Jul 222015
 

Jon Stewart returned from vacation and interviewed Barack Obama for the last time.  Even without much of Jon’s usual comedy, the interview was worth watching.  One reason is that Jon has a depth od understanding most professional news reporters seem to lack.  The other is Obama’s candor.

TV-Obama-StewartTwo titans of the establishment left facing their twilight, President Obama and Daily Show Host Jon Stewart, sat down on Tuesday night for an extended interview on topics ranging from ISIS to the media to Iran to the crumbling VA system.

It was a relatively friendly interview, with Stewart asking open-ended questions and more or less letting the President take the floor. The one exception would be when Stewart addressed the failures of veteran care in recent years.

"Boy, rough ride for the veterans recently. First the attack in Tennessee, and then this systematic issue with the VA and healthcare", Stewart said. Veteran care has always been something of a personal issue with the Daily Show host; one of his segments on the topic even led to some reforms earlier this year…

Inserted from <Alternet>

 

I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did, and I hope that is not the last time those two share a stage.

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Jul 142015
 

I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say about this, as time goes on, and I know more about the details of the deal reached.  From everything I can see so far, it appears that it includes all the safeguards we need to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.  This seems to be the best possible outcome.

0714ItanDealA historic agreement Tuesday to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief will ensure Iran has no possibility to achieve rapid nuclear weapons “breakout” capabilities for at least the next decade, U.S. leaders said.

“We have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region,” said President Obama as he listed some of the pillars of the deal including international inspections, reductions in Iran’s centrifuges used to make nuclear fuel and a sharp cut in Iran’s stockpile of nuclear material.

“We put sanctions in place to get a diplomatic solution, and that is what we have done . . . This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it,” said Obama, noting the potentially tough review ahead in Congress.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry described the deal as moving beyond a political framework reached three months ago, and said it met all U.S. requirements for blocking pathways to weapons development with strict inspections and provisions to snap sanctions back into place if Iran violates the rules.

But he also raised the possibility it could also provide the platform for expanded diplomatic overtures between Iran and the United States — which cut ties shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Washington Post>

I saw more of the details about the deal on Way Too Early.

The biggest obstacle we now face is getting approval from Republicans in Congress.   They will also be stirred on my Israeli war monger, Butcher Ben (R-IS).  What will happen?  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  In the meantime, I’m sure you have a pants-load of petitions.

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Jul 082015
 

On Monday afternoon, I started to experience severe congestion.  I think I may have continued to treat myself with Ipratropium Bromide/Albuterol Sulfate longer than I needed to and dried myself out.  For over 24 hours, I was unable to cough up the junk that collects in my chest, and I could not lie down without severe coughing, so I could not sleep.  I called my helper friend.  She came, did the most hated task, helped me get to the shower, fed me and applied hot compresses to my chest and back.  I thought about going to the emergency room, but decided not to, because I was not actually running a fever and my pulse oximeter read 95%, so I knew my lungs were not seriously compromised, as they would be if I had pneumonia.  I was finally able to cough up the gunk at around 3 PM yesterday, and I slept ten out of the next twelve hours.  I’m still feeling week and tired.  Pardon my brevity.

Jig Zone Puzzles:

Yesterday’s took me 3:44 (average 5:19).  To do it, click here.  Today’s took me 3:19 (average 4:44).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Fantasy Football Recruiting:

We still need one or two new player for Lefty Blog Friends, our fantasy football league.  Viv and her Hillbilly Lefties are now onboard. How about you?  For more information, click here.

Short Takes:

From Alternet: John Oliver was off for the weekend of Fourth of July, or the “annual American tradition of reminding the sky who runs shit,” as the “Last Week Tonight” host more aptly called it. But that didn’t stop him from uploading a brief — emphasis on brief, because we’ll come back to that — web exclusive in the show’s absence.

It’s not uncommon for HBO to upload web exclusives to tide viewers over until the following week. What is uncommon: Oliver decided to cover 15 topics (“15 shallow dives”) in one minute instead of his usual 15-minute deep-dive.

 

Pure entertainment and a welcome break.

From Daily Kos: At the Washington Post, Prof. James Loewen writes that the reason so many people believe false things about the Civil War and the Confederacy is because many of our textbooks teach those wrong things to this day.

Teaching or implying that the Confederate states seceded for states’ rights is not accurate history. It is white, Confederate-apologist history. It bends — even breaks — the facts of what happened. Like other U.S. history textbooks, “Journey” needs to be de-Confederatized. So does the history test we give to immigrants who want to become U.S. citizens. Item 74 asks, “Name one problem that led to the Civil War.” It then gives three acceptable answers: “slavery, economic reasons, and states’ rights.” If by “economic reasons” it means issues about tariffs and taxes, which most people infer, then two of its three “correct answers” are wrong! No other question on this 100-item test has more than one “right” answer. The reason is not because the history is unclear, but because neo-Confederates still wielded considerable influence in our culture and our Congress until quite recently, when a mass of politicians rushed to declare the Confederate flag unsuitable for display on government grounds.

