Dec 312014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 56, and it’s the last Open Thread of 2014.  It’s also cold enough in Portland to freeze the kitty dingles off a brass TomCat!

Jig Zoned Puzzle:

Today‘s took me 5:32 (average 6:28).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Move-on: As we head into 2015, it’s important to remember how quickly change that once seemed radical becomes inevitable when enough people make a ruckus!

Please watch Robert Reich’s uplifting summary of 2014, and then share it as a New Year’s greeting with family and friends:

 

If you have friends who didn’t vote, tie them in a chair, tape their eyes open, and show them why the Reich on the left, Robert Reich, is right!  The Reich on the right, The Republican Reich is wrong!

From The New Yorker: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said on Tuesday that he would introduce a new bill requiring clearer labelling of white supremacists.

The White Supremacist Labelling Act of 2015 would require white supremacists to wear 4-inch-by-6-inch name tags clearly designating them as members of an official hate group.

“Right now, it’s impossible to tell the difference between neo-Nazis and collectors of WWII memorabilia,” Scalise said.

The Louisiana congressman said that proper labelling for white supremacists should make it easier for lawmakers to know what kind of organizations they are addressing in the future.

Right on Andy, but shouldn’t he think the sheets and hoods might have been considered a hint?

From NY Times: It was one of Capitol Hill’s most salacious scandals, featuring a senator’s affair with a campaign aide, an outraged husband, tens of thousands of dollars in hush money, illicit lobbying deals with Las Vegas power brokers and a dramatic intervention by a leading Christian ministry.

Now, three years after the fall of former Senator John E. Ensign of Nevada, thousands of pages of previously undisclosed documents reveal new details about the evidence the F.B.I. gathered against Mr. Ensign, who briefly flirted with running for president in 2012. The documents, which show that Mr. Ensign’s behavior was more brash than known at the time, also offer new specifics about the intense debate within the Justice Department over the decision to not prosecute Mr. Ensign, despite an aggressive F.B.I. investigation into the scandal.

Although the broad outlines of the case against Mr. Ensign have been made public, the documents disclose for the first time how much Mr. Ensign strong-armed political donors and business associates in 2008 to find lobbying work for Douglas Hampton, a top aide and close friend. Mr. Ensign was seeking the work in an attempt to placate Mr. Hampton because Mr. Ensign had an affair with Mr. Hampton’s wife, Cynthia Hampton, a campaign aide.

If you remember, The Republican Senators and Reps living at and involved with C-Street, part of The Fellowship, were helping Ensign try to cover up this scandal at the same time they were drafting legislation to impose the death penalty in Uganda for being gay. Fortunately that failed, because it was intended to be a test bed to work out the kinks, before employing it here.  Fortunately they had to back off it, because we on the left exposed what they were doing.

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1231Cartoon

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Dec 282014
 

More often than not, when IU share an article involving religion, it’s about Republican Supply side pseudo-Christians demonstrating through their intolerance, hatred and greed, the exact opposite of authentic faith.  A friend emailed me an article citing positive examples of faith, so I’m passing it on.

It has been a difficult year around the world with wars, conflicts and disease afflicting far too many people. Religion has too often played an unhelpful or even harmful role.

However, throughout the year there have been people of all different religions standing up for what is right, increasing understanding and peace between peoples, helping to serve humanity, and offeingr a prophetic witness for justice.

Here are 14 religious moments during 2014 that give us inspiration and hope for 2015.

1228CLERGYClergy took a major stand for racial equality.

As soon as protests broke out in Ferguson over the shooting of Michael Brown, clergy were on their feet and in the street with messages of equality, justice and nonviolent action. Pastor Renita Lamkin took a rubber bullet for the cause. Others sacrificed sleep and countless hours, opening the doors of their worship houses. When protests erupted in New York for Eric Garner’s death, clergy continued working tirelessly for racial equality, providing the moral backbone of a movement that will continue growing as we move into 2015…

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

Hat-Tip: Pat A.

How refreshing, and I’ve shared only one example.  Click through for the other thirteen.

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Dec 172014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 42.    I’m still mostly down and feeling pretty lethargic, so this my only article.  Tomorrow was supposed to be a prison volunteer day, but because it’s social meeting rather than work, and since I need my groceries delivered tomorrow, I had to opt out.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:28 (average 5:10).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Fantasy Football Report:

Here’s the playoff picture from our own fantasy football league, Lefty Blog Friends.

15Playoffs

It’s not at all unusual for leading teams to lose in the first round, but for those nwho did, there are still consolation games to play.

