Dec 232015

The eyes are good today and no longer subject to the drops used in the eye exam, so I am good for another year!  It has rained most of the day, and it is particularly hard right now . . . I can hear it on the roof.  I sure hope Santa has swim trunks because he is likely to need them!  My post may be very brief tomorrow as I have Christmas dinner with friends and I am incharge of the roast yams in honey.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:02 (average 5:25). To do it, click here. How did you do?

Short Takes

Huffington Post — When government officials came to collect children from Jean Marie River for residential school, residents of the remote village in the Northwest Territories said they'd keep their kids at home, thanks very much. 

In what may have been unique among Canadian First Nations, they decided to build their own school. And now, as Canadians grapple with the legacy of residential schools, Jean Marie River is trying to commemorate the fact it doesn't have to.  

Shingle Point Residential School & Home For Boys, Mackenzie District, N.W.T. in 1930

The Alert Bay Mission School in British Columbia in 1885

The school only taught the first six grades, but that was enough to ground kids before they went to Fort Simpson.

"It gave us a good, solid base as compared to people that went to residential schools that didn't have a nurturing mother, that didn't have a model of how to become a caring mother," Gladys Norwegian said.

"I think it helped me to become comfortable with who I am. I didn't really need to explain to anybody what being an aboriginal person means. I was comfortable in my skin."

For the people of Jean Marie River, saying no to the residential school system made for a stronger community, confident and proud.  I will make no apologies for strongly disliking former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative harlots.  Only with a new government lead by Justin Trudeau has there been a commitment to Canadian Aboriginal peoples, a commitment to work in partnership and respect.  Here is Trudeau's commitment, a renewal of the relationship between the government and Aboriginal peoples.  

Politico — But there is a far bigger problem with Cruz: Donald Trump is not the most self-absorbed Republican running for president—Cruz is. Whether you like Trump or not (and I don’t), at least Trump makes no effort to hide his narcissism. In that sense, Trump is oddly genuine.

Cruz, on the other hand, takes great pains to be whatever he thinks you want him to be. And the troubling thing is he’s really good at it.

I sure am glad that this Republican is all yours!  And if this conservative's view is not completely convincing of Cruz's narcissism, have a look at a Cruz campaign rally that turned into a prayer revival.

Global News — An Idaho lunch lady has been fired after she gave a hungry student a free meal.

Dalene Bowden, a former server at Irving Middle School in Pocatello, Idaho, was terminated from her position on Dec. 15 for “theft” when she gave a 12-year-old student free lunch because the young girl couldn’t afford the meal.

“I handed her the food and said ‘here we’ll take care of it in a minute,’” told Bowden to KPVI News.

How Republican of the school district and the supervisor.

Politico — As Iran prepares to announce it has dismantled its nuclear program and thus should have its sanctions lifted on what will be known as “Implementation Day,” probably in January, sniping is growing on all sides. Opponents of the nuclear deal in Congress are urging President Barack Obama not to go easy on Iran for its recent ballistic missile tests and other non-nuclear activities just to try to save the agreement. Iranian officials, meanwhile, are pointing to recent changes in U.S. visa laws as a potential violation of the deal, saying the new rules will damage Iran's economy by penalizing legitimate business travelers and innocent Iranian dual nationals.

If Implementation Day comes and goes without a problem, it will bolster Obama's theory that diplomacy is worth trying even with a longstanding U.S. nemesis. If it is delayed significantly or scuttled completely, it will damage a major piece of the president's foreign policy legacy.  

As part of the nuclear deal, the U.S. committed to refrain from policies that are “specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran.” But Iranian officials view the new visa laws as damaging to their economy because they could scare off investors. Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif has called the new restrictions "absurd." Some European officials also have warned that the changes could violate the nuclear deal.  

But Iranian leaders haven't been mollified. Some suggested Monday that lobbying by Israel — a staunch foe of Iran and the nuclear deal — prompted the new visa rules. Many Iranians aren't buying that their country isn't being singled out, asking why Congress targeted Iran but not Saudi Arabia or Pakistan in a law ostensibly aimed at stopping terrorism.

It would seem that the Republican dominated Congress is just itching to go to war with Iran.  Personally, I think Iran has a point about the US targetting Iran.  The halls of power are too often filled with political intrigue to which we are never made privy.