Loewen also reiterates a point that cannot be made often enough: Modern notions that the Civil War was fought over ephemeral notions of "states’ rights" or other high-minded considerations, as opposed to an unapologetic battle for the right to keep human slaves, is a product of segregationist forces in the civil rights era. It’s hardly a coincidence that so many memorials of the war date conspicuously to the days of George Wallace, rather than Jefferson Davis.

We study history to learn from the past and avoid making the same mistakes. Republicans distort history, because they know they are making the same mistakes, don’t care, and want to keep others from knowing.

From NY Times: From environmental and work force regulations to health care and contraception, congressional Republicans are using spending bills to try to dismantle President Obama’s policies, setting up a fiscal feud this fall that could lead to a government shutdown…

…The House and Senate appropriations committees are churning out annual spending bills, dropping the bipartisanship that has long characterized the committees. The bills adhere to strict overall spending limits imposed in 2011 that Mr. Obama has already said he will not accept.

Here we go again. Am I the only one reminded of a broken record?

Cartoon:

0708Cartoon

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Jun 152015
 

I’m off to a late start, because I have a lot of paperwork to get done and a grocery order to prepare.  I also had to get my kitty solar basking started before 9:00 AM, so the intense heat did not scorch my fur.  Tomorrow will also be busy, because I have a volunteer related meeting here in town.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:06 (average 4:50).  To do it click here.  How did you do?

Fantasy Football Recruiting:

We still need two new players for Lefty Blog Friends, our fantasy football league.  How about you?  For more information, click here.

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos (classic: 5/2014): On May 22, The Campaign for America’s Future gave a conference on The New Populist Majority. The keynote speaker was Elizabeth Warren. The conference confronted the meme that the US is a "center-right" country.

Most interesting to me was the fact that they obtained poll results from "the 1%." Typically, "upper income" in polling is considered "over $250K/yr" or even "over $150K/yr." Such people are rich compared to most, but they do not have enough money to buy elections with their spare change.

The poll results for this comparison came from the Russell Sage Foundation. "Elites" are defined as at or near "the 1%" in wealth with an average income of $1M/yr or more. The perspectives of this group are compared to responses from other polls such as Pew and Gallup.

0615poll

I wonder what the results would have been had they profiled the 0.1%, the people the Republican Party represent.

From Upworthy: A group of people gathered before sunrise on a beach in Los Angeles. They laid blankets and rugs on the sand, and with the tumble of the ocean at their backs, they joined together to begin a familiar ritual: prayer.

 

Authentic Muslims and Jews coexist without difficulty. The problem is the tight wing extremists running ISIL, Hamas, and the Israeli government. It’s as it all three had Republicans in charge.

From NY Times: For more than six years, the short walk from the Oval Office downstairs to the Situation Room has all too often meant bad news or grim choices. Whether it was war in the Middle East, Russian aggression in Ukraine or the hunt for terrorists around the globe, President Obama’s foreign policy has felt consumed by guns and drones.

So the 12-nation trade deal Mr. Obama has been negotiating in Asia took on special meaning for a president eager to change the world. It was a way to leave behind a positive legacy abroad, one that could be measured, he hoped, by the number of lives improved rather than by the number of bodies left behind. And if the Pacific really is the future, Mr. Obama wanted to position the United States to lead the way.

Several of you have stated that you don’t understand how Obama could support this deal, Click through to get a pretty good understanding of his position. While I agree that China represents a potential economic threat to the US, I remain unconvinced that the TPP is the way to deal with it, and therefore I remain completely opposed to fast track. If Obama would open the deal for inspection, and studying it revealed that it does not benefit corporations and Banksters at the expense of US workers, I would be delighted to change my position.

Cartoon:

0615Cartoon

Who could forget the evil of Bloody Bullseye Barbie?

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Jun 132015
 

I’d be willing to bet that you already know that House Democrats had the integrity to deny Obama Fast Track authority on the TPP.  I hope you also know that the lid in the coffin is not sealed, because John Boehner, aka Agent Orange, is bring it back for another vote on Tuesday.  On this issue, I’m proud of House Democrats and very ashamed of my President.

0613FastTrackHe made it personal. He appealed to their loyalty. He asked them to give him what every modern president has had. He argued the facts, disputed the politics, quarreled over the history and at times lashed out at those who still refused to stand with him.

