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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1564 John Calvin, one of the dominant figures of the Protestant Reformation, dies in Geneva.
1647 Achsah Young becomes the first woman known to be executed as a witch in Massachusetts.
1668 Three colonists are expelled from Massachusetts for being Baptists.
1813 Americans capture Fort George, Canada.
1907 The Bubonic Plague breaks out in San Francisco.
1919 A U.S. Navy seaplane completes the first transatlantic flight.
1929 Colonel Charles Lindbergh marries Anne Spencer Murrow.
1935 The Supreme Court declares President Franklin Roosevelt's National Recovery Act unconstitutional.
1937 San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge opens.
1941 The German battleship Bismarck is sunk by British naval and air forces.
1942 German General Rommel begins a major offensive in Libya with his Afrika Korps.
1944 American General MacArthur lands on Biak Island in New Guinea.
1960 A military coup overthrows the democratic government of Turkey.
1969 Construction begins on Walt Disney World in Florida.
1972 President Richard M. Nixon and Soviet Communist Party chief Leonid Brezhnev sign an arms reduction agreement.
1999 The international war crimes tribunal indicts Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic for war atrocities.

Non Sequitur


Best Veep Ever!

The legend of Joe Biden continues to grow as the Vice President responded to being invited to the prom by sending a handwritten note and a wrist corsage.
Teen Talia Maselli wrote to Vice President Biden seven months ago, and asked him to the prom. According to the Hartford Courant, she wrote, “I am inviting you so far in advance because I’m sure many 17-year-old girls send you prom invitations, and I had to beat them to it. I could only tolerate a high school dance if I was to be escorted by the most delightful man in America.”
Maselli displayed a firm grasp of partisan politics by warning Biden that if he turned her down she may be forced to ask repugican Speaker of the House John Boehner to be her date. The teen didn’t think anything else of her invite, and was surprised when she got a knock on the door last Thursday morning. A deliveryman handed her a wrist corsage, and a handwritten note from Biden. In part, the note read, “I am flattered, but my schedule will not permit me to be in Connecticut on Friday evening. But I hope you will accept this corsage and enjoy your prom as much as I did mine.” Biden also invited her to visit the White House. Maselli didn’t go to the prom, but she is looking forward to her visit to the White House. Whoever takes over for Biden as vice president is going to have a tough act to follow. Joe Biden has had some of the typical vice president gaffe moments, but he also brought the sort of regular guy charm that hasn’t been seen around the White House in decades. Joe Biden seems to be having a blast as vice president, and while those dreams of occupying the Oval Office appear to remain strong, he has carved himself as both vice president and a pop culture icon. Biden’s gift was probably better than anything Boehner would have sent, as a fifth of Wild Turkey and carton of Camels aren’t appropriate prom gifts.

Did you know ...

That bees are declining due to insecticides
That widespread anti-biotic resistance has been found across 71 environments
That Americans no longer trust the supreme court
That more than one million birds died during the Deep Water Horizon disaster
About all the president's bankers 
That charter schools are full of: fraud, mismanagement and waste
That you need stop saying I have a boyfriend
That Kansas is the poster child for the failed state of wingnut economic policy
That unions are unfairly blamed for Detroit's woes
Here is 9 maps showing how climate change is affecting the us
This school is accused of covering up sexual assaults by students who are relatives of school district officials
(update:  principal has been fired)
About how banks are pillaging homes while the government watches
Why Americans raid their 401(k)s
About the 6 principles of the new populism
The Albuquerque PD shoots & kills judge's daughter
That Hedy Lamar invented bluetooth in 1942
And that she blinded the repugican cabal with science
About the abandoned Paris subway stations reborn as nightclubs
That everything the wingnuts hate is like the holocaust
About celebrating basic, the programming language that made computers personal
That the Supreme Court is fighting to make the us a theocracy
Here's the comic book universe in infographic form
Why do you feel that mandatory love for babies?
Meet the USA: the world's newest third world nation
That the son of senator pushing for strict voter id laws caught with fake id

Enough! This Nation was NOT Founded on Christianity

by Allen Clifton
Wingnuts seem to not quite understand that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are two completely different things. The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson.
The Constitution was put together by many different individuals and it essentially creates our government and lists the rights of its citizens.
Granted, the Declaration of Independence does say, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator..” with “creator” referring to some form of god.
But, again, this document has nothing to do with our Constitutional rights. Our Constitution has exactly zero mentions of god, jesus, christians or christianity.
In fact, the First Amendment clearly states that we’re given the freedom of religion. It also says Congress can’t make any laws based on religious beliefs.
But let’s just look at a few comments from some key Founding Fathers about the United States, separation of cult and state and how this nation wasn’t founded on christianity:
The Treaty of Tripoli, signed by President John Adams: “The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the christian religion.” 
Thomas Jefferson: “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.” 
James Madison: “And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”
Thomas Jefferson: “christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.” 
 Thomas Jefferson: “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.” 
And that’s not all of them – there are several more – but I figured those were pretty clear cut. Now why, if our nation was founded on christianity, would some of our key Founding Fathers speak so strongly against mixing religion and government?
Why would our Constitution never once mention god, christian, jesus or christianity?
Why does our very First Amendment specifically say that Congress cannot make laws based on religion?
It makes absolutely no sense for anyone to logically argue that this nation was founded on christianity when there’s overwhelming evidence that says otherwise.
These people who claim this nation was founded on christianity are simply wishing that it had been, instead of facing the reality that it wasn’t.
The problem is, they’re trying to base laws on their wishes instead of the clear cut facts on what the Constitution and our Founding Fathers mapped out.

