Jan 042015
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 60.  Both today and tomorrow are high holy days in the Chur4ch of the Ellipsoid Orb, but my Broncos have Wildcard Week off, due to their superior play.  I’m running late, because I actually slept seven hours in two installments, between 2 AM and Noon.

Jig Zone Player:

Today’s took me 4:08 (average 6:32).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Huffington Post: Federal regulators are expected to vote next month on rules to govern how Internet service providers deal with the flow of content on their high-speed networks.

The five-member Federal Communications Commission will consider then a proposal from Chairman Tom Wheeler on so-called net neutrality rules, agency spokeswoman Kim Hart said Friday. She was confirming reports in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal on the planned timing of the vote. Details of the draft proposal weren’t disclosed.

President Barack Obama has asked the FCC to put Internet service providers under the same rules as those imposed on telephone companies 80 years ago. The aim is to protect net neutrality, the concept that everyone with an Internet connection should have equal access to all legal content online, including video, music, email, photos, social networks and maps.

Obama has this issue exactly right.

From Baltimore Sun: It was a dead rat the detective found on his windshield of his Toyota Corolla on a fall morning, the corpse peeking out from under the windshield wiper — a sign, he thought, that his colleagues in the department saw him as a snitch.

Detective Joseph Crystal had been in contact with prosecutors who eventually filed charges against his sergeant and another officer in connection with the beating of a drug suspect. The rat appeared a few weeks later.

This officer must be praying that he does not need backup in the future. He knows his brother officers will hang him out to die, because he broke the code by failing to help cover up a fellow officer’s crime. This underlines the need for citizen review boards that protect the identity of officers who testify honestly.

From Washington Post: Legislators in the 24 states where Republicans now hold total control plan to push a series of aggressive policy initiatives in the coming year aimed at limiting the power of the federal government and rekindling the culture wars.

The unprecedented breadth of the Republican majority — the party now controls 31 governorships and 68 of 98 partisan legislative chambers — all but guarantees a new tide of conservative laws. Republicans plan to launch a fresh assault on the Common Core education standards, press abortion regulations, cut personal and corporate income taxes and take up dozens of measures challenging the power of labor unions and the Environmental Protection Agency.

No doubt I’ll have lots of issues about which to write in the coming year. I wish that were not so. Because of the thousands of victims they will kill and impoverish in the process.

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Jan 022015
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 58.  I spent most of the day collecting the data for our Monthly Report, which I planned to write.  Then I remembered that today The Oregon Ducks were playing the Florida State Seminoles in the BCS semifinals, and I decided to take the rest of the day off.  Therefore, this is tomorrow’s only article, but I’m pleased to announce that the Ducks, who so many experts said are not strong enough to compete with a physical team like the Seminoles, clobbered them 59 – 20. :-)

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:49 (average 5:09).  To do it, click here.  Hoe did you do?

Short Takes:

From NY Times: Nearly 20 months after Maryland abolished capital punishment, Gov. Martin O’Malley said Wednesday that he would empty the state’s death row by commuting the sentences of four inmates who were awaiting execution.

What I thought was the sound of the wind, here in Oregon, was the howling of Maryland Republicans mourning their inability to murder the last four.

From Huffington Post: At least six people have been jailed in Texas over the past two years for owing money on payday loans, according to a damning new analysis of public court records.

The economic advocacy group Texas Appleseed found that more than 1,500 debtors have been hit with criminal charges in the state — even though Texas enacted a law in 2012 explicitly prohibiting lenders from using criminal charges to collect debts.

According to Appleseed’s review, 1,576 criminal complaints were issued against debtors in eight Texas counties between 2012 and 2014. These complaints were often filed by courts with minimal review and based solely on the payday lender’s word and frequently flimsy evidence.

Leave it to Texas Republicans to assist 1% predators to illegally deprive victims of freedom.

From Slate: The Supreme Court adds more sectarian religion to our lives.

In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court’s five conservatives ruled that legislative sessions in town council meetings can open with explicitly sectarian prayers. Almost immediately, town boards began inviting Christians to speak at their meetings while excluding speakers of minority faiths (and, naturally, atheists). In short order the Galloway majority’s gauzy vision of pluralistic civic tolerance began to look a lot more like a governmental endorsement of Christianity at the expense of minority religions. Increasingly, to the conservatives of the Roberts court, “religious liberty” means the freedom of religious majorities to push their religious beliefs on the rest of us.

