Oct 092015

Today has been somewhat relaxing.  I even managed to cut the nails of my three furbabes and watched a movie for my "me time"!  Tomorrow is my busy day with physio, teaching and a few errands.  TGIF!!!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:27 (average 5:29). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes

The New Yorker — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has entered rehab to deal with his “struggles with nouns and verbs,” an aide to the congressman has confirmed.

According to the aide, McCarthy abruptly dropped out of the race for Speaker of the House because his difficulties with those two parts of speech had “spiralled out of control.”

Well McCarthy certainly did spill the Republican beans, didn't he!  And now out of the race for Speaker.  Was it the beans really?

NOLA.com — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's surprise decision Thursday (Oct. 8) to drop out of the race for speaker likely puts an end to Rep. Steve Scalise's run for the No. 2 House leadership post.

McCarthy announced that he plans to stay on as majority leader. McCarthy, a California Republican made his announcements to a GOP caucus meeting that had been expected to vote him the members' choice to be elected speaker during a full House vote slated for Oct. 29.

McCarthy said it's important the GOP caucus be "100 percent united," and that "if we're going to unite and be strong, we need a new face to do that."

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said McCarthy dropped out because he didn't think he could get the 218 votes needed in the House to replace John Boehner as speaker. Issa said neither of the other candidates – Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., and Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, could, either, although McCarthy had the backing of a majority of the GOP caucus.

Continue reading about these GOP follies at NOLA.com.  It would seem that there is a lot of confusion and the issue of the ultra conservatives vs the conservatives is shredding the party right now.

Prompted by an e-mail I received, I looked into the Constitution to see who could be the next Speaker.  The Speaker need not be a sitting member of the House and "…based on tradition and practice from the earliest days of the nation, to be elected speaker a candidate must receive an absolute majority of all votes cast for individuals, i.e. excluding those who abstain. If no candidate wins such a majority, then the roll call is repeated until a speaker is elected." (from Wikipedia)

Huffington Post — Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Thursday that the GOP's investigation into Planned Parenthood's use of federal funds hasn't turned up anything.

"Did I look at the finances and have a hearing specifically as to the revenue portion and how they spend? Yes. Was there any wrongdoing? I didn't find any," he said during a Judiciary Committee hearing on the family planning provider.  

Chaffetz said Thursday that he still supports digging into Planned Parenthood's activities, even if they're using their money appropriately.

"I think there will continue to be investigations," he said.

Read the rest at Huffington Post.  Enough already!!!  How many tax payer dollars are going to be misappropriated for what in my mind, should be classified as partisan politics?  I would say the same about Benghazi and the ACA too.

My Universe — It's Carnivale for these two energetic Bengals!

Oct 092015

From Think Progress

Tennessee’s first year of drug testing welfare recipients uncovered drug use by less than 0.2 percent of all applicants for the state’s public assistance system.

The state implemented the testing regime in the summer of 2014, adding three questions about narcotics use to the application form for aid. Anyone who answers “yes” to any of the three drug questions must take a urine test or have their application thrown away immediately. Anyone who fails a urine test must complete drug treatment and pass a second test, or have their benefits cut off for six months.

In total, just 1.6 percent of the 28,559 people who applied for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits in the first year of testing answered one of the three screening questions positively. Out of the 468 people who peed in a state-funded cup, 11.7 percent flunked the test.

You can read the rest of the article HERE.  In an earlier Think Progress article, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arizona were examined for the costs-benefits of their programmes.

As state legislatures convene across the country, proposals keep cropping up to drug test applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, or welfare.

Proponents of these bills claim they will save money by getting drug users off the dole and thus reduce spending on benefits. But states that are looking at bills of their own may want to consider the fact that the drug testing programs that are already up and running haven’t seen such results.

The High Costs And Few Rewards In Each State

The drug-testing regimes in the seven states all differ slightly, but the lack of effectiveness is widespread.


In 2011, Missouri adopted a law to require screening and testing for all TANF applicants, and the testing began in March 2013. In 2014, 446 of the state’s 38,970 applicants were tested. Just 48 tested positive.

The budgeted cost for that year’s testing program was $336,297. And, according to numbers provided to ThinkProgress by a Missouri Department of Social Services spokeswoman, the first three years of the program will likely cost the state more than $1.35 million, including start-up costs.  