My Universe

cat-5“I like to refer to it as aging gracefully, but whatever.”


"Did you just fart?"

Via Giphy

“You’re getting sleepy. Very sleepy….”

Nov 212015

This is a story of two very different veterans, both of whom have something to contribute to the discussion about who gets in, and who stays in, the US.  Both served in combat. Both served in Iraq. One is a USMC Reservist who has twice in eight years of service been called to active duty for "surges." The other is a 21-year career Army soldier.

Let's start with the latter – Republican Representative Steve Russell of Oklahoma's Fifth Congressional District.  Our friend Vivian B, according to her Care2 profile, lives in this District, and is to be congratulated for having a Representative who, though far from perfect, as we shall see, has demonstrated some ability to think rationally and even compassionately.

Last Wednesday, on the floor of the House, Rep. Russell gave a passionate floor speeech decrying xenophobia, for all the right reasons.  I cannot do better than to re-quote parts of that speech to give you the flavor of it.

"“While I have tried to focus my comments on actions that we should take to eliminate ISIS, one action we should not take is to become like them. America is a lamp that lights the horizon of civilized and free mankind,” he said on the House floor.

"“The Statue of Liberty cannot have a stiff arm. Her arm must continue to keep the torch burning brightly,” Russell continued. “If we use our passions, anger, and fear to snuff out her flame by xenophobic and knee-jerk policy, the enemy wins. We have played into their hands, period.”

He then presented quotes from Congress on a similar bill to the SAFE Act:

I want you to listen carefully to these statements by Members of Congress in response to a refugee bill–not an illegal immigration bill or permanent residents, but refugees, a refugee bill. Listen to these comments by Members of Congress about people fleeing for their lives.

Fighting immigration is ‘the best vote-getting argument . . . The politician can beat his breast and proclaim his loyalty to America.’

‘He can tell the unemployed man that he is out of work because some alien has a job.’

'Congress must ‘protect the youth of America from this foreign invasion.’

‘American children have first claim to America’s charity.’

He then revealed that all these quotes were from 1939.  "While it was true that Germany was, indeed, a threat, the refugees were not. They were 20,000 children."

With regard to American principles:

We must not become them. They win if we give up who we are, and even more so, without a fight.

We guard our way of life by vigilance. We must be watchful. We have to have each others’ back and be alert to dangers around us. We must speak up when we see something unusual. By maintaining who we are amidst the threat, amidst the hatred, amidst the trials, we win.

I particularly liked his remark – bold indeed, I think  – about "the critic sitting on the couch in his underwear eating his bag of cheese puffs … pecking out hatred and vitriol on some social media."

You can read the whole speech.  It is marred by Obama-baiting and mis-attribution of the causes of Daesh's gains.  It is even more marred by the fact that after all this, he voted with his party anyway.  But there is some good stuff.

The second veteran, Ivano Rodriguez, was brought to the United States, specifically to Virginia, from Ecuador when he was a very young child.  He is not undocumented: he has a green card.

Upon graduating from high school, he signed up with the USMCR.  He served in Iraq.  He also served in Afghanistan.  While in Afghanistan, "his platoon was deployed to a Taliban-heavy village near the Pakistan border, where three of Rodriguez’s buddies were killed, and three others seriously wounded, in a suicide bombing. Several others, including Rodriguez, were casualties of a different kind: While sound of wind and limb, they suffered serious and lasting psychological trauma of the kind that fuels the horrifying suicide rate among combat veterans."

The VA prescribes (pushes) antidepressants, dream suppressors, pain pills for PTSD symptoms.  These have side effects.  Large numbers of veterans commit suicide as a result of these side effects.  Unreliable reporting of who is and is not a veteran make it nearly impossible to determine exactly how many, but enough not to be dismissed. 

While attending the Art Institute of Washington (that's State, not DC), he learned of medical marijuana for PTSD.  Medical marijuana is of course legal there, and his use of it is by prescription (even though the VA will not cover it).  The problem is, as a green card holder, he is still considered to be under the jurisdiction of Virginia, and it's not legal there.  And, under a 1996 law (ADEPTA) which was a reaction in part to the Oklahoma City bonbing in 1995, foreigh nationals, even with green cards, can be deported for "aggravated felonies" or crimes of "moral turpitude."  And both of those terms are vague enough that they can almost be anything the feds want them to be.

