Nov 272015

Yesterday my friends were under the weather and could not come, But after PT worked ne with my prosthetic leg, I went down to the café by myself.  The open face turkey sandwich was good, but the raspberry cheesecake had flavor to die for.  I watched football for most of the day, but Pam is really kicking my kitty-butt at fantasy football.  Because this  is such a slow news day, this is my only article.

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: …The shopping surge also means that many retail workers have to leave their loved ones and work on the day after (and sometimes the night of) Thanksgiving.

So if you only get one day-after-Thanksgiving every year, it’s silly to waste it at a crowded store with hundreds of other people who are willing to throw elbows to get a new Blu-ray player.

Instead, here are seven ways to spend Black Friday that are (at least in my mind) a whole lot better than shopping.

1. Take a trip to a state park.

I’m pretty sure that parks offer much better views than the inside of a Walmart. So load up your Thanksgiving leftovers into a picnic basket, find the closest park, and get some fresh air. If you live in Minnesota, you can even take advantage of free admission to all of the state’s parks this Nov. 27.

I do not shop on Black Friday.  I shared one. Click through for the other six.

From NY Times: Clasping hands with youngsters in red Communist Youth League scarves, contestants from more than 110 nations descended on the southern Chinese island of Hainan this week for the 65th annual Miss World contest.

But one contestant was absent from the opening ceremony: Miss Canada, otherwise known as Anastasia Lin, a 25-year-old actress and classically trained pianist who has been denied a Chinese visa to attend the monthlong pageant, apparently because of her outspoken advocacy for human rights and religious freedom in China.

After waiting in vain for weeks, Ms. Lin packed up her Canadian-designed eveningwear on Wednesday and quietly boarded a Hong Kong-bound flight with the hope she might obtain an on-demand visa at the border and perhaps slip unnoticed into mainland China.

It was not to be.

The Chinese authorities, tipped off to her arrival, barred her from flying onward to Hainan.


Kudos to Anastasia. We all should boycott Miss World.

From The Hill: The Obama administration is warning states that they cannot refuse to accept refugees fleeing war-torn Syria, saying that noncompliant states may be subject to penalties.

The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) said in a letter to state agencies on Wednesday that they cannot withhold services to refugees based on their country of origin or religion.

“Accordingly, states may not categorically deny ORR-funded benefits and services to Syrian refugees,” the letter said. “Any state with such a policy would not be in compliance with the State Plan requirements, applicable statutes, and their own assurances, and could be subject to enforcement action, including suspension and termination.”

The letter cited the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination on the basis of race or country or origin.

“Thus, it is not permissible to deny federally funded benefits such as Medicaid or TANF to refugees who otherwise meet the eligibility requirements.”

After their big holiday dinners, you can rest assured that hundreds of Republican politicians and pundits will have huge loads in their pants over this one!



Nov 272015

Picketers playing ball outside closed mill during steel srike.  (Photo by Francis Miller//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Politico — The reason critics like Sheila Bair, Elizabeth Warren, Neil Barofsky, Simon Johnson, Paul Krugman and others (left, right and center) won the day—at least the intellectual debate and the war over public perceptions—was not that they were better communicators. It was that they had a more convincing message: There were alternative ways of rescuing the economy that were fairer and that would have resulted in a stronger economy. Instead, our politics and economics are now locked into a vicious circle: Economic inequality leads to political inequality, and this political inequality then leads to rewriting the rules to increase the level of economic inequality even further, and so on. The result? Ever greater disillusionment with our democracy.

Matters may well get worse. Recent research has uncovered a variety of other vicious cycles. Poverty traps mean those in the bottom remain there. The fortunes of a child of poor parents who does well in school are far bleaker than those of a child of rich parents who does much more poorly in school. About a quarter of U.S. college freshmen from the bottom income half finish college by age 24, compared with 90 percent of the upper quartile. And with wages of those who have only a high school diploma at 62 percent of the typical college grad’s earnings—compared with 81 percent in 1965—the prospects are they will be poorer than their parents.

Taken from Wikipedia, Joseph E Stiglitz is "…an American economist and a professor atColumbia University. He is a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and the John Bates Clark Medal (1979). He is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and is a former member and chairman of the (US president's) Council of Economic Advisers.  He is known for his critical view of the management of globalizationlaissez-faire economists (whom he calls "free market fundamentalists"), and some international institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.  

