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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Daily Drift

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For those interested: In World Cup play Spain bested Australia 3-0: the Netherlands bested Chile 2-0: Brazil bested Cameroon 4-1 and Mexico bested Croatia 3-1 in play on the twelfth day of the tourney.

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Today in History

1314 Scottish forces, led by Robert the Bruce, win an overwhelming victory against English King Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn.
1340 The English fleet defeats the French fleet at Sluys, off the Flemish coast.
1497 Explorer John Cabot lands in North America in present-day Canada.
1509 Henry VIII is crowned King of England.
1664 The colony of New Jersey, named after the Isle of Jersey, is founded.
1647 Margaret Brent, demands a voice and a vote for herself in the Maryland colonial assembly.
1675 King Philip's War begins.
1812 Napoleon crosses the Nieman River and invades Russia.
1859 At the Battle of Solferino, also known as the Battle of the Three Sovereigns, the French army, led by Napoleon III, defeats the Austrian army under Franz Joseph I.
1861 Federal gunboats attack Confederate batteries at Mathias Point, Virginia.
1862 U.S. intervention saves the British and French at the Dagu forts in China.
1896 Booker T. Washington becomes the first African American to receive an honorary MA degree from Harvard University.
1910 The Japanese army invades Korea.
1913 Greece and Serbia annul their alliance with Bulgaria following border disputes over Macedonia and Thrace.
1931 The Soviet Union and Afghanistan sign a treaty of neutrality.
1940 France signs an armistice with Italy.
1941 President Franklin Roosevelt pledges all possible support to the Soviet Union.
1943 Royal Air Force Bombers hammer Muelheim, Germany, in a drive to cripple the Ruhr industrial base.
1948 The Soviet Union begins the Berlin Blockade, America responds with the Berlin Airlift.
1953 John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier announce their engagement.
1955 Soviet MIG's down a U.S. Navy patrol plane over the Bering Strait.
1964 The Federal Trade Commission announces that, starting in 1965, cigarette makers must include warning labels about the harmful effects of smoking.
1970 The U.S. Senate votes overwhelmingly to repeal the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Non Sequitur


No One In Washington Is Fighting As Hard To Strengthen Families as President Obama

An integral part of strong families is the ability to take time out of a busy life of work to care for loved ones ...
A regular refrain from repugicans is asserting they are the only advocates for families in America, and yet every aspect of their never-changing agenda is working against what they claim is the backbone of a strong America. Whether it is opposing decent wages, gender pay equity, affordable healthcare, or slashing education budgets, eliminating pensions, and withholding assistance for struggling Americans, there is no area of family life that is not adversely affected by repugican policies. An integral part of strong families is the ability to take time out of a busy life of work to care for loved ones, regardless of age, when the need arises, and there is no-one in Washington fighting to strengthen families as hard as President Obama.
During his weekly radio address on Saturday, President Obama spent time promoting a White House Summit on Working Families scheduled for Monday between business leaders and workers to discuss challenges working parents face every day, and how the two sides can address them together. One thing was immediately clear listening to the President; he is fervent in his support for families and addressed why America’s workplace standards lag in comparison to the rest of the developed world and are ultimately detriment to working families, business, and the nation’s economy.
The President noted that “Only three countries in the world don’t offer paid maternity leave. Three. And the United States is one of them. It’s time to change that. A few states have acted on their own to give workers paid family leave, but this should be available to everyone, because all Americans should be able to afford to care for a family member in need.” The President also pointed out that only three states in America offer workers maternity or family need time and said it was time for all Americans to be able to “afford” to care for a family member in need. Many employers do not even give unpaid time off to care for a new baby or ailing family member, which is why the President’s carefully worded “be able to ‘afford’ to care for a family member” will not please repugicans in Congress or state legislatures.
President Obama also noted that “most working families I know can’t afford thousands a year for childcare that leaves parents scrambling just to make sure their kids are safe while they’re at work – forget about high-quality early childhood education that helps kids succeed in life.” He also addressed workers’ ability to work from home if a child is sick, or take time to make parent-teacher conferences that most workers want, but can hardly afford it even if their employers are “generous” and offer unpaid time off. The President cited studies that demonstrated paid leave makes workers more productive and reduces turnover and absenteeism that is good for business.
In fact, the study the President cited, “The Economics of Paid and Unpaid Leave,” investigated the three states that mandate businesses provide maternity and family leave and discovered that there is no downside to providing what all but three countries in the developed world offer. The survey of 253 businesses affected by California’s paid family leave initiative found that “the vast majority of businesses, well over 90%, reported either positive or no noticeable effects on profitability, turnover, or morale.” Obviously, most workers relish the idea of not facing economic ruin for taking time off of work to care for a new baby or an ailing parent, so the report focused on the cost and benefits of paid family leave programs from an employer perspective. The consensus is that besides the positive effects on long-term productivity, recruitment, retention, and employee motivation were greatly enhanced by offering something nearly every developed nation on Earth provides their workforce.
Although the President cited the need for women in the workforce to have time to care for their families and still work, he specifically noted that men also care about “who’s watching their kids, rearranging their schedules to attend school functions, care for their aging parents, and spend time at home during their new baby’s first weeks in the world.” As the President spoke, it was apparent that not only is he deeply concerned with strengthening families, but that America’s archaic workplace standards “put us way behind the times,” does not contribute to worker satisfaction, and is not good for business.
As is their wont, repugicans claim giving workers any benefits is the death knell for businesses, and it is a pathetic excuse for their anti-worker policies at every level whether it is workplace safety, decent wages, or even unpaid sick leave. It is irrefutable that repugicans are American workers’ greatest enemy whether they oppose the minimum wage (forget raising it ), attempt to eliminate workplace safety regulations, rob workers’ pensions, destroy unions, or eliminate overtime pay. The concepts of mandatory paid maternity or family leave are, like mandatory paid vacations, policies repugicans will oppose en masse under the guise of protecting business profits. However, in the great majority of developed nations where paid vacations, paid sick leave, and paid maternity leave for fathers and mothers are mandatory, businesses are just as profitable as American business. Combined with minimum wages twice that of America, foreign businesses thrive despite repugican claims to the contrary.
The repugicans claim forcing women into perpetual birthing proves their devotion to families, but they have opposed something as family friendly as paid maternity leave after the baby is born to either take women out of the workforce, or deprive them of the all-important time with their newborns. California is the first state in the nation to mandate paid maternity leave and businesses are thriving and the benefit strengthens families as well as the bond between employer and employee.
Where repugicans are the antithesis of family friendly, President Obama is a champion of strong families and he is taking the necessary steps to correct the conditions repugicans have pushed over the past decades. Throughout the President’s tenure in the White House, he has advocated prosperity and opportunities for all Americans to succeed, and part of that success is predicated on strong working families that he said means “our economy grows best from the middle-out, and that “our country does better when everybody participates.” Integral to everyone participating are workplace policies that foster productivity and worker satisfaction, and as he has done since his first day in office, this President reiterated “that’s the America I’ll keep fighting for every day.” Unfortunately for Americans, repugicans have spent five years fighting against working American families just as stridently as the President fights for them and there is every reason to believe they will increase their attacks on working families in response to the President’s radio address.

