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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1492 Catholic forces under King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella take the town of Granada, the last Muslim kingdom in Spain.
1758 The French begin bombardment of Madras, India.
1839 Photography pioneer Louis Daguerre takes the first photograph of the moon.
1861 The USS Brooklyn is readied at Norfolk to aid Fort Sumter.
1863 In the second day of hard fighting at Stone's River, near Murfreesboro, Tenn., Union troops defeat the Confederates.
1903 President Theodore Roosevelt closes a post office in Indianola, Mississippi, for refusing to hire a Black postmistress.
1904 U.S. Marines are sent to Santo Domingo to aid the government against rebel forces.
1905 After a six-month siege, Russians surrender Port Arthur to the Japanese.
1918 Russian Bolsheviks threaten to re-enter the war unless Germany returns occupied territory.
1932 Japanese forces in Manchuria set up a puppet government known as Manchukuo.
1936 In Berlin, Nazi officials claim that their treatment of Jews is not the business of the League of Nations.
1942 In the Philippines, the city of Manila and the U.S. Naval base at Cavite fall to Japanese forces.
1943 The Allies capture Buna in New Guinea.
1963 In Vietnam, the Viet Cong down five U.S. helicopters in the Mekong Delta. 30 Americans are reported dead.
1966 American G.I.s move into the Mekong Delta for the first time.
1973 The United States admits the accidental bombing of a Hanoi hospital.
1980 President Jimmy Carter asks the U.S. Senate to delay the arms treaty ratification in response to Soviet action in Afghanistan.

Non Sequitur


Did you know ...

Happy new year!  The universe could collapse at any moment

These 5 resolutions you should never make

These 9 things the media called "the war on men" this year

Also, these 9 incredibly important things that happened in 2013 that you probably aren't talking about

The best and worst of 2013 over at the moderate voice

The repugicans Pout Because Six Million People Have Received Health Coverage Since October

On New Year’s Eve, Health and Human Services released a statement detailing the amount of people who have gotten coverage under the ACA since enrollment began on October 1st. To the dismay of repugicans everywhere, the numbers were not only extremely encouraging, they were nearly astronomical. Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator for Medicare and Medicaid Services, posted the following statement to the HHS website:

Since the beginning of open enrollment, millions of Americans are gaining access to health coverage-many for the very first time—thanks to the Affordable Care Act.  The most recent data indicate that more than 2.1 million people have enrolled in a private health insurance plan through the Federal and State-based Marketplaces since October 1.
Both states and the federal government have seen a surge in enrollment in December.  Our HealthCare.gov enrollment nearly doubled in days before the January 1 coverage deadline compared to the first weeks of the month.  Nationwide, including state and federal marketplaces, December enrollment so far is nearly 6 times that of October and November combined.
We expect these numbers to continue to grow through the end of March when open enrollment ends.
Additionally, 3.9 million Americans learned they’re eligible for coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in October and November.  These numbers include new eligibility determinations and some Medicaid and CHIP renewals.
We are encouraged that over 6 million people have been enrolled in Marketplace or Medicaid coverage since October 1, and will work to give millions more Americans the peace of mind that comes with health security in the months ahead.
Earlier in the week, it was already revealed that 1.1 million people had enrolled in private insurance plans on the federal exchange. As the statement revealed, another million were able to use state exchanges to sign up for an insurance plan while nearly four million people found out that they were now eligible for Medicaid, meaning that as working poor, they now can receive good, free health care and be able to see a doctor on a regular basis. No more utilizing the emergency room as their primary caregiver.
With another three months left in the open enrollment period, it is likely that millions and millions of more Americans are going to get covered. With the federal website running smoothly and the news that millions of their fellow Americans have received either free health care or an affordable private insurance plan, even the skeptical out there will finally realize it is better to get good health coverage than avoid it because of political reasons. The sad reality for the repugican cabal is not only is the ACA here to stay, but it will now become something that they cannot demonize Democrats for, as too many people are, or will be, seeing the overwhelming positive benefits of it.

