Jul 162017
 

Before I get very far with this, Wendy will be here to help with assorted tasks and fumigate the TomCat.  It’s just in time too, because the authorities were about to evacuate the Squatch north of the Arctic Circle for her own defense, if the wind had shifted.  Tomorrow will be my last day in the saddle, before my cataract surgery.  I hope to be back in the saddle on Thursday, but we’ll see how I see.  Later: Wendy has left and we have everything ready for Tuesday.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:41 (average 4:42).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: The former chief G W Bush speechwriter has a column in today’s Washington Post that shows the spreading impact of people processing the events since Saturday when the story of Trump Jr. , Kushner, and Manafort met with the Russian lawyer broke into the public consciousness.  Titled In Trump’s world, innocence is proved by guilt, it is very much shaped by the release of the email chain earlier this week.

Yes, it is true the Gerson was never a fan or supporter of Donald J. Trump, but this piece is very pointed, and given who reads Gerson likely to have an impact on a some of the “more reasonable” Republican officers.

Click through to read his take down. I’m sure I disagree with him on many other issues, but seeing a Republican express an ethical position is so rare, I have to applaud it, when I do. As for the rest of the Republican Reich… RESIST!!

From NY Times: A powerful rule finalized last week by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will allow consumers to join together in class-action lawsuits against banks, credit card companies and other lenders over price gouging, predatory lending, abusive loan terms and other mistreatment.

Some congressional Republicans have vowed to use special legislative procedures to repeal the rule, which could take effect next year. A quick kill would be of a piece with other efforts to weaken financial regulation and allow firms to operate without accountability to customers or judges.

It’s unclear whether a congressional majority will vote to overturn a rule of such obvious benefit to consumers. What is certain is that killing the rule would be an injustice.

Liz Warren’s CFPB may be the only thing Republicans hate as much as ObamaCare and voting rights. I suspect they will overturn the rules in short order. RESIST!!

From Commonwealth Fund:

 

AUS

CAN

FRA

GER

NETH

NZ

NOR

SWE

SWIZ

UK

US

OVERALL RANKING

2

9

10

8

3

4

4

6

6

1

11

Care Process+

2

6

9

8

4

3

10

11

7

1

5

Access+

4

10

9

2

1

7

5

6

8

3

11

Administrative Efficiency+

1

6

11

6

9

2

4

5

8

3

10

Equity+

7

9

10

6

2

8

5

3

4

1

11

Health Care Outcomes+

1

9

5

8

6

7

3

2

4

10

11

Click through to read the entire report. What better case could there be for Medicare for all? RESIST!!

Cartoon:

0716Cartoon

Republicans in Congress refuse to allow the residents any power to govern themselves.

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Jun 092017
 

It has been a busy week and next week looks the same.  It rained most of yesterday and a bit last night, but today has been dry with some sunshine.  Earlier this week, Wendy said that she expected TC would go home Friday or Saturday.  So far, I think he is still in the hospital as he still has pain and did not outright say he was home.  However I know he is very relieved that the liver spots are benign.  Please say prayers or keep healing thoughts for TC front and centre.  I hope everyone has a good weekend.

Jigsaw Puzzle

Yesterday’s took me 3:32 (average 5:14).  To do it, click here.  How did you do? No, I'm not barkin' mad!

Today’s took me 4:27 (average 5:46).  To do it, click here.  How did you do? 

Short Takes

Politico — House Republicans on Thursday united to pass a comprehensive bill that would dismantle the landmark banking regulations enacted after the 2008 financial crisis.

The legislation, approved without a single Democratic vote, represents the GOP's opening salvo in the debate over easing the rules on the financial system, a move sparked by the election of President Donald Trump and Republican control of Congress. 

Hensarling argues that the economy and consumers would benefit from his vision in which market forces rather than government regulation would keep the financial system in check.

Among the bill's most controversial measures is the elimination of most of the powers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the independent regulatory agency that is Democrats' crown jewel in Dodd-Frank.

