Feb 032016

After mucking about yesterday with a doctor's appointment (just a quick check in), a Costco run for Perrier water (I like the bubbles), and then some chores, I started my post but was tired.  So I decided to relax for half an hour.  I fell asleep not waking until this morning.  Off to the races again with physio, chiropractor, and a wonderful relaxing lunch with a friend.  Ah, a day in the life of a retired person!

Short Takes

Foreign Policy — Of our candidates, who do you think would be most popular in Russia?

Feldman: On the surface, Trump is, of course, terribly similar to Putin.

Because in Russia, the elections are more like a choice between different aesthetics. That is, you have no chance to have an effect on actual policy. You can vote for the Communists if you’re nostalgic, for the screaming [Vladimir] Zhirinovsky if you want to bang your fist on the table, for [the ruling party] United Russia if you want to show your loyalty, and for A Just Russia if you’re loyal, but not very.

So in Russia, elections look different. It’s a ritual, a cult. You vote and it doesn’t change anything. Here it’s not like that — but in that way, on the surface, Trump is, of course, very similar to Putin. He’s the closest to this kind of Russian politics.

FP: In that, by voting for him, you’re more showing who you are than voting for a policy?

Feldman: Yes.  I was actually at a Trump rally in Cedar Falls, and I had this feeling that I had returned to the Motherland.  

TC has often referred to Vladimir Putin as Pooty-R(Ru).  In this piece, the author interviews Russian photojournalist Evgeny Feldman who is in the US observing the Iowa caucuses, among other things.  He seems to think that Trump is very much like Putin.

Right Wing Watch — “I believe that they are positioning themselves so that someday they could invade Israel to be able to take over the vast stores of oil and natural gas that Israel is controlling,” she said, adding that “this very unique new partnership between Iran and Russia in Syria” with the support of China “lines up with scripture.” All of these powers, she said, are seeking “a global world order to keep their game going into the future and to support them if they would invade against Israel.”

And who will lead this global world order? Why, none other than Obama.


Oh my!  I thought Guano Girl could not get any more batshit crazy than she already was!  I stand corrected.  She out did herself, or maybe it's just been so delightfully quiet without her daily rants and shenanigans that I feel assaulted by her guanoness!

Huffington Post — Real estate mogul Donald Trump accused Ted Cruz of fraud on Wednesday, claiming the Texas senator "stole" the Iowa caucuses and arguing that "either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified."  

Trump posed with a bald eagle, named Uncle Sam, for a TIME magazine shoot when he was in the running for person of the year. Nothing is more satisfyingly ironic and metaphorical as this bald eagle-the symbol of American freedom and might-attacking Trump, who only wants to "Make America Great Again."  It is about time that Uncle Sam took Trump to task!

Trump is a master at sucking the oxygen out of the race by drawing attention to himself with new controversies. The Twitter rant is just one more example of this media strategy, particularly at a time when Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are basking in the glow of their performances in Iowa.

Cruz responded Wednesday afternoon, mocking the businessman for throwing a "Trumpertantrum."

Trump sure doesn't like losing! . . . and if there was any doubt about that, his Twitter rant should allay all doubts.  I wonder if he'll threaten to hold his breath if he doesn't get his way?  I can hope can't I?  As much as I dislike Cruz, his response was cool — Trumpertantrum.  LOL!!!

NBC — Rick Santorum on Wednesday announced he is suspending his presidential campaign and endorsing Marco Rubio.

"He is the new generation and someone that can bring this country together — not just moderates and conservatives but young and old," Santorum said of the Florida senator during an appearance on the Fox News program "On the Record With Greta Van Susteren."

Santorum called Rubio a "born leader" best able to help the struggling middle class, support families and combat the terror group ISIS.

In Open Thread–2/3/2016, TC posted about the Rand Paul, Idiot, Son of Idiot, Named after Idiot, withdrawal from the Republican presidential race.  Now Rick Santorum has also withdrawn which doesn't surprise me at all.  Thankfully, the Clown Car is getting lighter and lighter.  To date, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum have departed the Streetcar Named Desire, aka the Clown Car.  Seven ejected from the Clown Car, 10 to go.

Politico — Donald Trump has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

The billionaire presidential candidate, whose controversial comments and hard-edged policy proposals have upset many, was nominated for: "his vigorous peace through strength ideology, used as a threat weapon of deterrence against radical Islam, ISIS, nuclear Iran and Communist China,” according to a copy of the nomination letter obtained by the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, Norway. According to PRIO, Trump was nominated by an American.

From the "OMG, it can't be true!" files, Donald Trump was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.  Whomever nominated the misogynistic hater is demented, even more than Trump himself.  Somebody please tell me that a snowball has a better chance in hell than Trump has as a successful Nobel candidate.When he does not get it, we'll be able to call him "Strike Three" . . . no to Time person of the year, no in Iowa, and no to the Nobel Prize.

My Universe — 


Feb 022016

Yesterday I said "I shant be lingering to do extra tutoring or Costco runs."  OK, I admit it, I lied. . . sort of.  We did our English lesson and then the kids started arriving home from school.  I ended up checking some math homework for Jonathan, filling out some school related forms for 2 of the kids, and snuggling Regina who got hit by a flying truck thrown by Simon (the baby) and was in tears.  When I scolded Simon, he went into tears and lay claim to the other knee and arm!  JD, I guess God is splitting a gut laughing!

