Friday, July 31, 2015
You and Me
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
The Real Thing
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Monday, July 27, 2015
Two sisters from Indianapolis
Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz are making their mark with tunes like "Devil We Know" from their eponymous first album.
The truth about Donald Trumps hair
It harbors a hideous secret beyond the imagination of moral and mortal man, as revealed by Tom Tomorrow.
That old rugged cross
Ted Cruz shits where he eats
And the Republican Senate caucus has moved to put him in the doghouse.
The Senate’s Republican leadership rhetorically took Sen. Ted Cruz to the woodshed Sunday for calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar last week on the chamber’s floor.Orrin The Mormon's statement is the Senate equivalent of "Reading the Riot Act". And, as Ted The Cuban Heel found out, he does not have any support from his colleagues in that chamber. Ted The Cuban Heel may have been reaching for his "Trump Moment" but he ended up finding his "Icarus Moment".
Cruz was unbowed, firing back soon after leaving the Senate floor and accusing Senate Republican leaders of marching in lockstep with Senate Democrats on such things as funding the Affordable Care Act, funding Planned Parenthood and refusing to tie an Iran nuclear deal to Iran’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist.
“They operate as a team, expanding Washington and undermining the liberty of the people,” the Texas Republican said of Senate Democratic and Republican leaders.
“We’ve just seen something extraordinary on the Senate floor. The American people elected a Republican majority believing that a Republican majority would be somehow different from a Democratic majority in the United States Senate. Unfortunately, the way the current Senate operates, there is one party, the Washington party.”
The admonishment of the 2016 Republican presidential candidate came as a prelude to a series of votes that advanced language to revive the Export-Import Bank, moved the chamber closer towards passing a highway funding bill, and once again rejected a measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The Senate opened the rare Sunday session in a highly unusual manner: with a warning.
“The chair reminds all senators of the following paragraph from Rule 19 of the Standing Rules of the Senate … ‘No senator in debate shall directly or indirectly by any form of words impute to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator,’” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the chamber’s president pro tempore, sternly read.
One cure fits all?
Mandatory minimum sentences suck
And John Oliver explains so well why that is.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Her godmother was Billie Holliday
Her father was jazz writer Leonard Feather and her mother Jane was a Big Band singer. It was no surprise she became a jazz singer. She should be a better known singer. "You're Outta Here" from her New York City Drag album.
This 2009 film was based on Fats Waller's stride classic "The Minor Drag." It was directed by New York animator George Griffin, produced by jazz singer/lyricist (and 2011 Grammy nominee) Lorraine Feather. The short was accepted to 37 festivals worldwide and won several awards, including Best Music Video at the South Beach International Animation Festival.
Trying to Trump the Trump.
R.I.P. George Coe
Thank you for making the best Ingmar Bergman film ever.
The GOP War on America's Infrastructure
And make no mistake, the GOP is making war on the framework of this country. You would be hard put to find an admitted enemy of our country who could plan a more effective attack. And that attack is best illustrated by the GOP offensive against the rail infrastructure in the Northeast.
These troubles have become all too common on the Northeast Corridor, the nation’s busiest rail sector, which stretches from Washington to Boston and carries about 750,000 riders each day on Amtrak and several commuter rail lines. The corridor’s ridership has doubled in the last 30 years even as its old and overloaded infrastructure of tracks, power lines, bridges and tunnels has begun to wear out. And with Amtrak and local transit agencies struggling to secure funding, many fear the disruptions will continue to worsen in the years ahead.But our elected GOP officials know exactly what the problem is, Amtrak.
These troubles have become all too common on the Northeast Corridor, the nation’s busiest rail sector, which stretches from Washington to Boston and carries about 750,000 riders each day on Amtrak and several commuter rail lines. The corridor’s ridership has doubled in the last 30 years even as its old and overloaded infrastructure of tracks, power lines, bridges and tunnels has begun to wear out. And with Amtrak and local transit agencies struggling to secure funding, many fear the disruptions will continue to worsen in the years ahead.
On Friday, Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican from Miami and chairman of a House subcommittee on transportation, said Amtrak’s operations were vital, especially in the Northeast Corridor. He said the House measure fully funded Amtrak’s safety and operational needs, although it would trim capital grants and other funding. Mr. Diaz-Balart argued that Amtrak had a “slew of internal financial issues that no level of congressional funding can fix.”So Congress cuts funding year after year, even going so far as to delay necessary safety measures, and Governors divert funding to their friends so they can build failed casinos and malls, but the fault lies with the victim of their short sighted moves. The GOP does love to blame their victims.
“Amtrak’s leadership must reflect and determine how they can better manage their current funding to avoid these types of delays in the future,” he said in a statement.
Amtrak also depends on money from states, and its relationship with Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, soured last week. On Friday, Mr. Christie accused Amtrak of “abject neglect” of its infrastructure. He said he had asked New Jersey’s attorney general to determine how the state could make sure that the nearly $100 million it pays Amtrak each year was being used properly.
A blast from the past
That rings as true today as it did then
Just after Army tells them to piss off
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Bass player and singer
Laura Love has all the important parts covered, as her rendition of "Come As You Are" shows so well.
Birds of Pray
Now that he is running for President
The Outlaw Jersey Whale, Chris Christie is all for new train tunnels under the Hudson River. In a stunning display of hypocritical chutzpah, he promises to seek "a more equitable" spending proposal.
In a radio interview that will be broadcast this weekend, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey made clear his reasoning for blocking the construction of a new tunnel and other infrastructure in 2010 that was intended to increase passenger service capacity between his state and Manhattan. He said it was a regional project that would have left New Jersey taxpayers to bear the brunt of its cost.Obviously the OJ Whale needs some promise of success to divert from the failure of his investment of tunnel funds in an Atlantic City casino, now closed and a yooge mall which has never opened. One has to admit that the scale of the fail of The Outlaw Jersey Whale is equal to his own immensity.
The governor, a Republican candidate for president, added that if he were to make it to the White House, he would push for an equitable solution.
“If I am president of the United States, I call a meeting between the president, my secretary of transportation, the governor of New York and the governor of New Jersey and say, ‘Listen, if we are all in this even Steven, if we are all going to put in an equal share, then let’s go build these tunnels under the Hudson River,’ ” Mr. Christie said in an interview with the radio talk show host Larry Kudlow, which will be broadcast on Saturday on WABC-AM.
“Then, everyone has an incentive to have the project run right, to run efficiently because everybody is on the hook,” Mr. Christie added.
The governor’s comments — and his hypothetical phrasing — has attracted the attention of his critics, who say his statements emphasize how little he has done to help improve transportation.
“This is not a hypothetical issue, this is a real issue, and he could be doing something about it,” said Martin Robins, the founding director of the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, who was the director of the tunnel project during the mid-1990s. “The question is, what has he done, what will he do in the next 18 months as the governor of New Jersey?”
We have such wonderful friends
The latest Pakistani government may not necessarily love us, but they have suffered to many bombing attacks to allow the Taliban to continue operating in their country.To deal with them, the government has brought down a level of repression unusually severe for a country that frequently gets medieval on segments of the population it doesn't like.
