Dec 112016

If you read the monthly reports, you will find that Politics Plus readers tend to be older, poor, and more female that male (although of course both are represented.)  Those of us living in the Unitd States who fit that description are probably living mostly or totally on the earned benefits of Social Security.  I know I am.

So I thought that the content of this article from Mother Jones should be posted to Politics Plus.

Now, it's nothing new that Republicans want to cut Social Security (or should I say gut Social Security?)  That has been true since it was created in 1935.  But usually, when government programs are cut that people depend on, current recipients at least are "grandfathered" in so that the cuts will apply to future beneficiaries.  Well, that's not exactly true of this bill.

The Mother Jones article includes the complete first draft of the bill, but also refers to Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, from whom I'd like to quote:

[Y]ou're out of luck even if you're a current beneficiary….  [R]eviewing the summary of the GOP bill, keep the following in mind. If you've been working for any number of years, but especially if you've been working for two or three decades, you've been paying in not only money for current beneficiaries but additional money which was invested in US government bonds to make it possible for Social Security to pay benefits of Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers….  This plan appears to foresee the government never paying that back to Social Security. In other words, your payroll taxes have been socking away additional money to cover the growing senior population. But this bill says too bad. That money goes for high income tax cuts.

Nancy Pelosi had this to say:  "Apparently nothing upsets House Republicans like the idea of hard-working people getting to enjoy a secure and dignified retirement."  Yes, she went into more detail, but that sums it up.

Even Yahoo! Finance has a scary article: 

The bill introduced by Johnson, who was recently acting Chair of the Ways and Means committee, slashes benefits, adds means testing, and would raise the retirement age from 67 to 69.  For most workers, the bill would cut Social Security benefits substantially. As Michael Linden, associate director for tax and budget policy at Center for American Progress, pointed out on Twitter, a letter from Social Security’s Office of the Actuary calculated workers making around $50,000 would see checks shrink by between 11% and 35%.  Nearly every income bracket would see a reduction….

The Mother Jones article is the only one I found which has the actual complete text of the draft bill.  It is 54 pages long.  I haven't finished reading it myself yet – I am still dreading it.  But I wanted to get this up so we can all share.

Feb 122016

I awoke very late after chasing someone's pet rat all night long!  The furry critter kept getting away from me, so I chased it.  I finally woke up to find myself cuddling one of my furbabes who bears no resemblance to a rat.  Tomorrow is busy with physio and teaching.

Short Takes

Huffington Post  Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy was charged in federal court on Thursday with conspiracy, assault on a federal officer and obstruction of justice in connection with the 2014 standoff on federal land near his ranch.

Bundy was arrested on Wednesday night in Portland, Oregon, near the site of another standoff that previously included his sons.  …

The takeover at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which began on Jan. 2, was sparked by the return to prison of two Oregon ranchers convicted of setting fires that spread to federal property in the vicinity of the refuge.

The standoff, which was originally led by brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy, came to a head after the arrest on Wednesday in Portland of their father, Cliven Bundy. 

My first thought, I hope the cases against these characters is rock solid.  In my mind, they have demonstrated that their "rights" supersede those of everyone else.  I guess only time will tell.

Common Dreams — In a move being hailed as both "defiant" and common sense, Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. House on Thursday introduced the "Keep It in the Ground" Act, which would permanently block all new fossil fuel leases on public lands and waters.

"Anyone who does the math of climate change knows we need to keep most fossil fuel underground," said Bill McKibben. (Photo: kris krüg/flickr/cc/with overlay)

The bill, introduced by California Rep. Jared Huffman and cosponsored by 16 colleagues, specifically bars new leases and ends non-producing leases for coal, oil, gas, oil shale, and tar sands on all federal lands, as well as for offshore drilling in the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. Further, the bill outright prohibits offshore drilling in the Arctic and the Atlantic.

Although this action is sorely overdue, this has about as much chance of suceeding as a snowball in hell with the current Republican dominated Congress.  Hopefully, that dominance won't last forever.

Mother Jones — Ted Nugent is no stranger to mounting outrageous defenses of the gun lobby. But this week, the musician's predictable inflammatory language reached new levels of offensive starting on Monday with the following anti-Semitic image posted to his Facebook page:

ted nugent rant

With a long list of seditious and other questionable acts, Nugent, the Pied Piper of Offensiveness, has outdone himself this time.  I didn't think that was possible!  Thanks to Cal M at Care2, here is a petition to TELL THE NRA: REMOVE TED NUGENT FROM YOUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS.

Common Dreams — The Pentagon budget the Obama administration unveiled this week calls for quadrupling spending on efforts to counter Russia.

The money would move more troops, tanks, and artillery into position near the Russia border. This last Obama budget would also fund another installment in a $1 trillion and 30-year plan to “modernize” our nuclear arsenal with new land-based missiles, bombers, and submarines.  

