Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

They're Everywhere!

(Cartoon by Jim Morin, published 7/1/14 in the Miami Herald and featured at McClatchy DC.  Click on image to enlarge and then please return.)
President Obama has caved in once again.  Rather than lean on Congress to get a reasonable and humane immigration bill passed, he's decided to increase the budget for detention centers.  Wouldn't want those pesky aliens mixing in with the real people, eh?

From McClatchy DC:

President Barack Obama asked Congress on Tuesday for $3.7 billion to help cope with the influx of unaccompanied children illegally crossing the southern border.

The money will pay for additional border patrol agents, more beds at detention centers, an increase in prosecution of smuggling networks and a media campaign to discourage parents from sending their children on what the White House calls a “dangerous journey.”

The administration described its approach as an aggressive and cost effective response across the federal government that will allow the United States to try to prevent and more quickly process the

 cases.  [Emphasis added] 

Now, I can sort of (kind of) understand the concern being expressed by President Obama with this latest influx of "border runners."  They are mostly young kids, being shipped by their parents, often without any family members to accompany them, only hopes and prayers for their children's future.  I share the concern, as I'm certain most people do, that this is no way to provide for those kids' future. 

And , as one of my fellow residents here at the Cuckoo's Nest pointed out, there is more going on here than those kids' future.  He thinks that it's a diversionary move by the drug cartels in Central America and Mexico.  While the US Border Patrol is busy dealing with these bus loads of children, they aren't paying attention to the smugglers both above and below ground. He may be right.

Even so, surely there is a better way to handle the issue.  For one thing, the US government could put some pressure on Mexican and Central American governments to do their parts in clamping down on the drug cartels and their growers. 

Another thing the US government could do is change our ridiculous drug laws, the way many states are beginning to do.  Legalize marijuana and tax it the way alcohol and tobacco are taxed. That would be a good start and might ease not only smuggling problems but also our prison crowding.  As to other drugs, well, I haven't completely made up my mind, but it seems to me that adults should be allowed to pick their poison.

At any rate, I would love to see a more sensible border policy.  Maybe even during my life time.  Know what I mean?

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Sunday, July 06, 2014

Sunday Funnies: A 2-fer

Cartoon by Kevin Siers, published 7/2/14 in the Charlotte Observer and featured at McClatchy DC.

Cartoon by Jack Ohman, published 7/4/14 in the Sacramento Bee and also featured at McClatchy DC.

As always, click on images to enlarge.


Saturday, July 05, 2014

Bonus Critter Blogging

Photograph by Steve Winter and published in National Geographic.  Click on link to learn more about the horrid poaching of these animals in Borneo.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging

The beer was warm, the burgers cold, and a Bic lighter is NOT a sparkler.  Some party.

I Am Just Saying

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

--That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The signers of the Declaration represented the new states as follows:

New Hampshire Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

PennsylvaniaRobert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

To Hell With Them!

(Cartoon by Joel Pett, published 7/1/14 in the Lexington Herald-Leader and featured at McClatchy DC.  Click on image to see the full beauty of this 'toon and hustle on back.)

Well, the Supreme Court of the United States has issued its decision in the Hobby Lobby case and made it clear that our owners' "religious beliefs" trump women's rights and health.  I'm not surprised, but that doesn't mean I am not thoroughly disgusted.  I think that Joel Pett's cartoon captures the issue nicely, if more politely than I would have been.

What angers me is that what it boils down to is that the religious beliefs of the majority of justices are being imposed upon the entire nation, which is a slippery slope no matter how you look at it.  I'm all for accommodating sincerely held religious beliefs, but a more rational, not to mention more equitable way of handling it is to allow the holders of those beliefs to apply it to themselves.  If you don't like abortion, don't get one.  If you think blood transfusions are evil, don't have one.  And (sigh) if immunizations are against your religion, don't get them.

I think, however, that there is more in play than deeply held religious beliefs.  Again, Pett's pictorial comment nails it.  There's some serious misogyny in play here, and an op-ed piece in the L.A. Times suggests yet another problem with the decision.