Retro Photos

Did you know ...

About CNN: the faux news of CNN
About Medicare taken for a ride by ambulance companies in Jersey
About how corporations evade accountability at workers' expense
About how to protect your privacy on line
About the delusions of open carry
These 8 reasons some CEO's make 331 times as much as their employees
Hey, let's try out wingnut economic theories on the rich
That a study shows people don't understand how racism works
About gun violence and mental health: myth v. fact
And speaking of which, this weekend moms demand action are boycotting target due to that corporation's open carry policy #offtarget
Here's 11 maps that explain the energy system in the US
That Sea World attendance was down in 2013
And rip the inventor of kevlar, stephanie l. kwole
That study finds strong evidence of discriminatory intent in voter ID laws
That former managers allege wide spread inventory fraud at wal-mart
About 75 CDC lab workers accidentally exposed to anthrax
About the secret libraries of New York City
That sexual crimes are up on US campuses
Did a repugican cabal congressman sell his vote?
That Pharrell thinks wal-mart is a "happy" place

Dick Cheney Falls Apart and Admits That He Has No Answers On Iraq

When pressed on ABC’s This Week for a solution to the problems in Iraq, Dick Cheney’s Obama criticism fell apart as he couldn’t come up with an answer.
Transcript from ABC’s This Week:
KARL: — you made a big splash this week with an op-ed in “The Wall Street Journal” under the headline, “The Collapsing Obama Doctrine.” Some very harsh criticism of the president.

But what I didn’t read in your op-ed is what is your solution, your plan right now, for Iraq?

What would you be doing?
CHENEY: Well, first of all, Jon, I’d recognize that Iraq is not the whole problem. We’ve got a much bigger problem than just the current crisis in Iraq.
The Rand Corporation was out within the last week with a report that showed that there’s been a 58 percent increase in the number of groups like al Qaeda, Salafi jihadists. And it stretches from West Africa all across North Africa, East Africa, through the Middle East, all the way around to Indonesia, a doubling of the number of terrorists out there.
The first thing we have to do is recognize we’ve got a hell of a problem and it’s not just in Iraq. I worry about Pakistan. Just a couple of weeks ago in Pakistan, the Taliban, the same group that we just released five of the leaders of from Guantanamo, the Taliban raided Karachi Airport.
Why do I care about that?
Well, Pakistan is unique in that it has a significant inventory of nuclear weapons. We have evidence that the man who built the Pakistani program, AQ Khan, offered up recently and that was that the North Koreans have bribed Pakistani officials for sophisticated technology for enriching uranium and that the North Koreans now have some two — 2,000 centrifuges operating to enrich uranium.
We had North Korea try to provide Syria with a nuclear reactor.
The — the difficulty, the spread of the terrorist organizations is not recognized by the administration. The proliferation of nuclear capability and the possibility that it could fall into the hands of terrorists is not really being addressed at all.
And I appreciate the problems we’ve got in Iraq right now.
KARL: But — but…
CHENEY: But what I think we need is a broad strategy that lets us address this whole range of issues. And that involves reversing a number of the policies of…
KARL: But…
CHENEY: — the Obama administration.
KARL: But let me — let me ask you specifically on Iraq, because that — that’s the crisis confronting us right at this moment.
Would you in — would you take war — you know, air strikes against ISIS?
Would you move Special Forces into Iraq?
What would you do in Iraq?
CHENEY: Well, I — what we should have done in Iraq was…
KARL: No, no, what would you do now?
CHENEY: — leave behind a force — well, what I would do now, John, is, among other things, be realistic about the nature of the threat. When we’re arguing over 300 advisers when the request had been for 20,000 in order to do the job right, I’m not sure we’ve really addressed the problem.
I would definitely be helping the resistance up in Syria, in ISIS’ backyard, with training and weapons and so forth, in order to be able to do a more effective job on that end of the party.

