Jul 052014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 75, and it occurred to me that, since most folks in the country get a holiday, I ought to as well, since it’s a slow news day, I’m tired, and preparing my holiday feast took three hours of cooking and prep, so this article is all I have.  The rest of the weekend depends on the availability of content.  Please be safe.

Late (early) update:

I just woke up.  I slept through the fireworks.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:59 (average 6:11).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: Kinda like a really scary jigsaw puzzle … oh, and the Congress Critters in the districts that make up those shaded areas? Yeah, they don’t want folks to see this map. Hint, hint.

0705USRO-low-wage

That high area in eastern Oregon is the sparsely populated Republican part of the state. Politically and culturally, it’s more like Idaho.

From The New Yorker: A new poll released Wednesday revealed that people rank President Barack Obama as the worst President since the Second World War, and also blame him for starting the Second World War.

While the respondents slammed the President for his handling of the economy, Iraq, and a host of other issues, his perceived role as the primary cause of the Second World War was the biggest drag on his numbers.

Even more troubling, when compared to the three leaders of the Axis powers during that war, President Obama polled at the bottom of the list, finishing far behind Emperor Hirohito of Japan.

LOL Andy. It may be accurate! If so, do I have to tell what TV channel those polled used to get their news?  (the real poll was demographically skewed).

From NY Times: In a decision that drew an unusually fierce dissent from the three female justices, the Supreme Court sided Thursday with religiously affiliated nonprofit groups in a clash between religious freedom and women’s rights.

The decision temporarily exempts a Christian college from part of the regulations that provide contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The court’s order was brief, provisional and unsigned, but it drew a furious reaction from the three female members, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. The order, Justice Sotomayor wrote, was at odds with the 5-to-4 decision on Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, which involved for-profit corporations.

“Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “Not so today.”

The court’s action, she added, even “undermines confidence in this institution.”

Monday’s decision and the order on Thursday were dual blows to the Obama administration’s efforts to provide contraception coverage, said Walter Dellinger, who was acting United States solicitor general in the Clinton administration.

This order, unsigned demonstrating their cowardice, directly contradicts part of the Hobby Lobby decision that the ruling applied only to closely held, for profit corporations. Wheaton College is neither. I promised you a slippery slope was ahead. The slide has started. For a better understanding, click through and read the entire article.

Cartoon:

0705Cartoon

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Jul 012014
 

The Republican Party won a victory in their War on Workers, because the Fascist Five Injustices of SCROTUS (Republican Constitutional VD) ruled against labor in Harris v. Quinn.  They determined that it violates the free speech of home health care workers to have to either join a Union or pay a fee to a union for their collective bargaining representation.  In so doing they violated precedent and ignored the Constitution, because this an economic issue, not a speech issue.

0701Workers

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dealt a setback to unions by ruling that in-home care workers in Illinois who are paid by the state are not similar enough to full-fledged government employees to be compelled to pay union dues.

The case gathered national attention because it questioned the ability of unions to collect dues from public sector workers. The court said in-home care workers are not full-fledged public employees, thus narrowing the decision to these particular workers.

The question stems from Harris v. Quinn, an Illinois case involving in-home care workers. Illinois and other states have long used Medicaid funds to pay their salaries to assist disabled adults who otherwise might have to be placed in state institutions. The jobs were poorly paid, and turnover was high.

A Chicago chapter for the Service Employees International Union began organizing the workers and pushing the state for higher wages. In 2003, an executive order by then. Gov. Rod Blagojevich designated them as “public employees,” allowing the union to collectively bargain with the state over their benefits and wages. Gov. Pat Quinn later expanded the designation to include personal assistants in the state’s disabilities program.

In 2010, the National Right to Work Foundation, an anti-union advocacy group, sued Quinn and the union, accusing the state and union of conspiring to relabel private care providers so the union could collect union fees…

Inserted from <Chicago Tribune>

Although the five goose-steppers claim that the decision is a narrow one, they lied.  It breaks new ground and sets a precedent that is sure to spawn future similar lawsuits.  Effectively this allows home health care workers to benefit from union representation for free, greatly reducing the incentive workers have to join the union.

What the above article neglected, perhaps intentionally, to report is that the SEIU has done a damn fine job for home healthcare workers, increasing their wages from $7.00 per hour in 2003 to $11.65 today to $13.00 later this year.  The point is, paying a small fee for so much more pay was a boon, not a hardship to workers who chose not to join the Union.

