Nov 132015

Well, it has been raining all day.  Tonight, ferry sailings have been cancelled due to heavy seas, rain and wind warnings.  Believe me, it takes a lot to cancel a ferry sailing.  I was on a sailing years ago when cars were bouncing as much as 25 cm off the deck and then coming down with a thud.  Subsequent sailings were cancelled.  So here I sit with my little girl curled up at my feet, all warm and toasty and dry!  For us, at least half the weekend is supposed to be like this.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:57 (average 4:46). To do it, click here. How did you do? 

Short Takes

The New Yorker — These are not abstractions. And this is where the arguments about the freedom of speech become most tone deaf. The freedom to offend the powerful is not equivalent to the freedom to bully the relatively disempowered. The enlightenment principles that undergird free speech also prescribed that the natural limits of one’s liberty lie at the precise point at which it begins to impose upon the liberty of another.

Click through for the rest of the article.  Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are two current flashpoints.  But should they be flashpoints?  I don't think so . . . my freedoms end at the tip of my nose, while yours end at the tip of your nose.  The systemic racism and definition of rights in the US leaves me scratching my head.

Common Dreams — On September 21, Pah, a 16-year-old student at Oakland’s Street Academy, spoke out against the export of coal through the Port of Oakland to City Council members: “I’m opposed to this coal export because it will make my community in West Oakland sick. I support jobs, but not the kind of jobs that make us sick. There are clean job alternatives, like Community Choice energy, and this will be good for the health of my community. This is my generation; I want to have a healthy life.” 

Click through for the rest of the article.  A promising arrangement for greener and cheaper power.  What's not to like?  Living in British Columbia where power is controlled by a Crown Corporation and utilities are currently highly regulated, I wonder how such a system could work here, if at all.

Washington Post — Less than three months before the kickoff Iowa caucuses, there is growing anxiety bordering on panic among Republican elites about the dominance and durability of Donald Trump and Ben Carson and widespread bewilderment over how to defeat them.

Party leaders and donors fear that nominating either man would have negative ramifications for the GOP ticket up and down the ballot, virtually ensuring a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidency and increasing the odds that the Senate falls into Democratic hands.

The party establishment is paralyzed. Big money is still on the sidelines. No consensus alternative to the outsiders has emerged from the pack of governors and senators running, and there is disagreement about how to prosecute the case against them. Recent focus groups of Trump supporters in Iowa and New Hampshire commissioned by rival campaigns revealed no silver bullet.

Click through for the rest of the article.  I know that I cringe at the thoughts of a President Trump or a President Carson.  Neither is fit, in my mind, to be president.  But then, I don't think any of the current Republican aspirants is fit.

Mother Jones — One thing every Republican presidential candidate can agree on is that they hate President Barack Obama's plan to tackle climate change. Now Hillary Clinton might have a way to remedy one of their biggest concerns.

… Today Clinton produced her own $30 billion plan, which would use a smattering of tax incentives and grant funding to support public health, education, and entrepreneurial initiatives in coal communities from Appalachia to Wyoming. 

You can read the full plan here. It follows the lead of a similar but much smaller initiative Obama rolled out last month. Much of it is targeted at rebuilding infrastructure—highways, bridges, railroads, broadband networks. The Clinton campaign says that kind of development would not only create new jobs to replace those lost in the coal industry, but be vital for growing new industries.

Click through for the rest of the article.  I remember coal being delivered to my home, and later to the apartment building where I lived.  Unfortunately, our apartment was directly above the coal bin and coal dust was a part of life unfortunately.  But that was in the 1950s and 60s.  Coal has been in decline for years but politicians in coal states are mired in the coal dust of the past rather than looking forward to new opportunities.  It seems that Hillary has beat them to the punch!

My Universe Cuteness overload to usher in the weekend!

Yeah Weekend cat

Nov 122015

Well it poured rain last night, pinging off the rain spout at a ferocious rate.  I was very glad to be inside!  The rain continues this morning but not hard like last night.  Thanks to Lona who sent me a fresh supply of cat naps.  I availed myself of two yesterday which was good for the cold/cough.  Today is scheduled to be a low key day with laundry a prime concern.  Can't have a "furless" sasquatch!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:51 (average 6:11). 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 — To winnow the field of candidates who would hold the main stage in the second G.O.P. debate, in September, CNN had intended to use the average of national polls conducted over the summer. But after Carly Fiorina’s campaign complained that the method was unfair CNN changed its formula. The decision had very little to do with American democracy or social science. It had to do with the practice of American journalism. It would make better television if Fiorina was on the same stage as Trump, since he’d made comments about her appearance. (“Look at that face!” he said.)

“No one tells me what to say,” Trump had said in August. By September, on the defensive about Fiorina, he insisted—he knew—that he had the will of the people behind him. “If you look at the polls,” he said, “a lot of people like the way I talk.”

Donald Trump is a creature of the polls. He is his numbers. But he is only a sign of the times. Turning the press into pollsters has made American political culture Trumpian: frantic, volatile, shortsighted, sales-driven, and anti-democratic.