More Undeniable Proof That the wingnut Movement is Dying in America

by Allen Clifton
If you listen to repugicans talk (because they’re masters at propaganda) you’d think wingnuttery is engulfing the United States and Americans are becoming more and more wingnut every single day.
Except, that’s not true at all.
 It might sometimes seem that way because repugicans are usually good at being unified and controlling the message. Generally if Faux News is saying it, 95% of repugicans will be saying it.
That’s not the case with liberals. Our strength and our weakness is essentially the same thing – our diversity. Diversity is a wonderful thing, though it also fragments the message, while often projecting a sense that Democrats are disorganized and divided.
Then you have to factor in the reality that repugicans rely heavily on older voters, especially white ones, and when you look at stats showing who votes more often and consistently – it’s older, white voters. But the reality is, the United States is becoming more liberal all the time. Wingnuts don’t like to admit this, but that’s the funny thing about reality – it’s real whether or not they want to believe in it.
Take for instance two separate new polls that show support for the lunatic fringe tea party wing of the repugican cabal hitting new lows while support for same-sex marriage has reached new highs. According to the one poll, only 32 percent of repugicans identify themselves as supporters of the tea party. That’s down 10 points from February and 23 points from July 2010. And for those tea party supporters who might want to discredit this poll, just take a look at how many of this year’s repugican cabal primaries have gone for ultra-wingnut candidates. Many tea party repugicans have easily been defeated by non-tea party affiliated candidates.
Even Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, someone who repugicans felt was very vulnerable to lose his primary election, easily claimed victory. Then when you look the poll concerning same-sex marriage, support hasn’t just reached new highs, support is rapidly growing. Right now, 55 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage. That’s a 15 point increase since 2009. That’s huge. And if you want to look at the opposition to same-sex marriage, it’s dropped in that same time span by an even bigger margin. In 2009, opposition to same-sex marriage was at 57 percent. Now it’s 17 points down to 42 percent. And if you really want a great example of how liberalism is slowly (but steadily) taking over this country, just look at the same-sex marriage numbers from 1996. During that year support for same-sex marriage was at an anemic 27 percent, while opposition sat at 68 percent.
While I know some will say, “But it’s taken 18 years,” that’s a short-sighted way to look at it. Big change within a society often doesn’t come quickly. And while equal rights should honestly be a very simple issue, even for a lot of Democrats, same-sex marriage wasn’t something they supported just a few years ago. But what the poll on same-sex marriage does show is that Americans are becoming more liberal while the repugican cabal has tried to push itself to be more wingnut. So if you look at the tea party’s emergence around 2009, and the numbers concerning same-sex marriage around that same time, you seem a drastic shift away from ultra-wingnut beliefs and political candidates who advocate for them.
But this doesn’t just stop at ultra-wingnut tea party candidates, this reflects on the repugican cabal as a whole. They continue to try to cling to this “wingnut ideology” of theirs, while Americans are generally becoming more and more liberal. The repugicans aren’t going to disappear overnight, but polls such as these clearly show that while society as a whole is becoming more liberal, the repugican cabal continues to prove how out of touch it is with most Americans by insisting that we’re becoming more wingnut. And ultimately that’s going to be their downfall.

New Study Proves repugicans Are Significantly More Likely To Lie Than Democrats

In case you missed it, a study not released by MSNBC (so save your breath conservatives), by the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University have found that repugicans are significantly more likely to lie than Democrats. And here is the kicker that the liberals have been saying all along: the lying gap between repugicans and Democrats  is widening as President Barack Obama spends more time in office.Oh this is just too good. Ever since Obamacare was passed and signed into law in 2010, the repugicans have been no strangers to lying about everything, from the healthcare law itself to the number of vacations the President has taken. The study came as the political atmosphere heated up during the "scandals" of the IRS, Benghazi, and the AP.
In their study, 100 statements involving factual claims by Democrats (46 claims) and repugicans (54 claims) were examined, which were fact-checked by PolitiFact.com during the four month period from the start of President Obama's second term on January 20 through May 22, 2013. In just four months worth of fact checking the repugican cabal was found to be lying the most. Here is what they found:
PolitiFact rated 32% of repugican claims as "false" or "pants on fire," compared to 11% of Democratic claims - a 3 to 1 margin.
Conversely, Politifact rated 22% of Democratic claims as "entirely true" compared to 11% of repugican claims - a 2 to 1 margin.
A majority of Democratic statements (54%) were rated as mostly or entirely true, compared to only 18% of repugican statements. Conversely, a majority of repugican statements (52%) were rated as mostly or entirely false, compared to only 24% of Democratic statements.
And here is where the liberals have been right all along regarding the repugican cabal's witch-hunts against President Obama:
Regarding Benghazi, the IRS and the Associated Press, repugicans have continued to fare worse than Democrats, with 60% of their claims rated as false so far this month (May 1 - May 22), compared to 29% of Democratic statements - a 2 to 1 margin.

Wingnut Moral Values

They have none!