From that L.A. Times op-ed:

The specious reasoning in Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s majority opinion could embolden employers to assert a "religious" right to deny other health benefits to their employees — from immunization to blood transfusions to psychotherapy — or to discriminate in other ways. And by stretching the meaning of a law intended to protect individuals, the decision threatens to fracture what has been a bipartisan support for reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs.

Under regulations designed to implement the healthcare law, companies that provide health insurance for their employees must offer, without a co-pay, certain kinds of preventive care, including contraceptives for women. Hobby Lobby, a chain of craft stores, and two other family-owned businesses claimed that the regulations required them to cover forms of contraception that the owners regarded as equivalent to abortion and thus offensive to their faith.   [Emphasis added]

While the holding is limited to closely held companies, the impact is going to be wide-spread.  And those "deeply held" religious beliefs run contrary to other individual's deeply held beliefs.  More importantly, it provides for the government to step in, whether by executive fiat, legislative action, or Supreme Court holdings to impose other regulations which favor one religion over another. This is probably causing Thomas Jefferson and other early patriots to spin in their graves.

Of course, the fact that Hobby Lobby is going to save all sorts of money in medical benefits didn't enter into the equation at all.  Nope.  No reason to think the rest of our owners aren't chuckling and waiting to make some more moves.  Not a chance.

I look at the current make-up of the Supreme Court and wonder if Harry Reid and his caucus are happy they kept their powder dry when those last confirmation hearings were held. 

Like I said:  to hell with all of them.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

What, Me Worry?

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

Poor Hillary.  She can't seem to cut a break these days when it comes to the GOP sniping on her every move  If it's not Benghazi, it's Syria, and, now, her boundless wealth. 

One of my tablemates here at the Cuckoo's Nest and I got to talking about the sudden "concern" with all the money she and her husband have, implying that she has lost touch with the commoners (as if the Republicans have a clue about that) and therefor would make a lousy president.  He suggested pretty much what Lee Judge suggests in the above cartoon:  misogyny at work.

While I'm sure that's part of it, I think there's more than just that.  After all, the GOP did nominate Sarah Palin as its vice presidential candidate, even if everyone pretty much knew that McCain-Palin didn't have a snowball's chance in hell.  And it wasn't that long ago that Elizabeth Dole had a reasonable shot as the party's nominee for president.  I think a larger part of the distaste for Hillary has to do with her name:  Clinton.  The GOP still has a visceral hatred of the Clintons, almost as deep as its hatred for Barack Obama.

That said, however, the issue of the Clinton's wealth, a lot of it garnered in speaking fees and book sales, is out there.  I'm glad that it finally is being addressed.  I think Bill Clinton was wise to face it head on during the Sunday talk shows.

Here's Bill Clinton's explanation regarding the wealth issue:

The former president was questioned Tuesday about his wife’s remarks in an interview by NBC’s David Gregory, who asked whether Clinton could appreciate how people, “as a political matter,” might feel that Hillary Clinton is out of touch.
“We've got a good life, and I'm grateful for it,” Clinton went on. “But we go to our local grocery store on the weekend. We talk to people in our town. We know what's going on. The real issue is if you've been fortunate enough to be successful, are you now out of touch and insensitive to the agonizing struggles other people are facing? That's the real issue.”   [Emphasis added]
I would remind Republicans and Democrats alike that we've had wealthy presidents in the past who were decidedly not out of touch with those who are struggling.  Two in particular come to mind:  Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy. The issue is not one of personal wealth, it's an issue of who the individual is beholden to, who owns her/him.  And that just might be a viable issue this time around.

The chances are pretty good that I won't be around for a Hillary presidency, and that does make me a little sad.  I would have loved to be around for a woman President of the USA.  But I'll tell you what, if she wins, I hope the American electorate gives her a decent Congress, one with which she can work to get things done in the way they're supposed to be done and not by executive fiat.

My prediction is that it's gonna be an interesting couple of years.  Very interesting.

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