He kept his lead nearly till the end of October. “Do we love these polls?” he called out to a crowd in Iowa. “Somebody said, ‘You love polls.’ I said that’s only because I’ve been winning every single one of them. Right? Right? Every single poll.” Two days later, when he lost his lead in Iowa to Ben Carson, he’d grown doubtful: “I honestly think those polls are wrong.” By the week of the third G.O.P. debate, he’d fallen behind in a national CBS/NYT poll. “The thing with these polls, they’re all so different,” Trump said, mournfully. “It’s not very scientific.” 

This is a long but interesting article about polling and the reliance on and influence of polls in the electoral process. The uneducated mind may rely on polls too much as politicians may rely on them to inform their policy positions rather than listening to their constituents.  Click through for the rest of this article.

Think Progress — In August, New York-based Amalgamated Bank announced it would immediately raise its minimum pay to at least $15 an hour.

At the time, the bank noted that it was the first to make such an announcement. But it’s also committed to making sure more follow its lead.

The bank, which is owned by the union OPEIU, came to the $15 wage floor in the midst of contract negotiations with the union. The contract also specifies automatic 3 percent increases each year, ensuring annual raises for its workforce. “It’s a bold move,” said CEO Keith Mestrich. “We need to be bold like that.”

This is great news!  When I started as a teller, I was paid about $1.55 per hour.  That was 45 years ago.  But even then, I could not afford to share an apartment with rent of $250 per month.  Click through for the rest of the story.

Huffington Post — Republican presidential candidates debated once again on economic issues and offered some misleading takes on jobs, tax plans, immigrants and state budgets.

  • Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said that “welders make more money than philosophers.” Actually, those with undergraduate degrees in philosophy earn a higher median income than welders.
  • Businessman Donald Trump said that President Dwight D. Eisenhower had forced out 1.5 million immigrants who were in the country illegally. The federal government claimed it was 1.3 million, but historians say that’s exaggerated.
  • Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said the Tax Foundation calculated that his tax plan “costs less than virtually every other plan people have put up here, and yet it produces more growth.” But the foundation said Bobby Jindal’s and Rubio’s plans both would lead to higher gross domestic product growth over a decade.
  • Cruz also repeated the years-long falsehood that there’s a “congressional exemption” from Obamacare. Members of Congress and their staffs face additional requirements than other Americans, not fewer.
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said that his state has had “eight credit upgrades,” but two credit rating agencies moved the state to a “negative” outlook in February. And it faces a $117 million deficit in its most recent budget.
  • Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he had cut his state budget by 11 percent during the 2001-2003 recession. Over his entire tenure, however, spending went up by 50 percent.
  • Jindal claimed that there were “more people working in Louisiana than ever before.” That’s wrong. There were fewer Louisianans working in September than there were in December 2014.
  • Huckabee said that Syrians make up only 20 percent of the refugees arriving in Europe. The figure is actually 52 percent for 2015.

Click through for the analysis of these claims.  I was very surprised when I didn't see statements from Fiorini reported. But then I saw the following article.

Think Progress — “We need to pass the REINS Act so Congress is in charge of regulation,” Fiorina told the debate audience, referring to an obscure bill intended to hobble federal agency action. Though it is unlikely that many people in the audience know what the REINS Act is, this bill has long been one of the top priorities of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the primary lobbying group representing big business as a whole. Moreover, the bill has a fairly high chance of becoming law if Republicans gain control over both houses of Congress and the presidency. The bill passed the GOP-controlled House on multiple occasions.

The Congress is already known as the "do nothing Congress" and this would only make it worse.  This is an asinine suggestion from a business person who was a complete failure!  Click through for the remainder of the article about a bill that few know about.

My Universe — 

Nov 112015

I planned to watch the excrement flow, last night, but providence intervened.  Just as clowns were about to take the stage, I fell asleep and stayed that way for several hours.  While that’s great for my peace of mind, it leaves me having to rely on  others  reporting.

1111debateAfter weeks of personal sniping, the Republican presidential candidates clashed sharply over immigration and other policies in their debate here on Tuesday, with Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida trying to energize their campaigns by heaping scorn on Donald J. Trump’s plan to deport unauthorized immigrants.

In the most substantive Republican debate so far, Mr. Kasich and Mr. Bush, who have been fading in polls, presented themselves as experienced chief executives who had practical solutions to deal with national challenges like immigration. Yet Mr. Trump and another candidate, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, inveighed against what they called amnesty and argued that undocumented workers were driving down Americans’ wages.

The splintering over immigration, in a campaign dominated so far by the personas, speeches and backgrounds of the candidates, illuminated the brightest dividing line between Republican hopefuls like Mr. Bush and Mr. Kasich, who favor a comprehensive immigration overhaul, and the many primary voters who have embraced Mr. Trump’s harsh language about immigrants in the country illegally.

While several other candidates, like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and the retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, received a pass from the moderators on immigration, Mr. Kasich took on the issue directly after Mr. Trump defended his plan to build a wall along the Mexican border and to identify and deport some 11 million people..