Mr Rodriguez didn't join the military as a means to citizenship, as many others have, though that seems to me a little like, as Mitch D implied in his "On The Edge" comment for 11/19, undergoing a near death experience and major surgeries as a means to meeting cute babes.  But I digress.  Mr. Rodriguez joined the military because he was young and wanted adventure.  But having served myself, not even in combat, my feeling is than any non citizen who serves in the US military is automatically entitled to citizenship, and we should by God give it to him.

His applications for naturalization have, however, been repeatedly rebuffed on the grounds of "bad moral character."  Oddly, the feds have previously cited only his juvenile offense record – which was certainly not a bar to him serving in the Marines.  And the Marine Corps is fairly picky.

His most recent brush with immigration autorities was in 2014 when he was returning from a trip to visit family in Ecuador.  A Customs official flagged him for misdemeanors for possessing marijuana and "drug paraphernalia" and initiated deportation proceedings on the grounds that any narcotics offense involved "moral turpitude."  (Funny, I always thought "moral turpitude" meant a pedophile at least.)  Apparently someone in the process had some intelligence, because at his hearing the presiding judge dismissed the complaint "without prejudice."  (The article I cite says "with prejudice," but the I listened to the linked radio interview, and what I heard was "without.")

Having survived this hearing, however, does not mean he is safe.  While he remains a non-citizen, Rodriguez lives with the possibility that the government he served may seek again to banish him as punishment for using an effective but unauthorized treatment to address the lasting trauma he experiences as a result of that service. Because of the federal government’s irrational commitment to pot prohibition, Ivano Rodriguez could still be forced to choose between death and exile.

This might be a good time and place for me to mention a petition sponsored by VoteVets in support of refugees.  It too has a very personal story attached (kleenex alert).

Nov 182015

I don’t know why Republicans are so in love with enforcing climate change.  Ok, actually, I do.  Republicans love the huge bundles of secret cash that they get from corporate criminals, who think nothing of destroying our earth en exchange for more dirty profit.

1118EEPAegsThe Senate voted on Tuesday to block President Obama’s tough new climate change regulations, hoping to undermine his negotiating authority before a major international climate summit meeting in Paris this month.

The Senate resolution, which passed 52 to 46, would scuttle a rule that would significantly cut heat-trapping carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. That Environmental Protection Agency rule, released in August, is the centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s efforts to address climate change. A second resolution, which also passed 52 to 46, would strike a related E.P.A. rule intended to freeze construction of future coal-fired power plants.

Three Democrats from states in which coal plays a major role in the economy, Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, broke party ranks to vote in favor of the resolutions.

But three moderate Republicans, two up for re-election next year, Senators Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, as well as Senator Susan Collins of Maine, broke from their party to vote against the resolutions and back the environmental regulations.

If the resolutions reach the president’s desk, Mr. Obama has promised a veto… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

I think the author has it right when he says Republicans want to undermine Obama’s negotiating authority.  To intentionally sabotage the ability of President Obama to conduct foreign policy is criminal sedition.

Nov 132015

I’m having a lousy morning.  I was lest sitting in a chair, without access to my computer, for over 90 minutes.  I need to trim my fingernails.  A “one size fits all” CNI refused to give me my fingernail clippers for fear that I might cut myself.  I’ve been cutting my own nails for over 60 years, and I have never cut myself yet.  ARGH!!  Continuing later, an Occupational therapy nurse came, gave me my nail clippers, and taught me how to move from the wheelchair to a real flush toilet.  I got to Republicate without using a bed pan!  Woo Hoo!!

Short Takes:

From You Tube (H/T Judi Angel aka JL A):


Every once in a while someone from the Religious Right does something truly funny.  Although I disagree with virtually all his Republican Supply-side pseudo- Christian political policies, I do appreciate his talent and humor.

From Daily Kos: When I read that the latest persecution of the rightwing Christian involved Starbucks changing their cups to red for the holiday season, I thought that the War on Christmas had officially hit rock bottom.

