Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging

The Cuckoo's Nest

(Photo by Mike Lane and found here.)

As many of you know, I am currently living in an assisted-living facility I affectionately call "The Cuckoo's Nest."  It's not that everyone is crazy here, but a lot of us do have some, well, mild cognitive impairment.  I chalk it up in most cases to having a full hard disk.  Many people, however, still have enough on the ball to be really interesting to talk to.  For example, one of my table-mates at meals was a clinical psychologist until he had a stroke, requiring the use of a walker and assistance in tasks requiring manual dexterity (he has a tremor in both hands).  He's also a liberal politically and has long, long white hair and beard.  We have great conversations at that table.

Another gentleman worked for many years for the railroad.  After his retirement, he also had a stroke and has difficulty speaking, although if one is patient, one quickly discovers a wry sense of humor.  Nowhere is that sense of humor more evident than in the tee shirts he wears.  I swear that the man has THE most extensive collection of tee shirts in the world.  Every morning when he comes into breakfast the whole dining room strains to see what the "message" for the day is.

Here's a brief sample of his collection:

"Senior Citizen -- Give Me My Damned Discount!"

"Some people are like slinkies:  useless but fun to push down the stairs"

"Male Lesbian"

and my all-time favorite:

"Camel Tow Service -- Reasonable Rates"

Is it any wonder I love this place?


Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Royal Opposition

(Cartoon by Jack Ohman/Sacramento Bee (1/29/14) and featured at McClatchy DC.  Click on image to enlarge.)

After watching and listening carefully to President Obama's State of the Union address on Monday evening (which was too long by about 15 minutes to my way of thinking), I decided to crawl into bed and listen to the GOP response with my eyes closed.  I, of course, fell asleep almost immediately.  I felt a little guilty about that, so on Tuesday I found the text of Rep. McMorris Rodgers' on line and read it.

Heh.  Ohman's cartoon got it wrong, but only insofar as Ms. McMorris Rodgers wasn't wearing a tie.  Her speech could have been given by almost any of the other members of the Republican Party. Our local paper gives a pretty good summary of that speech.

 From the Pasadena Star News:

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers on Tuesday offered a kinder, gentler vision of Republicans who are determined to empower Americans, not the government, and close the gap “between where you are and where you want to be.”

Tapped to deliver the GOP response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, McMorris Rodgers touched on the daily routines of average Americans that overshadow Washington, from kissing children goodnight to preparing for a doctor’s visit, and complained that Obama’s policies are making life harder.

The highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress said the GOP believes “in a government that trusts people and doesn’t limit where you finish because of where you started. That is what we stand for — for an America that is every bit as compassionate as it is exceptional. Our plan is one that dreams big for everyone and turns its back on no one.  [Emphasis added]

A little short on details, wouldn't you say?

But, then, the GOP doesn't have a plan ... they don't need to.  All they feel they have to do is, to coin a phrase, "Just Say No."  And that's all they've done since 2009, and clearly all they intend to do until, well, until they hold the White House and both Houses of Congress. 

At that point, well, I shudder to think what they will say "Yes" to.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Head, Meet Desk

(Cartoon by Daniel Kurtzman and found here.  Click on image to enlarge.)
It seems that  the GOP has decided to blame Democrats for California's water problems because they pushed through environmental protection legislation.

Yup. That's why there will be a water shortage,  especially in the Central Valley where agriculture is the main industry. Three years of drought has nothing to do with it.

From the 1/27/14 L.A. Times:

Beleaguered and outnumbered, California Republicans think they may have found a crucial ally -- drought.

Up and down the state's increasingly dry Central Valley, Republicans have pounded away at the argument that Democratic policies -- particularly environmental rules -- are to blame for the parched fields and dwindling reservoirs that threaten to bankrupt farms and wipe out jobs.

[Note:  No link.  The Times is behind a fire wall after 10 articles per month.  I have exceeded that.  I can tell you that this was on page one.]

Amazing, isn't it?  I mean, we've had 3 consecutive years with little or no rain, unusually warm weather and those facts have nothing to do with the nearly empty reservoirs throughout the state.

Maybe if we bought that Brooklyn Bridge and moved it here, a river would appear ...


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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Granny Bird Award: Those Who Treat All Elders As Children

The Granny Bird Award is one given from time to those who impair or harm the rights and well-being of elders.  This edition goes to those who assume the gray hair and/or a cane or walker is a sign of idiocy and incompetence.