Mr. Muhammad was one of dozens of detainees who have died in military detention in Pakistan in the past year and a half, amid accounts of torture, starvation and extrajudicial execution from former detainees, relatives and human rights monitors. The accusations come at a time when the country’s generals, armed with extensive new legal and judicial powers, have escalated their war against the Pakistani Taliban by sweeping into their strongholds and detaining hundreds of people.Yessir! We do have such wonderful friends.
Critics warn that those gains may be coming at the cost of human rights, potentially weakening Pakistan’s fragile democracy and, ultimately, undermining its counterterrorism effort.
“People live in abject fear of speaking out about what the military is doing,” said Mustafa Qadri of Amnesty International, which received reports of more than 100 deaths in military custody in 2014.
At issue is a network of 43 secretive internment centers dotting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and the tribal belt. Little is known about the centers, formally established in 2011 and given greater powers by a tough antiterrorism law passed last year. Most are based in existing jails and military bases and operate far from public view. The total number of detainees has not been made public.
Relatives of missing people have filed 2,100 cases with the Peshawar High Court, seeking news of their fates.
In many instances, the first news comes when a body is sent home...
“The military took care to make the deaths seem to occur in the course of counterinsurgency operations, from natural causes, or as the result of personal vendettas,” said the document, first cited by The Washington Post.
What did you do to make him hate you?
Friday, July 24, 2015
A sweet as Vermont Maple Sirple
Caitlin Canty's alto as she sings her song "Southern Man" from her 2012 Golden Hour album.
Says it all
On the face of it
The death of Kindra Darnell Chapman while in police custody seems like your basic jailhouse suicide. Until you start looking at the facts of the case.
Nine days after Kindra Darnell Chapman, an 18-year-old black woman, was found dead in a police holding cell in Homewood, Alabama, the district attorney’s office released preliminary findings that the death was a suicide. Despite that development, activists and Chapman’s family continued Thursday to question the circumstances of her death.OK, bedsheet, hour and twenty minutes between cell checks, it seems to fit.
At 6:22 p.m. on July 14, Chapman was arrested in Homewood, an affluent suburb of Birmingham, for allegedly stealing a cellphone. She was charged with first-degree robbery, a felony offense, and placed in a holding cell by Homewood police officers. According to local news site AL.com, the police last saw her alive at 6:30 p.m.
According to AL.com, police said she was found unresponsive, hanging by a bedsheet in a holding cell, at 7:50 p.m. Officers took her to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
According to the press release, his office has received reports from Homewood police officers and video from the night of Chapman’s death and has interviewed someone who was in custody at the jail when she died. He said there is no evidence on any of the videos that she was injured as she was transported or booked into the jail. He said video of her in the jail cell appears to show her agitated and attempting to “damage the contents of the cell.” According to him, the video later showed her taking her own life.Nobody monitoring the video seems a bit disturbing, but this is in Alabama. But there is more.
On Tuesday, Black Lives Matter staged a protest with about a dozen people outside the jail. Local activist and group member Mercutio Southall Sr. and five other activists were arrested and briefly detained. He said the holding cell where he was detained — one of two that he saw in the jail — had two cameras trained on it and was less than 5 feet from the processing office and along a heavily trafficked hallway leading to the department’s back door.How curious is it that Alabama police would be so solicitous of a black woman that they would give her a sheet in the holding cell?
“We were never in there for three minutes without an officer passing by,” he said.
According to him, another activist in the cell, Mark Myles, was using his cellphone, and officers immediately showed up and took it away. While Southall was waiting in the holding cell, he said he could hear protesters in the processing office shouting “no justice, no peace.”
“We heard them. How could the officers not have heard [Chapman]? So how could they not hear the girl hanging herself, but we heard them? How could they not see the girl hanging herself?” he said.
According to Falls’ statement, Chapman was left alone in her cell while officers transported inmates from the jail to the Homewood Municipal Court for hearings.
Southall also questioned why — and even if — there was a sheet in her holding cell.
“The holding cell in Homewood — I am speaking from experience — it’s a cage with a metal bench. There’s no sheets. There’s no nothing.”
At least, it doesn't scare the children
Now that we have all manner of gunhumpers "protecting" our military recruitment centers, to the dismay and annoyance of the Army, it is good to see someone has come up with a solution equal to the stated problem.
Decked out in full Renaissance Faire regalia, a New York man has joined hundreds of patriots who have appointed themselves defenders of U.S. military recruitment centers, reports the Times Herald-Record.Nuisance yes, but he probably won't be considered a security threat like the gunhumpers.
Holding the flag of the Knights Templar and wearing a 10-pound steel helmet, Jeffersonville resident Joseph Frye says he wants to protect personnel at the military centers following the shooting at a Chattanooga recruitment office that claimed five lives.
“Service members should be protected,” Frye said. “They volunteered to protect us, so I’m just trying to put heat on the issue.”
Accompanied by his wife, the former Marine also brought along a bow and a quiver full of arrows, saying he doesn’t have a permit to carry a handgun.
This may come as a small relief to military officials who have asked armed civilian “guards” to stay away from the centers.
Thursday, in Lancaster, Ohio, one man guarding a recruitment center accidentally fired off a round into the asphalt of the parking lot while showing off his AR-15 assault weapon to a passerby.
We have some work to do
America's Best Christian On One Of Our Worst Charities
Betty Bowers takes on Goodwill Industries
Thursday, July 23, 2015
You knew it was going to happen
The latest exploits of the Glorious Gunhumpers of Goldangit Gulch took place in Lancaster, Ohio.
The armed civilians who have been guarding a military recruitment center here are gone, ordered off the property after one of them accidentally discharged his rifle on Thursday.Thank God the recruiters were saved from the evil asphalt. Now if only the court will accept the necessary sacrifice of a bit of bitumen.
No one was injured.
U.S. Properties Group Portfolio Four LLC, the owner of the shopping center near the River Valley Mall that includes the multi-branch military recruitment center, ordered the armed volunteers to leave just hours after the shot was fired.
Christopher A. Reed, 28, of Lancaster, was charged with discharging a firearm in the city limits, and was issued a summons to appear in Fairfield County Municipal Court on Tuesday, according to the police incident report.
Reed told police that he was holding his rifle outside the recruitment center when someone asked if he could take a look at it. Reed agreed, and while he was trying to clear the ammunition from the weapon, he accidentally fired one shot into the asphalt pavement.
Canada's Best Kept Secret
The Lady In the Little Red Boots, Lindi Ortega, now lives in Nashville and has a new album coming out. "Ashes" is one of the tunes on Faded Gloryville.
An exceptional dichotomy
The Army is replacing the Humvee
The seldom loved Humvee is being replaced by something the military has been working on for the last 10 years, which should give everyone pause.
After a storied career that spanned the 1989 invasion of Panama, the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Bosnia, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States’ fleet of Humvees is entering its twilight, and they are being sold to the highest bidder by the dozen. The vehicle is an icon of the U.S. military that replaced the Jeep and spawned a gas-guzzling commercial cousin that symbolized American ego and extravagance.No doubt Lockheed is drooling at the thought of milking this contract like they have done with the F-35 Flying Brick. An overpriced, undercapable piece of junk ordered in large quantities is what they do best.
But now the Army wants a tougher, yet nimble vehicle, light enough so that a helicopter could fly it around, but resilient enough to withstand bomb blasts.