The tea party perspective

Dysfunctional repugican 'christians' Vow To Destroy the First Amendment

Two-hundred and twenty-two years after the First Amendment was ratified, there is a large segment of the population that cannot fathom the simple meaning of the First Amendment.…
Simplicity is the state of being simple and usually relates to the burden which a thing puts on someone trying to explain or understand it; such as something easy to understand or explain is simple, as opposed to something complicated that is likely as difficult to explain as it is to understand. The Founding Fathers understood that the population of the country they founded was likely uneducated and ignorant leading them to make the First Amendment so easy to understand that a simpleton could grasp its meanings. Unfortunately, two-hundred and twenty-two years after the First Amendment was ratified, there is a large segment of the population that cannot fathom, much less acknowledge, the simple meaning of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that says government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof” which does not mean enforcing religion by statute, state amendment, or law.
Devising and passing laws that have as their only basis the christian bible is not a new phenomenon, and for decades laws such as those banning sodomy were staples of every state in the Union’s legislatures despite they were laws “respecting an establishment of religion;” the christian religion. The U.S. Supreme Court finally overturned sodomy laws on the basis of the right to privacy, but the cowards on the High Court never had the fortitude to strike down the “law respecting an establishment of religion” on First Amendment grounds. Likely because there is an unspoken unconstitutional law that bans citing the First Amendment’s prohibition against religious edicts as federal or state laws that no court is willing to violate. Unfortunately, there have been other laws like those banning abortions, contraception, and same-sex marriage that were eventually ruled unconstitutional on grounds they violate citizens’ 14th Amendment rights, but never on grounds they violated the First Amendment’s freedom from religious edicts disguised as state laws.
Late last week after a federal district court overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, and the 10th Circuit Appeals Court found, like the federal district court, that Utah’s biblical ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, Republicans announced they would spend about $2 million of taxpayer money to hire outside counsel to defend the amendment “respecting an establishment of religion.” State Senator John Valentine (r- mormon) said “We should be paying for the best and the brightest. This is a case that is not only a historic precedent, but it’s one that really goes to the core of what states’ rights is all about.” No, this is a case that goes to the core of what Mormons passing a “law respecting an establishment of religion” is all about despite the First Amendment which is exquisitely clear; it is a violation of Constitution that is, by the way, the law of the land.
The Utah Mormon case follows a trend among conservative christians attempting to pass several “laws respecting an establishment of religion” regarding same-sex marriage, fetal personhood, as well as contraception and abortion coverage in private healthcare plans. A cursory glance at, say, the personhood movement’s mission statement reveals it is driven solely by religion where it states; “Personhood USA desires to glorify jesus christ in a way that creates a culture of life so that all innocent human lives are protected by love and by law.” The National Organization for Marriage opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions calling them “a direct threat to religious liberties” and that “civil union statutes are used to sue professionals who run their practices behind biblical laws banning same-sex marriage and civil unions.” The Hobby Lobby case going before the Supreme Court is founded on the owner’s religious belief that he has the biblical right to withhold contraception from his employee’s private healthcare plans.
The Utah mormon’s case before the federal district court claimed same-sex marriage harmed opposite-sex marriages instead of having the courage to say same-sex marriage runs counter to the biblical amendment “respecting an establishment of religion.” Although the district and Circuit courts shot down the absurd argument gays marrying harmed opposite-sex marriages, a simpler ruling would have been the First Amendment bans Utah’s constitutional amendment “respecting an establishment of religion.” The courts cited the amendment’s violation of same-sex couples’ due process, equal protection, and anti-discrimination rights in the 14th Amendment, but why complicate a very simple premise; the Constitution bans laws “respecting an establishment of religion.”
It does not matter if they are laws banning or restricting abortion care, contraception coverage, civil unions, or same-sex marriages, the simple fact is they all have as their basis the christian bible and regardless what evangelical extremists, mormon governors, or fundamentalist christians claim, the religious manual is not and never has been the law of the land or had any relevance to the United States Constitution. Still, courts have been loath to cite the obvious whether it was sodomy laws, bans on abortion, contraception coverage in prescription plans, or same-sex marriages; they were, and are, all biblical edicts masquerading as state laws “respecting an establishment of religion” and are patent violations of the U.S. Constitution.
If christians want to live their lives according to the bible and not use contraception, eschew abortion, or not marry a person of the same sex, they have that Constitutional right. If they claim as followers of christ (not that they are) their bible commands them to passionately hate people who use contraception, abortion services, or marry a person of the same sex, the Constitution protects their biblical right to hate. However, if they force the rest of the population to follow their biblical beliefs, either by employment contract or state laws, the Constitution strictly forbids it.
The Founding Fathers were very explicit and used a very simply-worded phrase forbidding christians, mormons, catholics and their repugican facilitators from enacting amendments or making “laws respecting the establishment of religion.” It is absolutely an abomination that no district court, Circuit Court, or Supreme Court has struck down or cited the unconstitutionality of state or federal laws because they were religious edicts straight out of the christian bible. The pathological dysfunction plaguing the justice system, repugicans, and various christian fascists is that they cannot comprehend a very, very simple truth. America is not a christian theocracy and the Founding Fathers made sure the bible is not the Constitution, and it is about dog-damned time the judicial system informs religious miscreants of the those very simple truths.

