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

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1587   Mary, Queen of Scots is beheaded in Fotheringhay Castle for her alleged part in the conspiracy to usurp Elizabeth I.  
1807   At Eylau, Napoleon's Marshal Pierre Agureau attacks Russian forces in a heavy snowstorm.  
1861   Delegates from seceded states adopt a provisional Confederate Constitution.  
1862   Union troops under Gen. Ambrose Burnside defeat a Confederate defense force at the Battle of Roanoke Island, N.C.  
1865   Confederate raider William Quantrill and men attack a group of Federal wagons at New Market, Kentucky.  
1887   Congress passes the Dawes Act, which gives citizenship to Indians living apart from their tribe.  
1900   British General Buller is beaten at Ladysmith, South Africa as the British flee over the Tugela River.  
1904   In a surprise attack at Port Arthur, Korea, the Japanese disable seven Russian warships.  
1910   The Boy Scouts of America is incorporated.
1924   The gas chamber is used for the first time to execute a murderer.  
1942   The Japanese land on Singapore.  
1943   British General Orde Wingate leads a guerrilla force of "Chindits" against the Japanese in Burma.  
1952   Elizabeth becomes Queen of England after her father, King George VI, dies.  
1962   The U.S. Defense Department reports the creation of the Military Assistance Command in South Vietnam.
 1965   South Vietnamese bomb the North Vietnamese communications center at Vinh Linh.  
1971   South Vietnamese ground forces, backed by American air power, begin Operation Lam Son 719, a 17,000 man incursion into Laos that ends three weeks later in a disaster.  
1990   CBS television temporarily suspends Andy Rooney for his anti-gay and ant-black remarks in a magazine interview.

President Obama’s Economy Continues To Surge As 257,000 Jobs Added In January

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released January’s jobs report and, as has been the case for some time now, the news was good. The economy added 257,000 jobs during the month. This exceeded general expectations that job growth would be around 230,000. Also, the strong numbers for both November and December were revised upward, with November now showing 423,000 jobs added and December coming in at 329,000. The unemployment rate showed little change as it sits at 5.7%.
Beyond steady job growth, there was plenty of other good news to glean from the report. One of the reasons the unemployment rate didn’t drop and actually raised a tad bit is due to the labor participation rate. Typically, wingnut critics tend to dismiss the unemployment rate and jobs report from the BLS because they feel the numbers are skewed due to the number of people who have given up on working and dropped out of the labor force. (Much of the decrease in the labor participation rate over recent years is due to baby boomers retiring.) In January, the labor participation rate ticked up to 62.9%, leading to a slight bump up in the unemployment rate despite the number of jobs added.
Also, wages showed a decent increase in the month, as the average wage jumped up 12 cents an hour to $24.75. For the year, wages have increased by 2.2%, which is the level the Federal Reserve wants to see sustained before they decide to increase interest rates. In December, average wages had actually decreased by 5 cents an hour, so it is definitely nice to see the increase in January and the overall trend that wages are increasing, even if still not as quickly as most working- and middle-class workers would like.
Of course, not everyone welcomed this solid jobs report with open arms. As is typically the case, Faux News had to immediately put a negative spin on it. The image below from Faux & Friends Friday morning says it all.
fox and friends jobs
Yep, the hosts on Faux’s poutrage morning show felt that the the real headline should be that the unemployment rate went up. No mention about the average job growth of 336,000 jobs over the past three months. Let’s not point out that wages are increasing. God forbid discussing the sustained private job growth we’ve seen under President Obama. Instead, let’s just have Steve Doocy end the segment by claiming that the real news is that the “unemployment rate ticks up to 5.7.”