Based on academic citations, Stiglitz is the 4th most influential economist in the world today, and in 2011 he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Stiglitz's work focuses on income distribution, asset risk management, corporate governance, and international trade. He is the author of several books, the latest being The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them (2015)."

From Alternet, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now interviews Joseph Stiglitz.

AMY GOODMAN: Welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about these candidates [Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders] and what they’re saying and what they actually do, what they support.

JOSEPH STIGLITZ: Well, I think we’re in a new moment in America, because I think we’ve had a third of a century of a—you might call, an experiment, a grand experiment, where, beginning with Reagan, we said, "Let’s lower the tax rates on the top. Let’s rip away the regulations. We’re going to free up the American economy. We’re going to incentivize it. The result will be the economy will grow so much—yes, the top will get a larger share, but everybody is going to get a bigger piece, and so everybody is going to be better off." Well, we’ve had a third of a century of this experiment, and it has failed. It has failed miserably. The fact is, the bottom 90 percent have seen their incomes stagnate. Median income today is as low as it was a quarter-century ago. Talking about the minimum wage, minimum wage is the level, adjusted for inflation, it was 45, 50 years ago. You know, if an economy can’t deliver for most of its citizens, it’s a failed economy. What’s so striking is, we’ve had technological change, we’ve had globalization—all the things that were supposed the economy perform better—and in fact it’s performed worse.

Click through to read the rest of these two articles.  In the second, Stiglitz says "…I think the point is the American people have figured out that this model hasn’t worked, you know, the model that began a third of a century ago. So, they’re angry, and they want a change."  If Stiglitz's point is true, then what are the American people going to do to effect the necessary change?  It is, to my mind, imperative that the American people lead with their vote, shake up the establishment.

I also posted The Pitchforks Are Coming … For Us Plutocrats on 31/10/2015 in which Nick Hanauer, billionaire, echoes Stiglitz.

What is the definition of insaniTEA?  Voting the same way time after time yet expecting a different and better economic outcome.



Nov 252015

I’m getting as much done early as I can, because I expect a very busy day.  Sometime this afternoon my interim prosthetic leg will arrive.  I will use it for about six months, shrink out of it, and have a new cup made.  Today I will take my first baby steps on two feet.  I also expect visits from PT and OT.  OT plans to help me use the shower.  I’ll just have to suffer through that.  Winking smile

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2014 there was a huge increase in sexually transmitted diseases in the United States.

The CDC estimates that nearly 20 million new STD infections happen each year in the U.S., with the majority affecting 15 to 24-year-olds.

Reports of gonorrhea and syphilis also increased in 2014. There was a 2.8% increase in chlamydia since 2013, and reports of syphilis, which has three stages, increased for the most infectious stages of the disease by 15.1%.

One of the reasons for this rise in STDs is the war being waged on public health in this country over the last couple of decades.

The increase in STDs is in many ways a result of cuts in funding to public health clinics, Gail Bolan, director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, told NBC.

“Most recently, there have been significant erosions of state and local STD control programs,” Bolan said. “Most people don’t recognize that the direct clinical care of individuals with sexually transmitted diseases is supported by state and local funds and federal funds.”

This leads to men and women not getting tested and treated early, before further infections occur. As the CDC report notes, it’s not particularly economic to cut our public health and then have to pay it out on the other end.

This is a direct result of the Republican sequester.  Thanks, Republicans!

From The New YorkerIn an announcement on Monday morning, Pfizer, the big drug company, whose headquarters are on East 42nd Street, in Manhattan, said that it is merging with one of its competitors, Allergan PLC. Ian Read, a Scottish-born accountant who is Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive, said that the proposed deal, which is valued at a hundred and sixty billion dollars, would “create a leading global pharmaceutical company with the strength to research, discover and deliver more medicines and therapies to more people around the world.”

On Wall Street and in the world of big pharma, that statement will raise chuckles. It is widely acknowledged that the primary impetus for the deal is a financial one. In merging with Allergan, which is based in Dublin, Pfizer intends to move its corporate residency to Ireland, where the corporate tax rate is just 12.5 per cent, compared to thirty-five per cent for a company of its size in the United States. Over the next few years, the merger could save Pfizer billions of dollars in taxes and deprive the U.S. Treasury of the same amount.