The MSM jumped all over the story about a video from a “pastor” saying the red cups Starbucks is using for the holiday season aren’t Christmas enough and that Starbucks literally “hates Jesus“. Video goes viral and rightwing is outraged.  This whole thing is beyond stupid, even for them…

…It wasn’t until I finally read one of the articles that I came across the name of the man who spawned this latest freak-out:  Joshua Feuerstein.  In none of the countless articles does the  MSM bother to discuss who this clown is.   So allow me:

Joshua Feuerstein is a self-described evangelist and “social-media personality”.  I recognized his name because he is the same asshat who harassed one of my local bakeries (and illegally recorded the phone call) because they refused to fill a fake order for an anti-gay cake.  His followers bombarded their Facebook site with Ben Carson-like yarns of their supposed “bad experiences” with the bakery.  Astoundingly, all of these reviews happened immediately after the date Joshua posted his hate-filled video.  The bakery had to temporarily close in response to the harassment, which included death threats. 

Click through for more about this purveyor of TEAbuggery and the media complicity that enables him to spread it.

From NY Times: Efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have become snarled in the complex rules of the Senate, raising questions about whether the Republican-controlled Congress can fulfill its pledge to send a repeal measure to President Obama.

Repealing the law, passed five and a half years ago, is a goal cherished by Republican politicians, including those running for president, and by elements of the party’s base. Mr. Obama has repeatedly vowed to use his veto power if necessary to preserve the health care law, the biggest change in domestic social policy in a generation.

The House on Oct. 23 adopted a budget-reconciliation package that would repeal core elements of the Affordable Care Act. The bill would eliminate the requirement that Americans have health insurance, and that larger employers offer coverage to full-time employees. It would also repeal taxes on medical devices and high-cost employer-sponsored insurance.

In the Senate, Republicans are determined to dismantle or defund the law using a fast-track procedure that requires a simple majority vote, rather than the 60 votes needed for most hotly contested measures.

But the Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, ruled this week that some provisions of the House-passed bill were not eligible for expedited procedures, aides to Senate leaders of both parties said Thursday. Democrats said the ruling meant that Republicans would need a supermajority of 60 votes, which they do not have, to repeal the individual and employer mandates.

This is why that keeping the Senate in 2016 is an absolute imperative.



Those Justices of SCOTUS sure were better than the fascist five Injustices of SCROTUS!

Nov 112015

It’s been a busy day, pushing myself to learn new physical skills, while choking back the pain that accompanies the effort,  and doing the prep work for three articles.

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: House Speaker Paul Ryan managed to get a long-term transportation funding bill out of the House last week. While that first long-term funding bill in a decade was a pretty significant accomplishment, his conference is warning that they won’t let him do anything else without a fight. That fight: Noxious policy riders attached to spending bills that have to pass by December 11 to avert a government shutdown.

Asked early in the week whether he would press so-called “policy riders” to the spending bill that would condition the money—perhaps to defund Planned Parenthood or rein in the EPA—Ryan suggested he wouldn’t back down from the fight, noting Congress is the institution that holds the power of the purse and “we fully expect that we are going to exercise that power.”

Because the spending fight is a tough line to walk due to the warring factions inside the GOP conference demanding different things, Ryan put together an advisory group of key leaders representing the different ideological viewpoints. Representatives of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of roughly 40 members on the right who were Boehner’s toughest critics, will join members of the moderate Tuesday Group, and the Republican Study Committee, another large group of conservatives for weekly sessions to discuss policy ideas. […]

“I’m not going to pre-determine the outcome of negotiations that have not even taken place yet,” Ryan said. He also pointed out that Congress was separately moving a budget process — known as “reconciliation”—that stripped federal money for the group, and that path was a better bet to get a bill to the President’s desk.

But as Ryan tries to avoid saying specifically what House Republicans will do on the spending bill, Senate Democrats are insisting that the appropriations bills all be lumped together in a massive omnibus measure. That means party leaders like Ryan will have to get personally involved to hash out a compromise behind the scenes and push it through both chambers. That tactic could infuriate the right of Ryan’s conference, but Democrats say it’s the only way to go.

At the moment, Ryan is trying to take a hands-off approach, leaving it up to the appropriations committee to do the negotiating with various factions. That’s not going to fly. And it’s not going to be enough for the Freedom Caucus, the group of maniacs that seems to claim the largest membership. “We think he is going to want input from members of the Freedom Caucus as well as input from everyone else in the conference,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, when asked about the budget fight. “That’s how it’s supposed to work, he’s committed to do that.” Jordan and his members are already pushing hard to include those noxious policy riders—that Senate Democrats will not allow to pass.