Retired General Wants March on White House and Citizens Arrest of Obama

The repugican remedy for losing seems to be to refuse to accept defeat. Can't win an election? Revolt! Arrest the winner!…
Republicans hate AmericaObama 
When we last met retired Army general Paul E. Vallely, he was demanding that President Barack Obama be forced to resign because of imaginary crimes. These crimes, apparently, are daring to disagree with the path chosen for America by repugican leadership. A month later, Vallely is saying that Obama should be subject to citizen’s arrest and that the United States needs Egypt-like uprisings behind a “new George Washington.” He says 33 million Egyptians stood up and told their government “No” and he sees no reason we can’t do the same here.
Just as a thought…finding 33 million people as crazy as yourself might be a problem. Look how Klayman’s march on Washington turned out. Just sayin’. But don’t tell Vallely that. Methinks he thinks he is the “new George Washington” he says we need:
It’s fallen upon senior, retired military to take stands against the overreach and tyranny of a corrupt government. I think for people, they respect what the military has gone through. Senior military guys are very well educated, they’ve gone to the right schools, gone to combat for the most part, have had to manage enormous budgets, were involved in major financial decisions and are heavily steeped in foreign policy and national security.
No other group, no CEO that has that kind of background,” he said. “Obviously our politicians don’t have that background. They have legislation experience, not leadership experience.
And what about the fact that Barack Obama was legally elected according to the United States Constitution?
Vallely’s answer to that came in a podcast a few days ago, where he said our electoral processes “are known to be corrupt.” They must be, or Obama would not have been elected, he seems to be saying.
Since impeachment won’t just happen and “hope is not a strategy,” it is up to the American people, he says, to “stand up” to Washington:
“We need something … a no confidence vote,” he suggested. And perhaps legislation that could create a national recall process.
“We need to get off our derrieres, march at the state capitol, march in Washington. Make citizens arrests.”
What he is talking about is revolution, what he calls the “least palatable option”:
Harry Reid still controls the Senate, so like in Clinton’s day, forget about a finding of guilty,” he wrote. “Incidentally, if Obama was found guilty and removed from office, Joe Biden would step in, Valerie Jarrett still wields all the power, and likely we get more of the same.
I’m at a loss to known where in the Constitution such measures are permitted by a group of disgruntled, Islamophobic retired generals. Did I miss something? The argument here is that Obama has violated the Constitution. Shouldn’t Vallely and his fellow rebels, assuming their are the Constitution’s champions, be defending the Constitution rather than violating it?
Vallely says Americans have lost confidence in the Obama administration:
Clearly America has lost confidence and no longer trusts those in power at a most critical time in our history,” Vallely said. “It is true that not all who ply the halls of power fit under that broad brush, but most of them are guilty of many egregious acts and we say it is time to hold a vote of no confidence. It’s time for a ‘recall.’
The problem is that Congress is less popular than President Obama. If there is a lack of confidence it is in Congress. Should the least popular branch of government then enter a vote of no confidence in the more popular branch? Isn’t that…I don’t know…silly?
Look, at this point, the Black Death is more popular than the repugicans in Congress. To be blunt, where the confidence of the American people is concerned, they don’t have a pot to shit in. If there is to be a vote of no confidence in the administration, they are not the ones to give it.
And the American people? This summer, fully half of Americans felt repugicans weren’t doing enough to compromise with President Obama. That’s hardly the stuff of revolution. Vallely is up in arms about Obamacare but this fall, only 23 percent of Americans wanted to destroy Obamacare. According to Gallup, President Obama’s current job approval rating is 43 percent. Again, hardly the stuff of revolution. For the sake of comparison, the shrub was at 42 percent at the same point in his junta.
Congress, on the other hand, averaged 14 percent approval for 2013, “the lowest annual average in Gallup’s history.”
Vallely is placing all his hopes in the tea party, which, no surprise, is about as unpopular (22 percent approval in September) as Congress at this point:
I’m going back to the big kickoff in Myrtle Beach in January,” Vallely told WND. “I’m a big believer in the tea party as a movement. Many of us retired military leaders are all together. We need to demand the resignation of Obama, [Vice President Joe] Biden, [repugican House Speaker John] Boehner, [Senate Republican Leader Mitch] McConnell, [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi and [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid. The leadership of both parties needs to step down and new leaders step up.
And this is the guy who says the world is laughing at us. Somehow, I don’t think Vallely is dampening that laughter, unless it’s glee that America might be willing to take itself down a notch, because that’s exactly what Vallely’s popular and highly unconstitutional revolution would accomplish.
Love America? Hardly. It’s all about hating Obama and hurting him at any cost, even the cost of our great nation and the Constitution, which, once shredded, can be replaced by the bible as the Founding Fathers originally intended.
This is the state of opposition party politics in America today. Lose? To tell with the Constitution. Overthrow the winner! Vallely says foreign countries are laughing at us? Hell, I’m laughing at us too.