President Obama Swats Down Empty repugican Criticisms Of The Economy

President Obama swatted down the meager repugican criticisms of the growing economy by pointing out the big economic achievements of his administration since he took office.
Video of the president in Indiana:
The president replied to the repugican economic criticism with the Commander In Chief version of telling his critics to look at the scoreboard.
Obama said:
And we’ve come a long way these past six years since we suffered the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Now, this morning, we found out that America’s businesses added another 267,000 jobs. In 2014, our economy created more than 3.1 million jobs, and that’s the best year of job growth since the 1990s. (Applause.) So, all told, over the past 59 months, the private sector has added about 11.8 million — so that’s almost 12 million — new jobs. And that’s the longest streak of private sector job growth in our history.
Meanwhile, our deficits are shrinking — they’ve gone down by about two-thirds. Our dropout rates are down. Our graduation rates are up. We’re as free of foreign oil as we’ve been in 30 years. We’ve doubled the amount of clean energy that we’re producing. A lot of families are saving a lot of money at the gas pump, which is putting some smiles on folks’ faces.
John Boehner tried, but couldn’t come up with much criticism the latest economic report, “It’s always good news that more Americans are finding work. That said, we know millions are still struggling and searching for a good job. That’s why the House has already passed common-sense jobs bills to restore the 40-hour workweek, approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and rein in the overregulation that shackles small businesses. If the president is serious about helping the middle class, he’ll reconsider his threat to veto these bills and work with us to get these things done. Because repugicans are committed to growing America’s economy, not Washington’s bureaucracy, and this will continue to be our focus in the weeks to come.”
The growing economy is the repugican cabal’s worst nightmare. The president is riding a growing wave of increasing popularity as Hillary Clinton is waiting in the wings for 2016. The strong economic turnout has also left repugicans with very little to run on in 2016. The repugican problems are a byproduct of their strategy to oppose everything that the president has supported. The repugicans have no rebuttal to the good economic numbers.
President Obama is swatting down the repugican grumbling with relative ease because even repugicans like Boehner are being forced to admit that the economy is doing better. In politics, perception is reality, and it has become nearly impossible for repugicans to ignore the perception and the reality that the economy is firmly in the midst of a recovery.
The repugicans can only watch and seethe as their plan to wreck the economy during the Obama presidency has failed.