Tax-driven deals of this nature are known as “inversions,” and they are becoming increasingly common. Burger King, Liberty Global, and Medtronic are among the U.S. corporations to have carried out mergers that moved their headquarters abroad. Last year, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said that inversions were “wrong,” and that he would try and restrict them. Only last week, the Treasury Department issued some new administrative guidelines in this area. Without actual legislation, though, there isn’t very much the Obama Administration can do to prevent these exercises in corporate tax-dodging, and Republicans on Capitol Hill have displayed little eagerness to coöperate in a crackdown.

It’s simple. If a company wants to do business in our marketplace, they should have to pay taxes here. To make this happen we must flush the Republican Party.

From NY Times: For more than a year, a rare coalition of liberal groups and libertarian-minded conservatives has joined the Obama administration in pushing for the most significant liberalization of America’s criminal justice laws since the beginning of the drug war. That effort has had perhaps no ally more important than Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by a pair of brothers who are well-known conservative billionaires.

Now, as Congress works to turn those goals into legislation, that joint effort is facing its most significant test — over a House bill that Koch Industries says would make the criminal justice system fairer, but that the Justice Department says would make it significantly harder to prosecute corporate polluters, producers of tainted food and other white-collar criminals.

The tension among the unlikely allies emerged over the last week as the House Judiciary Committee, with bipartisan support, approved a package of bills intended to simplify the criminal code and reduce unnecessarily severe sentences.

This makes it crystal clear that Republicans really don’t give a damn about sentencing reform. They’re just using it to mask protecting big corporate criminals from responsibility for their crimes.



Nov 232015

Yesterday I finally got to take my first shower since 9/5.  I can’t tell you what a relief it is not to smell something rancid and know it’s me.  Because it involves a nurse leaving this unit with me, it’s hard to schedule, but I’m hoping to get a couple a week.  Fantasy football players, don’t forget to have your lineups set early this week, as there are two games on Thanksgiving Day.

Religious Ecstasy:


Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: In 2014, Americans donated an estimated $350 billion to charities. A generous country we are, but how much of those funds actually benefit those in need? You might not want to know. There are good charities. There are bad charities. And there are the worst charities.

America’s “worst” charities have gained their titles by how much they raise in donations for their cause—and how little of that money goes towards the same cause. As these deceptive organizations ask you for your financial support, many lie about where or to whom that money is alloted, sometimes paying themselves “multiple salaries” and “consulting fees.” One cancer charity paid the company president’s son nearly $18 million over eight years, to solicit donations. The Tampa Bay Times reports:

Some nonprofits are little more than fronts for fundraising companies, which bankroll their startup costs, lock them into exclusive contracts at exorbitant rates and even drive the charities into debt.

How Republican!!  Click through for the list. I’m amazed that Susan G Komen for the Cure isn’t on the list. Considering all they have spent lobbying to prevent women form getting breast cancer screenings and other women’s healthcare from Planned Parenthood, they should be on it.

From NY Times: Donald J. Trump said on Sunday he was in favor of the actions of his supporters who reportedly punched and kicked a protester from the Black Lives Matter movement who interrupted Mr. Trump’s campaign rally the previous day in Birmingham, Ala.

“Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with “Fox and Friends” on Sunday. “This was not handled the way Bernie Sanders handled his problem, I will tell you.”

To support violence against a protestor is typical rabid Republican response.  But Hairball is a typical Republican.

The Squatch beat me to John Oliver, so you only get two short takes.



Considering yesterday’s cartoon, this is why.

Nov 202015

It looks like I’ll have another busy day, as both OT and PT are coming this afternoon.   I took it easy this morning and only made two laps.

Short Takes:

From YouTube: Merkley decries Republican efforts to slip Wall St. favors into must-pass spending bills


Oregon leads the way! “Must-pass” spending bill s must not pass, until Republican attempts to enable Banksters to prey on YOU are removed.

From Daily Kos: Since the map went live, Oregon has gone green, so to speak, on this map. And so has Colorado. You red states? Keep on cringing and cowering.


I had no doubt that Oregon would go green and refuse to surrender to the Daesh and their helpers to spread terror, the Republican Party.

From Media Matters: O’Reilly Once Said Terror Attack Would Get Bush Reelected, Now Says It Would Tarnish Obama As Worst U.S. President.

Barf Bag Alert!!


Is there any question as to why I call him O’Lielly? He’s a senior propagandist for the Republican Reichsministry of propaganda, Faux Noise!