No suspicion needed for laptop searches at border

A US Federal Court sided with the "DHS Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Impact Assessment of its electronics search policy, concluding that suspicionless searches do not violate the First or Fourth Amendments. The report said that a reasonable suspicion standard is inadvisable because it could lead to litigation and the forced divulgence of national security information, and would prevent border officers from acting on inchoate 'hunches,' a method that it says has sometimes proved fruitful," said the ACLU in a statement following the decision.
In other words, hunches, top secret secrets, and the fear of getting sued trump the Bill of Rights. I feel safer!

Were you aware ...

Red Lobster Restaurants to Close

The shrub's recession killed them dead
R.I.P. Red Lobster. The seafood restaurant chain is reportedly closing up shop.

Its parent company Darden Restaurants announced Dec. 19 that Red Lobster locations will be shutting down for "a tax-free spin-off" or possibly be sell it off completely.
One thing is for sure, though: no more Red Lobster.

Though it's one of the biggest casual dining restaurant with a market value of $6.7 billion, its core chains -- Red Lobster being its first -- have had stagnant growth.

Red Lobster has 705 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, and had annual sales of about $2.6 billion in the company's 2013 fiscal year.

Parking meters and prisons: Top six privatization horror stories

Parking meters and prisons: Top six privatization horror stories

Parking meter reading "time expired."

Selling public resources to private companies for them to profit off of is a hot trend in cities and states-not all of them controlled by Republicans, either. Privatization deals affecting everything from parking meters to child welfare to public water systems are often negotiated in secret, carried out with little oversight, and subject to massive cost overruns and corruption.

