Oct 012014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 163.  It’s a busy day, and I have much to do.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:46 (average 5:43).  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:

4Scores

Standings:

4Standings

Since my best players have returned from a bye week, I hope to do better.

Short Takes:

From Rolling Stone (Hat-Tip Daily Kos): [T]he enormity of the Koch fortune is no mystery. Brothers Charles and David are each worth more than $40 billion. The electoral influence of the Koch brothers is similarly well-chronicled. The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they’ve cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House. Their political network helped finance the Tea Party and powers today’s GOP. Koch-affiliated organizations raised some $400 million during the 2012 election, and aim to spend another $290 million to elect Republicans in this year’s midterms. So far in this cycle, Koch-backed entities have bought 44,000 political ads to boost Republican efforts to take back the Senate.

What is less clear is where all that money comes from. Koch Industries is headquartered in a squat, smoked-glass building that rises above the prairie on the outskirts of Wichita, Kansas. The building, like the brothers’ fiercely private firm, is literally and figuratively a black box. Koch touts only one top-line financial figure: $115 billion in annual revenue, as estimated by Forbes. By that metric, it is larger than IBM, Honda or Hewlett-Packard and is America’s second-largest private company after agribusiness colossus Cargill. The company’s stock response to inquiries from reporters: "We are privately held and don’t disclose this information."

But Koch Industries is not entirely opaque. The company’s troubled legal history – including a trail of congressional investigations, Department of Justice consent decrees, civil lawsuits and felony convictions – augmented by internal company documents, leaked State Department cables, Freedom of Information disclosures and company whistle­-blowers, combine to cast an unwelcome spotlight on the toxic empire whose profits finance the modern GOP…

Click through for the rest of this inclusive exposé on the evil brothers Republicans love to … nevermind.

From Slate (Hat-Tip Daily Kos): Many of the police officers present during protests that followed the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, did not wear nametags and refused to identify themselves to members of the public when asked, a practice that is prohbited by law in some places and by department policy in many others. Per a Department of Justice letter sent to Ferguson police on Tuesday, Ferguson officers are in fact required to wear identification by the department’s own regulations. The DOJ instructed officers to begin following this requirement immediately. From Reuters: 

… the Justice Department said its investigators had observed Ferguson police officers not wearing, or obscuring, their name tags on their uniforms, a violation of the police department’s rules.

"The failure to wear name plates conveys a message to community members that, through anonymity, officers may seek to act with impunity," the letter said.

The Justice Department then reiterated the identification requirement in a second letter to Ferguson police (whose main purpose was demanding that officers stop wearing "I Am Darren Wilson" solidarity bracelets):

It further was reported to us that some officers affirmatively displaying these bracelets had black tape over their name plates. The practice of not wearing, or obscuring, name plates violates your own department’s policies, which we advised you earlier this week when we requested that you end the practice imrnediately.

The second letter is dated Friday.

Indict the pigs! (I use this not a generic term for police officers, but an insult to these racists, who should not be wearing the uniform.)

From NY Times: The Supreme Court on Monday blocked an appeals court ruling that would have restored seven days of early voting in Ohio.

The Supreme Court’s order was three sentences long and contained no reasoning. But it disclosed an ideological split, with the court’s four more liberal members noting that they would have denied the request for a stay of the lower court’s order extending early voting. Dale Ho, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the court’s action “will deprive many Ohioans of the opportunity to vote in the upcoming election as this case continues to make its way through the courts.”

The ruling, which reflected a partisan breakdown in many court decisions nationwide on voting issues, saw the five Republican-appointed justices uphold the voting restrictions enacted by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature in February. The new limits removed the first week of Ohio’s 35-day early voting period, in the process eliminating the only week that permitted same-day registration, a feature most often used by minorities.

The Fascist Five Injustices of SCROTUS (Republican Constitutional VD) just took another bite out of Democracy. Only Democrats can occupy the White House until these totalitarian bastards are gone!