But I think at this point, there are no good, easy answers in Iraq. And, again, I think it’s very important to emphasize that the problem we’re faced with is a much broader one, that we need to — an administration to recognize the fact that we’ve got this huge problem, quit peddling the notion that they — they got core al Qaeda and therefore there’s no problem out there.
Dick Cheney tried to filibuster the question about what should have been done years ago, but when pushed his answer was an admission that he has got nothing. His only solution is to send American troops back into to spill more blood in Iraq. Cheney is advocating the same thing that he has always wanted. The former vice president wants the United States to take over Iraq.
Cheney’s criticisms fell apart when pressed by ABC’s Jon Karl for some real ideas about what the United States could be doing differently now. Cheney is stuck in the past and can’t get over the fact that combat troops left Iraq, but instead of blaming Obama, he should be blaming his former boss for signing the agreement to leave Iraq.
Cheney has nothing. He is as devoid of answers as he was when he was vice president. Dick Cheney is an angry that Obama has undone his legacy in Iraq, but he should be thanking the president for cleaning up the mess that the shrb left behind.
The more things change, the more they remain the same. Dick Cheney was one of the repugicans who got the United States into Iraq, and nearly a dozen years later, Cheney still doesn’t have a solution for the problems that he caused.
Cheney has nothing to add to the discussion, which is another reason why the media needs to stop giving him airtime on Iraq.

For Reasons They Will Never Admit repugicans Are Responsible For The Attack on Benghazi

The repugicans are responsible for the attack on the Benghazi outpost for several reasons they will never admit, but that does not absolve them …
One of the things repugicans claim is their biggest problem with most Americans is that they do not take responsibility for their circumstances that forcing them to be held accountable would remedy. However, as is usually the case with any wingnut and particularly repugicans, the idea of accountability or responsibility is irrelevant when there are adverse consequences arising from their own actions or lack thereof. Disavowing their part in the current civil unrest in Iraq is a prime example of repugicans not taking any responsibility for creating the mess in Iraq when their great “war pretender” the shrub lied to launch a preemptive war of aggression that destabilized the country and the entire region. Of course, with an African American man in the White House, they have spent the past two weeks blaming everything going on in and around Iraq on President Obama as if he is responsible for the shrub repugicans creating sectarian violence or signing the agreement to withdraw American combat forces from the country in 2011.
It is almost a certainty that when repugicans begin blaming Democrats or President Obama for anything, it is  that they are the real culprits. For nearly two years, repugicans have spent no small amount of time and taxpayer dollars blaming the attack on the American diplomatic outpost in Benghazi Libya that claimed four American diplomats’ lives on the President and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The concept that the President and Mrs. Clinton are responsible for the Benghazi attack is beyond comprehension, even coming from repugicans, but as they ratcheted up their bizarre and false assertions, it became really obvious there was more at play than just repugican politics; they are covering up their responsibility for the deaths of four American diplomats.
The republicans are ultimately responsible for the attack on the Benghazi outpost for several reasons they will never admit, but that does not absolve them for their very substantial role in the diplomats’ deaths or eliminate the need for a special prosecutor to hold them accountable for inciting islamist militants to attack Americans. Taken on their own, any one of the reasons repugicans are responsible for the Benghazi attack is reasonable in any universe, but in their totality, there is no doubt whatsoever they, and not President Obama or Hillary Clinton, should be the focus of an investigation and subsequently held accountable for their guilt.
First, it is now a fact, right from the captured mastermind of the Benghazi attack’s mouth, that the attackers were driven by religious rage over an American-made anti-muslim video that “depicted the prophet muhammed, islam’s founder, as a homosexual, villainous child-molesting buffoon.” The repugicans rejected, out of hand, the idea the anti-islam video played any role in the Benghazi attack despite reporting in the New York Times the day after the attack that protesters were enraged over the slight to islam they first learned of from watching coverage of anti-American protests in Cairo Egypt. Now, it is true repugicans probably did not secretly fund the production of the anti-islam video, but they have incited anti-muslim sentiments in America over the past thirteen years beginning shortly after the terror attacks on 911 and continuing to this day.
If anyone believes repugicans and their wingnut masters at the anti-Heritage Fascade have not portrayed muslims as terrorists and sub-humans, they have been comatose over the past decade. On Monday, the day before the White House announced the suspect in the Benghazi attack had been captured by American special forces, the anti-Heritage Fascade hosted an islamic hate-fest documented in the Washington Post that focused on abusing a Pakistani muslim, Saga Ahmed, for suggesting that some attending the anti-Heritage conference readily stereotyped all muslims as violent and anti-American. Add to the perpetual muslim bashing the repugican predilection for military intervention in the internal affairs of muslim nations such as Iran, Syria, Libya, and once again Iraq that from a muslim, and many Americans’, point of view is just a reason to kill muslims as part of what the shrub called a “crusade” replete with American troops carrying weapons emblazoned with christian bible verses. There are also several repugican state legislatures passing absurd bans on what they call “barbaric” Sharia Law. It is little wonder that after a decade of defaming islam and muslims as sub-human monsters intent on killing good American christians in a holy war, that a devout evangelical did not appropriate funding to produce an anti-islam video that drove islamist militants to seek revenge and attack the nearest Americans at an embassy outpost lacking adequate security that is solely the fault of House repugicans.
Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, requested additional funding for embassy security early in 2011 to protect American diplomats working in muslim countries. The repugicans in the House rejected Mrs. Clinton’s request because as proud repugican Jason Chaffetz of Utah boasted upon being asked if he voted against increased embassy security funding, “Absolutely. Look, we have to make priorities and choices in this country. When you’re in tough economic time, you have to make difficult choices how to prioritize this.” Not only did the repugican House not increase embassy security funding, they voted to cut $300-million from the U.S. embassy security budget as part of their priorities due to what they call “tough economic times. Remarkably, repugicans never prioritize prioritize funding anything whether it is for Veterans, food assistance, infrastructure repair, or embassy security and yet there is always money for tax cuts for the rich and corporations and subsidies for the oil, tobacco, and pharmaceutical industry; the things most important to repugicans.
The repugicans will never take any responsibility for their integral complicity in driving anti-muslim sentiments that led to the anti-islam video that incited the attack on Benghazi the captured islamist militant said enraged muslims after seeing protests against America in Cairo. He clearly admitted he and his militia sought retribution against the nearest American establishment; the Benghazi outpost. Instead of decrying the video’s role in driving the Benghazi attack, or repugicans’ role in withholding funding for embassy security, The repugicans covered their guilt by claiming President Obama and Hillary Clinton are responsible for murdering four American diplomats. Besides refusing to take responsibility for their role in the deaths of the Americans, repugicans are hypocrites for never investigating the shrub for the deaths of thousands of Americans on 911, or the deaths of Americans in any of the several attacks on American embassies around the Middle East due to the war of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There does need to be an in-depth investigation into the Benghazi attack, but the focus should be on repugicans for their significant thirteen-year role in inciting anti-muslim anger that drove the production of the video that led to anti-American rage and the attack that killed four Americans. The repugicans should also be held accountable for deliberately withholding funds for increased embassy security; particularly after then-Secretary of State Clinton requested help to protect American diplomats and then lying that tough economic times meant leaving Americans to die while the oil industry received millions in subsidies. It is time for Democrats to turn the tables on repugicans and lay out their case to the American people about why four Americans were killed and who is responsible.
It is true islamist militants attacked and killed four Americans in Benghazi, but without two wars of aggression to kill muslims, thirteen years of fear mongering leading a christian malcontent to produce a virulent anti-islam video, and repugicans withholding funding for embassy security, Americans would have never heard of Benghazi and four American diplomats would be alive. The repugicans may not have pulled the triggers or launched rocket-propelled grenades that killed Americans in Benghazi, but they are responsible for the Benghazi attack and for that they must be held to account for killing four American diplomats.