Inserted from <NY Times>

Lets not forget that what Strike Three Bush and KKK Kasich consider “comprehensive” reform includes no path to citizenship.  The rest are just as bad as Hairball and Uncle Token.  They are just better at disguising their intent.

There was a lot for Democrats to like, also.

1111demlogoRepublicans weren’t the only ones watching Tuesday’s night Republican presidential debate on the Fox Business Network. Democrats were too, eager to find fodder to attack whomever emerges as the GOP nominee next year. “Sometimes I think that the Republican candidates forget it’s not just Republicans who are watching these debates,” said Democratic National Committee chairwomen Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, saying the candidates were exposed “pander[ing] to their Tea Party base.”

Here are six moments from last night’s debate most likely to end up in a Democratic attack ad next year:

No one wants to raise the minimum wage

Raising the minimum wage is widely popular, but all three Republican presidential candidates asked about it Tuesday night said they oppose raising the level. “Wages [are] too high,” Donald Trump said, suggesting wages actually needed to be lowered to create jobs. Dr. Ben Carson agreed, saying the current minimum wage hurts African Americans by limiting the number of entry-level jobs…

Inserted from <MSNBC>

Click through for the other five examples.

As expected, the clowns often made claims that were based on lies  .MSNBC’s Olivia Sterns breaks down the GOP reaction to issues such as taxes, immigration, minimum wage, jobs and health care during the debate.

Here’s another fact checking report.


Lying is what Republicans do beat..

The Young Turks gave us a excellent critique of the moderators.


All things considered, if  you watched it, I offer my profound sympathy.  If you believe what   they said, I strongly suggest that you get psychiatric care.

Nov 092015

What a weekend!  After confirming that the teen I mentioned yesterday was OK, I settled in to do some research and finished off today's lead article.  Then it was off to see my mother.  I left home at 4 pm and didn't return until 10 pm. She ate well but then proceeded to doze.  When the aids got her ready for bed, she came wide awake and didn't want me to leave.  Tomorrow I have physio and teaching followed by a trip to Costco with  my friend.  I think I shall surely sleep Monday night.  Fortunately, there is nothing on tap again until Tuesday evening.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:24 (average 5:42). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes

Huffington Post — Former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has an urgent message for Christians everywhere: convert as many people as possible, especially Jews, because Jesus is "coming soon."

Michele Bachmann“We recognize the shortness of the hour," she said in an interview with right-wing radio host Tony Perkins last week. "That’s why we as a remnant want to be faithful in these days and do what it is that the Holy Spirit is speaking to each one of us, to be faithful in the Kingdom and to help bring in as many as we can — even among the Jews — share Jesus Christ with everyone that we possibly can because, again, he’s coming soon."

OK, who let the dogs out?  The silence from the Bachmann corner of late has been blissful!  But now she returns with her barking mad pseudo Christian idea of the imminent rapture! . . . pure insaniTEA!

The World Bank — A new World Bank report shows that climate change is an acute threat to poorer people across the world, with the power to push more than 100 million people back into poverty over the next fifteen years.  And the poorest regions of the world – Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia – will be hit the hardest.

But the report – Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty  – also points to a way out. This requires that poverty reduction and development work continue as a priority while taking into account a changing climate.  It also means taking targeted action to help people cope with climate shocks – such as developing early warning systems and flood protection, and introducing heat-resistant crops.  At the same time, efforts to reduce emissions should accelerate, and be designed to protect the poor.

" We have the ability to end extreme poverty even in the face of climate change, but to succeed, climate considerations will need to be integrated into development work. And we will need to act fast, because as climate impacts increase, so will the difficulty and cost of eradicating poverty. "

John Roome, Senior Director for Climate Change at the World Bank Group

Click through for an excellent graphic and a copy of the World Bank report. If we in North America and Europe think that this climate change – poverty cycle will only affect sub Saharan Africa or places like the Seychelles and not affect us, guess again.  Think of the significant weather disruptions that have resulted in the California drought and the loss of crops etc.  What about the rising sea levels and floods in areas like New Orleans, the Fraser River delta (Metro Vancouver) or the polders of the Netherlands, just to mention three.  I agree that we need to act NOW and coördinate with the best ideas.

The New Yorker — Presidential candidate Ben Carson has issued a dire warning that President Obama’s cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline has left the United States with “virtually no place to store grain.”

Ben Carson!  Ben Carson!  Ben Carson!  I am so tired of Carson's inanities.  But even I have to think that Andy is doing straight reporting again.  Click through.  Barf Bag Alert!  There is yet another picture of the idiot.

My Universe — 

Nov 062015

TGIF!!!!!  Mind, when you're retired, it doesn't make a big difference.  Well I had a wonderfully long sleep last night which was great.  As you may have seen, TC's 10 year old laptop committed suicide so he will be scarce for awhile. But rest assured, we will continue to keep you abreast of his activities, including wheelies in the halls and nurse chasing.  I am off shortly to teach but will return late this afternoon. 

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:53 (average 5:32). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes

Alternet — Rubio replied he would like to have a beer with football legend Dan Marino, Russian chess prodigy Gary Kasparov and Malala Yousafzai.