The VA Scandal Is Rooted In the Delusional repugican Belief That Wars Are Free

The repugicans claim that the problem at the VA isn't one of not spending enough -- cover for Congress giving Obama less than he asked for -- because the…
The rpugicans do not understand relativity, causation, or math.
They claim that the problem at the Veterans Administration (VA) isn’t one of not spending enough, because the budget has gone up. This is cover for Congress giving Obama less than he asked for, and reminiscent of their argument that their refusal to fund embassy security to Hillary Clinton’s request had nothing to do with the failure of security, even though she warned them that such a thing could happen.
When the repugican cabal fingers start pointing, their “responsibility” is negated before it’s even argued. To wit, Hot Air tries to argue that since budgets have gone up, the problem at the VA isn’t a lack of resources (my bold):
Over the last few days, some have suggested that the issue at the VA has been a lack of resources, by which the US has shortchanged the VA in budgets and in patient spending. While one can argue whether resources within the VA have been adequately focused — which is a leadership issue — one cannot argue that the VA has lacked for resources from Congress in the form of budgets or per-patient spending.
OMB historical data on budget outlays by department are easily available at the White House website, and the spreadsheet tells a very interesting story. Since 9/11, the VA budget has increased by 235%, from FY2001-s $45 billion annual budget to FY2014-s $150.7 billion.
Yes, the budget has gone up. Any guesses as to why? Do you suppose two wars started by the repugican pretender have anything to do with increasing budgets for the Veterans Administration? Aw, shucks. It can’t be, because wars are free. The shrub told us so when he left them off of the budget.
Hot Air then tried to blame Obama for the 2009 budget since he “signed” it, but it was the shrub’s budget — drafted under the shrub before Obama ever took office, and implemented before Obama took office. The shrub proposed spending $3.1 trillion (“not including TARP, Other Bailouts, And Other Emergency Spending”) in 2009 and he signed all of the spending bills. Federal spending rose by 17.9% from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion. In other words, the shrub spent the money. Not Obama.
Naturally, the shrub did not request funding for Iraq and Afghanistan. He left that task to Obama, and repugicans blamed Obama for it.
Furthermore, even the shrub knew that with the rise in wars, there would be a rise in veterans, thus he requested $38.7 billion for veteran medical care. Mind you, the wars were still ongoing and not in drawdown phase at this point, and injuries sustained during active duty are handled by TRICARE, not the VA.
So when PolitiFact begrudgingly admitted that yes, Congress has spent less money on the VA than Obama requested, on average about $2 billion a year less, they thought it a mere drop in the bucket. Not relevant.
But also, Senate repugicans blocked a bill to increase VA funding by $21 million this February. “The bill contained provisions that would restore the COLA for vets, and protect them from losing their benefits in the event of another government shutdown. It also would have authorized the construction of 27 new clinics and medical facilities, and it would have provided tuition assistance to post-9/11 vets.”
Oh, sure, that’s nothing – just protecting vets from repugican obstruction via another temper tantrum shutdown and new clinics. Nothing.
It’s nothing until one recalls that the shrub started two wars and wars make veterans. Yes, the VA was already struggling to meet the new demands resulting from the “War on Terror”. In December of 2004, the VA faced a funding crisis that kept it from providing disability ratings to veterans. Funding matters.
And it’s not like repugicans were unaware that there was a problem when they blocked funding. In March of 2013, some vets were waiting up to 506 days for benefits. It was found then that “As the population of new veterans has swelled in recent years, the annual number of claims received by VBA has gone up. Compared to the past, these claims have a higher number of disabling conditions, and some of these conditions, such as traumatic brain injuries, make their assessment complex.”
I’ll make this simple: New wars made new veterans which resulted in more claims, additionally, more than in the past, these new claims presented with a higher number of disabling conditions.
In addition to over 4,000 American lives, the “War on Terror” costs will keep rising for the next 30-40 years and medical and disability costs will total between $600 billion and $1 trillion, according to a Brown University 20111 Costs of War report.
And most importantly, “Finally, although veterans’ care comprises the fourth largest category of government spending, the magnitude of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans’ costs is grossly understated in government projections.”
So you see, by filibustering veterans benefits and giving the President less funding than he requested for the VA, repugicans are “starving the beast”. To say that funding went up does not equate to the funding was enough.
So no, we can’t run around cutting funding to the VA. If we can’t afford the VA in the long term, then this conflict needs to be resolved before we invade a country based on a lie. Not after. A responsible party would have raised revenues to pay for this, instead of cutting taxes and giving corporations government subsidies.
Dr. Michael F. Roizen, who trained at a VA hospital, opined that the VA problems were related to funds, “And my guess is that is the VA’s problem as well – when these wars were started, our government didn’t plan for the VA budget to treat the soldier victims. And Congress still hasn’t allocated enough funds to adequately do so.” Bingo.
The truth of the matter is that both parties are to blame for the failures of the VA (as is our culture of ignoring veterans while flag waving for war), but at this specific time in history, the biggest fault lay in the fact that we had 2 wars that were not planned for or paid for in any way prior to entering them, nor were any efforts made to fund their costs during the entire shrub junta. Instead, repugicans cut taxes and found no alternative method of providing revenue for their “deficits don’t matter” spending.
Wars cost money. They continue to cost money long after they are over, only these costs do not go to contractors so they are ignored. Pretending that this isn’t the case is the real scandal. The most distasteful thing about the repugican attacks right now is for years liberals have been trying to get repugicans to pay attention to our nation’s veterans. Who knew it would take a Democratic president that they could blame in order for them to see.
But now that they have, there’s no excuse for turning away.

A Grateful Nation or Just BOHICA?