Obama Attacked for Telling the Truth about christianity’s Bloody History

The repugicans are outraged that christian murdering and enslaving for dog should be compared to ISIL murdering and enslaving for dog …
The arrest of Giordano Bruno. Screen capture from Cosmos.
“Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.” – Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVII
“Millions of dead motherfuckers all because they gave the wrong answer to the dog question. “You believe in dog?” “No.” *Pdoom*. Dead. “You believe in dog?” “Yes.” “You believe in my dog? “No.” *Poom*. Dead.” – George Carlin, “>Pro Life, Abortion, And The Sanctity Of Life.
So repugicans are upset that President Obama criticized those who would hijack religion. Methinks they protest too much. Yes, President Obama hit a sensitive spot when he spoke out, and now he is being attacked for saying what jesus himself said about casting the first stone:
It wouldn’t be the first time quoting Jesus to this bunch of fake christians got the president in trouble.
Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of christ.
These are simple facts. Yet because they don’t paint a picture of an America that is perfect, because they point out the failures of christians to live up to their professed beliefs, critics say that once again Obama has proven he is not one of us. Apparently, to be “one of us” you have to be not only delusional, but a pathological liar.
Faux News led the charge by initially ignoring the president’s remarks. As Al Sharpton points out, Faux News accuses Obama of ignoring islamic terrorism but when he talks about it, they ignore him:
Until Friday. Then Faux & Friends loses it, with Brian Kilmeade asking, “How shocked were you about the President’s remarks yesterday at that prayer breakfast, equating the Crusades in the year 1095 to what we’re experiencing today and witnessing with ISIL and their brutality?”
Oh gosh. Considering that the First Crusade killed every man, woman, and child they could find in the city of Jerusalem, with one participant writing, “there was such a slaughter that our men were up to their ankles in the enemy’s blood” and “our men seized many men and women in the temple, killing them or keeping them alive as they saw fit,” not surprised at all.
Sex slaves. Rape. You know – like ISIL. A lot of rape has been done in the name of one god or another over the centuries.
Not to mention all the jews and eastern christians they killed along the way to the so-called Holy Land.
So no, not very surprised at all. Even ISIL, bad as they are, did not do to Mosul what christians did to Jerusalem when they captured it.
Red State’s outraged headline reads: “Obama uses National Prayer Breakfast to compare Christianity to ISIS,” claiming that, “So Barack Obama, community organizer and closet theologian, used the National Prayer Breakfast to throw a tu quoque at anyone critical of Islam while continuing to fancy himself as the pope of islam.”
Nothing like a little hyperbole with your breakfast cereal.
Which, of course, is not at all what happened.
Lush Dimbulb’s take was equally outrageous: Why Our President Chose to Insult christianity and Excuse Militant islam at the National Prayer Breakfast, asking,
Why would you attempt to downplay islamist extremism? Why would you attempt to put in perspective the actions being taken today by Al-Qaeda and ISIL and Boko Haram and the Khorasan Group and all of the rest of them by claiming that just as many atrocities have taken place in the name of christ? Why in the world would you make that point? Why in the world would you even be thinking that way?
I don’t know. Maybe because it’s true? To make the perfectly legitimate point that muslims are not the only ones to ever take their religion to extremes? If anything, the president left out some examples, like the old testament’s embrace of religion-based ethnic cleansing.
We get further examples of this criticism the The Washington Post:
“The president’s comments this morning at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I’ve ever heard a president make in my lifetime,” said former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore (r). “He has offended every believing christian in the United States. This goes further to the point that Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share.”
If that is the most offensive thing he has ever heard, he needs to get out more. Or turn on Faux News.
The Washington Post tells us that,
Russell Moore, president of the Southern baptist (no)Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called Obama’s comments about christianity “an unfortunate attempt at a wrongheaded moral comparison.”
“Wrongheaded moral comparison” to say that one religion has done what another religion has done and for the very same reasons? Facts are just facts. They are not and cannot be wrongheaded.
As the Post goes on to relate, “Critics say that Obama is chastising the wrong people.” Moore, for example, complained that,
“The evil actions that he mentioned were clearly outside the moral parameters of christianity itself and were met with overwhelming moral opposition from christians,” Moore said. He added that while he understood Obama’s attempt to make sure “he is not heard as saying that all muslims are terrorists, I think most people know that at this point.”
To judge by what Faux News and just about every repugican politician you care to name is saying, “most people” don’t know that.
President Obama stood against attempts to demonize the world’s second-largest religion by pointing out the world’s first largest religion has been guilty of the same types of activities. This is simple fact. And here is something else Obama didn’t mention, but it equally true and no doubt unwelcome to wingnuts: yes, ISIL burned a man alive, but white Americans did the same thing to African Americans in this country, and not all that long ago.
Of course, if you point that out, you will be accused of comparing “dog-fearing christian Americans” to ISIL. Again. Even though they’re both violent extremists.
Bill Donohue of the catholic league said Obama attacked christians. He complained that, “We have a problem with Islam, okay? Not just with islamists. We have a problem with islam.”
Donohue was upset that Obama mentioned the crusades, which he calls “a delayed response to the jihad.” And the Inquisition? Laughably, Donohue insisted, “the catholic cult had almost nothing to do with it.”
Tell that to Giordano Bruno. Oh wait, you can’t unless you use a time machine to go back to February 16, 1600, because the Roman Inquisition burned him at the stake on February 17, 1600 on the Campo de’ Fiori.
Bruno has been called a martyr for science for questioning catholic doctrine, including the claim that the earth is the center of the universe. But it doesn’t matter why specifically he was killed, only that he was killed – by the cult.
As Wikipedia relates,
In 1942, Cardinal Giovanni Mercati, who discovered a number of lost documents relating to Bruno’s trial, stated that the cult was perfectly justified in condemning him. On the 400th anniversary of Bruno’s death, in 2000, Cardinal Angelo Sodano declared Bruno’s death to be a “sad episode” but, despite his regret, he defended Bruno’s prosecutors, maintaining that the Inquisitors “had the desire to serve freedom and promote the common good and did everything possible to save his life.” In the same year, pope John Paul II made a general apology for the deaths of prominent philosophers and scientists due to the Inquisition.
Oh no, there’s that wingnut idea of “religious freedom” again, quelling doubt and questions on pain of death. But here is a question for Donohue: If the cult didn’t bear responsibility for their deaths, why was the pope apologizing?
So Donohue is angry as well as dishonest. No surprise there. It’s just a shame he hasn’t read the ten commandments where he would see that lying is a sin.
Let’s make him angrier still and mention what Obama left out: the genocide of Classical Paganism in the fourth through tenth centuries, and the genocide of Eastern European Paganism and Northern European Paganism in the centuries that followed. Let’s talk about the genocide of the Aztecs and other Central and South American indigenous cultures. I suppose the cult had nothing to do with that either.
I will finish this by giving dishonorable mention to June 18, 1452, when pope Nicholas V issues a papal bull, the infamous Dum Diversas, which authorized the Portuguese to reduce “Saracens [muslims] and pagans and any other unbelievers” to slavery.
Good times.
But let’s hush up about the facts. We don’t want to compare extremist christianity to extremist islam.