Nov 052015

I spent a good part of today watching the swearing in of the new Canadian government and getting excited about the possibilities.  I am planning an article about it but it is still largely in my head.  Later I indulged in some down time with my babes.  What a purr-fest we had.  Tomorrow I have physio so things will be a bit busier.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 4:02 (average 6:02). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Given that today is the day after the 2015 elections, I thought for some this picture might be appropriate, especially in Republican circles.  H/t to Ted W and Carol B @ Care2.

Short Takes

Alternet — "Given the nature of class politics in America. Given the fact that we have a corrupt campaign finance system," Sanders said. "Given that we have an economy that is rigged. The major point that I am making is that establishment politicians cannot make the kind of changes we need. You can't run a super PAC and take money from Wall Street and say, I'm going to take on Wall Street."

Unfortunately, I cannot embed the video of Chris Hayes and Bernie Sanders.  Please click through for the interview video.  As Charles Koch said to Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough when he asked about political donations "I expect something in return."

International Business Times — One of Iran’s commercial airlines last week bought a U.K.-manufactured jet with the aim of using it to deliver Iranian soldiers and weapons to Syria in support of the embattled regime of President Bashar Assad, International Business Times has learned. The purchase of the aircraft by an Iranian concern represents a clear violation of the deal brokered by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, under which Iran pledged to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions, said senior American officials and attorneys who handle issues associated with sanctions compliance.

“Temporary sanctions relief … currently in place does not cover the sale or lease of complete aircraft to Iran,” said Betsy Bourassa, a representative of the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence within the Treasury Department in Washington. And a representative of the State Department told IBT that it was aware of the sale and is investigating the transaction.

Click through for the rest of the story.  In my mind, this does not bode well for the success of the Iran nuclear agreement, but we'll have to wait to find out the results of the State Department's investigation.  Are Republicans going to try to pillory John Kerry over the deal?  They sure do like political lynchings.

Think Progress — “This bill is about recognizing that the fossil fuel reserves that are on our public lands should be managed in the public interest, and the public interest is for us to help drive a transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy future,” Merkley said on a press call Tuesday. “We don’t have a lot of time to do this, so there’s an urgency to it, and a place that’s readily available for us to act is on the fossil fuels that are on our public lands.”

Merkley referenced findings from earlier this year that 80 percent of coal reserves — along with a third of global oil reserves and half of global natural gas reserves — should stay in the ground between now and 2050 in order to keep warming to 2°C, the limit that many scientists agree we need to stay below in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Banning new oil and gas leases on public lands, as the bill would do, would be a step towards this target.

This is as it should be.  Unfortunately, as Senator Merkley said, he isn't expecting much action because of Congressional leadership [or lack thereof].

My Universe — From the Animal Rescue Site — Some silly cats are confused and think they aren’t cats at all. 

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.



Nov 022015

It is pouring rain right now and I can here wind gusts whipping around my building.  My babes are snuggled in bed together having feasted on fresh cooked cod, their 3rd favourite dinner after chicken and turkey (white meat only thank you very much).  I have managed 2 loads of laundry so the world is a safer place.  I have physio in the morning followed by teaching.  I think I can say that my cold is gone, but I still intend to indulge in some cat naps.  Thanks to Lona for the supply!  You're such a sweetheart for those cat naps.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:56 (average 5:02). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes

The Guardian — Carol’s grim demise forms the plot of Unexpected, one of hundreds of evangelical Christian theatrical twists on haunted houses that are produced by American churches each year in the run-up to Halloween. They aim to scare the wayward on to the path of righteousness with a rather more serious question than “trick or treat?” – heaven or hell?

I was taken aback by the whole idea of churches promoting a hell house to offer twists on haunted houses before Hallowe'en.  And their goal . . . to scare people to Jesus.  I should preface my comment here.  I am a Christian, a very liberal Christian, but I will not stand infront of someone and tell them what to believe.  I will not be as the very conservative fundamentalist Christians in the US, and elsewhere, forcing my beliefs down the throats of others, and trying to legislate that faith as the faith of the nation.  What to believe is a very personal choice. Creating a climate of fear to "scare souls to Jesus" is ludicrous, and only adds to the general fear in society.  When fear is the motivator, no matter the area of life, then we stop listening to each other.