Tomorrow is less busy, or should I say, less stressful.

Short Takes

Huffington Post — This is an interactive automaticupdateat the site where you can see in which precints a candidate leads or trails.

Iowa Democratic Caucus

Bernie Sanders was nearly tied with Hillary Clinton in the Democratic race, while O’Malley suspended his campaign before all results were counted.

Des MoinesCedar RapidsDavenportDes MoinesCedar RapidsDavenport

Candidate SDEs Delegates
Clinton 667 28











Sanders 664 21











O'Malley 8


∗ The Iowa Democratic Party doesn't report vote counts. It reports State Delegate Equivalents (SDEs), predictions of who will attend the state-wide party convention.


3 of 52 delegates in play in Iowa.

HuffPost counts unpledged delegates who have publicly stated their intent to vote for a candidate.

1,604 of 1,681 precincts reporting

Last updated: 

Iowa Republican Caucus

Republican voters in Iowa turned out in record numbers for the GOP caucus, showing strong support for Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio finished a close third despite lagging well behind Donald Trump in the polls. Other candidates, like Jeb Bush, failed to gain traction with voters.

Des MoinesCedar RapidsDavenportDes MoinesCedar RapidsDavenport

Candidate Votes Delegates
Cruz ✓ 51,047 8











Trump 44,837 7











Rubio 42,577 6











Carson 17,173 2











Paul 8,361 1











Bush 5,165


Fiorina 3,442


Kasich 3,441


Huckabee 3,305


Christie 3,247


Santorum 1,768


Gilmore 12



6 of 30 delegates in play in Iowa.

HuffPost counts unpledged delegates who have publicly stated their intent to vote for a candidate.

1,655 of 1,681 precincts reporting

Last updated: 

Mike Huckabee annouced that he has suspended his campaign.  With Upchuck Huck out of the race, it remains to be seen who else will bow out, if any, before the next round of primaries.  If you ask me, Gilmore, Santorum, and Fiorina should be bowing out next.

I won't go into an analysis as I am sure that TC will have the final results and his expert indepth analysis tomorrow.

BTW, a pollster here in Canada was asking people today about what they thought of Trump in the White House. Nationally, 65% of Canadians fear that, while 80% of British Columbians don't want Trump in the White House.  He sure isn't making many friends north of the 49th!

CBC — The protection of B.C.'s Great Bear Rainforest is now assured, after a decade of complex negotiations between the province, First Nations and industry. 

Under terms of the agreement announced Monday morning by Premier Christy Clark, 85 per cent (3.1 million hectares) of the forested area of the northern wilderness will be completely — and permanently — protected from industrial logging.  

Great Bear Rainforest

Spirit bears are the best known part of the unique flora and fauna of the Great Bear Rainforest that will be protected under an agreement finalized in B.C. Monday. Spirit bears, also known as Kermode bears, are black bears with a unique genetic variation that gives them their cream-coloured fur. (Ian McAllister)

The Great Bear Rainforest stretches from B.C.'s Discovery Islands, north to Alaska's Tongass Rainforest. Along with Haida Gwaii, parts of which are protected under other agreements, it represents the largest tracts of intact temperate rainforest on Earth. It is home to numerous species of plant and animals, including old growth trees, orcas, grizzlies and spirit bears.

Moss-covered trees stand the test of time. (Photo: National Geographic)

From Common Dreams:

It is "one of the most visionary forest conservation plans on Earth," said Valerie Langer, solutions director at ForestEthics, one of the groups that signed on to the deal. "It is a principled approach that sets a new legal and science-based standard for sustaining healthy forests and maintains intact, old-growth that will keep millions of tonnes of carbon out of the atmosphere."

As old growth tropical rainforests in the Philipines and Indonesia have been decimated to provided space for palm plantations, so has the old growth temperate rainforest in Canada been decimated for its lumber.  These are not replacable.  I am very happy with this agreement and the process of inclusion that struck the agreement.

Raw Story — The New York Daily News wasted no time ripping Donald Trump’s surprise loss in Monday’s Iowa Republican caucus.


If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this is a full political science essay from the New York Daily News!  Do you think that the paper is not sold on Trump?

The New Yorker —  Democrats have some messy internal business to deal with: Bernie Sanders, promoting an American version of People Power, has confirmed his capture of the Party’s under-forty wing, which means trouble for Hillary Clinton.  

Speaking on CNN as it got late, David Axelrod, President Obama’s former campaign manager, made an acute point. One of Hillary’s problems is that her campaign is largely about herself—her experience, her electability, and her toughness. “I will keep doing what I have done my entire life,” she said in her non-victory speech. “I will keep standing up for you. I will keep fighting for you.” Sanders, on the other hand, rarely mentions himself in his speeches. His campaign is all about his message of taking American back from the billionaires. And as Axelrod pointed out, it is often easier to inspire people, particularly young people, with an uplifting theme than with a resumé.

Bernie might be older than Clinton, but he is younger!

My Universe

9d6ad78d-dc00-48d3-8aca-5162bc4a9fe7Celebrate the Great Bear Rainforest agreement!


Jan 312016

I completed the Open Thread and went to save it only to get a message of an error, and the content went into cyber purgatory never to be seen again.  I wonder if it was something I said?  Yesterday was busy with teaching.  After finishing an ESL lesson, I tutoured grade 7 math and grade 3 English spelling.  By the time I arrived home at 20:30, the furbabies were ready to lynch me and I was too tired so no Open Thread yesterday.  Today has been much calmer, that is until I lost my thread.