Cartoon:

1001Cartoon

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Sep 282014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 160.  After sleeping from 2 PM until 7 AM with three short breaks for food, posting and equestrian events, I’m feeling almost feline again.  Tomorrow is a Holy Day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb, but my Broncos will not have a service.  In solidarity with the LFBT community, they are observing their bi week.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:54 (average 5:15).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

My Prison Volunteer Trip:

All things considered, it was a highly productive trip.  I took the bus down to Salem on Wednesday.  We had a Board Meeting, and inducted two new members to our Board.  On Thursday I made two trips to the prison.  In the first we had an Executive Body meeting.  That consists of the Officers if the club (the inside group) and the foundation (the outside group, of which I am the Treasurer).  We discussed plans for meetings for my guys in 2015, including a Community Impact Meeting between my guys and a group of university students in criminology and sociology, an Essay Presentation meeting featuring writers from inside and outside, a Victim Impact meeting between my guys and crime victim, two months of banquet where my guys’ families come in, several charity events that my guys are organizing to help others, and more.  We also discussed improving the communications between my guys and their outside supporters, which had fallen off, because our former President had some personal issues, and needed to be replaced, and because my guys have not been feeding me the information I need to maintain a website.  The second meeting was a general meeting with about seventy of my guys.  DOC informed us that they have a new staff advisor.  She seem personable.  I particularly enjoyed introducing her to the newest member of our Board.  She knew who he was, but had never met him.  Until a few months ago he used to be her boss’ boss’ boss.  He was in charge of Inmate Activities for all of DOC, not just the one prison where we volunteer.  The meeting was primarily housekeeping, informing my guys of the plans we made, and planning a charity event, but we did hear a presentation from a college teacher seeking help to continue a limited opportunity for higher education inside.  I also learned that a good friend of mine was just elected President of the Lakota Club, the prison’s Native American group.

Now a couple commented about how non-intimidating the prison entrance seems.  As prisons go, these folks do a better job than most in that respect, but so you don’t get the wrong impression, here are a couple more pics.  The first is the same entrance from a different angle.

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The second is a view od the wall from inside.

0928OSPWire

Is that more prison-like?

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: In a Thursday appearance on the Fox News Channel, former Vice-President Dick Cheney said that it was “no fair” that President Obama gets to bomb Syria.

“I’m envious as hell,” he told Fox’s Sean Hannity. “That was on my bucket list.”

Asked if he had any advice for the President on bombing Syria, Cheney said, “Just enjoy it. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Andy has captured ChickenHawk Cheney, aka Five Deferment Dick, perfectly!

From Upworthy: Actor, advocate, and creative dreamboat Joseph Gordon-Levitt ponders aloud how his views on gender equality went viral not once, but twice. He has some interesting thoughts to share. Take a look — at 3:45, he asks something of all of us, especially if you have a webcam on your computer!

 

I consider myself a feminist and have been since the 1960’s for the reasons he mentioned. To my surprise, the movement had a lot of financial support from high end corporations back then. In my youthful naiveté, I thought they were practicing good community relations. In fact, they had figured out that, once women were established as workers, they could stop paying men a living wage. So now it takes two workers to support most families. Some blame the women’s movement for this, but that is absurd. Republicans want you to blame the victims of corporate greed, not the perpetrators.

From NY Times: With a competitive election for governor of Wisconsin less than six weeks away, a federal appeals court on Friday narrowly decided against hearing arguments on a recently instituted photo identification requirement for the state’s voters.

In an order that evenly split the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit here, the judges turned down pleas for a hearing by the full court from people who argue that the requirement has created confusion and chaos. The decision came about a month before in-person early voting begins and after some in Wisconsin may have mailed in absentee ballots.

The matter could ultimately wind up before the United States Supreme Court, and the Wisconsin case is seen as noteworthy among the numerous legal fights playing out around the country over voting regulations. Many of the regulations have been introduced in the last four years in states with Republican-dominated governments, like Wisconsin.