Lyin’ Ryan is learning that dealing with Republican wackydoodles, bent on committing TEAbuggery, is just as impossible for him as it was for his predecessor, who has been demoted. Agent Orange was the Soused Speaker. Now, he’s just a Limp Boehner.

From 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.

Andy should have added that many Americans can help search for Atlantis, from an underwater perspective, if Uncle Token wins the White House and implements his environmental policies.

From Upworthy:

You’ve probably never hung out on the moon.

But if you were to, that aerial view of Earth would surely get you thinking. It puts everything into perspective.

You’d probably be thinking: Huh, the Earth kind of looks like a little marble from here. Or, whoa, that little blue marble is home to everyone I’ve ever known — and everyone I haven’t.

When you take time to zoom out to see the bigger picture of the world, you realize that we all have one important thing in common: our home.

It’s that thinking that has some of the world’s most popular musicians coming together to sing about the home we all share and one major problem it’s facing: climate change.

If that doesn’t turn a few heads, nothing will!



Nov 032015

The surgery went very well.  They removed dead tissue from my stump and covered it with a skin graft, cut from my thigh.  That donor site is very painful.  Keeping me doped up makes it barely tolerable.  It also makes it difficult to write, because I’m so drowsy.  I watched football.  Vivian…  GRRRRR!!

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: I’m not going to link to the list, but a list of purported KKK members began circulating this morning, allegedly leaked by the activist group Anonymous, which they are now denying they had anything to do with it.

None of the names have been remotely close to verified as members of the racist group.

One of those named was Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, who regretfully took to her Facebook page to put an immediate and decisive stop to the rumor.

I recently posted that I was looking forward to seeing this list. My bad for being hoodwinked. The problem with Anonymous is their anonymity. Anyone can claim to be the group.

From The New Yorker: According to a format negotiated between the Republican National Committee and the television networks, future Presidential debates during the 2016 campaign will strictly forbid questions about things the candidates “said” or “did,” the R.N.C. confirmed on Monday.

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the R.N.C., said that the deal addressed the candidates’ concerns about the previously broadcast debates, which he called “abusively fact-based.”

“In some cases, moderators were asking candidates questions about statements they made two or three weeks earlier,” Priebus said. “This new format will eliminate that kind of ancient history.”

Andy knows that GOP would love to do that. However, only the Republican Reichsministry of Propaganda would goose step with the RNC on this scheme.

From Huffington Post: House Republicans are angling to slip two pieces of bank deregulation into a major highway funding bill that is expected to pass with broad bipartisan support.

According to a source familiar with discussions, Republicans are trying to remove tighter regulations that were imposed on banks with at least $50 billion in assets after the 2008 financial crisis. They also are aiming to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — a brainchild of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), which has worked to prevent big banks, payday lenders and other financial firms from ripping off households.

The GOP doesn’t need Democratic votes to pass the broader highway bill — it has a wide majority in the House. But while securing federal highway funding is a top Democratic priority, controversial riders like the bank deregulation items may prompt a veto from President Barack Obama that would be impossible to override without Democratic aid. The riders could also serve as a potential test of new House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his willingness to use major legislation to ram through conservative priorities.

Bankster deregulation is a poison pill far too bitter to swallow. We can’t stop it in the House, but be ready to call your Senators.



Oct 152015

Filling Boehner's shoes, or rather his shot glass, is going to be difficult because of the Gang of 40 hanging around the Republican Conference.


Republicans are desperate for a leader in the House and until Paul Ryan sacrifices his personal political ambitions for the good of an ungrateful party, they’ve desperately proposed some rather outrageous alternatives to lead their fractured caucus into an election year.

Here are five of the most ridiculous candidates to replace an outgoing John Boehner as speaker of the House floated by some Republicans:

Dick Cheney

Courtesy of Arkansas freshman Republican Senator Tom Cotton, comes the suggestion of Dick Cheney as the gavel-wielding leader of an unruly GOP House conference.

Calling him “a man of the House,” Cotton told Politico that at “these are trying times for our nation. It’s important to have a steady hand on the helm during times like this.”

I think experience really counts in a matter like this,” Cotton continued. I think House leadership experience really matters. And as you know the speaker doesn’t have to be a member of the House: So therefore, Vice President Cheney for speaker.”

A U.S. News and World Report op-ed argued, “no more Mr. Nice Guy for speaker of the House. It’s time to bring back Dick Cheney.”

