Jan 242016


Let me begin by clarifying why I call Sarah Palin “Bloody Bullseye Barbie”, lest we forget.  She put the map shown above on her Facebook page.  She placed one of the crosshairs she used to mark Democrats for violent attacks on the campaign HQ of Gaby Giffords (D-AZ), who was subsequently almost almost killed by Republican Ammosexual, Jared Lee Loughner.  She denied the blood on her hands then, but she is now quick to play victim and blame Obama for her own violently dysfunctional family.  Mill Maher called her on it, but he made one mistake.

MaherWe had to know what Friday’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” would be like once Sarah Palin came out implying that President Obama was to blame for her son’s domestic abuse charges earlier this week.

While Palin was endorsing Donald Trump in Iowa her son was being arraigned on four misdemeanor counts. In her speech she said that we send our sons to fight in wars and they come back “a bit different.”

“And then just glossed over that,” Maher said. “Like, we accept that now. We send our sons off to stupid wars and they come back ‘a bit different’ because he beat up his girlfriend, was talking suicide and she blamed that on Obama. And I’m sure that’s why his girlfriend was cowering under the bed, because of Obama.”…

Inserted from <Alternet>


I disagree with Bill on one key point.  The leftist wing-nut at Yale is not the same as Republican Ammosexuals like Ammon Bundy.  We have wing nuts on the left, and Republicans correctly identify them as useful fools.  They are harmless, and Democrats do not support them,  Republican wing-nuts are dangerous domestic terrorists and the Republican Party does support them,  Bull is funny, but he is mistaken on that point.

Jan 242016

Today is a  very high holy day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb, the Holy Light of Conferences meditations.  My Broncos are worshiping with the heretics from New England.  May my Broncos make then see the light.  In the late meditation cats and birds get together.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today;s took me 3:18 (average 6:16).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From isidewith,com (H/T Dave C): Answer the following questions to see which 2016 Presidential candidate you side with.

I side with Bernie Sanders on 98% of issues in the 2016 Presidential election
I side with Hillary Clinton on 95% of issues in the 2016 Presidential election
Note how close the two are.

I side with Martin O’Malley on 78% of issues in the 2016 Presidential election

I side with Jeb Bush on 27% of issues in the 2016 Presidential election
Note how huge difference is!  What were your results?

From Daily Kos: David Koch is resigning from his post on the board at the American Museum of Natural History. For 23 years, everyone’s favorite “evil-twin” brother wowed the other board members with cash. That’s basically the only reason he was on the board and in his defense, it’s frequently the reason many people are on “boards” of anything. 

The Koch family has spent millions funding climate change denier groups and disinformation campaigns, and scientists around the country have called for Koch to be removed from the museum board. Well, they finally got what they wanted — the American Museum of Natural History announced Koch’s resignation this week.

David Koch’s people want you to know this had nothing to do with the recent protests—of which the Daily Kos helped organize a petition that garnered around 350,000 signatures—on Koch’s position on the board. For example, 23 scientists came together to write a letter protesting David Koch being allowed to be near anything remotely attributed to ‘science’.

Kudos to Kos and the scientists. Koch is anti-science, Anti-American, anti-natural, and anti-history.

From Alternet: Cruz is a loner who’s willing to destroy institutions. Trump has spent his career using the federal government and making friends with big shots. Not Cruz. Most of his Republican colleagues in the Senate detest him. And Cruz is eager to destroy: He has repeatedly crossed to the other side of the Capitol and led House Republicans toward fiscal cliffs. In the Fall of 2013, Cruz’s strident opposition to Obamacare – including a 21-hour talking marathon — led in a significant way to the shutdown of the federal government.

Both men would be disasters for America, but Cruz would be the larger disaster.

This is just the fifth of five reasons from Robert Reich, the Reich on the left that is right, that Uranus Inspector, no matter how you spell it, is more dangerous than Hateful Hairball. Click through for the other four. Even the Republican Reich, the Reich on the right that is wrong, fears him.



Cruz wasn’t  inspecting Uranus at the time.

Jan 242016

I took a break yesterday as I wasn't in the mood to deal with Republican BS!  Yesterday was my stepfather's birthday and he would have been 91 had he not died in March 2004.  We had pet names for each other . . . he was Mutt, I was Little Mutt;  he was Dummy, and I was Little Dummy.  If you wondered where I got my warped sense of humour, look no further.  We absolutely tortured my mother at the dinner table with our verbal antics as she was much more straight-laced.  Anyway, I'm back today and going up and down with laundry.  Tomorrow I will go to see my mother.