I’m sure I’ll have more video coverage of this to post later this week, but the only response I could find that didn’t goose-step comes from Oregon’s SEIU Local 533.

This issue will need close watching in future, because you can be cure this will not be the end of it.

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Jun 142014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, and I’m feeling pretty groggy, because I slept most of the day.  Fortunately I got most of my research done, before I ran out of gas.  I’ve fallen behind on housework, and I thought the gal I pay to help was coming over today, but she couldn’t make it, so for the next few days, I’ll have to be on a major cleaning jag including the most dreaded task of all.  Day 54.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:59 (average 4:30).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: OR-Sen: In the wake of McLaughlin & Associates’ epic debacle in the Eric Cantor race, anyone thinking about releasing any internal polling from any GOP pollster right now should consider his or her decision very carefully—especially if your numbers cut against the bulk of data already out there. Even Republican pollster Frank Luntz acknowledged this reality and shredded his own party:

"Right now there are 230 House Republicans who are waking up praying that they do not have Eric Cantor’s pollster. Honestly, and I’m one of them, we Republican pollsters suck. We have no ability to be able to analyze the electorate."

Now, Monica Wehby may think it’s unfair—after all, she’s using Tarrance, not McLaughlin—but she doesn’t seem to have realized the credibility problem she’s facing in publishing a poll that shows her trailing Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley by just a 41-39 margin. Just a few weeks ago, after all, the much more reliable PPP found Merkley up 50-36.

But Wehby’s timing could not have been worse, because a brand-new independent poll from SurveyUSA for KATU-TV in Portland dropped just hours later. What did SUSA find?

Merkley: 50
      Wehby: 32

Next time, listen to Frank Luntz… [emphasis original]

It won’t matter. As a rule stalkers, like Wehby, ignore the facts in favor of belief in a super-optimistic outcome for their dysfunctional behavior. If she had an accurate pollster, she would fire the company, because it isn’t what she wants to hear.

From Vimeo: Every year, Store to Door volunteers make 7,000 deliveries of fresh food, medications, and household items to Portland area elders.

Nourishment. Connection. Dignity. from Store to Door on Vimeo.

I couldn’t resist sharing this video from the volunteers that bring me my groceries every week. Every community needs such a service, and they do it extremely well.

From The New Yorker: The morning after Tuesday’s stunning Tea Party victory in Virginia, House Republicans unveiled a sweeping new legislative agenda, proposing an end to Social Security, a return to child labor, and unprecedented gun rights for pets.

“The Republican Party is the party of common sense,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “And such common-sense proposals as electronic ankle bracelets for immigrant babies and a barbed-wire fence with Canada are long overdue.”

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) echoed Speaker Boehner’s sentiments as he touted his signature legislation, “to put Americans under the age of twelve back to work.”

“Instead of spending all day playing with Xboxes, our kids should be in factories assembling them,” he said.

As for what is perhaps the most controversial G.O.P. proposal, guaranteeing gun rights for pets, Boehner said, “It’s clear that the authors of the Second Amendment meant it to apply to all mammals. All our new law says is, if you have four legs and a tail, you get a gun.”

LOL Andy!! I can’t speak for dawgs, but for Republicans to arm cats would be a big mistake! Dirty litter? Dry food in the bowl?  BLAM!! ;-)

0614TCGun

Cartoon:

0614Cartoon

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Jun 112014
 

0611reynolds

I still know very little.  A gun-nut opened fire at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, OR, a few mile away.  The shooter is dead.  One student is dead.  Neither has been identified and we know nothing about the what motivated the perpetrator.  One teacher was wounded, but was treated at the scene.  By the time I post this, we will probably have more info.

Update: The victim is 14-year-old freshman Emilio Hoffman.  The shooter, an apparent suicide, has still not been identified.  He uses an assault weapon: an AR-15.

0611SchoolTuesday morning's fatal shooting at Reynolds High School is the 74th shooting on an American school campus since a lone gunman's attack on Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012.

The list of shootings, which includes 13 school shootings in the first six weeks of this year, was compiled by Moms Demand Action for Guns Sense in America.

The 73rd shooting, according to the group, was last week's shooting at Seattle Pacific University, which claimed the life of a 19-year-old Westview High School graduate.