Click through for the rest of this short piece.  Does this remind you of anyone from the Republican 2012 Presidential race . . . maybe Herman Cain?  To wit, I offer evidence of Cain's stupidity which looks a lot like Rubio's.  Hang your head in shame Marco!


Mother Jones — Elizabeth Warren wants to give seniors the same pay raise enjoyed by CEOs—and to raise taxes on some executive pay in the process. The liberal senator from Massachusetts is introducing a bill on Thursday to boost Social Security payments for 2016 with a one-time bump in benefits.

Click through for the rest of the article.  If CEOs can get a raise of average 3.9%, then surely SS recipients should be entitled to an increase.  Let's see, SS recipients are faced with price and cost increases daily but they haven't had an increase so they aren't even keeping up.  But CEOs don't have to spend all their money on the necessities of life as do  SS recipients, yet they get a 3.9% average increase.  There is a big disconnect here.  Go Lizzie!!!

From the files of "You've Got to be Kidding!" — Continuing the Republican party’s rich history of condescending to black voters and assuming rap is the only language African-Americans speak or understand, Ben Carson unveiled a new hip-hop radio ad today. And it is just as unhip, patronizing and irrelevant as you might expect! Check chickity-check it out for yourself, hippity-hoppin’ homies!

laughing cat

Check out rappin' Ben Carson at Alternet.  All I can say Ben is don't give up your day job, whatever it is, because with disingenuous garbage like this, you are going nowhere!

Mother Jones — The exclusion of black people from juries is a hot topic this week, as the United States Supreme Court considers the case of Timothy Foster, a black man charged with murdering an elderly white woman in Georgia some three decades ago. In 1987, Foster was convicted and sentenced to death by an all-white jury, after prosecution lawyers used their so-called peremptory strikes to disqualify all the blacks in the jury pool, citing "race-neutral" reasons.

Up until this point in the case, the courts had accepted those alternative rationales. But the prosecutors' notes from jury selection, which were finally revealed thanks to a Public Records Act request, suggest a deliberate exclusion strategy. On the list of prospective jurors, the black names were circled, highlighted in green, and marked with a "B." They were also ranked, as an investigator for the prosecution noted in an affidavit, in case "it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors." Ouch. 

Whatever happened to the right to be judged by a jury of the defendants peers?  Click through for the rest of the article.

My Universe — 

I cracked up when I saw this picture because this is like one of my exercises at physio.  Keep the cats away!

Nov 052015

I spent a good part of today watching the swearing in of the new Canadian government and getting excited about the possibilities.  I am planning an article about it but it is still largely in my head.  Later I indulged in some down time with my babes.  What a purr-fest we had.  Tomorrow I have physio so things will be a bit busier.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 4:02 (average 6:02). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Given that today is the day after the 2015 elections, I thought for some this picture might be appropriate, especially in Republican circles.  H/t to Ted W and Carol B @ Care2.

Short Takes

Alternet — "Given the nature of class politics in America. Given the fact that we have a corrupt campaign finance system," Sanders said. "Given that we have an economy that is rigged. The major point that I am making is that establishment politicians cannot make the kind of changes we need. You can't run a super PAC and take money from Wall Street and say, I'm going to take on Wall Street."

Unfortunately, I cannot embed the video of Chris Hayes and Bernie Sanders.  Please click through for the interview video.  As Charles Koch said to Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough when he asked about political donations "I expect something in return."

International Business Times — One of Iran’s commercial airlines last week bought a U.K.-manufactured jet with the aim of using it to deliver Iranian soldiers and weapons to Syria in support of the embattled regime of President Bashar Assad, International Business Times has learned. The purchase of the aircraft by an Iranian concern represents a clear violation of the deal brokered by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, under which Iran pledged to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions, said senior American officials and attorneys who handle issues associated with sanctions compliance.

“Temporary sanctions relief … currently in place does not cover the sale or lease of complete aircraft to Iran,” said Betsy Bourassa, a representative of the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence within the Treasury Department in Washington. And a representative of the State Department told IBT that it was aware of the sale and is investigating the transaction.

Click through for the rest of the story.  In my mind, this does not bode well for the success of the Iran nuclear agreement, but we'll have to wait to find out the results of the State Department's investigation.  Are Republicans going to try to pillory John Kerry over the deal?  They sure do like political lynchings.

Think Progress — “This bill is about recognizing that the fossil fuel reserves that are on our public lands should be managed in the public interest, and the public interest is for us to help drive a transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy future,” Merkley said on a press call Tuesday. “We don’t have a lot of time to do this, so there’s an urgency to it, and a place that’s readily available for us to act is on the fossil fuels that are on our public lands.”

Merkley referenced findings from earlier this year that 80 percent of coal reserves — along with a third of global oil reserves and half of global natural gas reserves — should stay in the ground between now and 2050 in order to keep warming to 2°C, the limit that many scientists agree we need to stay below in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Banning new oil and gas leases on public lands, as the bill would do, would be a step towards this target.

