Oct 182017
 

It’s a busy day for me.  I’m waiting for Store to Door to deliver groceries, and will finish writing, after I put them away and have lunch.  Wendy is coming this evening to de-stink the sweaty TomCat.  Perhaps I should have warned her to bring a gas mask.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:04 (average 5:05).  To do it, click here. How did you do?

Jig Zone Puzzle:

From YouTube (GQ Channel): Donald Trump is F*cking Crazy

 

I have a small bone to pick with Keith… a VERY small bone. Keith needs to find another expletive to pair with ‘crazy’. ‘F*cking’ requires far more meat than Putin’s Piddle Pervert has. RESIST!!

From The New Yorker: Former President Barack Obama has started calling every person in America to offer consolation about Donald Trump being President, Obama has confirmed.

“It’s something I meant to do right after the Inauguration,” Obama said, during a brief break from the phone calls. “I feel terrible that I didn’t get to it sooner.”

The former President said that, although the phone calls are a small gesture, he felt that he had to do whatever he could to extend his sympathy about Trump being President.

“There’s a lot of pain out there that a phone call from me can never fix,” he said. “Still, I want people to know that I care.”

Thanks, Andy! It’s about time Obama got around to doing that! RESIST!!

From NY Times: Two leading senators, hoping to stabilize teetering health insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act, reached a bipartisan deal on Tuesday to fund critical subsidies to insurers that President Trump moved just days ago to cut off.

At the White House, virtually as the deal was being announced, Mr. Trump voiced support for it while insisting that he would try again to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health law.

The plan by the senators, Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, and Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, would fund the subsidies for two years, a step that would provide at least short-term certainty to insurers. The subsidies, known as cost-sharing reduction payments, reimburse insurance companies for lowering deductibles, co-payments and other out-of-pocket costs for low-income customers.

Without them, insurance companies said, premiums for many customers purchasing plans under the Affordable Care Act would shoot up, and with profits squeezed, some of the companies would probably leave the market.

“In my view, this agreement avoids chaos,” Mr. Alexander said, “and I don’t know a Democrat or a Republican who benefits from chaos.”

There are several things about this deal that I do not like, but I think I prefer it to the Republican plan to eliminate cost sharing reduction payments. I’ll reserve judgment, until I can count the beans in the can.  Getting it through the House might be impossible.  RESIST!!

Cartoon:

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And are they sad that we did, or what?

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Everyday Erinyes #96

 Posted by at 7:59 am  Politics
Oct 142017
 

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can’t include.  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.”

What a week.  Trump signs executive order to eliminate insurance rules, undermine marketplaces.  The United States withdraws from UNESCO, … citing anti-Israel bias.  And don’t even get me started on Puerto Rico.  The war on the planet just got so bad that my alternative energy company sent me an email about it – well, at least that wasn’t in itself bad news; they’re not going out of business.

It kind of makes me wonder how many people in 1930’s Germany did in fact speak out, but their voices were drowned by the juggernaut of Hitler’s regime.  In eighty years, will they know how we spoke out?  Those of us who weren’t able to attend protests in person?  And even those who were?  Or will the juggernaut of Trump’s regime hide that from view?  Now, that’s depressing.

 This is depressing too.  Did you know that among other Congressional perks, they had an on-site pharmacist?  It was news to me.  And he (of course it’s a he) has even worse news for us.

Mike Kim, the reserved pharmacist-turned-owner of the [Grubb’s] pharmacy, said he has gotten used to knowing the most sensitive details about some of the most famous people in Washington.

“At first it’s cool, and then you realize, I’m filling some drugs that are for some pretty serious health problems as well. And these are the people that are running the country,” Kim said, listing treatments for conditions like diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

“It makes you kind of sit back and say, ‘Wow, they’re making the highest laws of the land and they might not even remember what happened yesterday.'”

OK, it’s not quite true that the pharmacy is on-site.  What it does is deliver pretty fast to the Office of the Attending Physycian, which is on-site.  And is really, really secretive.  More so than HIPAA requires.  Which probably has something to do with the fact that the fees for members are relatively low – always a hot topic when health care is discussed.

The Office of the Attending Physician itself was formed in 1928, after three members of Congress died in their offices within months of one another – more than 50 years after Grubb’s first opened its doors.

But the pharmacy services at the Capitol may go back even further – a 1911 text on senatorial privileges describes an “assortment of drugs and viands, tonics and recuperatives” on hand and “readily accessible” for lawmakers. Back then, reportedly, senators took tablet after tablet and vial after vial of quinine, pepsin, and calomel, “endless supplies of cough drops,” and something described as “dandruff cure.”