Short Takes

Alternet — The argument that Ted Cruz is eligible to run for president initially looked strong, then probable but uncertain. But closer examination shows it is surprisingly weak.

The constitutional text provides that a president, unlike other elected officials, must be a “natural born citizen.” This language could not mean anyone born a citizen or else the text would have simply stated “born citizen.” The word “natural” is a limiting qualifier that indicates only some persons who are born citizens qualify.  Moreover, when the Constitution was enacted, the word “natural” meant something not created by statute, as with natural rights or natural law, which instead were part of the common law.  

Unfortunately for Ted Cruz, that technical rule does not permit his candidacy.

Was it not Trump, Mr Birther himself, who suggested that Cruz get a court ruling on his eligibility for the presidency? In this article, Einer Elhauge, a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, concludes that Cruz is ineligible.  I know, this is only one opinion, but perhaps Cruz should take Trump's advice.

Raw Story — A Kansas lawmaker is under fire for imposing a dress code on women testifying before the state senate that would ban “low-cut necklines and mini-skirts,” the Capitol-Journal is reporting.

Sen. Mitch Holmes (R-St. Johns) said Rule No. 2 of his 11-point code of conduct for witnesses appearing before his Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, was intended to make certain each participant is dressed in a respectful manner.

Holmes did not make any mention over what men must wear — saying they should already be aware that a coat and tie is expected — but he did offer more detailed fashion tips to the ladies as to what he regards as “professional attire.”

"… how low a neckline might plunge before it raises his ire." I don't think it is his ire that he is concerned about rising!  According to this state Republican, men are smart enough to know what is expected, but women are not.  What a sexist pig! (apologies to the porcine community!)

Huffington Post — Three candidates have so far convinced Republican and Republican-leaning voters that they could be capable of pulling off a victory in November: Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). After them, there's a dramatic drop in confidence, with one-quarter or fewer thinking that any other candidate could win.

Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters consider former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton their most electable candidate, with 83 percent saying she's capable of winning the general election. Sanders, though, has also made his case: A 54 percent majority thinks he's capable of winning.

Click through for more information about electability.

Think Progress — Appearing at a town hall meeting Wednesday night, Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD) argued that Washington, D.C. should not be a state because its residents make “irresponsible decisions.” District residents have been engaged in a decades-long fight for statehood in order to gain representation in Congress and full local control of their government.

they make irresponsible decisions like legalizing marijuana when the African-American unemployment rate is 40 percent and the African-American graduation rate from high school is 12 percent.”

Click through for the rest.  Isn't it just like a Republican to make things up and show himself to be a bigot to boot!

My Universe —


Jan 222016

What an enjoyable lunch I had with my lady friends.  We met at a 12 week programme in the fall of 2014, and following my suggestion, we have met once a month for conversation and lunch since the end of the programme. After today's lunch, I was feeling very good, more confident . . . I was told by 3 people that I looked like I had lost weight.  Inside I was doing handsprings!  Then at my local bookstore, a clerk told me the same thing.  I had to laugh later though because I realised I was sitting straighter and walking taller.  Now, if I only knew it was true . . . I do not have a scale.

Short Takes

Robert Reich  Why did the white working class abandon the Democrats?

The conventional answer is Republicans skillfully played the race card.

In the wake of the Civil Rights Act, segregationists like Alabama Governor George C. Wallace led southern whites out of the Democratic Party.

Later, Republicans charged Democrats with coddling black “welfare queens,“ being soft on black crime (“Willie Horton”), and trying to give jobs to less-qualified blacks over more-qualified whites (the battle over affirmative action).

The bigotry now spewing forth from Donald Trump and several of his Republican rivals is an extension of this old race card, now applied to Mexicans and Muslims – with much the same effect on the white working class voters, who don’t trust Democrats to be as “tough.”  

All true, but this isn't the whole story. Democrats also abandoned the white working class.

Click through to see how, in Reich's opinion, Democrats abandoned the white working class.  He makes some very valid points.

Crooks and Liars — A pictoral essay.  Isn't this the truth!  Although in my mind, Kagan, Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer would be good to add some diversity.