This is as it should be.  Unfortunately, as Senator Merkley said, he isn't expecting much action because of Congressional leadership [or lack thereof].

My Universe — From the Animal Rescue Site — Some silly cats are confused and think they aren’t cats at all. 

Nov 042015

There is little personal news.  If my wounds keep healing as they should, I’ll go back to Vibra  on Friday afternoon.  The pain should be more manageable by then.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

I cannot do today’s puzzle (average 6:26).  To do it click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From NY Times: In the long legal struggle against the death penalty, the future has in some ways never looked brighter.

In a passionate dissent in June, Justice Stephen G. Breyer invited a major challenge to the constitutionality of capital punishment. This fall, Justice Antonin Scalia all but predicted that the court’s more liberal justices would strike down the death penalty.

But lawyers and activists opposed to the death penalty, acutely conscious of what is at stake, are bitterly divided about how to proceed. Some say it is imperative to bring a major case to the court as soon as practicable. Others

“If you don’t go now, there’s a real possibility you have blood on your hands,” said Robert J. Smith, a fellow at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute of Harvard Law School. His scholarship was cited in Justice Breyer’s dissent from a decision upholding the use of an execution drug that three death row inmates argued risked causing excruciating pain.

worry that haste may result in a losing decision that could entrench capital punishment for years.

A dissent by Justice Stephen G. Breyer in June was seen as inviting a death penalty challenge. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

But others are wary. “There are reasons to be cautious about pushing the court to a decision too early,” said Jordan M. Steiker, a law professor at the University of Texas.

The divide is partly generational. Many veteran litigators have suffered stinging setbacks in the Supreme Court, and they favor an incremental strategy. They would continue to chip away at the death penalty in the courts, seek state-by-state abolition and try to move public opinion.

Some younger lawyers and activists urge a bolder course: to ask the Supreme Court to end capital punishment nationwide right away.

As much as I believe hat the death penalty is state sponsored murder that must be outlawed, I do not trust the Fascist Five Injustices of SCROTUS (Republican Constitutional VD) to do it. We need an incremental approach as long as the Republican Reich controls the court.

From Daily Kos: This morning Scarborough appeared to have a severe cognitive collapse during a segment about the Republican Party’s debate-o-phobia (video below). Like most of his ideological allies, he is suffering from the delusion that the American media, owned by a handful of megalithic, multinational corporations, is dominated by liberals. Scarborough set off on a rant about the absence of conservatives on nightly news programs, Sunday shows, and in the executive suites. He badgered his guests to come up with examples of Republicans in those roles, and insisted that they could not do it.

Barf Bag Alert!!


Joe and the Republican Reich are not satisfied with normal pro-Republican media bias. They want a debate panel to include himself, O’Lielly, Hannity, and Glen Beck.

From Trans­Canada wants a Keystone XL timeout.

The company on Monday asked the State Department to suspend consideration of its controversial pipeline while Nebraska officials review its route through the state.

Rachel Maddow covered this topic very well.

Keystone pipeline dead? Company requests suspension of permit

Elana Schor, energy reporter for Politico, talks with Rachel Maddow about the broader context and likely political calculations behind TransCanada’s request that their U.S. permit for the Keystone XL pipeline be suspended.


Like Rachel said, TransCanada is trying to keep the pipeline alive by suspending it in their hope that Republicans take power and approve it. That must not happen.



Nov 042015

Well, many locales in the US had elections yesterday so I will be cruising the trades to see what happened.  One thing I did hear last night was that Kentucky elected Tea Partier Matt Bevin as governor.  What is in the water there???  McTurtle, Paul, Davis and now Bevin?  OMG!!!  On the other hand, Justin Trudeau was sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Canada this morning with a full cabinet.  But more on that later.  There's lots more going on so I best get at it.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 4:23 (average 6:10). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes

Huffington Post — House Republicans are pushing to give private debt collectors the right to target all unpaid tax bills, handing a traditional IRS responsibility over to an industry with a long record of consumer abuse.

I was aghast when I read this piece.  With approximately 79% of those owing taxes being low income taxpayers with no resources for taxes, perhaps the IRS should be going after the 21% who are not low income, including corporations and those that utilise off-shore havens.  Of course, that might necessitate some new policies and laws. . . . when pigs fly!

Mother Jones — Carson has repeatedly—including last year on Fox News—cited Skousen, who died in 2006, as the key to understanding what has happened in the United States over the past half-century. The most recent edition of Skousen's book trumpets Carson's endorsement on the front cover: "The Naked Communist lays out the whole progressive plan. It is unbelievable how fast it has been achieved." In 2007, the conservative National Review called Skousen an "all-around nutjob."


Click through for the rest of the article.  The video is 21 minutes but Carson's speech is about 14 minutes long. Although this speech was given in 2014, it is as valid today as it was then.  There is no doubt about it, Carson is a right wing nut job!

From the files of "You've Got to be Kidding!" — On Monday, the Texas Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether Christian parents of homeschooled children have to follow basic educational standards or if they're allowed to keep their kids blissfully free of knowledge as they wait to be whisked off to heaven.

