Jun 262014
 

Day 66.  I’m writing for tomorrow and waiting for Mary from Store to Door to arrive with my groceries.  She has an excellent sense of humor, a giving heart, and a genuine dislike of TEAbuggery.  The world needs more like her.  Tomorrow is a prison volunteer day, a general meeting with around 100 of my guys.  I shall return home late, having missed a sleep cycle, so I may have little or nothing for Friday and/or Saturday.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 6:53 (average 7:47).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: In a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry stressed the importance of forming a unity government in Iraq but refused to commit to a timetable for creating one in the United States.

The sensitive topic of a unity government for the United States came at the end of a thirty-minute meeting, during which Secretary Kerry lectured the Iraqi Prime Minister about the value of a government “where people of different parties put aside their differences, make meaningful compromises, and work together for the good of the nation.”

Taking this in, al-Maliki agreed that it was an excellent idea and politely asked Secretary Kerry if the United States had ever considered forming such a government.

According to observers, Kerry appeared to be caught off guard by this question and blurted out,”You first.”

Andy outdid himself this time.

From Raw Story: A Republican candidate seeking to represent Georgia’s 10th U.S. House district believes that the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty does not apply to followers of Islam.

“Although Islam has a religious component, it is much more than a simple religious ideology,” Rev. Jody Hice wrote in his 2012 book It’s Now Or Never, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It is a complete geo-political structure and, as such, does not deserve First Amendment protection.”

The House candidate also believes the Muslim Brotherhood is secretly infiltrating the United States in a plot to impose Sharia law on the entire country, a conspiracy theory he shares with Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX).

Hice tied Mike Collins in the Georgia Republican primary in May, with each candidate getting about 34 percent of the vote. The winner of the July 22 runoff election will face Democrat Ken Dious in November.

The Constitution does guarantee an idiot's right to believe in Republican Supply-side pseud0-Christianity, but it expressly forbids such goose-stepping fools, like Hice, from using government to impose it on others, or prevent anyone else from exercising their own faith.

From Crooks and Liars: As Faux "news" was waiting for the election results in Mississippi to come in, Sean Hannity and his producers decided that there was no one more qualified to weigh in on the recent primary races and the future of the Republican party than the half-term Quitta' from Wasilla, or as Charlie Pierce calls her, Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods, Sarah Palin.

Of course the lesson Palin took from the Cantor loss, before hearing the results of the Cochran race, is the the Republicans aren't quite extreme enough, and they'd better start acting like "real" Republicans or she's going to threaten to leave the party.

Triple Barf Bag Alert!!: 5+ minutes of Bloody Bullseye Barbie!

 

If Drill Baby Dingbat and the InsaniTEA wing leave the Republican Party and form their own party, that would be wonderful for America, but I’m not betting on it.

Cartoon:

0626Cartoon

And the Baggers are MA-A-A-A-A-AD!! Black Sheep

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Jun 042014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, when I shall be leaving for prison volunteer training.  I will return on Friday afternoon,  I’m taking my notebook, but I don’t know how much I shall be able to do, while there.  It will probably be little more than Personal Updates, if that.  Please keep the Republicans at bay, while I’m gone.  Day 44.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:52 (average 4:42).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: Whenever I hear people condemn those who are financially less fortunate than themselves, I tend to tune them out (yes, sometimes I’m RUDE). A better idea would be to share the information from this infographic, because 1) it’s more tactful than what I usually do and 2) it might help some folks be a little more compassionate.

0604Poverty

The loss of IQ and mental illness factors help explain why some poor people vote Republican.

From Daily Kos: Fox News has fallen and it can’t get up. Ratings for the month of May 2014, have just been published, and the numbers are devastating for Fox News. While still occupying the top slot among the cable news networks, Fox saw about a quarter of its audience dissolve across every demographic group and time period.

Every Fox program in primetime dropped by double-digits, with Bill O’Reilly taking the deepest dive. Sean Hannity posted some of his lowest numbers ever in his new 10:00 pm time slot. And Megyn Kelly’s new, and highly anticipated, primetime show failed to improve on the ratings performance of her predecessor.

To be sure, Fox was not the only network to see declines. In fact, CNN had an even larger dip. The news was much better for MSNBC who was down the least of all the cable news networks. They lost a relatively insignificant five percent of total viewers, but actually saw increases for Morning Joe, and for Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow in primetime.