For example, the grocery store employee who says "here, mama, lemme get that for you" instead of  "Ma'am, can I help you with that?".  Or the campaign worker who assumes that you are so old, decrepit, and senile that you won't possibly understand any of the issues so instead just says, "Sorry to have disturbed you."

 Or, as in my case, a doctor who changes or adds a prescription without explaining why the change is necessary and what it will involve.

Some backstory is necessary.  As many of you know I now live in an assisted-living facility (the "Cuckoo's Nest") because I have end-stage COPD and congestive heart failure.  My medications are provided through a hospice organization.  This hospice group has been wonderful to me with visits at least once a week by the nurse case manager and other visits from a spiritual adviser and a physical therapist.  The group has also provided me with a wheel chair, a room oxygen supplier, and a portable oxygen device, all without cost to me.

A while back, a nebulizer suddenly appeared in my room.  The med-tech here said it was from hospice.  When my nurse-case manager showed up for her weekly visit, I asked her about it.  She said it was for a breathing treatment whenever I needed it.  That sounded OK to me, but I didn't figure I'd need it because my current regimen of O2 and my emergency inhaler worked just fine.

What she didn't tell me is that there would no longer be an emergency inhaler for me -- that was what the nebulizer was for.  So what's the big deal?  Well, the inhaler (which I only use first thing in the morning to clear my lungs and last thing at night to facilitate sleep) takes 3 to 4 seconds to use.  The nebulizer treatment takes 10 minutes!  Hey, given my remaining life span, 10 minutes is a big deal!

Not only that, the nebulizer treatment isn't as effective as the inhaler and leaves me with an aching chest.  That may very well be caused by my resentment at having this change being forced on me without any explanation, any warning, or any assurance that if I was unhappy it would be changed. I will cop to that.

But here's the kicker:  the doctor who prescribed the change hadn't examined me (not ever), just signed off on a report from the nurse.

So, when the nurse shows up this week, I'm going to give her an earful, using language much less reserved than that used in this post.

Stay tuned.


I was victorious.  Not only will my inhaler arrive this afternoon,  I also got an apology. She promised to always explain any changes and, just as important,  she promised never to treat me as a a child again.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

A Success, Now Struggling

(Cartoon by Jeff Stahler and published 1/13/14 at Go Comics.)

I've been following the project begun and run by Father Gregory Boyle here in Los Angeles for at least 15 years.  Homeboy Industries is one of the most successful projects of its kind in the world.  Once again, unfortunately, the project is having serious financial difficulties.

From yesterday's Los Angeles Times:

For a quarter of a century, Boyle has steered boys and girls, and men and women, out of the gang life through Homeboy Industries, which offers job training, counseling, tattoo removal and more. The model Boyle built has been replicated around the country and abroad.

Here in Los Angeles, some120,000 gang members have voluntarily asked Father Boyle for help starting over. They struggle daily against the socioeconomic forces that drew them into gang life. But Homeboy itself confronts another daily struggle.

 Making ends meet.

 Our government funding has gone in the last three years from 20% of our annual $14-million budget to 3%,” Boyle told the police commissioners. [Emphasis added]

Right now, the project is short by about $1 million, which means Fr. Boyle will have to lay off staff and cut back on some of the services so necessary to these young women and men who are attempting to make a new start at life, one outside the gangs and away from criminal activity.  Social workers, tattoo removal experts, drug counselors -- all an integral part of the rehabilitation of these kids, our kids -- will soon find themselves out of work if the money doesn't come from somewhere. 

Given the current Congress, it's clear that it won't be coming from the feds. Further, Gov. Brown has suddenly turned into a frugal spender.  After dragging the state out of the red on the backs of the poor, he now wants to put the current budget surplus into a "rainy day fund." 

You'd think a city with so many millionaires that bailing out the Museum of Modern Art of it's much larger deficit only took one dinner party that a project such as this would have no problems.  Well, unless this article stimulates some action from those who can easily throw another dinner party, Homeboy Industries will sink. I hope someone follows though.

