Mar 162014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow and have a lot to do.  In fact, I may be a bit scarce for the next couple of days.  I’ve been tentatively approved for a level of volunteer authorization that will allow me to enter and move within the prison without direct supervision from staff.  To complete the approval process, I have to read a manual, complete a written examination at home, and submit it within the next few days.  Then I have to attend a training session in Salem early next month, and an institution orientation.  It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:57 (average 4:19).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:From Upworthy: Some people say America has the #1 health care system in the world. Those people are probably not counting the other 36 countries that are beating us. Aasif Mandvi decided to go investigate whether we really have the not-best system ever. What he finds is kind of appalling. At 4:00 is the most awkward 15 seconds I’ve seen in quite some time. If you live in Canada and have fancy universal health care, you can watch it here. (or here).

LOL!! That Republican liar was so dumbfounded that he was looking for a way to bury his head between his own nether cheeks!!

From The New Yorker: President Obama has sparked outrage in Congress and renewed calls for his impeachment by signing a daring Presidential memorandum that would pay workers enough to eat.

The memorandum, which is based on the President’s view that people should be paid for the hours they actually work, is shaping up as one of the most controversial and incendiary actions of his Presidency.

House Republican leaders held a press conference this morning to warn Obama that, by advancing his agenda of paying people for the work they do, he is “playing with political fire.”

“A Presidential memorandum is a powerful tool and should be used sparingly,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “It is not a vehicle for this President to enact his pet theories about people earning enough to survive.”

Andy did it again! Bingo!!

From Daily Kos: If you watch only one thing today, watch this.

Short version: The GOP is a staggering corpse that is fading into irrelevance and the real future is in the fight between pro-corporate Democrats and pro-worker Democrats.

 

Krystal did a superior job of elucidating something I’ve been saying for years. Instead of waiting for an election year and whining that Democratic candidates don’t represent them, as so many lazy lefties do, we need to be taking control of the Democratic Party at the grassroots level as though every year was an election year.

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Feb 232014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, and this will be the only article, because I cut my search for material short.  Although I spent more time in research than usual, I did not find much that grabbed me, and I didn’t want to keep pushing, because I’ll be quite busy for the next couple days.  On Monday, I’ll be hosting a Board Meeting of my prison volunteer organization here in the Cat Box, including dinner, so I’ll have a lot of cleaning and food prep to do for the next couple days.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:52 (average 5:34).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: If what he said in 1996 is any guide, House Speaker John Boehner really, really does not plan to allow a vote on raising the minimum wage:

“I’ll commit suicide before I vote on a clean minimum-wage bill,” Boehner, then the head of the House Republican Conference, said at the time.

How’s that for an extreme position? He wouldn’t just die before doing it, he’d actually kill himself. Take his own life rather than lift hundreds of thousands out of poverty by requiring businesses to pay a minimum wage that a small family can come somewhere close to living on. It’s almost like he’s not the moderate figure trying to balance the demands of his party’s teabagger extremists with responsible governance that so many political reporters have painted him as.

What better reason could there for Democrats to circulate a discharge petition on this issue, Not only would it me a major victory against vulture capitalists and their Republican lackeys, but also, the fringe benefit is fantastic!! ;-)

From NY Times: The phony budget games finally came to an end this week. After years of trying to entice Republicans into serious negotiations over a fiscal deal — years of instant rejection and painful austerity — the White House announced it was giving up.

In President Obama’s 2015 budget, scheduled to be unveiled next month, there will be no more proposals to cut entitlement programs. Instead, the president will demand what the country needs the most: new investments in education, in energy efficiency, in job training. When Republicans turn away, as they will, they will have to explain to voters why they prefer tax loopholes for the rich over programs to create jobs and rebuild the economy.
Mr. Obama will not include an offer that marred his 2014 budget plan: reducing the cost-of-living increase for Social Security in exchange for higher spending and the end of some of those loopholes. The Social Security cut, known as a “chained” Consumer Price Index, was never a good idea. It was likely to hurt vulnerable retirees, but had been long advocated by the right. Nonetheless, Republicans refused to consider that change if it meant touching the tax breaks of their wealthiest donors, so they passed up a chance to achieve their stated goal of reducing entitlement spending.

In my opinion, the authors have this wrong in one key way. I trust you remember that, at the time, I said that the only reason Obama was offering chained CPI was the certainty that Republicans would refuse it, because it came paired with cuts in welfare for the 1%. Now, in my opinion, Obama is making no such offer, because Republicans have become so desperate to appear reasonable in an e3lection year, that they might accept it, if he did.

From TPM: The United Auto Workers union is appealing a union representation election for Chattanooga, Tennessee Volkswagen workers citing interference from Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and other groups and lawmakers in the state.

The UAW announced its appeal with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday.

The appeal argues that Corker, Tennessee Gov. William Haslam and State House Speaker Beth Harwell, among others, "conducted what appears to have been a coordinated and widely publicized coercive campaign. They worked, in concert with their staffs and others, to deprive" Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. "workers of their federally-protected right, through the Election, to support and select the UAW as their exclusive representation under Section 9(a) of the National Labor Relations Act (the "Act"), free of coercion, intimidation, threats and interference."…

…Read the appeal here.

