Sep 142014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 146.  My day was thoroughly screwed up by another fire in the building at 4 AM.  An idiot left his apartment with food cooking on the stove and it caught fire.  It was actually on my floor, but I was never in any danger.  A firefighter was about to carry my walker down the stars for me, while I walked, when another came up and and told us it was already out.  I tried to go back to sleep, but could not, and I’ve been behind the eight ball all day.  Tomorrow is a Holy day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb.  My Broncos are worshiping with the Chiefs and the service will be televised here, so I’ll be spending much of tomorrow in Holy meditation.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:42 (average 4:47).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Tired of seeing disgraced and discredited war hawks like John McCain and Dick Cheney dominate media coverage of the crisis in the Middle East? Then you’ve got to see Stephen’s segment last night.

Nostradumbass!! Perfect!! Let us remember that the agreement to withdraw US forces from Iraq, when we did, was negotiated by Bush, not by Obama.

From American Bridge PAC: American Bridge is releasing a new web ad today highlighting Scott Walker’s failed economic record.

The governor was once considered a frontrunner for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, and his reelect was supposed to be a walk through the park en route to bigger and better things. Nobody is looking past November now, with Walker locked in the political fight of his life, and desperately trying to create the narrative that he’s led a triumphant comeback in the Badger State.

But that story is undermined by reality. The truth is that Walker rammed through an extreme overhaul of the budget that slashed education funding, attacked public employees, and gave massive tax cuts to the wealthy, all under the promise of job creation and balancing budgets. Well Wisconsin is last in the midwest in job growth and facing a $2 billion budget shortfall.

 

They certainly have the Fartfuhrer of Fitzwalkerstan perfectly pegged. Click through for more.

From The New Yorker: Amid some confusion as to whether it had, in fact, declared war on ISIS, on Friday afternoon, the White House attempted to clarify matters by vowing to use “every synonym for war at our disposal.”

After the Secretary of State John Kerry asserted that the United States was not at war, only to be contradicted later by the White House’s statement that it was, the White House spokesman Josh Earnest held a press conference to state that “no synonyms for war have been taken off the table.”

“Yes, this is a war,” Earnest said. “But it is also a conflict, a campaign, a struggle, a fracas, and, if you will, a melee.”…

Andy is right. We should call it what it is.

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Sep 122014
 

The sound is deafening.  Knees are jerking all over the country.  Some are jerking, because Obama’s plan to combat ISIS is doing too much.  The rest are jerking, because Obama’s plan to combat ISIS is doing too little.  At such a time, what’s a knee to do?  At least for now, my knee is going to wait.  Here’s some analysis, the speech, a link to the transcript, and some commentary.

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“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.” ~President Obama

In a prime-time address to the nation (video below) President Obama laid out a plan to deal with the militant group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), which currently has large portions of Iraq as well as parts of Syria – an area about the size of Maryland – under its control.

“So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat. Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”

President Obama made it clear that he would take this action, even inside Syria, and would be sending an additional 475 American service members to Iraq to support increased airstrikes. The President also called on congress to provide funding to train Syrian fighters, and continued humanitarian aid for those directly affected by ISIS.

ISIS or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) was formerly a major faction of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the same AQII we fought in Iraq post Saddam. However they were disavowed by Al-Qaeda central over actions in Syria, and the fact that they disobeyed orders to kill fewer civilians.

The brutality of ISIS dwarfs Al-Qaeda’s, with mass killings along the path as they take over more and more land, as well as the beheadings of kidnapped journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Their aim is to establish a caliphate (an ever expanding Islamic homeland under Sharia law) in Iraq and Syria. U.S. officials and experts believe they have immediate ambitions for Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel as well, an area referred to in the Arab world as the “Levant”, which is why the President refers to the terrorist group as ISIL and not ISIS. And regardless of quibbling over ISIS or ISIL, one point the President made deconstructed the notion that ISIS/ISIL deserves to be called either “Islamic” or a “State”, pointing out that the terrorist group is not truly Islamic, as no religion including Islam would condone their actions, and more often than not their victims are other Muslims. Nor are they truly a “State”, States have internationally recognized sovereignty, terrorist groups don’t, even if they do temporarily capture a lot of land.