Remember Reagan’s Extremism Drives repugicans’ Agenda

Instead of celebrating horrid B-movie actor Ronald Reagan's birthday Americans should reflect, deeply regret, and grieve that they and their parents foolishly gave a bad actor the power to…
Reagan Gov't problem
Most people understand, and conform to, the unspoken rule that it is bad form to defame, demean, or demonize a religious coven’s deity; even in a nation that guarantees the right of free speech. However, if the deity’s existence is the primary source of a free nation’s slide into theocracy and fascism so inherently dangerous to its population, then one cannot possibly allow proper decorum to get in the way of the truth about a god no matter the particular religion. Although in most religions deities do not have a beginning, much less a birthday, the wingnut religion’s god was born 104 years ago. Instead of celebrating horrid B-movie actor Ronald Reagan’s birthday, Americans should reflect, deeply regret, and grieve that they and their parents foolishly gave a bad actor the power to set in motion America’s thirty-year march toward theocracy and corporate fascism. A march today’s wingnut religion is closer to enacting than ever before.
Whether any American is willing to admit it or not, Ronald Reagan was the catalyst for, and exemplar of, the 21st Century extremist neo-conservative movement including the radical teabagger, theocratic, fascist, and anti-government factions wreaking havoc on America’s population. Most wingnuts hold up Reagan as the epitome of an American patriot because they need a heroic figure to justify their anti-American agenda, but at no time in America’s history was any politician, much less a president of the United States, so unpatriotic as to actively work toward the demise of America’s government; especially one he campaigned to preside over.  Everything repugicans have been working to achieve over the past thirty-plus years has been the pursuit to advance Reagan’s assertions that government is inherently evil, robs Americans of their freedom, not of the christian bible, and a particularly evil entity that must be replaced with corporate fascism and theocracy.
Reagan said often that “Government is source of all of Americans’ problems, and that if we ever forget that we are One Nation Under dog, then we will be a nation gone under. Within the covers of the bible are all the answers for all the problems men face.” He also asserted that only by electing anti-government wingnuts can “we preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.” Obviously, since Reagan was pretender, repugicans have done nearly everything that could, or can, be done to decimate America’s secular democracy and they openly boast that the entire foundation of their anti-government crusade began with Ronald Reagan’s junta. It is why in the wingnut religion he is god.
It is true that once in office Reagan drifted, if only slightly, away from his extremely radical “anti-government” crusade and the hateful rhetoric that got him elected, but by then the damage was done. It is that “anti-America” rhetoric that today’s wingnut movement has embraced as their raison d’être and drives their ambitious war against government, any government, that may work for the people. It is also true that despite his extremist anti-government oratory, repugicans deny that once in office after cutting taxes on the wealthy from 70% to 28%, Reagan had to raise taxes 11 times to prevent bankrupting the government. Still, his insane tax cuts and obscene military spending tripled the national deficit as well as increased the size of the same government he claimed was sheer tyranny devised to kill the American people’s freedoms.
The repugicans also choose to forget that their great American war-patriot they claim inspired fear around the world cut and run after terrorists killed 241 U.S. Marines in a bomb attack in Beirut, Lebanon. However, what they have never forgotten is the preponderance of Reagan’s hateful and toxic anti-government rhetoric targeting the American people and any government program that helped the middle class and the poor. It is rhetoric they continue to adhere to today and why they, as Mitch McConnell pledged to the Koch brothers, are “going after the federal government, all of it” to hasten its demise and usher in the religious and corporate fascism they lust to impose on Americans.
The repugicans, the Kochs, and all manner of wingnuts have, nearly word for word, used Reagan’s anti-government criticism to attack federal government programs and the Americans who benefit from them. It was their man-god Reagan who first claimed that “Americans’ liberties are being extinguished by tyrannical programs forced on the people by fascist liberals” despite that they helped all Americans of every ethnicity, economic class, and age demographic. For example, Reagan habitually described poor Americans dependent on Medicaid, or retired Americans dependent on Medicare for healthcare, as “a faceless mass waiting for handouts.” The persistent repugican claim today that despite losing their jobs during the shrub-repugican Great Recession, out-of-work Americans are inherently lazy came directly from Reagan who said that “Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders.” The repugicans repeated that line last year to justify not extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed; benefits that have not, and never will be, reinstated. Especially since the Koch brothers bought control of Congress for Reagan repugicans.
The constant refrain from the Koch brothers and repugicans that Americans’ freedoms are being destroyed by government, any government, programs came directly from Reagan. He claimed loudly and often that “Fascism was the basis for all New Deal programs” including Social Security, workplace safety laws, the 40-hour work week, minimum wage, child labor laws, and particularly any program helping the elderly have security in their old age. It is why in wingnut circles those programs are illegitimate, unconstitutional, dangerous, and existential threats to Americans’ liberty because they are borne of “liberal fascist thinking” and not what conservatives claim are Reagan’s “rugged American individualism,” and why there is a concerted conservative rush to eliminate them. It is noteworthy that Reagan’s vilification of government programs and agencies as fascism and tyranny is the foundation of the John Birch agenda driving the Kochs’ “vision for America;” a vision that repugicans are working tirelessly to advance to fruition as remuneration for buying control of Congress.
If Ronald Reagan was alive today, based on what some historians label as his “moderate conservative policies” as president, he would be vilified by the repugican establishment as a heretic and ejected from the party with extreme prejudice. Despite his radical pronouncements, Reagan did not advocate privatizing or eliminating Social Security, supported full federal funding of Medicaid and Medicare,  supported gun safety laws, and is the only president to grant true amnesty to millions of Hispanic immigrants; acts that would earn him the death sentence in wingnut circles today. In fact, the Koch brothers, neo-conservatives, teabaggers, theocrats, and corporatists would literally crucify and draw-and-quarter Reagan in public today for the same reason the religio-wingnuts would kill jesus christ on sight if he appeared preaching love, tolerance, and charity for other human beings.
However, all manner of wingnuts would bow down and do obeisance if Reagan materialized and delivered even a fraction of his radical and extremist oratory that 21st Century wingnuts have embraced as if they were uttered directly from the mouth of dog. It is telling that it is Reagan’s hateful, vindictive, radical, extremist, and anti-American rhetoric that has earned him god-status with wingnuts and why repugicans are the only fascist threat to America; something every American should demonize Ronald Reagan for on his birthday despite the fact he is the wingnut religion’s god.