In one of the most important — and lucrative — contracts awarded by the Army in years, three major defense firms are competing for the $30 billion prize to build 55,000 vehicles, called the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, which would debut as one of the military’s most high-profile vehicles in a generation.
Wars are often measured by the box-score statistics: battles won and lost, us-vs.-them casualties, cities sacked, shorelines held. But they are also defined by their arsenals — just as the rumble of a Sherman tank was the soundtrack of World War II, so, too, was the riff of Huey chopper blades in Vietnam.
And now comes a new entrant to the symphonic cacophony of the Next War — the mad-scientist mating of a Jeep with a tank. After a decade in development, the Pentagon is about to unveil the JLTV, designed for front-line combat as well as ferrying supplies behind the wire...
It is supposed to be as mobile as an unarmored Humvee, an able off-roader but also powerful enough to withstand the same blasts as the MRAP — all while hauling plenty of cargo.
The bidding has attracted three defense giants for the contract, which is expected to be awarded this summer: AM General, which built the Humvee; Oshkosh, which built the MRAP; and Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor.
Though known primarily for its aerospace business — Lockheed makes the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — the Bethesda, Md.-based company was drawn to the competition because it “was viewed as a particularly challenging engineering proposition,” said Scott Greene, vice president of the ground vehicles division. The goal, he said, is to “bring the properties of the different vehicles and combine those attributes into a much smaller package.”
Texas racist fuckheads try another story
This time, according to the family attorney, the Waller County District Attorney informed the family that toxicology test showed that Sandra Bland had either ingested or smoked a large quantity of marijuana while in jail.
Sandra Bland, the black woman found hanging dead in a Texas jail days after a traffic stop, smoked or possibly swallowed a large amount of marijuana while in custody, according to her family's attorney.Hell of a jail they got there in Waller County. A prisoner can get totally baked while in custody and still get it together enough to hang herself. Or perhaps more to the point, if Sandra Bland was well buzzed she would offer less resistance when they went to hang her.
Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis made the disclosure in a text message to attorney Cannon Lambert, who has called the state's autopsy on the Chicago-area woman defective, Lambert said.
"Looking at the autopsy results and toxicology, it appears she swallowed a large quantity of marijuana or smoked it in the jail," Mathis said in a text message to Lambert that the attorney disclosed to Reuters.
Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the text. Repeated calls to Mathis' office were not returned.
"This will of course be very relevant in any future criminal or civil litigation," the text message from Mathis to Lambert said.
That defining moment in life
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
The video's a little moody and dark
The Ruth Moody Band doing a Canadian version of The Boss's "Dancing In The Dark"
Know where the bad guys are
A bad week for the Arts
$15 minimum wage bill introduced in Congress
And those introducing it include the "usual suspects", Bernie, Keith and Raul, among others. This has become a popular item across the United States and its time should be here.
Liberal members of Congress in both the House and the Senate will introduce legislation Wednesday that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, an in an effort to boost labor movement organizing around this issue and push the Democratic Party to the left on wage inequality.Ideally a vote would put on the record exactly where members stand on the issue. For that reason it is probably impossible for this bill to ever get a vote in the Republican controlled Congress. The only possibility would be a bill loaded with poisonous amendment to make Dems vote against it, a real possibility with Mitch and Weepy.
Both versions of the bill will be co-sponsored by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the legislative branch’s liberal vanguard. The Senate bill will be sponsored by presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and the caucus’s only member in the chamber, while Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., are among the sponsors of the House bill.
The $15 wage bill is the most ambitious Congressional proposal yet for a wage increase, and it would more than double the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. President Barack Obama called for an increase to $9 in his 2013 State of the Union Address, a figure he later bumped up to $10.10.
A bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour has languished in the House for years. The odds are not in favor of legislation calling for an even bigger increase, but the $15 wage proposal gives progressive organizations and their allies in Congress a totem around which to rally. The bill is a direct challenge to other Democratic officials who have yet to support a significant wage increase — particularly Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner in the party’s 2016 presidential primary.
Grijalva announced the new legislation during an appearance at Netroots Nation, an annual liberal conference held last weekend in Phoenix. Ellison was also there; when asked about the Progressive Caucus' role in the coming election cycle, he said he felt it was his job to clarify what economic populism looks like, so that public figures would be forced to accept or reject it on its own terms.
And they are not the only ones
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Some Coney Island Soul
From Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds on their latest album The Weather Below.
As he drops in the polls
As expected there is another PP video
And the misnamed Center for Medical Progress has released it, heavily edited, as usual, to try to prove their point. They even released a longer version they insist is unedited.
An antiabortion group on Tuesday released a second video apparently showing an official at Planned Parenthood discussing the method and price of providing fetal tissue left over from abortions for medical research.With the extra two weeks, Republicans in Congress are expected to be more coordinated in their attacks on Planned Parenthood based on the the videos lies and distortions that they love so much.
The edited video from the Center for Medical Progress claims to show excerpts of a conversation with Mary Gatter, medical director of Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, in what appears to be a booth at a restaurant. The woman can be seen talking with unseen activists posing as medical company representatives about the price of the tissue, while also stating that “we’re not in this for the money.”
“At this time, Planned Parenthood cannot confirm the authenticity of this tape, and nobody can tell exactly what was discussed because of the extremely heavy editing, the agenda of the activists who produced it, and the fact that the original footage has not been made available,” Eric Ferrero, VP of Communications for Planned Parenthood of America, said in an emailed statement.
“At this time, Planned Parenthood cannot confirm the authenticity of this tape, and nobody can tell exactly what was discussed because of the extremely heavy editing, the agenda of the activists who produced it, and the fact that the original footage has not been made available,” Eric Ferrero, VP of Communications for Planned Parenthood of America, said in an emailed statement
America is such a great country
That the addition of 3 Million more children into poverty since the beginning of the Bush Depression is just something we don't see. The problem, exacerbated by reduced social safety nets, private and public will not go away so long as Republicans have any presence in our politics.
Around 3 million more children in the U.S. are living in poverty than at the beginning of the Great Recession — a worrying statistic that mutes much of the fanfare of the nation's economic turnaround, according to a report released Tuesday on child welfare.What the kids really need is to be smart enough to be born to the right parents. That solves everything.
Twenty-two percent of U.S. children were living in poverty in 2013 compared with 18 percent in 2008, according to the Kids Count Data Book, an annual report that ranks states by the well-being of their children. It equates to an increase of 2.9 million children, according to census data from those years.
Poverty rates have nearly doubled among African-Americans and American Indians since 2008, and hardship is most severe in the South and Southwest, the report found.
The report, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, defines children in poverty as those under the age of 18, living in families with annual incomes below $23,624. In all, some 16,087,000 children are deemed to be living in poverty in America.
The problems facing children in the U.S. extend beyond — and in some cases drive — increasing poverty rates. More children were raised in single-parent homes in 2013 than in 2008, and fewer lived with parents with secure employment, according to the report. Children living in single parent households are 23 percent less likely to be raised by a parent with a degree beyond high school, the study showed.
Foundation President Patrick McCarthy said that particularly troubling is an increase in the share of kids living in poor communities, regardless of their own families' economic standing. The report says 1 in 7 children live in those areas, marked by poor schools and a lack of a safe place to play.
