Jul 202015
 

Fortunately, today should be the last day in the heat wave.  85° is the forecast high, but the last two days have both been more than 5° hotter than forecast.  It will then take a couple days for the building to bleed off the heat.  I’m so ready.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:03 (average 4:19).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From TPM: Israel’s ambassador to the United States raced in and out of offices on Capitol Hill, trying to persuade lawmakers that the nuclear deal with Iran is a historic mistake.

On the other side, liberal groups ramped up the pressure, warning of political consequences for Democrats who undermine the agreement and casting opposition as a vote for war.

The lobbying fight is on over the pact that the U.S. and other world powers just signed with Iran. The State Department said Sunday it had submitted the agreement to Congress, kicking off a 60-day review period on Monday.

A foreign government has no business lobbying the US Congress! Keep contacting your Congress Critter and Senators.

From Think Progress: The state of the world’s climate is complex enough that it takes 413 scientists from 58 countries half a year to completely summarize a year’s worth of data.

And 2014 was a doozy…

…For those without the time to peruse nearly 300 pages of scientific summaries, here are seven records that fell in 2014.

0720temps

There’s one. Click through for the other six.

From Raw Story: John Oliver bashes ‘a**hole’ Donald Trump while tackling America’s astounding food waste

 

He does cover the subject, doesn’t he? However, I do have to disagree with his statement that dog balls are delicious. CAT is where it’s AT!! Seriously, do you waste a lot of food? I throw little away, but I do convert quite a bit to methane.

Cartoon:

0720Cartoon

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Jul 102015
 

I have to admit that I have seen some decent behavior from some SC Republicans, because they were so shamed at having been caught turning a blind eye to the hatred of their rabid base, to do otherwise would be screaming their own guilt from the rooftops.  But as they righted a long overdue wrong, Congressional Republicans demonstrated that they still just love to hate.

0710GOPDixie[R]epublicans in Congress stumbled into the Confederate flag debate Thursday after Southern lawmakers protested a proposal to put new restrictions on displaying the banner on federal parklands, launching the party into a conversation many leaders would have preferred to avoid.

The uproar in the House rippled across Washington after an amendment banning Confederate flags — sponsored by a California Democrat, Rep. Jared Huffman — was attached [without Republican objection at the time] to an otherwise routine budget bill making its way through Congress.

Southern Republicans protested the Californian’s move and threatened to pull their support for the broader $30-billion bill, which funds the Interior Department and other related federal agencies, including the national parks.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) tried to salvage the situation by putting forward a compromise by another Californian, the Interior Committee’s chairman, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona).

But the compromise backfired and was seen as too weak by Democrats, who accused the GOP of protecting what many view as a racist Southern symbol of slavery…

Inserted from <LA Times>

Rachel Maddow covered the story very well.

Be advised that Agent Orange cannot have an idea get "firm in his head." He’s a limp Boehner. The racism that the Republican Party leadership routinely practices is not overt. It’s dog-whistle racism. Many Republican politicians, who are not overtly racist themselves, go along, because the Republican base is overtly racist, because the party adopted the Southern Strategy.  In, SC the grace displayed by the AME families shamed several Republican politicians into putting away their dog whistles, at least temporarily, because Republican hatred put them to shame.  But the party as a whole has not changed one iota.

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Jun 082015
 

You don’t think that I am referring to the Republican Reich, do you?  Of course not!  They are the Reich on the right.  The Reich on the left is Robert Reich, author of the following excerpt.  Just as surely as the Reich on the Right is wrong, the Reich on the left is right.  In this case, Reich is right about Congress critters, such as Hastert the Bastert, becoming lobbyists.

0608big-oil-5

Washington has been rocked by the scandal of J. Dennis Hastert, the longest-serving Republican speaker in the history of the U.S. House, indicted on charges of violating banking laws by paying $1.7 million (as part of a $3.5 million agreement) to conceal prior misconduct, which turns out to have been child molestation.

That scandal contains another one that’s received less attention: Hastert, who never made much money as a teacher or a congressman, could manage such payments because after retiring from Congress he became a high-paid lobbyist.

This second scandal is perfectly legal but it’s a growing menace.

In the 1970s, only 3 percent of retiring members of Congress went on to become Washington lobbyists. Now, half of all retiring senators and 42 percent of retiring representatives become lobbyists.

This isn’t because more recent retirees have had fewer qualms. It’s because the financial rewards from lobbying have mushroomed, as big corporations and giant Wall Street banks have sunk fortunes into rigging the game to their advantage.

In every election cycle since 2008, more money has gone into lobbying at the federal level than into political campaigns. And an increasing portion of that lobbying money has gone into the pockets of former members of Congress… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Robert Reich>

Robert goes on to describe the issue in more detail and propose some solutions.  Click through, please.  Personally, I don’t think he goes far enough.  First, every penny lobbyists spend on and every word they communicate to government officials, including transcripts of conversations by phone and in person, should posted at a central website for public inspection.  Second, 3 years is not long enough.  Make it ten.  For the record, most Democrats support laws restricting lobbyists.  Virtually all Republicans oppose them, except for lobbyists that represent unions.