I might say "Only in Texas" but it seems Texas is not the only state that does not supervise home schooling.  Read the rest.  Bravo to the oldest child that tried to enroll in school herself.

The New Yorker — In an improbable development that few saw coming, on Tuesday night Senator Rand Paul lost his title as the most embarrassing thing about Kentucky.

I extend my condolences to you Edie, you and the 400,000 plus Kentuckians who will likely lose their health insurance.

My Universe — OK Nameless, you're not the only one who leaves the toilet lid up and whose cat drinks from the toilet!

Nov 032015

Today was rather cloudy, but DRY!  Last night there was snow on the North Shore mountains where many of the ski hills are located.  It has been cool but pleasant.  And best of all, no fireworks!  There are some stores already in full Christmas mode, and even some houses with Christmas lights.  Just a tad early, don't you think?  TC has had his surgery and is safely back.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:08 (average 5:11). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Fantasy Football — I almost forgot to post this!  Look at those Lefty Hillbillies rocket through the standings!

Rank Team W-L-T Pct Stk Waiver For Against

Monster MashersMonster Mashers

6-2-0 .750 W1 10 803.58 582.02

Lefty HillbilliesLefty Hillbillies

5-3-0 .625 W3 9 706.08 656.50


5-3-0 .625 W1 8 768.02 645.58

BALCO BombersBALCO Bombers

5-3-0 .625 W2 7 757.20 629.68

Playing without a helmetPlaying without a helmet

4-4-0 .500 L1 6 713.14 806.38

Progressive UnderdogsProgressive Underdogs

4-4-0 .500 L1 5 720.58 727.18

Size 9 StompersSize 9 Stompers

4-4-0 .500 L2 4 715.46 715.80

Purple DemonPurple Demon

3-5-0 .375 W1 3 747.42 819.52

TomCat Teabag TrashersTomCat Teabag Trashers

3-5-0 .375 L1 2 717.54 782.66


1-7-0 .125 L7 1 529.72 813.42

* Rank change shown is from week 7 – 8

Short Takes

CBC — Inside the unofficial think-tank of the U.S. Democratic party, the Liberals' winning election playbook is being analyzed and its lessons shared with left-leaning parties around the world.


One observer says prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau's decision to embrace deficits on the campaign trail could play well for some European parties. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Matt Browne has prepared a briefing paper on the Liberal win for allies in different countries where he's heard curiosity or seen applicable lessons — including the U.K., Denmark, Holland, France, Italy and Germany.

"It's been a pretty amazing week or so," Browne said in an interview. "Amongst the progressive community in particular, people have been trying to figure out what the lessons of this are."

He works on international partnerships at the Center for American Progress, founded and run by high-ranking figures in Democratic politics. Some of its senior members had met Trudeau and his team in opposition and they offered congratulations on the Liberal election victory.

Click through for the rest of this interesting article.  Sometimes it only takes one to dip his toe, and others will start to notice and maybe follow. We know that austerity has not worked, nor has US trickle-down economics worked.  But responsible investment in infrustructure, in the country and the people will work.

The New Yorker According to a format negotiated between the Republican National Committee and the television networks, future Presidential debates during the 2016 campaign will strictly forbid questions about things the candidates “said” or “did,” the R.N.C. confirmed on Monday.

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the R.N.C., said that the deal addressed the candidates’ concerns about the previously broadcast debates, which he called “abusively fact-based.”

“In some cases, moderators were asking candidates questions about statements they made two or three weeks earlier,” Priebus said. “This new format will eliminate that kind of ancient history.”

Priebus said that the new format would satisfy not only the candidates but also Republican voters, many of whom have complained about moderators’ ”out-of-control obsession with verifiable information.”

“This is a Presidential debate,” Priebus said. “If people want facts, they can watch ‘Jeopardy.’ ”

Click through for the rest of the article.  Damn, Andy is straight reporting again!

Alternet — What the candidates are really protesting here isn’t the length or format of the debate. What they want is for the debate to resemble the echo chamber of Fox News and talk radio. They complain about the pressure to engage and confront one another, but isn’t that what debates are for? Ted Cruz wants sycophants to ask loaded questions that allow candidates to deliver rehearsed soliloquies, but that’s what stump speeches are for – debates are about forced collisions.

It’s revealing that amidst all the calls for protest and cancellations, the candidates agreed not to implement debate changes until after the upcoming Fox Business Network debate. According to the Washington Post, everyone in that room is “afraid to make Roger [Ailes] mad.” And they should be. Fox News is the fount of propaganda for the conservative movement. Fox is where candidates go to be fellated by know-nothing anchors who ask inane but friendly questions of GOP candidates.

Talk about the tail wagging the dog!  Click through for the remainder of the dog wagging.  The Republican Party is so fractured and so lame as evidenced by the conduct of the presidential candidates, I question whether the party can survive.

CBC — The decision by TransCanada was likely made for strategic reasons, said Michal Moore, an expert on the oil and gas industry with the University of Calgary School of Public Policy.

