The ATF has been unpopular with extremist gun-nuts ever since the ATF attempted to seize the illegal weapons cache at the Branch Dravidian compound in Waco, TX, resulting in the subsequent destruction of that compound by the FBI. For the extreme right, it’s a serious enough matter that prompted one of their number, Tim McVeigh, to bomb the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, because it contained an ATF office. He has been lionized by the Tea Party to the extent that Tea Baggers have celebrated that date by bringing their weapons to "Open Carry" protests near Washington, DC. But Republicans have actually found a much sneakier way to keep the ATF from enforcing gun laws, and Democrats want to change it.
The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate is readying legislation aimed at pressuring the gun lobby to endorse the confirmation of a permanent Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) director.
The bill being crafted by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) would allow for the ATF’s functions to be shifted to another agency, such as the FBI, effectively bypassing the need for the Senate to confirm a director of the embattled bureau.
“It strikes me that if the Senate has not confirmed the head of an agency as important as this, after a certain period of time, that we should transfer the jurisdiction of that agency to the FBI for example, which has a long-term director,” Durbin told The Hill.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has successfully lobbied Congress to block every presidential pick to head the ATF since 2006. The group argues that a permanent director could lead to more severe enforcement of firearm laws… [emphasis added]
The hypocrisy here is extreme, because Republicans are saying that we just need to enforce the laws we have, at the same time they are preventing those laws from being enforced. I like Durbin’s bill, but I see no chance of its passage as long as Republicans control the House. However, I consider it worth pursuing, because it makes public the manner in which Republicans are sabotaging Americans’ safety for the sake of gun industry profits and seditionist hate groups.
I’m writing early, and tomorrow will be day six. I had a brief lapse yesterday. A friend walked into my apartment with a lit cigarette. I took it from her and took a puff, over her apologies and protests. Then I felt guilty and gave it back, but for a couple minutes, I was one happy cat! I’m not holding it against myself. The battle continues.
Jig Zone Puzzle:
Today’s took me 3:28 (average 4:44). To do it, click here. How did you do?
We still have two openings in out fantasy football league. Let me know if you want one. It really is fun.
From NY Times: After contradictory stories emerged about an F.B.I. agent’s killing last month of a Chechen man in Orlando, Fla., who was being questioned over ties to the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, the bureau reassured the public that it would clear up the murky episode.
“The F.B.I. takes very seriously any shooting incidents involving our agents, and as such we have an effective, time-tested process for addressing them internally,” a bureau spokesman said.
But if such internal investigations are time-tested, their outcomes are also predictable: from 1993 to early 2011, F.B.I. agents fatally shot about 70 “subjects” and wounded about 80 others — and every one of those episodes was deemed justified, according to interviews and internal F.B.I. records obtained by The New York Times through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
The last two years have followed the same pattern: an F.B.I. spokesman said that since 2011, there had been no findings of improper intentional shootings.
At all levels, federal, state, and local, only civilian review boards can protect US citizens from abuse of power.
From MSNBC: The GOP doesn’t want to compare Gitmo to Food stamps!
The difference is $900K/prisoner/year vs $60K/year and the $60K is only for the worst ones. That could feed a lot of hungry children, but Republicans are stealing their food. The Bible says, not what hatemonger Fincher said. It says that a man should not eat, if he REFUSES to work. It can hardly be called refusal for the many whose jobs were outsourced by Republicans to countries where the can increase profit with slave labor, severe pollution, and unsafe conditions. The Bible makes ample provision for meeting the needs of the poor, but Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christians care only for poor billionaires.
From Think Progress: Following a critical series of articles in three Maine newspapers this week, Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) office has cut off those papers’ access to administration officials.
The same week the Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal, and the Morning Sentinel published an in-depth analysis of the administration’s work to undermine environmental protections, a spokeswoman told them they would no longer respond to requests, even for public documents, because the newspaper’s parent company “made it clear that it opposed this administration.”
The papers conducted an extensive investigation into a former corporate lobbyist appointed by LePage to be commissioner of Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). What they found was that Patricia Aho has fought environmental laws and enforcement since her appointment in 2011. The positions she has taken include blocking implementation of a 2008 law to protect youth from dangerous chemicals, reducing enforcement on land developers, rolling back recycling programs, and purging information from the Department’s website. Each of these efforts benefit her former clients in the chemical, drug, oil, and real estate industries.
RepubliSpeak Dictionary – Freedom of the Press: freedom to goose-step as the Republican Reich directs. Otherwise, forget it!
I’m writing early, and tomorrow will be day five. I’m having trouble with irritation with patches. I scratched one off in the middle of the night and woke up craving. Grrr!
Jig Zone Puzzle:
Today’s took me 2:36 (average 4:14). To do it, click here. How did you do?