Mother Jones — The massive size of the fire trucks' engines, combined with their inefficient combustion in cold weather, means that the air reaching us is replete with fine and ultrafine particles—specks of waste at least 36 times finer than a grain of sand, often riddled with toxic combinations of sulfate, nitrate and ammonium ions, hydrocarbons, and heavy metals. Though we have long known that these tiny particles cause and exacerbate respiratory problems—like asthma and infections and cancers of the lungs—they are also suspected to contribute to a diverse range of disorders, from heart disease to obesity. And now cutting-edge research suggests that these particles play a role in some of humanity's most terrifying and mysterious illnesses: degenerative brain diseases.

The good news is that air pollution is one of the United States' greatest environmental success stories. Particle emissions have been dropping steadily since the 1970s, along with other pollutants governed by laws like the Clean Air Act. The EPA regulates levels of coarse- and fine-particle pollution, and two years ago it strengthened the national standards for fine particles. But there is still no regulation for ultrafine-particle pollution, here or in any other country. 

Click through for the rest of the article.  As I read this long but interesting article, I could not help but think of my mother, succumbing to dementia. For 40 years, she lived in a mill town where the rotten egg smell of the pulp and paper mill was always prevalent.  Add to that the ever present thick coating of greasey black ash which burned paint off of vehicles and buildings.  I can't help but find the information in the article compelling.  I remember several years ago reading about a town in Wisconsin (?) where whole neighbourhoods had higher than average cancer diagnois and death rates thought to be brought on by high toxic pollution in the river that runs by a Koch Industries plant. We know from their actions that Republicans don't give a tinker's damn about clean air and water if it comes at the expense of their profits.  Just read The Fall of King Coal which I posted here on 05/10/15 to look at profit versus people.  It is past time to demand more be done . . . to put people before profits.

Alternet — In this, Wallace was using the classic definition of the word “fascist”—the definition Mussolini had in mind when he claimed to have invented the word. (It was actually Italian philosopher Giovanni Gentile who wrote the entry in the Encyclopedia Italiana that said: “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” Mussolini, however, affixed his name to the entry, and claimed credit for it.)

fascist america

As the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is, “A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”

Click through for the rest of this interesting article.  The word "fascist" is thrown about a fair amount, but do we have the correct context and meaning?   For some, this discussion is not new.  For others, it may well be.

Think Progress — Ben Carson is seeking to rally Republican candidates to end most actual debating at future Republican debates. Instead, candidates would spend most of their time taking turns delivering speeches.

Click Rachel Maddow to see Friday's segment where Rachel explores the fallout from the last Republican debate and what is likely ahead.  She certainly does become very animated.

GOP candidates plot RNC mutiny over debates

Sorry, I can't embed the show as it isn't on YouTube yet.

My Universe —


I found IT!!!

Oct 182015

Well, it is Saturday night and all through the house not a creature is stirring, not even the cats!  That sounds like a somewhat familiar strain! Oh, I know . . . I did a bit of Christmas shopping today and it is rubbing off in my prose.  I hope you are having a great weekend.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:53 (average 4:56). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes 

Huffington Post — For the past four years, Texas oil billionaire and corporate raider T. Boone Pickens has been suing the Liberal government in Ontario under NAFTA, arguing he has been the victim of "unfair" backroom deals involving the province’s green energy program.

A NAFTA tribunal is expected to rule on Pickens’ $700-million lawsuit this month,The New York Times reported Friday, describing the dispute as the 87-year-old tycoon’s “last big battle.” [emphasis mine]

There is another law suit by Lone Pine Resources, a Calgary company with corporate registration in Delaware, over the Québec government's moratorium on fracking within its jurisdiction.  Lone Pine wants to frack under the St Lawrence River and is suing Canada for $250 million under NAFTA.  Now Pickens!  As the article states, 70% of the law suits under NAFTA are against Canada.  And of course, now countries are looking to approve the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is pretty much NAFTA on steroids.  Anybody else see a problem with this.  It feels like good bye to national sovreignty over resources.

Think Progress — Two Wisconsin state lawmakers, Rep. Jesse Kremer (R) and Sen. Stephen Nass (R), have introduced legislation that would prohibit schools from accommodating transgender students who wish to use restroom and changing room facilities that match their gender. It would also empower anyone who notices a school respecting a transgender student as such to file a complaint and win damages against that school.

Read the article to get the full flavour of this Republican bigotry.

Raw Story — After interviewing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Friday, Real Time host Bill Maher explained how Republicans misunderstand Sanders almost totally.

“He’s the one who makes their heads explode when he talks,” Maher said …

Think Progress — On Thursday morning, Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Governor John Kasich will release a tax and spending plan that would give big boosts to the rich and the wealthy with severe cuts for everyone else.  