“Instead of another man with a big, mushy heart, how about a man whose critics wonder whether he has a heart at all,” the author argued in favor of Cheney for speaker. “Someone who commands respect and fear, is brilliant and decisive, who has literally lived without a pulse and now makes due with a donated heart.”

“Let Lord Vader’s dark force make a dent in Washington’s leadership black hole,” she concluded.

This is just the first of the five outrageous clowns!  Read the list of clowns being floated for the Speaker's chair in Alternet !  Republicans never cease to amaze me.  Why would they consider, even in jest, a war criminal, albeit, yet to be convicted war criminal?

Oct 132015

On 02/10/2015, I did a piece called Under the Gun in which I didn't even scratch the surface of mass shootings, in the wake of the Umpqua Community College shooting.  I also looked at some of the reactions of Congress members. The reaction that resonated with me the most was the following noted in the Huffington Post :

Chris Murphy ✔@ChrisMurphyCT

This is on us. Silence from Congress has become quiet endorsement of those whose minds unhinge and veer toward mass violence.

12:49 PM – 1 Oct 2015

From Mother Jones

Without doubt, the gun rights lobby is a formidable force. It is backed by a truly grassroots network of committed and well-organized supporters who are willing to make calls to legislators and turn out in even low-turnout elections to back pro-gun candidates. This "intensity gap" bedevils gun control groups, which, however well some of their proposals poll, have trouble getting voters to agitate and to prioritize the gun issue the way gun rights defenders do.

Mr Obama recently said in response to the Umpqua tragedy that it is up to each individual to ensure their vote reflects their views on the seemingly continuous carnage of the deaths of innocent people, no matter the political stripe.

So what is the problem?  Are the tragedies of mass shootings too removed from reality for most . . . the 'I don't know anybody there' response?  Will it take many more deaths of innocent people including young children before the gun control groups muster their voices to "out yell" the NRA? Is paranoia rampant in American society?  Some respond that this is just how it is.  Its part of American culture.

On the same day as the Umpqua Community College shooting, there was another shooting in Inglis, Florida.  Four people were killed.  Read how townsfolk reacted . . . they went for their guns.

Alternet — It’s not hard to get your hands on illegal guns and rifles in America. It took me about two hours. I called a guy from the old neighborhood in LA, said something about a “piece”, and, hours later, I was staring at an AK-47 and an illegally modified AR-15, which were sitting on a kitchen table. Welcome to America.

Two hours later, two hours, the author is looking at assault rifles, military grade assault rifles.  Why are these weapons so easy to come by?  Why do some people feel the need for them?  In my mind, it is one thing to have a hand gun,quite another to have an assault rifle.

And the candidates for the Republican nomination for POTUS aren't shying away from the fray.

This report from Alternet shows Ben Carson's thoughts on the issue.

In the same interview, he suggested the president can just skip visiting the family members of the victims, because there’s always “the next one”.

He’s not wrong that it’s a regular event, but his wording certainly suggested that he doesn’t really think of it as a big deal. His next appearance on Fox, on Tuesday night, confirmed this impression. ““I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away,” …

I have not once heard any mention of taking away the right to own a gun, despite what Republicans and many of their fevered base proclaim.  What I have heard is talk from people who would like to see assault weapons and high capacity ammunition cartridges banned.  I have heard of having common sense gun control laws that protect the public and the gun enthusiast.  Read the rest of the article to see the comments from many of the other candidates. 

I think there should be gun control laws that provide for the following:

  • closing of the gun show loop hole;
  • rigorous background checks for all prospective purchasers;
  • mandatory training for all purchasers with some exemptions for military and police officers;
  • a license similar to a drivers' license which has a five year renewal clause; 
  • mandatory liability insurance much like car insurance; and
  • strict guidelines on storage of the gun so unauthorised people (children) cannot access them.

This won't solve the issue of gun deaths, but it would reduce them.





Oct 132015

Well today was turkey day!  I say "was" because I have already consumed a wonderfully moist turkey dinner with all the trimmings and a piece of pumpkin pie.  I am satiated!  I can still smell that turkey! So now to finish up with that smell firmly planted in my mind. 

Puzzle — Today’s took me 4:40 (average 5:51). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes

Upworthy — Kids try to tell us things all the time that they don't know how to describe.