Open Thread - SCOTUS Dream Team!The SCOTUS Dream Team

Politico — Senator Ted Cruz invoked President John F. Kennedy's name and legacy in a campaign appearance the other day, arguing that if he were alive today, Kennedy would be a Republican. Specifically, he said Kennedy “would be tarred and feathered by the modern Democratic Party.  

Cruz described the Kennedy campaign as one for tax cuts, limited government and tough talk against the Soviets.

And yet, accepting the nomination of the Democratic Party in 1960, Kennedy said this: “There may be those who wish to hear more—more promises to this group or that—more harsh rhetoric about the men in the Kremlin—more assurances of a golden future, where taxes are always low and subsidies ever high.” But he admitted he wasn’t that candidate. He outlined his vision for a New Frontier—a platform of challenges rather than promises, an appeal to public interest over private comfort. Clearly, Cruz hasn’t read that speech.

JFK Jr must be rolling in his grave at the audacity of Ted Cruz dragging his name and legacy into the Republican mud!

Washington Post — Stephanie Czech Rader was the daughter of Polish immigrants, uneducated laborers who settled in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in the early 1920s and barely spoke English. Her immersion in Polish language and culture proved critical to her success, against daunting odds, as a U.S. spy in Europe after World War II.

Recruited to the Office of Strategic Services and the Strategic Services Unit of the War Department, precursors to the CIA, she was officially employed as a clerk at the U.S. Embassy. In reality, she was undercover, an agent whose flawless Polish accent and mannerisms allowed her to move around the Soviet-dominated country with relative ease.

She faced near-constant hazard anyway. Conditions in Warsaw were bleak and dangerous.   

Mrs. Rader did not embody the cliches of Hollywood espionage. She was a chemistry major who glided into the shadows, hardened to spycraft but only up to a point.

“They gave me a gun but I never carried a gun,” she said. “What the heck was I gonna do with a dumb gun?”

I ran across this obituary and found Rader's story compelling.  In a Daily Beast story, author Shane Harris noted:

pushing through a Legion of Merit recommendation that was approved by Rader’s senior officers in 1946. The War Department, though, thought she should get a lesser award.

Rader perhaps had two strikes against her. First, she was a woman. Second, she was a member of the newly formed Office of Strategic Services, the United States’ first central intelligence service and the precursor to the CIA. 

Harris is likely correct . . . being a woman was likely a prime reason for not receiving the Legion of Merit.  I hope this folly willed be rectified.

Huff Post — Adorable kitties are getting sanctuary inside a mosque in Turkey this winter.

cats in Turkish mosque

Big-hearted imam Mustafa Efe lets stray cats shelter from freezing cold temperatures inside the Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi Mosque in Istanbul, according to local English-language newspaper Daily Sabah.

I make no secret about it . . . I adore cats!  So I wanted to share this story of stray cats given shelter, and more importantly, love.  The videos are cute.  They might even be rated CO — Cuteness Overload!  Are you up to it?

My Universe — 


I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.  —   Jules Verne


Jan 212016

Another day, another dollar so to speak . . . or in my case, another 69.86 cents!  Physio went well but having not slept well last night, I napped this afternoon.  Tomorrow's outing is lunch with some lady friends.  Then suddenly it is Friday again!  Where does the time go?

Short Takes

Huffington Post — One Toronto all-girls school is hoping to educate the community on what gender transition entails.

Branksome Hall

Branksome Hall, a private school for girls near the city's downtown core, released their annual winter alumnae magazine The Read featuring two transgender men on the cover, former students Andy Sprung and Reed Wanless. Inside, they detail their unique gender transition stories.

Branksome is pioneering long overdue discussions about the LGBT community in an effort to be inclusive and understanding.  Click through the school's paper, The Read, for articles about Andy Sprung and Reed Wanless on pages 12-17.

Politico — BARF BAG ALERT! — Sarah Palin addressed the “elephant in the room” at a Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally for Donald Trump on Wednesday, linking her son Track’s recent arrest on domestic violence charges to President Barack Obama’s neglect of veterans.

“I can talk personally about this. I guess it’s kind of the elephant in the room — because my own family, going through what we’re going through today with my son, a combat vet having served in a Stryker brigade fighting for you all, America, in the war zone. But my son, like so many others, they come back a bit different. They come back hardened,” Palin said.