Note:  If you have some spare cash this month, please consider a donation to the project by going here

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Poetry: Audre Lorde

Who Said It Was Simple

There are so many roots to the tree of anger
that sometimes the branches shatter
before they bear.
Sitting in Nedicks
the women rally before they march
discussing the problematic girls
they hire to make them free.
An almost white counterman passes
a waiting brother to serve them first
and the ladies neither notice nor reject
the slighter pleasures of their slavery.
But I who am bound by my mirror
as well as my bed
see causes in color
as well as sex

and sit here wondering
which me will survive
all these liberations.

--Audre Lorde

Sunday Funnies: 3-Fer

(Cartoon by Joel Pett/Lexington Herald-Leader, published 1/23/14 and featured at McClatchy DC.)

(Cartoon by Mike Luckovich/Atlanta Journal Constitution and published 1/17/14)

(Cartoon by Matt Wuerker and published at Daily Kos 1/23/14)
As always, click on images to enlarge.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bonus Critter Blogging: Three-Toed Sloth

(Photo by Christian Mehlfuer and published in National Geographic. Click on link to learn more about the relationship between three-toed sloths and moths.)

Brain Food

No, this isn't an endorsement for health food to improve cognitive functioning, just a report on something I read which really got me to thinking.  First, the back-story.

When I was a kid, I was told I was the "brainy" one, which would be fine except my sister was always referred to as the "pretty" one.  That left me with the impression that I must have been adopted.  Then, when I hit puberty, I began to consider the proposition that I was probably a minor character in a third-rate novel.  At least I was beginning to be a bit more creative to explain my status in life.

I was reminded of these feelings when I came across a very provocative article by Zeeya Merali in the December edition of Discover magazine.  In that article, Mr. Merali examines research into the idea that was explored in the movie "Matrix."  Do we live in a universe that was artfully constructed by some super-being(s) for their amusement?  If so, would we want to know about it?  And what does such a universe mean for the concept of free will?

Here's the part that intrigued me the most:

Unfortunately, our simulators may instead have programmed us into a universe-size reality show -- and are capable of manipulating the rules of the game, purely for their entertainment.  In that case, maybe our best strategy is to lead lives that amuse our audience, in the hope that our simulator-gods will resurrect us in the afterlife of next-generation simulations.

At least under this scenario we are more active participants than in my earlier theory of the third-rate novel, or should be.  And, at least theoretically, our actions may have an impact on the simulation itself.

This ought to keep my mind busy for the rest of the weekend.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging


(Cartoon by Steve Sack and published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune 1/21/14)

I started yesterday the way I usually do:  I hopped over to Eschaton to see what Duncan Black had found worthy of note.  He referred his readers to this article in the N.Y. Times which provoked some loud laughter on my part.  Here's the pertinent part of the Times article:

The company that conducted a background investigation on the contractor Edward J. Snowden fraudulently signed off on hundreds of thousands of incomplete security checks in recent years, the Justice Department said Wednesday.
The government said the company, U.S. Investigations Services, defrauded the government of millions of dollars by submitting more than 650,000 investigations that had not been completed. The government uses those reports to help make hiring decisions and decide who gets access to national security secrets.
In addition to Mr. Snowden, the company performed the background check for Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old military contractor who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard last year. Mr. Alexis, who died in a shootout with the police, left behind documents saying the government had been tormenting him with low-frequency radio waves.
The accusations highlight not just how reliant the government is on contractors to perform national security functions, but also how screening those contractors requires even more contractors. U.S. Investigations Service, now known as USIS, is the largest outside investigator for government security clearances. It is one of many companies that has found lucrative government work during the expansion of national security in the last decade.
I guess the government has really had fun "outsourcing" governmental functions, but I also guess the government doesn't  bother with checking to see how competent the contractor actually is.

We really shouldn't be surprised.  These kinds of thing keep happening, but nobody in the White House (no matter which administration) or Congress seems to care.  I wonder why that is?  [Sarcasm intended.] 

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No Surprise Here

(Cartoon by Lee Judge, published in the Kansas City Star and featured at McClatchy DC.  Click on image to enlarge.)

File this away in the "nothing changes" drawer. 

The GOP still doesn't get it.  For all its talk about reaching out to minorities and women, the Republican leadership continues to dig itself deeper into the hole of wealthy old white guys.

From the Seattle P.I.:

Sixteen members of the Republican National Committee want the GOP to repudiate a “strategy of silence” on the abortion issue and speak out forcefully against Democrats “deceptive ‘war on women’ tactics.”

The resolution will be taken up this week at the RNC’s winter meeting, which coincides with the 41st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe vs. Wade” decision that legalized abortion.