He would lower the top income tax rate paid by the richest from its current level of 39.6 percent to 28 percent, reducing it by nearly a third. While the campaign hasn’t released full details, nor has an analysis been done on his plan, a proposal from fellow Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush that would lower the top rate to the same level found that it would increase the incomes of the 1 percent by more than 11 percent.

And Rachel Maddow thought Kasich might be a Republican she could tolerate if she had to?  Following Kasich down into his rabbit hole might call into question anybody's sanity!  Could Kasich be anymore Republican?

My Universe — h/t Carol B & Ted W (Care2)

So much for the GREAT ESCAPE!!!!!

Aug 172015

Actually, its not fully accurate to say Republicans have a plan for seniors.  They have several.  For seniors that are too poor to buy medicines, Republicans would replace Medicaid with block grants to states, so Republican governors can give that money to billionaires instead of giving granny her medicine.  For seniors on Medicare, they would give Granny a voucher and let Big Insurance cancel her policy, as soon as she gets sick.  For seniors, who die because of the other Republican plans, they have the RepubliCare Death Benefit.  When Granny cannot pay, pro-life Republicans never charge her extra to die.  But the Republican plan for Granny at issue today is their plan to gut Social Security.

0817Social-SecuritySomething strange is happening in the Republican primary — something strange, that is, besides the Trump phenomenon. For some reason, just about all the leading candidates other than The Donald have taken a deeply unpopular position, a known political loser, on a major domestic policy issue. And it’s interesting to ask why.

The issue in question is the future of Social Security, which turned 80 last week. The retirement program is, of course, both extremely popular and a long-term target of conservatives, who want to kill it precisely because its popularity helps legitimize government action in general. As the right-wing activist Stephen Moore (now chief economist of the Heritage Foundation) once declared, Social Security is “the soft underbelly of the welfare state”; “jab your spear through that” and you can undermine the whole thing.

But that was a decade ago, during former President George W. Bush’s attempt to privatize the program — and what Mr. Bush learned was that the underbelly wasn’t that soft after all. Despite the political momentum coming from the G.O.P.’s victory in the 2004 election, despite support from much of the media establishment, the assault on Social Security quickly crashed and burned. Voters, it turns out, like Social Security as it is, and don’t want it cut.

It’s remarkable, then, that most of the Republicans who would be president seem to be lining up for another round of punishment. In particular, they’ve been declaring that the retirement age — which has already been pushed up from 65 to 66, and is scheduled to rise to 67 — should go up even further.

Thus, Jeb Bush says that the retirement age should be pushed back to “68 or 70”. Scott Walker has echoed that position. Marco Rubio wants both to raise the retirement age and to cut benefits for higher-income seniors. Rand Paul wants to raise the retirement age to 70 and means-test benefits. Ted Cruz wants to revive the Bush privatization plan.

For the record, these proposals would be really bad public policy — a harsh blow to Americans in the bottom half of the income distribution, who depend on Social Security, often have jobs that involve manual labor, and have not, in fact, seen a big rise in life expectancy. Meanwhile, the decline of private pensions has left working Americans more reliant on Social Security than ever…

Inserted from <NY Times>

Granny beware!  Click through for the remainder of this fine Paul Krugman editorial.,

Jul 292015

Last week I had a small but thoroughly enjoyable meeting with five of my guys.  The prison fouled-up the turnout, so ten were not released for it.  We discussed the importance of maintaining an ongoing personal inventory, and using it as a tool to recognize when we are wrong, admit it, make amends, and learn from it.  As always, I could not be more proud of them.  It was very hot, as the Activities section is over the kitchen.  I feel tired and sore, but I did get some good sleep last might.  Today is a grocery delivery day, so I have some cleaning to do in preparation.  The forecast high is 95° and will not dip below 90° until 8/3 at the earliest, so the next heat wave is officially here.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:22 (average 5/26).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: Changing austerity measures starts with changing how we value our own work.

Like the frog in the pot that didn’t know it was boiling until it was too late, some of us have gotten used to these things. But some of us haven’t and aren’t willing to. Like Agnes Török, who filmed this moving poem that puts into words the frustrations so many of us have felt.

Her words are inspiration for those of us who’ve internalized economic disparities as our own character failures.


This hero truly understands Republican tinkle down policies. Kudos.