In the most controversial portion of his speech, President Obama claimed (with echoes of George W. Bush declaring himself “the Decider” bouncing back from the distant walls of the canyons of modern history) that he has the authority to act alone, but then added that he welcomes the “support” of Congress. Implied was that if he didn’t get the support of Congress, he would proceed anyhow…

Inserted from <Liberals Unite>

Obviously Republicans are screaming for all out war, and that is the worst possible approach.  It’s exactly what ISIS wants.  On the left many are saying Obama is no different from Bush.  I take issue with them too.  For starters, Obama is not trying to lie us into combat the way Bush did.  He has not even claimed that ISIS is an immediate threat to the US.  Instead he claims that, unless they are stopped now, they could become a threat to the US, an accurate evaluation.  Also under Bush, participation by foreign troops was minimal, with the US and Brits carrying the brunt of the combat load.  Obama minimizes exposure to combat for US personnel.  Those are huge differences.

Here is the speech in it’s entirety.

And for a complete transcript, click here

The problem with what Obama had to say is that it’s incomplete.  There’s still much to much that we do not know.  At this point, I consider it more of an introduction.  As for Congress, they do have the prerogative to act, but have so far shown no more inclination to do anything more that duck their own responsibility.  Obama is claiming authority under the 2001 AUMF, but Congress may cancel that, if they so choose.  I expect posturing, whining, accusations, and little more.

The most constructive view I have seen to date came in a discussion between Rachel Maddow and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).

For now, I’m going to wait and see what develops.  But I will say one thing.  With ISIS beheading Americans, failure to take some action is the fastest way to ensure political defeat.

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Sep 122014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 144.  I’m still quite tired after my prison trip and busy day yesterday, so I’m relaxing today and cooking a cross rib roast, before the heat sets in.  I thought I had PT tomorrow, but I was mistaken.  It’s not until next week. :-)

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:37 (average 6:26).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Crooks and Liars: Shameless Sean is at it again. In these days of stress before the November midterms, he’s ramped up the hate and the tea party rhetoric to a dull roar. But you know what you can’t hear over the din? Sean’s voice telling viewers that he has a business relationship with folks he’s interviewing on his television show.

You may recall that Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing radio hosts (like Mark Levin) are beneficiaries of wingnut welfare. Organizations like FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and the Tea Party Patriots prop up Hannity et al in order to keep the messaging machine fed with plenty of fresh hate.

So be it. The problem is, you don’t get to receive wingnut welfare on the radio side and then interview your benefactor on the cable side without some disclosure of the business relationship, which Hannity ‘forgot’ to do, thereby making (even bigger) liars of Fox News…

Barf Bag Alert!!!

 

Making bigger liars of Faux Noise is like making infinity further away. This is Republican Propaganda at it’s worth, paid for by the 0.1%

From AlterNet: A Republican state senator in Georgia sparked a dispute with a pastor in his district after complaining about early voting being implemented in a predominantly African-American neighborhood,  the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters,” state Sen. Fran Millar (R) wrote  on his Facebook page. [GOPig delinked] “If you don’t believe this is an efort [sic] to maximize Democratic votes pure and simple, then you are not a realist. This is a partisan stunt and I hope it can be stopped.”

The exact opposite is true. This Republican wants to make it more difficult for informed voters to get to the polls, because they will vote against his party. Disenfranchising voters is the partisan stunt!  Get out the vote!!

From Right Wing Watch: One of the very first posts we ever wrote about the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer highlighted a column he wrote calling for Muslims to be banned from serving in the military. That was nearly five years ago and now Fischer is finally getting around to calling for atheists to be banned from serving in the U.S. armed forces as well.

Responding to a situation [pseudo-Christian delinked] in which an airman was denied his request to re-enlist in the Air Force because he refuses to take an oath containing the phrase "so help me God," Fischer asserts [pseudo-Christian delinked] that atheists should be prohibited from serving in all braches of the military because "there is no place in the United States military for those who do not believe in the Creator who is the source of every single one of our fundamental human and civil rights"…

If only Christians get to serve in the military, then Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christians need not apply.