Short Takes

Huffington Post — The poisoning of the majority-black population of the city is a product of a system failing the people of Flint on many levels over a long period of time. To really start unpacking the historical roots of the crisis, you have to go back to slavery itself, which debased the humanity and devalued the lives of black people from well before our nation's founding; followed by the Jim Crow era of legal segregation, discrimination, and violence against black Americans, which resulted in early 20th century migrations of black people from the segregated south to urban manufacturing centers of the northern United States. When they got there, they found cities without legal segregation, yet with de facto segregation and discrimination alive and well in both white attitudes and systems. The arrival and growth of black populations in northern cities was followed shortly thereafter by white flight to the suburbs, aided by discriminatory housing policies that effectively prevented the vast majority of black people from joining them and blocked the financing of black homes even in the cities.

I came across this piece and thought to share it and the following 28 minute video "America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America".  Wallis talks of racism and white privilege as moral issues that are "…in the air that we breathe and the water we drink." At Politics Plus, we often talk about pseudo Christianity and authentic Christianity, especially as it relates to the political scene.  We talk also about white privilege and the political effects.  As Wallis says "So let's change the water — and the air."

Think Progress — The Ku Klux Klan has gotten a bad rap, according to one Georgia lawmaker. He says the terror group “was not so much a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order” that “made a lot of people straighten up.”

That leader is now hellbent on stopping the “cultural cleansing” of the South’s heritage. So far this year, State Rep. Tommy Benton (R) has co-sponsored two bills to preserve the Confederate’s legacy.

Another Republican nutter.

Mother Jones — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's presidential campaign never really caught steam. In Iowa, he's barely registering in the polls, and in New Hampshire (seemingly friendlier territory) he's generally in sixth place. So with the first votes fast approaching, he's settled on a strategy of attacking the non-Trump frontrunners, particularly Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, as dishonest politicians who are lying to voters.

This from Pignocchio whose nose is so long that he would be unable to do a field sobriety test of touching his finger to the end of his nose!  That's rich!

Alternet — “It’s really frightening,” survivor Al Munzer told the newspaper. “When you see these mass rallies that Trump is able to attract, you really wonder: How are they buying into this message of hate?”

The most direct answer to Munzer’s question can be found in the words of Trump’s followers themselves, who aren’t so much buying into hate as they are enthusiastically supporting the guy boosting the hate and racism they already feel. For all his self-aggrandizement, even Donald Trump wouldn’t likely claim to have hypnotized his supporters. He’s merely speaking directly to a huge demographic of overwhelmingly white voters who want blacks, Mexicans, Muslims and others out of the country they believe belongs to them. This is what they mean by "making America great again."

We hear a lot of references to Adolf Hitler when talking about Trump and his racist, xenophobic ideas.  I am not enamoured of such talk, but some survivors of Hitler's final solution see distinct similarities.

Huffington Post — A veteran MP losing his voice to the ravages of Lou Gehrig's disease found an innovative way to make himself heard in the House of Commons Wednesday.

mauril belanger

And Mauril Belanger made history in the process.

This is a story of perseverence and courage.  Mauril Bélanger, MP has represented Ottawa-Vanier for 20 years. Immediately following the Canadian federal election of 19/10/2015, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrigs disease.  Some thought he would step down, but that is not his style.  His voice is greatly affected so he has come up with an idea to allow him to continue.

My Universe — 

Jan 242016

I just came back from visiting my mother, and all is fine.  When I awoke this morning, it was a bloody miracle that I had not literally rolled out of bed onto the floor.  My three furbabes were lying across the bed and had pushed me towards the precipice of the bed.  Tomorrow is physio and a day that perhaps I can catch up on some chores.  My student has an appointment elsewhere so I won't be teaching.

Short Takes

CBC — In her solipsistic return to the campaign trail last week, Sarah Palin blamed President Barack Obama for the fact that her military reservist son punched his girlfriend in the face, then drunkenly threatened to kill himself with an assault rifle before winding up under arrest, facing criminal charges.

Track Palin had been "fighting for you-all, America," shouted his mother in Oklahoma, suggesting that her son's time in Iraq eight years ago left him with PTSD.

"It is now or never, for the sake of America's finest, that we have that commander-in-chief that will respect them and honour them!"

The audience roared.

New friends. Former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin endorsed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Iowa State University on Tuesday.

Ah geeeee buttercup!

Palin then explained that the better commander-in-chief would be Donald Trump, her pick for the Republican presidential nomination.

Veterans, you see, would never punch their girlfriends or need to be handcuffed by police if Trump was president. They'd feel his deep respect, and calm down and be more nurturing.

I know, we're all getting tired of Sarah Palin.  But CBC senior correspondent, Neil Macdonald, has a way of getting to the truth in a succinct way, laying waste to her BS.  Too bad the Republican base, intoxicated by fear, won't hear the truth.

Alternet — The Republican Party’s “serious people” wing has issued an anti-Donald Trump manifesto in the vaunted conservative journal, National Review. The piece is filled with irony, humor and blunt assessments of how the GOP is crumbling from within. But it’s all there, confirming everything that’s been said about what Trump represents and how he has exacerbated the Republican Party’s identity crisis.  

A dictator who will make Obama’s executive orders seem quaint.

