

From Daily Kos: Virginia has only just switched from extremist Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to Democrat Mark Herring, and already we’re seeing big changes:

Herring said his office will no longer defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriages.

"As attorney general, I cannot and will not defend laws that violate Virginians’ rights," Herring said. "The commonwealth will be siding with the plaintiffs in this case and with every other Virginia couple whose right to marry is being denied."

A win for justice!

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Jan 152014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow and feeling both ill and exhausted, because I has to unpack and stow a grocery order.  In the old place, I would not have been capable of doing it.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:28 (average 5:25).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: New Yorker Cover = Bridge-gate Perfection

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I could not have said it better!

From NY Times: F.B.I. investigators do not believe Internal Revenue Service officials committed crimes in the unusually heavy scrutiny of conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status, a law enforcement official said Monday.

Prosecutors for the Justice Department who have been overseeing the case have not made a decision about whether to file charges against the officials — although that would seem unlikely given the F.B.I. investigators’ conclusion, according to the official, speaking anonymously because he could not talk on the record about a continuing investigation.

Despite an admission by the I.R.S. that it inappropriately targeted conservative groups, by searching for groups with the words “Tea Party” or “Patriots” in their names, many legal experts and law enforcement officials say they do not believe that the scrutiny broke the law. Some members of Congress had called for the Justice Department to investigate the tax-collecting agency. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report Monday that criminal charges were unlikely.

I.R.S. documents show the agency gave the same scrutiny to some liberal groups, using the key words “Progressive” and “Occupy.”

The IRS was just doing their job, in light of the Republican rule that misinterpreted the original law by substituting "predominantly" for "exclusively". No group engaging in any politically activity at all should qualify for the 501(c)(4) status that allows secret fundraising.  Although this always has been a non-issue, Republicans continue to offer the lie to deflect from their own REAL scandals.

From Think Progress: On Monday evening, House and Senate negotiators unveiled a bill that fills in the details of the budget agreement reached at the end of last year. If passed, the appropriations bill doles out specific funds to a huge variety of government programs. It now heads to the House and Senate, where it will likely be voted on Wednesday in the former and before the weekend by the latter.

A second round of sequestration cuts would have taken place if Congress hadn’t reached a deal and would have been even more damaging than the reductions in 2013, but instead lawmakers increased spending to partially undo the automatic cuts. But until yesterday’s bill, it wasn’t clear which programs would get complete relief and which would still have reduced budgets. Here’s how the negotiators handled some of the programs that suffered from sequestration last year…

Click through for the details. While there are things in this bill that progressives will not like, I think we won more than we lost in it. The Republicans did not get any of their poison pills like defunding ObamaCare or cuts to earned entitlements, and funding was restored for some of the neediest Americans, albeit not to the levels I want to see. It’s certainly a major improvement over the automatic cuts that the Republican sequester will mandate, if this does not pass.

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A High Holy Day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb!

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Dec 252013
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, since tomorrow I need to be rested to cook.  If you are traveling, please take extra care.  Expect only an Open Thread at best on Thursday.  May this day bring each of you all the joy you so richly deserve.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:09 (average 5:26).  To do it click here.  How did you do?

Fantasy Football Update:

Here’s the latest playoff bracket from our fantasy football league, Lefty Blog Friends.

16Bracket

Congrats to the winners, and enjoy the last week of the fantasy season.

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: ‘Ugh, Food Stamps Are For Lazy Freeloaders!’ Well, Let’s Look At The Facts.

 

These are things Republicans do not want you to know.

From Daily Kos: There are a lot of things not to like from a progressive perspective about the so-called Ryan-Murray compromise budget approved this past Wednesday by the Senate and on its way to President Obama’s desk. Perhaps the biggest is the expiration of long-term unemployment insurance benefits. These cuts will provide a very inopportune lump of coal in the stockings of the least fortunate right at the time that they need these benefits the most. And with Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives, the probability of these benefits being restored once they expire seems barely a stitch above zero.

Thankfully, as Greg Sargent writes, Democrats in the Senate and progressive institutions are refusing to concede the point. And whether they actually hope to embarrass Republicans into passing a new extension of benefits, or whether the only expectation is to use the issue to turn public opinion even further against a heartless Republican Party, the efforts involved look like they will be extensive. [emphasis added]

Click through for more about what Democrats will be doing to restore unemployment benefits.

From Common Dreams: Alberta, home to massive tar sands reserves, has a new environmental regulator in town.

Only this one is funded entirely by the fossil fuel industry, the Edmonton Journal reports Monday.

Roughly 150 publicly funded environment department staff including fish and wildlife officers, forestry officers, biologists, rangers and others who watch over the oil industry’s activities in the province are expected to move over to the new, industry-funded, Alberta Energy Regulator—a shift initiated by the government’s environmental department as it shuts down its Energy Resources Conservation Board.

Having regulators dependent on corporate criminals for their paychecks is a wide open door for corruption and abuse.

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Dec 132013
 

Yesterday I planned to rest all day, but following the best laid plans of mice and men, my Christmas present to me came early, and I could not resist opening it.  Because I am not an Olympic weightlifter, because I do not have engineering degrees, and because I obviously do not speak the language of whoever wrote the documentation, there is nothing easy about unpacking, setting up and installing a color laser all-in-one.  Six hours later, my first color document in hand, I crawled into bed for a few hours.  I’ll be moving back to full-time blogging over the next couple weeks.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:42 (average 5:02).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Religious Agony:

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Had I been able to watch and meditate properly, this would never have happened.  It’s Comcast’s fault!! :evil:

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: LA-Sen: Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is running a new ad that’s all about her efforts to fix Obamacare—specifically, the legislation she introduced that would require insurers to keep offering individual plans that they’ve been cancelling as the insurance exchanges have opened up. While the bill is a political winner for her, I’m not so sold on how her spot presents things, since the first 10 seconds contain news clips that only remind viewers of the debacle in the first place, before even getting to Landrieu’s attempt to ameliorate the problem.

LA is especially tough, since Republicans used Katrina to make the state, and especially New Orleans, more white, but we clearly need a progressive to challenge Landrieu for the Democratic nomination.  However, in the general election, voting for even this DINO garbage is better than voting for a third party and giving it to a Republican. Click through for more election news.

From NY Times: Representative Paul D. Ryan’s eight terms in Congress have produced much political celebrity and Republican respect but just two laws bearing the Ryan name — a renamed post office and a modified excise tax on arrows like the ones he uses for bow hunting.

Then on Tuesday he struck a budget deal with Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, that affixed a new label to the polished veneer of Mr. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican: deal maker and, to some, traitor.

To be honest, I’ve been too far out of the loop to render an opinion on this budget deal, but there must be at least something positive about it to bring on the ire against Fartfuhrer Walker’s pet Ayn Rand disciple.  So it’s 90% bad, at worst.

From Think Progress: With her confirmation to the second highest court in the nation very early Thursday morning, Judge Nina Pillard should immediately rocket to the top of the Democratic shortlist of potential nominees to the Supreme Court. Though there are a number of Democratic judges who possess the youth, brilliance and legal credentials required from a new Supreme Court justice, Pillard brings something to the bench that is quite rare among judges — she’s won two of the most important civil rights victories to reach the Supreme Court during her career.

She would never have been confirmed, had not Leg Hound Harry finally taken my advice, used his ObamaBalls, and nuked the Republican Filibastards.

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The implications boggle the mind.  Had we had a competent President, September 11, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the biggest tax giveaway to the super-rich in history, and the Republican financial collapse and recession would not have happened.

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