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Sep 112014
 

11-911

Twelve years ago this morning, the first airliner hit the tower, as I was about to leave for work.  When I arrived, I learned about the second hit.  My duties that day were to contact top executives of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in New York on behalf of our client, a major developer of computer operating systems, to arrange site visits and one-on-one executive interviews for our client’s research team.  What timing!  I felt uncomfortable calling, but the account exec’s assistant, an airhead and a Republican, ordered me to go to work.  Many of my executive contacts were in the Twin Towers.  I got on the telephone.  Nobody was answering, and many of the lines were out of order.  I did get through and spoke to a man in one of the towers above the fire, who knew he would not survive.  He said he couldn’t dial out and gave me his home number.  He asked me to call his wife and tell her he loved her.  I did.  She was pretty hysterical.  Who could blame her. That shook me up so much that I went to the account executive’s office, and told him I was done calling New York for the day.  He asked me what idiot had told me to call into New York under these circumstances.  Because of that experience, I cannot think of 9/11 without my heart going out to the people who lost loved ones that tragic day, and I consider it imperative to do whatever we can, within reason, to prevent a reoccurrence.  One failing, in that regard, is that we often ask who and how, but all too seldom, ask why.  So as we remember the events of 9/11/2001, perhaps it may help if we consider the other 9/11, 9/11/1973.

Twenty eight years earlier, the roles were reversed.  Instead of being attacked, the US had arranged and was assisting an attack to overthrow the democratically elected government of Chile, and the installation of one of the most infamous dictators of the twentieth century, Augusto Pinochet.  An article by Peter Kornblug from August 2003 describes and explains those events.

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On September 14, 1970, a deputy to then-National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger wrote him a memo, classified SECRET/SENSITIVE, arguing against covert operations to block the duly elected Chilean socialist Salvador Allende from assuming the presidency. "What we propose is patently a violation of our own principles and policy tenets," noted Viron Vaky. "If these principles have any meaning, we normally depart from them only to meet the gravest threat to us., e.g. to our survival. Is Allende a mortal threat to the U.S.?" Vaky asked. "It is hard to argue this."

Kissinger ignored this advice. The next day he participated in a now-famous meeting where President Nixon instructed CIA Director Richard Helms to "save Chile" by secretly fomenting a coup to prevent Allende’s inauguration. When those covert operations failed, Kissinger goaded Nixon into instructing the entire national security bureaucracy "on opposing Allende" and destabilizing his government. "Election of Allende as president of Chile poses one of [the] most serious challenges ever faced in this hemisphere," says a newly declassified briefing paper Kissinger gave to Nixon two days after Allende’s inauguration. "Your decision as to what to do may be most historic and difficult foreign affairs decision you will have to make this year…. If all concerned do not understand that you want Allende opposed as strongly as we can, result will be steady draft toward modus vivendi approach."

11kissinger_pinochetHad Washington adopted a "modus vivendi approach," it is possible that Chileans, indeed citizens around the world, would not be solemnly commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the coup that brought Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power. In the United States, the meaning of this anniversary is, understandably, overshadowed by the shock and tragedy of our own 9/11. But Chile reminds us that the topics of debate on US foreign policy today–pre-emptive strikes, regime change, the arrogance of unilateral intervention, unchecked covert action and secrecy and dishonesty in government–are not new. From the thousands of formerly classified US documents released over the past several years, the picture that emerges strikes some haunting parallels with the news of the day.

Chile, it must be recalled, constitutes a classic example of a pre-emptive strike–a set of operations launched well before Salvador Allende set foot in office. Nixon ordered the CIA on September 15, 1970, to "make the economy scream" and to foment a military move to block Allende from being inaugurated six weeks later, in November; the Chilean leader had yet to formulate or authorize a single policy detrimental to US interests. "What happens over [the] next 6-10 months will have ramifications far beyond US-Ch[ilean] relations," Kissinger predicted in a dire warning to Nixon only forty-eight hours after Allende actually took office. "Will have effect on what happens in rest of LA and developing world; our future position in hemisphere; on larger world picture…even effect our own conception of what our role in the world is."

As in the distorted threat assessment on Iraq, this was sheer speculation–unsupported, indeed contradicted, by US intelligence. In August 1970 CIA, State and Defense Department analysts had determined that "the US has no vital national interests within Chile," and that the world "military balance of power would not be significantly altered" if Allende came to power… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Nation>

For many years, the United States has treated the rest of the world, particularly third world nations, as the private reserve of an American economic empire, repeatedly using force, usually covertly, any time a nation had the audacity to suggest that their resources should benefit their own people, not US corporations.  Neither party is blameless, but the majority and most heinous of such actions occurred  during Republican administrations.  In the twentieth century, the United States overthrew more democratically elected governments and installed more dictators than any other nation ever has.  No nation can stand toe-to-toe against the US on the battlefield, so guerilla tactics are the only option available to nations who would oppose us.