“Equally troubling is his idea of the presidency — his promise that he’s the guy, the man on a white horse, who can ride into Washington, fire the stupid people, hire the best people and fix everything. He doesn’t talk about policy or working with Congress. He’s effectively vowing to be an American Mussolini, concentrating power in the Trump White House and governing by fiat.”

— David Boaz, Cato Institute executive vice president

To paraphrase Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "How do I hate thee?  Let me count the ways."  This is the 2nd of "18 Reasons Why Donald Trump Is a Vulgar, Two-Bit Caesar, According to America's Conservatives".  To make things worse (or maybe not) from a conservative point of view, the RNC has folded its tent dealing with Trump.  The party would appear to be imploding on itself so I read earlier this week.  Click through for the rest.  If nothing else, it gives progressives a chuckle.  But don't be lured into complacency, he's dragging a lot of low information, disaffected conservative voters along with him.

Mother Jones — In the summer of 2010, she [Jane Mayer] published a pathbreaking, in-depth piece, headlined "Covert Operations," which chronicled the rise of the Kochs' ideological network—dubbed the "Kochtopus"—and the efforts of the publicity-shy libertarian brothers to guide the burgeoning tea party toward policies that favor Koch Industries. The article depicted the Kochs as secretive bankrollers waging a war against President Barack Obama and opposing environmental safety measures. The Kochs were enraged by the story. A lawyer for their company complained; David Koch called the story "ludicrous." But the New Yorker saw no reason to correct anything. And the kerfuffle seemed to die down. Or so Mayer thought.

The Kochtopus

Click through for the rest of Mayer's fight against the Kochtopus.  The article she wrote in 2010 that angered the Kochs, "Covert Operations" is a long but interesting piece.

My Universe


Jan 132016

Yesterday was a busy day . . . I took my mother to a specialist doctor which was a 4 hour affair (including transport) for her, and then I had a Family Council meeting at her care facility.  I did not arrive home until 22:30.  I was "exhaustipated"!  Since I was so late and so tired, I did not finish the Open Thread.  I just fed the furbabies and myself, then slept instead.  Today was another 2.5 hours of physio therapy including 30 minutes of bike riding.  Somebody made a comment about me being saddle sore because I often ride for a half hour.  No problem — it's a recumbent bike so very comfortable and better for the knees.

Short Take

Politico — The Supreme Court appeared ready Monday to bar public-sector unions from collecting "fair-share" fees from non-members, a move that could deal a political blow to Democrats by reducing union membership drastically and draining union coffers.

At oral arguments in a case brought by California public school teachers who object to the requirement, the court's conservative wing appeared deeply skeptical of a 1977 high court decision upholding the constitutionality of such fees.  

Under current law, public employees covered by union contracts may opt out of paying any fees toward the political activity of their union. But states may pass laws that require those dissenting members to pay a fee to cover their portion of collective bargaining costs. Such provisions, on the books in about two dozen states, are being challenged in the case by Rebecca Friedrichs and eight other California teachers.

The fair-share or "agency" fee is widely seen as a compromise between the First Amendment rights of public employees who may not wish to join a union and the material interest of the unions, which are required by law to bargain on behalf of all members of a given unit, regardless of membership status.

Now that arguments have been heard, we'll have to wait to see how SCOTUS rules.  Just playing devil's advocate a bit, what if the unions were required to only bargain on behalf of its members, and all non union members had to individually bargain for their wages/benefits etc?  Certainly the employer is not going to want to negotiate with a lot of different people due to the time and costs involved.  The settlements are likely to be smaller.  So, can Friedrichs logically say she would negotiate her contract and come out as well or better than she would have paying the agency fee?

Think Progress — Sue Berkowitz, director of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, which advocates for low-income residents, told ThinkProgress that poverty is a huge issue in her state, largely a result of conservative policies that have been tested and proven ineffective.

“I don’t expect them to touch on anything that is realistic,” she said about the event.

Berkowitz pointed out that the summit is being held in a city with the highest number of diabetic related amputations in the country. Overall, South Carolina’s poverty rate is ranked ninth highestin the nation, with more than 860,000 people living below the poverty line in 2013. The state alsoranks seventh in the percentage of people living in poverty areas. Twenty-seven percent of the state’s children live in poverty and 25 percent live in a food-insecure household, putting it in 45th place in the nation for the well-being of its children.  

“To take SNAP and start talking about things like block granting and making it a work program is just not understanding what’s going on with the low-income community,” Berkowitz said. “At least if you want to get rid of these programs, talk about them honestly. Talk about why you’re doing it and don’t make it look like you’re doing something compassionate and helping people out of their misery. Because the only way we help people out of the misery of poverty is to ensure they’ll have living wages or living stipends to allow them to afford the things that they need.”

The only ones that the Republicans will help are themselves and the 1%.  As Berkowitz says, "At least if you want to get rid of these programs, talk about them honestly."   Honesty is not in the Republican lexicon.

The Nation On a brisk November 13 night in Paris, armed gunmen killed 130 people and shocked the world. Global media snapped into full focus, covering the attack with a frequency and depth unmatched by coverage of any terrorist attack since the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris earlier that year. Just hours earlier, in Beirut and Baghdad, terrorist attacks had claimed the lives of dozens. In Lebanon and Iraq, many were equally shocked, not simply by these attacks, but by what they perceived as a comparable lack of media attention to them. That week marked one crescendo in critiques on media institutions for allegedly covering terrorism more often and more in depth when it occurs in Western countries than when it occurs in non-Western ones.