This is just what Slate considers the least horrid of the ten worst Republican civil liberties violations of 2014. Click through for the other nine.

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Dec 312014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 56, and it’s the last Open Thread of 2014.  It’s also cold enough in Portland to freeze the kitty dingles off a brass TomCat!

Jig Zoned Puzzle:

Today‘s took me 5:32 (average 6:28).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Move-on: As we head into 2015, it’s important to remember how quickly change that once seemed radical becomes inevitable when enough people make a ruckus!

Please watch Robert Reich’s uplifting summary of 2014, and then share it as a New Year’s greeting with family and friends:

 

If you have friends who didn’t vote, tie them in a chair, tape their eyes open, and show them why the Reich on the left, Robert Reich, is right!  The Reich on the right, The Republican Reich is wrong!

From The New Yorker: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said on Tuesday that he would introduce a new bill requiring clearer labelling of white supremacists.

The White Supremacist Labelling Act of 2015 would require white supremacists to wear 4-inch-by-6-inch name tags clearly designating them as members of an official hate group.

“Right now, it’s impossible to tell the difference between neo-Nazis and collectors of WWII memorabilia,” Scalise said.

The Louisiana congressman said that proper labelling for white supremacists should make it easier for lawmakers to know what kind of organizations they are addressing in the future.

Right on Andy, but shouldn’t he think the sheets and hoods might have been considered a hint?

From NY Times: It was one of Capitol Hill’s most salacious scandals, featuring a senator’s affair with a campaign aide, an outraged husband, tens of thousands of dollars in hush money, illicit lobbying deals with Las Vegas power brokers and a dramatic intervention by a leading Christian ministry.

Now, three years after the fall of former Senator John E. Ensign of Nevada, thousands of pages of previously undisclosed documents reveal new details about the evidence the F.B.I. gathered against Mr. Ensign, who briefly flirted with running for president in 2012. The documents, which show that Mr. Ensign’s behavior was more brash than known at the time, also offer new specifics about the intense debate within the Justice Department over the decision to not prosecute Mr. Ensign, despite an aggressive F.B.I. investigation into the scandal.

Although the broad outlines of the case against Mr. Ensign have been made public, the documents disclose for the first time how much Mr. Ensign strong-armed political donors and business associates in 2008 to find lobbying work for Douglas Hampton, a top aide and close friend. Mr. Ensign was seeking the work in an attempt to placate Mr. Hampton because Mr. Ensign had an affair with Mr. Hampton’s wife, Cynthia Hampton, a campaign aide.

If you remember, The Republican Senators and Reps living at and involved with C-Street, part of The Fellowship, were helping Ensign try to cover up this scandal at the same time they were drafting legislation to impose the death penalty in Uganda for being gay. Fortunately that failed, because it was intended to be a test bed to work out the kinks, before employing it here.  Fortunately they had to back off it, because we on the left exposed what they were doing.

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Dec 302014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 55.  We have more bad weather coming in, the kind that sets off my COPD.  In addition to a high wind warning, it may be a couple days before we see the warm side of 32°.  That may not seem bad, but here, temperatures below 32° are unusual.  Not getting above it is extreme.  It’s also such a dead news day that MSNBC has “Lockup” on in prime time.  This is today’s only article.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:09 (average 5:07).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Fantasy Football Report:

Here is the final report of the season for our own fantasy football league, Lefty Blog Friends.

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What can I say? CAT is where it’s AT!! :-)  We had a fun season and will be back next year.  We’ll have room for a couple more players, so, if you’d like to play next season, please let me know.  Congrats to all who played!

Short Takes:

From NY Times: Suppose that for some reason you decided to start hitting yourself in the head, repeatedly, with a baseball bat. You’d feel pretty bad. Correspondingly, you’d probably feel a lot better if and when you finally stopped. What would that improvement in your condition tell you?

It certainly wouldn’t imply that hitting yourself in the head was a good idea. It would, however, be an indication that the pain you were experiencing wasn’t a reflection of anything fundamentally wrong with your health. Your head wasn’t hurting because you were sick; it was hurting because you kept hitting it with that baseball bat.

And now you understand the basics of what has been happening to several major economies, including the United States, over the past few years. In fact, you understand these basics better than many politicians and commentators.