In 2011, Florida passed a law to require every single applicant for TANF to pass a urine drug test, at his or her own expense (not just those for whom there was a reasonable suspicion). In four month of implementation,108 out of 4,086 applicants tested positive at a cost of $118,140. Applicants who tested negative would be reimbursed by the state. A federal courtstopped the requirement as a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s “unreasonable search and seizures” clause in 2013 — a ruling upheld in December by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. The three-judge panel noted that Florida had “not demonstrated a more prevalent, unique or different drug problem among TANF applicants than in the general population.” A 2012 Georgia law like Florida’s, was revised in 2014 to include a “reasonable suspicion” requirement. A spokeswoman for the Georgia Division of Family and Children’s Services told ThinkProgress that the program is “currently on hold, pending a case in the U.S. District Court.” Its ultimate result could determine the constitutionality of the requirements in other states.

Read the rest of the ARTICLE to see how the other states fared.

Too many states are seeing drug testing as a panacea for high welfare costs.  Unfortunately, the costs far out weigh the benefits.  And the causes of job loss or welfare assistance are not uniquely the fault of applicants. But in addition, there are other costs like the affront to a person's dignity.  I can remember the first time I had to go on Unemployment benefits.  I stood at the counter, dressed as if I were going to work, in full blown panic attack mode, shaking like a leaf in a strong wind.  I had to fill out papers but I could not write. With no one at home to assist me, the clerked filled it out as I mumbled answers to her questions.  My face was beet red, my legs like jello.  I finally signed it but the signature didn't resemble my usual signature.  Had I been required to "pee in a cup", I think I would have totally lost my mind.

Is it right to ask people to "pee in a cup" when they are already down, especially when the testing lacks effectiveness?

Oct 052015

Mother Jones has an excellent article about the coal industry and one of its big players, Don Blankenship.  As the former CEO of Massey Energy Co., Blankenship is charged with conspiracy to violate safety laws, defrauding the federal government, securities fraud and making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission.  If convicted in this corporate accountability case, he could face 31 years in prison.  Not enough in my opinion for the misery and death he created and left in his wake.  Perhaps his golden parachute, nay platinum parachute he received from Massey Energy Co in 2010 when he left, will be taken back and distributed to the families of miners killed at a Blankenship operation.  That would be an attempt at justice for those families.


…he was a harsh taskmaster whose cutthroat management style transformed what was once a modest family business into the region's largest coal producer.  

Blankenship cultivated an image as a Mingo County son made good—a good ol' boy who ran a multibillion-dollar company from a double-wide trailer. And he saw himself as a heroic figure who brought jobs to the depressed enclaves of his native West Virginia. But with his gaze fixed on the bottom line, Blankenship crushed the mine workers union that was baptized in his backyard. Voluminous court records and government investigations show that he presided over a company that padded its profits by running some of themost dangerous workplaces in the country. Massey polluted the waterwaysthat had sustained Blankenship's forebears, rained coal dust on the schoolyards where his miners' children played, and subjected the men he grew up with in southern West Virginia to unsafe working conditions.

A mascot of the coal industry's worst excesses, Blankenship pumped millions of dollars into West Virginia's political system to promote an anti-regulatory agenda and curry favor with state lawmakers and officials.

The irony is that, even at the nadir of Blankenship's power, his ideology is ascendant. He transformed West Virginia not just physically (entire towns have been wiped out by Massey's footprint), but politically. Now, by playing off fears of creeping government involvement, the coal industry has strengthened its grip on state politics. Lawmakers friendly to the industry, with financial support from Blankenship, have won sweeping victories at the ballot box and used their mandate to roll back health and safety regulations while trumpeting the survival-of-the-fittest capitalism that was Blankenship's gospel. The man on the mountaintop may have fallen, but the widespread impact of his legacy shows no signs of diminishing.  

Down the road from Upper Big Branch, a memorial funded in part by Alpha touted the job-creating legacy of the coal industry. By a back entrance to the now-shuttered mine was a more informal installation—29 hard hats and two mourning angels. Their wings were solar powered.  



These are pictures of mountain top removal . . . from lush forested mountain tops to wastelands that resemble tar sands mines like those in Alberta.

From Alternet

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. had this to say about Blankenship in a report on EcoWatch last fall:

Don Blankenship once boasted to me that it was impossible to conduct mountaintop removal mining without violating the law. He prided himself on his cold-blooded capacity for turning America’s purple mountains majesty into coal company cash. His criminal mind allowed him to view the human beings of Appalachia as disposable production units. He is a sociopath and gangster whose gift was felonious greed and a stone-cold heart that allowed him to put his yearning for money and power ahead of human lives. Those qualities had great value to his friends and investors: the Wall Street robber barons. But they were poison and destruction to the noble communities of coal country.  We can’t bring back the towns he destroyed, the lives he took, the mountains he flattened, the rivers he poisoned, but there is some consolation in knowing that he’s getting what he deserves: three hots and a cot and long days in the company of fellow criminals of lesser appetites and lesser distinction.