Is the media creating, or at least substantially contribuuting to the climate of fear in the West with its lopsided coverage of terrorist attacks?

My Universe — 


Nannies to a new born pitbull rejected by its mother.


Jan 102016

Yesterday was busy.  By the time I arrived home, I couldn't seem to stir myself to prepare an Open Thread in time for publishing.  The one short take I had morphed into today's lead article.  So I threw up my hands, watched a video, and did some major cat cuddling.  My little girl, Annie, was asleep under my desk earlier, but now my big ginger, Winnie, is there, his paw and head resting on my foot.

Short Takes

Think Progress — On Monday, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson released his tax plan, the center of which is a flat tax of 14.9 percent.

Rather than different tax brackets for different income levels and categories, the flat tax levies the same rate on all personal and business income, although Carson’s 14.9 percent rate would only apply to people who have incomes above 150 percent of the poverty level, or $36,375 for a family of four. Those who make less would have to make a small tax payment: “Even those who earn little income will pay taxes, no matter how small their contribution might be,” Carson says in his plan. Currently, 46 percent of Americans don’t have to pay federal income taxes because their incomes are too low.

Shades of Mr 999!  Republicans have been in a sweaty dither about the national deficit during Obama's presidency, and now Carson wants to significantly reduce revenues?  He probably thinks it will help him at the polls.  What a jackass!

Politico — Charles Koch is “disappointed” with the line-up of Republican candidates in the 2016 cycle, and is surprised by the lack of influence he and his brother have wielded so far.  

Koch, his brother David, and their network had pledged to spend $889 million on policy and political battles headed into November 2016. But Charles Koch said in October that the political network of donors revised its estimate and instead planned on spending $750 million on politics over two years.

So Charles isn't feeling the love?  Poor baby.  I can hear him now as the campaign finance laws are reformed and Citizens United is overturned!  The reduction is still a drop inthe bucket!

Mediaite — Cruz defiantly scoffed off recent criticism by Republican opponent Donald Trump regarding his citizenship by proclaiming that the question is “settled law.” Here is the thing. It is not. In fact, the meaning of natural born is just simply not defined in the U.S. Constitution.

There are three basic requirements for presidency. First, the President must be 35 years old or older. Second, he or she must be a “Resident” of the Unites States for fourteen years. But the third one is vague and is the heart of the controversy. The President must be a “natural born Citizen.”  Mr. Cruz – a Harvard Law grad, an attorney and former state solicitor general – should know that.

Certainly, Trump is test driving his "birther" screed on Cruz, but so far, not as vehemently as he did with Obama . . . yet!  And then there is the notion put forth in Talking Points Memo that Cruz's mother may have become a Canadian.  Personally, I doubt it.  And of course, the Coultergeist, a Trump supporter, weighed in on the issue in her usual flip-flop style in Mediaite.

My Universeh/t JL

I could not get the video embeded so click here to watch.  When the picture appears, click in the middle of it and the fun begins.


I'm ready for the video!  Who's got the popcorn?


Yeah Weekend cat

Jan 032016

Well I spent yesterday doing laundry and the Politics Plus Monthly Report so I pooped out before doing an Open Thread.  Today, the end of the laundry!  As I sit here, I can hear the fog horn blowing out in the inlet.  Tomorrow is physio, teaching, and a doctor's appointment so it will be a long day.

Short Takes

Huffington Post — But 2016 Republican candidate Carly Fiorina dismissed Iran’s reaction to the death of the leading anti-government protester.

“I take the Iranian condemnation with a huge grain of salt,” Fiorina told CNN’s "State of the Union" on Sunday. “This is a regime that tortures citizens routinely, that thinks nothing of executions, that still holds four Americans in jail.”  

Retired neurosurgeon and presidential hopeful Ben Carson went further, suggesting that the nuclear deal struck last July between Iran, the U.S. and five world powers pushed Saudi Arabia to violently repress its Shiite population.

“The Saudis have been one of our strongest allies in the Middle East, and I think it’s unfortunate that we put them in the position we have by showing the support to Iran that we have with this foolish deal,” Carson told ABC’s “This Week." 

These Republicans call Saudi Arabia an ally of the US yet Saudi Arabia, according to the Human Rights Watch World Report 2015. continues to "… try, convict, and imprison political dissidents and human rights activists solely on account of their peaceful activities. Systematic discrimination against women and religious minorities continued. … subjected hundreds of people to unfair trials and arbitrary detention. New anti-terrorism regulations that took effect in 2014 can be used to criminalize almost any form of peaceful criticism of the authorities as terrorism."  In addition, Saudi Arabia is the world's #1 importer of arms as at 2014.  What does it do with all these arms when it only has a standing armed forces of 239,000?  The Saudi's have not assisted in the placement of refugees from anything I have heard, and in the past were thought to be supporting ISIS in various ways.

The US is seen as the "boogeyman" in the Middle East, contributing substantially to the instability in the region.  But Saudi Arabia is destabilising force as well.  By executing Shiite dissident cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, Saudi Arabia has upped the ante.  The Iranian response has not helped either, but it is a direct response to Saudi Arabia's provocative action.

Count on Republicans to throw gasoline on a fire.