They don't have the words to say it. Or they're embarrassed, or terrified, like the child in this video. (And while the stat at the end of the video is specifically about India, I've included a look at other countries and here at home below.)

It pays to be very aware of what is going on with kids.  Listen to what theysay, and don't say.

Alternet — Why is Ryan likely to take the bait and become the next speaker? As he wrote in 2012, grousing about compromise after compromise that he had to vote for, “Taken together, these experiences taught me valuable lessons about how the House and Senate operate, and I came away with an even deeper appreciation for the role of congressional leadership. Who holds the top post really matters because the decisions they make at the outset determine the votes that ever member has to take and how much good we can achieve for the country and our fellow citizens.”

What follows are six examples of the “good we can achieve” if Ryan becomes speaker.

Read the entire Alternet article to get a flavour of Ryan's “good we can achieve”.  I don't think that there will much of any good coming out Washington with a severely conservative Congress. November 2015 is the time to make some changes at the state and local levels.  2016 is the time to make big changes in the Congress for a more balanced Congress, a progressive Congress. 

Huffington Post — Iran's parliament passed a bill on Tuesday supporting a nuclear deal with world powers, signaling a victory for the government over conservative opponents of the agreement and clearing the way for it to be implemented.

Athena Image

Many lawmakers strongly opposed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that President Hassan Rouhani's government reached with world powers on July 14, and Tuesday's vote removes an obstacle to putting the agreement into practice.

The article goes on to state that if sanctions are not removed as per the agreement, Iran will resume its nuclear activities.  With saber rattling by Sunni Saudi Arabia towards Shite Iran and Russia, there is more chance of a bigger war in the Middle East.  All parties must stick to the deal.  Spend some time reading The Historic Deal that Will Prevent Iran from Acquiring a Nuclear Weapon .

My Universe — 


Aug 042015

To many, it appeared that Planned Parenthood was in danger of losing their federal funding, due to a Bill sponsored by Joni “Pig Nuts” Ernst (R-IA) and Rand “Idiot, Son of idiot, Named after Idiot” Paul (R-KY).  It seemed that hundreds of organizations churned out emails that Planned Parenthood was doomed, unless we made a contribution to the sender.  In actuality Planned Parenthood was not in any danger at all.


A Republican effort to strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding came up short in the Senate Monday, with a Democratic filibuster leaving the bill from Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) seven votes shy of the 60 needed for passage. But the failure of the measure, which aimed to take away more than $500 million in federal funding from the organization, is likely just a prelude to a fiercer debate to come.

Republican presidential candidates such as Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are threatening another government shutdown if federal money for the reproductive health and abortion service provider is not eliminated. Cruz told Politico that Ernst’s bill was nothing more than a "show vote," and that when it comes to the real fight, he is willing to do whatever it takes to defund Planned Parenthood.

The recent conservative attacks on Planned Parenthood follow the July 14 release of two heavily edited video clips in which Planned Parenthood officials appear to be negotiating the sale of aborted fetuses. The videos, part of a conservative campaign against Planned Parenthood, were produced by a little-known anti-abortion activist named David Daleiden, whose group, the Center for Medical Progress, is associated with the anti-abortion organization Live Action. The video was circulated by Groundswell, a conservative strategy group, which Mother Jones’ David Corn reported on back in 2013. Groundswell includes such players as Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and conservative journalists and commentators from outlets like Breitbart News, which broke the news of the first sting video…

Inserted from <Mother Jones>

If Republicans had been serious about passing this bill they would have tucked it into a must pass budget item originating in the House, forcing Democrats to obtain 60 votes to remove it.  Instead, they brought it to the floor knowing that Democrats would block cloture.  Only Donnelly (DINO-IN) and Manchin (DINO-WV) goose stepped with the Republican Reich,  May both suffer saguaro suppositories!  The final vote was 53 – 46.

The only Reason the Republicans did this is to have a dog and pony show that they could take home to display to their rabid base voters.  We can be sure they will try to keep this issue alive because they can use it as a distraction from the many subjects they wish to avoid on the campaign trail.  Nevertheless we need to know how to counter their lies.  The videos, on which they are basing this attack have been thoroughly debunked already.  Furthermore, several of the Republicans, who are screaming their outrage now, voted to fund research using fetal tissue in the past.

Finally, never forget that Republicans have their own comprehensive plan covering women’s rights:


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.


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.



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.