Captured Suspect Said Benghazi Attack Was Revenge For Anti-Islam Video

Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the suspect captured by U.S. special forces on Tuesday for his role in the 2012 Benghazi attack, reportedly said he was motivated in part by the anti-Islam online video made in America, according to the New York Times.
"What he did in the period just before the attack has remained unclear. But Mr. Abu Khattala told other Libyans in private conversations during the night of the attack that he was moved to attack the diplomatic mission to take revenge for an insult to Islam in an American-made online video," Times reporter David Kirkpatrick wrote in a story on Khattala on Tuesday.

The repugican Led House Passes an Unconstitutional Defense Spending Bill

boehner-frownLed by the repugican cabal, the House passed a defense spending bill today that violated the constitution separation of powers by stripping President Obama of his Commander in Chief authority.
By a vote of 340-73, the House passed a defense spending bill that includes a provision that forbids President Obama from moving any detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay for a year.
The problem with this piece of legislation is that it is not constitutional.
Before the House passed the bill, the White House had already labeled the GITMO provisions unconstitutional, “The Administration strongly objects to sections 8107, 8108, 8139, and 9015 of the bill, each of which would restrict the Executive Branch’s ability to manage the Guantánamo detainee population. The President has repeatedly objected to the inclusion of these or similar provisions in prior legislation and this year has reiterated his call to the Congress to lift such restrictions. As the President said in his State of the Union Address, “this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantánamo Bay.” Operating the detention facility at Guantánamo weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists. These provisions are unwarranted and threaten to interfere with the Executive Branch’s ability to determine the appropriate disposition of detainees and its flexibility to determine when and where to prosecute Guantánamo detainees based on the facts and circumstances of each case and our national security interests. Sections 8107, 8139, and 9015 would, moreover, violate constitutional separation-of-powers principles under certain circumstances.”
The White House is correct on this one. The repugicans have always tried to ignore this fact, but the GITMO detainees that were captured during armed conflict are prisoners of war. The House does not have the constitutional authority to forbid the president from doing anything with POWs. This is why, until now, congress has chosen to block President Obama’s efforts to close the prison by withholding funding.
The House of Representatives is limited to controlling the power of the purse, and congressional oversight. The repugicans who voted for this bill stepped way over the line, and violated the constitution. The repugicans sought no legislation to limit the shrub when he released or transferred 500 detainees from GITMO.
Instead of fighting President Obama to keep an abomination to international law open, Congress should do the right thing and appropriate the funds to close down the prison at Guantanamo Bay once and for all.