"We continue to keep it updated," said Stacey Radnor, a spokeswoman for the organization…

Inserted from <The Oregonian>

I feel a bit stunned.  It hits home harder when it’s local.  But the list above makes it crystal clear that it’s local if far too many places.  Gun violence in schools has become epidemic.

From the right, the Republican Reichsministry of Propaganda, Faux Noise, seems to care only about demeaning the people who want responsible laws passed.

GOPGuns (2)

Fox News resident psychiatrist and Medical A-Team member Dr. Keith Ablow used an active shooting situation at an Oregon high school to pre-emptively attack “anti-gun nuts” for wanting to talk about gun saftey laws.

As the news was breaking of a shooting at Reynolds High School in Troutdale that reportedly left at least one person dead, Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle asked Ablow to talk about what could have led to the shooting…

Inserted from <Raw Story>

Dr. (using that term MOST loosely) Ablow failed to mention that the reason that the mental health delivery system is so shoddy in this country is that Republicans keep cutting the funding to the agencies that provide those services.  However, all he cared about was labeling reformers as “anti gun-nuts”.

Good gun reform will not solve the problem of school-shootings.  No single thing will, since our culture is dysfunctional in so many ways, but if common sense gun reform laws, like closing the gun show loophole, will save the life of one child, wouldn’t it be worth it?

As for Faux Noise and Republican Ammosexuals. they can take a long flying frack off a short pier!

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Jun 092014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow and resting up for what is sure to be a boring, frustrating day.  Because of being away from home almost the entire day tomorrow getting a useless test, it is probable that I shall have an Open Thread at most to post on Tuesday.  They say that confession is good for the soul, and especially since Lynn is blackmailing me with a pic from the motel’s hidden spy cam (She wants all my catnip for her cats!), I suppose I’d better share that pic of how I got in trouble on my trip.  Day 49.

0609Busted

What can I say?  That was some excellent catnip!!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:52 (average 4:39).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: It’s easy to assume that when you’re super successful, it’s because you earned it. There have been many times in my life when I thought that, too. But here’s one successful man who knows otherwise. He wrote a book that got turned into a Brad Pitt movie, guys — he KNOWS about success.

 

I agree with him, as far as he goes. Fortune does indeed play a role in success, and the fortunate are morally obligated to help those who are not. What he does not cover so well is the degree to which we all contribute to the success of those who are fortunate by providing the environment in which success is possible.

From TPM: President Barack Obama is prepping new executive steps to help Americans struggling to pay off their student debt, and throwing his support behind Senate Democratic legislation with a similar goal but potentially a much more profound impact.

Obama on Monday will announce he’s expanding his "Pay As You Earn" program that lets borrowers pay no more than 10 percent of their monthly income in loan payments, the White House said. Currently, the program is only available to those who started borrowing after October 2007 and kept borrowing after October 2011. Obama plans to start allowing those who borrowed earlier to participate, potentially extending the benefit to millions more borrowers.

This is clearly a good step, but what we really need is education-for-service plans. Graduates spend X years after graduation teaching, nursing, doctoring, etc. in an underserved poor community, and the feds (we all) pay off their student debt.

From Raw Story: Thousands of bicyclists, many of them stark naked, poured into the streets of Portland, Oregon on Saturday night for the 11th annual World Naked Bike Ride, a protest that promotes bike riding as an alternative to driving cars.

Nude cyclists with lights flashing in their tire spokes rang bells as they barreled down avenues lined with cheering spectators, while a naked, apparently pregnant woman rode in a bike trailer.

“This is a party, but it’s also a protest,” said Carl Larson, a ride spokesman. “It is about oil dependence, cycling vulnerability and body” image.

Cyclists showed up in Normandale Park an hour before the ride, shedding garments according to the ride theme “as bare as you dare”.

The rides are held in more than 75 U.S. cities and in more than 20 other countries, but Portland’s is believed to be the largest, with more than 8,000 participants last year.

But unlike events in other cities, the Portland ride works with local police, being considered as a protest. Officers direct traffic during what is generally a trouble-free event.

This is one parade that did not pass under my window.