The Guardian — Speaking in Biloxi, Mississippi, the Republican presidential hopeful implied that the Obama administration should have heeded his call for the US to seize oil assets controlled by Isis but had instead allowed the terror group to prosper.

“I’ve predicted a lot of things, you have to say, including, ‘Get the oil, take the oil, keep the oil.’ Right? I’ve been saying that for three years, and everybody said, ‘Oh, I can’t do that. I mean, this is a sovereign country. There is no country!” Trump said.

They’ve created Isis. Hillary Clinton created Isis with Obama,” Trump said.

As I understand, ISIS was "created" by Baby Bush and Cheney when they invaded Iraq for oil, toppled Sadam Hussein and left a vacuum in Iraq.  Out of the sectarian violence came ISIS to fill the vacuum.  And leave it to Trump not to acknowledge the role his inflamatory rhetoric has played in recruitment videos.  He probably wants an OSCAR nomination for his work.

Alternet — "Fear," a great Jedi master named Yoda once said, "leads to anger," which leads to hate, which leads to suffering, which, of course, leads to the Dark Side.  

In other words, it went down exactly the way Republicans wanted it to go down. They've always used fear to win elections.

Whether it's fear of same-sex couples getting married, fear of the government taking away the people's guns or fear of Black men, they've always understood that fear works to motivate their white base.

IMO, Thom Hartmann is spot on.  Time to get the progressive vote out and talk down the fear.

My Universe — 

10683509"Please sir, might I have more?"

Jan 032016

Al Qaeda and the Daesh have increasingly used social media as a recruiting tool, using such platforms as a vehicle to gather recruits, purvey hatred, and incite violence.  In response, Twitter has adopted a new policy inviting users to report hate speech and suspending accounts of users who practice it.  However, other hate mongers have also been snared.

0103GOP-HateThere’s some outrage brewing in the #tcot (top conservative on twitter) world. In mid-December, Twitter announced some rule changes regarding hate speech, as has Google and Facebook, based on the increase in anti-immigrant comments from disgruntled Germans. And the Conservative world is not happy, as many of their accounts are based entirely on being hateful.

Substitute host Molly Line and National Review writer/guest, Katherine Timpf were both donning matching blue dresses with hemlines that might perk up some of the Ailes’ demographic that watches Fox ‘News’ with the sound turned down. Not sure if that was relevant, but it was hard to miss.

Timpf, who works for Bloody Bill Kristol, was delighting in all the hateful comments she receives on Twitter, and brags how she’s ‘threatened all the time.’ Tucker Carlson commiserated the same thing, and claimed he too is threatened and would never imagine silencing those people. They flashed some of the suspended Twitter accounts, that are strangely right-wing…

Inserted from <Crooks and Liars>


This isn’t a devious librul plot to silence Republicans, as they claim.  It’s so much simpler than that.  A policy targeting the Daesh naturally snares the Republican Party.  The main difference between the two is the religion misused to spread hatred and violence.

Jan 022016

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

I ask Megaera to turn her attention with me to the small college town of Prairie View, TX, the home of Prairie View A&M University, which was the alma mater of Sandra Bland, and which had just hired her as a summer program associate, the day she was stopped by a state trooper, ostensibly for failure to signal a lane change.

From some video footage of the event, it appears that the lane change to which the officer was referring in the stop was the change of lane she made because he had gone past her going the opposite direction, turned around, turned on flashers and siren, and appeared to want her to stop, which she did.

Now why might an officer stop a driver for failure to signal a lane change which was at his orders (which appears to be expecting the driver to be psychic)?  Well,

Texas has no state income tax, and money for social services must come from somewhere. Gouging people with traffic tickets and criminal convictions is an easy way for the state, counties, and municipalities to collect lots of money.

They do it through a byzantine schedule of fees. The state keeps most of the money, but counties and cities retain a percentage. There’s a $25 “records-management” fee, for instance. A $15 “judicial fund” fee. Fifteen dollars added to each bail-bond payment. The list goes on, with scores of charges. As a former Waller County Justice of the Peace described it, a trivial infraction can rack up charges totaling as much as $500.

The most arbitrary pinch comes from what’s known in Texas as the “Consolidated Court Cost.” Added to a fine, it’s a fixed amount imposed upon everyone who pleads guilty or is convicted of any offense, no matter how small. The fee is $40 for a non-jailable misdemeanor like a traffic ticket, $83 for a higher-level misdemeanor, and $133 for a felony.

Note that the author of this article even says this is grudging, although she spells it "gouging."  She refers to the Texas Fair Defense Project, which aims to "challenge policies that jail poor people because they can’t afford bail-bond fees and post-conviction fines and costs."

What I would like is for someone to explain to me how it can be considered profitable to sock poor people with fees and costs which are uncollectable, and therefore end up keeping them in jail, which costs something and brings in nothing.  I think they are doing it wrong.  Perhaps Megaera should be explaining to the state of Texas exactly how wrong they are doing it.  (BTW, Prairie View A&M itself actually gets a lot of what monies they do collect.  Ironic, isn't it?)

One thing Alecto is probably used to by now is fraud and hypocrisy from right wing candidates for election and from their election teams.  In fact, she is probably as tired of it as I am.  But, poor thing, it's her job. 

You may remember over the past few weeks Katrina Pierson, the National Spokesperson for the Trump campaign, discussing Trump's ideas for dealing with Muslims, and, when asked if those ideas were not discriminatory, saying "So what?  They're Muslims."  A real sweetie.  She got some more attention in the past few days wearing a necklace made out of bullets – not to bring attention to 90 Americans fatally shot each day; just, apparently, as a fashion statement.  Criticized, she responded "Maybe I'll wear a fetus next time."