More unintelligible drivel from Bull's Eye Barbie.  She tries to lay her son's problems at the feet of Obama when she should be going after Baby Bush and his cadret that started the war in Iraq in the first place, and the Republican dominated Congress who consistently ignored veterans.  Nobody can accuse Palin of telling the truth.

Politicususa — Senate Democrats challenged Republicans to vote on Donald Trump’s plan to ban all Muslims from the United States. Republicans refused, so Democrats blocked a GOP bill that would have killed the Syrian refugee program.

Reid explained why the Democrats blocked the bill:

Democrats stood ready to have a serious national security debate if Republicans would have allowed Democrats to hold votes on key national security issues including closing the terrorist gun loophole, funding for local and federal anti-terrorism efforts and voting down Trump’s proposal to impose a religious test on immigration to the United States. But Republicans would rather see their bill fail than take four simple amendment votes. Democrats will seek future opportunities to vote on these important issues.

As written, this Republican refugee bill cannot be signed into law. It is a step in the wrong direction – the direction of Donald Trump. I’m disappointed that the Republican leader broke his word in an attempt to bring up this failed legislation.

You would think that after the years dealing with McConnell, Harry Reid would know that the man has no honour . . . that he cannot be trusted.  On the other hand, this shows just how fractured the Republican Party is!

My Universe

cat cute butt

Jan 202016

If we did not have Republicans and their loonie hanger-ons, you know, the denizens of Faux Noise, Rush Limbaugh etc ad nauseam, comedians would be out of inspiration for their work and we would be very dull people indeed!

Megyn Kelly upset that Muslim activist was invited to SOTU.

Megyn Kelly, a little like Jeb! Bush, gets wholly undeserved points for being a reasonable voice in a sea of crazies. Let’s just think about that for a moment. This is a woman who has been on a mission to prove that Santa Claus is a white man, because that’s important to her.


This week, Kelly focused her outrage on the fact that Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz invited a Muslim civil liberties activist to the State of the Union speech.

“We have an outrageous situation where you have much of the Republican field of presidential candidates, and others, who have consistently criticized, discriminated against, said horrific things about Muslim Americans in this country," Wasserman-Schultz tried to explain. “Presidential candidate Donald Trump…” she sputtered before Kelly cut her off.

Seems old Megyn would have preferred a different Muslim American, one who was not a civil rights activist, because she thinks there are “a lot of great Muslim Americans” out there.

No doubt, some of them are her best friends even if they don't believe in white Santa.

This is the fifth of five loonie right-wing moments this week.  That does not mean there are only five, only that there is only so much space that can be devoted to these losers!  Click through the Alternet article for the other four.

Jan 182016

Yesterday I posted my MLK Day article a day early.  I knew I’d be covering the Democratic Presidential Debate today, and was uncertain if I’d have time for both, as I have PT coming and my helper friend coming to organize clothes.  Tomorrow I have a final follow-up appointment with the surgeon, who whittled my leg down to create Stumpy, so I may have just a Personal Update or an Open Thread.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took mw 2:26 (average 4:50).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Religious Ecstasy:


It was much closer than the score indicates.  Phew!!

Short Takes:

From Christian Science Monitor: What does the federal government do with your money? Take our taxes quiz.

I answered 19 of 25 questions correctly for a total score of 76%. Average reader scored 40%. Click through to take the quiz.

From Alternet: “He’d never beat Trump or Cruz in a general election.”

Wrong. According to the latest polls, Bernie is the strongest Democratic candidate in the general election, defeating both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in hypothetical matchups. (The latest Real Clear Politics averages of all polls shows Bernie beating Trump by a larger margin than Hillary beats Trump, and Bernie beating Cruz while Hillary loses to Cruz.)

This is just the first of six responses to Bernie skeptics from the Reich on the left that is always right, Robert Reich, not the Reich on the right that is always wrong, the Republican Reich. Click through for the other five.

From Raw Story: Musician Carlos Santana mocked Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in an open letter posted on his Facebook page, according to International Business Times.

The message, obtained by Clutch magazine, praised President Barack Obama after his State of the Union address, and then compared Trump to an angry ape. But the open letter was deleted from Santana’s page a few days after he posted it.