Blankenship's trial has begun with the jury selection expected to be completed by today.  I understand that he has top notch counsel and is pleading innocent to all charges.  I wonder how far his cultivated political connections will get him?  Any doubt that he is a Republican!


Please sign the Protect Communities from Hazardous Coal Mining Waste prepared by the Sierra Club.


Oct 042015

It must be the weekend because the summary of the ravings of the lunatic fringe, aka Republicans and their media cohorts, are "rolling off the presses" so to speak.  But nothing the rabid right says or does is cogent, nor truthful.


The week began with an attempted massacre of Planned Parenthood and ended with another horrific mass shooting. Conservatives grilled the head of a organization that provides healthcare to poor women as if she were a criminal, and then threw up their hands saying nothing can be done about gun violence. Poor healthcare and random gun deaths are just the price you pay for freedom, they say. Or as Jeb Bush so brilliantly articulated: "Stuff happens." Here are five low-lights from the week that was: 

5. Republican Congressman: Planned Parenthood is not necessary, because as a guy with great health insurance from the taxpayers, I have plenty of healthcare options.

During this week’s Planned Parenthood hearings, the tin-eared award goes to Republican Congressman Glenn Grothman, a Republican congressman who told the CEO of the women’s healthcare provider that he just does not find her organization necessary. As a man enjoying great government-funded health insurance, he has plenty of other options. Bully for him.

When I look at cities around me that have a Planned Parenthood clinic … usually in those cities, as a guy, I could go to many clinics locally that have all the machines that one would need, all these clinics as far as I know take Medicaid dollars, so you could go to any of those clinics to get any medical service you could. . . . I guess what I’m getting at is if Planned Parenthood disappeared tomorrow in those towns, there would still be three or four or five clinics or hospitals providing all the … medical care you would want.

Grothman's general outlook on Medicaid is almost as dim as his view of Planned Parenthood. He has then claimed in the past that people who use the public safety net are fleecing taxpayers by living high on the hog, and not having to pay deductibles like those with private insurance do.

Women and poor people have all the luck! 

Read about the other four Right Wing Idiocies in Alternet.  I'd say they'd amaze you, but I don't think anything that Republicans or Faux say or do amazes anyone anymore.  It is SSDD . . . Stupid is as stupid does!

Oct 032015

It has been a busy day!  I did two hours of physiotherapy followed by 3 hours of teaching ESL.  Once I arrived home, it was straight to the computer to get the 02/10/15 articles posted to Care2 and links distributed. I took advantage of one of Lona's cat naps . . . soooooooo relaxing! and then had a late dinner.  As a result, this is today's only article.  Tomorrow won't be so busy outside the house, but I need to do laundry before I start scaring the neighbourhood!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:31 (average 4:24). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Upworthy — Female genital mutilation, also known as FGM or FGC (female genital cutting), is performed in several African countries and parts of the Middle East, and less frequently in Malaysia, Indonesia, India, and Pakistan. It also occurs in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Europe — despite being illegal in many places.

FGM is barbaric, inhuman and a violation of human rights and dignity. Please sign this petition to end FGM.

Read the rest of the article and see how five young men react to this proceedure.

Rachel Maddow — h/t Jim PhillipsA look at Kevin McCarthy, poised to be the new Speaker of the House when Congressional Republicans vote next week.

As things sit now, the Speaker, 2nd in succession to the White House behind the Vice President should something happen to the President, is elected by only 247 members of the House of Representatives.  Scary! Does Kevin McCarthy represent the level of competence that the Republicans, or more specifically the Teabaggers, bring to the Congress? Even scarier!!  If so, then God help the US.

NY Times — Ever since it became public that Pope Francis met in Washington with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples, the questions have been swirling: Why did he meet with her, and was it meant as a political statement?

As it turns out, the Vatican said on Friday, the pope did not mean to endorse Ms. Davis’s views. It also said he gave her no more than a typical brief greeting, despite what her lawyer described.

Instead, the Vatican said that Francis gave only one “real audience”: to someone later identified as one of his former students, Yayo Grassi, a gay man in Washington who says he brought his partner of 19 years to the Vatican’s embassy in Washington for a reunion. They even shot video.

This is a portion of a Faithful America e-mail that Joanne brought to my attention:

After days of speculation, the truth has finally come out: Pope Francis did not hold a private meeting to express his support for Kim Davis's efforts to block gay marriage licenses.