For Fox to post numbers that they haven’t seen since August of 2001 (before 9/11) is a painful blow to both their reputation and their bank account. But they have even bigger problems. The viewers that do tune in to Fox are significantly older than viewers of their competitors. Fox News has always had the oldest skewing audience in cable news. With a median age of 68.8 years, Fox’s audience is over six years older than either CNN or MSNBC. It’s even worse for their top rated program (O’Reilly) who’s average viewer is over 72 years old. And their Great Blonde Hope (Kelly), who was specifically brought in to draw younger viewers, also exceeded Fox’s average with her typical viewer voyeur being over 70.

You can sum up my response in two words. The first is "Wooo". Can you guess the second? ;-)

From NY Times: The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider challenges from Democratic lawmakers who say the Alabama Legislature packed minority voters into a few districts, diluting their voting power.

In another case from Alabama last year, the Supreme Court effectively struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which has required permission from the federal authorities before states may change their voting procedures.

This is one to watch. Considering the record of the Fascist Five Injustices of SCROTUS (Republican Constitutional VD), I’m not expecting an outcome that agrees with our Constitution.

Cartoon:

0604Cartoon

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May 292014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow.  First, I wish to express my sorrow over the death of Maya Angelou today, and wish condolences to all who loved her.  Tomorrow I have to go for physical therapy for arthritis in my spine and hips and for a blown out shoulder.  Because of that, please expect little or nothing on Friday, especially since I’ll be taking my walker onto regular public transit for the first time and walking over a mile.  Day 38.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:38 (average 4:28).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) drew audible gasps Thursday when he told gathering of Christian conservatives that Democrats intended to amend the Constitution to limit free speech.

“When you think it can’t get any worse, it does,” Cruz warned at the Watchmen on the Wall gathering of pastors sponsored by the Family Research Council.

“This year, I’m sorry to tell you, the United States Senate is going to be voting on a constitutional amendment to repeal the First Amendment,” Cruz said, to the audible shock of the crowd.

We still need to drive with the Cruz control engaged!

From NY Times: A teenage girl was inspired after dropping her cellphone to create concussion-reducing cushions for football helmets. A team of Girl Scout Brownies designed a bridge that could withstand flooding. And an adolescent boy in a suit and tie told President Obama about his pending patents.

They were just a few of the more than a hundred students demonstrating their inventions and research on Tuesday for what Mr. Obama said was one of his favorite events: the White House Science Fair, now in its fourth year.

Republicans will likely consider this cause for yet another Congressional investigation and scandal. They hate it when ‘libruls do skience’.

From Think Progress: If Florida’s voters evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, the state’s Republicans could still expect to hold 58 percent of the state’s congressional seats. Indeed, according to California Institute of Technology statistics professor Jonathan Katz, a leading expert on redistricting who testified in a trial challenging these maps as an illegal gerrymander, Florida’s maps are the most biased districts he has ever examined.

Although Florida has some of the most biased congressional districts in the country — in 2012, President Obama narrowly won the state but Republicans captured 17 of the state’s 27 congressional districts — the League of Women Voters and other plaintiffs challenging Florida’s maps face an uphill battle in their lawsuit. Under a state constitutional amendment enacted in 2010, “[n]o apportionment plan or district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent.” Thus, the plaintiffs in this lawsuit do not just have to prove that the maps are biased, they have to prove that they were drawn with the intent of favoring Republicans. As neither the plaintiffs nor their lawyers have ESP, that’s a difficult bar to clear.

In several of the states that Republicans have Gerrymandered to assist them in election theft, they have openly bragged about their intent to favor Republican candidates. What other reason could there possibly be for stacking the deck?

Cartoon:

0529Cartoon

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May 152014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, waiting for a grocery delivery to arrive from Store to Door (highly recommended), and enjoying the breezes it takes to be a real cool cat. :-)  Wooo Hooo!  Day 24.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:09 (average 4:47).  To do it click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: What happens when eight million people sign up for private insurance under Obamacare and millions more get coverage under the law’s Medicaid expansion? This:

House Republicans have no scheduled votes or hearings on ObamaCare, signaling a shift in the party’s strategy as the White House rides a wave of good news on the law.  

Not a single House committee has announced plans to attack the healthcare law in the coming weeks, and only one panel of jurisdiction commented to The Hill despite repeated inquiries.

GOP campaign committees also declined to say whether they will launch any new efforts on the law.

