Sep 262016
 

I finally had a decent night’s sleep, last night, but feel no better, because it will take several more before I’m back to speed.  I’ll be stocking up on Barf Bags for tonight’s media circus.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:41 (average 4:34).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Religious Ecstasy:

0925Broncos29-Bengals17

Short Takes:

From NY Times: The pitched battle over President Obama’s signature climate change policy, which is moving to the courts this week, carries considerable political, economic and historical stakes. Yet its legal fate, widely expected to be ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, could rest on a clerical error in an obscure provision of a 26-year-old law.

That error, which left conflicting amendments on power plant regulation in the Clean Air Act, will be a major focus of oral arguments by opponents of Mr. Obama’s initiative when the case is heard on Tuesday in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The initiative, known as the Clean Power Plan, which Mr. Obama sees as at the heart of his climate change legacy, gave the United States critical leverage to broker the landmark 2015 Paris climate change accord. If the plan is struck down, the United States, the world’s largest carbon polluter over the centuries, will lose its main tool to cut greenhouse gas emissions. If it is upheld, it will transform the nation’s electricity system, closing hundreds of coal-fired power plants and setting in motion a wholesale shift to wind, solar and nuclear power, as well as to improved electric transmission systems.

As things stand now, the Supreme Court will probably vote 4-4, meaning that whatever decision the last Appeals Court will have made will stand. This should demonstrate just how critical it is for Democrats to hold the Presidency and take the Senate.

From Think Progress:

Hours after the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times published separate stories outlining the lies Donald Trump has told during his presidential campaign, Trump’s campaign spokesperson told ABC’s “This Week” that it isn’t the media’s job to factcheck the presidential debate.

“I really don’t appreciate the campaigns thinking it is the job of the media to go and be these virtual fact-checkers,” Kellyanne Conway said, in an apparent attempted jab at the Clinton campaign. She also opposed debate moderators questioning the candidates’ truthfulness in any way…
…Conway went on to praise Matt Lauer’s performance during a candidate forum earlier this month, during which he pressed Clinton on several issues, but accepted Trump’s (false) claim that he opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning.

“We thought he did a great job,” Conway said.

No surprises there.

From Robert Reich: Last week, Congress engaged in a bipartisan barrage of CEO bashing…

…Such shaming before congressional committees tends to reassure the public Congress is taking action. But – especially with Republicans in charge – Congress is doing nothing to prevent the wrongdoing from recurring.

Can we be clear? CEOs have only one goal in mind – making money. If they can make more money by misleading or price gouging, they’ll continue to do so until it’s no longer as profitable…

…So instead of setting up further rounds of CEO perp walks for the TV cameras, Congress should give the Justice Department and regulatory agencies enough funding to do their jobs.

While they’re at it, break up the biggest banks. And regulate drug prices directly, as does every other country.

It’s easy to holler at CEOs. It’s time for to stop hollering and take action.

The Reich on the left, Robert Reich, is right. The problem is that the Reich on the Right, the Republican Reich, is still deplorable. They will block reform as long as they have the power to do so.

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Sep 212016
 

I’m starting late again, but today it’s intentional.  I napped this morning, because I sleep best when it’s chilly, and because I have to stay up all afternoon.  It’s a grocery delivery day, and I have to stow them.  Later Wendy is coming to ruffle and rinse the stinky TomCat.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:18 (average 6:17).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Staff Notice:

Both AlterNet and Crooks and Liars have returned to insisting blogs embed their entire article using their embed widget, that includes their advertising, or pay even for a short excerpt, so we may no longer use Creative Commons Attribution.  Either use their free method or paraphrase with a link back.

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: If Chris Christie faces prosecution for an alleged role in the so-called Bridgegate scandal, his endorsement of Donald Trump could play a crucial role in an insanity defense, legal experts believe.

Harland Dorrinson, a defense attorney who has represented many politicians in high-profile criminal cases, believes that Christie’s endorsement of Trump earlier this year could persuade a jury that the New Jersey Governor is “completely incapable of rational thought.”