“The Republican National Committee urges all Republican pro-life candidates, consultants and the Republican Political Action Committees to reject a strategy of silence on the abortion issue when candidates are attacked with ‘war on women’ rhetoric,” said the resolution.

The core of the resolution reads:

“RESOLVED: The Republican National Committee will support Republican pro-life candidates who fight back against Democrats’ deceptive ‘war on women’ rhetoric by pointing out the extreme positions on abortion held by Democratic opponents.”
“RESOLVED: The Republican National Committee will not support the strategy of Republican pro-life candidates who stay silent in the face of such deceptive rhetoric.”
In short, no soft-pedaling of the party position.

Now, if there were only some real Democrats out on the hustings for the 2014 election ...

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

If You've Done Nothing Wrong ...

(Cartoon by Steve Sack and published 1/19/14 in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.)

President Obama has indicated that he might fine tune the NSA's domestic spying program, an oblique nod to those who object to having all of the their phone calls, snail mail, and emails  monitored by the government.  Frankly, I don't expect much from the president on this issue beyond his statement.

 And I don't expect Congress to do anything.  After all, the reasoning goes, 9/11! and terrists!  Dianne Feinstein (Dino, CA) chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee and she makes it very clear that she believes the NSA program is just fine the way it is and that she hopes President Obama doesn't tinker with it at all.

From the L.A. Times:

... [Feinstein] has emerged as one of the Capitol's staunchest defenders of the nation's spy agencies.
"Let me ask you," she said. "Supposing the program is knocked out and, God forbid, a year down the pike something happens? I'd never forgive myself."

In more than 40 years in public life, Feinstein, 80, often has zigged as other Democrats zagged. In her unsuccessful run for governor in 1990, for example, she famously departed from liberal orthodoxy of the day to support the death penalty, drawing sustained boos at a state party convention.

But her crusade to preserve the National Security Agency's massive tracking programs stands out. Rarely has a senator fought so hard for something that dismays so many of her erstwhile supporters.

Apparently Sen. Feinstein believes the Bill of Rights is merely advisory and can be suspended whenever the government feels threatened.

I'm too old for this dangerous bullshit.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The C+ President

(Cartoon by Jim Morin / Miami Herald (January 20, 2014) and featured at  MCCLATCHY DC.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Yes, President Obama has done many good things in his six years in office, but I still maintain that he has a mixed record.  That's the reason for the grade of C+ I assigned in the title.  An article I read in McClatchy DC on Monday will illustrate my point.

— The world’s richest 85 people control the same amount of wealth as half the world’s population, according to a report issued Monday by the British-based anti-poverty charity Oxfam.
That means the world’s poorest 3.55 billion people must live on what the richest 85 possess. Another way to look at it: Each of the wealthiest 85 has access to the same resources as do about 42 million of the world’s poor, a number equal to the populations of Canada, Kentucky and Kansas, taken together. ... 
The report also said that while the recent financial crisis was an enormous burden on the world’s poor, it ended up being a huge benefit to the rich elite. The very wealthiest people on Earth collected 95 percent of the post-crisis growth, the report said.
The report said that the trend is more pronounced in the United States than in other nations, but hardly limited to the U.S.  [Emphasis added.]

Now, I am willing to admit that the Democrats don't control both houses of Congress.  The GOP, especially the Tea Partiers (and those who are afraid of them), run the House of Representatives and that group has made it clear that it will obstruct any and all legislation proposed by the President.  That, however, doesn't make the president powerless, far from it. 

First of all, he has executive powers.  His administration could have done some real investigations into the nefarious actions of the large banks providing mortgages and their buying and selling of those mortgages on the derivative markets.  And, after the investigations, meaningful penalties/fines/prison terms for the malefactors could have been imposed.  What we got instead were a few gentle slaps on various wrists.

Second, the president has a bully pulpit.  He can use his Saturday radio address to announce his intentions to address the issue of wealth inequality.  He can call a press conference at which he can announce plans to address the issue and to answer questions in which he can outline the specifics on his plan.  He can urge the public to swamp their elected representatives with demands to pass legislation to extend unemployment benefits, to fund the WIC and SNAP programs.

So far he hasn't done anything along those lines.  The subject somehow just doesn't appear on his agenda, at least hasn't since he got elected in 2008.