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May 242015
 

I suppose the most positive thing I can say this morning, is that I have had no more surprises.  Nevertheless, my tasks seem endless, so I’ll be brief.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:04 (average 5:15).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: The soon to be officially announced presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, from Vermont, and former MN Republican Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, from Uranus, were guests on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. The show aired just before President Obama addressed the nation with his 2014 State Of The Union Speech. Sanders discussed issues that included income equality, minimum wage, education, social security, jobs creation, corporate wealth and tax evasion. Bachmann, a known liar (documented by Politifact), read from the repetitive Right-Wing, Koch-Sucking Declaration of Co-Dependance, while interjecting something about ‘Australia.’ She stuck to the GOP script and was completely unyielding to a mature, courteous, and educated debate.

Batshit Bag Alert!!

One key lie Batshit B attempted is that the lack of jobs is due to years of Obama’s "failed policies". What has stalled the recovery is years of Republican obstruction, sabotage and sedition. Bernie 1 – Tag Team Blitzer & Batshit B 0.

Another from Daily Kos: Yesterday we covered Pastor Matt Makela, the anti-gay Michigan pastor who was outed on Grindr.

Today a young man and his mother have stepped forward with their own story about Pastor Matt Makela. Tyler Kish was a teenage boy struggling to come to terms with his sexuality and sought counsel from Pastor Makela. His advice nearly caused Tyler to commit suicide:

"If he was going to go to hell for being gay then he might as well go to hell by committing suicide," Jennifer Kish said, regarding what Makela told her son.

He didn’t stop there:

Jennifer Kish said the pastor also became vocal on social media about how he felt her son being gay was wrong and that as a parent she shouldn’t support him.

I have zero problem with Pastor Mark Makela being gay. However, I support outing him and causing him to lose his job to stop his hate-filled behavior, as a Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christian hypocrite, from harming more parishioners.

From NY Times: After vigorous debate and intense last-minute pressure by Republican leaders, the Senate on Saturday rejected legislation that would curb the federal government’s bulk collection of phone records…

…The Senate will reconvene on May 31 to try again. But any extension is far from certain to get approval from the House, which is in recess until June 1, with at least one member threatening to block it.

Help keep the good news good. Harass your Senators.

Cartoon:

0524Cartoon

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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 142015
 

Yesterday I wrote about a Senate vote refusing to move forward on fast track authority for the TPP and future trade deals.  In that article, stated that I expected only temporary success and hoped for inclusions with safeguards for working Americans.  It appears that success will be far too temporary and that my hope was in vain.

0514SenDemsSenate Democrats on Wednesday relented in their opposition to the consideration of legislation expediting trade agreements, just 24 hours after their vote blocking the bill put a temporary halt on President Obama’s trade agenda.

In exchange for allowing Trade Promotion Authority to move forward, Democrats will get to vote Thursday on bills cracking down on Chinese currency manipulation and giving preferential treatment to imports from African countries.  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the deal on the Senate floor on Wednesday. Trade Promotion Authority allows the president to negotiate agreements that Congress must vote on without amendment. To secure Democratic votes, McConnell will combine that bill with a separate measure providing aid to workers displaced by foreign trade. Senate Democrats on Tuesday had demanded that McConnell package all four bills together, but he refused on the grounds that the currency proposal would have sunk the underlying trade legislation in the House. Now House Republicans can choose to ignore the currency and Africa measures even if they clear the Senate… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Atlantic>

If I understand it correctly, all the accompanying bills will stand or fail on their own.  Even if the separate measures pass, the House will be able to pass Fast Track and send it on while rejecting everything else.  I could be mistaken, because I have read contradicting sources on the issue.  The down side is that Fast Track looks like it will pass, if it has not done so already.

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May 132015
 

I wish I could tell you that the headline tells the whole story, but it does not.  As good as it felt to see fast track sent packing, I fear it was only a temporary victory that we won only because Bought Bitch Mitch tried to pull a fast one by welching on the deal Republicans made with a handful of Senate Democrats.

0513TPP

Divisive trade promotion authority legislation the White House is seeking to put the Trans-Pacific partnership on a fast-track to passage ran off the rails today, with the United States Senate voting mostly along party lines not to invoke cloture on the bill. The legislation could still come up again, but at least for the time being, it is blocked, much to the displeasure of Mitch McConnell and Barack Obama.

Fifty-two senators voted to proceed to final passage on the bill, not counting McConnell, who switched his vote from yes to no so that he could bring the legislation up again later. Forty-four senators voted to filibuster.

Although a number of Democrats support granting President Obama the fast-track authority he wants (including, unfortunately, the Pacific Northwest’s Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, and Ron Wyden), they all voted to filibuster today, with the lone exception of Thomas Carper of Delaware.

The reason? Leverage. Fast-track is a major priority for Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican. He wants it bad. Knowing this, Democrats insisted that McConnell bring up three other semi-related pieces of trade legislation as well.

The first, called Trade Adjustment Assistance, is meant to help workers who find themselves out of work due to foreign competition. Another  pertains to custom and trade enforcement, and has provisions concerning currency manipulation. The third would set up trade preferences for nations in sub-Saharan Africa.

McConnell refused to bring up the latter two bills, and so the Democrats stuck together and filibustered the fast-track bill…

Inserted from <The Cascadia Advocate>

Click through for the rest.  The Author did a fine job.

Chris Hayes also covered this quite well, interviewing Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and economist Joseph Stieglitz.

I do agree with them.  As much as I’d like TPP to fail permanently, I fear that out best hope is to get a modified version, with provisions to safeguard US workers.

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