Since no progress was being made, the company likely wanted to wait until Obama leaves office, in January 2017.

"With this pause in place, they literally can re-create the project or reimagine it and certainly revisit it in the presence of a new president," Moore said. "They've at least got some negotiating room later on, no matter who's elected president."

Keystone XL is an $8-billion project that would carry U.S. and Canadian oil to American refineries.

A new federal government was recently elected in Canada, oil is below $45 a barrel, and a U.S. presidential election is a year away. All of that seems to lead to the logical conclusion that the company wants to wait for more favourable climate, both economically and politically, said David Gantz, who teaches international trade law at the University of Arizona.

Click through for the remainder of the article.  As I started reading, I felt this request was likely a strategic move on the part of Trans Canada.  Mr Trudeau has stated that he is not in favour of the Embridge pipelines, nor tanker traffic on the coasts.  But he has not come out definitively against the Keystone XL.  With Hillary Clinton coming out against the Keystone XL, it could be that Trans Canada is waiting in hopes of a Republican in the White House. (God forbid!)

My Universe — 


This is how the world should be . . . how I want it to be!

Nov 022015

It is pouring rain right now and I can here wind gusts whipping around my building.  My babes are snuggled in bed together having feasted on fresh cooked cod, their 3rd favourite dinner after chicken and turkey (white meat only thank you very much).  I have managed 2 loads of laundry so the world is a safer place.  I have physio in the morning followed by teaching.  I think I can say that my cold is gone, but I still intend to indulge in some cat naps.  Thanks to Lona for the supply!  You're such a sweetheart for those cat naps.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:56 (average 5:02). 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 Guardian — Carol’s grim demise forms the plot of Unexpected, one of hundreds of evangelical Christian theatrical twists on haunted houses that are produced by American churches each year in the run-up to Halloween. They aim to scare the wayward on to the path of righteousness with a rather more serious question than “trick or treat?” – heaven or hell?

I was taken aback by the whole idea of churches promoting a hell house to offer twists on haunted houses before Hallowe'en.  And their goal . . . to scare people to Jesus.  I should preface my comment here.  I am a Christian, a very liberal Christian, but I will not stand infront of someone and tell them what to believe.  I will not be as the very conservative fundamentalist Christians in the US, and elsewhere, forcing my beliefs down the throats of others, and trying to legislate that faith as the faith of the nation.  What to believe is a very personal choice. Creating a climate of fear to "scare souls to Jesus" is ludicrous, and only adds to the general fear in society.  When fear is the motivator, no matter the area of life, then we stop listening to each other.

Mother Jones — The massive size of the fire trucks' engines, combined with their inefficient combustion in cold weather, means that the air reaching us is replete with fine and ultrafine particles—specks of waste at least 36 times finer than a grain of sand, often riddled with toxic combinations of sulfate, nitrate and ammonium ions, hydrocarbons, and heavy metals. Though we have long known that these tiny particles cause and exacerbate respiratory problems—like asthma and infections and cancers of the lungs—they are also suspected to contribute to a diverse range of disorders, from heart disease to obesity. And now cutting-edge research suggests that these particles play a role in some of humanity's most terrifying and mysterious illnesses: degenerative brain diseases.

The good news is that air pollution is one of the United States' greatest environmental success stories. Particle emissions have been dropping steadily since the 1970s, along with other pollutants governed by laws like the Clean Air Act. The EPA regulates levels of coarse- and fine-particle pollution, and two years ago it strengthened the national standards for fine particles. But there is still no regulation for ultrafine-particle pollution, here or in any other country. 

Click through for the rest of the article.  As I read this long but interesting article, I could not help but think of my mother, succumbing to dementia. For 40 years, she lived in a mill town where the rotten egg smell of the pulp and paper mill was always prevalent.  Add to that the ever present thick coating of greasey black ash which burned paint off of vehicles and buildings.  I can't help but find the information in the article compelling.  I remember several years ago reading about a town in Wisconsin (?) where whole neighbourhoods had higher than average cancer diagnois and death rates thought to be brought on by high toxic pollution in the river that runs by a Koch Industries plant. We know from their actions that Republicans don't give a tinker's damn about clean air and water if it comes at the expense of their profits.  Just read The Fall of King Coal which I posted here on 05/10/15 to look at profit versus people.  It is past time to demand more be done . . . to put people before profits.

Alternet — In this, Wallace was using the classic definition of the word “fascist”—the definition Mussolini had in mind when he claimed to have invented the word. (It was actually Italian philosopher Giovanni Gentile who wrote the entry in the Encyclopedia Italiana that said: “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” Mussolini, however, affixed his name to the entry, and claimed credit for it.)

fascist america

As the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is, “A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”

Click through for the rest of this interesting article.  The word "fascist" is thrown about a fair amount, but do we have the correct context and meaning?   For some, this discussion is not new.  For others, it may well be.

Think Progress — Ben Carson is seeking to rally Republican candidates to end most actual debating at future Republican debates. Instead, candidates would spend most of their time taking turns delivering speeches.

