The Grown-Up in the House

Here’s just a little round-up of things people are saying about John Boehner’s resignation. The consensus is that now there is no “adult supervision” of Republicans in the House of Representatives. It’s looking more and more like the House is headed towards the river on the road where there’s no bridge. I sure hope those Duke boys know how to fly.

In Closing: There are folks out there still trying to ram the TPP through before anybody can ask pesky questions like “what’s in it”; in which an economist slaps down the political blogger; on inflation; even diet experts disagree about diet (except for a handful of obvious facts like “veggies are good for you,” “drink enough water,” and “too much sugar is bad for you”); and it’s the Supreme Court!

Music Monday: Michael’s Crafts Customer 4 Evah

Ok, so the Supreme Court came out with an extremely narrow ruling regarding whether closely held private corporations can refuse to provide contraceptive coverage for employees. So yeah, even if I were a crafty type of person — which [Deity] knows I’m not — I won’t be going into that hobby store with the rhyming name. Except maybe to loudly announce “Oh wait! This is that place where the employees aren’t allowed to have birth control!”* and walk out.



* Ok yeah, an exaggeration I know.

In Closing: Wow; truth; veggies; workers; Oz; sneeze; military; and infrastructure.

Happy Blogiversary, Judicial Edition

So, I’ve been at this 11 years. My second post was about the new Supreme Court rulings of the day, and as such, it’s only fair to bring you a breath of fresh air from the Supremes: the cops can’t just go browsing through your cell phone, even if you’ve just been arrested. In another surprisingly reasonable ruling from a different Federal court, the No Fly list is unconstitutional because there’s no due process involved.

However, a different court ruled that collecting data on the communications of citizens of the world is just fine (I have to wonder if there’s anything the international courts can do). In the meantime, the NSA debate and the resulting fallout continues vigorously. It’s important to remember that our own government isn’t the only government that thinks suspected criminals (and anyone they may talk to) have limited privacy rights.

Still, the idea that we’re all being spied upon is relatively benign compared to what happens if you are actually suspected of any sort of crime. Yes, I do mean any sort, particularly if you happen to be a person of color. Militarization of our police means more SWAT teams, more no-knock warrants, more wondering if the home invader is government sponsored, and make no mistake it also means more dead cops.

In Closing: girls; your money or your life; modern slavery; prudence; someone got paid to find out that a lot of people have no money saved; logical fallacies; help JP out; and Stay Focused.

And it Happened in Texas

Sorry, I’m not going to add my somewhat useless two cents worth to the discussion of the Supreme Court and the Affordable Care Act. You can get that from almost every other blog on the interwebs today. I still hope we end up with an option beyond being forced to pay the highly profitable insurance companies that arguably created the problem in the first place.

A couple weeks ago in the In Closing bits, I said that “the case that will show ‘stand your ground’ laws have gone overboard involves a grade school teacher who was killed because the stereo was a little loud.”

It turns out that in a rare victory for common sense, I was right.

A unanimous jury was smart enough to say “Hey wait a minute, you were so scared that you went and confronted an elementary school teacher with a freaking gun because his stereo was a little loud?? Didn’t think to call the cops on a noise complaint?”

He probably thought he was being clever recording the incident on video. Maybe he shouldn’t have “bragged about his guns and told [a neighbor] a person could avoid prosecution in a shooting by telling authorities you were in fear of your life and were standing your ground and defending yourself.”

What a shame that somebody had to die for logic to prevail. It’s one thing to shoot at someone who is trying to kill you. It’s another thing to make up a threat to justify murder.

Comrade E.B. Misfit has a knack for putting thinks briefly: “Stand Your Ground” Does Not Mean “Go Looking for Trouble”.

In Closing: funny how libertarian utopias are only grand in the absence of disaster; and Americans would rather have Obama than Romney in charge should there be an alien invasion. Nice to see we have our priorities straight.

Shorties: The Hands of Fate

The Things One Finds: Roman beads in ancient Japanese burial mound.

Well, we all gotta go sometime: Ok, sure, we have more heart disease and cancer. We also have a whole lot less tuberculosis, flu, gastrointestinal infections, and diphtheria.

Because the real purpose is to make Chertoff a nice chunk of change: Not a single terrorist has been arrested through the use of whole body scanners.

It’s a good start: Two slimeballs convicted, one for molesting kids and one for standing by and doing nothing about it.

Oh really, USA Today??: “Supreme Court’s health care decision could affect millions”? Really? You don’t think that’s a given? By the way, it’s not a health care decision. It’s a health insurance decision and don’t ever forget it.