Having read the appeal myself, as I strongly recommend that you do too, I agree that the UAW complaint is accurate, and that the NLRB should set aside the election and order a new one.

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This effectively makes any Voter ID laws that require voter expense, either for the ID, or for the documents needed to obtain it, unconstitutional.

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Feb 012014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, am still very congested, and am still in minimal participation mode.  Nevertheless, I have two additional articles for you today.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:42 (average 5:09).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From John Kitzhaber: I received this from “Kitz”, our governor, in email.

Tuesday night, President Obama stood before Congress and made a compelling case that the challenge before us is restoring the American Dream and creating economic security for all families.

 

He also made it clear that when Congress fails to act, he will take executive action.   And while that’s the right approach, he’s forced to it because politics in Washington DC are fundamentally broken.

 

But here in Oregon, things look a little different.

 

We have disagreements and debates, but in the end, we get things done.  Oregonians of both parties have come together in the Legislature to take critical steps forward for economic security, health security, and for our childrens’ futures.

 

Even as an election year gets underway, my focus remains on getting things done for Oregonians.  And it’s paying off:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oregon added 39,000 jobs last year, ranking third in the nation in job growth in 2013, behind only Florida and North Dakota.
  • Oregon’s unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in over five years, falling last month to 7.0%.
  • Despite the well-reported challenges we’ve faced, over 200,000 Oregonians have now enrolled for health care. Our health care reforms will provide better care, save Oregonians hundreds of millions of dollars, and protect them from financial stresses if they becoming ill or injured.
  • We’ve started to reinvest in our schools and our children’s education, with over $6 billion in school funding – and critical reforms that integrate early childhood, K-12, and post-secondary education.

We have a long way to go.  And in this election season, you can bet that there will be some who will distort and distract from our accomplishments.

 

Your support in 2010 – and in the months and years since – has made all of this possible.  Thank you.

 

John

Oregon leads the way!  This is what happens when progressives are actively involved at all levels of government.

From Upworthy: This Guy Needs A Clue: A Member Of The 1% Declares It ‘Great’ That 3.5 Billion Are In Poverty.

It’s like he’s a living example of rich white male privilege: "Anybody can be me!"

Just to be clear, I’m not jealous of his wealth. Or what he had to do to get it. But many of those 3.5 billion in poverty never even get a chance to try to "be somebody." Once we level that playing field, we can start talking about "looking up to the 1%."

 

I loved her "Wait I don’t have socks!" comment. It looks like there’s no difference between Canadian and US vulture capitalists.

From NY Times: Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, a diminutive Democratic giant whose 40 years in the House produced some of the most important legislation of the era, announced Thursday that he would retire at the end of the year.

I understand that Sandra Fluke may run for his seat. Would that be fantastic, or what?

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Jan 032014
 

Once upon a time, I considered myself a Centrist.  I often voted for Republicans, and would vote for those individuals again, because they were more progressive than many Democrats at that time.  However, over the years, the entire political spectrum in the US has shifted so far to the right, that what used to be the middle has become the far left.  The Republican Party has purged their progressive and moderate candidates.  We need a strong progressive movement to shift the spectrum back far enough to recover the middle.

0103MiddleThe re-emergence of a Democratic left will be one of the major stories of 2014. Moderates, don’t be alarmed. The return of a viable, vocal left will actually be good news for the political center.

For a long time, the American conversation has been terribly distorted by the existence of an active, uncompromising political right unbalanced by a comparably influential left. As a result, our entire debate has been dragged more and more in a conservative direction, meaning that the center is pushed that way too.

Consider what this means in practice. Obamacare is not a left-wing program, no matter how often conservatives might say it is. Its structure is based on conservative ideas. The individual mandate was the conservatives’ alternative to a mandate on employers. The health care exchanges are an alternative to government-provided medicine on the Medicare model.

Obamacare is complex because the government is trying to create a marketplace in which people shop for private insurance and receive government subsidies if they need them. It goes to a lot of trouble to preserve the private insurance market. The system does not even include a government plan as one option among many.

But once conservatives succeeded in pulling the health care debate to where they had always wanted it, they abandoned the concepts they pioneered and denounced Obamacare as a socialist scheme. It’s a classic case of heads-I-win-tails-you-lose politics: Move toward me, and I’ll just keep moving further away from you… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Truthdig>

Photo Credit: Tim Pierce

Isn’t that exactly what Republicans have done?  The surest way Obama has had to defeat a Republican idea has been to agree with it.  The Democratic Party needs to follow the lead of strong progressives liked Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).  Only by refusing to allow Republicans to move the center to the right, by moving the goalposts with every new offer can we recover the middle, and that means drawing a lines in the sand that force Republicans to either move left or face the wrath of American voters, for sabotaging the policies that Americans support.