The legislation would rename the weakened CFPB the Consumer Law Enforcement Agency and make it more beholden to Congress and the president. 

The bill would also repeal a pillar of Dodd-Frank that allows regulators to manage the failure of a major financial institution, replacing that power with an updated version of the bankruptcy code.

While people were distracted by the Comey testimony, Lyin' Ryan and the Republicans rammed through a piece of legislation designed to all but kill the CFPB.  Not good at all!

Raw Story — A former Republican congressman who voted to impeach former President Bill Clinton called out House Speaker Paul Ryan as a hypocrite.

Ryan argued Thursday that congressional Republicans would not be calling for the impeachment of a Democratic president accused of the same activity as President Donald Trump — but former representative Bob Inglis dismissed those claims as nonsense.

“You know this isn’t true,” Inglis tweeted to Ryan. “You know that you would be inquiring into impeachment if this were a D.”

There have been 2 attempts to impeach sitting presidents in modern times: Richard Nixon — the Judiciary Committee approved Articles of Impeachment in July 1974 but Nixon resigned in August 1974 before the whole House could vote on the impeachment; and Bill Clinton — the Judiciary Committee approved Articles of Impeachment in December 1998 but he was acquitted in the Senate.  I won't go into detail on the charges but both presidents were charged with obstruction of justice as well as other charges.  See Nixon charges here and Clinton charges here.  In my non legal mind, it is apparent that Drumpf has obstructed justice and I hope that Mueller's investigation will bear that out at the very least.  It is a long process which will hamper Drumpf to do his job effectively.

YouTube — What We Now Know From James Comey | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann | GQ              

As the days proceed, I am sure that Mueller's investigation will raise more questions and hopefully some answers.  Comey has not heard the end of the public testimony and I dare say there will be all manner of speculation about the closed session.  Truth win out!

The New Yorker — The White House was on lockdown Thursday morning after a television was hurled out of a window, the Secret Service reported.

The incident, which occurred shortly after 10 A.M. E.S.T., caught the attention of the Secret Service after agents heard the sound of smashing glass emanating from the Oval Office.

“The sound was consistent with that of a large object, such as a television set, being thrown through a closed window,” a Secret Service spokesman said.

The television, which crashed to the ground outside the Oval Office, injured no one, the Secret Service confirmed.

I think Andy is back to straight reporting again.  I can quite imagine that the pResident was really foaming at the mouth listening to Comey's testimony.  His staff tried to keep him away from Twitter, but when they could contain no more, he let loose with this tweet "Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication … and WOW, Comey is a leaker!" .  

My Universe

I particularly like #3. 

Reminds me of my Annie who is almost 9 years old now.

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May 082016
 

I’m getting another late start today.  When I finally finished with all yesterday’s tasks, I could not sleep, because the battery in my smoke detector ran low, and the damn thing started chirping at me every 30 seconds.  We have very high ceilings, and the desk clerk on duty was very short.  She could not reach it, even though she climbed onto mu desk.  I had to wait for shift change at 9:00 AM, when a tall guy came on, and he changed it.  However, I got almost no sleep.  This mourning I did research and took a Lona cat nap.  Tomorrow, please expect no more that a Personal Update.  I have a five hour appointment with my Ocular Oncologist to determine the best way forward for the probable melanoma in my right eye.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:47 (average 5:48).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos:

“The last time you signed a contract for a cell phone plan, a bank account, or a credit card, you probably signed away your right to go to court if that company cheated you. That’s because most contracts for financial products contain forced arbitration clauses buried deep in the fine print. These clauses prohibit consumers from protecting themselves in court, and they make it a lot easier for financial institutions to get away with cheating their customers.” —Sen. Elizabeth Warren, October 2015.