Click Rachel Maddow to see Friday's segment where Rachel explores the fallout from the last Republican debate and what is likely ahead.  She certainly does become very animated.

GOP candidates plot RNC mutiny over debates

Sorry, I can't embed the show as it isn't on YouTube yet.

My Universe —


I found IT!!!

Nov 012015

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.

No one can top Donald Trump’s comically clueless statement this week that he knows hardship because his dad only gave him a small loan of a million dollars. And he had to pay it back! With interest! Still, the right wing is honing its comic skills and perfecting it’s lift-off from any semblance of reality whatsoever.

3. Ben Carson’s his fool-proof plan to deal with sea level rise.


Ben Carson is kind of a Republican superhero. He separates conjoined twins, lies through his teeth about his relationship with the shady nutritional supplements company Mannatech, and solves the problem of the drastic seal level rise that is coming our way all in a single bound, and while he is seemingly half awake. See? Superhero!

The GOP presidential frontrunner, who unlike his peers is a man of science, never lets that extensive medical education stand in the fantasy world he lives in. He has previously gone on record questioning the Big Bang, evolution and gravity, and compared women who get abortions to slave-owners. This week, he unveiled his plan to deal with the watery effect of climate change.

The good doctor tweeted:

“It is important to remember that amateurs built the Ark and it was the professionals that built the Titanic.”

Yeupp, arks. Arks are the solution to the coming flood. It’s right there in the Bible. Don’t worry. God will show you how to build them. Just as god has shown us the best tax system, tithing.

No wonder Dr. Carson seems so relaxed all the time. He knows we’re in good hands.

Click through for the other four examples.  A 20 kilo fruitcake has less fruit in it than theses Republicans!

Nov 012015

I was sitting here trying to concentrate but the neighbours were setting off fireworks starting at 8 pm. Over 2 hours of louds cracks. Unfortunately, I have mountains and highrises around me so the noise ricochets and grows louder before finally dying off.  My furbabes were relatively calm as long as I was there with them.  What a great excuse for a nap with the baby curled up under the blanket and solidly at my waist.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 4:44 (average 7:06). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes

Mother Jones — In his new book, Anything for a VoteJoseph Cummins looks back at more than two centuries of campaign sleaze and scandal, from twisted words and unfounded rumors to blackmail and burglary. While this grimy lens can be a hilarious way to look at the history of presidential politics, it's often a sobering one as well—colored by policies of discrimination and assaults on voting rights that are still relevant today. It's enough to make Donald Trump's Twitter-bullying look pretty tame.

OK, I thought you might enjoy this little activity, afterall, it is the day after Hallowe'en and some might be recovering from partying.  I am not promoting the book, just having a bit of fun.  How did you do?

Huffington Post — Most of us imagine that we will grow old with the ones we love, surrounded by family members and friends until our final days. But the reality is, 35 per cent of senior women and 17 per cent of senior men live alone.

It is these people who are sometimes forgotten and left to fend for themselves.

Click through and watch the 10 minute video about Mary, age 98 years.

Some of you will know that my mother is 87 years old and lives in a specialised care centre for people with dementia.  I visit her regularly, but I also spend time with many of the other residents, some of whom do not have visitors or family.  I keep music going; we dance and sing; and we laugh!  Now you might be wondering why I included this on a political blog. With an aging population, many in my generation, the baby boomers, have already headed officially into our senior years.  True, we may be more active for more years than previous generations, but we are still slowing down, or as I like to say, maturing like a very fine wine.  So think of some of the things going on in many Republican dominated states.

As noted in Richard Zombeck's article GOP Begins Assault on Elderly, Poor, Disabled, Math, and Reason, Elizabeth Warren says "House Republicans should stop playing political games to put America's most vulnerable at risk.", and the most vulnerable include disabled citizens and senior citizens.  Richard Eskow, in his article The GOP’s Anti-Elderly, Pro-Billionaire Agenda​, talks about various Republican policies such as the cuts to Medicare and social security.  "There’s a through-line between the GOP’s embrace of Social Security cuts and its attempts to cut and privatize Medicare. In both cases, benefit reductions are being offered to distract voters from a simpler and fairer approach. And in both cases, private interests would profit: Wall Street would have more retirement income to manage (for a costly fee), and health insurers would receive a flood of new customers.

It is so important to protect programmes for the most vulnerable in society. The only way to do that is to vote out Republicans.

Mother Jones — At first glance, there are just two groups of presidential contenders when it comes to climate change: those who think it's real and urgent, and those who don't. But take a closer look, and the picture blurs. The matrix above depicts subtle differences, at least in the Republican field, in the extent to which the candidates believe the science and want to act on it. Of course, selecting each set of coordinates wasn't an exact science—many of the White House hopefuls have a history of confused and contradictory statements on the issue. But here's a short analysis of the candidates' positions on global warming and an explanation of how we came up with this graph.

It is interesting to note that Ted Cruz is more than "stuck in the mud" having told Glenn Beck recently that climate change is really a religion.  He should be moved to the far left lower corner.

My Universe — OK, cuteness is big in my universe, even with puppies!