“Regarding Mr. Trump,” Santana wrote. “I remember when I was a child living in Tijuana…I often crossed the border to visit the San Diego Zoo. I would hear loud screams and commotion in the distance. As I came closer to the sound, I noticed everyone was staring at an ape in a glass cage. The ape was staring back at the crowd that gathered. With an angry look of disgust, the ape defecated in his hand and threw it at the crowd. This is what I hear when Mr [sic] Trump speaks.

LMAO!! Here’s some refreshment.



Jan 182016

Today was an uneventful day . . . church, lunch, snuggling with the furbabes, short nap, snuggling with the furbabes, reading and preparing this post, snuggling with the furbabes, and so on.  This coming week will be busy with various appointments/commitments as was last week, so relaxing was the order of the day.  I hope you all did some relaxing too!

Short Takes

The Nation — The whole mess has also cost Planned Parenthood millions of dollars—so the organization claims in a major lawsuit filed Thursday against CMP and affiliated individuals. The 65-page complaint accuses the group of racketeering, fraud, and a variety of other charges. It seeks compensation for financial losses due to the videos and the public backlash, as well as other damages. Although Planned Parenthood has sued a handful of states that sought to revoke public funding in the wake of the videos, this is the first legal challenge the organization has made directly to the makers of the videos. Planned Parenthood waited months to file the suit because it was a “very complex conspiracy,” according to Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens, who spoke with reporters Thursday. “It really has taken some time to investigate the network of people who perpetrated this fraud and the multiple laws that they broke in the process.”

I for one am extremely happy that Planned Parenthood is taking this step.  It should not be necessary, but extremists have made it so.  As to the first amendment rights of CMP, surely those rights do not extend to the fabrication of erroneous claims!

Washington Post — Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders would raise income taxes across the board — and by substantially more on high earners — to pay for an ambitious single-payer health-care plan, under details released Sunday night.

The senator from Vermont said the $1.38-trillion-a-year plan, which was outlined before a Democratic debate here, would ultimately save most families thousands of dollars a year on out-of-pocket health-care costs.

Sanders would pay for it largely through higher income taxes. Those making more than $250,000 a year would pay a marginal tax rate of 37 percent, up a few percentage points from what they now pay.

Sanders would add three more tax brackets, with marginal rates topping out at 52 percent for those making $10 million a year — significantly more than the current top rate of 39.6 percent.

Do I like the idea of universal health care? . . . absolutely!  Assuming that Sanders' numbers are correct, go for it.  However, I also know that the Congress as it stands, will never approve it.  There has to be a wholesale political revolution that says 'No' to the party of 'No' before universal health care can rise.

Foreign Policy — It has been more than a decade since warring parties signed a deal to end Liberia’s bloody conflict. Fueled by the pillaging of the country’s rich natural resources — diamonds, gold, iron, and timber — the two civil wars that raged across 14 years left more than 250,000 people dead and displaced more than 1 million others. When the final peace deal was signedin 2003, however, the resources that had sustained the war for so long were not mentioned at all. The oversight, though common, has often proved disastrous for countries trying to break free from years of violence.

According to a new report by the international nonprofit Forest Trends, which analyzed more than 800 peace agreements signed since 1945, fewer than 15 percent mentioned natural resources. Even fewer take the necessary steps to prevent these resources from being used to sustain — or even restart — fighting. It is a glaring omission considering that the U.N. Environment Program estimates that at least 40 percent of conflicts have a link to natural resources. About half of all peace agreements fail within five years, often because the warring factions exploit resources in order to fuel the return to conflict.

As globalization drives growing markets for more commodities and a changing climate upsets existing patterns of resource use, the international community must take the governance of natural resources much more seriously — simply as a matter of peace and security. Restarting resource extraction post-conflict before rebuilding broken governments not only fails to deliver on promises of a revitalized national economy — often a primary goal in rebuilding war-torn countries — but also threatens the peace. And without the safeguards of governance, unregulated extraction risks returning countries to conflict by reviving the unsustainable and inequitable practices that fueled grievance in the first place.

What are most, if not all, wars about? . . . power . . . the acquiring of and maintaining of power.  To do that requires money for manpower and  materiel.  And money is generated by exploiting natural resources.  Natural resources must be acknowledged in the peace process.

My Universe


Who needs Brauny papertowel when you have a toddler and 3 cats?