Senators John McCain, middle, and Jeff Flake, right, Republicans of Arizona, at a news conference for the VA hospital fiasco. (photo: AP/Ross D. Franklin)
John McCain, middle, and Jeff Flake, right, repugicans of Arizona, at a news conference for the VA hospital fiasco.
by John Cory

They come for you with drum and fife
And all they ask
Is a piece of your life
Just enough for one little war
And one more for your mother
And two for your brother
And then we all fall down
he great media punditry and political pontificators are all aflutter over the VA fiasco from Phoenix and elsewhere. John McCain can’t run to the microphone fast enough to offer up his two cents while FOX, CNN and MSNBC are in full competitive outrage mode, each seeking to outdo the other with flashing chyrons of righteous fury. The circus is loud and shrill and full of sparkly shiny hollow indignation.
The America Legion has apparently called for the resignation of Gen. Shinseki as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The smell of blood and blame is in the water.
I am unimpressed.
I can only say: Are you f**king kidding me?
Where have all of you politicos and pundits and so-called journalists been for the past forty years? With your America Strong nightly news features and your heartwarming family homecoming surprises at elementary schools, did you just choose to ignore the real stories of abandoned and ailing veterans because that would harsh your mellow and warm fuzzy patriotism?
McCain and all of you elected representatives of “the people,” how many letters from veterans and families of veterans and spouses of veterans complaining about problems with the VA have your offices received over the last ten years? How about the last twenty years? How many veterans have asked for your help over the years? How many have you responded to directly and actually helped? How many veterans’ letters have gone unanswered, except maybe for a form letter reply as you then add their name to your mailing list for campaign fund raising?
I have a bitter view of the American Legion from personal experience dating back to the days they, in conjunction with the local VFW organizations where I lived at the time, sought to keep the longhaired-hippie Viet Nam vets from having membership in the one “true veterans of America” brotherhood. It was a dark time for the VFW and the American Legion back then, and that bitter rejection stayed with many Viet Nam vets. It is one of those poignant ironies in life: the WWII vets rejected and ridiculed Viet Nam vets even more so than all the apocryphal and mostly false tales of name calling and spitting by dirty rotten hippies and their Pinko anti-war protestors.
When it comes to veterans, the press, the public, the politicians, and the pundits, all suffer a willful amnesia until a new glittery VA crisis arises that offers click-bait headlines on the internet and draws ratings and eyeballs while everyone sputters patriotic mantras and talking points and shouts, “Off with their heads!” Then they all move on to the next sparkling sexy piece of tabloid infotainment.
That’s what will happen here. You can bet on it.
Don’t believe me?
The May 22, 1970 cover story in Life Magazine: “Our Forgotten Wounded.” The inside article was written by Charles Child with accompanying photos by Co Rentmeester and was titled: “From Vietnam to a VA Hospital Assignment to Neglect.” One photo revealed the heartbreak of vets in conditions so crowded they shared a room with trash cans. In another, a quadriplegic veteran lies naked on a bed surrounded by a growing pile of dirty laundry. Rats ran wild through the place. There was a photo of a sign that instructed workers: “Leaky Roof! Move Bed No. 6 when it rains!”
From the article:
Besides the dead, there are the wounded: 275,000 of them to date. A man hit in Vietnam has twice as good a chance of surviving as he did in Korea and World War II-helicopter teams evacuate the wounded faster, often within minutes, support hospitals perform miraculous repairs on injuries that tend to be more devastating than ever before. But having been saved by the best field medicine in history and given initial treatment in first-rate military facilities, one out of every seven U.S. servicemen wounded in Vietnam is fated to pass into the bleak backwaters of our Veterans Administration hospitals.

With 166 separate institutions, the VA hospital system is the biggest in the world. The 800,000 patients it treats in a year, mainly men wounded in earlier wars, range from cardiac to psychiatric cases. It is disgracefully understaffed, with standards far below those of an average community hospital. Many wards remain closed for want of personnel and the rest are strained with overcrowding. Facilities for long-term treatment and rehabilitation, indispensable for the kind of paralytic injuries especially common in this war of land mines and boobytraps, are generally inferior. At Miami's VA hospital, while sophisticated new equipment sits idle for lack of trained personnel, patients may wait hours for needed blood transfusions. At the VA's showplace hospital in Washington, D.C. a single registered nurse may minister to as many as 80 patients at a time. At the Wadsworth VA Hospital in Los Angeles, doctors who work there describe ward conditions as "medieval" and "filthy."