I OOPSED!! We filled three out of five spots for our fantasy football league. For more information about the last two spots, check Monday’s article.
From NJ.com: Two liberal groups say they’ve found a “smoking gun” in a century-old state law that could force Gov. Chris Christie to schedule the general election in November.
New Jersey Citizen Action and New Jersey Communities United in a brief today, told the state Supreme Court today that the state’s 1915 law on filling U.S. Senate vacancies said that unless the vacancy occurred shortly before the next general election, it should be filled at the closest general election.
The purpose, according to drafters of the original law, was to “avoid the expenses of special elections for United States Senators and Congressmen.”…
I would love to see it, because, if both the Senate vote, and the General Election are combined, as they should be, turnout for Booker will assist down-ballot Democrats, and that's exactly what Christy want's to spend $12+ million of NJ taxpayer's money to avoid.
From MSNBC: Is Miss Utah planning a career in Congress?
She had her talking points, and she was bound and determined to stick with them regardless of the question asked. It's sad to see such goose-stepping at such a young age. That she comes from a Red State was quite apparent, because her opinion trumped her intellect.
From Alternet: Bank of America’s mortgage servicing unit systematically lied to homeowners, fraudulently denied loan modifications, and paid their staff bonuses for deliberately pushing people into foreclosure: Yes, these allegations were suspected by any homeowner who ever had to deal with the bank to try to get a loan modification – but now they come from six former employees and one contractor, whose sworn statements were added last week to a civil lawsuit filed in federal court in Massachusetts.
“Bank of America’s practice is to string homeowners along with no apparent intention of providing the permanent loan modifications it promises,” said Erika Brown, one of the former employees. The damning evidence would spur a series of criminal investigations of BofA executives, if we still had a rule of law in this country for Wall Street banks… [emphasis added]
Click through for the rest of this highly enlightening article. BofA employees were told to lie to customers to trick them into foreclosure. Bring on the DOJ!
I’m writing early again. Yesterday my Chantix dose doubled for the first time, and today, instead of sleeping heavily, I find myself unable to sleep at all, so I’m not sure how this is going to play out tonight.
Fortunately I slept a few hours during the evening.
Jig Zone Puzzle:
Today’s took me 3:41 (average 4:59). To do it, click here. How did you do?
From The New Yorker: In the event that the U.S. government is monitoring your conversations, here are some useful phrases to insert into your phone calls, texts, or e-mails:
I think the N.S.A. is awesome.
I just reread “Nineteen Eighty-Four”—it actually has a lot of good ideas in it!
There’s no such thing as a “bad” drone.
Given the people Obama should have never appointed to run the NSA and CIA, how about this one?
I sure miss GW Bush.
From Think Progress: There has been mounting concern over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s mandatory furloughs of National Weather Service employees amidst increasingly severe weather. As a result, NOAA has reportedly submitted a plan to Congress that would restore the jobs at the expense of its weather satellites.
This ‘pay one debt to incur another’ plan is the result of budget cuts mandated by sequestration, which severely threaten the agency’s ability to carry out its key mission by slashing $271 million from its 2013 budget, including a $50 million cut in its geostationary weather satellite program.
After the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma and Missouri and in preparation for what’s predicted to be an extremely active hurricane season, NOAA’s acting administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan announced last week that the agency was cancelling its mandatory furloughs, but provided no details on how it would be offset.
The solution, of course, is to cut neither NOAA satellites nor NOAA employees, but to cut Republican mandated welfare for the 1%.
From Washington Post: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wants to strengthen requirements in a sweeping immigration bill that mandate that illegal immigrants learn English before earning permanent U.S. residency.
Under the current bill, immigrants would have to earn English proficiency or show they are enrolled in a language course. Rubio, a member of the bipartisan group that developed the legislation, plans to offer an amendment that would eliminate the second provision and require that undocumented immigrants be able to read, write and speak English before earning a green card.
The Senate bill allows undocumented immigrants to apply for a green card after 10 years and then apply for citizenship three years later.
Rubio is for Latinos what Clarence Thomas is for blacks.
Yesterday was very difficult. After blogging, I napped until health techs from my O2 company came to give me saturation tests. They confirmed that I still need O2. Shortly after I dozed off again, the delivery guy from my 02 company came to exchange my empty tanks for full ones. By then it was too hot to sleep. Yesterday was our first really hot day. It reached 84° outside, but the sun superheated the enclosed “breezeway” outside my windows to 112°. My apartment reached 98° and at 2:15 AM is still 86°. Needless to say, this Open Thread is all for today.
Jig Zone Puzzle:
Today’s took me 2:57 (average 4:24). To do it, click here. How did you do?