Jan 162016

Today has been a very quiet day fortunately because it has rained all day and I really didn't want to get wet.  The furbabes are snuggled together on my bed, Annie with her arms around Winnie.  I relaxed today, all day, and took time to watch part of the movie AVATAR so I could keep my knee elevated for a while.  I'll watch the rest when I retire for the night, that is I stay awake long enough.

Short Takes

Take Part — Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying announced Wednesday [13/01/2016] that his government will end its legal ivory trade.

That market is considered a facilitator of illegal ivory transport into mainland China, the world’s largest consumer of smuggled ivory.  

Hong Kong’s move comes as the price of elephant ivory plummets. In a report by conservation group Save the Elephants, the cost of raw ivory on the black market has fallen by almost half over the past 18 months. HK-ivory

“If the trade closes, the value of ivory as an investment depreciates,” Knights said. “We see Hong Kong prices going down because of the public backlash against ivory, and that should have an impact on poaching. Couple that with stepped-up efforts in Africa to deter poachers, and the ivory trade ends up getting squeezed at both ends.”

In a BBC article almost a year ago, word came that China instituted a one year ban on the importation of ivory.  Now China is taking the next step.  This is an issue that Obama and the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, spoke about during a visit in 2015.

Upworthy — What are the chances a 6th-grader from the biggest slum in Kenya ends up on stage in New York City, speaking to thousands of people?

Not very great, but Eunice Akoth did it. She's living her dream.

Eunice's dreams aren't exactly uncommon for a girl her age: to travel the world and to become a doctor. But the possibility of seeing them through is extra difficult simply because of where she was born.

Between unemployment rates, gender discrimination, and violence in her slum of Kibera — it's a long road out for girls like her.

My student faced the same type of childhood as many of the girls in Kibera . . . no education, beaten, married very young, raising babies when she was still a child herself.  Her dream is to see her children, all of them, get an education, the education she never had.  And to remind her of this, she has a painted rock in the garden that says "Dream".

Mother Jones — During his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama reiterated his call to eliminate federal subsidies for fossil fuels in an effort to speed up the transition to cleaner energy sources. It's something he's asked for nearly every year of his presidency, and it hasn't happened yet. But this year, he added something new: a plan to charge oil and coal companies more for leases on federal land, to offset the damage their products do to the climate.  

The onslaught started at the end of December, when China announced plans to close 1,000 coal mines as part of its campaign to reduce crippling air pollution and the world's highest greenhouse gas emissions.  

Coal's future doesn't seem much brighter. More than two dozen coal-reliant states are suing the Obama administration over its climate plan.


As reported in another article by the same author in Mother Jones on 15 January 2016,

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced on Friday that she was placing a moratorium on new coal-mining leases on public land and that her department would begin a multiyear review of how those lease contracts are awarded. The policy change is likely to make the leases more expensive for mining companies, to generate increased royalties for the government, and to offset the damage coal production and consumption do to the environment.

"We haven't done a top-to-bottom review of the coal program in 30 years," Jewell told reporters. She added that her department will search for ways "to manage [coal] in a way that is consistent with the climate change agenda."

Coal has had its day and no amount of interference from the Republicans should change that course, but if they win the White House in November, look out!  There is no reason why a small percentage of Americans, relatively speaking, should override the concerns of all Americans.  Although Republicans will appear to agitate for coal workers, really they are in bed with the coal companies.  With coal producing high green house gas levels, the planet can't afford to keep burning dirty coal.  I had to chuckle at the author's comment,

But he [Lee-Ashley] said the financial overhaul should enjoy bipartisan support, since it boils down to giving the American people a fair price for their natural resources.

"When you look at the money being lost to taxpayers through these loopholes, anybody who believes in good business should be able to carry it forward," he said.

"Fair price" to a Republican does not meet our standards.  Republicans are in the coal bin with the coal companies.  Have a look at the article I presented back in October 2015, The Fall of King Coal.

My UniverseThe third kitten, a liitle grey and white furball, has the longest meow I have ever heard . . . and all in one tiny body!

Jan 152016

I know the Republican debate was tonight, and I don't want to tread on TC's detailed report that I am sure he is preparing, but I couldn't help but shake my head at the stupidity of the Huckster and Santorum.  Is it any wonder why they are relegated to the kid's table?  And today I read somewhere that voters were supposed to pick their representatives, not candidates picking their voters . . . a response to gerrymandering.  It is sad that there are voters that would actually vote for these two, or any Republican for that matter!