Voting officials and clerks in Wisconsin have been racing to prepare voters and poll-watchers for the identification requirement since a three-member panel of the Seventh Circuit court decided on Sept. 12 that the law, delayed for more than two years, could take effect immediately.

This is s tragic loss for the oppressed people of Fitzwalkerstan, living under the criminal tyranny of Fartfuhrer Walker.

Cartoon:

0928Cartoon

I originally published this cartoon on this date in 2011. Sadly little has changed.

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Sep 112014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 143.  I feel quite tired after yesterday’s prison volunteer day.  It was a CoDA meeting, and I was only working with five guys, but their intensity made up for their low number.  I learned that one now has his release date, so I told him that he had been stinking up the prison for far too long and it was about time they threw his useless ass right out of the prison.  The wonderful thing about short timers with a brand new release date is you can do anything to them.  Nothing wipes away the smile, :twisted:  On a more serious note, we discussed dealing with a higher power and how different people have different concepts of what that means.  Views ranged from evangelical to devout atheist, but the beauty is that the men honored each others beliefs.  Store to Door will be delivering groceries soon and I’m still quite tired.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:30 (average 5:07).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: Laverne Cox (“Orange is the New Black”) tells a personal story that touches upon tough questions of race and gender identity and expression. Her courage to be who she is, and to remain compassionate in the face of open taunts and public shaming, is truly inspiring.

Every moment of her talk is compelling, but if you’ve only got a few minutes, jump ahead to 4:37 to hear why she does not descend to the level of her attackers. The answer—and the question she poses—puts so much of bullying into simple, elegant perspective. Bravo to her for speaking up and speaking out.

 

I understand how people can oppress out of pain. What I don’t understand is how Republicans can look in the mirror when they exacerbate that pain and exploit it for the profit of the 0.1%

From Daily Kos: Rep. Robert Pittenger thinks it would be terrible, just terrible, if the law prohibited employers from firing people for being gay. Kind of like how smoking bans are terrible:

After assuring ThinkProgress that he “respects everyone” and “loves people,” Pittenger said he believes companies should have the right to fire or refuse to hire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“You need to respect the autonomy of somebody running their business,” he said. “It’s like smoking bans. Do you ban smoking or do people have the right to private property? I think people have the right to private property. In public spaces, absolutely, we can have smoking bans. But we don’t want to micromanage people’s lives and businesses. If you have a business, do you want the government to come in and tell you you need to hire somebody? Why should government be there to impose on the freedoms we enjoy?”

Denying the rights of others is not a freedom. It’s a Republican act of InsaniTEA.

From The New Yorker: Harshly criticizing the current occupant of the White House, Dick Cheney told reporters on Wednesday, “Iraq would be stable today if I were still President.”

“ISIS is a problem that President Obama has made possible,” Cheney said during a press conference on Capitol Hill. “I never would have let that happen when I was Commander-in-Chief.”

I give up, Andy Where’s the satire?

Cartoon:

0911Cartoon

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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:

492788353MB00007_HOUSE_GOP_

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:

0904Cartoon

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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:

0902Cartoon

I stole this from last year.

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Aug 192014
 

I ran across the problem of private probation companies on Upworthy, and decided to research it further, because of my prison volunteer work.  The video there led to a second video, but they did not list all the locations where this perverse injustice takes place, and that led to ever more digging.

0819debtors_prisonEvery year, US courts sentence several hundred thousand misdemeanor offenders to probation overseen by private companies that charge their fees directly to the probationers. Often, the poorest people wind up paying the most in fees over time, in what amounts to a discriminatory penalty. And when they can’t pay, companies can and do secure their arrest.

The 72-page report, “Profiting from Probation: America’s ‘Offender-Funded’ Probation Industry,” describes how more than 1,000 courts in several US states delegate tremendous coercive power to companies that are often subject to little meaningful oversight or regulation. In many cases, the only reason people are put on probation is because they need time to pay off fines and court costs linked to minor crimes. In some of these cases, probation companies act more like abusive debt collectors than probation officers, charging the debtors for their services.