"They're more likely to fall down the economic ladder, less likely to be employed and more likely to get in trouble," McCarthy said.
McCarthy likened child poverty to a “particularly pernicious form of cancer,” and he prescribed a cocktail of economic policies and fixes to tackle it.
Tax credits and additional support such as food stamps could give low-income families a much-needed boost, and job training could provide help for those struggling to get an economic foothold, according to the report. Businesses, the report added, should implement more family-friendly policies, and a massive infrastructure repair campaign could create countless jobs.
“None of them is a magic bullet. When you put them all together, you start to put the children on a path to success,” McCarthy said.
Squeeze one more in the clown car
Perhaps hoping that voters will mistake him for a serious political candidate, John Kasich has thrown his baggage into the rig and will join the other unelectable conservatives in the clown car.
John Kasich enters the race for the Republican presidential nomination with what should be a dream resume. Popular governor of a critical swing state. State and federal budget balancer. National security expertise. Friend to Democrats. Regular-guy appeal.While he is not a stark raving lunatic like so many of the other clowns, he is most definitely a mean as a snake Son Of A Bitch Republican like all the others.
And yet the governor of Ohio started his bid Tuesday so far behind that he could end up not qualifying for the first candidate debate – which will be held in his home state Aug. 6.
Kasich, 63, becomes the 16th well-known Republican to formally enter the race. He has to catch up with rivals who already have set up slick organizations in key states and raised tens of millions of dollars.
Before a cheering crowd at Ohio State University, his alma mater, Kasich vowed to fight for the middle class, citing its disillusionment with the American dream. He cited the struggles of African-Americans and of middle-aged workers facing sudden layoffs. He’s felt the pain, he said.
He’s lived through recessions and seen terrorist attacks, and “I have become stronger for them and America has become stronger for them,” Kasich said in his trademark conversation tone. America will succeed, he said, “by staying together with our eyes on the horizon.”
Kasich insists he’s unfazed by the uphill challenge.
He’s had a string of political triumphs, notably two elections as governor of one of the nation’s most prized battleground states, the last time in a landslide. Kasich plans to stress that record.
His homies know him best
Monday, July 20, 2015
A classic blues performance
Janis Joplin singing "Ball And Chain" at Monterrey.
Just the way they would react
So close to real life it is hard for Tom Tomorrow to insert any snark at all.
Sure they have a plan, same one as before
US welcomed back to community of nations
After 50 years of pig headed stupidity the US and Cuba have reopened full embassies in the other's country. Naturally this does not sit well with the hardline Old Guard Cubans and their Republican running dogs, but really who gives a shit what they think.
After more than a half-century defined by mistrust and rancor, the United States officially reopened its six-story embassy in the Cuban capital on Monday, the culmination of many months of negotiations to overcome decades of historical enmity and to restore diplomatic relations between the two nations.OK that's over with now if there was an easy way to keep the Republicans from whining about it.
More than two years of effort went into restoring relations between Cuba and the United States, both public and private, yet most observers say they believe it will be many more years before mutual wariness fades.
A litany of questions have yet to be answered, including: Will the American trade embargo that has crippled Cuba’s economy be lifted, and if so, when? Will the Cuban government improve its human rights record and incorporate outsiders into the political spectrum? How much, and how fast, will the lives of ordinary Cubans, who earn $20 a month on average, improve?
But for now, the reopening of the embassy on the Malecón waterfront in Havana, previously used as an interests section, a limited diplomatic outpost, stands as the most concrete symbol yet of the thaw set in motion last year when President Obama ordered the full restoration of diplomatic ties between the countries.
If Cubans are expecting bells and canapés to celebrate the nuptials, they will be sorely disappointed. The official celebration to inaugurate the American Embassy will not take place until later in the summer, when Secretary of State John Kerry plans to visit, to formally raise the flag and install the new signage.
In Washington, however, shouts of “Viva Cuba” rang out on Monday as Cuba’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez, raised his country’s flag outside the newly reopened Cuban embassy.
In Havana, a line had already formed at 6 a.m. along the side of the American Embassy, a large building. Families clutched sheaths of paper as they awaited interviews and appointments with officials now operating under the auspices of an embassy.
Beyond the edge of the tidy line, hundreds more gathered in a small park awaiting their turn, and dozens more formed a separate line beyond that. For the first time in decades, American Embassy personnel were managing the order of entrants, taking names, calling names, answering questions.
Those waiting were a medley of people. Many had relatives in America they planned to visit or live with. Almost all had made appointments months — some said years — earlier to facilitate their visas, and, they said, just happened to arrive on the building’s first day as an official embassy.
John Oliver on Food Waste
John Oliver tackles the amazing and disturbing amount of food waste in the US. Along the way he smacks DumbOld Trump good.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Before they find "their voice"
Lots of musicians still show their talent in a more generic way. Still, you have to like The Vespers singing "Cottonfield" from their earlier album Tell Your Mama.
The fine print on the label of diplomacy
Trump refuses to apologize to McCain
And it is pure Republican campaign strategy not to do so. Think! When was the last time you heard any Republican apologize for speaking vile and disgusting spew? Just because the target was a Republican this time is irrelevent when the mouth that roars is very appealing to the base.
"No, not at all."The Republicans have been using the no apology, moving on here policy for some time now. Trump is merely taking it and running farther and faster with it.
That was reality TV star Donald Trump's response to ABC's Martha Raddatz Sunday morning when she asked him whether he owed John McCain an apology for suggesting that the Arizona Senator wasn't a war hero because he had been captured during the Vietnam War.
If you were expecting anything else from Trump, you haven't been paying much attention to his presidential campaign. Or his life. Trump's appeal in the 2016 race appears to be built on saying things and acting in ways that other politicians would never dream of doing. Trump, to his credit, appears to grasp that fact.
"I will say what I want to say, and maybe that’s why I’m leading in the polls because people are tired of hearing politicians and pollsters telling the politicians exactly what to say," Trump told Raddatz.
The fact is that apologizing after a comment judged as ill-advised (at best) by most politicians is exact opposite of the Trump brand. The sort of people who misspeak and then try to clean up their messes are the very people that Trump derides -- and that he believes the public can't stand either.
"Taking the hood" won't hurt your police career
At least not at the beginning because no one checks to see if you are a member of the KKK. Later on when you act upon that membership, you might get into trouble, but that depends on how many of your colleagues have also joined.
There is no national requirement that aspiring police officers be screened for hate group membership, a fact brought to light by a recent incident involving Florida police officers who were reportedly linked to the Ku Klux Klan, according to a confidential FBI report.An interesting situation. They can claim joining is a First Amendment right. But if they act upon the precepts of their "fraternal organization" they will break the law, if they are caught. So how do you keep the fools from putting themselves in the wrong?
On Saturday, Florida’s Fruitland Park Police Chief Terry Isaacs was given a confidential FBI report containing allegations that a deputy chief and a former police officer had links to the KKK, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The report led to the resignation of Deputy Chief David Borst and the dismissal of officer George Hunnewell. Isaacs would not confirm the report specified the group as the KKK, describing it instead as a “subversive organization” because he was unauthorized to release details.