Short Takes

NY Times — So what should we say about the Obama job record? Private-sector employment — the relevant number, as I’ll explain in a minute — hit its low point in February 2010. Since then we’ve gained 14 million jobs, a figure that startled even me, roughly double the number of jobs added during the supposed Bush boom before it turned into the Great Recession. If that was a boom, this expansion, capped by last month’s really good report, outbooms it by a wide margin.

Talk about being a fraidy cat!

Jan 132016

Yesterday was a busy day . . . I took my mother to a specialist doctor which was a 4 hour affair (including transport) for her, and then I had a Family Council meeting at her care facility.  I did not arrive home until 22:30.  I was "exhaustipated"!  Since I was so late and so tired, I did not finish the Open Thread.  I just fed the furbabies and myself, then slept instead.  Today was another 2.5 hours of physio therapy including 30 minutes of bike riding.  Somebody made a comment about me being saddle sore because I often ride for a half hour.  No problem — it's a recumbent bike so very comfortable and better for the knees.

Short Take

Politico — The Supreme Court appeared ready Monday to bar public-sector unions from collecting "fair-share" fees from non-members, a move that could deal a political blow to Democrats by reducing union membership drastically and draining union coffers.

At oral arguments in a case brought by California public school teachers who object to the requirement, the court's conservative wing appeared deeply skeptical of a 1977 high court decision upholding the constitutionality of such fees.  

Under current law, public employees covered by union contracts may opt out of paying any fees toward the political activity of their union. But states may pass laws that require those dissenting members to pay a fee to cover their portion of collective bargaining costs. Such provisions, on the books in about two dozen states, are being challenged in the case by Rebecca Friedrichs and eight other California teachers.

The fair-share or "agency" fee is widely seen as a compromise between the First Amendment rights of public employees who may not wish to join a union and the material interest of the unions, which are required by law to bargain on behalf of all members of a given unit, regardless of membership status.

Now that arguments have been heard, we'll have to wait to see how SCOTUS rules.  Just playing devil's advocate a bit, what if the unions were required to only bargain on behalf of its members, and all non union members had to individually bargain for their wages/benefits etc?  Certainly the employer is not going to want to negotiate with a lot of different people due to the time and costs involved.  The settlements are likely to be smaller.  So, can Friedrichs logically say she would negotiate her contract and come out as well or better than she would have paying the agency fee?

Think Progress — Sue Berkowitz, director of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, which advocates for low-income residents, told ThinkProgress that poverty is a huge issue in her state, largely a result of conservative policies that have been tested and proven ineffective.

“I don’t expect them to touch on anything that is realistic,” she said about the event.

Berkowitz pointed out that the summit is being held in a city with the highest number of diabetic related amputations in the country. Overall, South Carolina’s poverty rate is ranked ninth highestin the nation, with more than 860,000 people living below the poverty line in 2013. The state alsoranks seventh in the percentage of people living in poverty areas. Twenty-seven percent of the state’s children live in poverty and 25 percent live in a food-insecure household, putting it in 45th place in the nation for the well-being of its children.  

“To take SNAP and start talking about things like block granting and making it a work program is just not understanding what’s going on with the low-income community,” Berkowitz said. “At least if you want to get rid of these programs, talk about them honestly. Talk about why you’re doing it and don’t make it look like you’re doing something compassionate and helping people out of their misery. Because the only way we help people out of the misery of poverty is to ensure they’ll have living wages or living stipends to allow them to afford the things that they need.”

The only ones that the Republicans will help are themselves and the 1%.  As Berkowitz says, "At least if you want to get rid of these programs, talk about them honestly."   Honesty is not in the Republican lexicon.

The Nation On a brisk November 13 night in Paris, armed gunmen killed 130 people and shocked the world. Global media snapped into full focus, covering the attack with a frequency and depth unmatched by coverage of any terrorist attack since the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris earlier that year. Just hours earlier, in Beirut and Baghdad, terrorist attacks had claimed the lives of dozens. In Lebanon and Iraq, many were equally shocked, not simply by these attacks, but by what they perceived as a comparable lack of media attention to them. That week marked one crescendo in critiques on media institutions for allegedly covering terrorism more often and more in depth when it occurs in Western countries than when it occurs in non-Western ones.

Is the media creating, or at least substantially contribuuting to the climate of fear in the West with its lopsided coverage of terrorist attacks?