But according to Senate Republicans, the notion that Republicans are running from their attacks on Obamacare is a load of bunk:

“There is absolutely zero evidence that any Republican is talking about ObamaCare less,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Brook Hougesen in a statement.

Oh yeah? Well, then what do you call this?

0515benghaziobamacare

Whatever you call it, I call it Republicans using their BS in Bullshitology!

From Dallas Morning News: The Wendy Davis campaign is focusing on opponent Greg Abbott’s role as an overseer of the scandal-marred Texas cancer-research agency in a new, strongly worded line of attack. Millions of dollars earmarked for cancer research went to Abbott’s political donors.

 

Texas suffers from Republican Reich Rule. Wendy Davis for Governor!

From Think Progress: “[O]ur right to the free exercise of religion is co-equal to our right to life, [pseudo-Christian delinked]” according to the campaign website of Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who won his party’s nomination to the United States Senate on Tuesday. Nebraska is a solid red state that preferred Romney to Obama by a massive 21 point margin in 2012, so Sasse is now all but certain to succeed retiring Sen. Mike Johanns (R) this November. If he does, Sasse promises to promote an almost anarchistic vision of religious liberty as a member of the Senate. According to Sasse’s website, “[g]overnment cannot force citizens to violate their religious beliefs under any circumstances. [pseudo-Christian delinked]”

This Republican is claiming at any Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christian has the right to break any law at any time. He is wrong. The right to freedom of exercise of Religion does NOT extend to the violation of the Constitutional rights of another. If obeying the law runs counter to his beliefs, and he disobeys, that is civil disobedience, a practice I have engaged in myself. However, part of civil disobedience is facing whatever legal consequences that arise from that act. This extremist is not only a wing-nut. He is also, in all probability, the next US Senator from Nebraska.

Cartoon:

0515Cartoon

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May 062014
 

Score another crack in the Constitution for the Fascist Five Injustices of SCROTUS (Republican Constitutional VD). This time they have found that sectarian prayer by "Christians" only in government meetings does not violate the First Amendment ban on establishing a state religion. The four Justices of SCOTUS all opposed them.

SCROTUS

In a potentially far-reaching case, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that an upstate New York town’s practice of opening government meetings with sectarian prayers does not violate the constitutional protection that separates church and state.

The court’s decision (pdf) prompted immediate criticism among civil liberty groups and advocates of religious freedom.

“The constitutional requirement that church and state must be separated rests, in part, on the understanding that when government supports one religion over others, people who are not members of the favored religion are made to feel like outsiders by their government," said Arthur Eisenberg, legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, which sponsored the lawsuit, said, “The Supreme Court just relegated millions of Americans—both believers and nonbelievers—to second-class citizenship."…

Inserted from <Common Dreams>

For the record, I find nothing offensive about prayer. I do it every day. I do, however, object to anyone’s sectarian prayers receiving government sanction on any level. While I suspect the prayers in question here were quite benign in character, you can bet that this precedent will serve as a springboard abetting Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christian attempts to make their false gospel of violence, hate and greed the state religion.

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Apr 192014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow and am feeling quite tired.  It’s been a busy day, and I’m up well past my bedtime, waiting for a delivery that cannot be made unless I am up to receive it.  They came two days in a row and could not get in, because the front desk was unattended.  Now they have instructions to call me to let them in.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:54 (average 4:10).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: With an eye toward a Presidential run in 2016, Rick Perry, the Texas governor, is hoping that a two-pronged strategy of wearing glasses and not speaking will make him appear smarter to voters, aides to the Governor confirmed today.

“After the 2012 Republican primary, we knew that we needed to solve what we called the Governor’s smartness problem,” said Harland Dorrinson, an aide to Perry. “The fix that we came up with was glasses, but, as it turned out, that was only half the solution.”

After outfitting Perry with designer eyewear, aides sent him on the road to reintroduce himself to voters, but the response, Mr. Dorrinson said, was underwhelming: “The problem was, he was still talking.”

A round of focus groups convinced aides that only through a combination of wearing glasses and not emitting any sounds could Perry overcome voters’ initial impressions of him.

He’ll never maintain the silence. Verbal TEAbuggery is an integral part of InsaniTEA.