Maybe I was too generous in giving him a C+.

Read more here:

Read more here:

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Well? Is She Going To Run Or Not?

(Cartoon by Jim Morin / Miami Herald (January 17, 2014. Click on Image to enlarge.)

The January 27, 2014 issue of Time magazine has a really good article by David Von Drehle on Hillary Clinton as a potential candidate for the presidency in 2016.  It deals primarily with whether or not she has made a decision as to running for the post.  While I suspect she has already decided, she (and her camp of supporters) are being very coy as to just what the decision is.  The article suggests that coyness is for several very good reasons.

Here's the key idea:

How long can this go on? Longer than you might think. The typical reasons for a candidate to "decide" -- credibility with donors and voters, access to media, ability to recruit staff, leverage to secure endorsements -- wouldn't move Clinton because she already has those things.  There's not a door she can't open nor a camera she can't command. [Emphasis added]

Well, being the cover story (once again) of Time certainly gives credence to Von Drehle's thesis, and in all likelihood she will be the cover story several more times in the near future.  And 2+ years out is a little early for any kind of formal declaration.

 In the meantime,   Republicans will keep Clinton in their sights, with Benghazi and any other disaster they can dredge up and link her to. 

Silly rabbits!

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Monday, January 20, 2014

The Devil Is Sometimes In The Details

(Cartoon by Lee Judge and featured at Mc Clatchy DC.)

A friend here at the Cuckoo's Nest lent me the current issue of the Columbia Journalism Review and I was quite taken by the editorial, primarily because it was the most concise statement I've ever seen of what is wrong with today's journalism.

... A more clarifying polarity than objectivity versus activism, or impartiality versus partisanship, is one that CJR’s Dean Starkman lays out starting on page 39: access versus accountability.
This, he argues, is the perennial tension that defines the field, its “Jacob and Esau, Gog and Magog.” These are two different views of journalism’s very purpose, forever in competition for status, resources, and power. These approaches require different skills, different practices, and different sources, and produce radically different representations of reality. Access journalism seeks to provide insider information from powerful institutions and people. Accountability journalism seeks to provide information about those people and institutions. Put in even shorter-hand, access reporting tells you what the powerful said, while accountability reporting tells you what they did.
[Emphasis added]

Neither form of reporting is inherently bad and both are necessary. The problem comes when one form predominates all of the time.  The result of "access reporting" at the expense of "accountability reporting" (and I believe that has been the case for years, even decades) is a major reason most of the reading public were caught so totally off guard by the mortgage/real estate crisis and the subsequent Great Depression.

We've had entirely too much of the imbalance.  We need more than stenographers for the powerful; we need (desperately) more accountability reporting.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Poetry: Dylan Thomas


The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman's lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

--Dylan Thomas

Sunday Funnies: A 2-Fer

Cartoon by Jim Morin/Miami Herald (January 15, 2014) and featured at Mc Clatchy DC

Cartoon by Jim Morin / Miami Herald (January 16, 2014) and featured at MCCLATCHY DC.

As always, click on image to enlarge.

Read more here:



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Bonus Critter Blogging: Black Rhino

(Photograph by Jodi Cobb and published in National Geographic.)

Say What?

(Cartoon by Lee Judge/Kansas City Star(1/1714) and featured at Mc Clatchy DC.)

Duncan Black raised an interesting point on Eschaton yesterday.

The "serious moderate conservative" strategy forever has been to try to sucker totebagger liberals into believing that the serious moderate conservative will support serious moderate conservative solutions that will address liberal concerns, like the fact that people have no damn jobs and no damn money. The serious moderate conservative solutions don't actually solve any problems and, more than that, the serious moderate conservative won't actually support those solutions when liberals come around to embracing them.

I think he's nailed a major reason why the current crop of Dems in Congress have been so ineffective for at least the past twenty years.  But the primary reason, of course, is that financial backers of most "liberals" are also bankrolling the Republicans in Congress.  A wise person once said "Follow the money."  One good tool to see who gives what is Open

But there's more to it than campaign contributions.  There's the future to think about, specifically the congress critter's own personal future.  Sitting on boards of directors, accepting CEO positions or consulting positions, joining or forming lobbying groups ... all are possible futures for these politicos, and they know it. 

So, it's not all the GOP's fault; the DINOs have done their own share of damage to our nation, especially those "totebagger liberals" Dr. Black referred to.