I do realize that some drugs used to treat Alzkeimer’s are also used to treat conditions other than Alzheimer’s, so this pharmacist’s revelation that Alzheimer’s drugs have been filled does not necessarily out anyone in congress as having Alzheimer’s; he was just speculationg, and the fact that it certainly would explain a lot is just coincidence.  But it certainly would explain a lot, wouldn’t it?

Megaera, really the only way to make the costs and delivery of prescriptions fair is Single Payer Health Care – which just took another kick in the groin.  Good luck.

Now, this story, from Philadelphia, shows pretty well why I am essentially no longer asking police departments to fire murderers:  they just don’t stay fired.

Philadelphia police officer Cyrus Mann stood on a rain-slicked road, pointed his gun at a moving car and pulled the trigger five times, hitting the driver.

The next year, he chased an unarmed man down an alley and shot him in the back.

Two years later, he fired his gun four times at a man he had stopped for a suspected traffic violation.

Most officers will never fire their weapons while on duty. Mann, a nine-year member of the Philadelphia Police Department, shot three people in just over three years. The shooting in the alley, on Aug. 9, 2012, would prove fatal and prompt the police commissioner to try to fire Mann.

Like many police chiefs across the nation, he would fail.

The “Reader’s Digest version” of this is that the Union fought for Mann, it went to arbitration, and the arbitrator reinstated him.  Well, at least the arbitrator wasn’t racist.  I guess.

But many who are not reinstated to their own jobs still return to law enforcement after “geographic therapy.”  Police forces just do not have enough qualified candidates, or enough HR to weed out the others.  Unless charges are pressed, and successfully pressed, there is no certain way to keep a known murderer out of law enforcement permanently.  And that isn’t the call of the chief or the commissioner, but of the district (or whatever) attorney.  Who has to work with police on every case in order to get a conviction.  So how is that going to work out?

We desperately need law enforcement reform, and wherever we turn, we are hampered in getting it.  Tisiphone, would you look into this and see if you can come up with anything?

Now – I promised to try for follow-up information on cases referred to the Furies where there has been at least mild success.  On September ninth, I asked Alecto to look into the case of a rogue cop, and to help in making her findings widely public.  Well, she did.  She did that so well (making it public, at least) that Jim beat me to it, in a comment on Thursday’s Open Thread.

In view of the Washington Post story above, however, I’m not terribly impressed.  So Payne has been fired.  Well, that takes the heat off his (now former) department, which was going to come under FBI investigation – no more Payne, no more problem.  And also no guarantee Payne will not get hired elsewhere as a law enforcement officer.  He was also fired from his second job as an EMT – but I didn’t see anything about stripping him of his qualifications for that, so that also is likely not a closed door.

Don’t give up on this one yet, Alecto.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 HERE.

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Oct 012017
 

Welcome to October.  Wendy may be here before I finish writing.  It’s a holy day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb.  My Broncos will be televised.  May the blessed Orb shine its holy light on your team, unless they wear an eye-patch in California.  Tomorrow, please expect no more than a Personal Update, as I have an appointment with Christine for my cataract surgery four week follow up. 

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:28 (average 5:23).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From YouTube (SNL Channel): The Chaos President Cold Open

 

Dang! They act almost as Republican as the Republicans. RESIST!!

From Daily Kos: The widespread anger and outrage this week incited by Donald Trump’s comments on the NFL protests has once again shown how hypocritical and racist so many Americans are. Americans, Republicans in particular, are all for free speech but when black people exercise it, it sends some of them into a violent frenzy. It doesn’t matter who is doing the protesting, whether it’s black athletes or ordinary black citizens—they find any excuse to paint black protest as a danger to safety and democracy.

This is especially true if violence occurs at a protest. Recently, a police officer in Baton Rouge tried to sue Black Lives Matter for injuries he sustained during a protest against police brutality in July 2016. Along with suing DeRay Mckesson, an activist who attended the rally, the officer claimed that Black Lives Matter and Mckesson were responsible for inciting the violence that caused him harm. On Thursday, a federal judge ruled that the officer cannot sue Black Lives Matter and threw the case out.

If a crime was committed against the officer, and he was not injured in the process if committing police brutality, then he needs to sue the individual, who injured him. RESIST!!

From NY Times: Representative Nancy Pelosi might have retired from Congress had Hillary Clinton been elected, content that she was leaving the government in capable female hands.

“One of the reasons I stayed here is because I thought Hillary Clinton would win, we’d have a woman president and so there would be a woman not at a seat at the table, but at the head of the table for the world,” said Ms. Pelosi, the liberal Californian and longtime leader of House Democrats.

“We wanted to have a woman president,” she said in an interview for the New York Times podcast “The New Washington.” “But when we didn’t, then I couldn’t walk away and say, O.K., just let all the men have the seats at the table that are making decisions for our country.”