“An insanity defense is always a long shot, because the bar for insanity is set very high,” Dorrinson said. “Having said that, I believe that Christie’s endorsement of Trump easily meets that standard.”

If Christie is prosecuted, his defense team is likely to show the jury footage of Trump routinely humiliating the New Jersey Governor on the campaign trail. “It will become abundantly clear that Christie endorsed Trump and received absolutely no conceivable benefit for doing so,” Dorrinson said. “Legally speaking, the only word for that is insane.”

Andy has returned to reporting again, but how about an InsaniTEA defense?

From NY Times: The Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon G. Adelson and his wife are giving more than $40 million to groups backing Republican congressional candidates, according to campaign filings and interviews with Republican strategists, disregarding repeated entreaties for support from allies of Donald J. Trump and dealing a major setback to Mr. Trump’s efforts to rally the deepest-pocketed Republican givers.

The contributions will again make Mr. Adelson and his family among the largest known donors in American politics, after several years in which they played a more subdued role in national Republican fund-raising. But Mr. Adelson’s decision to deploy his wealth down ballot, less than two months before Election Day, also reflects the reluctance of most of the biggest Republican donors to invest in their party’s standard-bearer.

Adelson’s biggest hot buttons are more welfare for the super-rich, and unqualified support for and unlimited spending on Butcher Bibi’s criminal one-state solution in Palestine. We can’t compete with his money, but we must do all we can to defeat Republicans in down-ballot races.

From TPM: Despite Donald Trump’s admission that President Obama was born in the United States, Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, on Tuesday pledged to continue pushing birtherism.

“I don’t care where he’s from,” Arpaio said while speaking to the Surprise Tea Party, according to the Arizona Republic. “We are looking at a forged document. Period.”

I’m so glad I left Phoenix in 1979!

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Aug 262016
 
nwed

Actually, I'll mention two days you probably didn't know about – with a tip of the hat to Lona the Napster.

First – August 26 was designated by Congress as Women's Equality Day by Congress in 1971 at the behest of Bella Abzug (remember her?)  The date was chosen because it was the day in 1920 that Congress certified the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote (and incidentally to hold public office).

Second – August 26 is also National Dog Day.  National Dog Day was founded in 2004 by Animal Advocate Colleen Paige, who chose August 26 because it was the date that her family adopted her first dog "Sheltie" when she was ten.  Colleen is also the founder of National Puppy Day, National Mutt Day, National Cat Day, and other national days to bring attention to, and encourage adoption of, animals.  I hadn't planned to include this, but when I learned that more Americans are aware of National Dog Day than are aware of Women's Equality Day,  I thought I had better mention it, before someone else did, and get it out of the way.

Back to Women's Equality Day, which is what the column is really about, it was, as I said, created in 1971, by a joint resolution of Congress:

Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971
Designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex; and

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the certification of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and

WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as Women’s Equality Day, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.

The responsibility for keeping it going seems to have (appropriately) fallen to/been adopted by the National Women's History Project, a non-profit educational organization, which, among other achievements, got March designated as National Women's History month.  They produce and provide resources for educators, speakers for groups, guides for historic site tours, and – well, you name it.  They offer an on-line trifold brochure in color about the Day and detailed instructions on how to print it.

Mrs. Abzug spearheaded the Day as a celebration of women getting the right to vote, but it has become more general in focus, and, while you may notice the brochure has a voting quiz, they also pick a different theme each year to highlight, connected to women's history in general rather than just voting.  This year the theme is "Working To Form A More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Servide and Government."  A very appropriate theme for 2016.  Last year, Time magazine developed and published the graphic on the right for National Women's Day, which is, alas, still pretty accurate.

But I also want to mention two other organizations who work every day to make it easier for women to vote.