“It's unfortunately a very widespread phenomenon across the United States,” said Michael Novick, of the Los Angeles chapter of Anti-Racist Action (ARA). “You’d think there would be laws against this stuff, but there aren’t. There’s no law against being in the KKK and being an officer — though clearly it indicates a bias.”
Hiring is a decision left to each local police department, and in Florida there is no state-mandated screening process, Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, said.
Although the KKK is considered a hate group by the U.S. government, it is not illegal to be a member of the group, and most police departments do not screen for such membership anyway, said Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which tracks hate groups.
“I’m not sure what the exact remedy is,” Beirich said. “Of course they have to be fair to all races, but this brings up First Amendment issues.”
The center counted nearly 1,000 hate groups — defined as groups that have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people — in the U.S. in 2013. Florida and California are the states with the greatest number of hate groups.
Some arms of the government, including the military, do prohibit hate group members from joining, she said.
But for police forces, there are currently no national screening standards for officers that would prevent their hiring because of membership in a hate group, Beirich said. Such a screening process would have to be mandated through city, county or state-level legislation.
Jesus working the Wisconsin market
Saturday, July 18, 2015
Once again Tom Waits sounds good
When sung by another, this time Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo doing "Day After Tomorrow"
You have to see the Big Picture.
Donors shy away from clown car
Some people don't like clowns and a large number of top Republican donors seem to be part of this group. As the occupancy of the clown car is expected to climb to 17 soon, it becomes difficult to choose one over the others, they all look alike.
Only about a fifth of the 1,000 or so fund-raisers and their spouses who rallied around Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee in 2012, have given money to any of the 2016 candidates, according to a New York Times review of fund-raising records reported by the candidates last week.Candidates can't solicit for Supreme Court PACs unless you name is JEB!. And this is a problem for the other clowns. Everybody wants to see how this will turn out.
Those who remain uncommitted — hundreds of volunteer “bundlers” who could collect contributions from their friends and business associates — represent a huge pool of untapped campaign cash, potentially hundreds of millions of dollars, that could remake the primary campaign.
Some of the bundlers and donors said they had held back, in part, because the field was the strongest they had seen in years, with several viable contenders representing the party’s different generational and ideological segments.
Unlike in 2012, when Mr. Romney dominated fund-raising even as he fought off a series of insurgencies by more populist candidates, the affections of many donors in 2016 are divided among three or four candidates. Others are quietly weighing the impact of Donald J. Trump, who has jumped to the lead in some national polls despite raising almost no money from the party’s establishment.
“I haven’t committed to anyone at this point, and I’m not on the verge of committing to anyone,” said Paul E. Singer, a hedge fund manager who is among the most sought-after Republican bundlers in the country, at an investment conference last week. “I think there are a number of candidates that are smart, solid, good potential leaders, leaders and potential leaders.”
The slow recruitment of major donors and bundlers is also a function, several donors and Republican leaders said, of the candidates’ early emphasis on raising money for “super PACs,” which tend to be funded by a much smaller pool of extremely wealthy donors.
Candidates cannot solicit the unlimited checks that fuel super PACs, and several White House aspirants delayed entering the race this year and spent the winter and spring securing commitments from mega-donors. One result: Vast amounts of money are already flowing into the Republican race, but mostly to super PACs, not candidates. Super PACs and outside groups backing individual Republican candidates have raised about $230 million, while the candidates took in just $64 million through the end of June.
Something new to whine about
Ever since the announcement of of the Iran nuclear agreement, Reublican/Teabaggers have been whining about it in every way imaginable. And some of those ways have truly stretched the imagination. And now President Obama has given them a new reason to whine.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has scheduled a vote for Monday morning on a resolution endorsing the historic nuclear deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA — and the speed with which that vote has come up, so close after the deal’s signing, is rankling some in the U.S. Congress.One of the sadder parts of American exceptionalism is the exceptional number of whiny assed titty babies that get elected to Congress. Hopefully someday the adults will return and put the WAATB back in their playpens.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power circulated a draft resolution in support of the JCPOA to the 15- council members Wednesday, including the other permanent members of the UNSC (China, Russia, France, and the U.K.)
Some U.S. lawmakers questioned the timing of a UNSC vote before the Monday date was set.
“We are deeply concerned that your administration plans to enable the United Nations Security Council to vote on the agreement before the United States Congress can do the same,” said a statement to Obama released by Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “We urge you to postpone the vote at the United Nations until after Congress considers this agreement."
U.S. lawmakers voted in May to tie any final agreement to a subsequent Congressional review, a bill that Obama reluctantly signed after it became apparent that it was unlikely to successfully conduct the agreement without a review form Congress that many legislators demanded.
Under that legislation, Congress can register its opposition to the Iran deal, which would prevent Obama from lifting a number of sanctions that are key to making the deal work.
But the chief U.S. negotiator in the Iran talks, Wendy Sherman, rejected the idea Thursday that the U.S. should delay the U.N. vote or that it undermines Congressional review.
"It would have been a little difficult when all of the [countries negotiating with Iran] wanted to go to the United Nations to get an endorsement of this, since it is a product of the United Nations process, for us to say, ‘Well, excuse me, the world, you should wait for the United States Congress.’”
Sherman added that the council resolution allows the "time and space" for U.S. Congressional review before the measure takes effect.
Want to know what scares Hilary?
Friday, July 17, 2015
Rainbow Over The Eastside
Amelia White performing on Music City Roots.
Another natural beauty in danger
It seems that up there in Montana they have a river so appealing that they run a lottery to see who can run the river. And now a mining company wants to rip apart and despoil a major part of the river's watershed to dig for copper. And, as usual they promise to make nice and not shit all over the landscape.
There is a good chance you have never heard of the Smith. The river lies far from Yellowstone’s Technicolor excesses, in north-central Montana, where the tourist maps don’t point. It gathers itself in the Castle Mountains and flows north for 120 miles between the Big and Little Belt mountains, accumulating miles and grandeur as it cuts through limestone canyons and flows over brown trout and past black bears rooting in high meadows. A few miles south of Great Falls it merges with the Missouri River.They shouldn't gamble. Even if the owners are well meaning with their promises, they are impossible to keep. It is not a question of MIGHT but WILL something go wrong and the answer is always YES. Montana needs to say NO.
The Smith is not the easiest river to float, which is one of its attractions. Between the boat launch at Camp Baker and the take-out at Eden Bridge, 59 river-miles downstream, there is no public entry or exit. You must surrender your outside life for the four or five days it takes to float down the Smith and give in to the river’s moods and its rhythms.
Yet the river is so beloved that each winter for more than two decades the state of Montana has held a lottery to decide which boaters — accompanied by beer, steaks, fly rods, more beer and good friends — will be lucky enough to float this coveted stretch of river that is Smith River State Park. The question “Did you get your application in?” marks the hope for spring in Montana the way Groundhog Day does in Punxsutawney. This year a record 8,096 people, most of them Montanans, applied for just 1,175 permits. The Smith is the only river in the state that has such limits placed upon it, because of its popularity and the limited floating season before its summer flow drops to a trickle.