Cartoon:

0609Cartoon

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May 312014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow and am feeling quite tired out after the exertions of yesterday and today.  I arose at 3:00 AM and spent several hours completing my most hated chore, and I still have lots to do to prepare for my two-day prison volunteer trip next week.  I have had a couple cat naps since.  Day 40.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:49 (average 5:41).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: OR-Sen, -Gov: PPP’s first post-primary poll of Oregon finds both of the state’s top Democrats, Sen. Jeff Merkley and Gov. John Kitzhaber, with comfortable leads over their GOP opponents. Merkley currently beats physician Monica Wehby, whose public image has recently taken a hit thanks to stalking allegations, by a 50-36 margin. Wehby’s favorables stand at just 26-40, while Merkley sports a decent 41-34 job approval score.

Except for one impossible-to-believe survey from Republican pollster Vox Populi, Merkley’s always had double-digit leads, so PPP’s numbers seem plausible. However, as Tom Jensen notes, most of the undecideds don’t like Obama (even though this is a blue state), so the race will likely tighten.

Kitzhaber, meanwhile, holds a similar 49-35 advantage over state Rep. Dennis Richardson, even though Kitz earns just a 42-46 approval rating. Richardson is little-known, though, and again, things are likely to tighten up. But Oregon’s demographics simply make victory for Republicans, especially against incumbents, very difficult.

The undecided voters that don’t like Obama are mostly further left than he is, so there is no danger of them voting for a billionaire loving stalker like Wehby, as Merkley is one of the most progressive Senators in the US. The danger is that too many may stay home.

From NY Times: President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority asked Rami Hamdallah, the prime minister, on Thursday to form a “government of national consensus” that would unite warring Palestinian factions for the first time in seven years and could send Israeli-Palestinian relations into a tailspin.

The new government, made up of politically independent professionals, would formally ally Mr. Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organization, which is dominated by the mainstream Fatah faction, and its rival, Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, under the terms of a unity pact reached last month. Palestinian officials said the new government would most likely be announced in the next few days, with Palestinian elections to be held in about six months.

I see this as a good thing for the Palestinians, as Israel has been using a divide and conquer approach to achieve a one-state solution by attrition, in clear violation of the Helsinki Accords.   Without a united Palestine to negotiate for all Palestinians, there can be no hope for lasting peace in the middle east.

From Upworthy: Maya Angelou was a poet, novelist, and public figure who became an American treasure in her 86 years on earth. Her work has received accolades, and in particular, her autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" — about her early life overcoming racism and trauma by turning to the written word — has become a literature classic. Listen to a popular poem of hers, one I distinctly remember reading in the newspaper as a child, below.

 

She is and will be very missed.

Cartoon:

0531TCLaundry

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May 212014
 

Today is primary day in several states, the closest thing we have to Super Tuesday on the 2014 campaign.  By the time this is posted, most of the numbers will be in, but this should still be a good guide to what happened.  Perhaps the day should be renamed Stupor Tuesday to reflect the awareness of Republican voters and all people too stupid to get off their butts and vote.

0521Wehbe

Get excited, because voters are casting ballots in six states holding high-stakes primaries. It’s the busiest primary day of the year so far — and the most consequential.

From tea party vs. establishment infighting in the West to a Democratic sprint to the left in the Northeast, there’s a lot going on. But fear not! Here’s where we come in. Below we give you the six [sic] most important things to watch:

1. Who will make the Republican runoff for U.S. Senate in Georgia?

2. What will Mitch McConnell’s margin of victory be?

3. Will Democrat Tom Wolf advance to a showdown against the nation’s most vulnerable governor?

4. It’s business versus tea party in Idaho. Business is poised for victory.

5. Will Monica Wehby hold on in Oregon after a story about "stalking" her ex-boyfriend last year?

6. Will a Clinton-backed U.S. House candidate advance in Pennsylvania?

7. There are two GOP primaries for U.S. House in Arkansas worth following.

8. Which Republican will take on the last white Democrat from the Deep South in the House?… [emphasis original]

Inserted from <Washington Post>

I’ve shared all the headers to give you a taste of what it covers.  Click through for the meat of the article.  To me. the most interesting item is the one on Monica Wehbe.

Rachel Maddow covered the day in two videos.  I’m sorry that I can’t get the clips in an Internationally viewable format, but I’m including their titles so you can search later.  In the first she covers Oregon Republicans.

Political weirdness finds a home in Oregon

In the second, she covers the other primaries.

The upside here is that we lose a couple real jerks from GA in the House.

Next we get to sort it all out.

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