Veterans Administration Director Donald E. Johnson insists publicly that veterans receive "care second to none." The evidence is overwhelmingly against him. A five-month inquiry by a Senate subcommittee chaired by California's Alan Cranston has documented gross inadequacies and laid the main blame directly on a series of cutbacks in the VA medical budget. This sum presently amounts to roughly $1.6 billion a year, somewhat less than the cost of one month's fighting in Vietnam. Additional appropriations of $122 million for next year await probable congressional approval and could help ease the immediate crisis. But within the next 12 months 16,000 more men from Vietnam are expected to come under the Veterans Administration's care.
Here is the Disabled American Veterans in 2005:
The Administration has proposed one of the most tight-fisted, miserly budgets for veterans programs in recent memory, said the 1.2 million member Disabled American Veterans (DAV). Instead of providing adequate funds for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical system, the budget proposes to shift the cost burden onto the backs of veterans, making health care more expensive and even less accessible for millions of America's defenders. "The VA medical system has been strained to the breaking point over the years because its appropriation has failed to keep pace with the skyrocketing costs of health care and increased patient loads," said National Commander James E. Sursely. "As a result VA facilities across the country are cutting staff and limiting services even as the number of veterans seeking care is on the rise."
As Yogi Berra said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Or perhaps we should just say: SOSDD – same old shit different day.
There is always money for weapons, bombers, drones, and war. There is never money enough for the wounded and the weary and those in need of healing.
How can that be?
Before we chop off heads or fire all the top brass or blame Obama and Bush, maybe we should ask ourselves a few questions.
Do we even know how the VA health system works? How many good people work there? How many bad people? What happens to so-called whistleblowers that expose wrongdoing? What can we do to change “the system,” or have we become the system? Does anyone really care? How much do we care?
Do you remember Maude DeVictor? She was a godsend for veterans suffering from Agent Orange and the effects of dioxin. In the 1986 TV movie Unnatural Causes, Maude DeVictor was portrayed by one of my favorite actors, the wonderful Alfre Woodard. If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it. John Ritter starred, and his character was a composite of many veterans, including Paul Reutershan, who famously appeared on the Today Show in 1978 and uttered the now infamous: “I died in Vietnam, but I didn’t even know it.”
Paul Reutershan and many, many others simply died and thus went away, disappeared. But Maude DeVictor didn’t go away. She kept at it and became an expert on Agent Orange and a fierce advocate for suffering veterans even as she was fired from her job at the Chicago VA.
So here we are, forty-plus years down the road and another Veterans fiasco is in the headlines.
Does it matter?
Should I go on?
Should I write a part two of this piece and offer a ride through the VA health system and maybe give you a view through the eyes of a veteran or two? Will that help anyone understand and want to become involved in fixing things?
And should I offer a part three of this little series, to tell you what I see as possible solutions that maybe we all can present to our elected representatives? Maybe create a petition to be passed around and signed and forwarded to Congress and the White House?
Or should we just move on with a shrug that says nothing’s going to change?
Like all abandoned children of war,
These wounded and misbegotten
Are left broken and forgotten
The parade is over
The flag has been folded away
Or put up for sale

Here’s a bumper sticker: Support The Troops!
Have a nice trip
Embrace the suck – Get over it – Move on
Thank-you for your service!
Thanks for my service?
What am I, your goddamned waiter!
It don’t mean nothin’.

IRS to Propose New Rules for Dark Money Groups

The repugicans depend on the big money of Sheldon Addelson, the Koch Brothers and other corporatist billionaires.  However, the repugican cabal’s biggest financial resource is the secret money funneled through political action groups masquerading as social welfare groups aka 501 c 4 groups.
The benefit of 501 c 4 status is it provides legal cover for political donors to evade the transparency that the Roberts Court said would compensate for unleashing billionaires to buy our government.  The billionaires who pay the repugican cabal to increase corporate welfare while starving children (especially Urban children with bonus points if they can starve more Urban children who are black) aren’t satisfied with merely having the green light to buy politicians in every state and DC.  They want secrecy too.  After all, being outed as someone who believes the only purpose of government is subsidize corporations or the vote should be restricted to property owners can be bad for the bottom line.
As Ruth Marcus pointed out, “Big money is troubling; secret money is toxic” to free and fair elections.
Given the criticism that the IRS received in its handling of 501 c 4 applicants, it is rewriting the rules for 501 c 4′s from scratch and will hold public hearings on the proposed new rules.
This could be resolved simply if the IRS simply applied the relevant text of the Revenue Act of 1913.
Civil leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare or local associations of employees, the membership of which is limited to the employees of a designated person or persons in a particular municipality, and the net earnings of which are devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes.
Today’s 501 c 4 problem really is a result of the IRS’s making.  Back in 1959, the IRS decided to reinterpret the original law with the following:
a]n organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare if it is primarily engaged in promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the people of the community. An organization embraced within this section is one which is operated primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterments and social improvements.
This wasn’t a big problem until the Roberts Court decided that money is speech.  After the Citizens United ruling, applications for 501 c 4 status went through the roof and so did the dark money. As noted by Open Secrets 
Since the Citizens United decision, the number of groups applying for 501(c)(4) status has dramatically increased, more than doubling in the years following the ruling, according to a May 2013 Treasury inspector’s general report. The money spent by these groups on politics — or at least the money we know is being spent (has also skyrocketed. The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that in the 2012 election, 501(c) groups spent at least $333 million and that’s only the money we can track. That’s an increase of 53 percent from 2008, the last election before Citizens United, when the same type of groups spent just $159 million.
As was pointed out a year ago,
According to data released by the Television Bureau of Advertising, local television stations raked in nearly $3 billion in dark money from political ads in 2012. The sources behind that money are rarely revealed to the viewer, sort of like the anonymous trolls of TV.
Changes are needed because anonymous TV trolling is the repugican cabal’s propaganda method of choice and it will only get worse.  Obviously, repugicans and their tea party of useful idiots will cry persecution if the proposed rule changes result in following the intended law because that would end their ability to troll TV anonymously.  In this case, the simple solution may have the repugicans crying in their tea, but it is also the best solution if we are to regain the transparency that is necessary for an informed electorate to participate in free and fair elections.

Senate repugicans throw yet another temper tantrum

Senate repugicans are in the middle of another one of their patented temper tantrums, grinding the chamber to a halt over a dispute about offering amendments to a tax cut bill that's on the floor. As is often the case, repugicans say they actually support the bill-but are nonetheless demanding concessions over process.
    "If our guys are getting shut out, I think it's awfully hard to be for this process, even though most of us support the bill," said Sen. John Thune (S.D.), a member of both repugican cabal leadership and the Finance panel.
Getting shut out? Really? This is a bipartisan bill to extend business tax breaks and it's sponsored by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and repugcian Sen. Orrin Hatch. That's hardly what you call getting shut out of the process. But yet even Hatch is flipping out:
    "It's more important to assert our rights than to do anything else," said Hatch, the top repugican on the Finance Committee.
Apparently, they won't be happy unless they can do things like approve the Keystone pipeline and repeal parts of Obamacare in the legislation as well. Because even though they support the legislation, and even though most senators think the legislation is a good idea, that's not enough for them. Because, in the words of Orrin Hatch, nothing is more important than for Senate repugicans to "assert" their rights.