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Jan 032014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow and taking a relatively lazy day, after a hard day yesterday.  The roast beef dinner turned out just right, and in addition to feeding less fortunate friends, I took a plate to the desk clerk, who had to work the holiday.  Shortly, I shall be wrapping myself around some leftovers.  On Friday, I hope to finish squaring this place away.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:39 (average 5:35).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Think Progress: On Wednesday, nearly four years after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, the major provisions of the health law that serve to expand coverage to millions of Americans officially took effect. Insurers are no longer allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, or charge sick Americans higher prices than their healthier counterparts. And now, the Americans who have enrolled in new plans under Obamacare — either by picking a private plan on the state-level marketplaces, or by qualifying for Medicaid in the states that agreed to expand the program — may start using that coverage.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, about six million people signed up for Obamacare’s coverage expansion so far. It’s not yet clear exactly how many of those people gained new insurance on January 1; some of them may not have paid their first premium yet, and ongoing technical problems with the state marketplaces may delay some people’s coverage from kicking in immediately.

Regardless of the official enrollment numbers, however, New Years Eve marked an important milestone for the health insurance industry. “It’s the last day a cancer patient can be told by their insurance company that cancer treatments aren’t covered and it’s the last day people can face limits on their coverage in the future,” White House adviser Phil Schiliro told MSNBC on Tuesday. “That’s just enormous.”

And some of people who woke up to new health insurance options on Wednesday aren’t wasting any time using their new plans.

At long last we will have truly positive examples with which to begin to counter four years of Republican lies.

From NY Times: Bill de Blasio, whose fiery populism propelled his rise from obscure neighborhood official to the 109th mayor of New York, was sworn into office on Wednesday, pledging that his ambition for a more humane and equal metropolis would remain undimmed.

In his inaugural address, Mayor de Blasio described social inequality as a “quiet crisis” on a par with the other urban cataclysms of the city’s last half-century, from fiscal collapse to crime waves to terrorist attacks, and said income disparity was a struggle no less urgent to confront.

“We are called to put an end to economic and social inequalities that threaten to unravel the city we love,” he said to about 5,000 people at the ceremony, many beneath blankets on a numbingly cold day.

I wish de Blasio every success, and think he is the best thing to happen to NYC in a generation or more!

From US News: For the 1.3 million Americans who lost long-term unemployment benefits in December, there may be hope.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told The Associated Press he will bring legislation to extend long-term jobless benefits to the floor on Monday, the first day the Senate returns to work in the new year. The inaugural vote may signal the Democrats’ 2014 election strategy: to reduce economic disparity between the wealthy and poor.

This is a positive development, because it gives Republicans the choice of supporting it or exposing themselves in an election year. If it passes the Senate, it can then be used to put House Republicans on display.

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Dec 262013
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, early on Christmas morning, because there will be no time later in the day, if I don’t get it done now. No matter what your faith, I hope your Christmas has been everything you hoped it would be.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:42 (average 5:33).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Bill Moyers: BillMoyers.com’s Most Popular Segments of 2013

Click through for an incredibly good collection of video clips.

From Crooks and Liars: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) spent the Senate’s last day in session in 2013 in the hospital due to what doctors diagnosed as exhaustion.

Reid is a hard worker, but how ironic is it that he was fatigued by presiding over half of what has been the least productive year of Congress in history?

In the first of its two years the 113th Congress passed fewer than 60 bills, far less than the 395 passed by what President Harry Truman called the “Do Nothing Congress” of 1947.

It’s less than the 90 bills passed in 2011, when a Republican takeover of the House [Faux Noise delinked] left a divided Congress that set the previous mark for dysfunction.

Poor Harry! Having to swing those ObamaBalls is really hard! ;-)

From Raw Story: It was a big year for bigots of all stripes, but particularly for anti-LGBT bigots. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down 1996′s federal anti-LGBT statute — the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — and declare California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional inspired America’s anti-LGBT jerkwads to a whole new level of hateful excellence.

This year, they proclaimed that “traditional marriage” is in danger and that the LGBT shock troops are going to force everyone to get same sex married. They declared that Christians are going to be rounded up and put into camps (if only!) and that the future will be nothing more than a fabulous Gucci jackboot stamping on a human face…forever.

Here are Raw Story’s nominees for the Top Five anti-LGBT assholes of the year, as well as some mitigating factors about each one and our proposed punishments for each offender.

Click through for a thoroughly disgusting collection of Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christian hate mongers.

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Dec 192013
 

Yesterday I went back to bed after my appointment and stayed there, so pickings are slim,  Going forward will depend on how I feel later today.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:47 (average 4:47).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Take:

From Daily Kos: In the approximately two minutes that Elizabeth Warren spoke on All In With Chris Hayes, she articulated the Democratic message. She articulated the message that every Democrat running for office must turn into muscle memory, reactive memory. She has the proper narrative.

I could not embed the included video, but I found the same one on YouTube.

Dang!! I wish Obama’s ObamaBalls were as big as Lizzie’s ObamaBalls!!

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More absurd, Bush wasn’t.

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