This repugican Says Rape Can Make Beautiful Children

Here We Go Again
West Virginia Delegate Brian Kurcaba says rape is awful, but remarks that it can create a beautiful child.…
Brian Kurcaba1
What is it about repugican politicians that make them such ardent defenders of conception by rape? Two years after the U.S. Senate campaigns of Todd Akin (MO) and Richard Mourdock (IN) ran aground over insensitive comments about rape, the repugican cabal is still casting itself as the cabal of rape apologists.
Re-branding has failed because repugicans have embraced anti-choice dogma so thoroughly that many of them won’t even consider permitting abortions for victims of rape or incest. This rigid ideological position puts them in the awkward situation of having to defend the indefensible.
The idea that women who are victims of rape or incest should have no choice to terminate their pregnancy is ridiculous. Ridiculous stances lead to ludicrous arguments. So it should come as no surprise that a repugican has once again stumbled, when trying to defend compulsory childbirth for rape victims who become pregnant.
In a debate over West Virginia’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, Delegate Brian Kurcaba (r-Monongalia) stated, “Obviously rape is awful. What is beautiful is the child that could come from this.” You see, rape is bad, but just think of the opportunities it provides. What starts out awful, could lead to something beautiful. Therefore, Kurcaba reasons, we should not let rape victims terminate their pregnancies after 20 weeks. Never mind the woman’s trauma, think of the cute baby that could result.
Clearly the Todd Akin wing of the repugican cabal never went away. The 2016 pretender primaries will give each repugican candidate a chance to clarify his or her position on abortion. It will also pose some risk for one or more of the candidates to stumble on the issue of rape, as it relates to reproductive choice.
Republican candidates have a habit of trying to burnish their conservative credentials, by being more anti-abortion than the candidate standing next to them on a debate stage. Proving how anti-choice one is, by wading into the murky waters of being an apologist for rape, may be a good strategy for winning a repugican primary. However, it’s a position that demeans women, and in a general election, it is also a recipe for political suicide.

The Rats Are Fleeing The Sinking Ship As Israel Says Boehner Lied About Netanyahu Speech

A top official is publicly claiming that John Boehner misled the Israeli government into believing that President Obama had been notified and was on board with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to Congress.
During an appearance on Tel Aviv Radio, Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said, “It appears that the speaker of Congress made a move, in which we trusted, but which it ultimately became clear was a one-sided move and not a move by both sides,” but Deputy Foreign Minister also said that Netanyahu would not be canceling his speech, “What would the outcome be then? The outcome would be that we forsake an arena in which there is a going to be a very dramatic decision (on Iran).”
The official did not disagree with the interviewer when he said that Boehner had misled Netanyahu.
If Netanyahu were misled, he would have apologized to the White House for the violation of protocol. Since he has not, it is clear that the Netanyahu government is trying to do damage control by throwing John Boehner under the bus. It is clear from the facts that this was a plan that was cooked up by Boehner and the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer. The Ambassador was a repugican, before he became an Israeli citizen. The plan was to humiliate President Obama and pressure him into approving new sanctions against Iran.
The claim that Israel was misled is dubious from every angle. There is no doubt that Boehner would play fast and loose with the facts. Pressure has been growing on Boehner domestically as President Obama’s popularity has surged after the Democratic midterm election defeat. Obama has taken a series of steps that seized the agenda and momentum away from the new repugican congressional majority.
It is likely that Boehner and Netanyahu viewed a speech before Congress as both an opportunity to divide Democrats at home while helping Netanyahu secure reelection in Israel. The plan has completely backfired. Netanyahu has been heavily criticized in Israel while congressional Democrats are in complete revolt in the United States.
The Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister’s comments were the first sign that the rats are fleeing the sinking ship. The finger pointing has begun.
The scheme to humiliate a sitting president has unraveled, as Obama remains stronger than ever.