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: 32 members of the Democratic caucus and 24 Republicans supported it. 22 members of the Democratic caucus and 18 Republicans opposed it.

So who were the naughty 32?

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Mark Begich (D-AK)
Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Tom Carper (D-DE)
Bob Casey (D-PA)
Chris Coons (D-DE)
Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Kay Hagan (D-NC)
Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
Tim Johnson (D-SD)
Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Angus King (I-ME)
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Pat Leahy (D-VT)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Mark Pryor (D-AR)
Harry Reid (D-NV)
Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Mark Udall (D-CO)
Tom Udall (D-NM)
John Walsh (D-MT)
Mark Warner (D-VA)

he rationale of some was, once it passed the House with Obama’s support, Senate Democrats would take the blame for a subsequent shutdown. That is true.  You asked for the list.

From NY Times: The Senate on Monday confirmed President Obama’s nominee for surgeon general, ending a long fight over gun control and politics that had left the country without a permanent top doctor for a year and a half.

In an early-evening vote, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, an internal medicine physician, was approved, 51- to 43.

The confirmation was one of the last acts of business for the Democratic-controlled Senate. Had it not moved, the nomination would have died, making it unlikely the president would have been able to get anyone approved to the post for the remainder of his time in the White House.

We Actually have Ted "Go Back Home" Cruz to thank for this. His idiotic move to hold up the horrible budget deal, while he preened for the cameras, is what kept the Senate open over the weekend, providing time for this and other confirmations.

From Common Dreams: Promising to put forth and lobby on behalf of two bold progressive policy ideas in the months ahead, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has announced his intention to push for new pieces of legislation in the next session, one of which would break up the nation’s largest Wall Street banks and another that would expand the Social Security program for all Americans.

I fully support both of Bernie’s ideas, but the chances of it passing the Senate, let alone even getting a vote in the House, bring snowballs and perdition to mind.

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Nov 202014
 

I imagine that I am not the only one that has been suffering from post election malaise, that soreness between the nether cheeks that comes when assaulted from the rear with a saguaro cactus, or when Democrats form a circular firing squad in an election year.  For such a malady, Dr. TomCat prescribes a dose of Liz!

1120Liz

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) went straight after Republicans, blasting the GOP on deregulation and trickle down economics during a Center for American Progress event on Wednesday.

"The Republicans have a pretty simple philosophy: they say if those at the top have more — more power for Wall Street players to do whatever they want and more money for tax cuts than somehow they can be counted on to build the economy for everyone else," Warren said. "Well, we tried it for 30 years and it didn’t work. In fact the consequences were nearly catastrophic."

Warren did allude to the 2014 elections where Republicans replaced Democrats not only in key Senate races but governors mansions and statehouses, but she stressed that didn’t mean Republican calls for deregulation should be taken seriously now.

Warren also reused her regularly repeated line that the American economy is "rigged" in favor of the wealthy.

"We tested the Republican ideas and they failed, they failed spectacularly. There’s no denying that fact," Warren said. "We know the importance of accountability on Wall Street —the benefits of having a better educated work force. The advantages that come from investments of high speed rail and medical research."… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <TPM>

I tried to find video of her appearance, but I could not.  I did, however fonf the following montage of her best moments.

So, if you suffer from post election malice, you need to remember what an authentic progressive acts like.  Take one Liz and call me in the morning.

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Nov 102014
 

As I have mentioned earlier, Oregon was the exception to the national disaster, and with good reason.  We did what the rest of the country did not.  We have a solid progressive government here, because we earned it.  This is what we won.

1110Hood

Oregon has mail-in voting, no serious efforts at voter disenfranchisement, and an engaged populace. Here’s the big one:

Out of the 2.2 million registered voters in Oregon, 69.5 percent, or 1,519,804, returned ballots.

Which is actually a point and a half down from the 2010 midterm.

And the result?

  • Despite a huge Koch cash dump, liberal Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley re-elected in a landslide.
  • Despite a relentless smear campaign by the state’s largest (but shrinking) newspaper, Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber re-elected to an unprecedented fourth term.
  • The Democrats’ state House majority expanded.
  • The Democrats’ state Senate majority expanded by the critical seat that will neutralize a conservadem who had been gumming up the works, with a second possible pickup still too close to call.
  • Marijuana easily legalized.
  • An equal rights amendment resoundingly passed.
  • Top two primaries resoundingly rejected.