She did herself, in 2014, run for Congress in Texas in 2014, but her campaign was derailed by revelations that, not only was she once arrested for shoplifting in JC Penney's, but that in 2012 and 2013, while working as a consultant for Ted Cruz's campaign, she had collected at least $11,000.00 in unemployment benefits.  Golly gee.

So, you think Trump keeps her around to make himself look honest by comparison?  That is also an old, old story. 

Tisiphone usually gets the ones that are covered with blood – and this week is no exception.  Here's the headline: "Sadistic Cops Make K-9 Maul Unarmed Suicidal Teen – Caught Planning and Celebrating It in Texts," and I'm sorry to say that every word of that is borne out with fact.  I'll make the picture small, but it is still ugly, ugly, ugly.

The mother of 18-year-old Jared Lemay of North Port, FL learned that he was about to commit suicide, and called police, presumably to stop this from happening.  Instead – the K-9 unit's lead handler texted to another handler to come and join in.  "COME GET UR BITE."  This handler, you see, was new, and his dog had not yet bitten anyone.

The police entered the garage where the teen, hearing their arrival, had hidden in a trash can.  One officer lifted the can lid, saw the teen, repaced the lid, and forcefully pushed over the can so that the teen fell out.  At that moment, the new handler sicced the new dog.  Jared received injuries to his face and back.

After Jared was taken to the emergency room, another officer texted the new handler "CONGRATS" (for his dog's first bite).

Over a four year period, the K-9 handlers of the North Port Police Department commanded their dogs to attack more than the K-9 handlers of Sarasota, Bradenton, Palmetto, Venice, and Punta Gorda COMBINED.

Charles Mesloh, a former K-9 handler for the Venice Police Department, called Bush’s messages to Dietz “horrifying” and said a serious investigation is warranted.

This is people deciding in advance deciding how they’re going to hurt someone,” said Mesloh. “In my opinion it should be investigated by the Department of Justice. I have defended agencies accused of civil rights violations in the past, and I have never seen anything that has approached what I have seen in this report.”  (emphasis mine)

By the way, although there is never any shortage of material for the Furies, I will not be doing it every week going forward.  Maybe I should say, "Because there is no shortage of material."  Human beings can only stand so much outrage, and this is an election year.

Jan 012016

A new year begins with the promise for me that 2016 virtually has to be a better year than last.  May it be so for us all.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 5:14 (average 7:27).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos (July): In one simple quote, Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B. sums up the hypocrisy of many in the ‘pro-life’ movement:

"I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is."

While I disagree with her opposition to women’s right to make their own medical decisions, I respectfully disagree, because, unlike the Republican Party,  she is consistent.

From Media Matters: Fleeing from terror and indiscriminate violence in parts of the Middle East, millions of people have packed up and left their homes to start safer lives for themselves and their families elsewhere. But if you tuned into Fox News anytime in the last year, you’d think the refugees themselves — many of them Muslim — were responsible for the violence. In fact, painting Muslims as terrorists, radicals, and tacit supporters of ISIS, baseless demonization of Islam was the channel’s modus operandi in 2015. And it wasn’t just right-wing media. CNN also joined the smears, asking a Muslim human rights lawyer if he supports ISIS, questioning a Michigan mayor if she’s afraid of her majority Muslim-American city council, and forcing responsibility for the recent attacks in Paris onto an innocent French Muslim.


The slanders the Republican Reichsministry of Propaganda, Faux Noise, keep repeating are totally false.

From NY Times: Wealth can be bad for your soul. That’s not just a hoary piece of folk wisdom; it’s a conclusion from serious social science, confirmed by statistical analysis and experiment. The affluent are, on average, less likely to exhibit empathy, less likely to respect norms and even laws, more likely to cheat, than those occupying lower rungs on the economic ladder.

And it’s obvious, even if we don’t have statistical confirmation, that extreme wealth can do extreme spiritual damage. Take someone whose personality might have been merely disagreeable under normal circumstances, and give him the kind of wealth that lets him surround himself with sycophants and usually get whatever he wants. It’s not hard to see how he could become almost pathologically self-regarding and unconcerned with others.

So what happens to a nation that gives ever-growing political power to the superrich?

To find out, click through for the rest of this fine Paul Krugman editorial.



Dec 292015

Well I am back after resting almost 18 hours, 10 of those hours sleeping.  I felt fairly good this morning when I awoke for physio.  Since then, I have felt terrific.  Somehow the snow missed us except in the mountains behind me.  I would say the sight was stunning, but the clouds and mist hid the view.  For those that don't know, TomCat was having a new desk delivered and installed.  Something happened during the installation and he lost his internet.  Hopefully, he won't be offline for long.

Short Takes

CBC — The Bakours' three-bedroom house, rented for them by the Metropolitan United Church, is a drastic change from the tent they called home in a crowded refugee camp since fleeing Syria four years ago.  

Wahida and Hussein Bakour fled Syria with their children after the brutal civil war began four years ago.  Mohamad, 7, Malak, 6, Rahaf, 3, and twin boys Ali and Fawaz, 10, are in a home in Toronto thanks to a Toronto church congregation's help.