From The New Yorker: In what critics are calling a desperate attempt to draw the media’s attention away from Donald Trump, the other fifteen candidates for the Republican nomination have released a joint sex tape.

The tape, including such luminaries as former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Texas senator Ted Cruz, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie, appeared briefly on major news Web sites before an avalanche of viewer revulsion demanded it be taken down.

According to Carol Foyler, a viewer who happened to catch the tape during its brief appearance on the CNN Web site, the video contained images “I may never be able to get out of my mind.”

“I couldn’t believe that these people would participate in such a thing,” she said. “Except maybe Santorum.”

Dang Andy! Lindsey Poo was a bottom.  I have no doubt that Frothy was the man on dog, but do we need to change a name from "Upchuck Huck" to "Buttf*** Huck"? Smile with tongue out

From Washington Post: Openly gay Americans can now legally marry, serve in the military (as long as you’re not transgender) and, as of Monday, lead a Boy Scout troop.

So what can’t they do? In fact, there are still several things gay Americans can’t do that straight Americans might take for granted.

We did some research and talked to the Human Rights Campaign’s legal director, Sarah Warbelow, to find out what openly gay Americans are still fighting for.

1. Give blood

This prohibition is specifically for gay and bisexual men, whom the federal government prohibited from donating blood in 1983, during the AIDS epidemic.

The Obama administration recently lifted the ban, but with one very important caveat: A man can only donate blood if he hasn’t had sexual relations with another man in the past year. The ruling was disappointing to LGBT rights groups.

"That’s really unrealistic to ask people," Warebelow said — "especially those who are in long-term relationships."

2. Be protected from housing discrimination in 28 states

In 28 states that don’t include sexual orientation in their housing discrimination laws, gay and lesbian Americans can be denied an apartment to rent, a home to buy or obtain a mortgage on the basis of their sexual orientation.

In the 30 states that don’t ban housing discrimination based on gender identity, transgender Americans face the same possibility.

3. Be protected from business discrimination in 28 states

In 28 states, gay and lesbian Americans can get kicked out of a restaurant, be refused services by a hairdresser or asked to leave a shopping mall. That number’s even higher for transgender people, who don’t have similar protections in 32 states.

The federal government also has no law prohibiting LGBT discrimination in public spaces and services.

In the states and cities that do have anti-discrimination laws — including about a dozen cities in Indiana — some conservatives have successfully pushed for a religious freedom bill to give extra legal protections to service providers who refuse LGBT Americans.

Click through for the other four. The battle against the Republican Reich for LGBT equality has just begun.



Where InsaniTEA rules supreme.

Jul 112015

Looking back to thirty four years ago, I was vaguely aware of the greenhouse effect and knew some scientists were sounding warnings, but the issue seemed distant.  At the time, I was more concerned that a second-rate actor, who had been upstaged by a chimp, had his finger on the nuclear trigger and was talking about evil empires.  But someone did know how serious the problem is.  Their identity makes their subsequent actions all the more criminal.

0711Exxon“Pope Francis blasts global warming deniers,” the Washington Post wrote last month. The Pope’s climate encyclical focused on the immorality of climate inaction — which makes the immorality of knowingly spreading disinformation for the purpose of delaying action all the more base.

Now the Union of Concerned Scientists has disclosed an email revealing that Exxon understood the scientific reality of climate change as far back as 1981. “Other companies, such as Mobil, only became aware of the issue in 1988, when it first became a political issue,” Exxon’s former in-house climate expert, chemical engineer Leonard S. Bernstein wrote last year. The 30-year veteran of Mobil and Exxon explained:

Exxon first got interested in climate change in 1981 because it was seeking to develop the Natuna gas field off Indonesia. This is an immense reserve of natural gas, but it is 70% CO2. That CO2 would have to be separated to make the natural gas usable.

And yet despite a growing understanding of the scientific reality of climate change in the 1980s and 1990s, Exxon became one of the biggest funders of scientists and think tanks and others who do little but deny and cast doubt on the scientific understanding of human-caused global warming.

As recently as February 2015, a New York Times exposé revealed that a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who routinely casts doubt on widely accepted climate science had “accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers.” This included funding from ExxonMobil and “at least $230,000 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.”… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Think Progress>

I just can’t get my head around how criminal greed can be so pervasive that they did this for all these years, when they had a better understanding than most Americans do now.  Only one word is sufficient to describe it: Republican!