In a move The New York Times calls “the biggest that the agency has made since its inception in 2010,” the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Thursday proposed a rule that would bar mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts with financial firms. Since it requires no congressional approval, the rule quite likely will go into effect after a 90-day public comment period in which opposition from business groups will no doubt be extensive, loud and bullshitty. (If you’d like to comment, you can choose a method here.) Foes of the rule, which could cost firms billions, include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce…

Thank God for Elizabeth Warren for championing the CFPB! I love this rule, but we need such a rule, banning forced mandatory arbitration for all companies!

From NY Times: Last November, Meg Muñoz went to Los Angeles to speak at the annual West Coast conference of Amnesty International. She was nervous. Three months earlier, at a meeting attended by about 500 delegates from 80 countries, Amnesty voted to adopt a proposal in favor of the “full decriminalization of consensual sex work,” sparking a storm of controversy. Members of the human rights group in Norway and Sweden resigned en masse, saying the organization’s goal should be to end demand for prostitution, not condone it. Around the world, on social media and in the press, opponents blasted Amnesty. In Los Angeles, protesters ringed the lobby of the Sheraton where the conference was being held, and as Muñoz tried to enter, a woman confronted her and became upset as Muñoz explained that, as a former sex worker, she supported Amnesty’s position. “She agreed to respect my time at the microphone,” Muñoz told me. “That didn’t exactly happen” — the woman and other critics yelled out during her panel — “but I understand why it was so hard for her.”

Muñoz was in the middle of a pitched battle over the terms, and even the meaning, of sex work. In the United States and around the globe, many sex workers (the term activists prefer to “prostitute”) are trying to change how they are perceived and policed. They are fighting the legal status quo, social mores and also mainstream feminism, which has typically focused on saving women from the sex trade rather than supporting sex workers who demand greater rights. But in the last decade, sex-worker activists have gained new allies. If Amnesty’s international board approves a final policy in favor of decriminalization in the next month, it will join forces with public-health organizations that have successfully worked for years with groups of sex workers to halt the spread of H.I.V. and AIDS, especially in developing countries.

In my opinion, prostitution should be decriminalized. Attempts to outlaw it over the last 5,000+ years have always been unsuccessful, as they always will be. Income from legal prostitution can be taxed. Legal prostitution can be licensed and regulated to protect sex workers from abuse and  protect public health.  Legal prostitution can be separated from the illegal drug trade.  While I don’t encourage it, it’s past time to end the exploitation and criminalization of sex workers.

From Huffington Post: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country would not use nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty is infringed by others with nuclear arms, in a speech broadcast on Sunday, and set a five-year plan to boost the secretive state’s moribund economy.

He has all the qualifications needed for Rump Dump Trump to want him as a VP candidate.

Cartoon:

0508Cartoon

Free Leonard Peltier!

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Nov 262015
 

Yesterday my first baby steps were most unsteady, and I would have nosedived without help.  It was too late for the shower.  I did most of my research last night, because I want to finish early.  I have a couple friends coming, and we’ll eat in the café on the first floor of the hospital.  Rush mode engaged.

Short Takes:

From FAIR: CNN host Michael Smerconish (Huffington Post, 11/23/15) brought onto his November 21 show former CIA officer Michael Scheuer, who said that if the US is going to go after ISIS, it should

take out every piece of infrastructure—hospitals, universities, irrigation systems—that make it impossible [sic] for the Islamic State to raise money, to provide electricity, sanitation, potable water. Do exactly what we did to the Germans.

Asked by the CNN host whether the US public would tolerate the “so-called innocent civilian death count,” Scheuer replied:

They should. What’s the difference? They’re not Americans.

Here is the peak of Republican love.  Kill a Muslim for Republican Supply-side Jesus (the polar opposite of the real Jesus).

From Daily Kos: Chalk up another win for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and in fact, another win for the American consumer. In this case, it’s members of the military who have new protections from predatory lenders. The CFPB worked with the Pentagon to develop new rules for how the military discretionary allotment system works. Military personnel can designate a portion of their paycheck to be paid automatically to financial institutions or to people, and previously had no legal protections if they used those automatic payments for personal property—vehicles, appliances and consumer electronics. That’s where unscrupulous companies could exploit them.