The repugicans Don’t Actually Need Electoral Opponents in 2014 as They Wage Public Civil War

Tax Refrom Presser
If midterm election years have a reputation for being tepid and boring, a typically alienating cycle where the opposition party stokes its base with a referendum on the sitting President, 2014 is bucking the script.
By now we’ve all had time to digest the “shocking,” “stunning,” “earthquake” (all terms culled from actual media coverage) that is lame duck House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s ejection from his post by the likes of tea party upstart Dave Brat. Brat, an economics professor at Virginia’s Randolph-Macon College, is doing his level best to upend quite a few paradigms. After unseating Cantor while leveraging an infinitesimal campaign budget (you’ve heard the statistic: Brat spent $200,000 – slightly more than what Cantor’s campaign dropped on steak dinners), the most cynical of us are taking another look at the assumption that mass money buys outcomes without exception.
At the same time, Brat demonstrates that earning a PhD in a scientific discipline is no guarantee that data will have bearing on political policy development. Brat won over his wingnut district with a staunch anti-immigration position that flies against the express desires of three major constituent groups: economists, business leaders and religious organizations.
But in between Cantor’s surprise overthrow and the tragic and scary events unfolding in a foundering Iraq, another story of repugican cabal cognitive dissonance was somewhat lost in the shuffle. I am speaking of last weekend’s repugican cabal coven in Moscow, Idaho, managed by wannabe House Majority Leader Raul Labrador. I am not sure I could provide a synopsis of the disaster more succinct and factual than writer Betsy Z. Russell of The Spokesman-Review:
“Idaho’s state repugican cabal coven degenerated into a fiasco Saturday after attempts to disqualify up to a third of the delegates attending appeared to be succeeding – and the coven ended up adjourning without electing a chairman, setting a platform or doing any of it scheduled business…Far from uniting the deeply divided cabal, the gathering in Moscow degenerated into dysfunction – though it’s the cabal that holds every statewide office in Idaho, every seat in the congressional delegation and more than 80 percent of the seats in the state Legislature. It also proved not to be the finest hour for Labrador, whom many looked to as the healer for the fractured cabal just a day after he announced that he’s running for Majority Leader of the U.S. House; instead, he ended the coven facing jeers and walkouts from his own cabal members.”
I must own that I gasped audibly at several points while reading the text. June 2014 is the month of conservative schadenfreude that keeps on giving. But once the gleeful laughter recedes, an obvious question presents itself. Why does the cabal continue warring with itself during the primary season in the absence of any logical reason to do so?
The fallout from the silliness appears to be forcing a premature end to Labrador’s national ambitions before they have an opportunity to gain traction. Boise State University professor emeritus Jim Weatherby, a longtime observer of Idaho politics, noted, “It’s hard to blame all this on Raul Labrador, but on the other hand, this does not strengthen his credentials for a national leadership position, either.”
These increasingly common and bizarre instances of repugican infighting have clearly been a longtime coming. “Mainstream” wingnuts asked for this after President Obama’s first election, when they welcomed new radical and reactionary elements to the fold that predicted long-term implosion. And anyone who paid attention to the fall 2013 government shutdown will recall that heated rhetoric was just as often repugican on repugican as it was sane person versus wingnut.
The larger lesson may be that the best Democratic strategy for the 2014 midterms is no strategy at all. Sit back, take it easy. Put up your local candidates and support them, but why bother exerting yourself or spending a ton of money to go negative? Conserve your resources and watch your enemies eat other.

Bobby Jindal Thinks Dumbing Down America Will Make the repugican cabal Look “More” Smarter

bobby jindalBobby Jindal, who made headlines in 2013 at the repugican national cabal’s Winter Meeting by telling attendees that repugicans “must stop being the stupid party” has an unusual way of putting theory into practice.
Jindal faces an insurmountable problem: himself. We have been witness to a long litany of Bobby mishaps, from defending racism to accusing our first black president, of all people, of waging war on civil rights, to making a fool of himself at a White House meeting, to attacking MoveOn.org for telling the truth about his policies, to signing anti-choice legislation in a cult of all places, making plain before everyone that his opposition to women’s health is sectarian.
Unable to be smarter himself, he has cooked up another scheme. Rather than make the repugican cabal smarter, his plan seems to be to dumb down the populace instead.
As Media Matters relates,
On June 18, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that Jindal announced plans “to try and roll back Louisiana” from the Common Core State Standards, a set of education standards adopted in 2010 by 45 states and the District of Columbia. Recent “political turbulence,” fueled by misplaced conservative media outrage, has led a few states to withdraw from Common Core.
According to the Times-Picayune, Jindal’s announcement “left the state’s public education system in confusion, with no active contract to buy standardized tests for the school year that starts in August.”
Because having no education standards is going to make kids “more smarter” in tea party lingo. As Pink Floyd said, “Teacher, leave those kids alone!” Or as the tea party would say, “leave them kids alone.”
Only the repugican cabal could be dumb enough to cut education funding and then blame Common Core for the problems our students and teachers are facing. Which sort of proves Jindal’s 2013 point. It’s just a shame Jindal himself didn’t catch on.
Jindal says Common Core is a federal plot to takeover education, as though the Founding Fathers didn’t support the public funding of education.
Thomas Jefferson, in fact, predicated the modern repugican cabal:
[T]he tax which will be paid for this purpose [education] is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.
What Jindal wants - and sorry, I just shuddered thinking about this – “Louisiana standards and a Louisiana test” to replace Common Core.
Here’s the funny thing. The Times-Picayune reports that,
The Common Core academic standards were written under the auspices of the National Governors Association, which includes Jindal, and Council of Chief State School Officers, which includes White. They lay out what students are supposed to learn each year in mathematics and English.
I know, right? Don’t even say it. Save your breath.
Not everybody in Louisiana is as dumb as Jindal, fortunately, and Media Matters goes on to report,
The Times-Picayune noted that the Louisiana legislature, the state school board, and “almost all other high-ranking state education officials” have said they want to keep Common Core. It also reported that while Jindal may be able to block the standardized test, developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), Jindal himself acknowledged he can’t unilaterally abandon Common Core.
Nevertheless, wingnut media outlets, many of whom have been leading the anti-Common Core rage machine, deceptively spun Jindal’s announcement as “withdrawing” Louisiana from the standards. The Washington Times, for example, ran a headline that read, “Bobby Jindal pulls Louisiana out of Common Core.” A post at Erick Erickson’s RedState.com also claimed that Jindal was “pull[ing] Louisiana out of Common Core,” while Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy posted “Jindal withdraws La. from Common Core standards.”
Oh dear. Well, there is a lot of dumb going around and let’s face it, nobody on the right – Jindal included – really paid attention to his cry that repugicans stop being the stupid cabal. The articles you find here daily represent only a fraction of continued repugican stupidity. Literally, these posts are a drop in the bucket.
The repugican base seems determined to believe that they are enacting the Founding Fathers’ will, but the Founding Fathers believed money spent on public education – not homeschooling or “charter schools” – was money well spent, and they well understood the consequences of being miserly, as the Jefferson quote above shows.
John Adams wrote, “[E]ducation of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.”
Human and generous mind. Well, that leaves out the tea party and most of the repugican cabal.
But it is to Benjamin Franklin, Bobby Jindal ought to be listening: “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
Dumb ‘em down, Bobby. A Yankee agent provocateur could not do a better job preventing the South from rising again.