We should also remember that there would be no such thing as Al Qaeda, had not Republicans under Reagan financed it’s formation to perform terrorist attacks against the USSR.

I do not hate this country.  I love the USA enough to insist that we actually practice the principles we claim to profess.  These are the lessons we need to learn to prevent future terrorists attacks against the US. If we practice oppression, we guarantee resistance.  If we practice partnership, we will get cooperation.  We need to stop trying to control other countries by force,  To forestall terrorism, we must stop participating in and supporting terrorism ourselves.  We will be seen as hypocrites if we oppose ethnic cleansing by ISIL, but support ethnic cleansing by Zionists.

For the last lesson, let’s return to the story with which I began.  Shortly after the account executive agreed that I was done for the day, the company shut down for the rest of the day too.  Several of us gathered around the TV in the lunch room.  Knowing that I am politically involved, coworkers asked me what I thought was going to happen.  I told them that I thought Bush would use the attack as an excuse to do two things: to invade Iraq and to curtail civil liberates guaranteed under our Constitution.  The last lesson is this.  If we adopt the tactics of evil to oppose evil, we become no different than the evil we oppose.

Even if we do all that, we must still be vigilant.  Sadly there are forces in pseudo-Islam that pursue hatred against America, just as there are forces in pseudo-Christianity that pursue hatred against Muslims, both for their own respective right-wing political agendas.  Both are equally dangerous.

With a few alterations, this is a reworking of my 2011 editorial.

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Sep 082014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 140. I rose early to do my research and an am now attending an early meditation, while writing.  The Broncos do not meditate until this evening.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:13 (average 4:14).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Religious Ecstasy: (including 2nd half heartburn)

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Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: American hostages have been brutally murdered by terrorists in the Middle East. Other Western captives may suffer the same fate at the hands of the Islamic State. In response, President Obama’s opponents are doing what they always do when the going gets tough for the United States: ask WWRD? In "What Would Reagan Do," CNN Crossfire host Newt Gingrich penned an imaginary speech that a mythical version of the Gipper would deliver to the nation about the threat from ISIS. Over at the Washington Times, Gayle Trotter [Murdoch delinked] used the same gambit, inventing a Reaganesque address announcing military strikes to make the point that "Americans expect their president to vindicate the victims of terrorism." Meanwhile, Breitbart News [Breitfart delinked] even interviewed President Reagan’s former National Security Adviser Robert "Bud" McFarlane to provide a lecture about "peace through strength."

Unfortunately for the Gipper’s hagiographers, we know exactly what Reagan would do about terrorists with American blood on their hands. President Reagan would send them a cake, a Bible and American weapons. And the Oval Office address he would deliver to the nation would start something like the one he gave on March 4, 1987 [Saint Ronnie Ray Gun delinked]:

 

Click through for the rest of the story about how Reagan’s claim not to know was a lie, about how he failed, and about how he put his tail between his legs and ran away. Such fiascos are the norm, whenever Republicans are in charge of foreign policy. Prevent it. Get out the vote!!

From The New Yorker: Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) blasted President Obama on Saturday for failing to bomb Stonehenge while in the United Kingdom for the NATO summit.

“This is a time when it’s important to send our enemies the message that the United States is strong,” McCain told Fox News. “I can think of no better way to do that than by blowing Stonehenge off the map.”…

Andy, that’s not news. McConJob will fill in his "Bomb, bomb __________!" blank with anyplace!

From NY Times: President Obama will delay taking executive action on immigration until after the midterm elections, bowing to pressure from fellow Democrats who feared that acting now could doom his party’s chances this fall, White House officials said on Saturday.

The decision is a reversal of Mr. Obama’s vow to issue broad directives to overhaul the immigration system soon after summer’s end, and sparked swift anger from immigration advocates. The president made the promise on June 30, in the Rose Garden, where he angrily denounced Republican obstruction and said he would use the power of his office to protect immigrant families from the threat of deportation.

“Because of the Republicans’ extreme politicization of this issue, the president believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections,” a White House official said. “Because he wants to do this in a way that’s sustainable, the president will take action on immigration before the end of the year.”

This was a very unwise move on Obama’s part, and a cowardly move on the part of whichever Senate Democrats urged the delay. Republicans will use this in two ways. First, they will use the fear of what Obama may do later to keep their racist base drooling blood. Second they will make false promises to implement reforms they have no intent to carry out. If that isn’t bad enough, it will tend to alienate the Latino community at at time we need to be be motivating supporters.  In short, playing into fear only makes matters worse.