From Daily Kos:

The Washington Post has published an opinion piece from Justice John Paul Stevens in which he analyzes the history of the second amendment, and recent Supreme Court decisions to support his contention that the interpretation of the Second Amendment advanced by the NRA (and recently accepted by the courts) is contrary to the intent of the framers.   According to Stevens:

For more than 200 years following the adoption of that amendment, federal judges uniformly understood that the right protected by that text was limited in two ways: First, it applied only to keeping and bearing arms for military purposes, and second, while it limited the power of the federal government, it did not impose any limit whatsoever on the power of states or local governments to regulate the ownership or use of firearms. Thus, in United States v. Miller, decided in 1939, the court unanimously held that Congress could prohibit the possession of a sawed-off shotgun because that sort of weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a “well regulated Militia.”

When I joined the court in 1975, that holding was generally understood as limiting the scope of the Second Amendment to uses of arms that were related to military activities. During the years when Warren Burger was chief justice, from 1969 to 1986, no judge or justice expressed any doubt about the limited coverage of the amendment, and I cannot recall any judge suggesting that the amendment might place any limit on state authority to do anything.

Excellent piece. Click through for the the rest of what the NRA, The Republican Party, and the Fascist Five Injustices of SCROTUS don’t want you to know.

From NY Times: President Obama announced Thursday that eight million people have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, including what the White House said were a sufficient number of young, healthy adults, a critical milestone that might counter election-year attacks by Republicans on the law’s success and viability.

The total number of enrollees exceeds by a million the target set by the administration for people to buy insurance through government-run health care exchanges. In particular, the number of young people signing up appears to have surged during the final weeks of enrollment.

That does not even count the three million who are receiving healthcare through expanded Medicaid or the three million young people now covered on their parents’ policies. In short, Republicans are trying to take healthcare away from fourteen million people.

Cartoon:

0419Cartoon

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Mar 252014
 

SCROTUS (Constitutional VD) is my term for the Fascist Five Supreme Court Injustices, who almost always favor their extreme Republican ideology over our Constitution.  Worst among them (along with Clarence “TEAbag” Thomas) is Antonin “SS” Scalia.  In two cases coming before the Court today, I expect Scalia to renege on an earlier opinion in a most hypocritical manner.  Ironically, even with opposite opinions, he will be as wrong now as he was then.

0325ScaliaWhen the Supreme Court hears two landmark cases about birth control on Tuesday, few observers doubt that Justice Antonin Scalia's sympathies will be the Catholic business owners who charge that the mandate violates their religious liberties.

The Reagan-appointed jurist is a devout Catholic who has extolled "traditional Christian virtues." He insists the devil is "a real person" and has a son who's a Catholic priest. He voted in 2012 to wipe out Obamacare in its entirety and has been President Barack Obama's most outspoken foe on the Supreme Court.

And yet, Scalia's past jurisprudence stands contradictory to the argument for striking down the Obamacare rule in question, which requires for-profit employers' insurance plans to cover contraceptives (like Plan B, Ella and intrauterine devices) for female employees without co-pays.

In 1990, Scalia wrote the majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith, concluding that the First Amendment "does not require" the government to grant "religious exemptions" from generally applicable laws or civic obligations. The case was brought by two men in Oregon who sued the state for denying them unemployment benefits after they were fired from their jobs for ingesting peyote, which they said they did because of their Native American religious beliefs.

"[T]he right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability," Scalia wrote in the 6-3 majority decision, going on to aggressively argue that such exemptions could be a slippery slope to lawlessness.

"The rule respondents favor would open the prospect of constitutionally required religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind," he wrote, "ranging from compulsory military service, to the payment of taxes, to health and safety regulation such as manslaughter and child neglect laws, compulsory vaccination laws, drug laws, and traffic laws; to social welfare legislation such as minimum wage laws, child labor laws, animal cruelty laws, environmental protection laws, and laws providing for equality of opportunity for the races."… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <TPM>

Scalia was wrong in opining not to give a religious exemption to followers of Native American beliefs, because he was denying their right to freely practice their religion. I expect him to opine that business should get a religious exemption to refuse to cover birth control under ObamaCare.  He will be wrong, because such an exemption allows businesses to force their religions practices on others.

Scalia and his Republican Party would ignore the First Amendment by establishing a pseudo-Christian state religion and denying the free exercise of other religions.

Late Update:

On tonight’s show, Chris Hayes covered the same issue.  Because this just aired, I cannot get it in an internationally viewable format, but his and his guest’s analysis echoed mine so closely, I had to include it.

It was always intended as a shield, and not a sword,  Well said.

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