We probably know each major party has a GOTV effort in place this very important year.  But the American Association of University Women, along with their other projects, is providing non-partisan GOTV skill training free through webinars, specifically aimed at registering women in the milliennial generation, through their "It's My Vote: I Will Be Heard" initiative.  This program also includes providing voter guides, and goes beyond that to training participants how to create their own voter guides if none are available which are specific to their area.  Yes, they have "University" in their name, but they are far from an elitist group.  They are envisioning holding these drives on campuses, but that's because they are timing this set of webinars with back-to-school.  I can't imagine them being upset if someone wanted to hold a drive in, say, a mall, nor if someone signed up a male or two while registering women.

Then of course, probably the grandmamma of all organizations which pair women and votes – it was founded, by Carrie Chapman Catt, six months before the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified – is the League of Women Voters.

The League began as a "mighty political experiment" designed to help 20 million women carry out their new responsibilities as voters. It encouraged them to use their new power to participate in shaping public policy. From the beginning, the League has been an activist, grassroots organization whose leaders believed that citizens should play a critical role in advocacy. It was then, and is now, a nonpartisan organization. League founders believed that maintaining a nonpartisan stance would protect the fledgling organization from becoming mired in the party politics of the day. However, League members were encouraged to be political themselves, by educating citizens about, and lobbying for, government and social reform legislation.

To this day the League concentrates on educating voters on issues rather than on candidates.  It is committed to being grassroots and non-partisan.  And it does register voters.  Last spring, League volunteers registered nearly 15,000 high school and community college students throough 350 registration drives.  They are looking to repeat or expand on this on National Voter Registration Day, which will be Tuesday, September 27.

However, the league does not stop at educating and registering.  It does get involved in fighting on issues.  Money in politics and defending the environment are the biggest, but there are some others as well.  You might be surprised how many others.  Click thrugh to the site and scroll down for a look.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4007182

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Win a Progressive Senate

 Posted by at 1:22 pm  Politics
Aug 072016
 

The left is split between a majority that makes defeating Trump their priority, and a small, but vocal minority that makes defeating Clinton their priority, in the mistaken belief that a third party candidate can win.  Although I am a pragmatist, rather than an idealist, I agree with my more idealistic friends on almost every issue.  Here’s an excerpt from an editorial that points out an area where we can work together.

0807LizJeff

…The frightening, violent bigotry Trump has conjured could swallow a lot of people before it consumes itself. Even if he loses, angry Trumpistas would still roam freely, with access to automatic weapons and heavy machinery.

I’m more excited about protesting President Clinton La Segunda than being governed by her. Under George W. Bush, were there any national progressive policy victories? The mass movements of the Bush years sought to stop bad things like the Iraq War and the Sensenbrenner immigration bill. Mass movements of the Barack Obama years — Occupy, Black Lives Matter, climate change, dreamers — had the luxury to advocate systemic change and did indeed win some policy. That’s not lesser, it’s not evil at all.

First-term Obama and Clinton El Primero enthusiastically marginalized progressives. They wanted to be pushed to the right but not the left. Progressives fell for it and demobilized. Let’s not do that this time.

I’m not loyal to Democrats, but I’d be a lot more impressed by the Green Party if they had anything at all to show for the last 16 years — the last time we had the exact same conversation.

Berners who want to keep pushing Bernie Sanders’ agenda can focus on down-ticket races, especially the Senate. The Senate has the sole power to confirm appointments and approve treaties. This would be enough to, for example, stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership, ratify a major climate change treaty, showcase progressive policies in cabinet confirmation hearings and confirm judges. Sanders Democrats and progressive independents could successfully elect and hold senators to these goals, if we got our act together, which we probably won’t.

The Democrats need to net at least four extra seats to flip the Senate, which is more attainable than 30 seats to win Congress. Republicans have 24 Senate seats up, and Democrats only 10. States with competitive Senate races are also swing states for the presidential races, so using Trump to drag Republican senators down is a twofer.