There is trouble on the Smith, however. A mining company has proposed a copper mine high in the Smith’s watershed, not far from its major tributary. The mine’s backers say the project would be a good neighbor, offering tax revenue and jobs. Opponents point to the state’s devastating legacy of hard rock mining — a legacy that includes dark touchstones like areas around the mining town of Butte and the downstream Clark Fork River, both now Superfund sites.
They ask why Montanans should gamble with something so precious as the Smith.
Michael Grimm sentenced
Michael Grimm, the Staten Island shitbag who was thrown out of the FBI and Congress because honesty was not part of his DNA, has been sentenced. To 8 months in jail, probably in a Federal "country club" prison.
A federal investigation that initially focused on Mr. Grimm’s campaign fund-raising turned into a 20-count indictment related to his running of a restaurant in Manhattan, Healthalicious. Prosecutors said he underreported wages and revenue to the government and filed false tax documents as a result.It will take more than 8 months to reorient that compass.
“I was wrong, absolutely wrong, to pay them off the books,” Mr. Grimm said at the proceeding, just before he was sentenced by Judge Pamela K. Chen of Federal District Court in Brooklyn.
“All my life I have scraped and I have clawed and I have killed myself to better myself,” he said, adding that he was afraid of failure. “A Marine is taught not to fail.”
“Give me the opportunity to redeem myself.”
Prosecutors had requested a sentence of 24 to 30 months, while defense lawyers argued for no prison time. Judge Chen, who said that federal sentencing guidelines called for a term of 18 to 24 months, described the crime as “sustained fraud.”
“That this type of crime is common does not lessen its significance,” the judge said. “Your moral compass, Mr. Grimm, needs some reorientation.”
Two more coming soon
The Republican Clown Bus, now carrying 15 of the most intemperate and certifiably insane politicians this country has yet produced, should be getting two more passengers within the next month.
The Republican free-for-all is about to become a 17-candidate scrum.In an effort to help the voting public understand who might be who in this menagerie, McClatchy has put together a scorecard of the pros & cons of the various clowns, dividing them into 5 tiers based on their resemblance to a snowball in Hell. Hopefully it will help you decide whether to vote for one or have them all sent to the nearest loony bin.
Never in modern times has a major political party had so many prominent candidates vying at once for its presidential nomination. The 2016 field is all but set, as Ohio Gov. John Kasich will formally join the race Tuesday morning and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore plans an early August announcement.
So far, familiarity and intrigue with some new players have boosted a handful of candidates to the top. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is the brother and son of presidents. Real estate mogul Donald Trump is classic Internet click bait. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are younger upstarts whose success in swing states rates them close looks from insiders.
Feel the trickle down
Thursday, July 16, 2015
Originally a trio
With a cousin, the Chapin Sisters continue the family tradition of folk music that would make their Uncle Harry proud. "Let Me Go" is from their 2010 album Oh, Hear the Wind Blow.
Meets Republican qualifications
First offense, life in prison
Which might be fair if you murdered multiple people or plotted the destruction of the universe. But what if you were simple a go-between in a cocaine deal with no previous criminal record? Back in the crack cocaine happy days for drug enforcement, that coke deal would make you infinitely more evil than Dick Cheney himself.
Jones, who will turn 48 next week, is one of tens of thousands of inmates who received harsh mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses during the crack-cocaine epidemic, and whose cases are drawing new attention.Dreadful laws but not enough said about the ambitious DA's who piled on defendants who weren't in the position to fight back. DA's that went on to brag about "the dangerous drug kingpins" they sent away.
President Obama is visiting a federal prison in Oklahoma Thursday to promote his plan to overhaul the criminal justice system, saying Wednesday, “this huge spike in incarcerations is also driven by nonviolent drug offenses where the sentencing is completely out of proportion with the crime.”
Because of her role as a middle woman between a cocaine buyer and supplier, Jones was accused of being part of a “drug conspiracy” and should have known that the powder would be converted to crack — triggering a greater penalty.
Her sentence was then made even more severe with a punishment tool introduced at the height of the drug war that allowed judges in certain cases to “enhance” sentences — or make them longer.
Jones was hit with a barrage of “enhancements.”
Her license for a concealed weapon amounted to carrying a gun “in furtherance of a drug conspiracy.”
When she was convicted on one count of seven, prosecutors said her testimony in her defense had been false and therefore an “obstruction of justice.”
Although she was neither the supplier nor the buyer, prosecutors described her as a leader in a drug ring.
By the end, Jones’s sentencing had so many that the federal judge had only one punishment option. With no possibility of parole in the federal system, she was, in effect, sentenced to die in prison.
Just another $5 in the tank
And so the worthless layabouts in the Republican controlled House kicked the Highway Trust Fund problem down the road a little farther, not being able to agree on a long term solution.
With the highway fund set to hit empty on July 31, the House on Wednesday passed another modest squirt into the tank, an $8 billion, five-month transportation patch, by a vote of 312 to 119. It did so with a promise that by Dec. 18, Congress will pass — and President Obama will sign — a major overhaul of the international business tax code that will yield a windfall to fund a long-term transportation bill.The solution is obvious, and much more painless than other fancier ideas, but it would violate their sacred oaths to Notorious Anarchist Grover Norquist which is more important than any other oath they may take. And so the Republicans continue to prove they are unable to govern at the most basic level.
But that approach has one important doubter, Senator Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican and the majority leader, who thinks the prospects of such largess are about as likely as winning the lottery.
Highway funding, which once routinely had bipartisan support, has now become yet another source of division, this time within the Republican Party that controls Congress. House Republicans — bolstered, oddly enough, by the White House and a top Senate Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York — are adamant that by keeping the pressure on, the highway trust fund could be the ticket to a long-sought rewrite of the corporate tax code.
Mr. McConnell wants to be done with the highway bill before it gets pulled into the maw of presidential politics. He is trying to cobble together enough spending cuts and tax-law enforcement provisions to fashion a highway bill that will, at the very least, get the trust fund through the end of 2016.
Democrats — and some Republicans — say the answer has been staring Congress in the face for years: Raise the federal gas tax, which has become a less effective source for financing the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and other infrastructure because cars and trucks have become more fuel efficient and drivers are buying less gas.
“There’s no excuse to keep torturing people,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon who is pushing a 15-cent-per-gallon fuel tax increase. “This is a fool’s errand. We ought to step up.”
Quote of the Day
Martial law, basically. I try not to listen to all these conspiracy-theory-type people. All they’re worried about is their beer and their guns.Sindy Miller, hairdresser in Christoval, TX describing the local Jade Helm 15 conspiracy nuts.
Time to stop listening to losers
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
There is life after the B-52's
As Kate Pierson demonstrates with "Crush Me With Your Love" from her album Guitars and Microphones.
Our mullahs are bigger dicks than theirs
Today it begins
What to normal people is a simple multi state military training exercise and to the mentally ill of Texas is an attempt by the federal gubmint to takeover the state Jade Helm 15 begins today. While there are not enough beds to accommodate all the screw loose lunatics in Texas, this should be an excellent chance to identify those most in need of help.
Jade Helm 15, an eight-week military exercise that has generated paranoia for months fueled by conservative bloggers and Internet postings, begins Wednesday in Texas and six other states: Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Utah...We hope it doesn't rain in Texas because there sure are a lot of roofs missing a whole lot of shingles.