Boehner Falsely Claims House Focused Squarely on Jobs and the Economy

Boehner continues to pretend he cares about jobs while pushing his Keystone XL get rich quick scheme on the American people…
boehner-keystoneBoehner is seems bound and determined to prove that by saying over and over again that the Keystone XL pipeline is a jobs bill, that it will become a jobs bill. But it is not a jobs bill. It is a make TransCanada Corp and the Kochs rich bill – it will even make Boehner himself a little richer in the process.
At his weekly press briefing yesterday, in what is surely news to everyone, Boehner said the House, which has since 2009 obsessed over everything but jobs, is “squarely focused on jobs and the economy” (did not know anti-abortion bills created jobs!) and that it is the “Democrats [who] are dragging their feet”:
Our focus continues to be on the people’s priorities, which means more jobs and higher wages. Our economy has certainly shown some signs of progress, but most families aren’t seeing this improvement in their day-to-day lives. That’s why we’ve already passed bills to: build the Keystone pipeline, which would create, according to the State Department, up to 42,000 jobs; expand natural gas exports, which would create 45,000 new jobs; help small businesses hire more veterans; and restore the 40-hour workweek to help get people working full-time again.
And while repugicans continue to focus squarely on jobs and the economy, the Democrats are dragging their feet.
When Secretary Kerry was sworn in, he guaranteed – and he used that word, ‘guaranteed’ – a fair, transparent and accountable review of the Keystone pipeline. But now, the State Department is stonewalling and refusing to answer basic questions about its review. I am calling on Secretary Kerry to address this issue, and immediately deliver the transparency and accountability that he promised the American people.
The Keystone pipeline is going to mean tens of thousands of American jobs, and we’ll soon put this bipartisan bill approving this project on the president’s desk. He should reconsider his veto, and sign this jobs bill.
This is an egregious abuse of facts. Boehner and his cabal are opposed to everything the American people want and need, including jobs and higher wages.
Remember, Boehner once said he would rather kill himself than raise the minimum wage. Obama has challenged repugicans to raise the minimum wage and they refuse to do so. That Boehner can even say this with a straight face is beyond belief. But the facts belie his apparent sincerity.
The State Department – which Boehner has already tried to bypass – is reviewing the Keystone XL Pipeline application and what they have to say on the matter can be seen here. What Boehner is upset about is that the State Department isn’t telling him what he wants to hear, when he wants to hear it.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, in particular, was not able to make Boehner a happier, wealthier man on Tuesday when she spoke to the media (transcript here):
QUESTION: Yesterday was the deadline for the agencies to submit their Keystone evaluations. Can you tell us what’s going on with that, what’s the next step? Is there a deadline, a timeline now that’s been restarted?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as you noted, yesterday the Department of State notified just a couple of weeks ago, January 16th, that the eight agencies would have until February 2nd to provide their views with regard to the Keystone pipeline permit application. That, of course, was yesterday. We will treat the agencies’ replies as part of an internal interagency process. They’re not mandated by the executive order to provide their views on the national interest regarding the proposed project, but we were required to request their views. There’s not a deadline or a timeline. Of course, their views will be factored into the consideration process.
QUESTION: Did all eight actually submit by the deadline?
MS. PSAKI: We’re not going to confirm. We treat them as internal recommendations.
What is interesting is that the State Department and the Obama administration as a whole are being accused of being less than transparent, when Boehner himself is bald-faced lying about the Pipeline being a jobs bill, and being less than transparent about his own economic interests in the building of the pipeline. Nobody in the mainstream media wants to talk about those issues at all. You would never know Boehner stood to make money off the project.
Boehner repeatedly claims that it will create 42,000 jobs. And yes, that number is in the State Department report but in a far different context. As The Washington Post fact-check ruled, “Using the State Department math, it’s safe to say nearly 4,000 construction jobs will be created, at least temporarily. One could even say that 16,000 jobs would be or have been supported from direct spending on the project…” But those jobs, such as they are, are temporary. As the Post points out, “the impact is barely a ripple” in the economy.
It will create 35 permanent jobs. Even if it did create 42,000 jobs, however, in November of last year alone some 321,000 jobs were created, and 257,000 more just in January of this year. It is not as though Keystone-related jobs are the only jobs in the offing, which seems to be Boehner’s implication. The moment repugicans blocked Democratic attempts to turn Keystone XL into a real jobs bill, Boehner’s deception was exposed, yet he acts like it never happened.
His plan to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) abroad is, like the pipeline, a sure-fire recipe for environmental disaster, polluting whatever the pipeline fails to pollute. Increased production also demands increased hydraulic fracking, something he is not eager to advertise. Fracking, because it is so harmful to humans and the environment, has been banned in Scotland an Wales and in 26 U.S. states.
What Boehner is actually saying is, “Hey, pass this legislation. I have huge profits at stake here!” All the while pretending he is doing it for us, and as though there is no conflict of interest at all.
Boehner has completely turned the tables on reality, positing Obama as the blockage in our economic recovery, when in fact it has been the House that has blocked every attempt by Obama to undo the damage wrought by the shrub junta in 2008.
Boehner’s words might resonate with the Faux News viewer, comfortably set in their alternate reality bubble, but he is speaking to the entire world and it is difficult to imagine at this point that this weekly charade is anything but political theater with the purpose of providing ready-made sound bites for Faux News’s endless feedback loop of deception.