“Many of the people supervised by these companies wouldn’t be on probation to begin with if they had more money,” said Chris Albin-Lackey, senior researcher on business and human rights at Human Rights Watch. “Often, the poorer people are, the more they ultimately pay in company fees and the more likely it is that they will wind up behind bars.”

Companies refuse to disclose how much money they collect in fees from offenders under their supervision. Remarkably, the courts that hire them generally do not demand this information either. Human Rights Watch estimates that, in Georgia alone, the industry collects a minimum of US$40 million in fees every year from probationers. In other states, disclosure requirements are so minimal that is not possible even to hazard a guess how much probation companies are harvesting from probationers in fees…

Inserted from <Human Rights Watch>

Here is the HRW video.

And here are the two videos from Brave New Films. (petition there)

 

 

Most of the states were the ones I expected, but there were a couple surprises. They are Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Colorado, Utah, Washington, Missouri, Michigan, Montana and Idaho.  I strongly suspect that in the Blue State and two purple states, it is red counties that use the services.  Perhaps we can get some feedback from residents.  Wherever they are, the companies miszt be outlawed.

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Aug 132014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 113.  It’s a muggy sticky day, and when I step out of my apartment, the heat is like a slap in the face.  Tomorrow I have a grocery delivery coming.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:18 (average 4:34).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From BBC: The appointment of Haider al-Abadi as prime minister-designate has been generally well-received in the mainstream Iraqi media.

Private television channels broadly support the move, and some pro-Sunni stations have strongly criticised outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s refusal to quit.

State-run Al-Iraqiyah TV continued its pro-Maliki line on Monday evening, but by Tuesday morning it stopped interviewing guests critical of the move and has been running more neutral reports on Mr Abadi’s career and background.

Meanwhile, the non-partisan press has shown impatience with Mr al-Maliki, and news websites generally support the appointment of Mr Abadi.

Nouri Al Maliki (R-IQ) may try to stage a military coup, because his policies and practices have made him a man so hated that he sees a noose in his future. Although a recent report indicates he may step aside peaceably,m I don’t see how he can do so, without putting his life in jeopardy.

From TPM: One thing is certain: Michael Brown, 18, was fatally shot by Ferguson police officers on Saturday. His family has told the media that he was scheduled to start attending Vatterott College, a trade school with several Missouri campuses, this week.

Little else is agreed upon, though. A friend of Brown’s who was with him at the time of the shooting told MSNBC that a police officer told them to "get the fuck off the sidewalk" as they were walking down the street. An altercation ensued, Brown’s friend said, and the first shot was fired. Brown then attempted to flee the scene, according to the friend, but the police officer pursued and eventually fired multiple gunshots that killed Brown. The officer’s name has yet to be released, police say, because of "threats" made toward officers via social media.

The New York Times reported the police’s version of events. Brown had assaulted the police officer and then been shot in a struggle for the officer’s firearm, the police said. That account was met with skepticism from community leaders, especially as the police acknowledged that Brown had been unarmed.

According to two independent eyewitness accounts I have seen, the officer was chasing Brown down the street, and Brown had his hands in the air to surrender when the officer fired the fatal shots. The police assertion that Brown was going fire the officer’s gun is a standard police lie, when they murder an unarmed victim. Brown certainly was not going for the officers gun when the officer killed him. Most police officers are dedicated professionals, but far too many Republican racists are hired as police officers, and bring their hatred and need to abuse power to their jobs.

From Right Wing Watch: \Fox News commentator Todd Starnes appeared on “The 700 Club” today where he went through his usual talking points about how the Obama administration is waging “war” on conservative Christians while giving special treatment to Muslims.

Barf Bag Alert!!

 

When Pat Robertson gets together with a propagandist from the Republican Reichsministry of Propaganda, Faux Noise, the result frequently fouls screens and keyboards.

Cartoon:

0813Cartoon

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