According to an official Vatican statement, Kim Davis was among "several dozen persons" attending a reception at the Vatican embassy, "the pope did not enter into the details of the situation," and "his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support."

Moreover, it seems that the pope did not request Kim Davis be invited.

According to press reports, one man was likely responsible for Davis's invitation: Carlo Maria Vigano, a conservative church official who was appointed by Pope Benedict as Vatican ambassador to the United States (formally called the "apostolic nuncio").

Having created an opportunity for right-wing evangelicals to dishonestly hijack the message of the pope's visit to the United States, Vigano must now resign.

If you are interested in the Faithful America petition, you can find it HERE. 

I believe that Kim Davis is being used as a political bullet within the Vatican in a dispute between the very conservative factions and the more liberal Pope Francis.  I have no sympathy for her whatsoever.  Davis has a job to do . . . act in accordance with the laws of the land . . . and if she cannot do that for any reason, she should resign.

Mother Jones — While speaking to reporters during a campaign stop in Greenville, South Carolina, on Friday, Jeb Bush weighed in on the latest school shooting to take place in the United States, this time in Oregon, just a day before.

You can read a transcript of his comment HERE.  Mr Compassionate speaks out . . . what a farce!

My Universe — 


Give these boys a remote control and they will be attending services

at the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb!

Sep 292015

As Puddy Tat always says "Almost every week, Republicans join a competition to see who can say the most outlandish things, and in the process, they push the envelope on just how nutty InsaniTEA can become.  I trust that you will believe it, when I tell you that last week was no exception."

3. Jeb manages to insult black voters a la Romney’s 47 percent gaffe.

At a campaign stop in South Carolina, Jeb Bush was jawing away in front of one of his typical lily-white crowds, when someone asked him how Republicans might appeal to African-American voters. First, Bush mentioned that some of his best staff members are black, and explained how when he speaks Spanish, he does not mean it as an insult to America. Then he proceeded to insult black people in a way that immediately conjured up Mitt Romney’s infamous 47 percent remark.

Here’s what he said:

Think about it this way, Republicans get 4-7 percent of the African-American vote…If you double that, you win elections in Ohio, Virginia. And we should make that case, because our message is one of hope and aspiration. It isn’t one of division, “get in line, we’ll take care of you with free stuff.” Our message is uplifting, that says, “You can achieve earned success. We’re on your side."

You gotta hand it to him. Bush packed a remarkable amount of insulting and offensive racial stereotyping in that one little tone-deaf statement. Romney’s 47 percent theory was bad, but not explicitly about black voters, though certainly that code was embedded in his theorizing about the 47 percent of people who would vote for Obama no matter what and are dependent on the government.

Nope, Bush just came right out and said that black voters like free stuff, and they don’t know about “earned success,” so we'll teach them about it.

That "uplifting" message is bound to win over African-American voters big-time.


No doubt Bush, a la Romney, will attempt to explain how he did not actually say what he said, was quoted out of context, or perhaps did not understand the question, or was himself, misunderstood.

This is the third of 5 Nutty Right Wing Moments This Week.  Read the rest at Alternet.  If they were notso pathetic, they might be funny in their total stupidity!

Sep 272015

Isn't it simply amazing how the conservative mind can spin lies and deception like a spider's web out of a simple matter that should not be contentious. Here five right wing hoaxes that show the right to be the wing nuts they are.

2. Planned Parenthood. You have to hand it to the hoaxsters who made a splash over the summer by claiming, with zero evidence, that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal body parts for profit: They clearly know their audience, because that lie quickly became a truism in the Republican Party that every political candidate repeats like scripture, even though it is undeniably false.

What makes the entire thing so amazing is that, from day one, the claims made by the Center for Medical Progress — a front group launched to perpetuate the hoax — had every red flag for a right-wing urban legend. The claim that a secret cabal of organ traffickers was operating behind Planned Parenthood’s sunny exterior was eerily reminiscent of previous conservative Christian accusations that Dungeons and Dragons was a secret plot to lure teenagers into suicide or that Procter and Gamble was trying to convert people to Satanism with the power of their soap products. But conservative voters want to believe, so Republican politicians act like they actually believe this crap (and some might) to hustle for votes.

Read the other four examples in Alternet.  And we thought it couldn't get any more weird after dealing with Batshit Crazy Bachmann.  I think that Fiorina raising this lie to the level of Republican presidential candidates, is despicable and shows just how desperate Republicans are.