Supply Side Nightmare As Bobby Jindal Pushes Louisiana Into The Fiscal Abyss

Bobby Jindal's Louisiana is facing a 1.6 billion dollar budget shortfall next year, and comparable deficits for the years to come.…
The country is full of examples illustrating the failure of repugican economic policies. Scott Walker’s Wisconsin and Sam Brownback’s Kansas have become poster children for the job killing, budget busting, folly of pursuing supply side economics. Were it not for the damage that wingnut policies inflict upon working families, the Laffer curve would be simply laughable.
Yet, Grover Norquist’s army of tax-hating governors continues to run roughshod over red state budgets promising a fiscal utopia. The fact that the utopia never materializes apparently doesn’t matter. Red state voters re-elect them anyway. The words “tax cut”, like an elixir, cures their fears, even if the people whose taxes are being cut are not the ordinary voters, but rather the ultra wealthy.
Joining Brownback and Walker on the list of governor’s facing serious budget problems, is Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. On Friday, The New York Times reported that Louisiana is anticipating a 1.6 billion dollar budget shortfall for next year, and that the deficit will remain in that range for years to come. When Jindal took office in 2008, the state had a 900 million dollar surplus, and the unemployment rate was just 3.8 percent. Now, in addition to having a gaping budget shortfall, Louisiana’s unemployment rate is at 6.7 percent, above the national average.
Despite the state’s budget woes, Jindal has continued to resist any tax increases. He has depleted the state’s reserve funds to fill budget holes and is still coming up short on the needed revenue. Louisiana has one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation, and as a consequence, the state ranks near dead last in quality of education and health care. Nevertheless, the supply side dogmatism of governor Jindal virtually guarantees that the state will continue on its current path to economic perdition.
Jindal is often mentioned as a possible repugican candidate for pretender. However, Jindal’s fiscal mismanagement has made him deeply unpopular even in his own state. A November 2014 Public Policy Polling survey found that only a third of Louisiana voters approved of the governor’s job performance while 56 percent disapproved. Supply side economics has been a nightmare to the residents of Louisiana.
The nation should not be subjected to the same failed policies that have tanked Louisiana’s economy. However, given that so many repugican politicians have embraced the mythology of supply side economics, the repugican cabal will probably nominate a candidate who imitates Jindal’s tax policy, even if they don’t choose Jindal himself. The repugican commitment to tax cuts for high income earners, regardless of the costs, is more a religious delusion than sound fiscal policy. Jindal’s Louisiana demonstrates the folly of supply side economics, but repugicans aren’t paying attention. They are true believers, and let the facts be damned.

The Truth Be Told


Tim Hortons-Burger King merger serves big order of cross-border controversy

Problem with deal is more about identity in Canada. A national icon swallowed up and jobs spat out again by an American behemoth fuels tricky debate
Another merger deal, followed by some more layoffs. No big surprise, right?
Well, not if you happen to live in Canada. Not if the company that was acquired was Tim Hortons, whose coffee and doughnuts are an iconic national brand. It was even founded by a player of Canada's unofficial national game, the late NHL defenseman Tim Horton, who was killed in a car crash in 1974. And particularly not if the company doing the acquiring - and now orchestrating the layoffs - is Burger King, the giant US division of 3G Capital, a Brazilian investment firm.
It's not the Brazilian part that irks Canadians: it's having a national icon swallowed up and jobs spat out again by an American behemoth.
"Another foreign takeover approved by the Conservatives and another round of pink slips for Canadian workers!" thundered David Christopherson, a member of Canada's New Democratic Party, a left-wing opposition party, in parliament in the wake of the news that the newly merged Burger King/Tim Hortons would axe 350 jobs at the Tim Hortons head office and at regional headquarters.
In fact, between listening to the political rhetoric and reading some of the comments online, I felt as if I had been transported in time back to the heyday of Canadian economic nationalism.
"Now if we could only get Canadians to boycott "Burger Tims" for laying off all our citizens!", tweeted @DyBee. She got at least one taker, who pledged "I will no longer go to Tim Hortons #canadianjobsmatter".