This another excellent Paul Krugman editorial. Click through fpr an explanation of his economic optimism.

From Daily Kos: The U.S. Senate has courageously just stood up to the Christian-supremacist bullies in the House of Representatives. Oh yes, the Senate has just completely ripped away from their religiously bigoted, House counterparts a would-be treasured bible-thumping bonanza of immeasurable, unconstitutional proselytization.  This erstwhile prize of legislative plunder had been specifically designed by these Congressmen and Congresswomen from the House, in nefarious collaboration with their legions of fundamentalist Christian parachurch allies, to be embedded deep within the confines of the 2015 Pentagon authorization/funding act.

Fortunately, the plan by these Christian crusader Members of the House failed. Please let me briefly explain, my friends.

Click through to learn how the Senate stripped provisions from the NDAA that would guarantee forced attempts to convert our troops to Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christianity.  In the past, Republican strength has come from the different wings of the Reich being ready to goose-step behind each others’ insane positions.  You can be sure that the Theocons will have their revenge against the Corporacons, Neocons, Plutocons, and the InsaniTEA wing.

From Huffington Post: Bracing to do business with a Congress run solely by Republicans, President Barack Obama is serving notice he has no qualms about vetoing legislation he dislikes.

This would be a significant change in style for Obama, come January when the new Congress will be seated with the GOP not only in command in the House but also the Senate as well.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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Dec 032014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 28.  It’s a busy day, but that describes any day I write a Monthly Report, I also had to go out in the cold to run errands.  The temperature did not reach 32°, F until after I returned, so needless to say, it’s also a bad air day.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:15 (average 5:08).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Fantasy Football Report:

Here’s the latest from our own fantasy football league, Lefty Blog Friends.

Scores:

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Standings:

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Oh how the mighty hath fallen!  Because this coming week is the last before our playoffs begin, our resident sasquatch, Lynn Squance, a Canadian woman, is invincible for the regular season title  Congrats and kudos to Lynn and her Size 9 Stompers.  In two weeks the playoffs begin and everyone has a chance to win.

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: Republican congressional aide Elizabeth Lauten said on Sunday morning that she “deeply regretted” her attack on Sasha and Malia Obama because it “completely overshadowed the vicious insults I hurled at their parents.”

Appearing on Fox News, Lauten said, “If I had to do it over again, I’d leave the girls out of it so that the horrible things I said about their parents would have had a chance to shine through. I’m kicking myself about that.”

Saying that she had “learned my lesson” from the incident, she added, “I put a lot of work into crafting malicious insults about Barack and Michelle Obama, and those insults have largely been ignored. That’s the real tragedy here.”

Dang! What will it take to get Andy back to comedy? But seriously, I bet she quit to parley her fame for hatemongering into cash.

From Daily Kos: How Walmart’s owners give thanks and give back

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Could anything be more clear?  This is the Waltons’ Republican vulture philanthropy to go with their Republican vulture capitalism.

From Upworthy: Kim Jong Un Would Really Hate For You To Watch This, Which Is Exactly Why You Should.

 

What a courageous young woman. Her story about Kim’s extreme right-wing dictatorship needs telling. We also need to take care that Republicans never get enough power to make this a similar place, ruled by the .01%.

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Aug 242014
 

I can’t honestly say that I’m happy with everything Barack Obama has done as President.  I’m not angry, because both times that I voted for him, I knew I was voting for a centrist, even though I would rather have voted for a progressive, but I also knew that the only electable alternatives would have brought with them the end of representative government.  Even though they hold only one branch of the federal government, they are still using every lie, trick and theft they can muster in attempts to insert themselves into every position of power and between every woman’s legs.  At least with respect to the latter, he is fighting back.

Republicans-in-your-vaginaFor most of the last year, the Supreme Court has forced the Obama Administration into an elaborate dance, where the Court hands down orders casting doubt upon the administration’s efforts to ensure that all women have access to affordable birth control — while simultaneously implying that everything would be fine if the administration just designed their birth control policy a different way. Friday, the administration is expected to announce a new policy that appears designed to end this dance and force the justices to rule definitively [Faux Print delinked] on whether employers with religious objections to birth control effectively have the power to restrict their employees’ access to birth control coverage, no matter how the government structures its regulations.