Cartoon:

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Sep 042014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 136.  It’s been another busy day.  It started out hectic when I realized the migrating to a different server discombobulated the email settings for those accounts.  Cleaning up that mess took a couple hours.  Store to Door delivered groceries and I put them away.  I got a lot of personal paperwork done.  Tomorrow will be a High Holy Day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:58 (average 5:03) to do it, click here.  How did you do?

Fantasy Football:

Players, the first game of the new season is tonight (Thursday).  Have your lineups set.

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: When a white supremacist gunman shot 10 people, killing six, at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, some speculated he thought his victims were Muslim. Comedian W. Kamau Bell had a few choice things to say about that.

 

He could just as easily have substituted Republican, because the Republican party supports the white supremacy movement.

From NY Times: Thirty years after their convictions in the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl in rural North Carolina, based on confessions that they quickly repudiated and said were coerced, two mentally disabled half brothers were declared innocent and ordered released Tuesday by a judge here.

The case against the men, always weak, fell apart after DNA evidence implicated another man whose possible involvement had been somehow overlooked by the authorities even though he lived only a block from where the victim’s body was found, and he had admitted to committing a similar rape and murder around the same time.

The startling shift in fortunes for the men, Henry Lee McCollum, 50, who has spent three decades on death row, and Leon Brown, 46, who was serving a life sentence, provided one of the most dramatic examples yet of the potential harm from false, coerced confessions and of the power of DNA tests to exonerate the innocent.

Republicans want to weaken the appeal process so they can execute people more quickly. Death means never having to admit to injustice. Republicans are pro-death. Situations like this are one reason why I say we need to join the civilized world and outlaw the death penalty in favor of natural life, or at the very least apply capital punishment only to members of Congress.

From The New Yorker:

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A used tool that has been on the market for several months was purchased on Tuesday for the whopping price of $1.8 million.

While it may not have set a new record, the sale price raised eyebrows, with many observers noting that $1.8 million was a lot to pay for this particular tool…

Andy is right!  Since the going rate for chicken dung is less that a dollar a pound, this sack of it is way overpriced!

Cartoon:

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Sep 022014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 104.  I’ve been busy all day, between chores and colleting the data for our Monthly Report.  LOL!  Here at PP, Labor Day is a day to labor!!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:54 (average 4:55).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: I saw a white man with a gun.

I heard a policeman saying, "Place the weapon down on the ground, please. … are crossing the street illegally … I need you to put the gun down before I talk to you. … You have committed a crime … you are jaywalking. … I don’t want to shoot you, I’m not here to do that. … Why are you so angry. … Why are you cursing at me?"

Watching the whole incident all I could think of were those dead (unarmed) black men and boys who never had the opportunity to be "talked down," called "sir," and were murdered by police

 

These police handled the incident exactly the way police should, but I can’t help thinking that, if that were a black man, instead of a Republican Ammosexual, he would now be doing an imitation of Swiss cheese.

From Upworthy: Here’s a little story about how somebody (whose name you might recognize) got together with a bunch of other somebodies and changed the world. And his mission isn’t over yet. This is such a low-bar kinda thing to do, but it honors such a great person and legacy. I’m signing — will you?

 

Frankly, I think this is a great idea for a great man.

From NY Times: So, what do you think about those Medicare numbers? What, you haven’t heard about them? Well, they haven’t been front-page news. But something remarkable has been happening on the health-spending front, and it should (but probably won’t) transform a lot of our political debate.

The story so far: We’ve all seen projections of giant federal deficits over the next few decades, and there’s a whole industry devoted to issuing dire warnings about the budget and demanding cuts in Socialsecuritymedicareandmedicaid. Policy wonks have long known, however, that there’s no such program, and that health care, rather than retirement, was driving those scary projections. Why? Because, historically, health spending has grown much faster than G.D.P., and it was assumed that this trend would continue.

But a funny thing has happened: Health spending has slowed sharply, and it’s already well below projections made just a few years ago. The falloff has been especially pronounced in Medicare, which is spending $1,000 less per beneficiary than the Congressional Budget Office projected just four years ago.

Click through for the rest of this excellent Paul Krugman editorial. Contrary to Republican lies, there is no Medicare crisis. The entire healthcare system will become better and more efficient, if the ACA evolves into Medicare for All!

Cartoon:

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I stole this from last year.

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