My Universe — 


Nannies to a new born pitbull rejected by its mother.


Jan 122016

I enjoyed time with my mother on Sunday afternoon and evening.  It was great to see her eat so well.  Seeing my mother often leaves me exhausted, and last night was no exception.  As a result, I was late getting up for physio, even though I set my alarm.  I think I set a record for speediness today as I was out the door in 30 minutes, and that included a shower!  Tomorrow, I have to take my mother to a specialist so that will be a bit of work, and then there is a meeting at her care home.  There is always something going on.

Short Takes

BBC — India's greatest leader had moved to a village called Segaon two years earlier. He had renamed it Sevagram or a village of service. He built an ashram, a commune which was home to "many a fateful decision which affected the destiny of India". Gandhi had moved in with his wife, Kasturba, and some followers. There was also a steady stream of guests.

Mahatma Gandhi

Kanu Gandhi, a callow young man in his 20s and a grand nephew of the Mahatma, was also there. Armed with a Rolleiflex camera, he was taking pictures of the leader.

He had wanted to become a doctor, but his parents had goaded him to join Gandhi's personal staff doing clerical work, looking after accounts and writing letters at the ashram.

Kanu Gandhi had developed an interest in photography, but Gandhi had told him there was no money to buy him a camera.

The nephew did not relent. Finally, Gandhi asked businessman Ghanshyam Das Birla to gift 100 rupees ($1.49; £1.00) to Kanu so that he could buy the camera and a roll of film.

But the leader imposed three conditions on the photographer: he forbade him from using flash and asking him to pose; and made it clear that the ashram would not pay for his photography.

Click through for some of these photographs and the stories behind them.  I have been influenced by Mahatma Gandhi like so many others.  I have always said that he is the most Christ like person I know of, and he was not Christian.  This is one of my favourite attributions: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Globe and Mail — ‘That,” we tell ourselves, “is just the way the Americans are.” We say it every time some firearms horror strikes a movie theatre or school or workplace. We say it when the U.S. President, reduced to tears, tries to use his limited powers to make minimal changes to laws that allow almost anyone to purchase and use an assault rifle.

After all, hasn’t it always been this way? Americans have always believed that they have a right to own and carry guns, we think. Strict gun control has never been an American option. That’s just the way they are.

Except that it isn’t. The American gun crisis, and the attitudes and laws that make it possible, are very new. The broad idea of a right to own firearms, along with the phenomenon of mass shootings, did not exist a generation ago; the legal basis for this right did not exist a decade ago.

Until 2002, every U.S. president and government had declared that the Constitution’s Second Amendment did not provide any individual right for ordinary citizens to own firearms. Rather, it meant what its text clearly states: that firearms shall be held by “the People” – a collective, not individual right – insofar as they are in the service of “a well-regulated militia.”

In another Globe and Mail article, the author says "In a prime-time, televised town hall meeting, Obama defended his support for the constitutional right to gun ownership while arguing it was consistent with his efforts to curb violence and mass shootings. "  Even constitutional lawyers can disagree as to whether the individual has the right to bear arms.  How is it that after 230+ years, with one stroke of the pen, Scalia can render the majority decision changing legal presedence of 230+ years?

Alternet — The air was hazy from distant wildfires on August 29 when a gift arrived on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in southeast Montana. Carvers from the Lummi Tribe in Washington state brought a totem pole as a sign of support for those fighting the Otter Creek project, a proposed strip mine and rail spur on the Northern Cheyenne Tribe’s traditional lands. 

At a ceremony marking the pole’s arrival, ranchers, whose families have been on the land for generations, and tribal members, whose families go back even further, joined together to speak of the sacredness of the land and water, and of their duty to protect this inheritance for generations to come.

The new mine would extract around 1.3 billion tons of coal. Arch Coal and its partners would blast a new rail spur through hills, across ranches, and along the Tongue River to connect the mine to the Burlington Northern main line. Open train cars would carry coal to a proposed export terminal to be built on the Lummi Tribe’s traditional lands. From there, the coal could be shipped to Asia; burning it would emit billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

These are the power grabs of corporations as they act like petulant children when they don't get their way.  Don't get me wrong, contaminated water and air, the degradation of forests and oceans, crops spoiled by unusual weather . . . these are all very serious.  But corporations that put profits before people will be the death of us all.

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