4. We can’t afford it.
We’re now spending more than the next 13 countries put together, more than three times as much as China, and nine times as much as Russia. Meanwhile the water crisis in Flint, Michigan points to the consequences of our neglect of our country’s infrastructure. According to the National Priorities Project, foregoing the cost of beefing up our nuclear arsenal for one year would enable the U.S. to send nearly 600,000 more students to college for four years. Instead we want to spend more to rekindle the Cold War?

Click through for the other 5 reasons.  The proposed US budget would include funds for the nuclear weapons arsenal. Isn't the US a signatory to the Treaty for the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons?  Yes, and this appears to fly in the face of that treaty.  If the Republicans actually take the time to view the budget proposal, they are likely to start licking their chops.

My Universe


I you can't go around, and you can't go under, go over but be nice about it!


Dedicated to all the Big Mouth award winners and their big mouth friends!

Dec 262015

I’ve heard a lot of crowing about how funding for Planned Parenthood survived the budget deal passed by Congress.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I’ll all for Planned Parenthood.  It’s one of few organizations that received a small year-end gift from me, in spite of all my medical expenses.  However, I almost wish their funding had been cut, instead of a couple of the provisions that Republicans slimed in there.

1226politicsdarkmoneyAs untold millions of dollars pour into the shadowy campaign troughs of the presidential candidates, voters need to be reminded of the rosy assumptions of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that legitimized the new spending frenzy.

In allowing unlimited spending on candidates by corporations and unions, the court’s decision, in 2010, blithely pronounced, “A campaign finance system that pairs corporate independent expenditures with effective disclosure has not existed before today.” Effective disclosure exists?

The court majority in the 5-to-4 decision should have been watching this month when the Republican-controlled Congress, which has firmly bottled up all campaign disclosure legislation, voted to further cripple disclosure at two of its most vital points.

In the new budget bill, Republicans inserted a provision blocking the Internal Revenue Service from creating rules to curb the growing abuse of the tax law by thinly veiled political machines posing as “social welfare” organizations. These groups are financed by rich special-interest donors who do not have to reveal their identities under the tax law. So much for effective disclosure at the I.R.S.

In another move to keep the public blindfolded about who is writing big corporate checks for federal candidates, the Republicans barred the Securities and Exchange Commission from finalizing rules requiring corporations to disclose their campaign spending to investors. It was Citizens United that foolishly envisioned a world in which: “Shareholders can determine whether their corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are ‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.”… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

Everything Republicans do is intended to further one of two goals.  The lesser goal is the transfer of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the 1%.  The second is the establishment of a permanent Republican Reich, a totalitarian plutocracy in which ece3ctions exist for show only.  These provisions support both goals.  To clarify my earlier statement, how long do you think Planned Parenthood funding will last, is Republicans succeed in establishing their permanent Republican Reich?

Nov 202015

It looks like I’ll have another busy day, as both OT and PT are coming this afternoon.   I took it easy this morning and only made two laps.

Short Takes:

From YouTube: Merkley decries Republican efforts to slip Wall St. favors into must-pass spending bills


Oregon leads the way! “Must-pass” spending bill s must not pass, until Republican attempts to enable Banksters to prey on YOU are removed.

From Daily Kos: Since the map went live, Oregon has gone green, so to speak, on this map. And so has Colorado. You red states? Keep on cringing and cowering.


I had no doubt that Oregon would go green and refuse to surrender to the Daesh and their helpers to spread terror, the Republican Party.

From Media Matters: O’Reilly Once Said Terror Attack Would Get Bush Reelected, Now Says It Would Tarnish Obama As Worst U.S. President.

Barf Bag Alert!!


Is there any question as to why I call him O’Lielly? He’s a senior propagandist for the Republican Reichsministry of propaganda, Faux Noise!



Nov 042015

It sickens me to share that, in their ongoing jihad to transfer all the nation’s wealth from the poor and middle classes to the 1%, Republicans are warring against disabled people applying for benefits.  Republicans are exaggerating the issue of fraudulent applications way out of proportion.


Having failed in numerous frontal assaults on Social Security, the Republican congressional leadership several years ago adopted a new strategy for dismantling the program: attack and demonize Disability Insurance, which they consider to be its soft underbelly. With last week’s passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, they drew blood.

We’ve been hearing it for years now: Disability Insurance is overgenerous, fraud-ridden, a well-intentioned program that’s mutated into a form of middle-class welfare. Criteria for awarding benefits need to be tightened, or the $150 billion DI trust fund will go bankrupt. The traditional solution for imbalances in Social Security’s trust funds—shifting money between the DI and the Old Age and Survivors’ (OASI) fund—shouldn’t be used unless “substantive reforms” [Murdoch delinked] are implemented.