You'll probably never guess the most common job in your state

NPR used "data from the Census Bureau, which has two catch-all categories: "managers not elsewhere classified" and "salespersons not elsewhere classified." Because those categories are broad and vague to the point of meaninglessness, we excluded them from our map."
As the slider on the (noninteractive) embed indicates, the map at the NPR link is interactive, allowing one to view changes over three decades.  This was the map in 1978:

The "farmer" category shriveled with mergers and corporatization.  "Secretary" receded with the arrival of computers.   As the article notes, the data is markedly influenced by how occupations are categorized and grouped, so this is a blunt instrument at best.  But still interesting.

King of Arabia

With the recent passing of King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia looks now to his successor, King Salman. What challenges does the new monarch face? Trace explains.

A modern day "parsley massacre"

I had not heard of the Parsley Massacre until I read about it in The Atlantic:
In October 1937, the president of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo, devised a simple way to identify the Haitian immigrants living along the border of his country. Dominican soldiers would hold up a sprig of parsley—perejil in Spanish—and ask people to identify it. Those who spoke Spanish would pronounce the word's central "r" with that language's characteristic trill; the Haitians, on the other hand, would bury the "r" sound in the throaty way of the French. To be on the receiving end of the parsley test would be to seal, either way, one's fate: The Spanish-speaking Dominicans were left to live, and the Haitians were slaughtered. It was a state-sponsored genocide that would be remembered, in one of history's greatest understatements, as the Parsley Massacre.
The modern-day equivalent is to sort out true intellectuals from fake ones by their knowledge (or lack thereof) of how certain names are pronounced.
Paul Klee (clay)
Michel Foucault (foo-coe)
Here are some of the other names:
Walter Benjamin
Paulo Coelho
John Maynard Keynes
Joan Miró
Anaïs Nin
Chuck Palahniuk
Many more at The Atlantic.  Brush up before that next cocktail party.  You can argue all you want that language is flexible and fluid, but the same principle doesn't apply to specific people's names.

Rare Twin Birth Identified in Russia Hunter-Gatherer Cemetery

A 7,700-year-old skeleton may bear the oldest confirmed evidence of twins, and be one of the earliest examples of death during childbirth, according to archaeologist Angela Lieverse of the University of Saskatchewan. She found the skeleton, which had been excavated at Lokomotive, a hunter-gatherer cemetery near the southern tip of Russia’s Lake Baikal, in storage at Irkutsk State University. It had been thought to represent the death of a mother and a single child, but Lieverse soon realized that some of the fetal bones had duplicates. “Within five minutes, I said to my colleague, ‘Oh my gosh; these are twins,’” she told Live Science. One of the twins may have been in a breech position, with its feet down, and had been partially delivered. The other twin had been positioned head down and seems to have still be in the womb at death. Lieverse thinks the breech baby may have been trapped, or tangled with its twin, leading to the obstruction. “It might be a bit circumstantial, but I think it’s quite strong,” she said. To read more about Lieverse's work in Siberia, see "The Case of the Missing Incisors."

It takes money ...


Biggest Trove of Gold

Ancient microbes and volcanic activity may have worked in concert to form the world's largest gold deposit in South Africa.

Winter in 2100

Cold nights are on the decline in cities across the country. Explore our latest interactive to see what this warming will look like for you.

State of Emergency

Ecuador declared a state of emergency at the Galapagos Islands, a week after the stranding of a cargo ship loaded with supplies that included hazardous materials.

Hungry Mushrooms

From edible oyster mushrooms to venus flytraps: Check out these carnivorous plants that enjoy their protein.

Termite Mound Oases

Pesky termites aren't so bad after all, as new research finds that they can greatly benefit plants, animals and landscapes.

Undersea Volcanoes

The rise and fall of sea level during the past million years matches up with valleys and ridges on the seafloor, suggesting a link, two new studies find.

'Internal' Waves Wreak Havoc

Deep ocean waves mix cold and warm water and create big problems for scuba divers, oil rigs and submarines.

Daily Comic Relief


Cannibalism Suspected

Attacks by other grey seals, and not ship propellers, are the likely cause of a number of seal deaths in recent years, a new study concludes.

Tiger Nations

Thirteen countries that are home to the world's dwindling population of wild tigers have agreed to establish an intelligence-sharing network.

Lemming Barking

Atypical among small rodents, the creature's coloring and defensive bark give predators something to think about.


The little mollusks are some of nature's great show-offs, bringing a dazzling array of colors to life in the ocean.

Animal Pictures