State repugicans: no benefits unless you shut up and obey your boss

Writing in the NYT, Corey Robin highlights the frightening trend in state repugican cabal labor laws to deny unemployment benefits to workers who are fired for breaking the "behavioral norms" demanded by employers, from dating workers from rival companies to posting unhappy work-related remarks to the Internet. Wingnut douchebag Ben Stein loves these rules, and wants high schools to help instill them by vigorously punishing "talking back" -- if you're subordinate, you need to learn not to be insubordinate.
For more background, see the Economic Policy Institute's 2013 report, The Legislative Attack on American Wages and Labor Standards, 2011–2012.
And if workers don’t learn that lesson in junior high, recent Republican changes to state unemployment codes will ensure that they learn it as adults. In 2011, Florida stipulated that any employee fired for “deliberate violation or disregard of the reasonable standards of behavior which the employer expects” would be ineligible for unemployment benefits. Arkansas passed a similar amendment (“violation of any behavioral policies of the employer”). The following year so did South Carolina (“deliberate violations or disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect”) and Tennessee. The upshot of these changes is that any employee breaking the rules of her employer — be they posting comments about work on Facebook, dating a co-worker or an employee from a rival firm, going to the bathroom without permission — can be fired and denied unemployment. Faced with that double penalty, any worker might think twice about crossing her boss.
What might Adam Smith, often claimed as the intellectual godfather of the American wingnuts, have said about these legislative efforts? “Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate the differences between masters and their workmen,” wrote Smith in “The Wealth of Nations,” “its counsellors are always the masters. When the regulation, therefore, is in favour of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters.”

That one Obamacare provision that helps young people? It's giving them a raise, too

The good Obamacare news just doesn't stop rolling in. A new study [$$$] in the Journal of Health Economics looked at what happens to young people who can stay on their parents' insurance plans while starting their professional lives, and finds far-reaching benefits. Reporting on the study, Business Insider explains the study and its findings.
Thirty-five states had adopted similar provisions previous to Obamacare between 1995-2010, in which people could stay on their parents' plans from age 24 up to 30. They looked at the results for those people.
    The study determined the provision offers young adults more flexibility making both educational and work choices earlier in their lives. This flexibility leads to better employment matches for new workers entering the labor force. It also leads to higher overall wages, according to the study. […]
    Based on the provision's effect in those states and the fact more employers will have to provide coverage nationally under the Affordable Care Act, the study estimates the provision will increase wages by an average of 3.5% to 4.6% for people who were 18 or younger when the health-care overhaul passed.

The "new" repugican mantra: fear, fear, FEAR!

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss ....

The repugican Fears Of Debt Crisis Disappear When It's Time To Cut Taxes

Last month House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (r-WI) repeatedly warned of a coming "debt crisis" in a speech justifying his budget's steep cuts to programs that benefit the middle class and poor.
On Friday those warnings were nowhere to be found when nearly every repugican voted to permanently revive a research and development tax break for businesses. It was the first of six business-backed "tax extenders" approved in committee and expected to pass the House, worth a total of $310 billion. All unpaid-for.

Politico’s Poll Showing Democrats In Trouble This Midterm Election Is a Total Crock

This week, political news site Politico released a poll showing that Democrats are at a seven-point disadvantage against repugicans in the upcoming midterm elections. The poll is supposed to reflect voter sentiments in the most competitive House and Senate races this year. For the House races, the poll shows that Democrats trail repugicans by 9 points, 39% -30%. As for the Senate, repugicans hold a seven-point advantage, 43% -36%. This poll seems to predict a gloomy outcome for the Democrats in November. It is certainly possible that repugicans can gain control of the Senate and retain their majority on the House. However, this poll is a total crock.
It is always important to look into the methodology used by a poll to see how credible it is. In this instance, the poll was tilted heavily in repugicans’ favor from the outset, creating the results that we see. The claim of the poll is to show ‘competitive’ House and Senate races, so the interviewees were only from those areas. Yet, the poll shows that 39% of the respondents are repugicans. 34% stated that they’re Democrats. Only 26% identified as independents. Compare this with the country at large, where 31% identify are registered with the Democratic Party, 25% identify as repugican and 42% claim to be independent.
Of course, this is supposed to reflect the ‘competitive’ races only, so we have to give some leeway here. It is quite possible that the districts and state with tight races have much a higher combined saturation of repugicans than the country as a whole. However, it also seems like additional methods were applied in this poll to get a more wingnut favoring result. 49% of the respondents are 55 or older. In the last election, less than 42% of the voters were in that age bracket. Now, perhaps it is possible that in these districts and states, there is just a larger percentage of older voters than in the country as a whole.
Along racial demographics, this poll’s respondents are mostly white. While less than 64% of this country now identifies as being non-Hispanic white, 77% of those interviewed by Politico’s polling firm are white. Only 7% of those polled are Hispanic, despite Hispanics making up over 16% of the population now. Even when going based on likely voter percentages, it still provides a skewed total. Non-Hispanic whites represented less than 74% of the actual voters in the last election and 73% of the registered voters. Considering the efforts to get more Hispanics registered and engaged, it would seem like they are underrepresented in this poll. But, once again, it could just be the districts and states.
There’s another piece of data that strains the credibility of this poll. While we’ve already pointed out how the poll is skewed to represent old, white repugicans, it is possible that this is just what the data provides in these competitive races. However, when it is broken down by region, we see that 31% of the respondents are from the South Atlantic. However, this region represents only three of the 16 Senate races this poll is supposed to cover (Georgia, West Virginia, North Carolina) as well as eleven (four in Florida, one in Georgia, one in North Carolina, three in West Virginia, two in Virginia) of sixty House races. So, even though the South Atlantic only accounts for 18.75% of the competitive Senate races and 18.33% of the House races, Southern voters make up nearly one-third of the poll’s respondents.
Now, it could be that the combined population of the districts and states for the South Atlantic is greater than that of the other races they are polling, leading to the preponderance of Southern voters in this poll. However, when you combine all of these little outliers we see in this poll together, you get a very repugican-friendly result. Basically, you have a bunch of old, white, Southern voters who are still angry about Obamacare, despite the fact that the rest of the country has moved on (60% of respondents stated that we should still be debating the health care law, which is pretty much the opposite of what we’ve seen in recent nationwide polls.)
This poll’s greatest value is as a talking point for repugicans to try to discourage Democrats from voting in this year’s election. We saw a bit of that take place on Monday morning’s edition of Morning Joe:
Now, Democrats should not feel overly confident heading into the midterms this year. There is a real possibility that they can lose the Senate this year. Turnout is going to be key and Democrats need to energize voters so they come out in November. Having said that, they shouldn’t worry too much about a poll from a political website that seems like it was made in order to grab clicks and get pundits talking rather than for the purpose of legitimate data gathering.