How wonderful, then, that according to the Wall Street Journal [Murdoch delinked], “Social Security will get its first upgrade since the 1980s to fix Disability Insurance,” thanks to a kumbaya moment between the White House and congressional Republican and Democratic leaders. The two-year Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which just passed the House and the Senate, shifts money into the DI trust fund to keep it from running out of money in 2016.

In exchange, however, it launches a veritable national jihad against those dreaded disability fraudsters.

According to a summary of the House bill, it “prevents evidence submitted by unlicensed or sanctioned physicians and health care providers from being considered when determining disability.” It expands a pilot project to investigate fraud, in which “Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) units, jointly run by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), and consisting of staff from local SSA offices, the OIG, State Disability Determination Services (DDS), and local law enforcement, into a nationwide program.”…

Inserted from <Alternet>

Republicans have made it even dif ficult for disabled people to get the benefits they have earned with their payroll deductions.  It’s already very hard.  For over 2.5 years I often had to choose between food and medicine.  I had to pull a tooth myself.  The judge said my case was so obvious that I should have been approved from day 1.

Democrats need to stop giving Republicans tactical victories when threatened with government shutdown.  That Republicans gave up a lot to drive in this wedge, but that does not ease the suffering of disabled people, whose benefits are withheld.

Oct 292015

I was so tired last night that I left this part of the Open Thread until today, Thursday morning.  It is great to see TC back producing his On the Edge–10/29/2015 which includes short takes today.  And Nameless produced the GOP Debate – Others Watched So You Didn’t Have To with his usual flair for humour which I am both appreciative of and in awe.  I still have my cold but hopefully yesterday's nap and a long sleep last night will boost me forward.  So here we go friends!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:49 (average 5:04). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes 

The Nation — But if Kasich were to call Carson, Trump, Bush and, yes, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and former CEO Carly Fiorina and the rest, out for their extreme stances, if he were to say bluntly and without apology that what the other contenders propose is bad craziness, he would not just help his own candidacy.

He would restore a measure of common sense to a race for the Republican nomination that does indeed raise the questions: “What has happened to our party? What has happened to the conservative movement?” 

I remember reading a short time ago that Rachel Maddow commented that of all the Republicans, she was leaning towards John Kasich in the Republican residential primary.  I was surprised.  John Nichols seems to paint Kasich as "the reasonable one".  Scary, when an avowed conservative like Kasich seems to be "the reasonable one".

MSNBC — Carson also gave an odd response when asked about his reported involvement with a company called Mannatech that made fantastical claims that its nutritional products could cure cancer, autism and other diseases.

The former neurosurgeon said he “didn’t have an involvement with them” and it was “total propaganda” to suggest so. Bizarrely, he then went on to say he gave paid speeches for them and that he supported their business. “Do I take the product? Yes. I think it’s a good product,” Carson said. Clear as mud.

Who knows if it will matter to Carson’s current supporters when the next polls come out. But if his goal was to prove he can appeal beyond a hardcore conservative base and convince other voting blocs to take him seriously, his answers did not help.

The third Republican presidential debate in Colorado last night, a slugfest over the media, specifically the debate moderators..  Here Chris Matthews goes over three takeaways.  Click through for a video and the remainder of the takeaways.

Huffington Post — In his parting gift to the House, outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) hammered out the deal with his fellow leaders in Congress and the White House, enraging the very members of his conference who edged him out.

The two-year deal, unveiled at midnight Monday, lifts the caps on sequestration — automatic budget cuts first put in place in 2011 — evenly across defense and nondefense accounts by a total of $80 billion. That money will be divided with $50 billion budgeted for the first year and $30 billion for the second. In addition, the bill also increases defense spending through the overseas contingency fund, a side piggybank that helps the White House pay for war operations, adding $32 billion to it over the two years.

In a 266-167 vote, the House passed the deal, which will keep the government from a default on Nov. 3, and increase the debt ceiling into March 2017. All Democrats and 79 Republicans voted in favor of it. 

There is a Telus commercial from a number of years ago in which a teenager is complaining to her grandfather about her mother.  After the conversation ends, the grandfather says "It's payback time!".  I somehow think that John Boehner must feel like that.  I thought that the agreement would never pass the House, and certainly the very conservative Freedom Caucus is wanting to rip Boehner a new pair.  The vote for the new Speaker is today, so will the Freedom Caucus repudiate Ryan as a tit-for-tat response to the budget decision?  Get your mittens out.  It is getting frosty.  Update: Ryan is the new Speaker

My Universe — It has rained heavily here last night and much of today, stopping briefly around 4 pm.  It is back to raining cats and dogs which more than pisses off the cats.  So this picture is for all the cat parents that forgot to ensure that Puddy was warm AND dry.