The sordid story of Chicago's parking meters has to be a top entry in any "worst privatization stories" competition. Rick Perlstein laid out the ugly details in The Nation a couple months back:
Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2008 struck a deal with the investment consortium Chicago Parking Meters LLC, or CPM, that included Morgan Stanley, Allianz Capital Partners and, yes, the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Abu Dhabi, to privatize our meters. The price of parking-and the intensity of enforcement-skyrocketed. The terms were negotiated in secret. City Council members got two days to study the billion-dollar, seventy-five-year contract before signing off on it. An early estimate from the Chicago inspector general was that the city had sold off its property for about half of what it was worth. Then an alderman said it was worth about four times what the city had been paid. Finally, in 2010, Forbes reported that in fact the city had been underpaid by a factor of ten.
Not only does CPM get the money its meters hoover up from the fine upstanding citizens of Chicago. It gets money even if the meters are not used. Each meter has been assigned a "fair market valuation." If the City takes what is called a "reserve power adverse action"-that can mean anything from removing a meter because it impedes traffic flow, shutting down a street for a block party or discouraging traffic from coming into the city during rush hour - "CPM has the right to trigger an immediate payment for the entire loss of the meter's fair market value over the entire life of the seventy-five-year agreement."
Shut down one meter that the market-valuation says makes twenty-two bucks a day, in other words, and the City of Chicago has to fork over a check for $351,000-six days a week ... fifty-two weeks in a year, times seventy-five-within thirty days. Very easily, Geoghegan points out, a single shut-down of parking in a chunk of the city-say, for something like a NATO summit Chicago hosted last year-"could be more than the original purchase price of the deal."

After Profiting $1 Billion From Madoff Scheme, JP Morgan Refuses to Cooperate With Investigation

After Profiting $1 Billion From Madoff Scheme, JP Morgan Refuses to Cooperate With Investigation

Official documents obtained by Newsweek show that the Justice Department denied a request for enforcement of a subpoena, presented by federal banking regulators. The subpoena was meant to force JP Morgan Chase to disclose information relating to Bernard Madoff’s massive Ponzi scheme.
Madoff, a former non-executive Chairman of the NASDAQ stock market, was responsible for the largest financial fraud in US history. Madoff took advantage of thousands of investors, in a scheme that may have cost as much as $65 billion in losses. He was convicted of 11 felony crimes in 2009, resulting in a prison sentence of 150 years.

Madoff was one of the JP Morgan Chase’s largest customers, with accounts totaling billions of dollars. The bank is estimated to have profited by at least $1 billion from the Madoff scheme. While the bank has denied any knowledge of the fraud, federal inspectors have continued to probe the bank, regarding the crime, and Madoff himself claims that many people working for the bank were aware of criminal scheme.

A memo obtained by Newsweek shows that federal banking inspectors requested support in obtaining internal memos from JP Morgan Chase. The memos involve 90 employee interviews which were conducted by the bank, in regards to the Madoff fraud. The bank has denied inspectors access to documents for several years, leading the Inspector General to petition the Justice Department, requesting that obstruction charges be brought against the bank.

The memos are an important part of JP Morgan Chase investigation. Inspectors clearly believe that they could provide evidence showing that JP Morgan Chase employees were aware of the Madoff fraud and failed to report it to authorities, because they were also profiting from the activity. The law requires bank employees to immediately report suspicious activity to federal authorities.

The Department of Justice declined to pursue obstruction charges against JP Morgan Chase for failing to provide the memos as late as September of this year. This has led to short-sighted speculation that the Obama administration is working to protect the bank. However, there are other possible reasons that the Justice Department declined the request.

The Truth Be Told

Triking the Pole

Riding tricycles down your driveway and on sidewalks around town was a lot of fun when you were a kid, but now tricycles have traded in their all plastic construction for steel frames and treaded rubber tires that can survive a trek across the South Pole.
This tricycle isn’t child’s play- it was made by Inspired Cycle Engineering to survive even the toughest conditions and prove it’s durability in a three person race that started on the edge of Antarctica and ends at the South Pole.
35-year-old Maria Leijerstam is braving the elements to show she has what it takes to beat her competition, who are riding standard bikes, and survive the freezing 400 mile ride across the barren landscape on a tricycle built for one.