But, hey!  2014 is an election year.  Maybe this time . . .  



Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging

Elder Belle's Blessing: Sarah And The Women In The Activities Room

Elder Belle's Blessing is an award bestowed from time to time on those who have improved or enhanced the lives of elders.  Today's recipients are three wonderful women, Sarah, Pia, and Beth, who all work in the Activities Room at the Cuckoo's Nest, that wonderful place in which I currently live.  Their mission is to get the residents out of their rooms and into a place where they can socialize, exercise, and develop a sense of community.  In my opinion, these three women have fulfilled that mission with skill, compassion, and grace.

I've participated in activities right from the start.  After doing the morning "chair exercises" for a couple of weeks, I moved from sitting in my wheelchair to walking behind it, using the chair as a "walker."  I went on the Activities Bus to Target, to Wal -Mart, and to the San Manuel Casino (where I lost my $40).  I've participated in discussions of current events.  One morning a week I read the local newspaper to those residents with visual problems.

And this week I got a manicure from Sarah, my first in at least 15 years, which involved having my hands massaged with lotion, my nails filed, and polish applied.  The cost?  A hug.  While getting the manicure, I participated in a very civil debate with other residents on whether or not unemployment insurance should have been extended. It turns out that I'm not the only liberal in the joint.

As you can no doubt tell, I'm quite happy in this joint, and the women running the Activities Room are a big reason why.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

No Bathing Allowed

(Cartoon by Joel Pett / Lexington Herald-Leader (January 14, 2014)and featured at  MCCLATCHYDC.)

So, people in Charleston,West Virginia are still unable to use their tap water for drinking, cooking, and bathing because of a chemical leak from an underground storage tank at Freedom Industries.

From the Los Angeles Times:

The state Department of Environmental Protection cited Freedom Industries for the odor caused by the leak and said the company had violated water and air standards by allowing the spill. The chemical emits a faint licorice-like odor, which wafted over Charleston on Friday night.

The environmental agency disputed Freedom Industries’ contention that the company took steps to stop the leak as soon as it was discovered Thursday morning. The agency said the company had taken no steps to contain the spill when inspectors arrived around 11 a.m. Thursday in response to complaints from residents of a noxious odor.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said federal authorities had opened an investigation into the cause of the spill, which affected residents of Charleston, in Kanawha County, and the counties of Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam and Roane.

"We will determine what caused it and take whatever action is appropriate based on the evidence we uncover," Goodwin said.

There are a couple of things that are wrong about this picture.  First, of course, is that apparently there are some problems with over-lapping jurisdiction amongst both the federal and state agencies. 

The second thing that struck me about this disaster comes from a brief television news story from ABC.  This facility hasn't been inspected since 1991.  That's right, no inspection from any agency on either the state or federal level in 23 years.  No one has bothered to check the state of tanks holding chemicals used to treat coal.  Think there just might be some connection between the industry and the hands-off approach by the government(s)?


Read more here:


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Weather Report

(Cartoon by Jack Ohman, published in the Sacramento Bee and featured at McClatchy DC.)

I think Mr. Ohman captured things nicely in his cartoon (and he's rapidly becoming one of my favorites).  Not only did he get a slam in against the Congress for its failure to extend unemployment benefits, he also nicked the climate change deniers at the same time.  This cartoon is one of the reasons I'm such a fan of political cartoons.

I don't know whether our congress critters read newspapers, much less peruse the political cartoons, but I'm tempted to email this the cartoon to my representatives.  In fact, if I could figure out an easy way to email it to all the congress critters, I would.  Anyone know if this is possible?

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Poor Are Still With Us

Cartoon by Lee Judge and published January 7, 2014.
The Los Angeles Times has a pretty good column on the War of Poverty and the claims that it was a failure and was/is a waste of government money.  Ann Stevens and Marianne Page take issue with
that nonsense and provide statistics to back their thesis up.
"First, careful studies confirm that many of the safety net programs initiated with the War on Poverty, such as Head Start, WIC and food stamps (now called SNAP), make a big difference in the lives of the poor. Recent research by economists Hilary Hoynes, Douglas Almond and Diane Schanzenbach shows, for example, that the introduction of the food stamp program improved infant health, especially in high poverty areas where participation rates were highest. Similar benefits have been found for WIC, and for cash-based anti-poverty programs. Gordon Dahl and Lance Lochner have shown that increases in the size of the earned income tax credit are associated with improvements in low-income children's achievement test scores.