A couple of other good ballot measures failed, but overall this was a wide and deep sweep for Oregon Democrats, who continue to hold all statewide offices, and four of five Congressional seats

Inserted from <Daily Kos>

Our vote by mail system makes a big difference, but we wouldn’t have it, if progressives didn’t earn it.  You can be sure that big money pulled out all the stops to keep us from getting it.  Oregonians are politically involved.  Neighbors talk to neighbors.  This year I helped five people fill out their ballots.  I resisted the urge to proselytize a Republican.  Two of the five did ask my opinion on candidates and issues and followed my advice.  Like any other state, Bubba Bagger lives here too, but we make him sit in the back of the bus, and we never let him drive.  Most important, we not ashamed of being liberals and progressives.  We talked about the issues that matter.  In spite of our disappointment that our President has failed to follow through on his promises far too often, we have not thrown him under the bus.

And don’t tell me Oregon has always been liberal.  We weree the very last state in the nation to give up Jim Crow laws.

So once again, Oregon leads the way.  If you want your state to perform like ours, do what we did.  For starters, replace the Republican dog catcher with a Democrat.  Work up from there.

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Nov 092014
 

As election day approached, I felt a growing sense of unease.  I caught my self thinking about race after race that the Democratic candidates was running their campaigns all wrong.  It became clear that they were apologizing for being Democrats.   The could not have adopted a more self-defeating strategy.

1109DemsShootFootWe don’t have all the data in yet to know exactly why the Dems were demolished well beyond even the GOP’s best hopes. But we can make some preliminary judgments. IMO, the biggest reason overall is that Democratic candidates played not to lose, went fetal, following their usual pattern, helped by Obama’s own example. The GOP played to win, went for the jugular, and the American people like candidates who go for the jugular. The Dems ran from their reeling president, ran from their own party history, and tried their best to sound like Republicans with a smiley face. The American people don’t like weak imitations. They chose the real thing.

Three key moments or decisions stick out of me. The first, seeing Joe Manchin on TV early in the day calling out Obama’s supposed anti-coal policies (which don’t exist. Natural gas is killing coal. Not the EPA) — and he’s a Democrat. First of all, Obama has governed as a conservative on all but a few social issues — which is itself another cause of this tsumani. His EPA is handcuffed by trade secrets laws and an administration afraid to upset business interests. There is no war on coal, no war on fossil fuels, no war on business. Obama, in reality, ranks as one of the most business-friendly presidents we’ve ever had. But the Republicans have quite successfully painted our weak-willed, very conservative president as a wild-eyed, dictatorial leftist, and many Dems in office echo this frame. Manchin did on election day and prior to it.

Second: Grimes in Kentucky. When are the Dems ever going to learn? It doesn’t work to run from your own party. It never works. Refusing to say you even voted for the president of your own party just tells voters you can’t be trusted and that you’re embarrassed to be in the party you’ve chosen. And they rightfully say, if you’re embarrassed about it, why run as a Dem? And why should I vote for you? Americans are going to choose even lunatics who stand by their parties over thoughtful, nice people who cower in the corner when confronted about their choices.

Third: Obama chose not to ruffle any feathers before the election and held back on his executive decisions regarding immigration. A fatal/fetal decision. Obama, time and time again, has chosen the path of attempted reconciliation with his enemies, even though there is no hope for this, ever, and it keeps kicking the Dems in the teeth. When are the Dems going to learn that in our political climate, the party that obsesses about "looking reasonable" is going to lose out to the one that goes for the jugular. People are pissed off. They don’t want Miss Manners in charge. They want Patton… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Daily Kos>

I not just a progressive.  I’m damn proud to be one!  You won’t catch me apologizing for what I think.  If I thought there were better political views for America that mine, I would have those views, not these.  Admittedly, the Democrats came into the election at a bad time with a bad map, but because of the frequency and heartlessness, with which Republicans abuse the power they do have, Democrats have never had a better opportunity to unseat them.  What they had to do is offer a clear alternative from a position of moral strength.  Instead it was Ready!  Aim!!  Fire!!!

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Oct 092014
 

1009MadWar

It’s a rare treat for me to see two of my favorite ladies share the spotlight, so I’m going to do something highly atypical for me.  I’m going to shut up and get out of the way.  Introducing Elizabeth Warren and Rachel Maddow.

 

If you cannot watch MSNBC video, here’s the same clip on YouTube.

Warren makes a great case for the Democratic Party. I found it highly relevant that Warren is the Senator most progressives use as a progressive comparison to Democrats we claim are not progressive enough. Didn’t she just make a most excellent case for us to support and vote for those very people?

What should we get out?

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