The closest Senate races are in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The only current Democratic seat that looks vulnerable is the race to replace the retiring boringest [sic] Senator from Nevada: Harry Reid. On the upside, there’s the chance to topple John McCain and Marco Rubio, which would be so fun. Five of the Democratic candidates invited Bernie to campaign with them because they, for example, share his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership… [emphasis added]

From <San Francisco Chronicle>

Every election, I find myself repeating myself.  We need to be building the movement the day after the election, but it seems that every year, most progressives return to working on favorite issues and expend no effort on movement building.  Can you imagine where we might be, if Bernie had started to organize in May of 2013 instead of May of 2015? 

For now, the next President will be Clinton or Trump.  That won’t change.  But at least we can agree to elect as  many down ballot progressives as we can, and when we are better organized, the White House will not be out of reach.

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Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 9:24 am  Politics
Jul 302016
 
furies

I have two items today which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

I was afraid I wouldn't have a primary link for this section, because I worked from an email.  But, bless them, Roots Action has links to many months of emails on their site, so I do.  The subject line of this email was "Irony-free zone: Congress 'appreciates' whistleblowers."

It seems the U. S. Senate has approved a resolution to designate July 30, 2016, as "Whistleblower Appreciation Day."  July 30 – hey, wait!  That's today!  Well, come on, let's appreciate us some whistleblowers!

Unfortunately, Jeffrey Sterling is not available; he is still in a Federal Prison.  But Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou are out now, so let's appreciate them.  Did you know John was the only CIA agent to go to prison over the CIA's torture program?  Fact.  Because he didn't take part in it.  He blew the whistle on it.  Two years in prison.  I don't know as much about Tom's story, except that his revelations were about mass surveillance; I just know his personal finances also were wrecked through vindictive prosecutions.  Now here are some quotes from John and some from Tom:

Senator Chuck Grassley said … "These brave citizens should not be penalized, they should be praised."  Somebody should tell the Justice Department.  Legitimate whistleblowers are charged under the Espionage Act, a draconian law meant to punish traitors and spies, not truth tellers…. The goal is not just to punish. It’s to ruin, professionally, personally, and financially.  Still we went into this with our eyes open. It might sound crazy, but we would blow the whistle again. We don't need the Senate's "appreciation." What we need is for the Justice Department to respect the laws already on the books, to support whistleblowers exposing waste, fraud, abuse, and illegality.  Over to you, Tom.

Congress has yet to invite John or myself in front of Congress to testify before any committee regarding our whistleblowing on torture and mass surveillance, respectively. We both came forward at great risk and to this day are the only two people* who have paid a very high price for exposing government wrongdoing and criminal conduct regarding these two state-sponsored programs….  We upheld our oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic (including our own government), faithfully serving our country in the line of duty at the CIA and the NSA — even when our agencies didn’t and wouldn’t.

(*He must have said this before Jeffrey went to prison, because they both took part in a demonstration with Jeffrey's wife Holly to ask for Jeffrey's pardon.)

Here's a link to the group which pushes for this appreciation day – on a year-by-year basis, knowing, I am sure, what an irony it is, but hoping to eventually come to a time and place where it can mean something.  Maybe you ladies can put on your Eumenides hats and try to attain some justice for John, Tom, Jeffrey, and all the others.

But here is a situation where you can simply go after some killers.  You may (or may not) have been reading about deaths in hospitals resulting from the use of tainted medical scopes (specifically endoscopes).  Well.  Those scopes all came from a device manufacturer called Olympus Corp., based in Japan.

In 2012, two dozen infections linked to the use of these scopes were reported in hospitals in France and The Netherlands.  As early as June 2012, an investigator hired by a Netherlands hospital and Olympus concluded that the scope's design could allow blood and tissue to become trapped in it and spread bacteria across patients.  The recommendation was to conduct a world wide investigation and if a similar problem turned up to recall all the scopes.  Seven months later, when the company alerted its European customers to potential problems, they knew about at least three outbreaks, affecting an estimated 46 patients.  The third one was in Pittsburgh, PA.  But the company issued no alerts in the United States.