The new rules shut down that loophole, and will only allow the automatic payments for “the purpose of savings, insurance premiums, mortgage or rent payments, support for dependents, or investments.” That’s one of the final loopholes closed by the CFBP—the agency that Republicans want to gut—for military personnel who have been big targets for consumer fraud. With all these protections, the CFPB has recovered over $98 million for thousands of service members. You know, the troops Republicans supposedly have so much respect and feeling for.

As of the agency’s third birthday back in July, it had recovered more than $4.6 billion—yes billion for consumers harmed by illegal practices by financial institutions.

No wonder Republicans have never stopped trying to hobble the CFPB!!

From Media Matters: Fox News host Megyn Kelly denounced the scene of a young African American protester standing in front of a police officer during a peaceful protest in Chicago following the announcement that police officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with the first-degree murder of an African American teen.

Protests erupted in Chicago following the release of a video showing the shooting death of 17 year old Laquan McDonald. Fox News covered the peaceful protest noting the silent protest of one young black man looking at a police officer. Fox’s Megyn Kelly interrupted her show to comment on the protester, arguing that the protestor was not “appropriate,” because the police officer “hasn’t done anything wrong.” From the November 24 edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File:

Barf Bag Alert!!

 

Actually, I’m shocked that others on her show were able to counter Megyn Kelly’s racism, without having their microphones cut off.

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1126Cartoon

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Nov 112015
 

The visit to the doctor was good . . . I don't have bronchitis . . . yet!  But I am on the verge so I do have to rest, not go out and take Tylenol and cough syrup.  The doctor also nailed me for my flu shot.  There was a new patient in the waiting room, an elderly lady in a wheelchair, with whom I struck up a conversation and reassured her that the doctor was very nice.  Just before I was called in, I leaned over and told her the doctor was real eye candy.  At 93 years, she was giggling like a school girl.  Then she said her eyes were not good.  When I told the doctor about this, he started laughing.  I might have felt crappy, but at least I was able to make 2 people laugh.  Interesting though, 2 other patients joined in with positive opinions of the doctor.  I think he's a keeper!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:01 (average 4:23). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes

Alternet — "So this is weird for me," Noah said. "The media is saying 'those rumors about you haveing a clean record and being an upstanding member of society are true', and Ben Carson is like 'Bullshit! I'm dangerous and I try to kill people and I'm a bad person who should be President."

The Daily Show host would save the worst bonehead moment for last: Carson's belief that the Egyptian pyramids were used to score grain and were not a tomb.

Click through for the rest.  Unfortunately, I could not embed the video, partly because I am Canadian and partly because there is no embeding url.  Also, I could not find it on YouTube.  For Canadians click here for the Canadian version.  Noah's monologue on Carson starts at the 1:48 mark.

Mother Jones — … the conservative American Action Network will run an ad opposing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the consumer watchdog agency that Warren created following the financial crash. Per Everett, the group is spending half a million dollars to run the ad during the debate and later this week.

The commercial paints the CFPB as a Kremlin-like bureaucratic nightmare, with Warren as the Stalinesque figure barring regular Americans from collecting loans. Warren's face is plastered on a giant red banner in the background, alongside that of CFPB director Richard Cordray. The Soviet imagery is not subtle.

Related to this is Warren's tweetstorm following the airing of the ad.  I can just hear Elizabeth Warren following up with "And that's a promise!  Make my day, punk!"

Think Progress — Three white supremacists plotting to bomb and shoot up black churches and synagogues were charged Monday with a felony after allegedly attempting to buy guns and explosives from an undercover FBI agent. The two men, based in Virginia, were preparing for a “race war,” according to the FBI, by buying up land and weapons.