Bryan Fischer Says Discrimination is a Good Word Made Bad by Sane People

Fischer says, "Discrimination, when it comes to sexual behavior is not bad, it is good, and it is necessary. The alternative is utter social chaos"…

Bryan-Fischer-AFA1-480x342Bryan Fischer says anti-gay activists need to “reclaim the word discrimination,” I suppose, like they need to reclaim rainbows. According to the un-American anti-Family Asshat’s deranged director of issues analysis, discrimination is actually a good thing:
Discrimination, when it comes to sexual behavior is not bad, it is good, and it is necessary. The alternative is utter social chaos. So [it's] time, ladies and gentlemen, to reclaim the discrimination word when it comes to sexual matters. It’s not bad; it’s good. It’s a virtue and it’s necessary.
This is because Fischer says homosexual behavior is “non-normative” by deviating from his god’s plan for human sexual behavior, and that therefore it is okay to discriminate against non-normative things you think are wrong.
Of course, he misses (again) the entire point of the First Amendment, in that others are not required to give a fig what he thinks his god wants. There are other gods and there are people who recognize no gods. According to the law of the land – which is the Constitution, not the bible – people absolutely have this right.
Fischer’s views, however he may wish otherwise, are not enshrined in law. In fact, the Founding Fathers went to great lengths to ensure they would never be.
I wonder if excessive hatred of people who are different from you can be considered non-normative. I certainly think so. I suspect the medical profession might agree. If so, Fischer might want to watch out. By his own definition, we can discriminate against him and people like him with virtue in our hearts and on a sound scientific basis to boot.
Speaking of definitions…
According to Merriam-Webster, virtue is defined as,
: morally good behavior or character
: a good and moral quality
On the other hand, Merriam-Webster defines discrimination as,
: the practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people
: the ability to recognize the difference between things that are of good quality and those that are not
: the ability to understand that one thing is different from another thing
We are clearly talking about the first definition here. From that definition, it is clear that discrimination cannot by definition be a good thing. Fischer says discrimination is a virtue, but it is impossible to say discrimination is a virtue, because – and it is impossible to argue against this finding – they are diametrically opposed to one another.
Yet Fischer says,
Discrimination is not a bad word. Sane people have turned discrimination into a bad word.
The first use of the word discrimination comes from 1648. Yes, the word, from the Latin, originally meant to distinguish one thing from another, but the War between the States and slavery changed all that, not the left, as Fischer would have it. So it is slavery, an evil, that “turned discrimination into a bad word.”
Now keep in mind Fischer is saying they need to “reclaim” this word, as though it was ever a good thing to treat people badly because they look or act differently than you. I would like Bryan Fischer to point to a time when discrimination was a good thing. When women were denied the vote and careers outside the home? When blacks were kept as slaves and even when freed denied the vote and equal rights? If that is discrimination, how is treating gays and lesbians like blacks and women were once treated suddenly a good thing?
Let’s run another test. Here are the 12 Lakota virtues:
Here are my the Nine Noble Virtues of Heathen folk by which I live:
1. Courage
2. Truth
3. Honour
4. Fidelity
5. Discipline
6. Hospitality
7. Self Reliance
8. Industriousness
9. Perseverance
I don’t see discrimination listed on either.
In fact, on both lists I see virtues that would mitigate against discrimination, like hospitality and generosity and compassion. Maybe other belief systems are simply morally superior to Fischer’s own. His is certainly mean and ugly, and I cannot imagine jesus standing up and cheering for hate when he told his followers to love.
The only word Bryan Fischer needs to be concerning himself with right now is shame.

Meet the repugicans trying to sell the internet to the highest bidder

In May, 28 members of the House of Representatives lobbied the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to drop net neutrality, the idea that Internet service providers should treat all data that travels over their networks equally. The lawmakers proposed instead a system that would allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to provide better access to some websites willing to pay a higher premium, creating new ways  for ISPs to manipulate how internet users access websites and erecting new barriers to entry for small businesses.The FCC heard them loud and clear and also proposed allowing the creation of Internet fast lanes, but hope is not lost. Congressional Democrats have heroically come to the rescue, unveiling legislation yesterday that would force the FCC to ban Internet fast lanes.
However, the bill may face strong opposition from those 28 lawmakers, who include House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of the House Leadership. They received more than 2.3 times the amount in campaign contributions from the cable and satellite TV production & distribution sector than the average for all members of the House of Representatives.
The more one digs, the more digital dirt one finds: those repugicans who have signed the letters against net neutrality and the reclassification of the internet as a public utility have received, on average, $59,812 from the cable industry, 5 times more than the average for all members of the House, $11,651. Twenty-nine members of Congress own stock in Comcast, making Comcast the 25th most held stock among members of Congress.