This is what rock bottom looks like: Former high school principal “went on a drug- or alcohol-induced rampage on Friday, stabbing several people — killing two — before driving his car into a crowded porch and brutally attacking a couple at a motel they ran. ‘You’ll be very proud of me, I just killed 10 drug dealers,’ Giancola told his mother afterward….”

Jill’s Got a Point: If already-low taxes and record profits aren’t enough to make “job creators” actually create jobs, what is?

Hillary’s at it again: saying radical stuff like how women need to be able to decide for themselves whether to have children. Hey Hillary, be sure to keep that message going once you get back to the States, mmkay?

How to Prevent the SWAT Team Bashing Your Door Down at 3 AM: boils down to “don’t be poor.” Because middle class and wealthy people never ever run drug operations or anything like that. Never. And the low level poor people never work for higher-ups who have money and don’t live in “the hood”. Couldn’t possibly happen!

Why That Burger Doesn’t Look Like the Picture: Truth be told, it’s a pretty good reason.

More Comedy Gold from USA Today: Are they running a newspaper or what? Apparently there are some Baby Boomers who have money to blow on $100,000 classic car restorations. Seriously? Because most of the Boomers I know are worried about whether they can afford retirement. Don’t get me wrong, I love to look at old cars and I have a soft spot for classic VWs. Even so, I can’t justify spending that kind of money on any car. I keep thinking “That could buy 3 nice sedans. Or maybe a sedan, a pickup truck, and a convertible.”

Another reason to take the bus: License plate scanners are on the rise, telling authorities (and anybody who cares to subpoena the records) everywhere your car has been for the last 2-5 years. Expect this data to end up in a criminal or divorce court near you.

And last: Here’s what 100 grams of protein looks like.

Griswold v. Connecticut

June 7, 1965 was the day that the Supreme Court decided that women had the right to contraception. More precisely, the Supremes ruled that ordinary Americans have a right to privacy, and little is more private than what a married couple do in the privacy of their home. It was later rulings that extended the right of contraception outside marriage.

That was over 40 years ago. Women of my generation have never known a time when you couldn’t get the means to control your whether or not you could get pregnant. We’ve lived all our lives knowing that reliable birth control was a prescription away. Things weren’t so rosy for the generation immediately ahead of us.

Yet despite the fact that birth control is almost universally used by women, despite the fact that it’s good for our health to control the size of our families, and despite the fact that it is good for the economy that we can choose not to get pregnant, this fundamental right is under fire. There are people who want to make sure we can’t get it, people who want to make sure we can’t afford it, and people who want to make sure that we can lose our jobs for getting it. How exactly does that last bit figure into the right to privacy?

None of this is about how wonderful babies are. None of this is actually “pro-life,” because if they thought about it for 5 whole seconds the so-called pro-life movement would realize that contraceptives prevent abortions by preventing unwanted pregnancy. The desire to limit access to something almost all women use is one thing and one thing only: anti-woman.

In Closing: short stories; age gap; Carol Burnett does her best James T. Kirk; couldn’t have to do with dumping underwater houses; and oh hell no you’re not charging me extra for the privilege of sitting with my family.

Two and a Half Men

Thank heaven for Alan Grayson and — still! — Howard Dean. Harry Reid? Not so much.

If you don’t read Toothpaste for Dinner, you should!

In closing: 10 ways to get fat; pretty pictures; revisionist “history” (go ahead and read the Constitution, Newt); fearmongering; reality check. Sorry, I’m just not feeling like a long post right now.

A Plea for Civility

Can we please all stop with the name-calling?

Seriously, I don’t care if you’re liberal or conservative, we need to stop hurling around insulting names. It doesn’t do a bit of good, certainly doesn’t persuade anyone to your way of thinking, and it makes everyone who agrees with you look like an asshole.

I’m tired of hearing about Mooselini, the Chimpinator, McLame, Speaker Boner, Rummy, General Betray-us, Tweetie, Slick Willy, George Snuffleupagus, the O-Bomber, Wiener’s wiener, Rahmstein, Bachman-Poptart-Underdrive, Al Frankenstein, the Koch-heads, Dumb-o-craps, Repuglicants, MoDoDo, GingGrinch, and any other creative insults you can think of. Can’t we refer to people with their names and/or titles like civilized adults? “The President,” or “Senator So-and-so”, or “Mr. Clark”?

Now, I will concede a handful of exceptions. The Governator earned his nickname fair and square. So did “Heckuva Job” Brownie — the President himself gave him that nickname. To refer to Pat “Go F*** Yourself” Leahy is a compliment to his restraint. The Cyborg Dick Cheney, well, he is a cyborg.