On the orders of Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas State Guard will monitor Jade Helm 15 from Camp Mabry in Austin, the state capital. So will at least one national group of unofficial monitors and protesters that calls itself Counter Jade Helm. It plans to have teams of volunteers follow Army vehicles and post their locations to its website. Army planners and local elected officials have been busy answering questions from apprehensive residents and holding briefings for the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas, the San Angelo Tea Party and county commissioners...
Much of the paranoia over Jade Helm 15 is the outgrowth of an anti-Obama sentiment that is widespread in Texas and parts of the Southwest.
“It stems from an absolute distrust with the Obama administration,” said Judge Stephen C. Floyd of Tom Green County, its top elected official. “I share a lot of their distrust of the Obama administration and their rule-making, but I have a great deal of confidence in the U.S. military.”
According to some right-wing bloggers and activists, the exercise is part of a secret plot by the Obama administration to impose martial law, confiscate firearms, invade red-state Texas or prepare for instituting “total population control.” A report on Infowars, a website operated by Alex Jones, a libertarian-leaning talk radio host from Texas, suggested Helm was an acronym for Homeland Eradication of Local Militants.
The Bitch of Berlin gets her money
And a black eye for her country as well. The German punditry is questioning her insistence on squeezing Greece dry in the recent negotiations.
Merkel and her hardline finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, drove a tough bargain at recent marathon negotiations, in line with Berlin's stated goal of defending the cause of fiscal rectitude.So far they haven't grasped that opportunity.
But German commentators of all political stripes said they feared that Berlin's "bad cop" stance in Brussels had brought back "ugly German" stereotypes of rigid, brutal rule-enforcers.
"The German government destroyed seven decades of post-war diplomacy on a single weekend," news website Spiegel Online said.
"There is a fine line between saving and punishing Greece. This night the line has disappeared," tweeted Mathias Mueller von Blumencron of the conservative standard-bearer Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as the details of the German-brokered austerity-for-aid deal emerged Sunday.
"Merkel managed to revive the image of the ugly, hard-hearted and stingy German that had just begun to fade," the center-left daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote. "Every cent of aid to Greece that the Germans tried to save will have to be spent two and three times over in the coming years to polish that image again."...
Spiegel called the package that was finally hammered out a "catalogue of cruelties" that read like a "plan to humiliate Greece."
During the negotiations, two German comedians captured the mood, creating an Internet sensation with a viciously satirical video called "Our precious German euros.”
The pair mimic loud-mouthed wealthy Germans having a phone conversation in which they simply quote headlines from the powerful pro-Grexit daily Bild.
"I think we Germans should be asked if we want to keep paying!" shouts one. "Sell your islands, you broke Greeks... and the Acropolis too!" screams the other.
The sketch, which has already been viewed more than one million times on YouTube, ends with the tagline: "This summer, we Germans have a historic opportunity — not to behave like assholes for once."
Bernie for Peace
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
A song inspired by Wendy Davis
Jess Klein was inspired to write this by Wendy's filibuster. "If There's A God" is on her album Learning Faith.
Post dropout degrees
We have a deal with Iran
One that will satisfy those who fear nuclear power in Iran while ignoring the nuclear armed rogue state of Israel. In return Iran will see a lifting of sanctions that hurt people but did not do much else. And Iran will not build the bomb that they have repeatedly stated they would not build.
A review of the 109-page text of the agreement, which includes five annexes, showed that the United States preserved – and in some cases extended – the nuclear restrictions it sketched out with Iran in early April in Lausanne, Switzerland.And all the major Republicans, after counting their BibiCash and AdelsonBucks, immediately howled their anguished denunciations of a deal that will prevent the war Bibi want us to start with Iran.
Yet, it left open areas that are sure to raise fierce objections in Congress. It preserves Iran’s ability to produce as much nuclear fuel as it wishes after year 15 of the agreement, and allows it to conduct research on advanced centrifuges after the eighth year. Moreover, the Iranians won the eventual lifting of an embargo on the import and export of conventional arms and ballistic missiles – a step the departing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, warned about just last week.
American officials said the core of the agreement, secured in 18 consecutive days of talks here, lies in the restrictions on the amount of nuclear fuel that Iran can keep for the next 15 years. The current stockpile of low enriched uranium will be reduced by 98 percent, most likely by shipping much of it to Russia. That limit, combined with a two-thirds reduction in the number of its centrifuges, would extend to a year the amount of time it would take Iran to make enough material for a single bomb should it abandon the accord and race for a weapon — what officials call “breakout time.” By comparison, analysts say Iran now has a breakout time of two to three months.
Thought for the day
Zut Alors! et Merde Mon Dieu
I almost forgot the national holiday of the Motherland. Happy Bastille Day to La Belle France.
Monday, July 13, 2015
If you judge by the number of awards
Her website makes her look like the pride of San Diego. Now if she can get out of SoCal and let the rest of the country hear her singing tunes like "Heart Shaped Tattoo" she might need more space for her awards.
The Hell You Say!
Today the ever intrepid Tom Tomorrow shows us that one man's Hell can really be Hall.
Hey! Better odds than the lottery
When you sell the family jewels
You usually end up with less than you thought they were worth and no more jewels. Such is the state of municipalities who, when strapped for cash, sell off municipal assets hoping for a big score to get them back on their feet again. And the result is all too often the residents that were supposed to be helped end up being screwed for profit. Take the example of Coatesville, PA.
But it wasn’t supposed to be that way, said Carmen Green, a Coatesville councilwoman who served her first term in the late 1990s when the city was soliciting offers from companies for its water system. At that time, Coatesville was experiencing a decreasing tax base resulting from high unemployment and poverty, and officials hoped the sale would generate substantial revenue.There's big money in those utilities if you have your friends in the right places.
The winning offer came from PAWC, a subsidiary of American Water, the largest investor-traded water company in America. PAWC offered Coatesville $38 million up front in exchange for the city’s water and wastewater assets, which were then owned by the City of Coatesville Authority. At first, Green said she opposed the sale.
“I was just very fearful of the water rates [increasing] and what that would do,” she said. “But as time went on and we began to explore the options, some of it made a lot of sense to me.”
As part of the deal, PAWC promised to modernize water and sewer infrastructure. Officials also hoped to invest money from the sale in a trust fund that would generate enough interest to support roughly 20 percent of the city’s annual expenses and limit tax increases. In the end, Green came around to the deal — but she says she had no inkling how much it would eventually cost Coatesville’s poor.
“We had no idea they would be seeking such a high rate increase. There’s no way that we knew that’s what their intentions were.”...
The supposedly untouchable Coatesville trust fund dwindled over the decade following the water deal with PAWC, as city officials pulled out money for what they saw as emergency needs. The first withdrawal came after a protracted legal fight between the city and the owner of a plot of land that officials wanted to seize for a new municipally owned golf course, which they believed would bring in revenue from out-of-town golfers. But the eminent-domain battle made current officials unpopular, and many were voted out of office by 2005. Carmen Green, who stepped down from the City Council in 2004, chalked up the expensive fight to bad timing and bad press...