Up until now, the administration’s rules treated non-profit and for-profit employers as separate entities. Religious non-profits who object to birth control could exempt themselves from the requirement to offer contraceptive care to their employees by filling out a specific form that informs the government of their objection, and sending a copy of the form to their insurance provider or administrator. In most cases, once the non-profit employer submitted this form, their insurer would then contract separately with their workers to ensure that those workers had contraceptive coverage. These non-profit rules spawned one round of litigation brought by religious non-profit organizations which claim that even being required to fill out a short form violates their religious liberty.

Meanwhile, for-profit employees were required to comply with their legal obligations to their employees. Prior to the Supreme Court’s June decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which significantly reworked the balance of power between employers and employees, the law was clear that for-profit businesses could not invoke their owners’ religious beliefs to exempt themselves from their legal obligations to their workers. “When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice,” the Court held in its 1982 decision in United States v. Lee, “the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.” Hobby Lobby, of course, was the culmination of a second round of litigation brought by for-profit employers whose owners have religious objections to birth control. And it effectively eliminated the protections Lee extended to workers, at least with respect to federal law….

…In any event, however, the Obama Administration’s new rules will likely put an end to the Supreme Court’s ability to move the goalposts every time someone raises a new objection to the administration’s policy. The administration has now crafted its rules to comply almost to the letter with the requirements suggested by previous Supreme Court opinions. Now, the rest of the country will have to wait to find out whether Hobby Lobby actually permits this latest set of rules — or whether the language in that decision leading the Obama Administration in this direction will simply end with Lucy pulling away the football one more time…

Inserted from <Think Progress>

Click through for how the five Injustices SCROTUS (Republican Constitutional VD) have resorted to trickery to violate the Constitution while blaming their First Amendment violations on regulations.  It is my hope that Roberts will flip in an attempt to preserve the legacy of the Court,not that Obama is denying him regulations as an excuse.  Make sure to prevent any more Republican appointments to the court until children ask, “What’s a Republican?”, and nobody remembers.

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Aug 202014
 

Title humor aside, this nation desperately needs help to restore the value of government of by and for the people.  This article clearly shows just how broken the system has become, and why change is so necessary.  Neither party should have the power to draw a dishonest election map, but Republicans have reached an unprecedented high in subversion of the peoples’ will.

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In the original conception of our Constitution, the House of Representatives was to be the branch of government that best reflected the will of the people. House members cannot serve without being elected — vacancies are not filled by appointees — and they must face the voters every two years. Notably, the House holds pride of place as the first branch of government to be described in the Constitution. The framers move directly from “We the People” to the House, underlining the notion that, for our Constitution (and our government) to function, representatives must be accountable to the people.

Unfortunately, as we near the 2014 midterm elections, the reality of House races today clashes with that goal.

Let’s start with the connection between votes and seats. In 2012, we faced a major choice between the major parties and a mandate on President Obama’s first term. In the presidential race, Obama defeated Mitt Romney in the national popular vote by almost three percentage points, and Republicans suffered the worst performance in Senate elections by any major party in a half-century.

In House races, Democratic nominees overcame incumbent advantages for Republicans and won the national popular vote by more than 1.1 million votes. By those numbers, Americans painted the Capitol royal blue. Shockingly, though, Republicans won 54 percent of the House seats, establishing for themselves a 33-seat majority. And looking ahead, analysts estimate that Democrats may need as much as 55 percent of the popular vote in November to secure a majority.

Such a disconnect between voters and those who are installed as their congressional leaders goes far beyond any distortion we’ve seen in the Electoral College in presidential elections. It’s absolutely unacceptable in House elections, and it deserves far more debate than it has received… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Washington Post>

Photo Credit: Hands Off Redistricting

Now the bottom map in the above graphic is hypothetical, but the top map how Republicans are actually stolen 72% of the Representatives in a state where the majority of the voters voted for Democrats.  Part of the problem is that the scheme favors incumbents from both parties. The five Democratic candidates in PA have so many Democrats packed into their districts that they don’t have to work to keep their jobs, making them less likely to fight to change the system.  As a rule, progressives and even most corporate Democrats favor reform.  A few Corporate Democrats and Blue Dogs do not.  Republicans favor reform, but only in those states where Democrats control redistricting.  They consider any attempt to return their states to representing the people a Kenyan, Socialist conspiracy.  That’s why reform must be national

There are no easy answers here, but the next time America does major redistricting will be after the 2020 Elections.  How can we be ready?

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