The "anti-party"

Mississippi Burning 50 Years On

Fifty years may seem like a long time ago to an individual, but in the history of a nation, the murders of Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney in Neshoba County, Mississippi, are still shockingly recent. The three activists from the Congress of Racial Equality volunteered to travel to Mississippi to investigate a church burning. They arrived on June 20, 1964. They were arrested for speeding on June 21st. They were released late that night, and were never seen alive again. The three bodies were not found until August 4th. All were shot, and Chaney, who was black, had also been badly beaten.
During the six-week search, the bodies of nine black men had been dredged out of local swamps. Though numerous African-Americans had been missing and presumed dead with little media attention in Mississippi during that time, the murders of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney rocked the nation.

Said David Goodman, who was 17 years old when his brother was killed: "It took two white kids to legitimize the tragedy of being murdered if you wanted to vote."

It took four decades - and a determined reporter - to achieve a measure of justice in the case.

In 1964, the Justice Department, then led by Attorney General Robert Kennedy, knew they were up against segregationist authorities who would never charge the alleged attackers as well as all-white juries who would refuse to convict the suspects of murder. So the feds prosecuted the case under an 1870 post-reconstruction civil rights law. Seven of the 18 men arrested - including the Neshoba County deputy sheriff who tipped off the KKK to the men's whereabouts - were convicted of civil rights violations, but not murder. None served more than six years in prison. Three Klansmen, including Edgar Ray Killen, were acquitted because of jury deadlock.
One man, Ray Killen, was eventually convicted of murder in the case -in 2005. Read an overview of the story at CBS, and find more links at Metafilter.

Reporter Had Purse Stolen While Reporting Robbery Live on TV ... in Front of the Police HQ!

You know you have a bad neighborhood when you're victimized while doing a live report on site. In front of a police headquarters, no less!
KTVU reporter Heather Holmes was in Oakland, California, to report on a violent mugging that left a young woman hurt. According to people who live in the area, crime has become such a huge problem that they regularly witness car being broken into. "Three to four times a day we're seeing people casing cars and breaking in," witnesses said. "We're calling it in to the police every time and they are stretched very thin and so they often aren't able to show up for at least half an hour."
And to underscore how crime-ridden the area has become, Holmes discovered that while she was taping the live segment, her purse was stolen out of the news van ... which was parked right outside the Oakland Police Headquarters!

In San Jose, a minimum wage increase and falling unemployment

Here's another example to point to when opponents of a higher minimum wage claim that it would cost jobs. The minimum in San Jose, California, has gone from $8.00 an hour to $10.00 and then $10.15, and University of California-Berkeley economist Michael Reich has been studying the results:
    [The minimum wage increase] directly and indirectly affected 70,000 of the city's 370,000 workers, Reich says.
    San Jose restaurants, which Reich says were most affected by the pay increase, raised menu prices by an average 1.75%, according to his study. He says there has been no discernible impact on employment.
    The unemployment rate in the San Jose metro area, in fact, has fallen to 5.4% from 7.4% in March 2013. The San Jose Downtown Association says the number of restaurants in the district has increased by 20% the past 18 months.
So 70,000 people have gotten a raise, unemployment has fallen, the resulting price increase is 1.75 percent in the industry most affected, and the number of businesses in that most-affected industry is actually growing. Some restaurant owners say they've been hurt by the increase, but others have been surprised by how well it's gone:

The Pavement Bookworm

A homeless young man sits on the side of a road trying to make a living - but he's not panhandling. In fact, he refuses to beg. Instead, he's selling books.
Meet Philani Dladla, the Pavement Bookworm of Johannesburg, South Africa. Philani carries with him a stack of books (that he has read) wherever he goes. On request, he will review the book, the author, the publisher - and if you like it, he will sell you the book in order to raise money.
South African cinematographer Tebogo Malope interviewed man, whose story has gone viral. "He has read all the books in his collection and is always seeking for more to read," Malope said to SA People News, "He then sells some of his books as a way to raise money for himself and some of his homeless friends. I’m appealing to anyone that can contribute somehow into his life."
"He’s a great role model on the power of reading and can be an amazing ambassador for our young people."
Take a look at the fascinating story of the Pavement Bookworm: Continue reading



The 24 Words That Are Most Known To Only Men Or Women

Mark Brysbaert of the Center for Reading Research conducted a study of the English words most commonly understood specifically be either men or women. Here are the words that men know well that women don't:
  • codec (88, 48)
  • solenoid (87, 54)
  • golem (89, 56)
  • mach (93, 63)
  • humvee (88, 58)
  • claymore (87, 58)
  • scimitar (86, 58)
  • kevlar (93, 65)
  • paladin (93, 66)
  • bolshevism (85, 60)
  • biped (86, 61)
  • dreadnought (90, 66)
And here are the words that women recognize, but men generally don't:
  • taffeta (48, 87)
  • tresses (61, 93)
  • bottlebrush (58, 89)
  • flouncy (55, 86)
  • mascarpone (60, 90)
  • decoupage (56, 86)
  • progesterone (63, 92)
  • wisteria (61, 89)
  • taupe (66, 93)
  • flouncing (67, 94)
  • peony (70, 96)
  • bodice (71, 96)
The assessment examined 500,000 people using a computer-based vocabulary test:
In the online test, 100 letter sequences — which may or may not be real English words —  flash across the taker's screen. Pressing the "f" or "j" keys, respectively, will indicate whether the participant knows, but not necessarily understands, a specific word. The test strongly penalizing for marking you know a word that doesn't exist. 
I'm a bit skeptical. How could any reasonably functional adult not know what a claymore is? Don't tell me that it's not taught in even the most dysfunctional schools.