This idiot repugican House Candidate Claims 99 Percent of Mass Shooters are Democrats




Court Finds Nikki Haley Violated Protesters' Civil Rights

Why is it tea partiers are always raving on and on about the Constitution but they rarely, if ever, follow it? Remember when Bobby Jindal hilariously tried to shred the Constitution when MoveOn exposed his deadly and pathetic refusal to expand Medicaid? That blew up in his face when a court sided with MoveOn and Jindal had to face political consequences of not just being a murderer, but a sourpuss Governor who can't take criticism. Well now another repugican has just been smacked on the wrist for their unconstitutional acts. A federal appeals court ruled a few days ago on Monday that South Carolina's Nikki Haley can be sued for violating the civil rights of Occupy Columbia protesters who she had removed from the Statehouse grounds and arrested back in 2011.
Because the protesters were annoying Mrs. Haley, she issued the Bureau of Protective Services to arrest the Occupy members on their camp sight who were on statehouse property past 6 p.m. The officers, on direct orders of Haley, placed zip ties on the wrists on the protesters, arrested them and subsequently took them to Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. The case was taken to court last December.
Circuit Judge Stephanie D Thacker wrote in her decision that:
    "In light of the case law from this circuit and from the Supreme Court, it was clearly established on November 16, 2011, that arresting Occupy Columbia for protesting on State House grounds after 6:00 p.m. was a First Amendment violation."
    "It is not disputed that South Carolina and its state officials could have restricted the time when the State House grounds are open to the public with a valid time, place, and manner restriction. However, as explained above, at the time of Occupy Columbia's arrest, no such restrictions existed."

North Carolina repugican cabal Pushes Unprecedented Bill to Jail Anyone Who Discloses Fracking Chemicals

As hydraulic fracturing ramps up around the country, so do concerns about its health impacts. These concerns have led 20 states to require the disclosure of industrial chemicals used in the fracking process.
North Carolina isn't on that list of states yet—and it may be hurtling in the opposite direction.
On Thursday, three Republican state senators introduced a bill that would slap a felony charge on individuals who disclosed confidential information about fracking chemicals. The bill, whose sponsors include a member of Republican party leadership, establishes procedures for fire chiefs and health care providers to obtain chemical information during emergencies. But as the trade publication Energywire noted Friday, individuals who leak information outside of emergency settings could be penalized with fines and several months in prison.
"The felony provision is far stricter than most states' provisions in terms of the penalty for violating trade secrets," says Hannah Wiseman, a Florida State University assistant law professor who studies fracking regulations.
The bill also allows companies that own the chemical information to require emergency responders to sign a confidentiality agreement. And it's not clear what the penalty would be for a health care worker or fire chief who spoke about their experiences with chemical accidents to colleagues.
"I think the only penalties to fire chiefs and doctors, if they talked about it at their annual conference, would be the penalties contained in the confidentiality agreement," says Wiseman. "But [the bill] is so poorly worded, I cannot confirm that if an emergency responder or fire chief discloses that confidential information, they too would not be subject to a felony." In some sections, she says, "That appears to be the case."
The disclosure of the chemicals used to break up shale formations and release natural gas is one of the most heated issues surrounding fracking. Many energy companies argue that the information should be proprietary, while public health advocates counter that they can't monitor for environmental and health impacts without it. Under public pressure, a few companies have begun to report chemicals voluntarily.
North Carolina has banned fracking until the state can approve regulations. The bill introduced Thursday, titled the Energy Modernization Act, is meant to complement the rules currently being written by the North Carolina Mining & Energy Commission.
Wiseman adds that, other than the felony provision, the bill proposes disclosure laws similar to those in many other states: "It allows for trade secrets to remain trade secrets, it provides only limited exceptions for reasons of emergency and health problems, and provides penalties for failure to honor the trade secret."
Draft regulations from the North Carolina commission have been praised as some of the strongest fracking rules in the country. But observers already worry that the final regulations will be significantly weaker. In early May, the commission put off approving a near-final chemical disclosure rule because Haliburton, which has huge stakes in the fracking industry, complained the proposal was too strict, the News & Observer reported.
For portions of the repugican-controlled North Carolina government to kowtow to the energy industry is not surprising. In February, the Associated Press reported that under repugican  Pat McCrony, North Carolina's top environmental regulators previously thwarted three separate Clean Water Act lawsuits aimed at forcing Duke Energy, the largest electricity utility in the country, to clean up its toxic coal ash pits in the state. Had those lawsuits been allowed to progress, they may have prevented the February rupture of a coal ash storage pond, which poured some 80,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River.
"Environmental groups say they favor some of the provisions [in the Energy Modernization Act]," Energywire reported Friday. "It would put the state geologist in charge of maintaining the chemical information and would allow the state's emergency management office to use it for planning. It also would allow the state to turn over the information immediately to medical providers and fire chiefs."
However, environmentalists point out that the bill would also prevent local governments from passing any rules on fracking and limit water testing that precedes a new drilling operation.
When the rich oligarchs (the Koch brothers) control your government.