When Nancy Pelosi was Speaker, I called for her resignation on several occasions, because she is more centrist than progressive and more corporatist than democratic socialist. However, she is an effective Minority Leader. RESIST!!

Cartoon:

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And look how much worse Lyin’ Ryan is than Agent Orange was!

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Sep 152017
 

I had a unique experience this morning.  I was doing my research and had the AC off, the window open, and the door cracked for cross ventilation.  I actually felt cold, and by the time I finished, I was shivering.  I LOVED it.  So I took a morning nap and worked on remembering how to snuggle down under the covers.  Of course, the sun hit the wall a half an hour ago, so I had to button up and torn on the AC, but starting Sunday, we have four days of rain forecast, and that brings another dilemma.  Does anyone remember what rain is?

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:44 (average 5:33).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From YouTube (GQ Channel): It’s Now Dawned on Trump: People Hate Him

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways. You’re a sphincter. Worse, you are an exact personification of the Republican Party. Number of other reasons: . RESIST!!

From NY Times: President Trump thrust himself back into the racial storms of Charlottesville on Thursday, repeating his charge that those who resisted the neo-Nazis and white supremacists were as much to blame as the alt-right crowds who marched on the Virginia college town.

Despite his desperate attempts to seek attention by feigning bipartisanship, Putin’s Puppet retains his entropy with his Republican base: fanatical white supremacists. RESIST!!

From Daily Kos (checked this one): Republicans House leaders are facing a grim reality: They have produced basically nothing to please their base and now some of the saner members among their ranks are announcing retirements at a frightening clip. TPM’s Cameron Joseph writes:

It’s not much fun to be a House Republican these days. President Trump has repeatedly taken potshots at their conference. Primary challenges burble on the right. Congress has been unable to pass much meaningful legislation in spite of unified control of Washington. Every trip home means an earful both from liberals furious at their support of the president and conservatives irate they’re not doing enough to support his agenda. And members who haven’t seen real competition for years face tough races due to Trump’s deep unpopularity. […]

“There are a number of people, plenty of whom we don’t even know about yet, who are torn” about running again, said one national GOP strategist involved in House races. “Whether there’s measurable progress on tax reform the next 30 days will be determinative. If we get to November 1st and it looks like tax reform isn’t happening, I think there’ll be a mass exodus.”

“It’s a disaster if it doesn’t happen,” conservative Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) warned, referring to a failure to make meaningful progress on tax reform. “That has an effect. People like me who are here for the cause, if we see no hope for the cause, which in my case will never happen, that would have a terribly damning effect on our stamina here.”

As I see it, they are not at all likely to get the victory for their rabid base that they seek. They are too fractured and incompetent to agree among themselves. If they do make a deal with Democrats, they will have to give up so much that their base will consider it a betrayal. This couldn’t happen to a more evil bunch of assholes! RESIST!!

Cartoon:

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Sep 102017
 

It’s a slow day for news, because Irma [R-FL] dominates media coverage.  All under her assault, even Republicans, remain in my thoughts and prayers.  Wendy is due here in about forty minutes.  It’s a holy day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb.  My Broncos will not be worshiping until Monday Night, so today, may the Blessed Orb shine it’s holy light on your team.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:31 (average 5:07).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: In a finding that has wide-ranging implications for society, British researchers at the University of Leeds announced on Saturday that they have identified the gene for awfulness.

The study, which focussed on one adult male and three of his adult children, makes a persuasive argument that there is a “powerful dominant gene” that makes people heinous.

“When we began our research, we wanted to find an adult male with pronounced characteristics of horribleness,” Alistair Dorrinson, the scientist who led the study, said. “In studying three of his adult offspring, we found that they were all carriers of the gene that makes one smug, tone-deaf, and oblivious to the fate of others.”

Additionally, certain subtraits of awfulness, such as an inability to tell the truth, appear to be genetically mediated, Dorrinson said.

“If the father is unable to explain honestly why a meeting took place, for example, the son who carries the same gene will also tell crazy lies about that meeting,” he said.

But Andy, couldn’t you tell that Trump has defective genes just by looking at his face? RESIST!!

From NY Times: Almost from the moment Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act collapsed this summer and weary senators fled the capital, Senator Chuck Schumer began calculating how best to take advantage of the persistent Republican struggle to govern.

“Even when I was on vacation with my family in August, I started looking,” said Mr. Schumer, the New Yorker who leads Senate Democrats, as he recounted the buildup to the stunning debt limit deal that Democrats struck with President Trump this past week over the objections of gobsmacked Republicans.

In an interview with the New York Times podcast “The New Washington,” Mr. Schumer said he pursued an approach that would allow the Democrats to assert themselves as the minority party in coming showdowns over funding the government and increasing the debt limit, while denying Mr. Trump money for his border wall and seeking protection for the undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.