From Alternet: The background to the story is that in January, a vote within the new House Republican caucus occurred on whether to keep Boehner on as speaker. Some conservatives were upset that Boehner had allowed a deal to be struck that averted the so-called “fiscal cliff,” and they wanted Boehner out because of it. But in the end, only 12 GOP members voted against Boehner. That was short of the 17 needed to force another vote on the Speaker slot.
Yesterday, the Washington Post revealed new details about why Boehner kept his slot in a story published about the Republican Party’s warring factions. One reason why Boehner wasn’t ousted is because “several Republicans, after a night of prayer, said God told them to spare the speaker,” according to the Post’s Paul Kane.
I’d bet that God, in this case, are the brothers that pay the Tea Party to be Koch suckers, or the guy that inspires turds to blossom.
From Daily Kos: At a press conference this afternoon, Republican Gov. Chris Christie announced that a special election to fill the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s Senate seat would take place on Oct. 16 (a Wednesday), with a primary to be held on Aug. 13. This move will undoubtedly please Democrats, who will have the chance to replace Lautenberg quickly. And Christie, who is up for re-election this November, gets to avoid sharing a ballot with a popular Democrat such as Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who has long had his eye on the Senate.
Republican partisans will probably be upset, though, since an interim pick (which Christie did not yet announce) could have conceivably served through at least November 2014, giving the GOP one extra vote on the Senate floor for almost 18 months.
I disagree with this author. Chris Hayes explained why well.
By squandering $12 million that belongs to NJ taxpayers Christie has made sure that voters who turn out for Corey Booker will not be there to oppose him and down ballot NJ Republicans, unless they male a separate trip to the polls just three weeks later to do so. This makes it more likely that Republicans will win the state’s seats in the US House, the NJ House, and the NJ Senate, even if Christie would have won either way. His solution was as sleazy as it was brilliant.
From Huffington Post: House Republicans are scheduled to vote on two separate budget bills this week, each of which would reject funding for the poverty activism group ACORN, despite the fact that ACORN disbanded three years ago.
ACORN, also known as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, came under heavy fire in the fall of 2009 after conservative videographer James O’Keefe released a set of selectively edited videos that appeared to show its employees offering advice on tax avoidance related to prostitution and child smuggling. Independent investigations by the California attorney general, the Massachusetts attorney general and the Brooklyn, N.Y., district attorney would later clear ACORN of criminal wrongdoing, and an investigation by the Government Accountability Office would clear ACORN of charges that it mishandled federal funds.
But in the fall of 2009, Congress banned federal funding for ACORN using broad language that applied to "any organization" that had been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws or campaign finance laws or with filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. The funding ban also extended to any employees, contractors or others affiliated with any group so charged.
Struggling with the bad publicity and loss of federal funds, ACORN dissolved in early 2010. Just to be sure, however, Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) included this language in a government funding bill introduced on May 28 of this year: "None of the funds made available in this Act may be distributed to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) or its subsidiaries or successors."… [emphasis added]
I have no doubt that Congressional Republicans know that they have already defunded ACORN and that it disbanded over three years ago, so this is just one more example in the long list of non-existent scandals that the Republican Party is using to drum up fear, racism and blood lust in their rabid base. However, given their total ignorance on this document, House Republicans probably do not know that the US Constitution forbids bills of attainder, such as this one.
The kite flew after Ben followed his wife’s advice that he needed more tail, even though she had told him to go fly a kite the night before.
Yesterday I got some sleep, so I have another article for you today. I had to set back my quit date to the 14th, because the plan has me taking Chantix for a full week before quitting, and I still have not received my prescription. Tomorrow will definitely be a short writing day, if any at all, because I will be making my first major excursion, since leaving the hospital: my quarterly foot surgery at my podiatrist’s office to remove the recurrent growth. For the next day, we’ll have to wait and see how well I handle this trip. I plan no Monthly Report for May, but our top commentators were:
Today’s took me 4:29 (average 4:54). To do it, click here. How did you do?
From Politicus USA: During the George W. Bush presidency, there was a lot of talk about patriotism any time a question arose about the legitimacy of the Iraq war, and the implication was that questioning the Bush administration was unpatriotic because a real patriot is someone who feels strong support for his or her country regardless the leader’s deceit in taking a nation to war based on lies. Early in President Obama’s first term, the Koch brothers, neo-conservatives, and Republican Party took advantage of racial animus for the African American President and funded a so-called “grassroots” movement of alleged patriots who, within months of the President’s swearing in, complained they were overtaxed and suffering tyranny. The teabaggers, as they called themselves, immediately claimed they were patriots and any opposition to their agenda was tantamount to Marxism or Nazism and they demanded to take “their country” back to when a white man inhabited the Oval Office. However, there is nothing remotely resembling patriotism in teabagger ranks, and as time went on a pattern developed that linked teabaggers to the Taliban and it did not take long for them to threaten violence to impose their will.