Random Photos

Caribbean chikungunya outbreak grows, poses threat to US

5 Genetic Discoveries in 2013

2013 was a big year in the world of gene research. We're learning incredible things about why we are the way we are. Guest host Cristen Conger, from Stuff Mom Never Told You, runs down her list of the most interesting genes discovered this year!



Five Desolate Locations Hidden Inside Big Cities

The title may not be appropriate, since the apocalypse has yet to happen and therefore post apocalyptic wastelands don’t yet exist, but the locations on Cracked’s list of Post Apocalyptic Wastelands Hiding In Busy Cities are appropriately devoid of life, and the fact that they stand silently within the limits of cities teeming with life makes them perfect locations for filming low budget dystopian sci-fi flicks, or spending an afternoon discovering a little known piece of urban history.
Urban explorers take note and gear up- here’s a bunch of sites that would be perfect for your next adventure, and they’re closer to home than you think.

A Polka Dot Bomber from World War II

Judas Iscariot is infamous for his betrayal of jesus by leading soldiers to arrest him in the Garden of Gethsemane. In shepherding, a Judas goat is one that is trained to lead sheep to a particular location—the slaughterhouse.
During World War II, this bomber was among many known as “Judas goats.” They were usually worn out aircraft no longer suitable for combat. Crews painted them in bright, noticeable colors and patterns. They would serve as markers in the air so that other bombers could line up in formation. The Judas goat bombers would then land while the active bombers flew off to the slaughter of war.

Victorian And Edwardian Street Furniture

The British Heritage Group decided in 2006 to carry out research to discover whether any examples of the cast iron street urinals and public conveniences favored and used by the Victorians and Edwardians still existed in the 21st century.

The ongoing and progressive increase in the demand requirements for health and safety and environmental health must have speeded the demise of this type of external toilet facility. Nevertheless, it was found that urinals still exist around the country with several still in use.

The Chinese Village With The Secret To Long Life

Famed for centuries for its residents' unusual longevity, the Chinese village of Bama now has 81 centenarians. Proportional to population, that is roughly five times China's average. A decade ago the best-known settlement in the county rebranded itself as Longevity Village.

Yang Ze, deputy director of the Institute of Geriatrics at Beijing hospital, began researching Bama's secret in the mid-90s. One key, he said, is natural selection. The area is remote and mountainous. In the old days, it took three days to leave the hills, so there was relatively little mixing with the outside world. In tough conditions, without medical treatment, the strong genes remained; the weak were eliminated.

The Decaying Ruins of the Most Haunted Island on Earth

Venice is not somewhere we usually associate with horrors, but an island in its lagoon, now off-limits to visitors, has a chilling history of deaths. Welcome to Poveglia. More

Hubble's Sexiest Spiral Galaxies

Explore some of our favorite spiral galaxies as imaged by the veteran Hubble Space Telescope.

Daily Comic Relief


Third of Americans Don't Believe in Human Evolution

A third of Americans say that humans and other life forms have existed in their current states since the beginning of time.
A third of Americans are idiots ...

Human evolution, from tree to braid

D4500 specimen Human evolution, from tree to braid

Finds from 2013 show that the branching tree of human evolution is turning into a weave of interlaced lineages.

The Blue Whale at London's Natural History Museum

Whale5400 450x219
Like the T. rex skeleton at the American Museum of Natural History, the blue whale model at London's Natural History Museum is the institution's unofficial mascot. The life-sized model (28.3 meters long) is now 75 years old. New Scientist tells the story of its birth:
The giant was created by Percy and Stuart Stammwitz, a father and son team in the museum's zoology department, using photographs and measurements made by scientists on British whaling fleet vessels in the south Atlantic. Although it was accurate for its time, modern underwater photography shows the model doesn't match reality, says Sabin, probably because it was based on carcasses that became distorted as they were dragged on to ships. Built in situ in the museum's Whale Hall, the model drew on technology used to make first-world-war planes. The general foreman, William Sanders, suggested building a wooden frame, covering it in lightweight wire meshwork, then coating it with plaster and painting over that, rather than using traditional plaster casts.

Animal Pictures