This is domestic terrorism at its worst . . . preying on innocent people because of the colour of their skin.  The Southern Poverty Law Centre says there are more deaths of Americans from domestic terrorism than from jihadi attacks.  Shameful!

The New Yorker — Arguing that the voters have tired of “gotcha questions,” the Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson said that he hoped Tuesday night’s debate would “focus on the real issues facing this country, like finding the lost city of Atlantis.”

“The American people don’t want to hear personal attacks,” Carson told reporters. “They want to know which candidate has the best plan for locating Atlantis and recovering its storied treasures.”

Carson said that finding Atlantis was central to his plan for reviving the U.S. economy. “We could start paying down the national debt with one jewel-encrusted trident,” he said.

Oh Andy that does so sound like Carson insanity.  Click through for the rest.

My Universe — 

 

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May 112015
 

Monday has arrived and with it, a busy week. Today I have a ton of volunteer writing to do.  Tomorrow I have to be here to order groceries in the morning.  I have a community meeting after lunch, and after that, I’m meeting my friend with cancer for coffee.  Wednesday is grocery delivery day, and I also have an O2 delivery coming.  Depending on my X-Ray, I hope to reschedule my MRI for Friday.  I’ll know tomorrow.  For now, lets not even talk about a few back burner items.  Our Poll host has fixed the broken comment section on our poll.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:14 (average 5:26).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: And here are the 18 CEOs Sanders labeled job destroyers in his report. The list below only touches on each company. The Top Corporate Dodgers report, Sanders penned, goes into further detail.

1. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $1.9 billion tax refund.

2. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2008? Zero. $278 million tax refund.

3. JP Morgan Chase CEO James Dimon
Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $416 billion.

I included three, Click through for the other 0.1% beneficiaries of welfare payments from you and me,

From NY Times: President Obama’s most aggressive and sustained legislative push since the Affordable Care Act faces a crucial first test this week when a divided Senate considers a bill that would grant him accelerated power to complete a massive trade accord with 11 nations across the Pacific Rim.

But after lobbying members of Congress in a campaign that has included rides on Air Force One, meetings in the West Wing, private vows of political support and public attacks on critics in his own party, Mr. Obama’s top legislative priority remains at risk.

A vote scheduled for Tuesday on legislation that would grant him trade promotion authority, also known as “fast track,” has become mired in a procedural thicket, with Democrats — many of them loyal to labor unions bent on killing the bill — vowing to oppose it.

Once Congress grants a president trade promotion authority, lawmakers have the ability to vote up or down on a final trade agreement, but they forfeit the right to amend the deal or filibuster it. The bill before the Senate adds a new twist: If lawmakers decide a final trade accord falls short of their standards, Congress can vote to revoke the president’s authority and then try to amend the deal.

Call your Senators. Tell them to oppose this measure.

From NY Times: Last year the vampires of finance bought themselves a Congress. I know it’s not nice to call them that, but I have my reasons, which I’ll explain in a bit. For now, however, let’s just note that these days Wall Street, which used to split its support between the parties, overwhelmingly favors the G.O.P. And the Republicans who came to power this year are returning the favor by trying to kill Dodd-Frank, the financial reform enacted in 2010.

And why must Dodd-Frank die? Because it’s working.

This statement may surprise progressives who believe that nothing significant has been done to rein in runaway bankers. And it’s true both that reform fell well short of what we really should have done and that it hasn’t yielded obvious, measurable triumphs like the gains in insurance thanks to Obamacare.

But Wall Street hates reform for a reason, and a closer look shows why.

For one thing, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — the brainchild of Senator Elizabeth Warren — is, by all accounts, having a major chilling effect on abusive lending practices. And early indications are that enhanced regulation of financial derivatives — which played a major role in the 2008 crisis — is having similar effects, increasing transparency and reducing the profits of middlemen.

Click through so Paul Krugman can explain how Republicans want to vamp you!

Cartoon:

0511Cartoon

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