These safety net benefits go unrecognized because our official poverty statistics do not measure such noncash or after-tax benefits, nor do they track real outcomes, like improvements in health or education. But the benefits are there, and they need to be taken into account, especially when cuts are being proposed."  (Emphasis added)

Until the people who keep the statistics start paying attention to those government programs and the real-life effect on people's lives, those in the GOP and the DINOs will continue to justify the heartless moves they've been making (e.g., not extending unemployment benefits).


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Monday, January 13, 2014

Oh, Christ(ie)!

(Cartoon by Kevin Siers and published in the Charlotte Observer 1/10/14.)

Unless I'm missing something, Mr. Siers seems to be implying that the recent brouhaha over the lane closure on the George Washington Bridge will harm any chance Christie has for the presidency in 2016.  I would respectfully disagree.

First, the American electorate has a notoriously short memory.  It did, for example, re-elect George W. Bush to a second term, even with all the discontent over two wars being fought "off-budget."

Second, most of the American public is so disgusted with the current crop of politicians that the bluntness of Mr. Christie is refreshing, even if what he is saying is utter nonsense.  I must admit I have a smidgen of appreciation for the fact that Christie apparently doesn't have a filter between what he is thinking and what is says.

Third, Mr. Christie is operating the way all more traditional politicians operate.  Like Hollywood press agents, politicians believe that any news about them is good news because it gets their name in front of the public.

Although it might be too early to make any hard predictions, I think Mr. Christie still has a damned good shot at the GOP nomination, and, given the current crop of potential candidates, he has an even shot at the presidency.

It's going be an interesting 2014.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Funnies

Cartoon by Ohman and published in the Sacramento Bee.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Money Money Money ...

Well, at least the vet in Joel Pett's cartoon has a prosthetic arm and a power wheelchair.  What he doesn't have is a job or training to find a job.  That kind of stuff just isn't in the budget.  The Veteran's Administration just doesn't have the money.

And Congress has decided that the federal government doesn't have the money to extend unemployment benefits.  That means that those who lost their jobs during the "Great Recession" won't have even that minimal cushion to sustain themselves and their families while they struggle to find a job, any kind of job.

We've been assured that the economy is recovering, and the primary proof offered is the Dow Jones numbers, the highest in history.  Somebody is making money, just not the government (apparently) and those who are still unemployed. 

I guess the American Dream is only for the denizens of Wall Street and the CEOs of the Fortune 500.  The rest of us?  Maybe next year.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Cuckoo's Nest

So, there's been some rather dramatic changes in my life these past few months. I've gone from an apartment to a hospital to a convalescent hospital (where I was told I had a life expectancy of 6 to8 weeks) to this assisted living place.

I've outlived my predicted life span by 12 weeks, gained weight, and improved to the point of walking behind my wheelchair instead of lying in bed. I can go up to 90 minutes without oxygen, and, thanks to a hospice organization, I've got a portable O2 unit I can take with me if I go out for longer than that.  I'm not cured, but I'm doing better.

The reason for these improvements is this joint and its wonderful staff.  Loving and compassionate folks, them.  Also, I've met a lot of residents who have encouraged me to keep living and to enjoy every precious minute.

Most of the residents are here because of strokes and dementia, including Alzheimer's.  Some are here with the end stages of diabetes. Nearly all who are not bound to their beds are up and about:  in the halls, outside in the patio, or in the Activities Room.  Many of those who are out and about will chat, and there are several who make sense most of the time.

While this place is expensive, it provides me with a room I share with a congenial woman, food (which ain't bad, except for the mushy vegetables), maid service (I don't even have to make my bed or dust or vacuum or clean the bathroom), and transportation to medical appointments.  My caregiver gives me a shower twice a week.  The saintly hairdresser comes twice a week to cut, style, shampoo hair and to cut toenails.  In a sense, it's like being rich and having servants.  Not bad at all, to my way of thinking!

So, each night I go out to the patio, check the phase of the Moon, and thank whatever holds this universe in such a loving embrace for my consciousness and for my life.  It's been a great ride and I'm ready for whatever comes next.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Ain't Dead Yet!

I'm still around, but still learning how to use this new tablet.

A big thank you to the Atriots who made this possible!
More soon.