Since the internet never forgets, we know that this email exchange occurred:

Should [we] also be communicating to our users the information that [Olympus Europe] is communicating to their European users?” Laura Storms, vice president of regulatory and clinical affairs in Center Valley, Pa., asked in an email to Tokyo headquarters on Jan. 31, 2013.

No, that’s not necessary, said Susumu Nishina, the company’s chief manager for market quality administration in Tokyo in a Feb. 6, 2013, reply.

It is “not need[ed] to communicate to all the users actively,” Nishina wrote, because a company assessment of the risk to patients found it to be “acceptable.”  However, he added that Storms should respond to questions from a customer.

I'm not sure what "risk is acceptable" to Nishina.  Patients and familes in the US would appear not to find the risk acceptable, judging from the crop of lawsuits which have spring up.  As well as the Federal prosecutors who are investigating.  Over the three years – 2013 to 2016 – there have been outbreaks of infection in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and Denver, just to name a few.  35 people have died from these infections.  Others have remained hospitlized for up to a year trying to get over them. 

The Times has a link to all the emails.  Sorry, I haven't read them all.  Just from what is in the article, it appears to me that Storms tried (maybe not for the right reasons, but she tried), but that Nishina is a murderer.  Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone, you are good at sorting these things out, and I am sure you will manage.  Way back in the day, I mentioned Fudō Myōō, who is described as an ancient Japanese sword-brandishing angry wisdom king.  Perhaps he would be upset with these actions too.  There are also creatures, such as tengu (wise bird-like demons – you may have heard of them in D&D or Guild Wars, but they are originally from very, very, very old Japan), he could send as reinforcements.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross-posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4001959

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Jun 172016
 

It’s almost time for me to leave for my blood test.  There probably won’t be time to post this before I return this afternoon.

I’m back.  I’m done.  I’m so tired I hear Lona calling from my pillow,.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:02 (average 5:11).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Media Matters: Fox’s Geraldo Rivera Shames Orlando Victims For Not Fighting Back

Barf Bag Alert!!

 

Isn’t it just like the Republican Reichsministry of Propaganda, Faux Noise, to blame the victims?

From Daily Kos: Though the outcomes of the legislative votes are far from sure, the filibuster begun by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy has succeeded in bringing Republicans to the table for a pair of votes.

Senate Democrats ended a nearly 15-hour filibuster early Thursday after Republican Party leaders reportedly agreed to allow votes on two proposed gun control measures.

The votes will supposedly include a proposal to provide universal background checks, and another to prevent those on the no-fly list from obtaining weapons. The second bill apparently addresses the no-fly list, not the much larger terrorist watch list. These are both positions that have wide, bipartisan support in the public, but which Republicans have either blocked from a vote or voted down in the past.

As wonderful as this sounds, Senate Republicans caved in, while secure in the knowledge that House Republicans will never allow either bill to come to the floor.

From NY Times: A member of Parliament was gunned down outside a library in northern England as she was wrapping up a meeting with constituents on Thursday afternoon, a rare act of gun violence in a nation that strictly regulates firearms.

The lawmaker, Jo Cox, 41, who was considered a rising star in the opposition Labour Party and a passionate advocate for victims of the civil war in Syria, was shot in Birstall, a town about six miles southwest of the city of Leeds. A 77-year-old man was slightly injured in the attack.

A 52-year-old man was arrested in Ms. Cox’s killing, and the police said they were not looking for any other suspects. No motive has been established, officials said.

The suspect was identified in the British news media as Thomas Mair.

On Thursday night, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported on its website that Mr. Mair was a “dedicated supporter” of the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi organization in the United States. The center, which tracks hate groups, said Mr. Mair bought a manual from the alliance in 1999 that included instructions on how to build a pistol. It based its reporting on invoices it said it had obtained, copies of which were published on its website…

Please offer Prayers and condolences to the family and loved ones of Jo Cox, who may well be the first UK victim of terrorism by a Republican-supporting fascist.

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