Gun-nut lobbyist hopeful that Bundy militia will block feds if they try to do anything, anywhere

The same militias that prevented the Bureau of Land Management from rounding up cattle at Cliven Bundy's ranch in Nevada could take action against federal agents all across the Western United States, according to the head of a gun advocacy group.
Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt made the comments over the weekend while interviewing former Sheriff Richard Mack, the founder of the posse group called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.
Pratt said the federal government had "really embarrassed themselves" during the armed standoff between BLM agents and militia members in Nevada.
"Hopefully, they are not going to be able to recover from this, because if there is anything at all similar, be it cows or a mine or cutting trees or anything of that sort where, typically in the West, those are the kind of situations where the feds think they got it all," he said. "It is time that, hopefully Bundy is going to be the encouragement - or maybe from the feds view the match in the gasoline - that redirects the way the federal government has been handling its unauthorized, unconstitutional, very poor stewardship of so much of the West."

Daily Comic Relief


John Doe lawsuit judge's assistant married to Scott Walker campaign lawyer

Via the Wisconsin State Journal:
    An assistant to the federal judge who ordered a halt to the state's secret investigation into possible illegal campaign coordination between Gov. Scott Walker's campaign and wingnut groups is married to a lawyer for Walker's campaign - which could be grounds for a judge to step down from a case. [...]
    Walker's campaign paid Biskupic's law firm $86,000 last year, according to a recent campaign finance report. Walker's campaign is also one of the targets in the John Doe probe, according to court filings.
    According to the federal Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees, employees working for federal judges should not perform any official duties in any matter in which a spouse has an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding.

Drinking the Kool-Aid ...

Climate Change Denial Kool-Aid

More Than One Million Suffer Worst Flooding In Over A Century

At least 25 people are dead and tens of thousands more are without water or electricity as record rainfall in the Balkan countries of Bosnia and Serbia has led to the worst flooding in 120 years of data.
Three months' worth of rain fell in three days last week, causing almost a third of Bosnia to resemble a muddy lake. Those spared direct flooding have been hit by one of around 300 landslides occurring in the last several days. Bosnian Security Ministry spokesman Admir Malagic said that about one million people, more than a quarter of the country's population, inhabit the affected area.
"Bosnia is facing a horrible catastrophe," said Bakir Izetbegovic, the chairman of the Bosnian three-man presidency. "We are still not fully aware of actual dimensions of the catastrophe … we will have to take care of hundreds, thousands of people."
Beyond the elements of natural disaster, the floods are uprooting or otherwise jeopardizing the more than 100,000 landmines left over from the regional conflict in the 1990s.
"The torrential rain, floods and landslides are likely to cause the mines to move," writes Guy De Launey of BBC News. "Warning signs have already been washed away in a number of places. When the floods finally recede, there will be an urgent need for the deminers to move in."

Walmart's poor sales don't keep top executives from getting millions in 'incentive' pay

Low sales won't keep Walmart's Bill Simon from getting incentive pay.

Workers in Walmart warehouse get $21 million wage theft settlement

Workers in a Walmart warehouse may get $21 million in back pay, interest and penalties as part of a wage theft settlement with contractor Schneider Logistics. If you're thinking, "Wow, $21 million is a lot," you're right-and there's reason to raise an eyebrow at Schneider's willingness to pay that much as a settlement rather than taking its chances in court.
The workers and their lawyers had fought to get Walmart included as a defendant in the case, arguing that since the warehouse was dedicated entirely to Walmart products and Walmart exercises significant control over working conditions, it was, with Schneider, a joint employer of the workers. Earlier this year, a judge agreed with that argument, saying Walmart would have to go to trial. However:
    ... under the terms of the settlement, the full amount of the penalty falls to Schneider, the contractor. Walmart will pay nothing.
    "We're obviously pleased with the proposed settlement agreement," said Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman. "Schneider is the one that's solely responsible for paying the agreed upon amount."
Not only that, Walmart avoids a trial that could have found that, yes, Walmart is responsible for abuses in its warehouses. Given the size of the proposed settlement-as compared, for instance, with a $4.7 million settlement in a separate case last year-you have to wonder if Walmart put pressure on Schneider to make this case go away.  

Coming Tomorrow

Coming Tomorrow
  • Craco
  • Taforni
  • Godafoss
  • Wat Rong Khun
And more ...
This giraffe is our Animal Picture, for today.