By February 2010, after an epidemic of mysterious arsons in Coatesville left many homeless and resulted in millions of dollars in property damage, the City Council fired its city manager and named Wayne “Ted” Reed to the post. Reed had served as the executive director of the city’s water authority at the time of its sale to PAWC and then worked for the corporation as a business-development manager and manager of Coatesville customer accounts until he was selected to be city manager. Two months after Reed’s appointment, PAWC petitioned for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to allow a 229 percent rate increase in wastewater bills for the eight townships served by Coatesville’s Regional Wastewater Plant, owned by PAWC.
Reed says the City Council was not concerned about his ties to the company and, in fact, selected him because its members hoped his connections could help Coatesville negotiate lower rates. After fielding complaints from parties concerned about high increases, the utility commission approved a 216 percent increase in wastewater rates for Coatesville residents, to be phased in over four years. Households in smaller townships served by the plant saw hikes of 197 percent, because they are charged as bulk customers rather than as individuals, as in Coatesville.
Evil Koch Owned Homunculus Scott Walker In The Clown Car
As he so often threatened, now The Evil Koch Owned Homunculus Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker is now officially in the race for the bottom of the Republican primaries. And like that other famous failed Governor from Kansas he has a record of failure in his state that he will try to put enough lipstick on to sell it to the rubes. Some of the worst shit he is prod of include:
Leads all-out war on workers, but fails to generate jobs and higher wages: In recent months, Walker has intensified the assault on workers, the poor and most vulnerable with punitive new laws and provisions of his new two-year $73 billion state budget. Since taking office, Walker has been staging this relentless war on worker rights and wages, despite already-declining household incomes—especially sharp in Wisconsin-- and the shrinkage of union power.Poverty and ignorance are the ultimate goal for workers in his new world. And this just scratches the surface of what he has been ordered to impose on us by his oligarch owners.
• Walker’s attacks on union rights build upon his 2011 “Act 10” which simultaneously abolished almost all collective bargaining rights of public employees to union representation and drove down the take-home pay of public employees by over 10%. These attacks on public employees clearly carried a sub-text of white antagonism toward African-Americans and Latinos, argue professors Hannah Walker and Dylan Bennett because of minority workers’ concentration in the public sector and the economic anxieties of whites.
• This spring, Walker’s signed a new anti-union “right-to-work” bill—contradicting previous promise to labor leaders and the public—that will surely further weaken the already-limited bargaining power of private-sector unions. The aim of this bill, with deeply racist roots, is to drive union membership in Wisconsin to Southern-style microscopic levels.
• Walker’s new state budget severely weakens “prevailing wage” protections for construction workers on public projects, outright elimination of the living wage concept which had been central to setting the state’s minimum wage, and the erosion of tenure and layoff protections for UW faculty.
• Walker’s anti-worker attacks and lavish corporate subsidies handed out by his newly-privatized and scandal-wracked Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation have failed to produce the family-sustaining jobs long promised by Walker. WEDC has been involved in providing funds for major firms shipping family-supporting jobs to offshore sites, along with aiding major Walker donors.
• He also has attacked the ‘living wage’ concept in state law. The new budget eliminates entirely a requirement that the governor consider what constitutes a “living wage” in working to establish an appropriate minimum wage for Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s minimum wage in the Walker years has been stuck at the $7.25 federal-set level, while 29 states and numerous cities have enacted far higher minimums ranging as high as $15 an hour...
Undermining Wisconsin’s prized public education system. Public education in Wisconsin has ranked as among the best in nation, where it is widely viewed as a foundation of a democratic society. However, since in office, Walker has sliced funding for K-12 schools while consistently boosting funding and loosening standards for privatized voucher schools. He has also widened his attack by orchestrating a “hostile takeover” of powers held by the democratically elected Milwaukee Public School board, by usurping and transferring them to neo-liberal County Executive Chris Abele. He has also lowered the standards for teachers, with the new state budget eliminating qualification requirements for hiring teachers.
Walker hasn't stopped there, however. He's taken his anti-union agenda to the state university system, where he has tried to recast it as a narrow pathway serving ould-be employers and not a center of academic inquiry. He's tried to replace a century-long university mission of the search for truth and public service with a narrow, pro-corporate new vision of “providing state workforce needs.” While Walker initially claimed that he and his staff had no role in this proposal, media investigations showed the direct intervention of his staff in pushing the new budget language.
Walker also is imposing $250 million in budget cuts on the highly-esteemed University of Wisconsin system, ranked 19th best in the world. Other provisions call for virtually eliminating tenure and strengthening university administrators’ power over faculty, which is pandering to the long-held right-wing gripe that universities are hotbeds of liberal thought. Among the already-emerging results are older faculty seeking to flee UW and promising young professors steering clear of UW because there is no guarantee of tenure.
Make Them Pay!
Remember this the next time your local $Billionaire tries to commit Grand Theft Sportsball
Time to re-define
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Sounds like she is rather happy about it
Lisa Hannigan sings a song asking what she will do now that someone special is gone. "What'll I Do" from her Passenger album.
Wall St Re-examined
R.I.P. Roger Rees
Never saw you on Cheers but you were a magnificent Nicholas Nickleby
Trying to make a silk purse
Out of the sow's ear that is Scott Walker is a mean feat. If by mean you are saying cruel, dishonest and unreliable. Yet there are people, no doubt paid very well, who are trying to make the lipstick stay on the pig.
As Mr. Walker becomes the 15th prominent Republican to enter the 2016 race, the crucial question he must answer is whether he can cross the threshold of credibility so that someone entering a voting booth can imagine him as president, according to several leading Republicans and interviews with regular voters.I'll bet Terry says that about all the candidates. But the real question is why anyone, for love or money, would try to make that nasty little weasel look good?
While Mr. Walker is ahead in some opinion polls, including for Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, a series of early gaffes alarmed party leaders and donors and led Mr. Walker to begin several months of policy tutorials. The collective hope is that Mr. Walker can avoid what Mr. Goeas and other advisers describe as Sarah Palin’s problem — becoming a candidate who is initially popular among Republicans, like the 2008 vice-presidential nominee, but loses luster because of missteps as the campaign goes on.
Mr. Walker is now emerging from his crash course with the aim of reassuring activists and contributors, who have given relatively modest amounts to his political operation so far. The goal is to no longer sow doubts with comments like comparing pro-union protesters to Islamic State terrorists, refusing to answer a question about evolution, or saying he does not know if President Obama is a Christian or if he loves America.
Whether Mr. Walker can demonstrate that he has a command of the challenges facing America, and is big enough for the presidency, will be tested in the coming weeks on the campaign trail and in televised debates.
Gov. Terry E. Branstad, Republican of Iowa, said Mr. Walker had “a lot going for him given that he’s a neighboring state governor who has been tried and tested on tough issues.” Yet Republican voters in Iowa want to be confident that Mr. Walker will not make political errors that might raise doubts about his capabilities and make Hillary Rodham Clinton look more prepared if she emerges as the Democratic nominee.
“Iowa is a state that rewards candidates who work hard,” Mr. Branstad said, “and I think Governor Walker will benefit if he shows he has done the work to be ready to lead.”
That voice in their heads isn't God
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Resurrecting lost treasures
Dayna Kurtz's last two albums, Secret Canon vol 1 & 2, have been her take on obscure and forgotten blues and R & B songs from the 40's, 50's and 60's. "I Look Good In Bad" is on vol 2.
The heart of the matter
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