22 Things You Should Never Say to Someone Who Doesn’t Drink

1. "You're so uptight." I may like to be in control, but just because I don't want a beer doesn't mean I can't relax or don't like fun.
2. "Come on, live a little." I am! Alcohol isn't the only way to do so.
3. "All I want is to see you drunk." Sorry to crush your dreams, but that's not happening. And if that's all you want in life, it's time to aspire for more.
4. "I'm going to get you to drink." No, you're not, the same way I'm not going to get you not to drink. People get to make their own decisions, and trying to change mine on alcohol will be a failed endeavor.
5. "Is it for religious reasons?" Whether it is or isn't, I don't think my refusing a beer should prompt an interrogation on my lifestyle.
6. "How are you doing this right now sober?" You're actually asking me how I'm talking to people at a party sober? Really? Surely you have too at some point. I don't know when this became a feat.
7. "You must think I'm such a mess." No, I don't think you are such a mess because you are drinking and I'm not.
8. "Aren't you curious?" No. If I were curious, I'd get myself a drink.
9. "I will get you a drink!" Gee, thanks, but save your $10 or however much that overpriced cocktail is.
10. "Do you think you're better than us?" Alcohol's a beverage, not a measure of moral superiority (or inferiority). So no, I just don't want to drink.
11. "You must hate being places where people are drunk." If I hated being somewhere, I'd leave.
12. "So what do you do then if you don't drink?" The same thing you do minus a beer in hand: go to bar, clubs, parties, etc. You can still go out and party drinking water.
13. "Don't you feel like you're missing out?" If I felt like I was missing out, I'd drink. Plus, you tell me stories of how hungover you are the next day, and it sounds pretty miserable, so I'm happy to pass on that.
14. "How old are you? Are you even 21?" It's flattering you think I look young, but yes, my ID does say I'm over 21, and yes, it's real. And if high school parties are any indicator, drinking isn't all too revealing of age anyway.
15. "What? Are you scared of it?" I'm just not interested actually, but it's scary how intense your pressuring is getting.
16. "Oh, we didn't invite you because you don't drink and we thought you'd be bored." That's pretty harsh and untrue. If I felt that way, I wouldn't come, but I actually wanted to see you because you're my friends (so act like them).
17. "Your not drinking makes it hard for me to relate to you." Try to get to know me, and I'm pretty sure you'd relate somewhere.
18. "You must have so much dirt on everyone, watching us sober." Of course, my favorite hobby is to collect blackmail and is the sole reason I don't drink. Actually, I'm not judging. Please stop judging me.
19. "You must be so against this stuff." Just because I don't want to have a drink doesn't means I'm against alcohol entirely and think it's the worst thing. It's wonderful for people who enjoy it. I just happen not to.
20. "I don't drink that much usually! Really!" You don't have to justify your drinking to me just because I'm not.
21. "But really, why don't you? Won't you? Please?" You can keep asking, but the answer is going to remain no. I'm just going to get more annoyed when you say it.
22. "Don't be lame!" Oh no! The threat of being uncool! Grab me five shots pronto! (But really don't.)

How To Cure Garlic Breath

Counter to most vampire lore, there is no magic to the pungent odor of garlic. The stench is the result of four major sulfur-containing compounds, which, when ingested, move into the bloodstream and then out through the lungs and sweat glands.
But that doesn't make it any less repellent. In April, food scientists at Ohio State University published a paper exploring the best foods and beverages to neutralize garlic's noxious effect.

A Sumo Training Session

Sumo is a competitive full-contact wrestling sport where a wrestler attempts to force another wrestler out of a circular ring or to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of the feet. The sport originated in Japan, the only country where it is practiced professionally. Watch as fifteen tremendous Sumo athletes go through their morning routine.

Daily Comic Relief


Planetary Panoramas

Using four cameras and fisheye lenses, Michigan photographer Vincent Brady has produced a stirring time-lapse tribute to the unpolluted night sky. Music by Brandon McCoy.

Die Rakotzbrück

The Devil's Bridge (Rakotzbrücke) in Kromlauer Park, Gablenz, Germany, was built almost 150 years ago, back in 1860. Because of the unique construction accuracy, the bridge and its reflection merge into a perfect circle, regardless of the point of observation. This extraordinary sight is a beloved spot for professional photographers.

Huge crop circle in Italy

10501696 469151869886016 477202107573895607 n This magnificent crop circle appeared last night in Poirino, Italy. Known as the "LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions) Clock" crop circle, it's either the result of extraterrestrials, a beam weapon, or master crop circle maker Francesco Grassi and colleagues who are profiled in the fantastic book "L'arte Di Stupire" ("The Art of Amazement") by Ferdinando Buscema and Mariano Tomatis!

2014 World’s Ugliest Dog Crowned

The annual Sonoma-Marin Fair Ugliest Dog Contest is over, and the winner is Peanut! Although he is world famous as of today, Peanut’s story is a sad one. He was abused and ultimately set on fire by his previous owners. As a result, he is missing his eyelids and lips, and will never again have hair all over. His new owner Holly Chandler wanted to enter him in the ugliest dog contest to raise awareness of animal abuse. A fundraiser exceeded its goal to send them to California for the competition. You can see the runner-ups and the online voting results in this gallery.

Animal Pictures