Yet in the end, after years of frustration with Republicans blocking his ideas in Congress, President Obama on Friday found the most sweeping legislative initiative left on his agenda thwarted not by the opposition but by his own party. If not for his fellow Democrats, Mr. Obama would have a landmark trade bill heading to his desk for signature.

The sting of defeat may be temporary. The White House adamantly insisted on Friday that it made important progress by passing part of the trade package and still has a chance to turn around the vote on the other part. If that proves true, Mr. Obama may yet secure the negotiating authority he needs to seal a legacy-building 12-nation Pacific trade agreement and the day’s setback may ultimately be overshadowed.

But for the moment, at least, the defeat laid bare a fundamental schism within the party over economics and, according to some analysts and officials, exposed a stark divide between Democratic lawmakers and a Democratic president late in his tenure. Once eager to support Mr. Obama, Democrats now are less willing to buck their own labor-dominated base or their own convictions to advance their president’s program… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

Chris Hayes and his panel covered the story quite well.

Oregon and Pete DeFazio helped lead the way. It’s coming again Tuesday. Rattle your Congress Critter again.

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May 242015
 

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 despicable InsaniTEA can become.  I trust that you will believe it, when I tell you that last week was no exception.

Glenn Beck: President Obama’s not demilitarizing the police; he’s plotting to burn our cities down with the help of  liberal groups.

BeckHatWell, loony-old Glenn Beck got it half right. President Obama’s executive order this week depriving local police forces of tanks, grenade launchers, bayonets and 50 caliber weapons did not go nearly far enough.

“We’re worried about the M-16s, and the flash grenades that you can just throw in, the Humvees,” Beck said. “They’ll still get all the stuff that they have. Just no tanks.”

“Could we also throw in there that they shouldn’t have nuclear weapons,” he quipped.

Good one, Glenn.

But the real worry is that Commandante Obama is also setting up more federal oversight of local police forces. And that is very ominous indeed when you are Glenn Beck and you believe in things like the Jade Helm Conspiracy, for starters.

“This is a show by the president,” Beck frothed. “He’s taking more control. Expect to see more protests continue. Expect to see more of the usual suspects. Expect sometime between now and I don’t when, these groups (New Black Panthers, MoveOn.org, Code Pink, Colour of Change) will be setting our cities on fire. Getting us to tear each other apart. Getting us to cry out, Somebody’s gonna have to do it. The president will be happy to do it with centralized control of police and a national police force.”

There it is, ladies and gentleman. It’s not just Texas that the federal government is planning to invade and take over. It’s the whole dang country…

Inserted from <Alternet>

Why isn’t he Governor od Texas?  This only the third of five despicable Republican moments from last week alone.  Click through for the other four.

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Apr 262015
 

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 insane InsaniTEA can become.  I trust that you will believe it, when I tell you that last week was no exception.

Franklin Graham: Don’t persecute Christians. Save that for Muslims.

0426GrahamFranklin Graham visited Fox’s Eric Bolling for a little Obama-hating, Muslim-bashing and general over-the-top fearmongering session this week. The president, they lamented, is being silent on the persecution of Christians everywhere. They were picking up on a theme espoused by Bill O’Reilly last week, and well, every week—the War on Christians and how our secretly Muslim commander-in-chief is A-OK with that.

“Why is Obama so silent on all the atrocities going on against Christians around the world?” Bolling asked Rev. Graham.

Graham said he could not answer the question, and then answered the question by pointing out that Obama is a Muslim.

"His father was a Muslim. His stepfather was a Muslim, he went to Muslim schools growing up, his impressions as a young man came from Islam, not the Christian faith," Graham said. “That might have something to do with it, I don’t know.”

Sounds like he does know, though, doesn’t it? Sounds like he’s pretty cocksure.

The mess in Iraq? All Obama’s fault. Bolling and Graham (two former military commanders, after all) know for a fact that Obama pulled troops out of Iraq too early.

But back to that Muslim-bashing thing.

“As a Christian, I want to emulate Christ,” Graham said. Then in very Christlike fashion, he went after Muslims. “The Muslims want to emulate their prophet Mohammed. Mohammed raped, he murdered, he killed and so we’re seeing the followers of Islam emulate the prophet Mohammed."

Muslims are bad everywhere, according to Graham, but especially here. We need to get rid of them. “We have to be careful of the Muslims in this country. We need to stop the immigration… of Muslims coming to this country from countries that have active terrorist cells."

He’s really got that Christ-like behavior down pat, doesn’t he?..

Inserted from <Alternet>

If I were to emulate Christ, as Graham suggests, I would make a lash of cords and use it to drive out Graham and the rest of the Republican Supply-side pseudo Christians.  That’s what Jesus did with the Republicans of His day.

This is only one of five insane Republican moments from last week alone.  Click through for the other four.

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