The concept of threatening, calling for, and inciting violence against the government has never been part of being a patriotic American, but there has been no dearth of violent threats from conservative malcontents that make up the majority of teabaggers. Recently, another instance of a teabagger calling for gun violence was reported over a Republican senator’s vote for immigration reform, and it is becoming an all too common occurrence unique to the so-called patriot group that throughout its existence threatened violence and armed insurrection to control the direction of the government. Threatening to use force to impose their will is not limited to disaffected racists, and has been embraced by teabag leaders since the anti-American group came into existence…
How many times do I have to say it? Thou shalt not commit TEAbuggery!!!
From NY Times: …Whether directly from their wallets or through insurance policies, Americans pay more for almost every interaction with the medical system. They are typically prescribed more expensive procedures and tests than people in other countries, no matter if those nations operate a private or national health system. A list of drug, scan and procedure prices compiled by the International Federation of Health Plans, a global network of health insurers, found that the United States came out the most costly in all 21 categories — and often by a huge margin.
Americans pay, on average, about four times as much for a hip replacement as patients in Switzerland or France and more than three times as much for a Caesarean section as those in New Zealand or Britain. The average price for Nasonex, a common nasal spray for allergies, is $108 in the United States compared with $21 in Spain. The costs of hospital stays here are about triple those in other developed countries, even though they last no longer, according to a recent report by the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation that studies health policy.
While the United States medical system is famous for drugs costing hundreds of thousands of dollars and heroic care at the end of life, it turns out that a more significant factor in the nation’s $2.7 trillion annual health care bill may not be the use of extraordinary services, but the high price tag of ordinary ones. “The U.S. just pays providers of health care much more for everything,” said Tom Sackville, chief executive of the health plans federation and a former British health minister…
As always, the problem rests not, as Republicans deceitfully claim, with the need of those whom they call "takers", but with the greed of the 1%.
From Salon.com: When Anthony Weiner resigned from his post as congressman due to an embarrassing Twitpic scandal in 2011, the media expected that any serious political career was over. But Weiner has recently returned to politics, entering the Democratic primary as a mayoral candidate; not only is the media taking his bid seriously — but it’s possible that thanks to deep pockets and a vibrant persona he could win it.
The only difference between Weiner and Republicans, who still live after scandal, such as ‘Trailwalker’ Sanford (R-NC) and "Diaper Dave" Vitter (R-LA) is that Weiner never claimed to be a paragon of "family values" virtue, ordained by Supply-side Jesus (not the real one) to practice pseudo-Christian judgment and condemnation of others. In any case, with Batshit Bachmann leaving, a Weiner in the mayor’s office would give the comedy profession a much needed boost.
Yesterday I did more here to organize my recovery, but rested most of the day. Today I have one more article and will distribute the link on only one of the sites I haunt. I’ll go day by day from there.
Jig Zone Puzzle:
Today’s took me 4:18 (average 4:32). To do it, click here. How did you do?
From NY Times: And for one problem in particular: “the backlog,” the huge and probably still growing inventory of claims for disability compensation filed by wounded or ill veterans. As of Monday, just under 600,000 claims qualified as backlogged, meaning they had been pending for over 125 days.
Though the numbers have grown, delays in processing disability claims are nothing new, and neither are complaints about the backlog. Just last year, some veterans advocates tried to make the backlog a presidential campaign issue. They failed. But this year, something changed: the criticism grew louder and perhaps more partisan, and began reaching a wider audience.
If I understand this, he is telling them to make this four years like the last four years.
From Washington Post: President Obama will deliver a speech Thursday at the National Defense University in which he will address how he intends to bring his counterterrorism policies, including the drone program and the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in line with the legal framework he promised after taking office.
A White House official, speaking Saturday on the condition of anonymity to describe the speech in advance, said Obama will “discuss our broad counterterrorism policy, including our military, diplomatic, intelligence and legal efforts.”
“He will review the state of the threats we face, particularly as the al-Qaeda core has weakened but new dangers have emerged,” the official said. “He will discuss the policy and legal framework under which we take action against terrorist threats, including the use of drones. And he will review our detention policy and efforts to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.”
I have been a little less critical of Obama’s performance in these areas. I expect to disagree with much of what he will have to say, but knowing this speech was coming, I thought it better to wait until I hear what he has to say and have something currently concrete with which to disagree. That said, remember this. As much as we would like President Bernie Sanders, we can not have him. On his worst day, Barack Obama is infinitely better than Little Lord Willard would have been on his best day.