“What’s our leverage?” Mr. Schumer said he kept asking himself. “We only had one thing as leverage at that point, which was the debt ceiling.”

From past experience, Mr. Schumer, like other congressional veterans, knew Republicans would have a difficult, if not impossible, task rounding up votes among themselves to increase the government’s borrowing authority because many conservatives simply won’t vote to do so, even at the expense of the nation’s fiscal stability.

I agree in principle with what Schumer did, but I think, since he had Trump by the short hairs,  he should have extracted more concessions, such as permanent residence for Dreamers. RESIST!!

From John Pavlovitz: …I can barely figure out how my microwave works, let alone interpret how a horrific weather event is being wielded by God to teach you or me or gay couples a lesson—and I’d feel like a reckless fraud pretending I know what’s happening. I guess guys like Kirk Cameron and Joel Osteen and Pat Robertson know better, though I’m doubtful.

It’s ironic that Cameron refers to the book of Job. When Job loses everything and is stricken with grief, at first his friends show wisdom by simply sitting with him in his grief. Only later do they fall into the temptation of placing blame and playing God.

Maybe we who claim faith should refrain from pretending we understand how this world works when it comes to faith and pain and suffering.

Maybe we should admit the mystery, discomfort, and the tension that spirituality yields in painful, terrifying times.

Maybe when people are being terrorized by nature or by the inhumanity around them, instead of shouting sermons at them—we should shut up and simply try to be a loving, compassionate presence.

Maybe we should stop trying to make God into something as petty, hateful, judgmental, and cruel as we are.

If the God you’re following and preaching to people in their times of pain is an a-hole—it’s probably not God at all.

It’s probably just you.

Amen! God is not an asshole. Authentic Christians are not assholes. Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christians ARE assholes! RESIST!!

Cartoon:

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Jun 152017
 

Senator Chris Murphy had this to say today about the shooting yesterday at the Congressional Baseball practice:

I am going to play baseball tonight. And I want to be honest with you – I don’t know what to think about that.

On one hand, I’m glad the congressional baseball game is going forward in the wake of yesterday’s tragic, soul-crushing shooting. I’ve played catcher for the Democratic team for the better part of the last ten years, and the game, to me, is one of the few things that is truly good about Washington D.C. It’s a chance for Republicans and Democrats to put politics aside and create lasting friendships. And the game raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for local kids’ charities. Moving forward with the game, even after the shooting, sends an important signal that the tradition of bipartisanship represented by the century-old congressional baseball game cannot be ruined by one unhinged individual.

So I get the importance of displaying our resilience. But what does it say about us as a country that we can so easily move on from such a seemingly cataclysmic event? Are we so jaundiced to gun violence and mass shootings that it only takes us twenty four hours now to revert back to business as usual. I mean, a Congressman is in critical condition after a ten minute long shoot out, and it feels like this story has another day or two of attention before the news media, and the public, moves onto the next set of headlines.

This was the 154st mass shooting of 2017. You heard that right – number 154. Mass shootings, defined as incidents where four or more people are killed or injured by gunshots, are happening a higher rate in 2017 than previous years. And it feels like no one has noticed.

Maybe that’s because regular slaughter has become the norm in America. We are becoming massively desensitized to the carnage. That’s what I feared exactly one year ago today, when I went to the Senate floor in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting and held a 15 hour filibuster. I worried then that our reactions to mass shootings had become predictable and rote. And I still worry today.

So I’m going to suit up tonight. I might even consider tipping a few pitches to my friend Senator Jeff Flake, who tended to Steve Scalise’s wounds as he lay on the practice field yesterday morning, when he comes to bat.

But we can never ever let this feel normal. We can never forget that this pace of carnage happens nowhere else but America. No other nation has to live through mass shooting after mass shooting like the United States. And in the end, the data tells us there is only one explanation. We don’t spend less on law enforcement. We don’t have more mental illness. We just have more guns. There are more guns in America than people, and many of them are dangerous, military-style weapons and many others are in the hands of very dangerous people.

I am keeping Steve Scalise, the Capitol Police, and everyone who was at yesterday’s shooting in my thoughts. But after tonight’s game, I’ll get back to work. Because until the laws of this country change, the slaughter – and the risk of normalizing it all – won’t stop.

Thank you for reading.

Every best wish,

Chris Murphy
U.S. Senator, Connecticut

Normally the pithy Progressives I write about are seeking office, where Senator Murphy is already in office.  But I don't have a new Pithy Progressive this week, so perhaps this thoughtful and heartfelt essay (from a Senator whi represents the state Sandy Hook is in) will stand in.

Cross-posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4058092

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