The rest of it? Knock it off, already! It’s a distraction from real issues, like our eroding Constitutional rights, the developing American oligarchy, the endangered social safety net, the disappearing middle class, our crumbling infrastructure, the failed War on Drugs; our anemic economy, and the elimination of women‘s rights.

In Closing: Dam, dam, dam; Hollywood‘s out of ideas; the most sensible thing I’ve read about the Wal-Mart ruling; it’s a good start; and exercises at work.

Oh Sharron.

I hate to waste a lot of space on a Senate race, but this is Harry Reid we are talking about. Since he is the Majority Leader of the Senate, and it is polite to say that our other Senator is “embattled,” this is a big deal.

Senator Reid’s opponent, Sharron Angle, has really been saying some interesting things.

I think the most mind-boggling thing she has said is that the “Reid agenda” violates the First Commandment (that’s Commandment, not Amendment):

And these programs that you mentioned — that Obama has going with Reid and Pelosi pushing them forward — are all entitlement programs built to make government our God. And that’s really what’s happening in this country is a violation of the First Commandment. We have become a country entrenched in idolatry, and that idolatry is the dependency upon our government. We’re supposed to depend upon God for our protection and our provision and for our daily bread, not for our government. And you’ve just identified the real crux of the problem.

Now, for context, she did say this on a Christian radio show. Her comments were intended to reach a very particular audience: one that takes the Bible very literally. Ok, literally except for the keeping Kosher part that is outlined later in the book of Exodus. It would be interesting to know when she last fed the hungry, gave water to the thirsty, clothed the naked, invited in strangers, looked after the sick, or visited those in prison.

But somehow she seems to think — and since this was all said during the primaries, I am inclined to think it’s pretty close to what she does believe — that Social Security Insurance payments, Unemployment Insurance payments, and the like are causing the “half” of all Americans who “aren’t paying taxes” treat the Federal government as a god. Right. Because taxes don’t buy things like roads, which are enjoyed by the rich and the poor alike. And nobody ever pays [attention to the fact that they pay] for Social Security and Unemployment Insurance right out of their paychecks.

Nor is Sharron alone in this strange train of thought. Her communications director just the other day released a statement saying “Only the supreme arrogance of Senator Reid would believe that he has a divine right to rule over mere mortals by ramming through Obamacare, billions in reckless spending, and yes, buying cocaine for monkeys.”

Cocaine for monkeys?? What?? Can we please have a reference on that so we know what the heck he’s talking about?

Sharron also thinks that the Federal government should have no say in what any schools teach, private or public. Does that mean she wants to see an ending for abstinence only sex ed? Well, no. Then what does she mean? The the Feds can’t insist that schools teach reading, writing, and math, or any other set of critical must-know things that employers and communities expect high school graduates to know. Oh, and she thinks your preacher should be able to tell you who to vote for (despite the church’s tax exempt status and the First Amendment). Oh and one more thing, she thinks gays are icky. No, she didn’t really say icky, only that they don’t deserve the protections of law.

But let’s not forget her most recent embarrassing moment, a moment so bad a Fox News reporter laughed:

We needed to have the press be our friend…. We wanted them to ask the questions we want to answer so that they report the news the way we want it to be reported.

Sorry Sharron, Senate candidates don’t get to spin the news whatever way they want it. Ones who want to get elected answer the questions that voters want answered. Maybe Steve Wynn could convince reporters to only ask what he wants to answer, but you can’t.

No wonder Harry’s looking a lot better in the polls than he was mere weeks ago. I sure do hope my neighbors don’t actually elect her!

In closing: On Social Security and Medicare; Is the Fed using phony numbers (why would they switch to the real ones now?); Goldman says “Ok, we’ll follow the law” (how nice of them); Kagan‘s in; new efficiency standards will save you money while helping the environment (and hey, somebody’s gotta build this stuff); on wage cuts (really, only feasible if we have mortgage cuts, but hey); Uh, Mr. President? Employers are doing just fine shipping jobs overseas without your help! (whose side are you on??); a true comic; and a funny baseball card.

Just another day in Vegas

I took this picture yesterday from the third floor of the Clark County Courthouse, around noon. It was a beautiful day.

In Closing: “And the recess appointment power doesn’t work why?”; common sense; keeping their priorities straight; yeah, I think many of us would have bought the T-shirt; NY Times catches up to the end of private practice (they’re only about a decade late); now can we work on the unemployment problem?; and as much as I hate to even think about it, lessons from the Baby Sitter’s Club.