Wahida and Hussein Bakour fled Syria with their children after the brutal civil war began four years ago. Mohamad, 7, Malak, 6, Rahaf, 3, and twin boys Ali and Fawaz, 10, are in a home in Toronto thanks to a Toronto church congregation's help. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

"Muddy, dirt, like the life was not pleasant at all," Wahida Bakour said. 

"There were rats all over the place when we were sleeping … like all around us," said her 10-year-old son, Ali. 

Then there was the never-ending hunger. 

 "My father used to go to the trash and pick … like bread and feed those kids," Wahida Bakour said.  

As I come across these stories of the lives the Syrian refugees have left as told in their own words, I will share them. Our news is so sanitised but the ordeal, nay the hell these people have lived through is very real.

Think Progress — As storms once again battered the state of Alabama over Christmas, Republican Gov. Robert Bentley moved to divert funding from the 2010 BP oil spill recovery effort to finance the renovation of a second Governor’s mansion on the Gulf Coast.

Yet that beachside mansion, which Alabama governors beginning with famed segregationist George Wallace have enjoyed, was not damaged by the BP oil spill. It was damaged more than two decades earlier by Hurricane Danny, and has sat empty ever since.

Ah! . . . fiscal conservatism Republican style.  The funds may not be classified as taxpayer dollars, but they certainly belong to some of the taxpayers.  "Bentley argues that the mansion repairs are a priority for economic development…" and I say "in a pig's eye!"

ABC — Meadowlark Lemon, the "clown prince" of basketball's barnstorming Harlem Globetrotters, whose blend of hook shots and humor brought joy to millions of fans around the world, has died. He was 83.

"My destiny was to make people happy," Lemon said as he was inducted into the basketball hall as a contributor to the game in 2003.

I don't remember when I first heard about the Harlem Globetrotters, but I loved every moment that I was able to see them play on television.  I remember Meadowlark Lemon and others . . . laughing uproariously at their antics.  And who could forget their signature music "Sweet Georgia Brown"?  Thanks for the memories Meadowlark.

My Universe

AmazingCats06So, for how long did that butterfly live after

landing on Chester's nose?

Dec 132015

It has been a busy day.  The weather has been foul with wind and rain warnings.  Ferries on the coast were cancelled late afternoon and evening because of the wind.  Our trip to Costco was hampered by all the rain and I was soaked through.  I was warmer without my jacket so off it stayed, although I did garner a few questioning stares . . . you know the kind . . . "are you nuts?".  I was tired enough that once I arrived home about 6 pm, a cat nap was in order.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 4:28 (average 12:14). To do it, click here. How did you do?   With an average time so high, it would seem that many people have had trouble finding the key to this door!

Short Takes

CNN — Donald Trump's tweet on Tuesday dangling the idea of an independent run for president sent a clear warning to the Republican establishment: Attack at your own peril.

After 24 hours of withering criticism from the likes of Dick Cheney, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and virtually every fellow GOP presidential hopeful — not to mention Democrats and the mayors of Philadelphia and London — Trump is defiantly standing by his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. And he upped the ante by tweeting a new USA Today/Suffolk University poll that shows 68% of the 2016 Republican front-runner's supporters would ditch the GOP and stick with him if he launched an independent campaign for the presidency.  

"You know how you make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell," South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said on CNN's "New Day" on Tuesday.

The feelings expressed about Trump from various sources seem to boil down to Lindsey Graham's words: "Tell Donald Trump to go to hell".  But will the Republican Party be able to do it?

Time — Europe’s most powerful leader is a refugee from a time and place where her power would have been unimaginable. The German Democratic Republic, where Angela Merkel grew up, was neither democratic nor a republic; it was an Orwellian horror show, where the Iron Curtain found literal expression in the form of the Berlin Wall. The shy daughter of a Lutheran minister, Merkel slipped into politics as a divorced Protestant in a largely Catholic party, a woman in a frat house, an Ossi in the newly unified Germany of the 1990s where easterners were still aliens. No other major Western leader grew up in a stockade, which gave Merkel a rare perspective on the lure of freedom and the risks people will take to taste it.

Donald Trump, also in the running, tweeted this upon learning Angela Merkel had been chosen: "I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite. They picked person who is ruining Germany."  Congratulations to Angela Merkel for being Time's Person of the Year and at the same time, pissing off the narcissistic, bloviating Trump.  I don't agree with everything Merkel does, but she has left an indelible mark on the world stage.

National Journal —  Su­preme Court Justice Ant­on­in Scalia’s seem­ing sug­ges­tion this week that stu­dents of col­or would be bet­ter off at “a slower-track school where they do well” is not only of­fens­ive, it’s wrong. 

Black and Latino stu­dents who at­tend se­lect­ive schools are more likely to gradu­ate than those who at­tend open-en­roll­ment schools, re­gard­less of how aca­dem­ic­ally pre­pared they are when they enter. 

Ac­cord­ing to the Geor­getown Uni­versity Cen­ter on Edu­ca­tion and the Work­force, gradu­ation rates for black and Latino stu­dents double when they move to se­lect­ive schools from open-ac­cess col­leges. 

Athena Image

“Justice Scalia is mak­ing the tired ar­gu­ment that ad­mit­ting Afric­an-Amer­ic­an stu­dents in­to white schools is akin to put­ting ponies in a horse race,”

Further evidence, as if any more were really needed, that Injustice Scalia should be put out to pasture.

My Universe —